By Jeremy Light
(Editor's note: The following article was received with a note reading, "Dear Mr. Dobbs, I am a student at Houston College of the Bible. I am 18 years old. I thought I would send this to you for publication." Thank you, Jeremy, we are happy to have your literary effort. It shows that young people are capable of mature thoughts H. A. (Buster) Dobbs .)
Mankind, including God's people, follows a never-ending cycle that is made up of faithfulness, followed by apostasy, followed by oppression from outside forces, followed by a cry for deliverance. After deliverance the first phase comes again. This cycle does not occur more plainly than in the book of Judges. I think you will find it interesting that the cycle the Israelites were caught in is the same cycle the church is caught in today.
We see this cycle in the second chapter of Judges, beginning in the seventh verse. The people are faithful to God all the days of Joshua. But "Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Jehovah, died, being a hundred and ten years old."
Almost immediately it is said, "There arose another generation after them, which knew not the Lord, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel" (Judges 2:10). The Israelites gave themselves to the idolatry of pagan practices (Judges 2:15). This happens to nations that refuse to be bound by a fixed pattern and who refuse to acknowledge God. Oppression follows rebellion, as night follows day. In verse 16, Jehovah delivers the people from the hands of their oppressors. This caused the people to be obedient for a short time, after which they began to defy their judges and turn back to idols. The theme is repeated with monotonous regularity throughout the Old Testament.
We may criticize the children of Israel for their insolent behavior. However, a careful look at the present condition of the Lord's church, shows the cycle continues. This is a cycle that is not spiritually healthy for any people and must cease.
Faithfulness is a quality required of all yet possessed by few. Revelation 2:10 displays this quality beautifully. "Fear none. of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." What blessed assurance we have in this statement. Acceptance with God demands faithful obedience to his commandments.
Apostasy is a problem in the Lord's church. It comes as a result of a violation of Revelation 22:18-19, which says paraphrastically, "Do not add to or take away from the Word of God."
The cycle has occurred since creation. No doubt it will continue, but it is not a good thing. It would be best if man would reach the stage of faithfulness and stay there. However, such will never be the case. It is the obligation of each child of God to be faithful concerning God's commandments and also to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. It is only in this way that we can hope to bring others into a right relationship with God and avoid the vicious cycle that has plagued man so many years.