Just a quick thought this morning as I was studying through the book of Judges. Israel had come off of a "high point" with Joshua as their leader. They were being obedient to God and following in His steps. However, the book of Judges is a stark contrast to what is happening in Joshua. We begin to see Israel's disobedience. In Judges 1 the command is clear from God, that Judah and the tribes of Israel are to take the land of Canaan. Judah successfully obeys the command and is able to defeat the Canaanites (Judges 1:4). On a gruesome side note; they also cut off the thumbs and big toes of Adoni-Bezek (Judges 1:6). However, after this initial conquest the tribes of Israel were not able to drive the other Canaanite groups out of their land. This starts in 1:21, where the tribe of Benjamin was unable to drive the Jebusites out of Jerusalem. The following verses in the chapter (27-36) continue to display Israel's incomplete conquest of the lands. They were able to inhabit the lands but not able to drive the Canaanites out; so they began to make the Canaanites tributes (slaves). The inability of the Israelites to drive the Canaanites out of their lands, led them to worship false idols, and serve Baal. Chapter 2 then begins to portray a cyclical pattern of Israel's disobedience to God. The Lord shows compassion on them (2:16) and brings them Judges to deliver them from their enemies who were beginning to take them over; the Lord was also moved to pity (or made to relent) by the groaning of His chosen people (2:18). However, even when the Lord delivered them through the Judges, Israel continued to disobey, reverting back to their sinful ways (2:19). It was at that point that the Lord declared He would no longer drive out any of the enemy nations, so He could test Israel (2:21-23).
As I read and studied through that text this morning, I found myself filling the shoes of Israel. How often do we as believers feel God's presence among us and His blessing upon us; and then openly disobey against Him? Do we allow sinful things into our lives to tempt us further? Do we call upon God and seek forgiveness, only to turn around and revert to our sinful ways? Israel was walking with God and He was fufilling His promises to them and showing them His faithfulness. Then Israel began to back down a little bit at a time. Instead of driving out the enemies completely they let them stay in the land as slaves. Soon after that, they started worshipping their idols and serving their false gods. If we do not drive out temptations from our lives, and we allow sinful things to creep into our minds and hearts, then we will become disobedient children of God, just like Israel in this passage. We will then cry out to God once we have realized the brokeness of our relationship with Him, and because of His love and mercy He will help us (just like he brought judges for Israel). But after that point, what will our next move be? Will we draw nearer and closer to God so we do not fall into the same pattern of disobedience? Or will we be like the nation of Israel, and revert back to our sinful ways after God has delivered us? Be strong in your faith! Be in the Word, in prayer, and in fellowship with other believers! These are the things that will keep us close to God. This week as we struggle through temptation and sin, let us not revert back to our "old self;" but rather let us actively seek God and serve Him alone.
Because of Calvary,
-Pastor Benjamin Johnson