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Passage: Judges 1-2

On Wednesday, March 27, 2013, Yujin wrote,

All that generation also were gathered to their fathers; and there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel (Judges 2:10).

We know that Israel would turn away from the LORD based on the prophecies of Moses and Joshua, and in these chapters we see these prophecies beginning to be fulfilled.

But I wonder if you noticed Judges 2:10, which tells us how this state of affairs came to be. 

Notice that after the generation of Joshua and the elders, we are told that the next generation "did not know the Lord, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel." While we speak of the spiritual failure of the current generation described in these chapters, we must acknowledge that there may have been spiritual failure in the generation of their fathers, who had also seen all the mighty works of God. What was their failure? 

They did not properly or sufficiently teach their children about the LORD and what He had done for them.

Yet, even as far back as the Exodus, we learn that God hardened Pharoah's heart so that He could perform mighty signs in order for that that generation of Israel might tell their children and grandchildren about God and His mighty deliverance:

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his officials so that I may perform these signs of mine among them that you may tell your children and grandchildren how I dealt harshly with the Egyptians and how I performed my signs among them, and that you may know that I am the Lord.” (Exodus 10:1-2).

Again, when God instituted the Passover, it was designed to help the parents remind their children of God's great deliverance:

“Obey these instructions as a lasting ordinance for you and your descendants. When you enter the land that the Lord will give you as he promised, observe this ceremony. And when your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’ then tell them, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.’” (Exodus 12:24-27).

Again, before they entered the Land of Promise, Moses reminded the people of what God did for them and the decrees and laws He gave to them. He urged them both to remember these things and to teach them to their children and their grandchildren:

Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. Remember the day you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, when he said to me, “Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children.”(Deuteronomy 4:9-10).

Again, in Moses' final messages to Israel he repeatedly reminded them to teach their children the Law, so that they might not forget the LORD:

These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates (Deuteronomy 6:6-9).

Notice how Moses emphasized the importance of impressing God's Word on their children. He did not generalize and simply say, 'Teach it to them." No, he described what he meant. They were to talk about God's Word when they were sitting at home. They were to do so when they were outside and walking along the road. They were to discuss God's Word in the moments before the unconsciousness of sleep. They were to talk of His Word in their first waking moments. They were to remind themselves and each other of God's Word by keeping them always visible, even on their hands and on their foreheads. They were to write them on the door to their homes and on the gates to their properties so that all who went in and out would see them. In other words, there was nothing more important for them to do than to know God's Word.

If this were not enough, Moses would repeat these very instructions just a few chapters later.

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land theLord swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth (Deuteronomy 11:18-21).

Moses also commanded the Levites to regularly assemble the people for the public hearing of God's Law, expressly so that the children, "who do not know this law," may know it and know the LORD:

Assemble the people—men, women and children, and the foreigners residing in your towns—so they can listen and learn to fear the Lord your God and follow carefully all the words of this law. Their children, who do not know this law, must hear it and learn to fear the Lord your God as long as you live in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess” (Deuteronomy 31:12-13).

In the very last words of Moses, right before he died, he emphasized the importance of communicating God's Word to their children. He pointed out that he was not giving them "just idle words." These words were their very life:

When Moses finished reciting all these words to all Israel, he said to them, “Take to heart all the words I have solemnly declared to you this day, so that you may command your children to obey carefully all the words of this law. They are not just idle words for you—they are your life. By them you will live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess” (Deuteronomy 32:45-47).

Yet, a generation arose, after Joshua and the elders died, that did not know the LORD or what He had done for Israel. And as we will read in the forthcoming chapters of Judges, the people of Israel would devolve into a state not much different from the condition prior to the Great Flood, where God destroyed the whole world for its wickedness. 

Friends, is the application for us not obvious? In the New Covenant, the Scripture teaches,

Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). 

This is pretty much the only instruction that the New Covenant gives to parents concerning their children. Yet, I wonder how many of us have made the spiritual instruction of our children the chief priority with respect to our parenting responsibilities. I write this as a parent, who also comes woefully short of this kind of focused biblical parenting. Let us, then, encourage, challenge and support one another to do better.

Passage: Judges 1-2

On Tuesday, March 27, 2012 (Last Updated on 1/17/2013), Fernando wrote,

 Judges 2

At the closing of Joshua, the Lord in his straightforward manner let us know that are incapable of serving God. This though was not accepted.

