When my annual Bible reading plan takes me through Judges, I cannot say I am excited. This book is dark and painful to read. WE watch as the nation of Israel turns their back on God time and time again. No matter how great are his warnings, the people keep fighting against him.
What hit me, as I began this reading for this year, is the fact that this dark feeling, this pressing warning, is just as much for us today as it was for the people who originally read it. No, I do not expect that we should think a lot about the land promises discussed in the book. But we are to live as the people of God and be careful not to turn from him.
Judges 2:10-13 – 10 And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel.
11 And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals. 12 And they abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt. They went after other gods, from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed down to them. And they provoked the Lord to anger. 13 They abandoned the Lord and served the Baals and the Ashtaroth.
It was only 1 generation after Joshua when the people abandoned God and began to worship idols. IT took only one generation for those who should have followed the Lord to turn their backs. One generation, and the people provoked the Lord.
Before we take this and try to make some sort of political statement about our nation, how about we take this and see in it the need for intense warnings in our own families. Our children will worship someone or something. That is simply true. And it is wise for us as parents to help them to see that the only acceptable way to worship is to worship the Lord. The only way to worship the Lord is to come to him in faith and repentance, believing in Jesus and turning our backs on our sin in this life. We must trust Jesus and yield ourselves to him.
And we should warn our families that, to turn away from Jesus and ignore him is really the very same thing we see in Judges. To turn against Jesus is to bow to one idol or another. This is to provoke the Lord and to dishonor his name.
I don’t know if I’m getting across the depth of emotion that needs to come here. We either worship the Lord, or we bow to Baal, figuratively speaking. We either surrender to Jesus, or we do war against the Lord our God. This is an extremely significant truth, and I wonder if, in our desire to be kind and gentle and to appear open-minded, we might be softening the blow of this hard truth. May we not do so. May we find the grace of Jesus, a sweet Savior and gentle Master. May we not instead turn against him and find him the holy Judge.