TODAY’S READING: JUDGES 9-10
Does God forsake you only to redeem you later?
To put it another way, does God sell you and then buy you back later?
Does God sell you off, forsake you, to the enemy when you have done evil or behaved wickedly?
Then, after he has sold you off to the enemy and punished you for a while, God redeems you, buys you back, from the enemy that he sold you to?
This is what Israel believe in the Old Testament.
Judges 10:7 says, “So the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he sold them into the hand of the Philistines and into the hand of the Ammonites.” Judges 2:14 and 3:8 say virtually the same exact thing.
There are many Christians today that still believe this. When they sin, God gets angry and sells them off to the enemy. God gives them over to some sort of evil because they were evil. Then, after they have suffered awhile for their sin, God buys them back from the enemy. God redeems them once they have proven themselves worth of redemption.
WE SOLD OURSELVES AND OUR BIRTHRIGHT
The Hebrew word for sold is makar. Makar means to sell, to betray to others, to sell off, to be sold, to sell oneself. It’s very interesting that makar includes the connotation of betrayal and selling oneself.
The first time the word makar appears in the Bible is the story of Esau and Jacob and the birthright.
Genesis 25:30-33 says, “And Esau said to Jacob, ‘Let me some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!’ (Therefore his name was called Edom.) Jacob said, ‘Sell me your birthright now.’ Esau said, ‘I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?’ Jacob said, ‘Swear to me now.’ So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob.”
Jacob asked Esau to sell (makar) his birthright. Esau sold (makar) it. Therefore, the very first time sold (makar) appears in the Bible it is an individual, Esau, selling himself and his inheritance, his birthright.
Makar comes again when Jacob tells Rachel and Leah that it is time to leave their fathers’ house.
Genesis 31:14-15 says, “Then Rachel and Leah answered and said to him, ‘Is there any portion or inheritance left to us in our father’s house? Are we not regarded by him as foreigners? For he has sold us, and he indeed devoured our money.”
Rachel and Leah said their father viewed as foreigners, so he sold them. Their father devoured their money. Rachel and Leah had no inheritance left. So, they were sold and their inheritance was lost. Again we see the connection of being sold (makar) and the loss of inheritance.
The vast majority of the references in the Old Testament to sold, makar, have to do with the inheritance, land, being sold or people selling themselves of others into slavery.
This is what lurks underneath the idea in the New Testament of us being slaves to sin.
In John 8, Jesus says that those who practice sin are slaves to sin. These people do the works of their father, the devil. In effect, we sold ourselves to him, giving up our birthright, which was to be sons God. Instead, we sold ourselves and became sons of the devil, sons of wrath.
In Romans 6, Paul writes about how at one time we presented ourselves as obedient slaves to sin and our members to unrighteousness. We were slaves to sin and served sin.
Ephesians 2:1-3 says, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience – among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the ming, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”
We sold ourselves to the prince of the power of the air, Satan, fulfill our lusts. By doing so, we became sons of disobedience, sons of wrath.
WE SOLD JESUS
The third occurrence of makar in the Old Testament is when Joseph’s brothers sell him to the Ishmaelites.
Genesis 37:26-28 says, “Then Judah said to his brothers, ‘What profit is it if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.’ And his brothers listened to him. Then Midianite traders passed by. And they drew Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver.”
Joseph is a shadow or type of Jesus. This passage teaches us that is not God that sells us. Rather, it is we who sell Jesus in act of betrayal. Remember, makar has the connotation of betrayal.
Luke 22:3-6 says, “Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve. He went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers how he might betray him to them. And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. So he consented and sought an opportunity to betray him in the absence of a crowd.”
Judas betrayed Jesus, and he got paid to do it. Judas sold Jesus. Judas spent three years with Jesus. He saw everything Jesus did and heard everything that he taught. Judas saw the goodness of God in Jesus, yet he sold him. We are all guilty of doing this same thing at some point in our life.
But, pay careful attention to who inspired Judas to betray Jesus for money, to sell him. Satan was the inspiration for selling. We must always keep this in mind. Satan was the inspiration for Esau selling his birthright. Satan was the inspiration for Joseph’s brothers selling him into slavery. Satan was the inspiration for Adam and Eve selling their access to the tree of life so that they could live by the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Satan is the inspiration for our selling God and his loving provision so that we can live by our lusts and evil desires.
