We ended our reading of the book of Joshua yesterday with a most profound statement: Joshua 24:31 “Israel SERVED the LORD throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had experienced everything the LORD had done for Israel.”
Chapter 1 – After the death of Joshua the Israelites ASKED the LORD “Who will be the first to go up and fight for us against the Canaanites?” God answered and said JUDAH!! Judah attacked and the LORD gave the Canaanites and Perizzites into their hands. Rather than obeying the LORD and destroying these people that the LORD told them to totally destroy BUT – the Israelites captured Adoni-Bezek and humiliated him by cutting off his big toes and his thumbs. AGAIN… God was very specific in His instructions to HIS people about completely destroying the evil people in the Promised Land that they were to TAKE.
Let’s go back for a minute to Deuteronomy chapter 7. It’s important.
When the LORD your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations….. and when the LORD your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally . Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy. Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, for they will turn your sons away from following me to serve other gods, and the LORD’s anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you. This is what you are to do to them: Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones, cut down their Asherah poles and burn their idols in the fire. For you are a people holy to the LORD your God.
In verse 19 – The LORD was with the men of Judah. They took possession of the hill country, BUT (did you get that… BUT) they were UNABLE TO DRIVE THE PEOPLE FROM THE PLAINS, BECAUSE THEY HAD IRON CHARIOTS. BTW — City of Palms is Jericho.
KEEP in mind >>>> these people had SEEN the waters of the Jordan STOP so they could cross over, they saw the walls of Jericho fall, they saw armies become confused so they could possess the land. They KNOW the POWER of their Almighty God and yet they fear CHARIOTS!!! OYE VEY!!
The book of Joshua told us of a fairly swift and thorough conquest of enemy armies and cities while the book of Judges seems to suggest a more lengthy and gradual conquest. When the Israelites first entered the Promised Land they were unified… now each tribe had their own responsibilities to finish conquering the land they were given. The Israelites became sidetracked by fear, weariness, lack of discipline, or pursuit of their own interests, and spiritual decay had begun within the Israelite Nation because the Israelites did not recognize how easy it was to follow in the footsteps of the people whose land they TOOK rather than remaining faithful to THEIR GOD in the land God had given them …..resulting in a FAITH that faded away.
Over 700 years earlier, God made THE COVENANT with Abraham about the Promised Land and the increase of his descendants. NOW… the Israelites are IN the PROMISED LAND.
As you read Chapter 1 notice how many times you read things such as: “ they failed to dislodge the Jebusites living among them”; they “did not drive out the people of the land” they took over; “they did not drive out” the people living in the land; etc. We are witnessing the failure of people. While Joshua was alive and leading with his entire being sold out to God, they did fine….not perfect…but fine. NOW that Joshua is gone…they are failing and their failure is compounding. So….were the Israelites following God or Joshua???? Where do you think their hearts were turned?
The Israelites were no different than we are. How often do we fail to drive sin completely from our lives? When we do not “drive out” the sin in our lives … completely drive it out….we often see results of GRADUAL DETERIORATION most importantly of our relationship with God; as well as relationships with other people, our health, the length of our lives, the gradual destruction of our minds and bodies.
God gives us a refresher as to how Othniel came into the picture since he will be one of the 12 Judges. The Israelites do sin and God will allow them to become oppressed in order to get them to repent. We are seeing the cycle of sin, judgment, and repentance that Israel experienced again and again.
Chapter 2 – This chapter begins with the angel of the Lord speaking to HIS people, reminding them of all that HE had promised their ancestors in the past; that HE would NEVER break HIS covenant with HIS people; that HE lead them into the Promised LAND and fought their battles for them… BUT you shall break down their altars in the Promised Land. YET.. you have disobeyed ME. WHY have you done this? Therefore I tell you I will NOT drive them out before you, they will be THORNS in your sides and their gods will be a SNARE for you.
This event marks a significant change in Israel’s relationship with GOD. HOWEVER… God still will not abandon HIS people. They would receive wonderful blessings IF they asked God to forgive them and sincerely follow HIM again. Although God would not help Israel conquer the Promised Land BECAUSE OF THEIR disrespect, rebelliousness, disobedience, rejection of HIS ways, etc.; He WOULD still honor HIS promise to make Israel a nation through whom the WHOLE world would be blessed which will be seen when prophesy is fulfilled in the Messiah.
Disobedience has a price. It had a price in the OT and it has a price in the NT. But read the good news from Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death, but the GIFT OF GOD is ETERNAL LIFE IN CHRIST JESUS OUR LORD.”
