Judges 6:1-6 describes a pitiful situation. An alliance army of the Midianites, the Amalekites, and some other unnamed peoples of the East was absolutely terrorizing the Israelites as the Israelites tried to make their lives in Canaan. These foreign invaders would allow the Israelites to sow seed and cultivate crops, but each year, like clockwork, the allied troops would march into Canaan at harvest time and lay waste to Israel’s harvests from the north to the south.
These enemy forces would descend upon the land like great waves of locusts, complete with a seemingly innumerable amount of camels, other kinds of livestock, and tents (Judges 6:5, 7:12). Just to give you some idea of the scale of these forces, the army of the unnamed peoples of the East itself boasted 135,000 soldiers (Judges 8:10). It’s no wonder that these annual raids had the Israelites living in poverty and hiding out in caves, dens, and other strongholds afforded by the mountains. And all this went on for seven years.
Now, there are a number of spiritual principles that we can glean from this story. Here are three examples. First, in one way the plight of the Israelites was their own fault because God used those invading forces as His hand of chastisement against the disobedient, rebellious Israelites (Judges 6:1). Second, the story proves, as does the entire book of Judges, that even when territory is claimed from Satan’s forces, that territory must be vigilantly defended from his incessant attempts to take it back. Third, people who wouldn’t normally enter into alliance together are perfectly willing to do so in order to fight against God’s people.
For the purpose of this post, however, the spiritual principle that I want to single out is this one: Satan understands that God’s people become incredibly disheartened when they put in all the time and work to enjoy a harvest but don’t get to claim that harvest. And make no mistake, Satan just loves doing this kind of thing. As Jesus says of him in John 10:10, “The thief does not comes except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.”
You see, Satan knows that if he can keep sending his waves of forces at a believer and keep stealing that believer’s harvests, the believer will be forced to live a life of deprivation and poverty. Furthermore, figuratively speaking, the believer will wind up living a cave-like existence of fear and hiding. This, of course, is exactly where Satan wants the believer — discouraged, out of heart, afraid, and neutralized.
Unfortunately for us believers, about all we can do to prevent Satan from destroying our harvests is do our best to live lives pleasing to God and make a habit of asking Him to keep a spiritual hedge of protection up around us (Job 1:10). Many times, though, even this isn’t enough. Paul and the other apostles were devout men of God who lived incredible lives of service to Him, and yet Satan, via his forces, was still able to prevent them from enjoying many harvests.
As proof of this, Paul says the apostles were hungry, thirsty, poorly clothed, beaten, homeless, reviled, persecuted, defamed, and looked upon as offscouring (1 Corinthians 4:11-13). Since God wasn’t the cause of all that trouble, that only leaves one candidate. Obviously, Satan worked through some of the “Midianties,” “Amalekites,” and “peoples of the East” of Paul’s day to prevent Paul and the other apostles from enjoying earthly blessings of harvest which they had rightly earned.
But this problem of deprived harvests isn’t just something the Old Testament Israelites or the New Testament apostles faced, is it? It’s a problem that we Christians still deal with today. I wish I could close this post by promising you, Christian, that Satan will never keep you from claiming some earthly harvest of blessing that you’ve earned, but I can’t say that because it would be a lie. Therefore, what I’ll do is make this closing a word of advice. When you find that Satan’s forces have swept into your land and destroyed your harvest, don’t delay in crying out to God for His help. I don’t know what form that help might take or even when it might come, but what I do know is that God is the only one who can send it.