Disobedience, Despair, Deliverance

KEY VERSE: “The LORD raised up judges, which delivered them out of the hand of those that spoiled them. And yet they would not hearken unto their judges, but they went a whoring after other gods.” —Judges 2:16,17


THE ANGEL OF the Lord came to Israel 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. 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? 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.”—Judges 2:1-3

Joshua had been faithful to the Lord, and after he sent the Israelites to take the land they had been promised, they remained faithful to the Lord until Joshua died at the age of one hundred ten. Even though Joshua was no longer with them, the Israelites were faithful to the Lord during the lifetime of those men who had been leaders with Joshua, and seen the wonderful things the Lord had done for Israel. When that generation died, the next generation did not know the Lord or any of the great works he had done for Israel.—Judges 2:10

“The children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord and served Baalim: and they forsook the Lord God of their fathers, … and followed other gods, … of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the Lord to anger. And they forsook the Lord, and served Baal and Ashtaroth.”—vss. 11-13

Baal and Ashtaroth were respectively male and female Canaanite deities, and being the generic form of god and goddess in Syrian-Arabian, their names seem to include all the gods of the people around Israel.

As a result of Israel’s disobedience, the Lord became so angry with them that he let their surrounding enemies attack and overpower them. Every time they went into battle, the Lord was against them. When they were in great distress, however, the Lord, as noted in the Key Verse, exercised compassion and raised up judges to deliver them from their oppression.

A judge in those days was not one in the sense we recognize today, but was primarily a military leader, a counselor appointed by God to deliver his people from their enemy, and to guide them to worship Jehovah instead of idols. These leaders had no regular, unbroken succession as judges, and each kept Israel safe from their enemies only as long as he lived.

When the judge died the Israelites often turned back to their idolatrous ways, and became even more sinful than their forefathers, worshiping other gods and bowing down before them, once again leaving themselves open to oppression by the enemy. Like the Israelites before us, those in a covenant relationship with the Lord must exercise obedience to him if they are to receive a promised blessing.

As it is written: “As he who called you is holy, be holy in all your conduct.”—I Pet. 1:15 RSV

Dawn Bible Students Association
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