‘GENUINE’ REPENTANCE will TURN AWAY God’s ANGER: Then the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served the Baals and the Ashtoreths, the gods of Syria, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the people of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines; and they forsook the Lord and did not serve Him. So the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel; and He sold them into the hands of the Philistines and into the hands of the people of Ammon...and the children of Israel said to the Lord, "We have sinned! Do to us whatever seems best to You; only deliver us this day, we pray." So they put away the foreign gods from among them and served the Lord. And His soul could no longer endure the misery of Israel. (Judges 10:6-7, 15-16)
Around 1125 B.C., the children of Israel again broke the very first of the ten commandments of God (Exodus 20:3), and slid into unrestrained idolatry. They began to worship not only the gods of Canaan, but also those of surrounding nations (v. 6). Jehovah became so angry at their disobedience that He sold them out to two foreign oppressors: the Philistines from the west and the Ammonites from the east (v. 7). For the next eighteen years these two heathen groups harassed and oppressed the children of Israel so severely that they cried out to Jehovah out of pain and frustration (vv. 8–10).
We should note that this spiritual apostasy of the children of Israel was not merely a matter of syncretism (the combination of different forms of belief or practice), but they had totally abandoned their worship of Jehovah, and had been worshipping the gods of other heathen nations. When the Israelites now tearfully cried out to God, He refused their pleadings at first by citing several instances of how He had delivered them in the past but how every time they had turned their backs on Him (vv. 11-13). God further told them to go and cry out to the gods that they had chosen for themselves (v. 14).
Now, we see ‘genuine’ repentance from the children of Israel. They now totally surrendered themselves at the mercy of God, and were willing to take any punishment from Him as long as He delivered them from their oppressors (v. 15). As an outward sign of their repentance, they put away the strange gods and started serving God (v. 16a). Any true act of repentance is more than a verbal plea, and it will result in a definite change of actions that can be seen outwardly!
We can also glimpse the tender heart of God, as He was moved by the plight of His wayward children. In fact, the plight of the children of Israel became intolerable to Him (v. 16b). Despite their constant sinning and backsliding, God still loved the Israelites and shared their misery just like parents are moved by their children’s suffering. "As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him" (Psalms 103:13). God soon delivered them through Jephthah (11:32-33) as His response to their genuine repentance!
Let us be clear that genuine repentance (turning away from-sin and towards-God) will truly please God. To have remorse (to be sorry) and regret (to wish otherwise) are not the same as to repent, even though they may be the outward manifestations of repentance. Godly repentance will ultimately lead to our salvation (2 Cor 7:9-10). Let us examine our hearts today and turn away from anything we are doing wrong in the sight of God! This act will bring deliverance in our lives today!