We serve a very generous God. He richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment (1 Timothy 6:17; cf. Acts 14:17). We ought to enjoy and give thanks for every good gift that comes from our Father in heaven. However, the possession of wealth and what it can acquire is not an invitation to self-indulgence. God made us to work and to do his will. And he made us to work with one another to reach people with the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ. Christians may say they want to do this, as long as it doesn’t inconvenience them by having to work with other believers. Far too many are on a lonesome quest to satisfy their own needs. What we have in our text is an example of the people of God working together for his purposes.
The Lord caused Israel to prosper when they cooperated with one another (1:3). The tribe of Judah made a godly request for their brother’s help. Since God in his providence had placed the two tribes together in their inheritances (Joshua 19:1-9), the tribe of Judah rightly saw this as a task on which they could join together. God’s people are to seek to help one another (1 Corinthians 12:7, 21-26). Paul also teaches this to the church at Rome (Romans 1:11-12; 15:24, 30-32).
We see a godly response in helping their brothers. The tribe of Simeon did not shrink back from its brotherly duty. They went to war with Judah! The New Testament Scriptures show Christians helping each other (Philippians 4:14-19). God honored Simeon’s assistance to Judah, for they were preserved with Judah many years after the other tribes fell into apostasy and then into captivity. This was beyond anyone’s knowledge at that time, but there were future benefits. God’s blessing comes as his people give and receive help one to another. Don’t allow pride to keep you from either activity. In Pilgrim’s Progress, Christian couldn’t get up when he fell until his brother Faithful helped him. (By the way, if you haven’t read Pilgrim’s Progress, I encourage you to do so.) The life of faith is not meant to be walked alone; in fact, it cannot be.
The Lord caused Israel to prosper when they obeyed his will (1:4-7). In this event, God gives an example of the defeat of the world. This is actual history, and all events had meaning in the history of redemption. God was acting for the future prosperity of Judah and providing for the line of the Messiah. We must not fail to recognize the historic importance of this event. God was acting in history to prepare for the sending of his Son in human flesh through the tribe of Judah. But the Lord also has lessons for us from it. When God is in our warfare, the armies of the world go down to defeat. “The Lord gave….” Though the leaders of people style themselves as “lords”, they have no power against the all-power of the Lord. A king with his army around him has a high opinion of himself and acts accordingly (Proverbs 30:29-31). But no person has power against the Lord (Proverbs 21:30-31).
God gave an example of divine vengeance. Some question the destruction of the Canaanites, but they were justly condemned for their wickedness (cf. Genesis 15:16; Deuteronomy 7:10; 18:9-12; 20:16-20). Some question the treatment of Adoni-Bezek, but he received what the Law required—justice (Exodus 21:23-24; Leviticus 24:19-20; Deuteronomy 19:16-21). He acknowledged God’s justice against him. The church is not a physical nation charged with carrying out physical justice. We live in the new covenant age. The mission of the church is to extend grace to the undeserving (Matthew 5:38-42). However, the real problem that people have with this topic is that they hate God’s holiness, and they don’t want God’s judgment to fall upon them for their sin (rejection of God as God, refusal to love God, and rebellion against God and his ways. But how are we living? Do we want to work with other followers of Christ for the glory of God and the good of people? Let us learn from the good example of these two tribes of Israel.
Grace and peace, David