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Summary: An exposition of Judges 1:1-2:5. The story of Israel's incomplete obedience and the disaster it brings.

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Church At The Gates: Missoula, MT Church

Judges 1-2:5 | Week 1 | Finish the Job

The Lists in our Lives

You have a list. Everyone has a list. Maybe it’s a “honey-do” list or a list of assignments from Professor No-Fun or a list of New Year’s Resolutions you’ve just barely started or you’re almost done abandoning. Either way, you have a list.

This list, in some sense, guides your day to day life. You know, too, that if the list isn’t completed in the manner expected, credit won’t be given and you’ll suffer the exasperated sigh and gaze of a disappointed spouse, a lower grade on your assignments, the loss of a job promotion, or any number of other things.

We know this truth intrinsically:

Incomplete Obedience Has Consequences

You Had One Job

The Israelites had left Egypt. They had wandered in the dessert while an unbelieving generation died off. They stood on the dry river bed of the Jordan River as the Lord held back the rushing torrent. They fought the battle of Jericho and the walls came a tumblin’ down. They continued the conquest of the promised land.

Their one job? Destroy the Canaanite presence in the promised land. Down to the last living thing. (Dt. 20:16-28Open in Logos Bible Software (if available))

Under Joshua, they secure a large portion of the promised land but fail to conquer the land and the people completely. Joshua, nearing the end of his life, understanding that finishing the job will fall to the next generation offers this charge to the people of Israel:

“14 Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Joshua 24:14-15Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)

The people reply enthusiastically:

“16 Then the people answered, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods, 17 for it is the Lord our God who brought us and our fathers up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, and who did those great signs in our sight and preserved us in all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed. 18 And the Lord drove out before us all the peoples, the Amorites who lived in the land. Therefore we also will serve the Lord, for he is our God.”

Joshua 24:16-18Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)

This is good news. In fact, for a man facing his own mortality, wondering what his legacy will be, wondering if the stubborn, stiff-necked people will devote themselves to the Lord — their declaration is great news. It is a promise that can comfort an old man about an unknown future.

This is where the book of Judges really begins: with the good news of Chapter 24. Judges is a sequel of sorts to the book of Joshua. As readers, we’re meant to enter the first words of Judges with a cautious optimism.


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