The Israelites did what was evil in the sight of the LORD. So the LORD handed them over to Midian seven years, and they oppressed Israel. Because of Midian, the Israelites made hiding places for themselves in the mountains, caves, and strongholds. Whenever the Israelites planted crops, the Midianites, Amalekites, and the Qedemites came and attacked them. They encamped against them and destroyed the produce of the land, even as far as Gaza. They left nothing for Israel to eat, as well as no sheep, ox or donkey. For the Midianites came with their cattle and their tents like a great swarm of locusts. They and their camels were without number, and they entered the land to waste it. Judges 6:1-5 HCSB
The relationship of Israel to the promised land is an analogy for the relationship of a Christ follower to the life of walking in the spirit. When God promised the land look at what he said.
The LORD said to Abram: Go out from your land, your relatives, and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. Genesis 12:1 HCSB
From the very first call of Abram the call was to leave the old place and go the the land. Abram had no idea what the land was or where it was but he had faith in God so he left. When we come to Christ we know so little. We cannot imagine a spiritual land of blessing and our first big challenge is to leave the old land.
The old land had it’s ways. It had it’s gods, it’s pleasures, and everything you have ever known was in the old land. Sometimes we want to stay in the old land and invite Christ to meet us there but he has called us to “Go out from your land.”
I Will Give This Land
Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, “I will give this land to your offspring.” So he built an altar there to the LORD who had appeared to him. Genesis 12:7 HCSB
When Abram got to the place of obedience and went where the Lord had told him to go God made a great promise; “I will give this land to your offspring.” Notice, he did not say “I will give you this land.” In fact, Abram lived as a foreigner in the land as did Isaac and Jacob.
Dear friends, I urge you as strangers and temporary residents to abstain from fleshly desires that war against you. 1 Peter 2:11 HCSB
In our journey, we are in the land, but not of it. Abram was in Canaan but he was not of it. Our call is to live as holy people in an unholy land. Like Abram we may never set foot in the land of promise but we can see it by faith from afar. Abram’s faith was that his offspring would one day receive the land.
Then the LORD said to Abram, “Know this for certain: Your offspring will be foreigners in a land that does not belong to them; they will be enslaved and oppressed 400 years. However, I will judge the nation they serve, and afterward they will go out with many possessions. But you will go to your fathers in peace and be buried at a ripe old age. In the fourth generation they will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.” Genesis 15:13-16 HCSB
Four generations before they would return to the land. That would be like my great-great-great-grandchild. What if God said, I want you to do something that won’t benefit you, and in fact could make your life harder for a time, to benefit your great-great-great-grandchildren; would you do it? We are so self-focused in our culture that most of us rarely do anything that isn’t primarily about us.
They Entered The Land To Waste It
By the time we get to Judges the Israelites are learning about living in the land and they are not obeying the Lord and God allowed their enemies to come in “and they entered the land to waste it” (Judges 6:5). What a terrible tragedy. For the Israelites this waste was not just a metaphor. Their enemies came and stole whatever wasn’t nailed down. People were starving, hiding in caves and dying because their enemies entered the land, and God let them in.
So Israel became poverty-stricken because of Midian, and the Israelites cried out to the LORD. Judges 6:6 HCSB
Why would a loving God allow their enemies to waste the land? So that Judges 6:6 would happen; “and the Israelites cried out to the LORD.” Could it be that the things in your life that are laying waste to the land are there for a reason? They are there because God wants you to cry out to Him? The first step in a great deliverance is reaching the place where you are poverty-stricken and you cry out to the LORD.