This week in our Bible journey we will cover a time period that I just wish we could skip altogether because in more ways than one, it is very painful to read and digest. But when a commitment has been made to journey through the entire Bible, it means: NO SKIPPING. So…lets dive in.
Just a couple of weeks ago, we saw Moses plead and beg with the Israelites to remain faithful to God and always obey His commands. And last week we saw how the mighty warrior Joshua also challenged the Israelites to remain true to God and to choose to serve the Lord and Him only. (Psssst….if you missed my previous blog entries, you can find the links to them at the bottom of this page).
But what comes next, the period of Judges which is generally agreed by most (if not all) Bible scholars as one of the darkest periods in Israel’s history because of what is termed as their syncretism.
Syncretism is different than just plain idol worship. Syncretism is when different religious beliefs, faith and practices are merged to create a new form of worship.
And God clearly commanded His people to destroy their enemies so that the gods of those enemies will not become a snare to them. But we see that the Israelites failed to do this. Even as they conquered the promised land we see they did not completely destroy the Canaanites and break down their altars to other gods (Judges 1:19-21; 2: 2-3). And so what resulted was the people of God living amongst the altars and places of other gods eventually leading them to intermarry and succumb to worship of these other false gods. This led to a whole lot of trouble of them and much heartbreaking for God.
Yet, even in the midst of their syncretism God remained faithful. All God needed was a single individual that He could raise up to deliver His people with whom He mad made a covenant. Let us take a quick look at Judges 2:16-19 that summarizes this pattern of syncretism and God’s amazing love and faithfulness in spite of it all.
Wow! How could this happen?
We already looked at one reason why this happened: They did not completely destroy all the gods of the Canaanites and allowed themselves to intermingle.
We see another clue in Judges 2:10…
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.
The generation that came up after Joshua grew up not knowing the Lord. I would suggest to you that the new generation mostly reaped the rewards of promised land without having had to wrestle with the enemies nor turn to the Lord for help thus missing out on the opportunity to see God’s power firsthand for themselves. And I bet their parents were too busy settling in and mingling with the foreigners that they didn’t keep re-telling the stories of God’s prior faithfulness.
And this my friends, should serve as a strong reminder and exhortation for us today so that we do not fall into same traps as the Israelites.
In today’s society, we too live among a lot of “foreign gods” and things that do not glorify God. And unless we make the conscious effort to destroy their influences in our lives, we too will very easily fall prey to their snare in our lives.
I assure you that this requires constant examination and purging…..at least for me. Yes constant. For example, the little device called a smartphone, while useful for me in many many ways can also be a big snare for me in that it can cause so many distractions for me and drain my time before I know it…..especially my early morning hours which I have set apart for spending time in God’s presence and His Word. Yes, I can easily allow a a phone to replace my worship of God. This is just one example I am willing to put out here.
But there is still hope. Even though our society today can be labeled as “dark” and “depraved” with so many forms of ills and idolatry happening, the good news is that God is on the move. And God is always always always looking for individuals who want to be used and who can be raised to deliver this generation of people He loves so much. You and I can be that person. May we rise up to take on this challenge so that this present generation can hear the good news of Salvation we have in Jesus and be delivered from the slavery to worship of other “gods”.
The book of Ruth (which is a story that takes place during the period of the Judges as well) showcases what can happen when someone like a humble widow (Ruth the Moabite) is willing to leave behind her gods and people just to follow the one true God. And guess what! Ruth is used by God to birth Obed who births Jesse who births David, the future king of Israel.
And now, to explore the book of Judges more in detail, once again I present to you videos by The Bible Project team. The first one covers the book of Judges as a whole and the second one is on the book of Ruth.
And now if you want to read for yourself about this period of Israel’s journey, here is rest of the info for you to embark on this journey on your own….
Even when the people of Israel have turned prostituted themselves with the worship of other gods, God demonstrates He is faithful by raising up Judges to deliver His people from their pain and suffering.
And here a quick overview of all the Judges who are mentioned:
- Othniel (3:7–11)
- Ehud (3:12–30)
- Shamgar (3:31)
- Deborah and Barak (4–5)
- Gideon (6–10)
- Tola (10:1–2)
- Jair (10:3–5)
- Jephthah (10:6–12:7)
- Izban (12:8–10)
- Elon (12:11–12)
- Abdon (12:13–15)
- Samson (13–16)
Weekly Reading Plan
And if you want to read more during the week, here is the weekly plan:
If you want to dig deeper here are some of my suggestions:
- Read the entire book of Judges but only if you can bear to put up with some of the gory details caused by sin.
- Read the entire book of Ruth which is an amazing story of how God can use anyone regardless of their background to fulfill His purposes.
- Read Psalm 106:34-39 to understand the extent of Israel’s sin and disobedience before God. Can you believe they even killed their own sons and daughters as sacrifices to the idols?
- Read Hebrews 11:32. The Hebrew writer mentions some of the judges and commends them for their faith. Meditate on how these judges exercised their faith so that they could be used by God.
- Optional: Read Psalms 31-33
And that is it for week 11!
Happy Bible Learning!