Joshua 24:19 But Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve the Lord, for he is (AO)a holy God. He is (AP)a jealous God

Then the people responded

                Joshua 24:21 And the people said to Joshua, “No, but we will serve the Lord.”

And as if to say, ‘You don’t get it, but so be it,’

Joshua replies in Joshua 22  Then Joshua said to the people, “You are witnesses against yourselves that (AT)you have chosen the Lord, to serve him.” And they said, “We are witnesses.”

The following generation came and the very next word God speaks of them is of their failure to serve the lord

Judges 2:11 And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals.

My comment echoes that of Yujin. Our Faith is authored, sanctified, and perfected by God. We only have him to thank for all the goodness we do. Every smart thing we ever ask God for, salvation, wisdom, knowledge, etc., was put in us by God. From a beginning of no evil, we choose evil (Genesis), from a time full of mighty works, we choose evil (Exodus-Judges), from a time of revelation in knowledge of Jesus, we today still choose evil, and so will be the case after 1000 years of peaceful reign. It’s not until all of the old is gone and the new world comes, that we see this circle stop.

The Glory be his!

Passage: Judges 1-2

On Tuesday, March 27, 2012 (Last Updated on 3/27/2013), Yujin wrote,

After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the LORD or remember the mighty things he had done for Israel... Israel did not listen to the judges but prostituted themselves by worshiping other gods. How quickly they turned away from the path of their ancestors, who had walked in obedience to the LORD’s commands... the people returned to their corrupt ways, behaving worse than those who had lived before them. They went after other gods, serving and worshiping them. And they refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways. (Judges 2:10, 17, 19 NLT)

Just after one generation the people of Israel forgot the LORD and turned to idols, and with every successive generation they grew only worse and stubbornly worse. 

Whenever I read Judges, I think of Genesis 3-4 and the swift move from Adam to Cain to Lamech in the progressive corruption by sin. Then I think of Genesis 6, where even the godly line of Seth was corrupted by intermarriage with the Cainites, such that "every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time" (Genesis 6:5). Then I think of Genesis 11, where even when God began again with "righteous" Noah, the world's population once again swiftly turned away from the LORD, even building a monument to their rebellion, the tower of Babel.

In every case God intervened to stem the tide of sinful corruption; however, every new generation spawned a new cycle of sinful degeneration so that without God's active and constant intervention people by themselves would only grow worse and worse. And this was again the scenario with Israel in the Book of Judges. By the end of the book, the people would become so corrupt that they would not even know right from wrong anymore. 

Once more, the Old Testament screams for us to acknowledge the depth of human depravity and the necessity of God's grace, which we see in the New Covenant.

I'm not simply speaking of the historic death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. For the  people in the Old Testament, as well as those in the New, were saved by faith in Christ. Salvation did not only come when Christ came. Otherwise, every Old Testament saint would be condemned, for "salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name given under heaven by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). They looked forward to His coming, even as we look back to it, so that they, as we, could saved by the same kind of faith in Christ. 

