March 24, 2019 | Taylor Rutland
Passage: Judges 2:1-15
Why the book of Judges? What does God have to say to us through this Old Testament book? One of the key word to understand in all of the Bible, but especially in the Old Testament is the idea of covenant. From the very beginning, man was created to partner alongside of God to bring about flourishing in the world, but we as human begins did not live up to our end of the deal. The partnership has been broken as a result of sin. But the story of the Bible is God’s effort in repairing this broken partnership between himself and humanity. And God does this through covenants, and he makes 4 distinct Old Testament covenants.
The first one he makes is with Noah. He was faithful to Noah even as he destroyed the world through a flood. Second, he made a covenant with Abraham. Abraham and his family God will use to bless all of the world and in return Abraham will strive to do what is right and just in the world. He then makes a covenant with the nation of Israel in which God asks the Israelites to follow the laws and commands that he has given them and in return God promises to bless the Israelites. The fourth covenant is between God and King David. When Israel officially became a nation, David was to lead the Israelites in obeying the law, and God promises that one of David’s sons will bring peace and blessing to all the nations. But the problem is the Israelites break all of these covenants with God. They are not able to keep up their end of the bargain. But the prophets talk about a day when God would create a new covenant. One that would completely restore all the broken covenants that came before it. That new covenant is Jesus. He is the descendant of Abraham, he is the faithful Israelite who is truly able to obey the law, and he is also from the line of David.
It is through Jesus that that the covenant is perfectly kept so that God can continue to uphold his promises and through Jesus the covenants in the Bible are restored. Jesus invites people to follow him and join him in a new partnership with God. So we come into the book of Judges where the Israelites are forming themselves into a nation, and they are doing this through the conquest of land. God gave them specific instructions to drive out the Canaanites. And in Judges 1 we have descriptions of the Israelite’s being faithful at times to do this, but also unfaithful. They were told to eliminate the Canaanites because of their moral corruption, false Gods, and their practice of child sacrifice. And yet, the Israelites did not fully obey.
So what I want you to see as we begin today in Judges that the whole book shows us a cycle. And this cycle repeats itself throughout the entire book. But what I want you to see is that we follow this same type of cycle in our life, but instead of a judge, which is not like a judge in a courtroom but rather a regional, political, and military leader, we have Jesus who delivers us every single time. So with that background we dive into the text of Judges 2 as the Israelites have just shown us in chapter 1 that they have not been obedient to what God called them to do with the Canaanites. They have failed to obey the covenant.
"and you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall break down their altars.’ But you have not obeyed my voice. What is this you have done?" — Judges 2:2
The Israelites were God’s chosen people. He chose them out of all of the other nations. When God chooses Abraham all the way back in Genesis 12, Abraham is not the only person on the planet. But in God’s mysterious providence and election, he decides that through Abraham he is going to bless the nations.
In an ideal world, knowing that God was caring and providing for the needs of his people should have been enough for people to do exactly what God told them to do. And yet they are not able to do it.
As we study through the book of Judges, you must see yourself in the Israelites. Because the more you read the Bible, the more the Bible reads you. The danger in reading the book of Judges is to judge and condemn the horrific acts that we read about and think we are not capable of doing them. In fact, the danger of reading many narratives from either the Old Testament or the New Testament is to think that you are not capable of doing some of the things you read about. God provides for all of our needs. He tells us this repeatedly. But the problem is we are not satisfied, we always want more.
At its core, sin is trusting our own power, desire, and ability to get things done instead of God. The Israelites knew they were to eliminate the Canaanites completely, but instead they said well let’s just use them as slaves. This way they are still under our control, and they can help us get things done surely God will understand. This doesn’t necessarily seem like a bad thing, but the problem was it is not what God asked them to do.
The lesson is that disobedience doesn’t always mean you are doing horrible and terrible things. You can be disobedient to what God has asked you to do, and still do a lot of good in the world. There is not always a direct correlation between disobedience to God and immediate punishment. God might be telling you to take a certain job, and yet the security and finances of the current job prevent you from doing so. So you stay and your life doesn’t unravel as a result, but this doesn’t mean you were obedient. Sin is both doing something we shouldn’t do, and also not doing what God tells us to do.
- I had a conversation with a young man just last week who told me of a very difficult situation that he was in. Tears were streaming down his face. He felt the guilt and shame of his sin. And he told me, I have a problem, I know what I am supposed to do but I just can’t do it sometimes. Welcome to the human condition friends, we all know the good we are supposed to do, and yet we are not able to do it. Our sin nature gets the best of us, and we desire the flesh over desiring the Spirit. If you are here today and you are beating yourself up for your constant inability to do the right thing, you need to leave here today knowing that this is not a problem that is unique to you. We are all in a daily fight to walk according to the Spirit of God instead of walking according to our flesh.
God Brings Consequences:
"So now I say, I will not drive them out before you, but they shall become thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare to you.” — Judges 2:3
Consequences always follow as a result of our sin. The Bible is full of this teaching from beginning to end. It began with Adam and Eve being banned from the garden of Eden, and every other human begin that has ever sinned at some point feels the weight of consequences.
