The Israelites finally got themselves in some pretty big trouble. In 2 Kings 24, Babylon marches in and conquers Judah. Nebuchadnezzar brought his armies and captured the entire city to bring back to Babylon except for the poorest people.
Of course this was kind of the final straw. Jerusalem had been attacked by numerous people throughout the course of this chapter, and there is really no doubt as to the reason that God was allowing this series of trials to happen even though this particular verse does come at the beginning of the chapter.
2Ki 24:3 Surely at the commandment of the LORD came this upon Judah, to remove them out of his sight, for the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he did;
We are still hearing about Manasseh. You remember how wicked he was, right? Even this many generations down the line, the repercussions of his evil actions were being felt.
I think that this is a very cautionary tale for all of us. It is not that God holds a grudge, but people are ultimately responsible for their actions. If you wander too far away from God, He very well might use some type of trial to get you back to where you need to be.
The best example of this is probably Jonah. He was trying to run away from God, but the terrible weather and the giant fish had other plans. It wasn’t that God was holding a grudge about Jonah running away from the Nineveh, but He was going to allow problems to come into Jonah’s life to bring him back to where he really needed to be which was indeed in Nineveh.
Judah was in a rough spot. There were some great kings, but the evil ones seemed to come about a little more often. They needed to be brought back to God, and sometimes a hard time is the best way to do that.
Today is going to be an interesting day on this blog because there was a verse in Judges 9 that I think needs addressing. I might be getting in over my head theologically, but I’m going to try.
Jdg 9:23 Then God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem; and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech:
Surely, you can see why some people might have a problem with this passage. How could God send an evil spirit? If He is all good, how could He possibly send something that is evil? It might be even more important to wonder why God would send (if that is even what it means) an evil spirit.
First things first, I want you to know that I am using the King James Version above. You might wonder why that matters.
All of us need to remember that the Bible we read today is a translation from Hebrew. Because I am using computer software from e-Sword, it allows me to see the original Hebrew word.
The word here was ra’. This word was used a variety of different contexts. For example, it can be used to mean morally wrong like you might have initially thought when reading through this verse giving the English connotation of evil. However, it can also mean simply bad. In that case, it has been used to mean things like adversity.
It is entirely within the character of God to bring about adversity. For example, He put Jonah in a giant fish thanks to his disobedience. You could definitely call that adversity. In fact, the Bible itself describes the storm that Jonah was in as evil in Jonah 1:8, and the identical Hebrew word is used in that verse as well.
Now, let’s think about why Jonah was in trouble. I already mentioned it was because of his disobedience. He was supposed to go to Nineveh to bring about repentance, and he was afraid because he thought the people there would harm him. Since he didn’t want to go to Nineveh, he hopped on a boat going the opposite way thinking he could get away from God. You know how the story ends.
What if we compare that to what happened in Judges 9?
Abimelech was the son of Gideon, and he certainly had ambition. He wanted to be in charge of Israel, so he decided that the easiest way to get to the top would be to murder all of his siblings. He killed 70 of them, and only Jotham escaped.
Wait a minute. Did you catch what happened there? He sinned deliberately to do what he wanted to do. He didn’t care which one of the siblings God wanted to be King or if God wanted to do something else altogether; he thought he could make up his own plans.
As a result, God intervened to correct what was happening. With Jonah, He turned him around and made him go preach in Nineveh with spectacular results. With Abimelech, He brought down the dynasty that had been developed through evil means. God brought about these storms to correct what was going wrong.
If you take away nothing else from what I have read today, please realize that people cannot just pull a few verses out of the Bible and say it is wrong. For example, if you looked only at that passage from Judges in the King James Version, it would not be hard to imagine someone taking out of context and saying that God is evil in the sense of being morally evil. Obviously, that would be an incorrect assumption.
God does allow storms to come into our lives to bring us back on track like He did with Jonah, and He even allows trials into our lives to make us stronger. Think about Paul on the road to Damascus. That was certainly a difficult time, but it helped turn Paul into one of the strongest writers and missionaries in the early church. There is no evil intent from God but rather adversity that helps us become greater forces for God.