DESPITE SPECTACULAR MIRACLES AND DIVINE FAVOR EXTENDED TO THEIR FATHERS, THE SECOND GENERATION SINKS INTO APOSTASY AND DEFEAT
Today’s topic touches each of us very deeply because it deals with the spiritual struggles of those who are closest to us. Why do some children from Christian families have trouble embracing the faith of their parents? We all know situations where this topic is relevant. Those of you at Christian colleges – especially in a mentoring role to younger students – see a wide range of spiritual temperatures – from those who hold passionately to the Lord Jesus as the one they supremely love to those who are lukewarm to those who at this point in their life reject the gospel message.
The OT has plenty of examples of children from godly parents who stray from the path of righteousness:
– Eli and his kids
– David and Absalom
– But the normal pattern should be that of Timothy – 2 Tim. 1:5 “For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well.”
Think of the emotional anguish of the parents:
– Heartache of the parents
– Cf. Heartache of God who looks for fruit and finds apostasy instead
Many privileges growing up in a Christian home with godly parents . . .
– But all of the exposure to the truth of God’s Word can cut both ways – where there is more light, there is more accountability
Many dangers as well … and we will try to highlight some of these …
you have not seen a perfect model of Christianity but a flawed one
As we continue in this introductory portion of the Book of Judges, we see the transition from the generation of Joshua and those who first entered the promised land to the next generation that is described in terms of Apostasy and Disobedience and Defeat. What went wrong so quickly?? Our text more presents the harsh reality of the situation than it does the reasons behind the behavior … but we will try to offer some possibilities so we can be aware of the pitfalls to watch out for as we try to pass the baton of the Christian faith to succeeding generations.
DESPITE SPECTACULAR MIRACLES AND DIVINE FAVOR EXTENDED TO THEIR FATHERS, THE SECOND GENERATION SINKS INTO APOSTASY AND DEFEAT
I. (:1-5) THE ANGEL OF THE LORD INDICTS THE UNFAITHFUL FOR THEIR SHIFTING ALLEGIANCE
A. (:1a) Preeminent Judge = the Angel of the Lord
“Now the angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim.”
We know it is a significant occasion when we see the angel of the Lord arrive on the scene – God’s special messenger to bring God’s perspective to the crisis at hand.
It seems when the definite article “the” is used, it is specifying a unique being, separate from the other angels. The angel of the Lord speaks as God, identifies Himself with God, and exercises the responsibilities of God. . . The appearances of the angel of the Lord cease after the incarnation of Christ. Would appear to be here an appearance of the pre-incarnate Christ – a special type of theophany
Here is one who is qualified to make a righteous judgment – to distinguish between right and wrong; He delivers God’s verdict – makes sense for us of the puzzling incidents recorded in Joshua chapter 1 – military campaigns that seem somewhat successful and yet fall short of obeying the divine directive – we talked last week about the Subtle Sins that Sow Seed of Spiritual Decay that result in future catastrophic failures. The verses we skipped over at the end of Chap. 1 speak about the failure of the other tribes to drive the Canaanites out of the land assigned to them.
Brensinger: Quoting Barry Webb regarding the progression in this passage:
(:22-26) Israelites victorious over Canaanites
– But some Canaanites allowed to live at a distance
(:27-33) Israelites fail to drive out the Canaanites
– Canaanites live among the Israelites
– Israelites live among the Canaanites
(:34) Canaanites press back Israelites
– But Israelites allowed to live at a distance
Powerful enough to make slaves out of the Canaanites – should have carried through and exterminated them from the land
The contrast in locations is significant – Gilgal was the base of operations for Joshua to lead the military attacks against Jericho and other cities in the hill country. The word probably has reference to a circle of stones – Josh. 4:19-24 – a testimony to future generations of God’s great work on their behalf – vs. Bochim which will be a place of defeat and weeping instead of victory and joy
B. (:1b) Promised and Performed Covenant Faithfulness—on the part of God
“And he said, ‘I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land which I have sworn to your fathers; and I said, I will never break My covenant with you,’”
gracious work of God on their behalf is reviewed – they have forgotten their tremendous deliverance from Egypt – we constantly need to go back to our experience of redemption and remind our families of how God has been gracious and faithful to us in every way – think of the eternal security we enjoy as children in God’s family – Ephes 2 talks about how far off we were as enemies and people of the uncircumcision before God brought us near
Great theme of Judges is the Covenant Faithfulness of God despite the repeating cycle of rejection and rebellion by the Jewish people
C. (:2) Professed but Profaned Covenant Unfaithfulness – on the part of the sons of Israel
“and as for you, you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall tear down their altars. But you have not obeyed Me; what is this you have done?”
We live in a day when leading evangelical Christians are making covenants that seem to me to be very dangerous and against the spirit of the Great Commission mandate. Instead of confronting the error of opposing religions and taking the hit in the media for being narrow-minded and intolerant, some leaders are pursuing a misguided course of reconciliation as if there is value in trying to find points of common agreement. [cf earlier attempts of evangelicals to work with Catholics under some type of official covenant relationship – trying to get leaders to sign some document]
D. (:3) Providential Reversal of Fortunes
“Therefore I also said, ‘I will not drive them out before you; but they shall become as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare to you.’”
