LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS
So how long does it take for a few left over Canaanites to contribute to the delinquency of the children of God? A few bad examples produce a lot of pain.
And an angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with you. And ye shall make no league with the inhabitants of this land; ye shall throw down their altars: but ye have not obeyed my voice: why have ye done this? Wherefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you. And it came to pass, when the angel of the LORD spake these words unto all the children of Israel, that the people lifted up their voice, and wept. And they called the name of that place Bochim: and they sacrificed there unto the LORD. Judges 2:1-5 (KJV)
This generation was tender enough to repent. But their errors were visited upon their children, who repeated the error without repentance. Living among the worldly, they followed the ways of their peers and of their enemies. I notice a reference to thorns in the previous scripture. You may recall Paul complaining about a thorn in the flesh too.
And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing. 2 Cor 12:7-11 (KJV)
As Israel is to suffer from enemies offering temptation, we too have small temptations that remain to try our flesh. God allowed this “messenger of Satan” in Paul as he allows us a few temptations as well. We can not glory in our own goodness, but need God to help. Israel will need God to deliver them in their temptations too.
And when Joshua had let the people go, the children of Israel went every man unto his inheritance to possess the land. And the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the LORD, that he did for Israel. And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died, being an hundred and ten years old. And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnathheres, in the mount of Ephraim, on the north side of the hill Gaash. And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel. Judges 2:6-10 (KJV)
One generation went to Egypt with blessing from Joseph; while another left complaining with Moses. None of them lived to see the Promised Land, but their children had faith to enter. Now their children have turned back to sin. They pay the price.
And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim: And they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the LORD to anger. And they forsook the LORD, and served Baal and Ashtaroth. And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and he delivered them into the hands of spoilers that spoiled them, and he sold them into the hands of their enemies round about, so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies. Whithersoever they went out, the hand of the LORD was against them for evil, as the LORD had said, and as the LORD had sworn unto them: and they were greatly distressed. Judges 2:11-15 (KJV)
Their sin nature moved God to ignore the pain caused by their enemies. They could not discover the key to victory when they mutinied against their God and Captain. Still God provided men and women of inspired leadership.
Nevertheless the LORD raised up judges, which delivered them out of the hand of those that spoiled them. And yet they would not hearken unto their judges, but they went a whoring after other gods, and bowed themselves unto them: they turned quickly out of the way which their fathers walked in, obeying the commandments of the LORD; but they did not so. And when the LORD raised them up judges, then the LORD was with the judge, and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge: for it repented the LORD because of their groanings by reason of them that oppressed them and vexed them. And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they returned, and corrupted themselves more than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them, and to bow down unto them; they ceased not from their own doings, nor from their stubborn way. And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel; and he said, Because that this people hath transgressed my covenant which I commanded their fathers, and have not hearkened unto my voice; I also will not henceforth drive out any from before them of the nations which Joshua left when he died: That through them I may prove Israel, whether they will keep the way of the LORD to walk therein, as their fathers did keep it, or not. Therefore the LORD left those nations, without driving them out hastily; neither delivered he them into the hand of Joshua. Judges 2:16-23 (KJV)
This is interesting to see that the judges showed them the way to victory. Then their offer of life was rejected, and they served to testify of the sin of the people. In this they were as judges, by the testimony of the actions of the acts of the people after the death of the judge. So God left their enemies among them, even as they are today.
Now these are the nations which the LORD left, to prove Israel by them, even as many of Israel as had not known all the wars of Canaan; Only that the generations of the children of Israel might know, to teach them war, at the least such as before knew nothing thereof; Namely, five lords of the Philistines, and all the Canaanites, and the Sidonians, and the Hivites that dwelt in mount Lebanon, from mount Baalhermon unto the entering in of Hamath. And they were to prove Israel by them, to know whether they would hearken unto the commandments of the LORD, which he commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses. And the children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, Hittites, and Amorites, and Perizzites, and Hivites, and Jebusites: And they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons, and served their gods. And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and forgat the LORD their God, and served Baalim and the groves. Judges 3:1-7 (KJV)
The Christian can see the Old Testament as an allegory of spiritual warfare. We do not war against flesh, but against powers or spirits that try to influence our behavior. We are not called to take military or martial action against those who do not share our beliefs, except in self-defense. Those who are employed in law enforcement or military arms must serve the law of man. But Christians are not called to create a religious state in this world.
