Lesson 1: Judges 1-3:6
INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of Judges 1-3
Turn in Bibles to Judges; Thank you for prayers…; How much time (till 10:05 or so?); Truck for moving?
The book of Judges has fallen on hard times. It’s so full of violence, immorality…Christians seem to want to neglect it today. It seems so strange. In the book there is God-ordained civil war and commands from God to annihilate people (just like Joshua)… this doesn’t sit well with Christianity’s detractors so Christians tend to try to forget about those passages and the books that contain them.
But you have to admit, the book of Judges is riveting! Of all the books in the Bible, you hopefully wouldn’t fall asleep reading this one! It has colorful detail, narrator explanations, intense drama, and fierce warfare. It is also similar to the days we are living in. You pick up a newspaper and think “How could things go so wrong!?!” with great puzzlement and astonishment. It’s the same with Judges. “They were thrust out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand of God….and now, in the book of Judges, “How could things go so wrong!?!” Perhaps you’ll have the answer after this series.
My desire for these next 8 weeks is that we master this book. Pastor Minnick says a preachers job is to say everything that the text says and elongate it with explanation, argumentation, illustration, application. But b/c we only have 8 weeks to cover 21 chapters, I feel like I have to say only half of what the texts says and shorten it! Unfortunately, we’re not going to be able to discuss the whole book. We’ll skip some sections in each chapter and we’ll have to skip certain chapters, I’m sure.
Main Goal: To teach Christians how to use the book of Judges through:
We’re going to try not to lose sight of the trees as we race through the whole forest of the book of Judges. We only have 8 lessons: going move. Can’t do a fully intro to the book. But we will briefly.
Brief Intro to Judges
In light of covenant responsibilities: God will judge faithlessness –Dt. 7:10; God will be faithful –Dt. 7:9.
11 Then the sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals,
12 and they forsook the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed themselves down to them; thus they provoked the Lord to anger.
13 So they forsook the Lord and served Baal and the Ashtaroth.
14 The anger of the Lord burned against Israel (rightly so), and He gave them into the hands of plunderers who plundered them; and He sold them into the hands of their enemies around them, so that they could no longer stand before their enemies (just like He said He would in Dt. 28:25).
15 Wherever they went, the hand of the Lord was against them for evil, as the Lord had spoken and as the Lord had sworn to them (in Lev. 26:14-39), so that they were severely distressed.
16 Then the Lord raised up judges who delivered them from the hands of those who plundered them. 17 Yet they did not listen to their judges
So you can see that Man is faithless and God is … (say it with me…faithful). Good theme verse for the year then is one that the leadership has chosen
Generation Degeneration: Unchecked Partial Obedience Leads to Total Apostasy and Divine Discipline
INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of Judges 1-3
Theme of 1:3-6 is READ TITLE. Show you how I got that.
Notice first, in chapter one that
**Judah’s Successes are Due to the LORD’s Sufficiency…
Israel asks the LORD “Who shall go up first to fight against the Canaanites?”
LORD says, (v2)”Judah and they will win.” (He gave clear direction and assurance of victory)
v. 3 Judah asks Simeon to go with him and (v4) the LORD gives the victory over the Canaanites and Perizites and they slay 10K at Bezek. (a display of the LORD’s Power and Promise to fight for Israel)
v. 6 They cut off his thumbs/big toes of Adoni-Bezek. He‘s quoted as saying that God has JUSTLY repaid him for doing the same to 70 other kings.
(Fascinating. Probably serves as a preview of God’s repaying Israel for her faithlessness. This principle of retribution is recognized by a pagan! “Look Israel, the LORD faithfully judges sin…then he dies!”)
Judah (one of most important) and Simeon (one of least important; 1:3) and “Joseph” (1:22; Ephraim and Manasseh) –both times they were successful in the work God called them to do when in concert, when unified.
So we had Israel failing in ch.1, now it’s time for some comments on this. What’s going on here and what should the response be? Like a courtroom scene and all the witnesses have been testifying against Israel and now, unexpectedly, they also have a chance to exhort Israel.
