fathers…” They were on a slippery downward cycle of sin.

The very last phrase of this book gives us insight into why things were going south for them: “…everyone did as he saw fit” (Judges 21:25). And because of that, on seven different occasions we read of God’s people cycling through a period of rebellion which led to retribution from God. After suffering for some time, they would eventually cry out to God and then be restored to a time of rest and peace. But then they’d begin the process all over again. This diagram of their dilemma is from the Ryrie Study Bible:

Do you see yourself somewhere in this cycle right now? We’re all prone to drift downward because our bent is toward backsliding. Bill Hybels often says that without attention our spiritual lives will head south, not north. Sometimes when our lives are too comfortable we start to coast. I’d like to suggest seven steps that often mirror our own slippery slope.

1. Conquering. In the opening verse of the book we read that after Joshua died, the people asked the Lord: “Who will be the first to go up and fight for us against the Canaanites?” Under Joshua the people had conquered thirty-one kings and after his death each tribe traveled to the place of their inheritance. However, there were still a lot of enemies to be extracted. I want to pause here and consider why God instructed His people to wipe out the wicked Canaanites. In the second century Marcion had such a hard time reconciling the loving God of the New Testament with the violent God of the Old that he did a cut-and-paste job and just removed the Old Testament from his Bible. That’s not an option for us because God is the same in the both testaments. Perhaps you’ve wondered why the Israelites were told to annihilate the nations around them. It seems pretty severe, doesn’t it?

Let’s go back to an important statement found in Genesis 15:16: “In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.” God had given Abraham the promise of a people and the promise of a place in Genesis 12. John Ortberg points out that during Abraham’s time the Amorite culture was defiled but God was still going to offer mercy to the people of Canaan. Later on, once God’s people go into the area of the Amorites, their sin will reach its full measure and God will judge them accordingly. God is merciful and is offering them a way out as we saw in Joshua 2 when Rahab, a Canaanite prostitute, repents and comes to faith in God. However the Canaanite people in general refuse to repent and their sin finally reaches its full measure during the time of Joshua and Judges.

Leviticus 18 catalogs the depths of their depravity which included sacrificing children to a god named Molech. The Israelites were given a warning in Deuteronomy 18:9-13: “When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the