by Tracy Moore, Guest Contributor
As part of my Bible reading plan this month, I’ve been in the book of Judges. This book tells the story of how the Israelites, just one generation after moving into the land God promised them, began to cycle in and out of rebellion against Him.
But even though the descent of the Israelites into idolatry is tragic, the book of Judges is full of treasures: treasures that act as encouragements to us so that we can learn from them.
One such treasure is Judges 8:34, which occurs as Israel is yet again spiraling into rebellion after being (yet again) rescued by God:
“Thus the sons of Israel did not remember the LORD their God, who had delivered them from the hands of all their enemies on every side” (NASB).
This verse is a picture of what it looks like to slip into idolatry and rebellion; it’s a picture of not remembering God, who delivers us from our enemies.
The opposite of ‘not remembering’ is ‘to remember,’ so in my meditation after reading this verse, I began to consider with thanksgiving some different “enemies” from which God delivers me.
“Enemies” can come in various forms. Satan is our enemy, as is death – the final enemy which God promises to destroy.
Enemies can also be would-be muggers or accidents and sicknesses that didn’t happen.
Or maybe the accident or tragedy did happen, but God is faithfully walking with us in it, delivering us through it, helping us defeat the enemies of unbelief and despair so that we receive the reward of a strong faith refined by fire.
But as I considered various enemies, I suddenly remembered the greatest enemy God has delivered us from…
And this is what Christmas is all about.
You see, outside of Christ, we are all under God’s wrath (Eph 2:3) and are His enemies (Rom 5:10) because our sin separates us from being friends with Him.
And God, because He is holy, must judge and punish our sins to satisfy His righteous wrath.
What we need is someone who can stand in for us and receive the punishment in our place so that our sin account is wiped clean, and we become holy by being given God’s own righteousness.
The only ‘someone’ qualified to stand in for us is Jesus Christ – God’s Son – the baby we celebrate at Christmas. Jesus became a human being so that He could die receiving the punishment for our sins upon Himself.
And when He rose from the dead, it was proof that the righteous wrath of God for our sin was satisfied by His sacrifice (Rom 4:25).
So this Christmas, may we remember how this wrath-absorbing Gift in the manger delivers us from our greatest enemy while also delivering us to Him - in peace, safety, joy, and friendship.