Why the Decline – An Introduction to Judges
1.People get made when a promise is not kept
a.God made plenty of promises to the people of Israel – land, nation, freedom from enemies. My favorite is:
b.The LORD will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the LORD your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom. Deut. 28:13
c.But the promises don’t come true
d.Israel gets the land, but never gets everything that God wanted for them.
e.Could it be that God is not good to his promises?
2.New Testament has promises as well.
a.I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10
b.Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly. Matthew 11:30
c.Can we trust these promises? Will God renege on us as well?
d.Do we enjoy these promises? If not has God reneged on us?
e.Studying through the OT reveals that God is not at fault – it is His people. But what did they do to disqualify themselves from the promises of God?
3.We will start a study of the book of Judges to find out why and to guide us into being the people who will possess the promises that God has made.
4.Whenever we start a book it’s always necessary to get a little background information as we set out.
a.Chronologically: Judges takes place after Joshua has lead the people into the promised land and continues until the coronation of King Saul, the first of three kings of united Israel. (About 325 years)
b.The title can be deceiving because the term “judge” is used in a different sense than we use it.
1.Judge (n) : not a person who determines guilt or innocence in criminal cases; a person who delivers their people from their enemies. Not always someone to be imitated.
c.We also detect a cycle in the book of Judges that Israel goes through on a number of occasions:
1.Israel does evil in the eyes of Yahweh
2.Yahweh gives them into the hands of their oppressors
3.Israel serves the oppressor for X years
4.Israel cries out to Yahweh
5.Yahweh raises up a deliverer ( i.e., judge)
6.The oppressor is subdued
7.The land has rest for X years
a.Not only a cycle but a downward spiral. As time goes on the people get worse and worse.
b.Sad to say there also seems to be a quicker decline in the Northern part of the nation.
5.Why the decline? What happens in Israel to cause such a drift from God? I think we’ll see in the introduction to the book (1:1-3:6) these three reasons.
i.They lost their fight
ii.They lost their relationship with God
iii.They lost trust in God
6.They lost their fight
a.Right from chapter one we see the people of Israel lose their fight.
b.Have to understand a concept important to the Israel occupation in the land of Canaan.
c.They were told to totally destroy all the inhabitants. To totally drive them out. To make no treaties with them.
d.Sounds harsh, but God did not want any heathen influence in their lives that would dilute their influence in their world.
e.Look at this in ch. 1 – they don’t drive out the people.
g.They feel that the battle is over.
i.They’re in the Promised Land – isn’t that enough?
ii.Crossing Jordan and the initial battles where a great milestone on their history.
iii.Milestones are great but sometimes we tend to let our guard down when we reach a milestone.
iv.When God gives us something sometimes we tend to get lax.
v.Graduate. Married. New job. Sometimes we forget to continue on in the fight.
h.Are they tired – could be. You get tired of fighting again and again.
i.What happens however is Israel moves from conquest to coexistence. And soon they will be indistinguishable from the Canaanites. They adopt their religion. They adopt their culture rather than standing up for their own. Why not compromise? Why can’t we coexist? Compromise and coexistence is a lot easier than.
i.The battle continues for us on a spiritual level. Paul talks about it in Ephesians 6.
j.A final word: Be strong with the Lord’s mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies and tricks of the Devil. For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms. Use every piece of God’s armor to resist the enemy in the time of evil, so that after the battle you will still be standing firm. (Ephesians 6:10-13 NLT)
k.He makes a personal statement in 1 Cor. 9
l.I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself. (1 Corinthians 9:26-27 MSG)
m.In judges we find a people who have lost their fight. They’ve forgotten how to fight.
n.Throughout this study we want to learn that the battle is still on and to learn some battle techniques.
7.They lose their relationship with God.
a.After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel. (Judges 2:10 NIV)
b.They don’t know him and don’t know the stories of how he delivered them.
c.It is essential to constantly feed this relationship with God
d.It is essential to hear the stories over and over again. We can never become too familiar.
e.Listen to Paul’s resolve
i.I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:10-11 NIV)
f.Listen to Jesus prayer in the Garden.
i.And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. (John 17:3 NKJV)
8.They Lose their Trust
a.Because they lose their relationship with God they begin to lose trust in him.
b.Early on we see the seeds of this lack of trust.
c.On the surface it looks innocent, but this episode betrays a lack of trust.
i.After the death of Joshua, the Israelites asked the LORD, "Who will be the first to go up and fight for us against the Canaanites?” The LORD answered, "Judah is to go; I have given the land into their hands.” Then the men of Judah said to the Simeonites their brothers, "Come up with us into the territory allotted to us, to fight against the Canaanites. We in turn will go with you into yours." So the Simeonites went with them. (1:1ff)
d.Judah does not trust God. They begin to rely on human intuition rather than God’s command.
e.What a danger this is today – to trust our own perspective rather than God’s. God knows best and to receive the promises we must be willing to trust him with our lives.
9.God really does want to bless you.
a.Read with me through this book.
b.Find out what they did wrong and learn how to really enjoy the abundant life God has promised.
c.He’s waiting to guide you!