The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), March 31
Before his death Joshua warns Israel that they are one generation away from degeneracy. And that day is not far off. After Joshua’s death another generation arises, “who did not know the LORD nor the work which He had done for Israel” (Judges 2:10). Israel begins the slippery slope of sin by enslaving the Canaanites instead of driving them out of the land, by intermarrying with the Canaanites, and by worshiping their idols.
The book of Judges covers the approximately 350-400 years between Joshua’s death and Saul’s coronation. This period is defined by seven sin cycles, where Israel sins against the LORD (intermarriage with the Canaanites, idolatry, and sexual sin), God raises up oppressors, Israel cries out to God, God raises up deliverers or judges, Israel experiences peace as long as the judges live, and Israel reverts to sin after the judges’ death. Another cycle of sin begins.
The Judges Era reveals a number of truths about the cycle of sin:
- Incomplete obedience opens the door to complete disobedience. Because Israel did not conquer and destroy the Canaanites, they soon entertained and then embraced Canaanite beliefs and practices. The sin that remains unconquered in a person or nation’s life will soon conquer that person or nation. What’s permitted at the doorstep eventually enters the house.
- Disobedience always brings oppression. Those who embrace sin willingly live under oppression for years before they humble themselves and cry out to God.
- God graciously responds to and delivers those who humble themselves and cry out to Him.
The Canaanites’ enduring presence in Israel—and in particular their idolatrous and immoral theology—contributes to Israel’s spiral of spiritual decline. Every nation has a theology, and theology directs both morality and practice. Canaanite theology corrupts Israel.
Questions from today’s reading (Judges 1:1-3:20):
Starting in Judges 1:19, what theme begins to emerge regarding Israel’s conquest? What kind of future does this set in motion?
How does God rebuke the Israelites in chapter 2? What will their incomplete obedience cost them?
What are the consequences in Israel of a new generation that does not know the Lord or what He has done for Israel? What does this tell you about the importance of the Word of God? Who dropped the ball?
What do we learn about God’s character in Judges 2:16-23? About man? What happens to God’s people in the absence of God’s Word?