“When Joshua was an old man, the Lord said to him, ‘You are old, advanced in years, and there remains very much land yet to be possessed’ (Joshua 13:1 NKJV). The people of Israel owned all the land, but they didn’t possess all of it and therefore they couldn’t enjoy all of it.” Warren Weirsby Be Available (Judges): Accepting the Challenge to Confront the Enemy.
Currently, I am reading through a Warren Weirsby bible study on the book of Judges alongside my personal time in the book of Judges and some of Joshua. Up until four years ago I tried not to give much thought to the book of Judges because I really didn’t understand it. To me it was a book full of awful stories of deep human depravity that I really didn’t want to read about. I didn’t understand why God would include it in the bible and more so why He would allow some of the “judges” (another more suitable word for our understanding would be “leaders”) to lead God’s people at all!
My perspective was challenged four years ago when a small group of women I was a part of got together monthly to go through Tim Keller’s “Living in a Pluralistic Society.” It is a deep bible study that goes through Judges (what can go horribly wrong when we compromise and take on the culture’s godless perspective on life), Daniel (how to live well in a godless society), and the life of Joseph (another outstanding example of right living). To say I learned a lot is an understatement! And we didn’t even finish–I still have yet to go through Joseph’s life in the study.
I now understand the cyclical nature of Judges. The people’s sin growing and coming to fruition, subsequent discipline coming in the form of an oppressing people group, God intervening on their behalf and saving them from oppression through the work of an appointed judge/leader, only to have it start all over again as soon as the judge died. All of this was within a period of 350 years in Israel’s history after Joshua, Moses’s replacement, died as recorded in Judges.
At the beginning of the book of Judges there are quick accounts of tribes who trusted in the Lord and cleared out pagan nations through battle. Judah and Simeon worked together and were commended (see Judges 1:17-20). Ephriam cleared out only part of their inheritance (1:22-26). But, unfortunately, there is even more ink dedicated to the many tribes who did not drive out the pagan nations at all–Manasseh, Ephraim (in larger part), Zebulun, Asher, Naphtali, and Dan (Judges 1:27-36).
I have this sinking suspicion that I understand all too well the common “wisdom” of the day that set up these tribes of Israel for failure. I know through study that as soon as Joshua and his generation died the people of Israel “did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel.” (Judges 2:10 ESV) In essence the writer of Judges is saying that this new generation knew better how to accomplish the life and ways that they wanted to go instead of submitting and obeying to the Lord. I’ve heard it said numerous times by people smarter than myself that all sin can be traced back to pride. What a foolish, foolish generation! To not KNOW God and then to also scorn His advice and best way of doing things. “Hey, God! Why should I kill that guy/gal/boy/girl/cow/goat/sheep/etc. when they could become MY slave, MY property, MY prosperity?! Thanks anyway for the advice, but I’m going to do it my way!”
Man! I get it! We live in a world FULL of people who “know better” than God and they are quick to tell you that God’s way are old, out-dated, barbaric, unloving, and the list goes on. It is crazy to me that we are still even considered a Christian nation when so many “Christians” neglect the reading and believing of God’s word, submitting to His will, and putting aside self in order to serve others. We are very much a nation where “every man (or woman) does what is right in his own eyes.” (Judges 17:6, 21:25) That is the whole point of the book of Judges–that was what God was driving at when He had it recorded and added to the cannon of Scripture! It’s as if He is saying to us, “WAKE UP! Look at what forgetting Me gets you! Chase after Me and live a life set apart for Me and only then will you find safety for your souls! Pay attention! There is NOTHING new under the sun and these guys in Judges have already suffered the same fate you are headed for if you continue on the same path!”
Listen, I’ve read through the bible and I found out the end of the book–God wins. God wins big–no contest. And yet, here’s this HUGE, star-breathing God and He wants us to know how best to worship Him. HE wants US to KNOW Him. In fact, He gave us an entire manual on how best to love Him–the creator of the heavens and earth; the creator of every man, woman, and child. He wants us to know Him and what He has done on our behalf so that we can love Him. I realize you’ve heard this before but just sit and think about this in your heart. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.” (John 3:16-17 ESV)
A God like that deserves to be worshiped however He wants. My job is to be the witness for this generation of all God has done for me so that more and more and more people can truly know Him, love Him, worship Him, and follow Him. The only way I get that done is to prayerfully spend time with Him in the bible–reading, learning, and applying. I want to get to the end of this life and enjoy “all of the promised land” because I worked hard to do the things that God set out for me to accomplish in this life.
Oh Lord, my heart aches for the brothers and sisters who slumber, who go through life thinking they are on Your straight and narrow path, yet blindly follow those around them who are headed on the wide and easy path toward destruction. Lord, wake up your church. Call your followers by name. Please fill each of us with boldness and courage as we know more and more of Your will for our lives because we spend time with You in Your Word. Thank you for loving us so much even while we were Your enemies You made a way for us to know You and love You. May we never tire of our relationship with You as we fall deeper and deeper in love with all You are. Amen!