1 Chronicles 5 provides another family profile of the lineage of Reuben. His family was not quite as honorable all the way through, but we can learn something interesting about them.
They were mighty warriors. They went to battle and were generally successful. They had God on their side, and apparently everybody knew it.
1Ch 5:22 For there fell down many slain, because the war was of God. And they dwelt in their steads until the captivity.
Trusting God in the middle of war takes a lot of faith and courage. War is not a pleasant experience, and I think that it must have been a challenge for them to really believe that God would deliver them. Nevertheless, He did follow through on His promise, and the main point I want to make sure I emphasize is the fact that God was in the battle, and people were willing to acknowledge that He was there. They had some measure of faith.
Unfortunately, that faith does not always translate into action.
1Ch 5:25 And they transgressed against the God of their fathers, and went a whoring after the gods of the people of the land, whom God destroyed before them.
Even though it appears that they had some concept of the idea that God was right there with them, this tribe was rebellious. They continued trying to follow other gods.
I think that we can sometimes fall into this type of trap. For example, we know that God is there, and we don’t necessarily want to or intend to ignore Him. However, we occasionally do just that. We forget everything that happened, and even though we have faith, it is like someone hit a light switch only to make us forget all about it. I hope this doesn’t happen very often, and I hope that we are able to recognize when it begins to happen so that we can stop it and return back to God.
I know that I said this a lot while I was writing about the Israelites wandering in the desert, but Judges chapter 3 demonstrates once again that the Israelites did not learn from all of their previous mistakes.
Again, to return to the end of Deuteronomy, Israel knew what would happen if they did not follow God. They knew that the consequences would not be what they wanted, but they continued to be disobedient.
Jdg 3:7 And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and forgat the LORD their God, and served Baalim and the groves.
Jdg 3:12 And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD: and the LORD strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel, because they had done evil in the sight of the LORD.
These two verses are relatively close together, but they actually describe separate events. As a result of the first one, Israel was in captivity for eight years. Then, God brought Othniel into a leadership position, and he was able to liberate the Israelites.
After 40 years of peace, they again wandered away and were taken over by the Moabites. This time, they were in captivity for 18 years before Ehud was appointed by God to deliver the people.
Notice that there was exactly the same pattern in both of these situations. The people disobeyed, were put into captivity, cried out to God, were given a deliverer, were indeed set free, had a short time of peace and repeated the entire cycle over again.
I know that it is incredibly easy to judge the people of Israel. After all, why did it take them so long to figure it out? Why did they not realize that following God ultimately worked out better for them?
However, I think that these questions could be turned around for any one of us. Why do we continually mess up even though we know that it is clearly better to remain with God?
The answer for us is the same as the answer for the Israelites. We are unfortunately still human beings, so we cannot entirely shake off our sinful past, but if we remember that we are no longer slaves to sin as Christians, it can change our perspective. If we are not slaves to sin, we do not need to and honestly should not answer its call in our lives.