STUBBORN SIN PROVOKES THE LORD TO ANGER AND PERPETUATES THE CYCLE OF DEFEAT: SIN, SERVITUDE, SUPPLICATION, SALVATION, SLIPPAGE
Because the Lord loves us so deeply, He is jealous for our loyalty. He is provoked to anger when we persist in rebelling against Him. Usually we talk in terms of how can we live in a way to please the Lord who loves us … but today in Judges we will be studying the formula for angering the Lord.
This anger can burn against God’s own people in the form of discipline.
In this context it seems to burn against apostates in the form of judgment and condemnation and wrath.
Why would we ever want to make the Lord angry with us? Yet look at how quickly we forget about God and live as though God doesn’t exist – make decisions without consulting Him; live as if there is no accountability
Then we turn around and wonder why life is so hard and there are so many battles for us to fight.
The purpose of speed bumps = to get our attention and cause us to slow down and obey the law. God sends speed bumps of difficulties into our lives for the same purpose.
I. (2:11-19) 5 STAGES IN THE CYCLE OF DEFEAT
A. (:11-13) Sin – Switching allegiance from God to Idols
1. (:11) Conduct Shift From Holiness to Wickedness
“Then the sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served the Baals,”
[some overlap and review from last week’s section because I wanted to include all five stages in this treatment]
Starting point in the various cycles in Judges = Sin
Issue of Accountability – God is invisible; but all we say and do is heard and seen by the Lord
For God, sight implies evaluation
Cf. “As for me and my house, we choose to serve Baal”
Look at call to holiness for the church in book of Ephesians
2. (: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.”
Jordan: So what was Baalism? In essence it was the ascription of power to Nature: The universe has within itself the force of life. The world as we know it is the result of the union of the ultimate male and female principles of the universe, which may be called Baal and Ashteroth. . .
To the extent to which the processes of Nature replace the acts of God in any system, to that extent the system has become Baalistic.
3. Consequence of Apostasy = Inciting the Lord to Anger
“thus they provoked the LORD to anger.” = Key Tone to the passage
Nothing angers the Lord like spurning His grace and choosing rebellion and idolatry
Dr. Ralph Davis: To have a God who loves his people is to have a jealous God, and to have a jealous God is to have an intolerant God. “Love divine” is not soft laxity but blazing intolerance, an absolute claim (cf. Matt. 10:37-38). Such is the God of Israel whose jealous love makes him faithful in his anger toward you. Who ever heard of love and fidelity like that? You forsake him and he will pursue you – in his anger.
B. (:14-15) Servitude – Experiencing suffering and defeat instead of joy and victory
1. Plundered (vs Enriched by God’s Grace and Favor)
“and He gave them into the hands of plunderers who plundered them;”
God wants to give riches to His people; but they choose the riches of this world:
– False riches
– Fleeting riches
– Foolish riches
Jordan: God’s judgments are never arbitrary. God chastises and curses people by giving them what they want. Israel wanted Baalism as a philosophy, so God gave them into the hands of Baalistic civilizations. Since they were slaves of the gods of these cultures, it was only proper that they should be slaves of the cultures themselves as well.
2. 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.”
Example of Joshua and David who had the courage and grace to stand before their enemies and wage war successfully
How do you face your enemies?
3. 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,”
God is faithful to His promises
Universal harvest law: as a man sows, so shall he also reap
4. Depressed (vs Joyous by God’s Grace and Favor)
“so that they were severely distressed.”
Illustration: quoted by Inrig – One of my favorite hymns is “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” It is a great hymn of praise to God, but there is a sad story related to it. Two strangers were riding in a coach – a miserable-looking man and a happy-faced woman, who was reading the hymn. She showed the hymn to her unknown companion and told him how much the words meant to her. The man looked at it and suddenly broke into tears. Sobbing, he said to her, “Madam, I am the poor, unhappy man who wrote that hymn many years ago, and I would give a thousand worlds, if I had them, to enjoy the feeling I had then.” Robert Robinson had drifted out of fellowship with God, and he knew the awful bondage that sin brings.
Rom. 7 – Paul spoke of the bondage of sin – we are unable to perform the righteousness that we desire apart from the gracious work of the Holy Spirit who gives us the victory in Jesus Christ
Does God Care??
C. (:18b) Supplication – Appealing to the tender mercy and compassion of the faithful, covenant God
“for the LORD was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who oppressed and afflicted them.”