Enemies looked like a significant challenge – but Israel had the promise of God of success – now that promise has been overturned because of their unfaithfulness
I have never had thorns in my side –small splinters in my fingers are painful enough
Illustration: son Rick fell into a cactus plant on his bike riding excursion across country – had to have his fellow riders pull the stickers out of his backside – not a pleasant experience
God had promised that any toleration of the Canaanites in any form would lead to serious pitfalls
Num. 33:50-56 God’s instructions could not have been clearer
E. (:4-5) Penitent Weeping and Wailing
“And it came about when the angel of the LORD spoke these words to all the sons of Israel, that the people lifted up their voices and wept. So they named that place Bochim; and there they sacrificed to the LORD.”
Sometimes it is too late to be crying about our failures – although when the people made supplication, God responded in patience and long suffering … it’s just that the remorse of the people didn’t stick; they kept going back to their pattern of compromise and sin
II. (:6-10a) THE ALLEGIANCE OF JOSHUA’S GENERATION DIES OUT
A. (:6-7) The Faithful Try to Finish Strong
1. (:6) Final Attempts at Possessing the Land they had Inherited
“When Joshua had dismissed the people, the sons of Israel went each to his inheritance to possess the land.”
2. (:7) Final Attempts at Serving the Lord
“And the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who survived Joshua, who had seen all the great work of the LORD which He had done for Israel.”
Does your family know the great work of the Lord on your behalf? Do we have memorials like the stones at Gilgal? Do we live in a context of praise and joy or one of grumbling and discontent?
B. (:8-10a) The Faithful Die Out and are Buried
1. (:8-9) Death and Burial of Joshua
“Then Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of one hundred and ten. And they buried him in the territory of his inheritance in Timnath-heres, in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash.”
“the servant of the Lord” – what a beautiful expression – to be characterized as one who was faithful as a servant leader of God’s people
Interesting that this passage does not place the blame on Joshua and his contemporary elders – despite their subtle sins – it lays the responsibility squarely on the shoulders of those who came after and failed to maintain allegiance to their God
2. (:10a) Death and Burial of Joshua’s Generation
“And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers;”
III. (:10b-13) THE APOSTASY OF THE SECOND GENERATION PROVOKES THE LORD TO ANGER
A. (:10B) Close Connection to God Lost
1. To His Person
“and there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD,”
Not a problem of intellectual knowledge – but of staying in touch with God; having a close connection; experiencing God
2. To His Work
“nor yet the work which He had done for Israel.”
B. (:11) Conduct Shift From Holiness to Wickedness
“Then the sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served the Baals,”
C. (:12-13) Change in Allegiance to Forsake the Lord and Serve Idols
“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 . . . So they forsook the LORD and served Baal and the Ashtaroth.”
Progression: Forsook / followed other gods / bowed down / served them
Very degrading form of religion – involved temple prostitutes, even in its worst form the sacrificing of children
Some of the contributing factors:
– Sensitivity to hypocrisy – lot of talking that is not backed up by living
– Familiarity breeds contempt – look at brothers of Jesus – prophet gets no respect in his own country; etc.
– Blindness to self righteousness and pride – used to comparing yourself favorably to others from a moral and spiritual standpoint
– Minimizing the presence of the Lord and His activity as it directly impacts your daily living
– Religion a matter of legalistic observance rather than a matter of living out personal convictions developed from your own study of God’s Word
– Tendency to become lukewarm rather than fervent and settle for mediocrity rather than strive for excellence; comfortable with the status quo
– Prosperity often leads to complacency and independence instead of dependence upon the Lord; taking God’s blessings for granted
– Tendency to shy away from confrontation and challenging tasks
D. Consequence of Apostasy = Inciting the Lord to Anger
“thus they provoked the LORD to anger.”
The Fear of the Lord is the beginning of the wisdom – surely we don’t want to be in a position of provoking the Lord to Anger
IV. (:14-15) THE ANGER OF THE LORD REDUCES THE UNFAITHFUL TO OPPRESSION AND WEAKNESS AND WEEPING
Description of the outworking of the Lord’s Wrath:
“And the anger of the LORD burned against Israel,”
Jer. 44 is parallel – 800 years later – pragmatism – back in Judah when we were worshipping other gods, we seemed to be prospering; so we won’t listen to the words of Jeremiah; everything was good back then;
A. Plundered (vs Enriched by God’s Grace and Favor)
“and He gave them into the hands of plunderers who plundered them;”
The Lord is in control in either direction – giving riches and prosperity or giving people over to be plundered and impoverished
B. Oppressed and Defeated (vs Ransomed and Victorious by God’s Grace and Favor)
“and He sold them into the hands of their enemies around them, so that they could no longer stand before their enemies.”
Brings back memories of Joseph being unjustly sold into slavery in Egypt; here the people are justly brought into bondage
Inrig: Diminished power is always the result of diminished faith.
C. Cursed (vs Blessed by God’s Grace and Favor)
“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,”
Key: is the hand of the Lord for you or against you?? Blessing or Cursing??
D. Depressed (vs Joyous by God’s Grace and Favor)
“so that they were severely distressed.”
If you do good won’t your countenance be lifted up?
Next week we will continue this section that previews the cycle seen throughout Judges
Sin, Servitude, Supplication, Salvation, Slippage
Inrig: The second generation has a natural tendency to accept the status quo and to lose the vision of the first generation. Too often the second generation experience is a second-hand experience.
Are we guarding against worldliness; against adopting the practices of those around us?
Are we looking to the counsel of the Word of God or relying on human reason and pragmatism?
Hold on to the Lord’s great compassion and lovingkindness as we pray for those close to us who are struggling to lay hold of the faith of their fathers
Where there is repentance, there is grace and great blessing!