Indecisive Israel #10

Friday, September 15, 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!)

Once Judge Abdon dies, Judges chapter 13 opens with Israel doing evil in the sight of the LORD. He gives them over to the Philistines 40 years. The angel of the LORD appears to Manoah and his wife, informing them that they will have a child who “shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines” (verse 5). This boy is Samson. In the coming years, he indeed slays many Philistines. Samson, in weakness, meets a tragic end. After judging Israel 20 years, he lets the Philistines capture him. They blind him, but he kills 3,000 more Philistines before taking his own life. (Judges 13:1–16:31)

Historically, the Book of Judges ends with Samson. Nevertheless, five subsequent “addendum” (hindsight) chapters detail Israel’s religious, moral, and social breakdown throughout that 450-year period (Acts 13:20). Judges chapters 17-21 document very dark, horrific events—especially chapter 19 (appalling, to say the least!). Baal worship gains a foothold in northern Israel in Micah’s house. Eventually, the whole tribe of Dan adopts Micah’s idolatrous religious system. Priests are now called “father.” A Jewess, servant-wife of a Levite, plays the whore. Then, the Jews of Gibeah rape her and ultimately beat her to death. Israelites war amongst each other—25,000 die in battle!

So, the “yo-yo,” “rollercoaster” 450-year period of the Judges ends. The Book closes with such sobering words: “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (21:25; cf. Judges 17:6; 18:1; 19:1; 21:25). Frankly, dear friends, that expression says it all, and it is an apt conclusion!

(Before we summarize and conclude this devotionals arc, we will break away from it for one day to present a special study.)