When those consequences occur, however, is not for us to decide. Let me give you an example of this from our text today. Look at Judges 2:10. We see an entire generation of people who do not know the Lord or all of the ways he provided for the Israelites. Why is that the case?
The book of Judges gives us the answer. God wanted them to break down the altars of the false Gods, but they did not. Instead, they began mingling with the people and turning their hearts to false gods, and one of the long term effects of this sin was it effecting the next generation of people.
I’ll tell you as a parent of three young children, this passage and others like it where the Bible speaks of the sins of the parents effecting their children scares me to death. First to the whole church, the sin of every single person in the room can effect the next generation of regardless of whether or not you have children. There is no indication here that the next generation is only effected by the sin of the parents, but parents, foster parents, and grandparents who take a significant role in raising children please listen closely. Your love for the word of God, and the church of Jesus Christ is seen by your children. We are not fooling our children. So when they turn 18 and leave the house and you wonder why the Word of God is not a priority in their life or why they are only casually involved in a church while they are in college you might not have to look very far for the answer. What gods are you showing your children that you worship? Does academic achievement, sports involvement, club activities get talked about and emphasized more in your house than the word of God and church? You are the primary disciple maker of your children. Your goal as a parent is not for your child to get an academic scholarship to their school of choice. Your goal is not a happy 10 year old. No, your goal should be a Godly 20 year old or 30 year old. Somebody who is walking with God because they will also one day have children, and if they are not walking with God the odds of their children walking with God dramatically decrease. I am fearful that we one of the reasons we are losing teenagers and young adults to the church is because we as the parents are making it a priority, and if we don’t make it a priority why should our children or grandchildren make it a priority? The best thing you can do for your children or grandchildren is to show them how much you love the church of Jesus Christ, and how excited you are to be a part of it.
"As soon as the angel of the LORD spoke these words to all the people of Israel, the people lifted up their voices and wept." — Judges 2:4
After God brings consequences on the people, we see the people of God repenting. The text tells us that they wept and cried out to God. The weeping that was happening here was weeping for what they had done against God. It wasn’t weeping because things were going bad for them. No, they were actually repenting of the sins that they had committed against God.
If we’re being honest with one another sometimes we are upset and ashamed that we got caught, rather than begin upset at the sin we committed. I’ll confess sometimes its difficult to distinguish getting caught or actually being sorry. But the litmus test for true repentance is not the emotion of the moment, but it’s a desire to change the behavior. Anyone can have emotion in the moment, but overtime does the behavior change.
Verse 7 tells us that after repenting the people served the Lord all the days of Joshua and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua. It seems as though people were genuinely repentant for what they had done, and they were serving the lord faithfully as a result of that repentance.
So we must ask ourselves this question today. Do we grieve over our sin? Do we take it seriously? Do we strive to not repeat the sins of our past? These are the questions we need to be asking as we consider repentance.
"Then the Lord raised up judges, who saved them out of the hand of those who plundered them." — Judges 2:16
One of the best attributes of our God is that he delivers on his promises every. single. time. God provided judges to save the people from the hands of their enemies. The spirit of God would move on these individuals to allow them to conquer their enemies and provide leadership for the Israelites.
Over the course of the next couple of months you are going to hear the stories of some of these judges. Just to set the stage for you these judges get progressively worse not better. So next week when Dr. Harwood is teaching you will begin to see how God used the judges to help the people of Israel.
So what does the book of Judges teach us about Jesus. When we read the Old Testament even though we are to interpret it in light of its own historical context, we should always look to how it points us to Jesus. These human judges are ultimately unable to bring complete deliverance to the Israelites. They are ultimately unable to turn the hearts of the Israelites away from the false gods of the Canaanites and other nations.
Why are these human judges unable to fully accomplish their task? And the reason is because they are human. Because even those that God put in leadership throughout the book are flawed individuals. Just because the Spirit of God is in a person doesn’t mean that they are not flawed and in need of a savior. The book of Judges ultimately should point us to the only true successful judge that ever lived: Jesus Christ.
Jesus is the only one who can completely and totally fulfill his commitment to his chosen people. He left the riche sand comfort of heaven alongside of his Father to be among us. And even though he lived among a flawed people on this earth he remained flawless. He is the perfect Judge who conquers sin and conquers anyone who is against us.
As we study the book of Judges, it should cause us to do respond in a few ways:
- It should make us aware that we are unable to save ourselves. We cannot be our own savior or our own judge. We have to look to another, but please hear me this morning that should be a message of hope for you not despair. Yes, you can’t save yourself so please quit trying to do so. Rest in what the work that Jesus did for you on the cross. I sound like a broken record, but the Christian identity can never be achieved it can only be received.
- We should rejoice that we serve a God who delivers us. He delivers us from our sin and bondage, and offers us eternal life through what Jesus did for us on the cross.