Last week, Joshua and the Israelites entered the promised land. God brought to justice the sins of the nations living in that land. He cleansed it and purified it from its detestable practices so that his people could inherit the land. At the end of last week’s story (p. 101), “the people said to Joshua, ‘we will serve the LORD our God and obey him.'” Then the people spread out and inherited the land.
(note: There are a lot of names of people and places in chapter 8! Keep pushing through. You can do it.)
Here we are, approximately 25 years later at the start of chapter 8. Joshua, their leader, has died. And “after that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel. Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD and served the Baals.”
How quickly people fall away from their bold commitments to God, and fall under the influence of the world.
As we learn quickly in chapter 8, in this time period, God utilizes people that are called “judges.” These are not the black-robed ancestors of Judge Judy that sit in a courtroom. They are actually military leaders who rise up and lead the people in battle against foreign nations.
Here’s how the repeating cycle of the book of Judges works:
1) The Israelites turn away from God and worship false gods.
2) God is angry with them and allows foreign nations to attack Israel.
3) The Israelites cry out to God to rescue them.
4) He rescues them by raising up a judge (military leader) who successfully fights for the Israelites.
5) The land has peace (usually for 40 years, which is a Biblical term for “a generation”)
The last verse of the book of Judges (21:25) says this, “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. This is never good. It wasn’t good for this time period, and it’s not good for us.
We need the Word of God to instruct us, teach us, form us to be God’s people. Think about your life in comparison with the Israelites. They quickly, and repeatedly would fall away from God’s Word and fall under the influence of their surroundings. This happens to us week after week. We come to worship God on Sunday morning. We experience his presence in His Word and Sacraments. We engage in peace-filled conversations of Christian care with our family. And then we leave, turn on the radio or tv and get flustered and frustrated with the political status of our country. At the same time as we get frustrated with it, we also think that it is the means by which our peace and hope will come. Our bold commitment to the Lord falters and we come under the influence of the world.
Yet, God always intervenes. He always intervenes. The time of the Judges was a unique time period. It’s a time before any government was set up. There was no earthly king at this point. But, God intervened. God brings justice for sin, and merciful deliverance to those whose trust is in him.
For us, all that has been accomplished in Jesus. The justice we deserve for sin has been paid on the cross. The mercy we don’t deserve has been given to us through the cross. Thank you Jesus for you unending grace and love for us! This is the repeat cycle in which we live: God continuously forgives our sins through Jesus Christ alone.
If you missed the sermon last week, you can get caught up by going to copperluth.org/sermon-archive.
As you read chapter 8, here are a couple things to ponder.
1) Why do you think the Israelites so often repeated the same cycle over and over?
2) What is the “Baal” (false god where you put your hope) that quickly and easily tempts you from God’s good design? (politics, money, control, etc?)
Watch this week’s sermon: