Summary: Finishing the Task God has set for us - evangelising the world. Learning the lessons from the failure of the Israelites to complete the task set for them.
A Task Unfinished – Judg 2:1-15
I want to take a poll this morning.
- How many of you regularly start one book and then pick up another before you finish it.
- How many of you have a little project at home which has been sitting there waiting to be finished. It may be a cross stitch that you’ve never gotten around to finishing. It may be a picture that you’ve bought, but you’ve never gotten around to putting it up. It may be that you are in the middle of making something and well, it has never gotten made?
- How many of you have ever started something and never completed it.
Why do we do that I wonder? Is it because we lose interest – maybe something better comes along. Maybe we have grown tired of struggling to finish it. Maybe we lack the discipline to finish it. Maybe we’ve chosen to busy ourselves with other things. We could list plenty of excuses, couldn’t we – but the fact is that probably we all have things that are not finished.
And you’re not alone. The People of Israel failed miserably in one task specially given to them. We read about it at the beginning of Judges. But before we read it, let us just pause and pray.
Prayer : Lord, we ask that you come now and fill our minds and hearts. Help us to concentrate this morning Lord on you and your word, even though there might be many things whizzing through our minds. Help us to understand your word clearly and see how it can be applied to us today we pray. Aman.
Read Judg 2:1-15
The people of Israel had failed their mission. They knew it and God knew it. And they were distressed.
Let’s backtrack a little to figure this all out. Judges 2 is written at the end of the conquest narratives after the exodus from Egypt. The people were being led to the land God had promised to their forefather’s long ago. However, there was one small problem. They had been gone from it so long, that many other people had settled in the land and made it home. God had promised it for the Israelites though and so he assured them that he would help them drive out all those living in the land. You will know the story that Israel balked at this first up and because of their lack of faith they spent the next 40 years wandering around in the desert till all but 2 of that adult generation had died. Given a second chance, they moved into the land and began to clear out the people living there. They were very quite successful really and over a period of years they made huge in-roads, fighting many battles and taking much land. It all seemed to be going well, but if we read carefully, we start to see the real picture.
The people of Israel were not completing the task 100%. They were not driving out everyone. They did not destroy everything in the wicked cities that God told them to. I mean, it was not as though they didn’t try, They did try. They had been at war for approximately 25 years and had achieved a lot – just not everything asked of them.
You can read it for yourself in Judg 1:19
The LORD was with the men of Judah. They took possession of the hill country … This was a fantatic achievement. Three cheers for Judah – Well done … but they were unable to drive the people from the plains, because they had iron chariots. 20 As Moses had promised, Hebron was given to Caleb, who drove from it the three sons of Anak … Good old faithful Caleb. You may remember that it was these giants who made the Israelites scared enough to refuse to enter the land in the first place over 60 years previously …. 21 The Benjamites, however, failed to dislodge the Jebusites,
We can keep reading …
27 But Manasseh did not drive out the people
29 Nor did Ephraim drive out the Canaanites living in Gezer
30 Neither did Zebulun drive out the Canaanites living in Kitron or Nahalol,
31 Nor did Asher drive out
33 Neither did Naphtali drive out
34 The Amorites confined the Danites to the hill country, not allowing them to come down into the plain.
They tried, but they didn’t succeed and so they gave up – settling for second best. Their motto was “Near enough is good enough.”
When we get to Judges chp 2, we find that their great leader, Joshua has just died and they are at a cross roads.
- Do they continue to fight, or
- Do they accept what they had achieved as a mighty good effort and get down to building a home and raising a family.