From Judges 1-2
Judges is named after an interesting collection of individuals who led Israel after Joshua’s death until the rise of the monarchy under Samuel (up to about 1050 b.c.). In this time of national decline, despite their promise to keep the covenant (Josh. 24:16–18) the people turned from the Lord and began to worship other gods. “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (17:6; 21:25). A pattern repeats throughout the book: 1) the people abandoned the Lord; 2) God punished them by raising up a foreign power to oppress them; 3) the people cried out to God for deliverance; and 4) God raised up a deliverer, or judge, for them. The author of the book is unknown, although some Jewish tradition ascribes it to Samuel. (The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.)
The people of Israel did not commit to the LORD and drive out all the inhabitants. As we will see further on in Judges, their neglect will prove to be their undoing. In the gospel Jesus urges his disciples to give him full commitment. What things hold you back from serving Jesus as you ought?
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
Israel was commanded by the LORD to destroy all the people in the promised land. However they have mixed results in doing this. Prior to this passage the conquests of Judah, the house of Joseph and Benjamin are mentioned. Some have not obeyed the LORD. They have allowed the inhabitants to live.
27 Manasseh did not drive out the inhabitants of Beth-shean and its villages, or Taanach and its villages, or the inhabitants of Dor and its villages, or the inhabitants of Ibleam and its villages, or the inhabitants of Megiddo and its villages, for the Canaanites persisted in dwelling in that land. 28 When Israel grew strong, they put the Canaanites to forced labor, but did not drive them out completely. (Jdg 1.27-28)
Ever since Gen 9.24-27 the Canaanites have been under the LORD’s curse. Israel has not destroyed and completely wiped them out as the LORD wanted them to.
29 And Ephraim did not drive out the Canaanites who lived in Gezer, so the Canaanites lived in Gezer among them.
30 Zebulun did not drive out the inhabitants of Kitron, or the inhabitants of Nahalol, so the Canaanites lived among them, but became subject to forced labor.
31 Asher did not drive out the inhabitants of Acco, or the inhabitants of Sidon or of Ahlab or of Achzib or of Helbah or of Aphik or of Rehob, 32 so the Asherites lived among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land, for they did not drive them out.
33 Naphtali did not drive out the inhabitants of Beth-shemesh, or the inhabitants of Beth-anath, so they lived among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land. Nevertheless, the inhabitants of Beth-shemesh and of Beth-anath became subject to forced labor for them. (Jdg 1.29-33)
Ephraim, Zebulun, Asher and Naphtali likewise do not drive out all the inhabitants. Contrary to the LORD’s command.
34 The Amorites pressed the people of Dan back into the hill country, for they did not allow them to come down to the plain. 35 The Amorites persisted in dwelling in Mount Heres, in Aijalon, and in Shaalbim, but the hand of the house of Joseph rested heavily on them, and they became subject to forced labor. 36 And the border of the Amorites ran from the ascent of Akrabbim, from Sela and upward. (Jdg 1.34-36)
The people of Dan not only failed to drive out the inhabitants. They retreated from the inhabitants. The Amorites.
What does this say about their relationship with God. Was he with them?
2 Now the angel of the LORD went up from Gilgal to Bochim. And he said, “I brought you up from Egypt and brought you into the land that I swore to give to your fathers. I said, ‘I will never break my covenant with you, 2 and you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall break down their altars.’
But you have not obeyed my voice. What is this you have done?
3 So now I say, I will not drive them out before you, but they shall become thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare to you.” 4 As soon as the angel of the LORD spoke these words to all the people of Israel, the people lifted up their voices and wept. 5 And they called the name of that place Bochim. And they sacrificed there to the LORD. (Jdg 2.1-5)
The LORD is not happy with their disobedience. He was with them and they could have destroyed all the inhabitants. They have neglected the LORD’s command.
So the LORD withdraws his help. He will not drive them out as he has done before. And so the remaining inhabitants will be trouble for them. This we will see through the remainder of Judges.
The people mourn and sacrifice to no avail.
‘This chapter is pervaded by unfulfilled commitment, incomplete obedience, and compromising tolerance. Even when the Israelites gain the upper hand over the Canaanites, they refuse to carry out Yahweh’s agenda. Instead of reshaping the world after the image of Yahweh’s will, they live in and with the world, and before long they have taken on the characteristics of the world. Instead of making this the land of the people of God, they become like the people of the land. This not only explains why the ages of the judges/governors turned out to be so dark but also serves as a permanent reminder of the deadly consequences of compromise and disobedience to all who claim to be the people of God. At the same time, the chapter announces that if anything positive is accomplished by God’s people, it is because of his gracious presence and his action on his people’s behalf.’ (Block, D.I., 1999. Judges, Ruth, Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.)
Israel was half hearted and did not commit to what the LORD was commanded. They should have counted the cost beforehand and trusted in the LORD he would provide. In the gospel Jesus also instructs us to commit to him with all we have.
25 Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.
27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?
29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’
31 Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace.
33 So therefore, anyone of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.
34 “Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? 35 It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” (Lk 14.25-35)
Is there more you could do or give up to come after Jesus and be his disciple?
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