(I recently finished reading Judges as part of my daily Bible reading, but then I listened to a sermon by Glenn Colley that pointed out something I had missed. I wanted to share that powerful point with each of you. You can listen to his sermon here.)
The book of Judges in the Old Testament describes a whirlwind life for the children of Israel. They were constantly rebelling against God, falling into servitude to their enemies, and calling on God for help. God would raise a judge that would deliver them from their affliction. Then the cycle would start all over again.
One of the most memorable judges that we read about in this book is named Deborah. She is typically well known because she is a female leader, but also because she was the earthly anchor that helped to lead the Israelite army to a victory over the army of the Canaanite king Jabin (with God being the ultimate anchor and reason for victory – Judges 4:4). After the victory, Deborah and Barak (the leader of the Israelite army) sang a song, which can be found in the entire chapter of Judges 5. A little over halfway through this song, there is a section that seems somewhat out of place. It has a negative sound to it, which doesn’t seem to fit into a song of rejoicing. Listen to what Deborah and Barak sang:
“‘Curse Meroz’ said the angel of the Lord, ‘Curse its inhabitants bitterly, because they did not come to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty.” [Judges 5:23]
There is really not anything known about the city or village or Meroz other than this one verse, and it doesn’t paint a pretty picture of them. From what this is saying, when Israel went to battle against the Canaanite army to free themselves, the city of Meroz decided to sit that one out. They figured they just needed to stand on the side and cheer instead of getting involved and helping. For that reason, all the citizens of that city were cursed.
That is such a small passage and a seemingly insignificant mention of a somewhat obscure city. But it holds great lessons for us that I think we are guilty of more than we want to admit.
First off, when it comes to our home congregation, how many of us seem to fall into the category of ‘seat warmer’? “You guys go do the work, and I’ll sit here just in case something else comes up that needs to be done.” Or maybe it’s “They have a talent for that kind of thing, so I’ll let them take care of it.” There is always a reason to not get involved. There is always an excuse that keeps us from helping out with the work on the congregation. If we aren’t careful, we will forever be cheerleaders on the sidelines and never get involved in the actual game.
But let’s take this a little broader. How is our participation in the universal sense of the Church? Do we look for opportunities to share the gospel with those we are around? Do we even think of ourselves as Christians outside of Sunday, and maybe on the occasional Wednesday night? Our lives are going smoothe, and there’s no reason to mess that up. We don’t look for those who are in need. We don’t help to evangelize. We are so wrapped up in our own lives that we miss the battle where we are needed.
Satan is a fierce and mighty enemy that is looking for lives to destroy (I Peter 5:8). Keep in mind that Matthew 12:30 says “He who is not with Me is against Me.” There is no middle ground. There is not sitting on the sideline. Either you are fighting with God, or you are fighting against Him. May it never be said of us that we “did not come to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty.”