June 30th, 2010 by Kristi Stephens
If you’re here from iFellowship, welcome and jump in! We’re continuing a little study detour through the book of Judges – yesterday we began looking at some of the reasons why we find such moral and spiritual disaster in the pages of this book. Today we’re finishing that thought.
Yesterday we looked at the fact that the Israelites were commanded to drive the Canaanites completely out of the land, and yet they failed. We ended with the question, “Why do you think they couldn’t drive the Canaanites out? Do you think God had commanded them to do something impossible… or did this display a lack of faith?”
Remember, God had promised to be with them - back in the book of Numbers, Caleb and Joshua were the only two who wanted to enter the land in faith, believing that even the giant Anakites could not keep God from fulfilling His word. In Judges chapter one, we find Caleb single-handedly wiping those feared Anakites out – even while entire tribes failed to drive much less intimidating enemies out of their allotted lands! If 85 year old Caleb can, through his great faith in God, drive out the giants of the land that scared the Israelites off to begin with, why are the tribes failing to obey God’s command? Lack of military power? …or lack of faith?
It’s interesting to read God’s appraisal of this situation in chapter 2:1-3 -
The angel of the LORD went up from Gilgal to Bokim and said, “I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land that I swore to give to your forefathers. I said, ‘I will never break my covenant with you, and you shall not make a covenant with the people of this land, but you shall break down their altars.’ Yet you have disobeyed me. Why have you done this? Now therefore I tell you that I will not drive them out before you; they will be thorns in your sides and their gods will be a snare to you.”
(Does that wording sound familiar? Glance back at Joshua 23:12-13)
There is one more thing we need to notice before diving into Judges. The book of Judges has a very clear structure.
- Ch. 1-3 – Scary preview of this book: they have disobeyed, and it will not go well.
- Ch. 3-16 – Downward spiral of spiritual and moral climate during the rule of the judges
- Ch. 17-21 – Two frightening stories that illustrate the problem
During chapters 3-16, there is a four-step cycle that repeats 7 times.
- The people sin and fall into idolatry (2:10-13)
- They are oppressed by their enemies (2:14-15)
- They call out to God in distress (2:15)
- He raises up a judge to deliver them from their enemies (2:16)
Then the judge dies and they repeat step one – only worse than before. (2:17-19)
Now, hang onto that mentally and glance at the last verses of the book of Joshua. Two clear events occur in the final verses: Joshua dies, and Joseph’s bones (which had been carried with them out of Egypt – fun fact: he likely would have been mummified as a ruler of Egypt!) are buried.
The point: We desperately need a leader – we need THE Leader. These two great men are very obviously gone, and everything falls apart. Then God will raise up judges to lead the people; every time they die, everything gets worse!
Remember the “Land, Nation, Leader” promises from Genesis 12? We’ve got the land (well, partially), Israel is a nation, but that Leader promise is hauntingly empty.
Want to know where we’d be without Jesus Christ? It’s not a pretty picture – hang on to your hat as we dive into this book.