Sunday, September 10, 2017
“Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:14,15 KJV).
Whom shall Israel follow? (It depends on their circumstances!)
Surveying the Book of Judges, we see the following events repeated six times: (1) Israel committing evil by worshipping and serving pagan idols, (2) JEHOVAH God allowing Gentiles to punish and oppress them, (3) Israel crying out to God for help, (3) God sending a judge/delivered/ruler, (4) Israel having peace, (5) the judge dying, and (6) Israel returning to idolatry. One recurrent phrase is, “And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD” (2:11; 3:7,12; 4:1; 6:1; 10:6; 13:1).
The first cycle begins with Israel doing evil in the sight of the LORD. They intermarry with the Gentiles and serve their idols. God has Chushanrishathaim, king of Mesopotamia, oppress Israel for eight years. The Jews cry to the LORD for help, so he sends a judge, Othniel, to deliver them. Israel has peace 40 years. (Judges 3:5-11)
With Othniel’s death, the second cycle starts. Israel again does evil in the sight of the LORD. God sends Eglon, king of the Moabites, to tyrannize the Jews 18 years. Israel cries for help, God delivers them using Ehud the Judge, and they have rest 80 years. (Judges 3:15-30)
Once Ehud dies, the third cycle commences. Israel again does evil in the sight of the LORD. God brings in Jabin, king of the Canaanites, to “mightily oppress” Israel 20 years. God raises up Deborah the Prophetess and Judge, and gives Israel victory over her enemies. The land of Israel has peace 40 years. (Judges 4:1–5:31)
Notice how Israel’s apostasy originated because of two factors. Firstly, they left their heathen neighbors in their land. Secondly, they intermarried with them!
(We temporarily break away from this devotionals arc to bring a special-edition devotional tomorrow.)