Weekly Review: The God of the Oppressors

99_063ee9aeb9f60efa02823e51450f82ce_mA principle surfaces throughout the Bible’s story: God uses what He hates to accomplish the good that He loves. Evil doesn’t originate with God, but He uses the existing evil for His own purposes. When God’s people walk with Him by faith, He generally hedges them about with His hedge of protection (Job 1:10; Dt. 28:7). Often that hedge is simply the restraining of evil nations and rulers around His people. When He does lift the hedge, He shows His power to deliver them. Prior to this lifting of the hedge God often sends a prophet to call His people back. Hosea was such a prophet.

God gives Israel a clear visual of their spiritual adultery when He commands Hosea to take Gomer as his wife. From the beginning, she is an unfaithful partner. Throughout their saga she continually departs to follow the dictates of her adulterous heart. Hosea reflects the heart of God by taking her back (even buying her off of the slave market) after she sinks to the lowest level of harlotry. God, in His patience, remains faithful to His people, just as He commands Hosea to take her back after her adulterous affairs. Hosea ends his message with hope for the repentant. Gomer returns to Hosea; sadly, however, Israel does not return to the LORD.

Whenever His people choose to walk in their own way, forgetting Him and forsaking His Word, He then lifts the hedge and allows them to experience the fruit of their way. In times of judgment, God simply chooses not to restrain the evil of evil men and nations. They work their evil (which was already in their hearts), and God accomplishes His good of judgment on His people. When the good that He loves is accomplished, He then punishes those He uses for their willing brutality.

During the Judges Era Israel forgot the LORD, did evil in His sight, and the LORD disciplined them by raising up oppressors against them, “Therefore the the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and He sold them into the hand of Cushan-Rishathaim king of Mesopotamia; and the children of Israel served Cushan-Rishathaim eight years” (Judges 3:8). Over the course of three hundred years or more God continually raised up more oppressors against Israel to turn them back to Himself.

As Judah begins her downward spiral (mirroring her wayward sister, the northern kingdom of Israel), God begins to raise up oppressors to get her attention and cause her to cry out to Him. During the reigns of Jotham and Ahaz, God even uses the northern kingdom to come against Judah. “In those days the LORD began to send Rezin king of Syria and Pekah the son of Remaliah against Judah” (2 Kings 15:37). These kings defeat Ahaz, bring Judah low, and expose their need of the LORD. Just as the cycle of sin in Judges ends when God raises up a deliverer, so Ahaz’s unfaithful reign prepares the way for the nation to turn around. God uses unfaithful Israel and their ally Syria to bring Judah low and get their attention. Soon He will judge the northern kingdom by raising up the Assyrians to capture Israel and carry them off. Assyria will then be destroyed by Babylon, whom Isaiah prophesies that God will raise up the Babylonians to take Judah into captivity in response to their rebellion against God.

Later in the Bible’s story this principle will be seen again when Daniel prophesies of the demise of Persia, and other countries.