WHY WE BLAME GOD FOR SELLING US
If Satan is the inspiration for selling our inheritance, selling ourselves and others into slavery, and selling God’s loving provision to live by our lusts and evil desires, then why do we blame God for selling us?
Recall in Judges 10 that Israel believed God was angry with and sold them into the hands of their enemies. Did God really do that to Israel? Or, did Israel just think? Was Israel projecting their own actions and behaviors onto God?
Whenever Israel says that God was angry with them and sold them into slavery, there is almost always a statement about what Israel was doing at the time.
For example, we read in Judges 10:7 that Israel thought God was angry with them and sold them. But, Judges 10:6 tells us what Israel was doing prior to thinking that.
Judges 10:6 says, “The people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals and the Ashtaroth, the gods of Syria, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the Ammonites, and the gods of the Philistines. And they forsook the Lord and did not serve him.”
Israel was doing evil. They served every false god they could find. Israel forsook God. Israel became slaves to sin and served it. They served their father, the devil. They were sons of disobedience and sons of wrath.
Instead of taking responsibility for their actions and decisions, they blamed God. Not only did they blame God, but they attributed to God all of the evil that they were doing. They forsook God, but they blamed their oppression and suffering on God forsaking them, selling them to their enemies.
Like Israel, we still map our evil intentions and wicked thoughts onto God because our deeds are evil and we love the darkness more than the light of God. So, because we war against flesh and blood, which is evil, we believe that God does. Because we forsake people and hold grudges, we believe that God does. Because we return evil for evil, we believe that God does. Because we will sell off those that mistreat us, use us, or just annoy us, we believe that God does.
WHO FORSAKES WHO?
The Hebrew word for forsook in Judges 10:6 is azab. It means to leave, to leave behind, to leave over, to let go, to give up, or to abandon.
Azab is used for the first time in Genesis 2:24. It says, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they become one flesh.” Paul quotes this verse in Ephesians 5:31 and in verse 32 says it is a profound mystery that speaks to Christ and the church. Therefore, the first time azab, the word for forsake, is used in the Bible it is speaking to the fact that Jesus will leave his Father to become one with us. Of course, this is just the opposite of what we think God will do to us, which is forsake us.
The next time we see the word azab is when God answers the prayer of Abraham’s servant that he would find a wife for Isaac. In Genesis 24:27, the servant says, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken his steadfast love and his faithfulness toward my master.”
God does not forsake his steadfast love toward us. This is why Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13:7-8, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”
In the Old Testament, over and over man is the one that forsakes God:
- Deuteronomy 28:20, 31:16
- Joshua 24:20
- Judges 10:6, 10:13
- 1 Samuel 8:8, 12:10
- 1 Kings 11:33
- 2 Kings 22:17
- 2 Chronicles 21:10, 24:20, 24:24, 34:25
- Isaiah 1:4, 1:28, 65:11
- Jeremiah 1:6, 2:13, 2:17, 2:19, 5:7, 5:19, 16:11, 17:13, 19:4
- Hosea 1:2, 4:10
And there are many, many more.
But, there are numerous verses that say God will not forsake us as well numerous psalms that plead to God not to forsake us:
- Deuteronomy 24:27, 31:6, 31:8
- Joshua 1:5
- Ruth 2:20
- 1 Kings 6:13
- 1 Chronicles 28:20
- Ezra 9:9
- Nehemiah 9:17, 9:19, 9:31
- Psalm 9:10, 27:9, 37:28, 38:21, 71:18, 119:8
And there are many, many more.
JESUS REVEALS THAT GOD REDEEMS US
While there are many verses that show God would not forsake Israel, there are many other verses that state God would forsake Israel. However, this is because Israel was mapping their own forsaking of God onto God as something he would do to them.
But, Jesus revealed that God was not angry with us, that he would not forsake us, and the he would redeem us.
Instead of God being angry with us, Jesus reveals that God has pity for us.
Jesus says in Matthew 23:37, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” Jesus shows that God’s desire has always been to protect us the way a mother hen does her chicks. But, we weren’t willing to let God do that.
