One of the great values of reading the Old Testament is in what it demonstrates to us about living out a vital faith in all kinds of circumstances. A large portion of the Old Testament is narrative material telling the stories of the everyday lives of God’s chosen people. Some of them are exciting, some inspiring, and others very depressing.
Take the book of Judges. It is a book depicting the early years of God’s people following their entrance into the Promised Land. Every few years there is a crisis of faith. People slip away from the faith of their fathers into the latest hip religion of their pagan neighbors. So God disciplines them through natural (and sometimes unnatural) disasters. They cry out for help and He raises up a leader (judge) who delivers them from their troubles. This is followed by another cycle of apostasy, judgment, repentance, deliverance...and another….and another. When I read the Old Testament I can’t help but find myself sorting out the times in which I would like to have lived. And those times never include the period of Judges. I always pick out the times when Israel is at the top, politically, financially, socially and, of course, spiritually. I could have had a great influence during those times, I think. With others at my side who shared my faith I could have made an impact and performed some very vital ministry. But I also notice something else: those good times were few and far between. Most of the time God’s chosen people were drifting around in a spiritual fog, unsure of who they were or where they were supposed to be going. But God’s remnant, as they were referred to, were always there faithfully doing what had to be done to keep the ship from capsizing completely.
The Apostle Paul, referring to those days, said, “These things were written for our example upon whom the ends of the ages has come.” (I Corinthians 10:11). I may find myself longing to have lived in better days, but it is not at all a profitable fantasy for me to engage in. As some wise person once said, “These may not be the best of times, but they are the only times we are given.” The grace and power of God can never be expressed through an “If only.” All of us must rise from our fantasies about life as we would wish it and grapple with life as it is. God has equipped all of His people and promised His presence. It is up to us to be the remnant of our day, steering the ship of Faith through the turbulent waters of this new century. Who knows what our faithfulness will mean to the next generation
Senior Pastor of Cactus Christian Fellowship