After Othniel’s death, we find Israel pursuing sin, choosing idolatry, choosing to intermarry with the children of Canaan instead of among themselves. God had warned them about that. He had warned them that if they did not destroy them, they intermarry with them. As a result, their enemies would lead them astray.
It happened just as God said it would. Sadly, they preferred the dregs of disobedience in stead of what God had given them. When you contrast the two conditions, it shows a radical contrast between them, like night and day. They chose night. They chose to pursue their own follies and to abandon God.
As we look over those verses, we also see a description of the nature of God. In fact, more than the children of Israel, it gives to us a clear picture of God's nature. You see God’s hand interwoven all throughout these events. God left the enemies there. In addition, God became an enemy to the children of Israel. He disciplined them for their disobedience and sin.
In mercy, God raised up a savior, Othniel, to rescue them. God provided for them rest in the midst of their difficulties and distress. It shows his faithfulness. On the one hand, we see his faithfulness to those who trusted and obeyed him. He kept his word to them.
We also see him faithful on the other side of the coin. He warned them that, if they disobeyed him, he would judge them, which he did. He brought judgment against them because of their disobedience. In both instances, God proved faithful to his word.
We also see God’s wrath against sin. God hates sin. God didn’t design sin. God didn't create sin. God hates it. Throughout all of Scripture, and specifically these verses, we see that God always judges sin, always, always. God doesn't condone sin.
If you have lived a life of sin and God hasn’t brought severe judgment against you, the absence of punishment has not resulted because God doesn’t judge sin. A long-suffering God waits, giving you time to repent, testing you. Will you turn? Will you come to God?
Well, we see God’s wrath against sin clearly displayed here, on the one hand against the Canaanites when they first came into the Promised Land. We also see his wrath against the sin of Israel because of their disobedience. He put them into slavery just as he promised.
Then, we see God’s judgment against Cushan for his wickedness. God’s wrath and judgment against sin emanate from his holiness. God possesses no sin, no error, and no default in him at all. You will recall previous studies on the creation of man. How did he create man? Holy. Righteous. Upright.
God still has a plan in motion, which he described to his children of Israel, designed to restore his people back to holiness. Holiness would become the foundation of the nation. He gave them the law to teach them holiness: the demands of holiness, the appearance of holiness, and the practice of holiness. God desires a holy people.
Further, he told them that if they would live by his law, they would become a blessing to all of the nations of the earth. The nations would look upon Israel with jealousy, because they experienced his presence.
These verses also describe as a sovereign God. He controls all things, even the enemies of his people. He has authority over them, and he can permit a Cushan to come against his children. He disciplines his people and allows difficult times in their lives, just as easily as he can defeat them on their behalf.
Thus, his sovereign control extends not only to the children of Israel, but also to the Canaanites, and to the people under the control of Cushan, the godless ruler of Mesopotamia. He exists as God over all things, a sovereign God. In the end, when he elevates Othniel as judge in Israel, we see his sovereignty in raising him up.
God’s grace and mercy shine in his provision of a savior for them in the midst of their distress and difficulty. He provides Othniel for to lead the people in victory, even though they had forsaken him and thumbed their noses at him. He provided a savior for them. Oh, what grace and mercy of God.
Why do you think God would move upon Samuel to write and record these events? The author wrote them after they occurred. Why would God move upon him to do that? He wanted his children to know their past, their history. He wanted them to know their true heart condition.
Further, God wanted them to know the consequences of their rejection of him in unbelief and disobedience. God continued to call upon them to obey him and to believe him. Thecycle of wickedness to victory and back to wickedness again, which these verses describe, repeats through not only the book of Judges, but throughout all of the history, not only of Israel, but the history of mankind.
God wanted the children of Israel to know their past and to know their wickedness. In addition, God wanted them to know about him, his nature and what he would do on their behalf as he had promised. He wanted them to know that if they would call upon him, he would answer. He wanted them to know about his goodness, his mercy, his grace, and his authority over all things. He alone stands as God; no other exists.
How do these events relate to Jesus Christ? All of Scripture relates to Jesus Christ in some fashion. How do these relate to Jesus? Well, they link in a very clear fashion. Mankind needs a Savior. Humanity can’t please God on their own. Mankind needs God and needs to call upon him. Humans need to trust God as he calls upon them and says, “Trust me. Believe me.”
God provides all kinds of records to show his goodness and his worthiness of our trust in him. Throughout history, starting with Abraham, God has provided saviors. Finally, it culminated in the Savior, the one that he pictured and promised for hundreds of years to the children of Israel.
He provided the Savior in Jesus Christ his Son. In the fullness of time, the Scriptures tell us, God sent forth his Son made of a woman, made under the law that he might redeem those who are under the law. (Galatians 4.4-5) God fulfilled his promise, which he first made to Adam and Eve in the Garden in Eden.
He raised up Othniel and other judges and kings for the salvation of his people. They provided relief for a short time period only. When we come to Jesus, God gave a Savior who saves for eternity…no temporary victories. Victory lasts for eternity through this Savior, the one named Jesus. All who trust in Jesus receive eternal life, victory forever.
So, this passage, although it seems a bit obscure at first glance, does connect to Christ, because it gives a picture of what Jesus came to accomplish. He came to accomplish holiness in the lives of men and women like you and me. That fulfills God’s plan, which he started in the Garden in Eden, creating man in his own image, righteous and upright.
Now, through faith in Christ, sinners like you and me can experience the presence of God once again. We can become holy in our behavior, the plan and purpose of God for his creation.
How can the Holy Spirit use these things in your life today? He can correct you from error by pointing out to you the truth about yourself and your true condition before God. He can convict you of your failure to trust him as he has called upon you to trust him.
If you trust in Christ, he will comfort you with the comfort that God gives to those who trust him. You will experience it not only in this life, but throughout eternity. He has promised it.
What changes do you need to make? If you have not trusted Christ, you need to call upon the Lord. It starts there. You need to trust him just like the children of Israel. They cried unto the Lord in the midst of their distress. They called upon him, “God save us. God help us.”
You need to call upon Jesus and trust him. Trust him as your Savior, as your Othniel, not for a temporary victory, but for an eternal victory.
Those of us who have trusted him need to find our comfort in his promise. In the midst of the difficult times that we face, we need to trust him, too. We need to trust him continuously, calling upon him.
I pray that you will trust Jesus Christ, God's Savior, whom he has provided for people like you and me. He accepts all who come to him and casts away no one. Then, you, too, will begin to experience the comfort that God has promised to all who call upon Christ.