Our warfare is to rebuild our own lives, in the model of Yeshua, Jesus. We war against the temptation in our own lives, not against the failings of our neighbors. We offer them the words of Jesus, hoping to draw those who are called by him with the voice of their master. He must draw them who are predestinated so they can receive what we offer. But our offering can only be validated if it is real in our lives.
Therefore the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and he sold them into the hand of Chushanrishathaim king of Mesopotamia: and the children of Israel served Chushanrishathaim eight years. And when the children of Israel cried unto the LORD, the LORD raised up a deliverer to the children of Israel, who delivered them, even Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother. And the Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he judged Israel, and went out to war: and the LORD delivered Chushanrishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand; and his hand prevailed against Chushanrishathaim. And the land had rest forty years. And Othniel the son of Kenaz died. Judges 3:8-11 (KJV)
If lingering spirits of temptation mar our Christian testimony, we are ineffective as living examples of Christ. We have to have the same militant desire to destroy the tempting spirit, as Israel needed to repel their enemies. When Israel was not devoted to their warfare, they were forced into servitude to their oppressors. But in their weakness, God gave them a deliverer. Like Paul, they became strong in their weakness.
And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD: and the LORD strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel, because they had done evil in the sight of the LORD. And he gathered unto him the children of Ammon and Amalek, and went and smote Israel, and possessed the city of palm trees. So the children of Israel served Eglon the king of Moab eighteen years. But when the children of Israel cried unto the LORD, the LORD raised them up a deliverer, Ehud the son of Gera, a Benjamite, a man lefthanded: and by him the children of Israel sent a present unto Eglon the king of Moab. But Ehud made him a dagger which had two edges, of a cubit length; and he did gird it under his raiment upon his right thigh. And he brought the present unto Eglon king of Moab: and Eglon was a very fat man. And when he had made an end to offer the present, he sent away the people that bare the present. But he himself turned again from the quarries that were by Gilgal, and said, I have a secret errand unto thee, O king: who said, Keep silence. And all that stood by him went out from him. Judges 3:12-19 (KJV)
Ehud has deceived Eglon by claiming to bring a secret message. But his gift is a pointed one. His secret message is from God to Eglon about the inward evil, the dirt of his life. And Shamgar was the next Judge to deliver Israel by slaying six hundred Philistines.
And Ehud came unto him; and he was sitting in a summer parlour, which he had for himself alone. And Ehud said, I have a message from God unto thee. And he arose out of his seat. And Ehud put forth his left hand, and took the dagger from his right thigh, and thrust it into his belly: And the haft also went in after the blade; and the fat closed upon the blade, so that he could not draw the dagger out of his belly; and the dirt came out. Then Ehud went forth through the porch, and shut the doors of the parlour upon him, and locked them. When he was gone out, his servants came; and when they saw that, behold, the doors of the parlour were locked, they said, Surely he covereth his feet in his summer chamber. And they tarried till they were ashamed: and, behold, he opened not the doors of the parlour; therefore they took a key, and opened them: and, behold, their lord was fallen down dead on the earth. And Ehud escaped while they tarried, and passed beyond the quarries, and escaped unto Seirath. And it came to pass, when he was come, that he blew a trumpet in the mountain of Ephraim, and the children of Israel went down with him from the mount, and he before them. And he said unto them, Follow after me: for the LORD hath delivered your enemies the Moabites into your hand. And they went down after him, and took the fords of Jordan toward Moab, and suffered not a man to pass over. And they slew of Moab at that time about ten thousand men, all lusty, and all men of valour; and there escaped not a man. So Moab was subdued that day under the hand of Israel. And the land had rest fourscore years.
And after him was Shamgar the son of Anath, which slew of the Philistines six hundred men with an ox goad: and he also delivered Israel. Judges 3:20-31 (KJV)
The Philistines will trouble Israel for a long time to come. Yet God has a plan to bring both Israel and the gentiles into the Kingdom of God. And that plan is for us to copy the good example of Jesus who went before us. Our church leaders today do just that by their good examples, as did the judges of this book. The world considers the church to be weak, but these good judges have found their strength in the Lord.
And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; 1 Thess 5:12 (KJV)