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From Eternity Past

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    More Backsliding and More Misery!

    After the death of Abimelech, the rule of judges who feared the Lord served for a time to put a check on idolatry. But erelong the people returned to the practices of the heathen around them. Apostasy speedily brought punishment. The Ammonites subdued the eastern tribes and, crossing the Jordan, invaded the territory of Judah and Ephraim. On the west the Philistines came up from their plain beside the sea, burning and pillaging far and near. Israel seemed to be abandoned to the power of relentless foes.EP 401.2

    Again the people sought help from Him whom they had forsaken and insulted. “The children of Israel cried unto the Lord, saying, We have sinned against Thee, both because we have forsaken our God, and also served Baalim.” But the people mourned because their sins had brought suffering upon themselves, not because they had dishonored God by transgression of His holy law. True repentance is a resolute turning away from evil.EP 401.3

    The Lord answered them through one of His prophets: “Did I not deliver you from the Egyptians, and from the Amorites, from the children of Ammon, and from the Philistines? ... Ye cried to Me, and I delivered you out of their hand. Yet ye have forsaken Me, and served other gods: wherefore I will deliver you no more. Go and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your tribulation.”EP 401.4

    The Israelites now humbled themselves before the Lord. “And they put away the strange gods from among them, and served Jehovah.” And the Lord's heart of love “was grieved for the misery of Israel.” Oh, the long-suffering mercy of our God! When His people put away the sins that had shut out His presence, He heard their prayers and at once began to work for them. A deliverer was raised up in the person of Jephthah, who made war upon the Ammonites and effectually destroyed their power. For eighteen years at this time Israel had suffered under the oppression of her foes, yet again the lesson taught by suffering was forgotten.EP 401.5

    As His people returned to their evil ways, the Lord permitted them to be oppressed by powerful enemies, the Philistines. For many years they were constantly harassed, and at times completely subjugated, by this cruel and warlike nation. They had mingled with these idolaters, uniting in pleasure and in worship until they seemed to be one with them in spirit and interest. Then these professed friends of Israel became their bitterest enemies and sought to accomplish their destruction.EP 402.1

    The Bible plainly teaches that there can be no harmony between the people of God and the world. Satan works through the ungodly, under cover of pretended friendship, to allure God's people into sin. When their defense is removed, then he will lead his agents to turn against them and seek to accomplish their destruction.EP 402.2

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