So, the first witness approaches the stand…
AOY comes to Bochim and declares [1st] (v1) the LORD’s faithfulness in his delivering them from Egypt and in his keeping the covenant and [2nd] (v2) Israel’s faithlessness (they made covenants with people of the land & did not tear down altars). He pronounces that (v3) the inhabitants of the land will not be driven out anymore. The people wept (v4) and sacrificed (v5).
In order to come away with the message of biblical narrative, it is imperative to understand how biblical narrative works. One of the ways it works is by the author leading you in a direction or into a pattern of thought you wouldn’t normally expect b/c of previous patterns in the narrative –we’ll see this. Other times, as here, the narrator’s slips in a minute detail that gives you the message.
Notice that AOY went from “Gilgal to Bochim” (Lit: “weepers”): picture that. Why would a divine messenger (or a divinely appointed messenger) of the heavenly court travel from Gilgal to Bochim? This traveling may indicate he is human, but even still the mentioning of his traveling from these two cities is contrary to expectation. Need to know the significance of these places. What is the significance of Gilgal? According to Joshua 4–5 Gilgal was:
Based on many factors, it is reasonable that the author intends for us to associate the “commander of the army of the Lord” whom Joshua encountered while Israel was still camped at Gilgal in Josh 5 with the angel of the LORD here (2:1). If this is so, the LORD may be reminding the people how the campaign started (in obedience) and so the AOY may be reminding them: Get Back to Your Original Purpose, Get Back on Track! Just like the AOY went from Gilgal (obedience) to Bochim, so Israel has gone from obedience to weeping b/c of disobedience.
APP Thus, get back on the track of faithfulness. Also, notice Israel’s response (weeping). The text just says Israel cried, no indication of repentance, not even in the word “cry.” Crying over your sin doesn’t = genuine repentance. Weeping could just indicate remorse, just sad that you got caught. A true turning from your sin is: “Tear your heart (or will)“ not just cause water to fall from your eyeballs.
Next witness comes up to the stand. It’s the narrator of this book. He says…
vv.6-13 says that after the elders that survived Joshua died, their arose a generation that didn’t know the LORD and they served Baal. To understand the import of this, we have to understand Baalism.
Baal worship involved “sacred prostitution” in order to get Baal to produce food from the land.
It involved sensual religious practices that had as its end goal material prosperity. From a pagan standpoint, very attractive religion and obviously tempting to God’s people. Imagine the Canaanites tempting Israel with their religion: “the LORD was capable of getting you out of Egypt, but here we need to eat food every day.” But the LORD had already promised to provide in this way for his people. So why Israel forsook Yahweh?
APP: So, be in the world, not of the world. Technology is a wonderful way to get all the worldliness your flesh wants. Put limits on it!
APP: Teach your children to pray, and how to pray. And to read the Bible, but also how to read the Bible. Teach your children the Bible.
Next witness, the LORD himself. What’s his response?
He says He will no longer drive the nations out. Why? To test Israel to see if they will obey. That’s it? Amazing patience, you’d expect total annihilation, but instead God’s faithfulness and patient testing.
-just like he said in 2:22.
Brings us to the climax of the passage and clarifies what’s been going on. Generation degeneration: How unchecked partial disobedience leads to totally apostasy and Divine Discipline. Notice how the nations were used: (v.1) test Israel, being taught war (v2); test Israel (elaboration) to see if they would obey (v4).
Israel began in partial obedience with Judah/Simeon and Ephraim and Manessah, but quickly turned aside from driving out the worldliness around them, resulting in divine discipline. Then, if you’ll let me sneak ahead to v. 7: they forgot the Lord. Generation degeneration: they, perhaps carelessly at first, didn’t put the LORD and his works in remembrance, but then later they deliberately left the path of faithfulness and practiced the worldliness around them. They didn’t teach their children or each other of the person and works of the LORD.
CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of Judges 1-3
Teach your children and encourage and exhort God’s people, or the next generation will spiritually degenerate.