This morning at JMC, Andrew Barry spoke to us from Judges 1 & 2.
The book of Judges speaks of the Judges that God raises up as a result of Israel crying out to God after they’re punished by God when they have done wrong in His sight. These Judges are not like Judge Judy or Judge Reinhold, rather they are like Judge Dredd; come to bring judgement. The book is set just after the Israelites have come out of slavery in Egypt and into the promised land.
God tells them that they are to make an impact on the world, and they are not to make pacts with the world.
The Israelites entrance into the promised land, Canaan was full of great expectations; They had been in slavery in Egypt for hundreds of years, crying out in misery, wandering the desert for 40 years, but the entrance was not as grand nor as easy as they expected. Their leader Joshua had died and they had no king. They took only a part of the country, not all of it, as they couldn’t drive out all those that possessed it. The promised land in Exodus 3: 6-8:
6 And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.
7 Then the Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, 8 and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites.
was not fully conquered, they were confined to the hill country. This was a tragedy in their eyes, and would have driven the Israelites to tears as they were reading this….
The greater tragedy was one of their hearts: that the next generation of Israel did not know the Lord, instead, they turn to the Baals and Asherah/Ashtaroth as it says in Judges 2: 10-14:
10 And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel.
11 And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals. 12 And they abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt. They went after other gods, from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed down to them. And they provoked the Lord to anger. 13 They abandoned the Lord and served the Baals and the Ashtaroth.
We see that Canaan made a stamp on the Israelites, rather than the Israelites making a stamp on the land of Canaan. The Israelites adopted the world view of their neighbours, adopting rituals and principals.
We are to similarly make a stamp on the world, but we so often adopt their principals, and sometimes their rituals. Our world view is often naturalistic, secular or materialistic, living as practical atheists; operating with the world view of our neighbours and turning our backs on God.
God sent these Judges as a wake up call, who saved the people (Israel) out of harms way, and as long as the judge lived, the people worshipped God, but when the judge died, the people turned back to the ways of the land: Judges 2: 18 & 19
18 Whenever the Lord raised up judges for them, the Lord was with the judge, and he saved them from the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge. For the Lord was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who afflicted and oppressed them. 19 But whenever the judge died, they turned back and were more corrupt than their fathers, going after other gods, serving them and bowing down to them. They did not drop any of their practices or their stubborn ways.
So what is the relevance of this book of Judges today?? Christians have made many great conquests, with countries like China and Africa seeing massive growth in Christianity. But then we have limitations: we get criticised by the media alot, and it feels like an uphill battle. The heart of the church is where we see the biggest failure; we have come to take God for granted. We see God’s people not living as God’s people. Our church life doesn’t translate to other parts of life, we are called to forsake all others, to follow God, to trust Him and worship Him, we are to make a stamp on the world, not the world on us.