Sermons

Summary: Israel's weeping was not a sign of true repentance. It was a passing emotional experience that brought no change to their hearts.

Chapter 8

Angel Announces Judgment [Judges 2:1–5]

Scripture

1And an angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with you.

2And ye shall make no league with the inhabitants of this land; ye shall throw down their altars: but ye have not obeyed my voice: why have ye done this?

3Wherefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you.

4And it came to pass, when the angel of the LORD spake these words unto all the children of Israel, that the people lifted up their voice, and wept.

5And they called the name of that place Bochim: and they sacrificed there unto the LORD.

Commentary

It was at Gilgal that Israel first camped after crossing the Jordan River and entering the Promised Land. “And the people came up out of Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and encamped in Gilgal, in the east border of Jericho.” (Jos. 4:19) The encampment at Gilgal was located perhaps five miles from the bank of the river and several miles from the city of Jericho itself, and there they “rolled away” the old life (Josh. 5). They were no longer just a nation of homeless wanderers. Now they had a land of their own, where they could put down roots and worship God. There was an opportunity for rededication; but all they did this time was weep, and their weeping was not a sign of true repentance. It was a passing emotional experience that brought no change to their hearts.

1And an angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with you.

And an angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim. The confusion and incomplete victory that ends chapter 1 serves as a general introduction to the events of the second chapter. The great victories of the past under the leadership of Joshua and the elders who served with him were nullified by subsequent periods of compromise, in which the covenant was neglected, idolatry was tolerated, and intermarriage with the Canaanites became commonplace. It is under these circumstances that the angel of the LORD came to deliver God’s message to them. Bruce, in the New Bible Commentary (p. 240), notes that: “The angel of Yahweh is the expression widely used in the Old Testament to denote Yahweh Himself in His manifestation to men.” Theologically, such appearances of God in human form are called a “theophany.” By such a manifestation, God had appeared unto Adam, Abraham, Hagar, Moses, Joshua, etc. On the significance of Theophanies (or “Christophanies,” appearances of the preincarnate Christ) see Article 2: Theophanies.

The Angel of the Lord in the Old Testament is generally agreed to be our Lord Jesus Christ who came to earth temporarily on occasion to deliver special messages or to accomplish special tasks. Among others, He ministered to Hagar (Gen. 16), Abraham (Gen. 22), Jacob [1](Gen. 31:11 ), and Moses (Exod. 3), and He appeared to Joshua [2](Jos. 5:13–15 ). Though we do not recognize them, the angels minister to God’s people today [3](Heb. 1:14 ), and the Lord Jesus is with us as we walk with Him ([4]Mt. 28:20; [5]Heb. 13:5–6).

The nation of Israel crossed the Jordan close to the town of Gilgal where God had stopped the water and dried up the river bottom, so that the Israelites walked over on dry ground. Gilgal, was where the main military camp had been located during the time of the conquest, the tabernacle was originally located there [6](Jos. 4.19-20 ), and it was there that the men of Israel were circumcised and “rolled away” the reproach of Egypt [7](Jos. 5.2-9 ). It was also there that the Lord appeared to Joshua and assured him of victory as he began his campaign to conquer Canaan [8](Jos. 5.13-15 ). From Gilgal the Israelites went up to Bochim (lit., weepers), whose exact location is unknown; although it is believed by some to have been located somewhere between Beth-el and Shiloh, about twenty miles from the Dead Sea. The Angel of the Lord (the Lord Jesus) rebuked the people at Bochim (weepers) for their disobedience; in response the Israelites allegedly repented of their sins. There Verse 1 says that He came up from Gilgal (the place of blessing) to Bochim (the place of weeping). Israel had gone from the place of victory to the place of mourning. They had failed to drive out the Canaanites and to destroy their idolatrous altars.

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