AN EXPOSITION OF JUDGES 2
1 AND 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.
The biblical revelation of God is that He is both transcendent and immanent. God is distinct from His universe, and yet, God is immanent with His creation through His providential care of individuals, through His omnipresence, through the person of Jesus Christ, and through His visitation to earth in redemptive history. The manifestation of these combined attributes of God is united in the appearance of the personage described in the Old Testament as the Angel of the Lord who appeared to Hagar, Abraham, Moses, Balaam, and many others.
Hagar. “And the angel of the Lord said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands.” (Gen. 16:9)
Abraham. “And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.” (Gen. 22:11)
Moses. “And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.” (Ex. 3:2)
Balaam. “And the angel of the Lord said unto him, Wherefore hast thou smitten thine ass these three times? Behold, I went out to withstand thee, because thy way is perverse before me:” (Num. 22:32)
In Judges 2, the Angel of the Lord appeared to the people of Israel to remind the nation who He was, and what He had done on their behalf. Specifically, the Angel of the Lord had delivered the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt, and given them a Land of Promise, flowing with milk and honey. This was done according to promise in the form of a covenant. God is a covenant keeping God. The promise of God is this: “I will never break my covenant with you.”
2 And 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?
Because the Angel of the Lord is God, He had a right to command Israel to be a separate people from the Philistines. The Hebrew people were not to enter into any formal agreement with the inhabitants of Palestine. Instead, they were to destroy their various altars built to false gods. Unfortunately, Israel did enter into formal treaties with the inhabitants of Palestine, and they did not destroy the false altars. Rather, many Jews embraced the new religious ideas and practices they were exposed to. They bowed before pagan altars. Rather than being a transforming people, the Hebrew people were transformed by the culture around them.
3 Wherefore 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.
As a form of divine discipline for their incomplete obedience, God told Israel that He would not totally drive out their enemies but would leave them to be as “thorns in your sides”, and thus a reminder of self-induced pain and suffering. That is what sin always brings, self-induced misery.
4 And 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.
When Israel heard what the Lord was going to do, it brought a form of repentance. The people wept. Unfortunately, their tears were not authentic. There is a repentance that needs to be repented of. The Israelites were sorry they were going to know suffering and sorrow. They did not like the idea of being constantly tempted. However, the Israelites also did not do everything that was necessary to radically eliminate what they knew was wrong. Why?
First, some simply did not have the strength of character needed to deal radically with evil. It is easy to live and let live than to make moral decisions with practical consequences.
Second, some were attracted to new ideas. While most people engage in group think, there are independent thinkers who are excited by new ideas and enjoy radical behavior.
Third, some were hard hearted. Not everyone is God conscious. The heart of man longs to be self-sufficient and autonomous. Man wants to be like God, or as God like as possible. One way to exalt self is to worship creation.
When creation is made into an idol, man is able to gain control over it. Herein is an insight into the strong support for global warming. The environmentalist exalts planet earth, and then move to save it. In the process they form an ideology, embrace a spiritual cause, and find a way to control every facet of the lives of others.
5 And they called the name of that place Bochim: and they sacrificed there unto the LORD.
The word Bochim means, “weepers”. Had the repentance of Israel been authentic, a principle would have been established which is this. It is good to have a place of mourning. It is good to have a place where the heart can return to and say, “On this day, in this very spot, I repented of my sin and found the victory.” If God is gracious, He will give you a place called Bochim.
6 And when Joshua had let the people go, the children of Israel went every man unto his inheritance to possess the land.
The emotional state of Israel must have been tumultuous. The people had been told they would have renewed difficulties in the Land, yet, they were to remain in the Land of Promise. The people were told they would be ensnared by false Gods, yet, their hearts were commanded to cling to Yahweh. The people were filled with sorrow, and yet it was a repentance that was no deep or authentic. Because the body cannot sustain sorrow for long, the people listened to Joshua, had a moment at Bochim, and then arose with excitement to possess the land.
Rather than linger over their spiritual status and what more could be done to reverse the pronouncement of judgment, the people became practical. There was work to do. Not spiritual work, but the practical work of possessing the land.
7 And the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the LORD, that he did for Israel.
8 And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died, being an hundred and ten years old.
9 And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnathheres, in the mount of Ephraim, on the north side of the hill Gaash.
The ministry of Joshua was over, and a lesson is learned. Every ministry has a beginning, a period of growth, a period of decline, and an end. The ministry of the greatest of all saints come to an end: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Paul, Peter, Augustine, Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Bunyan, John Wesley, D. L. Moody, Billy Sunday, Corri Ten Boon, and even Billy Graham. Joshua, the son of Nun, died. But notice, Joshua, c. 1375 BC, died, as “the servant of the Lord.”
To be a servant of the Lord means to know the Lord personally. Jesus is not ashamed to call us His brethren.
To be a servant of the Lord means to obey His every known will. Jesus said, “Why do you call me Lord, and not obey me?”
To be a servant of the Lord means to be humble, not willful. The source of sin is driven by the will to power. The servant says, “Not my will but thine be done.” Jesus modeled what it means to be a servant.
