Judges 2:11-22comment (0)
July 3, 2012
By Douglas K. Wilson
Related Scripture: Judges 2:11-22
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Dean and Professor of Christian Ministries, University of Mobile
TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES
Israel committed to heed the Law during Joshua’s farewell address. All the elders faithfully kept their promise to serve Yahweh. Another generation arose after them who had not experienced the mighty hand of God. They did not know Yahweh, and the consequences would be devastating.
As we transition in our study from Joshua to Judges, we immediately observe a spiritual decay occurring. Under the theocratic leadership of Moses and Joshua, Israel knew that God had spoken and what He said. Judges records the devolution of the tribes from order to chaos, from moral directives given by God to man-centered, situational ethics.
Spiritual Adultery (11–13, 17)
The angel of the Lord warned Israel that they were prone to worship false gods. In the first generation governed by judges, the people of Yahweh were already bowing down to Canaanite fertility gods. Just as some of their fathers had done in Moab during the exodus generation (Num. 25:1–8), they prostituted themselves spiritually and sexually to these false deities. Even after being warned, they chose sensual pleasure over spiritual purity.
Christians today, particularly in American culture, assume that we are immune from such idolatries. How arrogant and high-minded! Believers still struggle with sexual sins, just as they have since the apostolic age (1 Cor. 5–7). Building bigger barns to hold the sheep may actually be erecting shrines for our own glory (Luke 12:16–21). Spending more money on designer beverages and electronic gadgetry than we give in tithes and offerings seems like idolatry, rather than godly stewardship. Many church-attending teenagers are more fascinated with sorcery and witchcraft in movies, books, and games than in the transforming work of the Holy Spirit. The truth is that we are just as apt to rebel as the Israelites were.
Spiritual Discipline (13–14)
Spiritual adultery resulted in spiritual discipline. A loving father chastises his children, teaching them the blessings of obedience and the consequences of rebellion. God gave the idolatrous Israelites over to their Canaanite counterparts. They lost their spiritual identity as members of the covenant community, and they were enveloped into the local culture. They wanted to be like the people around them, and God gave them over to their desires.
Such action is consistent with the nature of God. The apostle Paul offers a tri-fold acknowledgement of God giving rebels over to their desires (Rom. 1:24, 26, 28). The brother confronted for blatant sexual sin (1 Cor. 5:5) was handed over to the enemy. One of two results occur: the believer repents in godly sorrow (2 Cor. 2:5–8), or the rebel demonstrates he does not belong to Christ (1 John 2:19).
Divine Compassion (16–18)
In God’s compassion, he provided judges to govern the tribes and to lead the army. Though Moses established a system of judges at Mount Sinai (Ex. 18:13–26), their role beyond rendering legal rulings did not develop until after Joshua’s death. God granted Israel favor through the provision of judges, yet the people chose their own ways.
Divine Testing (19–22)
A careful reading of Judges reveals a cyclical pattern of events. First Yahweh provided a civil and military leader. As a result they experienced peace for a season. This peace then led to prideful activities, by which the Israelites compromised themselves culturally and spiritually. The next stage was generally oppression by a foreign army, which God used to chastise His people and bring them to godly repentance. In their brokenness, the people would plead for God’s forgiveness. In time He would raise a deliverer, and the cycle would begin again.
God continues to test believers. His purpose is not for Him to discover our commitment; rather, it is the opportunity for us to discover how much we need Christ. Embrace the test in order to discover what God is doing with your life.