Verses 10-14 — AFTER THAT whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel. THEN the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD and SERVED BAALS. They forsook the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them. The provoked the LORD to anger because they forsook him and served Baal and the Ashtoreths. In his anger against Israel the LORD handed them over to the raiders who plundered them. He sold them to their enemies all around, whom they were no longer able to resist.
I have to tell you, this chapter is very sad to me. We saw the SAME thing happen after the death of Joseph who had delivered the Hebrews and saved them from the famine. Joseph had a great relationship with the Pharaoh who allowed Joseph to bring his entire family to Egypt. Joseph had a very close relationship with God. Joseph allowed and desired God to use him and he became the Hebrews’ Deliverer and Redeemer (as Jesus is our Deliverer and Redeemer today). When Genesis ended the small Hebrew Nation was safe and happy. However, when we began Deuteronomy … Joseph had died. 400 years had passed since Joseph had moved his family to Egypt. The Hebrew Nation had grown from 70 people to 2-3 million. The new Pharaoh had no clue who Joseph was and apparently most of the Hebrews had taken on many of the Egyptian beliefs … not knowing who they were. Were they also not told about ALL God had done for them?? It took God ONE day to get the Israelites OUT of Egypt but it took 40 YEARS to get Egypt out of the Israelites!!!
Here we are once again… apparently their parents and families did not pass down all the things their children needed to know about the past and about WHO HE IS!!! We are to SHARE OUR testimonies with others so others will desire to know God, so we can be the salt of the earth and the light of the world for HIM.
My Pastor Dave Bowman has a statement that is OH SO TRUE…. “SIN IS FUN”!! Think about it… we usually get involved in the wrong things because they are fun, they may even appear to be the “easy way”, they appear exciting, and enticing to one or more of our senses. Sin is EASY to get sucked into because it is usually: “pretty, smells good, tastes good, feels good, sounds appealing…. At least for a while… and often if only for a moment it can fill a void!!!
Throughout the first 5 books, we read over and over to “tell our children (naturally born, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, or spiritual children), to remember, to impress it upon them”….and yet they didn’t. It is OUR job to tell God’s story, so that others can make the right decisions in their lives. Sometimes the greatest way we tell God’s story is through our actions – just think how intensely young children WATCH every thing you do and listen to what you say to see if it matches your actions. INTENSE eh?
Verse 16 – “THEN the Lord raised up judges who saved them out of the hands of these raiders. YET they would not listen to their judges but prostituted themselves to other gods and worshiped them.”
Verse 19 – “They REFUSED to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways.” Verse 20 – THEREFORE…..
Verse 19 makes me think of our nation today. Much of our Nation has turned from God, many churches are redefining what scriptures are acceptable to use (such as the OT doesn’t pertain to us, or the book of Revelation is too frightening). We have just witnessed the terrorist activity in Boston. If God is indeed the same yesterday, today, and always … there will be consequences for our choices as a nation. Verse 22 states: “I will use them to test Israel and see whether they will keep the way of the Lord and walk in it as their forefathers did.” Could the Lord be testing our Nation? I am NOT a Bible scholar by any stretch of the imagination nor am I a prophetess … I’m just asking.
I do not say any of this to frighten you or to make you think God is “out to get you.” God TRULY wants the BEST for each of us. EVEN in Israel’s blatant rebellion God STILL showed his mercy and grace by raising up Judges. Mercy has been defined as “not giving a person what he or she deserves.” STOP and THINK about this for just a moment. God sent us JESUS CHRIST as the FINAL sacrifice who took on ALL of our SIN… ALL of it… so we could live the abundant life in this life and spend eternity with HIM in the next. ALL He asks of us is to choose HIM. He loves us with the purest love that is beyond our comprehension. IF we BELIEVE in our heart that HE is LORD, and CONFESS our sins HE WANTS to and WILL become the LORD of our life!! Once we do this… we have the relationship with Jesus Christ… forever!!! THIS is what HE wanted from the Israelites… to CHOOSE HIM.
Our God is truly an awesome God. We are ONLY in Judges and LOOK how many “do overs” HE has given HIS people. HE is the God of “do overs” … for HIS people.. THEN and NOW.
I pray God touches you deeply today as you read HIS Word. I apologize if I seem a bit distracted. If I have confused anyone in my distraction due to the death in my family please forgive me and PLEASE ask questions either on the blog site or by sending me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and be sure to use the SUBJECT field and enter BLOG in it.
Sharing HIS merciful, forever love,