Judges 10-12 Go and cry out to the gods whom you have chosen, let them save you

From Judges 10-12

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Israel worships the gods of the other nations. They have abandoned the LORD for other gods. Idolatry? Adultery? So the LORD raises up more earthy powers against them. They are punished and cry out to the LORD. The LORD suggests they ask their own gods to save them if they can, he will not. Israel repents and puts away their false gods. As Israel and the Ammonites prepare for battle against one we are left wondering if the LORD will raise up another judge to save Israel. In the gospel Jesus says we cannot serve God and money. Can money save you? Who is your God you look to for salvation?

This post is part of my bible in a year series.


Passage and Comments

Israel went through a period of civil war among Gideon’s sons as they competed with other parties for control of Israel. Finally Abimelech was killed. An act of judgment by the LORD for his evil.

10 After Abimelech there arose to save Israel Tola the son of Puah, son of Dodo, a man of Issachar, and he lived at Shamir in the hill country of Ephraim. 2 And he judged Israel twenty-three years. Then he died and was buried at Shamir.

3 After him arose Jair the Gileadite, who judged Israel twenty-two years. 4 And he had thirty sons who rode on thirty donkeys, and they had thirty cities, called Havvoth-jair to this day, which are in the land of Gilead. 5 And Jair died and was buried in Kamon. (Jdg 10.1-5)

Compared to some others the judges Tola and Jair are only mentioned briefly. Though the periods of their rule extend for some time. Sometimes years can pass without much happening.

1000 Bible Images Stuttgart Germany German Bible Society
1000 Bible Images Stuttgart Germany German Bible Society

6 The people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and served the Baals and the Ashtaroth, the gods of Syria, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the Ammonites, and the gods of the Philistines. And they forsook the LORD and did not serve him.

7 So the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he sold them into the hand of the Philistines and into the hand of the Ammonites, 8 and they crushed and oppressed the people of Israel that year. For eighteen years they oppressed all the people of Israel who were beyond the Jordan in the land of the Amorites, which is in Gilead.

9 And the Ammonites crossed the Jordan to fight also against Judah and against Benjamin and against the house of Ephraim, so that Israel was severely distressed. (Jdg 10.6-9)

You may remember one reason why the LORD asked them to completely wipe out the inhabitants of Canaan was because any remnants would lead them astray to worship other gods. The author names several of the gods Israel had been serving.

Which God or gods do you serve?

Because they have abandoned him the LORD gets justly angry and he sells them off to the Philistines. The passage uses slave market imagery. Masters own slaves. Slaves serve their masters. The LORD has sold off Israel to another because she was not serving him as she should.

Historically speaking. The Philistines and Ammonites wage war on Israel. Carrying out the LORD’s discipline.

10 And the people of Israel cried out to the LORD, saying, “We have sinned against you, because we have forsaken our God and have served the Baals.”

11 And the LORD said to the people of Israel, “Did I not save you from the Egyptians and from the Amorites, from the Ammonites and from the Philistines? 12 The Sidonians also, and the Amalekites and the Maonites oppressed you, and you cried out to me, and I saved you out of their hand.

13 Yet you have forsaken me and served other gods; therefore I will save you no more.

14 Go and cry out to the gods whom you have chosen; let them save you in the time of your distress.” (Jdg 10.10-14)

Israel recognises what has been happening to them is because they have done evil in the sight of God. They cry out to the LORD and the LORD (presumably through a prophet) rebukes them for their sin.

The LORD reminds them of a number of previous occasions where he had saved them. Yet they abandoned him none the less for other gods. The LORD says he will save them from foreign powers no more (obviously he does. cf. Jdg 13.5) Because they have abandoned the LORD he suggests they ask them to save them, he has had enough. These other ‘gods’ of course have no power because they ar not real.

The only God that exists is the one who demonstrates his power in making change in the world. This is the God of Israel.

15 And the people of Israel said to the LORD, “We have sinned; do to us whatever seems good to you. Only please deliver us this day.” 16 So they put away the foreign gods from among them and served the LORD, and he became impatient over the misery of Israel.

17 Then the Ammonites were called to arms, and they encamped in Gilead. And the people of Israel came together, and they encamped at Mizpah. 18 And the people, the leaders of Gilead, said one to another, “Who is the man who will begin to fight against the Ammonites? He shall be head over all the inhabitants of Gilead.” (Jdg 10.15-18)

The people acknowledge their sin yet again and submit to whatever LORD intends to discipline them on the condition the LORD will deliver them from their enemies. They put away the idolatrous objects and serve the LORD as they should.

The LORD sees their repentance and becomes ‘impatient’ over their misery. The LORD does not like to see his people suffer. Meanwhile the armies of Israel and the Ammonites mass for battle. Israel however has no one to lead them.

Will the LORD raise up another judge to save Israel from the punishment they deserve?

Story of Israel

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

False religion is the worship of anything that is not God, including any form of religion that fails to do justice to the glory and majesty of God. Scripture criticises both the practices and the beliefs of false religions.

False religion is known for the worship of man-made images (Dt 4:28; Ps 115:4–7; 135:15–17; Isa 44:10–20; Jer 10:3–5; 16:20; Dan 3:4–7). Created things are worshipped (2 Ki 21:3; Jer 8:2; 19:13; Eze 8:16). Demons are worshipped (Dt 32.17; Le 17:7; Ps 106:37–38).

It is based on man-made traditions, myths and philosophies. It led Israel into immorality (1 Ki 14.23-24; Eze 16:16–17; Hos 4:13–14) and human sacrifice (2 Ki 17.17; Le 18:21; Ps 106:37–38).

It ensnares its adherents. As we have seen in Judges and elsewhere, it offers no help in time of need (1 Sam 12.21; Jdg 10:14; 1 Ki 18:29; 2 Ki 19:12; Isa 16:12; 44:17–20; 45:20; 46:7; 57:13; Jer 11:12).

False religion receives the full force of God’s anger.

Story of Jesus

In the gospel Jesus points the finger at money.

19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. (Mt 6:19–24)

Money is a god that can lead us into greed and theft. Can having lots of money save you? Who is the god you look to for salvation?

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