Read Judges 2
The Angel of the Lord at Bokim
2 The angel of the Lord went up from Gilgal to Bokim and said, “I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land I swore to give to your ancestors. I said, ‘I will never break my covenant with you, 2 and you shall not make a covenant with the people of this land, but you shall break down their altars.’ Yet you have disobeyed me. Why have you done this? 3 And I have also said, ‘I will not drive them out before you; they will become traps for you, and their gods will become snares to you.’”
4 When the angel of the Lord had spoken these things to all the Israelites, the people wept aloud, 5 and they called that place Bokim.“ There they offered sacrifices to the Lord.
Disobedience and Defeat
6 After Joshua had dismissed the Israelites, they went to take possession of the land, each to their own inheritance. 7 The people served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had seen all the great things the Lord had done for Israel.
8 Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of a hundred and ten. 9 And they buried him in the land of his inheritance, at Timnath Heres“ in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash.
10 After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel. 11 Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the Baals. 12 They forsook the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them. They aroused the Lord’s anger 13 because they forsook him and served Baal and the Ashtoreths. 14 In his anger against Israel the Lord gave them into the hands of raiders who plundered them. He sold them into the hands of their enemies all around, whom they were no longer able to resist. 15 Whenever Israel went out to fight, the hand of the Lord was against them to defeat them, just as he had sworn to them. They were in great distress.
16 Then the Lord raised up judges,“ who saved them out of the hands of these raiders. 17 Yet they would not listen to their judges but prostituted themselves to other gods and worshiped them. They quickly turned from the ways of their ancestors, who had been obedient to the Lord’s commands. 18 Whenever the Lord raised up a judge for them, he was with the judge and saved them out of the hands of their enemies as long as the judge lived; for the Lord relented because of their groaning under those who oppressed and afflicted them. 19 But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their ancestors, following other gods and serving and worshiping them. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways.
20 Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel and said, “Because this nation has violated the covenant I ordained for their ancestors and has not listened to me, 21 I will no longer drive out before them any of the nations Joshua left when he died. 22 I will use them to test Israel and see whether they will keep the way of the Lord and walk in it as their ancestors did.” 23 The Lord had allowed those nations to remain; he did not drive them out at once by giving them into the hands of Joshua.
Yesterday we saw the failure of the tribes to eliminate the Canaanites from the Promised Land when they kept them as slaves. Today we see how that failure impacted generations of God’s chosen people. God had made a covenant with Israel to set it apart and protect its people, as long as they followed Him. But when the Israelites disobeyed God, that protection was removed. The good news? God never abandons His people; there is always redemption and forgiveness available.
If you have read even a little bit of the Old Testament it can seem like a frustrating cycle of obedience and disobedience, over and over and over again. If we’re honest, it’s easy to slip into an attitude of judgment wondering how these people don’t learn their lesson. Just within the period of history discussed in this chapter, there are seven cycles of rebelling against God, losing His protection, finding deliverance, living under God’s authority and freedom, and once again returning to the worship of false gods like Baal. Verse 10 tells us that after Joshua died, a whole generation grew up and “neither knew the Lord nor what He had done for Israel.”
It’s a little mind boggling to think that these are the same people that had been delivered in such miraculous ways, yet they did not teach the next generation to love and follow God. Even the relatively “small” disobedience to keep Canaanites as slaves led to the introduction of Canaanite idols in Israelite culture. The worship of these idols (the gods of fertility, love, and sensuality) led to horrors like temple prostitution and child sacrifice. Keep in mind, in Exodus 20 when God gave His people the ten commandments, God reminded the Israelites who He was, what He had done for them, and then gave the first two rules: have no other gods before Him and don’t make idols for themselves.
While the sins of the Israelites seem like sins of a different level that we would never participate in, the root of the sin is exactly like us. The Canaanite idols seemed more attractive to God’s people, because it fed their immediate desires and cravings and offered more short-term, but misguided, benefits. They could do what they wanted, whenever they wanted, and still be in obedience to a god. And in doing so, led entire generations of people away from the very One who delivered them from bondage. If that starts to make you squirm in your seat a little bit, well you’re not alone.
We have a responsibility to honor and love God, but also to teach the next generation to love and follow Him as well. (Deut. 6:6-9) If we don’t tell our children, grandchildren, friends and family about God and all that He has done for us, we have a perfect picture in Judges 2 of the resulting outcome: a nation of people that seek immediate gratification and that live outside the protection of their Creator. Let’s do our best to pass a love for God, His Son, and His truth to those entrusted to us today.
- In what ways do you worship a false idol by feeding your immediate desires?
- Have any false idols in your life led those following you astray?
- Try to identify and name any false idols, write them down, and make action steps for removing them from your life so that you can bring up a generation of Christ-followers.
“May the Lord help us to get and stay on the path of progressive sanctification–rather than the path that Israel chose of Progressive Canaanization.” Explaining the Book Commentary on Judges 2.
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