To be a servant meants to think of others, and not self. Jesus said that He came to minister to others and to give His life a ransom.
10 And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel.
It would be nice if the faith of the fathers could be permanently instilled in the lives of the children. However, one generation passes away that is good and godly, and another generation arises that does not know the Lord. American culture is passing through this phenome. The Greatest Generation has given us the Baby Boomers, (Born 1943-1964; Ages 50-71) who has given us Generation X (Born 1965-1979; Ages 35-49). Generation X did not like to be defined by labels. It was the generation of free love, fre drugs, and peace, except when protesting the Vietnam War. Then, there was bloodshed in the streets, in Chicago at the DNC, and bombs exploding by terrorist such as Bill Heirs. Generation X gave us the Millenniums (Born 1980-2000; Age 14-34) characterized, by the word, Snowflakes, who has given us Generation Z (Born 2001-2013; Age 1 – 13) characterized by the term, Low Information Voters, or Clueless.
How does a godly generation give rise to “another generation after them,” that does not know the Lord? Generally speaking, there are three guiding principles that can be identified.
Prosperity. Following World War II, America enjoyed incredible economic prosperity. The Bread Basket of the World, turned its Industrial Complex to making items the world wanted, especially cars, homes, and household appliances.
Permissiveness. Those who have known the horrors of war, and survived it, tend to tolerate any form of behavior that does not kill others. Dr. Benjamin Spock contributed to permissiveness in child rearing with his monumental book, Baby and Child Care, published in 1946. As psychoanalysis, Dr. Spock taught parents to be more flexible and affectionate with their children, and to treat them as individuals. The end result is that the little darlings were raised to be self-centered narcissists who could do no wrong while enjoying instant gratification. When they grew to physical maturity, they did know how to be good parents, or good citizens, illustrated by the Millenniums terrorizing society today with Political Correctness, Safe Zones, and mindless Twittering.
Pride. It is not hard to see the pride in this generation in the forms of Twitter Accounts, Face Book, Instagram, Snapchat, and Selfies. Every pose, every thought, every belief is viewed to be important. People once kept private diaries. Those have given way to a life lived in the public domain without censure, self-control, or shame.
The Exodus Generation gave way to the Post Exodus Generation which was given the Land of Promise, but did not value their spiritual inheritance. As a result, the practice of being permissive, the prosperity of living in a Land of Milk and Honey, and the pride led to “another generation after them,” that did not know the Lord. What happened next is predictable.
11 And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim:
Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord. These words introduce a pattern in Israel of apostasy, discipline, repentance, and restoration. Then, the cycle would be repeated. Forsaking the Lord, the Israelites turned to serve Baalim. Baalim, is the plural of Baal, the sun-god who was worshiped in various ways by the people of Canaan. The Hebrews worshipped one false god in particular but recognized lesser deities of particular districts with derived names such as Baalzephon, Baal-peor, and Baal-zebub.
12 And they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the LORD to anger.
13 And they forsook the LORD, and served Baal and Ashtaroth.
The people had promised to obey the LORD, and they promised not to forsake Him (Ex. 19:8). But they did. In contrast, though God chastens His people He does not forsake them (Deut. 4:31). The reason why the people of Israel forsook the Lord was because they wanted to be like the nations around them. They were pressed into the mold of the world, and so they served Baal and Ashtaroth. (Rom. 12:1-2) Ashtaroth is the plural form of the god Ashtoreth (Astarte), a goddess of fertility, identified with the planet Venus. Licentious worship was conducted in her honor. She was the patroness of sex. In later years, Solomon succumbed to her voluptuous worship (1 Kings 11:5; 2 Kings 23:13).
14 And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and he delivered them into the hands of spoilers that spoiled them, and he sold them into the hands of their enemies round about, so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies.
15 Whitherso ever they went out, the hand of the LORD was against them for evil, as the LORD had said, and as the LORD had sworn unto them: and they were greatly distressed.
The Judges of Israel
16 Nevertheless the LORD raised up judges, which delivered them out of the hand of those that spoiled them.
17 And yet they would not hearken unto their judges, but they went a whoring after other gods, and bowed themselves unto them: they turned quickly out of the way which their fathers walked in, obeying the commandments of the LORD; but they did not so.
The Mercy of the Lord
18 And when the LORD raised them up judges, then the LORD was with the judge, and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge: for it repented the LORD because of their groanings by reason of them that oppressed them and vexed them.
19 And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they returned, and corrupted themselves more than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them, and to bow down unto them; they ceased not from their own doings, nor from their stubborn way.
20 And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel; and he said, Because that this people hath transgressed my covenant which I commanded their fathers, and have not hearkened unto my voice;
21 I also will not henceforth drive out any from before them of the nations which Joshua left when he died:
22 That through them I may prove Israel, whether they will keep the way of the LORD to walk therein, as their fathers did keep it, or not.
23 Therefore the LORD left those nations, without driving them out hastily; neither delivered he them into the hand of Joshua.