How Our Covenant God Loves His People

Pastor Tom Ascol uses Judges 3:7-11 to address “How Our Covenant God Loves His People.” In this passage God reveals His steadfast love for His people, love that disciplines, rescues, and keeps. Furthermore, the passage provides insight into God’s governance of the world.

The Bible, the book of Judges in particular, is replete with stories. Throughout the cyclical happenings in the book, the people rebelling, God disciplining, enemies oppressing, the people crying out, God sending judges who rescue, peace reigning, and the judge dying, God is the main character and mover in these stories. God loves His people faithfully.

God shows His love in a variety of ways. As we look at the Judges’s cycle we see God’s love evidenced in a variety of ways. He disciplines people for their sins. The evil the people did (v. 7), the deliberate turning from God, had to be addressed. Idolatry then with the “Baals and Asheroth,” or idolatry today with the variety of idols modern men consider of greater worth than the true God, results in God rightly disciplining His children. Discipline came through oppression. Importantly, the Bible shows that the political affairs on ancient Israel were not random circumstances but were activities guided by the hand of God for the benefit of those He loved. Rather than trying to punish and destroy, God was disciplining and chastising the people (Heb 12:6) for their own benefit. It is a divine lesson in parenting. Parents should not discipline from anger, attempting to get even or avenge a perceived wrong, but rather from love for the ultimate good of the one being disciplined.

Perhaps the greatest way God showed His love was through sending a savior. A judge was sent to rescue the people as the people repented and cried out to God. The discipline had had its intended effect and God responded. The first lesson here is to avoid the idolatry that resulted in Israel’s sin. The second lesson is to recognize Israel’s inability to save themselves from their sin. They needed saving.

The Israelites had contributed nothing to their own rescue, rather they had merely cried out to God. The analogy to our present day situation is obvious. We can do nothing to save ourselves from our sin. We too need a Savior. Just as God graciously provided judges for Israel in their time of need so God provided the Lord Jesus Christ to sinful men. The conviction of sin God can bring leads to recognition of the weight of sin and the need to make provision before God. That provision, unable to be fulfilled by man’s actions and works, can and has been made by God’s grace. Just as God was behind Othniel’s military exploits so God was the planner, motivator, and actor in His plan to send a Savior that would never die. The overcoming of death finally could end the repetitive cycle seen so often in Judges.

God enabled the judges to rescue Israel but in the greatest act of His love gave His Son as a sacrifice for our sin. By crying out to Him for salvation we can have a secure and blessed eternity with Him in heaven.

Tom Ascol has served as a Pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, FL since 1986. Prior to moving to Florida he served as pastor and associate pastor of churches in Texas. He has a BS degree in sociology from Texas A&M University (1979) and has also earned the MDiv and PhD degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas. He has served as an adjunct professor of theology for various colleges and seminaries, including Reformed Theological Seminary, the Covenant Baptist Theological Seminary, African Christian University, Copperbelt Ministerial College, and Reformed Baptist Seminary. He has also served as Visiting Professor at the Nicole Institute for Baptist Studies at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida. Tom serves as the President of Founders Ministries and The Institute of Public Theology. He has edited the Founders Journal, a quarterly theological publication of Founders Ministries, and has written hundreds of articles for various journals and magazines. He has been a regular contributor to TableTalk, the monthly magazine of Ligonier Ministries. He has also edited and contributed to several books, including Dear Timothy: Letters on Pastoral Ministry, The Truth and Grace Memory Books for children and  Recovering the Gospel and Reformation of Churches. He is also the author of From the Protestant Reformation to the Southern Baptist ConventionTraditional Theology and the SBC and Strong and Courageous. Tom regularly preaches and lectures at various conferences throughout the United States and other countries. In addition he regularly contributes articles to the Founders website and hosts a weekly podcast called The Sword & The Trowel. He and his wife Donna have six children along with four sons-in-law and a daughter-in-law. They have sixteen grandchildren.
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