Lord, I don’t always see the application of Your Word clearly for my life. Open my heart that I may see what You want to show me.
Read Judges 2:6–23
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[a] 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,[b] 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.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectAre there similarities between Israel in this account and our world today?
This passage is to the book of Judges what an ‘executive summary’ is to a lengthy report. The narrator provides a concise overview and interpretation of events that will be described in all their gory details in subsequent chapters.
What is immediately apparent is the narrator’s certainty in the sovereignty of God over human affairs. It is God who hands His people over to the consequences of their covenant unfaithfulness, including defeat (15) and unfinished possession of the Promised Land (21–23).
However, it is also God who raises up judges (or leaders) to deliver His people in compassionate response to their distress (16) – a grace that is repeated as often as the downward spiral of Israelite disobedience demands it (18).
As the book of Judges progresses, the tragic consequences of disobedience become apparent. Nevertheless, by providing this theological summary of events ahead of the hideous details, the narrator invites readers to hold onto the reality of God’s sovereignty amid the unfolding chaos – a summons to faith as necessary for us in the twenty-first century as it was for the first readers of Judges.
Think of situations in which you are struggling to see God’s involvement. Pray that He would reveal His presence in those circumstances.
Where are You God? Do You see me? Do You hear me? I quiet my heart before You. Let me know You are near.