Emphasis here is on the mercy of God, not the supplication of the people
God is a God of compassion and mercy as well as holiness and righteousness
He responds to the prayers of His people – on His timetable
Inrig: In Judges, each time His people call, God hears and intervenes. Not once does He refuse or turn His back. He does not condition His help on their improvement or on their past record, but on their need. The throne we approach in prayer is a throne of grace, where we receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Heb. 4:16).
Dr. Ralph Davis: “groaning” – used only three other times in the Old Testament, two of which are in Exodus (2:24; 6:5). There the “groaning” is that of Israel under Egyptian slavery, a groaning that God hears – and he remembers his covenant and delivers them. The very word in Judges 2:18 should carry our minds back to Exodus.
How much groaning and sighing does the Lord hear from us?
D. (:16-18a) Salvation – Temporary deliverance but no inward transformation
1. (:16) Gracious Deliverance
“Then the LORD raised up judges who delivered them from the hands of those who plundered them.”
Lam. 3:22 “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed.”
We will focus on the amazing stories of deliverance in the book of Judges; the mighty works of God
2. (:17) Rebellious Apostasy
“And yet they did not listen to their judges, for they played the harlot after other gods and bowed themselves down to them. They turned aside quickly from the way in which their fathers had walked in obeying the commandments of the LORD; they did not do as their fathers.”
Robert A.Watson: Thus in the history of Israel, as in the history of many a soul, periods of suffering and of prosperity succeed each other and there is no distinct growth of the religious life. All these experiences are meant to throw men back upon the seriousness of duty, and the great purpose God has in their existence. We must repent not because we are in pain or grief, but because we are estranged from the Holy One and have denied the God of Salvation. Until the soul comes to this it only struggles out of one pit to fall into another.
3. (:18a) False Security
“And when the LORD raised up judges for them, the LORD was with the judge and delivered them from the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge;”
Satisfaction with the status quo; not seeing the subtle sins; self deception; false security; apparent prosperity
E. (:19) Slippage – Stubborn persistence in sinful life patterns in a downward, degenerative cycle
1. Trigger for repeating the cycle
“But it came about when the judge died,”
Nothing in the sufficiency of God changed when the judge (provided by God for temporary deliverance) died; yet the people had never put their trust in the invisible God
2. Intensification of the downward spiral
“that they would turn back and act more corruptly than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them and bow down to them;”
like Romans 1 pattern; God continually gives them up; things spiral downwards and get progressively worse
Dr. Ralph Davis: You discover the true nature of people by observing them when they are not bound by external constraints.
Illustration: what happens in a major city during a power failure, a blackout? Major looting and criminal activity
3. Addiction to stubborn sinful life patterns
“they did not abandon their practices or their stubborn ways.”
No real inward transformation and deliverance from bondage to sin
Think of ingrained habits – way we deal with stress and struggles and how we attempt to seek satisfaction; think of how enslaving sin is; a habit that grips you; you are unable to free yourself
Illustration: Frito Lays commercial: “Bet you can’t eat just one”
What are the characteristics of addiction?
II. (2:20 – 3:6) 3 REASONS THE LORD ALLOWS TEMPTATIONS AND HARD TIMES
(2:20a) Tone of the Passage: An Angry God
“So the anger of the LORD burned against Israel,”
Brensinger: Given all of the difficulty associated with the remaining Canaanites, later readers might well ask why the Lord did not remove all of them while Joshua’s generation was alive. In other words, with the success that Israel experienced under Joshua’s leadership, why did the Lord not allow him to finish the task and save the next generation all of this difficulty (2:23)?
A. (2:20b-21) Take Them to Task – Will you repent and obey?
“and He said, ‘Because this nation has transgressed My covenant which I commanded their fathers, and has not listened to My voice, I also will no longer drive out before them any of the nations which Joshua left when he died,’”
Not some petulant temper tantrum on the part of God; consistent with His character and promises
B. (2:22-23) Test Their Allegiance – Whose side are you on?
“in order to test Israel by them, whether they will keep the way of the LORD to walk in it as their fathers did, or not. So the LORD allowed those nations to remain, not driving them out quickly; and He did not give them into the hand of Joshua.”