The Old Testament demonstrates the bankruptcy of all human effort. I don't mean just in obeying the Law. The Israelites were also bankrupt in their faith. The people were judged not only for disobeying the specific tenets of the Mosaic Law, but they were also judged because they did not fully trust God. Remember, they were judged because they grumbled against the LORD with respect to taking the Promised Land when they were at Kadesh-Barnea? Certainly this was disobedience, but it was primarily unbelief. They did not believe that God would deliver them. How is this any different from Jesus challenging the rich young ruler to give up everything he has and follow Him? Is one challenge of faith much different from the other? 
I am speaking to all of you who still hold stubbornly, even tenaciously, to your idea that people are saved on the basis of "free will." Don't you know that not only your efforts at obedience but also your efforts to believe are bankrupt? Apart from God's elective salvation, that He would predestine some for faith and salvation in Christ, we are all hopeless and self-condemned? Doesn't the entire history of Israel, who both saw and experienced such great displays of God's power, prove that human depravity completely corrupted free will so that there could be no salvation apart from God's re-creation, even new birth by the Spirit? 
Everyone agrees salvation is by grace. What is God's grace but God's intervention into human affairs for our good? It was that very intervention that kept the human race from being totally destroyed with each successive generation. And when the New Covenant was inaugurated by the blood of Christ, this was again divine intervention, which validated for both Old and New Testament saints that righteousness would be achieved by God's act alone. The full result of the New Covenant we will know only heaven because our lives on earth are still tied to our sinful natures; however, our present experience of spiritual and moral failure should unmistakeably persuade us every day of our lives that our efforts at godliness come woefully short of God's standard. Listen again to the promise of the New Covenant:
 “But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day,” says the LORD. “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. And they will not need to teach their neighbors, nor will they need to teach their relatives, saying, ‘You should know the LORD.’ For everyone, from the least to the greatest, will know me already,” says the LORD. “And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.” (Jeremiah 31:33, 34 NLT)
So many have just used these Scriptures as a launchpad to talk about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. That is not what this text is saying. Yes, the Gospel is the act of God that accomplishes righteousness in us; however, this text is more about how peope receive it. It will not be gotten by teaching. It will not be embraced by free will. It will be GIVEN by God, even as it is achieved by God in Christ. When people believe, the knowledge of God will already have been made a reality in their hearts. This is why it is important for us to understand that the new birth (John 3:3) by the Spirit precedes faith (John 3:16). We believe because God has enabled us to know and believe Him. We have chosen God because He has first chosen us and drawn us to Him. In the same way, we love God because He has first loved us.
Therefore, brothers and sisters, stop teaching that salvation is on the basis of free will. But teach that human free will is bankrupt and impotent. It has no power to receive the great promises of God, because we were "dead in our sins and by nature children of wrath," (Ephesians 2:1-3), so that we "would not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but consider them foolishness, and could not understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit" (1 Corinthians 2:14). That is how we were until God's grace came, and faith was given us to.

Now, we can praise God for His marvelous grace, whereby He grants us to know Him, to believe Him, and to receive the unmerited righteousness of Christ. 

Passage: Judges 1-2

On Monday, March 28, 2011, Stephen wrote,

I wondered many times why the Israelites chose to follow other gods of their neighboring countries instead of their Lord.  Isn't it 50-50 chance?  But they are more disposed to go to seek other gods than to keep faithful to God's law.  I see myself in this with perspicuity.  When it comes to sin, there's no such thing as trying hard to carry out.  It just comes naturally without putting any effort into it.  Just as the apostle Paul says in Romans, "when we were controlled by the sinful nature, we were free from the control of righteousness."  But now we had the desire to follow the Law of the Spirit of Life who lives in us.  Let us have our minds set on what the Spirit desires since Christ became curse for us on the cross.  Have a great week everyone!

Passage: Judges 1-2

On Monday, March 28, 2011, Unmi wrote,

Joshua was a book of victorious conquest. Now we reach Judges, a book of defeat and failure. The Israelites have occupation of the Promised land, at least a large portion of it, however, they did not drive out the nations as instructed by God. The book of Judges document the repetitive failure of the Israelites and how God brought up judges to deliver them.

Judges 2:10-19 essentially summarizes the entire book of Judges. 

1. Disobedience: The Israelites fall into sin and idolatry.
    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. (Judges 2:12)
2. Disciplinary Judgment: God becomes angry and gives them over to their enemies.
    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. (Judges 2:14)
3. Repentance in the midst of suffering:
   The Israelites are oppressed by their enemies and cry out to the Lord.
4. Deliverance: The Lord hears their cries for help and raise up judges to help them.
    Then the LORD raised up judges, who saved them out of the hands of these raiders. (Judges 2:16)
5. Disobedience (again): When a judge dies, the Israelites far away from the Lord again,
    however, they become more and more corrupt with successive generations.
    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. (Judges 2:19)

Although God raised up mighty judges during this time in Israel's history, none of them were able to break the cycle of disobedience.  As each judge died, the nation quickly forgot the Lord, but God promised “The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins.” (Romans 11:26-27)  Even though the Jews are still awaiting for they deliverer, we Christians know that this deliverer is Jesus Christ.  He breaks this cycle as He delivers us not from our enemies, he delivers us from ourselves.
Let us cry out to the LORD to deliver us from "sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like" (Galatians 5:19-21) so that we may receive the fruit of the Spirit: "love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control" (Galatians 5:22-23)