“They (the Philistines and Ammonites) shattered and crushed the Israelites that year, and for 18 years they did the same to all the Israelites who were on the other side of the Jordan in the land of the Amorites in Gilead” (Judges 10:8 HCSB).
How long would we bang our heads against the wall to convince someone he had sinned? How patient and persistent are we? Only by God’s grace would we be as patient and persistent as God. And God is patient and persistent with our ultimate good in mind.
Where some might see stubbornness on God’s part, refusing to relent even after getting his, “We’re sorry,” out of the Israelites, we should see love. Yes, there is also justice there. The Israelites didn’t deserve leniency. They didn’t deserve a break. But leniency also would have been the worst thing for them.
It’s easy for us to think that God merely wants right behavior. So we warn against sin by talking about how it dishonors our holy God, and rightly so. But sin destroys us. Insidiously, if no one intervenes, we don’t even notice.
But we notice God’s hammer. We notice when we are shattered and crushed by disloyalty and betrayal, by damage and loss, by shock and grief. The hammer of God wakes us up to our own disloyalty and betrayal of God, to the damage and loss we are causing with our sin, to the shock and grief we have brought to our heavenly Father, if not to others. And in his love, if he needs to keep hammering for 18 years, God will do it.
We can be so slow to see the truth. “But (God) is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).