Today we have started our series in the Book of Judges. The theme of the passage (1:1 – 3:6) that introduces the book is a sad one: how the people of God fail to fully obey their God.
The first words in the book – “After the death of Joshua ” are identifying the historical time in which the Book of Judges takes place. The people of God are still fighting their enemies. The conquest of Cannan is still in process.
are several important points in this passage that we should not miss:
Our ideas are never better then (not even comparable to) God’s plan – the tribes don’t drive out their enemies, but put them to forced labour. Pride, lack of faith, disobedience, they all drive us to think that we are wiser than we actually are, or that we can compete with God in deciding what is better for us.
Disobedience has consequences – God speaks to the people through an angel, announcing that their disobedience will lead to their enemies being a constant “thorn” in their side, and that their idols will be a trap for them (heart and mind). The one thing that still puzzles an unrepentant heart, today, is the consequence of its sin, and it cries just like the people of Israel wept when they heard what the angel said.
Teaching the next generation about God is vital – after the death of Joshua there came a generation of people that did not know the Lord or his work (2:10). The next verse starts like this: “And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals”. Not knowing God leads to sin, to evil, to suffering, to sorrow. And not only that but not knowing the true God leads a heart to serve fake gods, idols.
In the passage 2:16 – 2:20 – we are given a description of how the dynamics between God and his people will develop throughout the book:
- God saves His people through judges, but they turn to idols to worship;
- Stubbornness and corruption characterize their hearts
- The anger of God is kindled through constant covenant breaking
God is sovereign – 2:21 – 3:6 – God is using the enemies that were not driven out to test and teach the new generation. God is not taken by surprise by anything. At the same time God is merciful, and faithful, and in control of everything.
All these things are extremely relevant today, in a world where obedience is not seen as a virtue, but as a sign of weakness and lack of identity, lack of power and strength.
By His grace, God had planned that at one point in
history a judge would come in, strip himself of all power, and become obedient to the point of death, a one and only judge, one that would sacrifice Himself for all the idol-worshipers, for all the stone-hearted, for all the covenant-breakers, for you and me, namely His son, Jesus Christ.
One of the most important things that Jesus preached throughout his earthly ministry was this: “repent and believe” (Mark 1:15). There is no faith without repentance, and there is no true and full obedience without faith.