Brensinger: the Lord leaves the Canaanites as a means of examining and reexamining the Israelites’ commitment to him. The manner in which they deal with the Canaanites will reveal a great deal about their deepest convictions and allegiances. . . God can use failed tests too. As the writer reflects on this discouraging period, his conclusions indicate that the painful and frequently failed tests in Canaan did in fact bring increased understanding for later generations. Because of the various lessons learned, the members of the community now realize more clearly their own role and responsibility in what has transpired (2:20; cf. Lam. 1:5, 14; 3:39). Furthermore, they have caught a renewed glimpse of God’s plans and intentions, not to mention his direct involvement in all the affairs of their lives (2:21 – 3:4; cf. Lam. 3:21-24, 40-42). With this new or rekindled insight, the sins so prevalent during the period of the judges (3:5-6) will hopefully not be repeated. As a result, Israel may now rise to greater heights in their commitment to the Lord and his covenant.
[Not necessarily true – look at times of Isaiah – nation still wrestling with the same sin problems; what lessons have they really learned?]
C. (3:1-6) Toughen Them Up – How strong are you to wage war against the enemy?
“Now these are the nations which the LORD left, to test Israel by them (that is, all who had not experienced any of the wars of Canaan; only in order that the generations of the sons of Israel might be taught war, those who had not experienced it formerly). These nations are: the five lords of the Philistines and all the Canaanites and the Sidonians and the Hivites who lived in Mount Lebanon, from Mount Baal-hermon as far as Lebo-hamath. And they were for testing Israel, to find out if they would obey the commandments of the LORD, which He had commanded their fathers through Moses. And the sons of Israel lived among the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; and they took their daughters for themselves as wives, and gave their own daughters to their sons, and served their gods.”
Philistines – five-city cluster along the southern Mediterranean coast – Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gath, Ekron (1:18, Josh. 13:3)
Sidonians = the Phoenicians – leading port city was Sidon
Wolf: After 1100 B.C. Tyre began to eclipse Sidon in importance (cf. 1:31).
What are the weapons of our warfare?? Prayer and the Word of God
Jordan: In the first place, Israel had to learn that there was a war, and that peace and compromise with Canaanites was impossible. In the second place, Israel had to learn how to fight the wards of the Lord. This does not mean military tactics, though such are not completely excluded, but rather means prayer and faith. The wars of the Lord are fought by faith and prayer. . . Israel was taught that war could be fought and won only in wholehearted trust and dependence on God. And so we can see that testing Israel’s faith and teaching Israel war are the same thing. . . . faith entails an attitude of warfare (hatred) against sin and evil, in dependence upon the grace of God.
Herbert Wolf: The Canaanite presence in the land also kept the Israelites from being overrun with wild animals (Exod 23:29-30).
Steve Zeisler: These are the nations that were left behind to test the people, and the people regularly failed the test. And the Lord required them to need him, and he would not remove these obstacles. I know that each of us can identify fears we wish we were free of. Life would seem better if we had less pressure, less trauma, less temptation, and less struggle to deal with. Yet he knows that all of us would live lives of less faith if we had it easier, so he leaves behind those difficulties that will teach us war. They will teach us to do battle with what’s wrong, to trust him, and to know him as a result.
As a last commentary on the importance of knowing the living God and the worthiness of the challenge, the final verses of the book of Galatians make an interesting statement. The apostle Paul wrote a combative book in Galatians. It was a book of debate against those who would dilute and destroy the gospel message. He railed against his detractors, and he taught them the truth, and then at the end of the book he said, “From now on let no one cause trouble for me, for I bear on my body the brand-marks of Jesus.” Paul had been beaten, stoned, jailed, shipwrecked, abandoned, attacked by robbers, worked over in every kind of circumstance by Jews, Romans, and pagans. By the time he wrote the book of Galatians there were scars on his face, his
hands, and his back and a limp in his leg. He stood before them figuratively in the book of Galatians and he said, “Look at my body. There are scars on it. But these are not ordinary scars; they are the brand-marks of Jesus.” Paul’s refusal to compromise meant that he was “taught war” (Judges 3:2). And the scars that resulted from his hardships he wore proudly because they testified to his intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. Our God is wise and gracious enough to place us into battles so that we will not settle for less than knowing him.
Same pattern in Christian circles regarding sin and the world:
1) Toleration instead of separation – I am a strong Christian; I won’t be changed by X
Failure to drive out the Canaanites; living among them
2) Embracing the sin – Intermarriage with the Canaanites
3) Bowing down to the world’s gods and adopting the value system of the world; serving idols
Look at who has been changed when it all shakes out
Many sad examples in Scripture – like the story of Lot
We will see this pattern played out repeatedly through the Book of Judges
STUBBORN SIN PROVOKES THE LORD TO ANGER AND PERPETUATES THE CYCLE OF DEFEAT: SIN, SERVITUDE, SUPPLICATION, SALVATION, SLIPPAGE