Luke 19:41-42 says, “And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, ‘Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.” Jesus wept over what he knew was going to happen to Jerusalem because they would not listen to him. He tried to show them the things that would bring peace but they were hidden from their eyes by the god of this world, Satan.
Jesus revealed that God would never forsake us. While on the cross just before he gave up his spirit, Jesus said in Matthew 27:46, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Many take this to mean that God forsook Jesus on the cross because all the sin of the world was placed upon him.
However, if you read Psalm 22, which is what Jesus quoted on the cross, then you see that everything past the part Jesus quoted is a confident trust in God that he delivers us and does not forsake us. Oral tradition says that if Jesus quote the beginning of the Psalm then he spoke the whole Psalm. But, even if he didn’t, the disciples would have looked up the rest of the psalm later and understood that Jesus was not saying that the Father forsook him. Rather, Jesus was saying that while it appeared that the Father forsook him, he knew he could trust the Father to deliver from him all his enemies. Jesus was saying just the opposite of what many of us have been led to believe. But, again, we are mapping our own willingness to forsake others onto God.
Jesus also revealed that God redeems us. Instead of selling us into slavery, Jesus buys us back for God from the slavery to the law, sin, and Satan that we sold ourselves into.
Zechariah prophesied about Jesus in Luke 1:68-69, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of David his servant.”
When the two disciples encountered the stranger on the road to Emmaus they said that they had hoped that Jesus was the one to redeem Israel. But, it was now three days since Jesus died and no one had seen him. Then, the stranger, Jesus, said, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” (Luke 24:25-26) Jesus was essentially saying, “Don’t you see that I have redeemed you through my death?”
Galatians 3:13 says that “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us.”
Galatians 4:4-5 says that “God sent forth his Son…to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” We had sold ourselves into slavery to the law and sin, becoming sons of disobedience and sons of wrath. Christ redeemed us to make us sons of God, sons of the Spirit.
Titus 2:14 says that Jesus Christ “gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.”
Jesus gave himself to redeem us. Instead of selling us, he bought us. And, instead of selling us, Jesus sold himself to redeem us. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:20 and 7:23 that we were “bought with a price.” In 2 Corinthians 8:9, Paul says, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.”
What did Jesus sell himself to?
Philippians 2:7-8 says Jesus “emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point, even death on a cross.” We sold ourselves to slavery to death, but Jesus sold himself to death to buy us back from death to deliver us from the fear of death and our slavery to it (Hebrews 2:14-15)
REDEEMED BY GRACE AND TRUTH
Did you notice that Paul said in 2 Corinthians 8:9 that it was the grace of Jesus that cause him sell himself to become poor to make us rich?
John 1:17 says, “Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”
Grace came through Jesus Christ to redeem us. Our redemption was the purpose of grace.
Israel was told how they could redeem, restore, and make restitution for land, people, and animals.
Do you know what they had to do?
Add one fifth to the price. Just look at Leviticus 5:16; 6:5; 22:14; 27:13, 15, 19, 27, 31 and Numbers 5:7.
Why one-fifth more to the price to redeem something?
Because five is the number of grace throughout scripture. The price of redemption being one-fifth more than the value was a picture of grace coming through Jesus to redeem us by selling himself to make us rich.
Above, we saw that in John 8 Jesus says that those who practice sin are slaves to sin. These people do the works of their father, the devil. In effect, we sold ourselves to him, giving up our birthright, which was to be sons God. Instead, we sold ourselves and became sons of the devil, sons of wrath.
But, what does Jesus tell the Jews will make them free from this slavery?
In John 8:31-32, Jesus says, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and truth will set you free.” The truth frees us from being a son of disobedience and a son of wrath. Galatians 5:1 says, “For freedom Christ set us free.” The freedom who set us free for was to love God and our neighbour. Peter says, “Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.” (1 Peter 2:16) We are to have the same mind as Jesus, which is to use our freedom to sell ourselves as slaves to righteousness, servants of God.
The truth makes us free. This is why Proverbs 23:23 says, “Buy truth, and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding.”
God does not sell us. Nor does he forsake us. He never has and he never will. We only think he does things because that’s what we do.
Instead of selling us, God buys us. God redeems us. He sent Jesus with grace and Jesus to do just that.