Lent 2022 Day 21

Lent 2022 Day 21

Fri 25 Mar

Judges 2:10-19 Send in the Judges

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. 11 Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the Baals. 12 They forsook the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshipped various gods of the peoples around them. They aroused the Lord’s anger 13 because they forsook him and served Baal and the Ashtoreths. 14 In his anger against Israel the Lord gave them into the hands of raiders who plundered them. He sold them into the hands of their enemies all around, whom they were no longer able to resist. 15 Whenever Israel went out to fight, the hand of the Lord was against them to defeat them, just as he had sworn to them. They were in great distress.

16 Then the Lord raised up judges, who saved them out of the hands of these raiders. 17 Yet they would not listen to their judges but prostituted themselves to other gods and worshipped them. They quickly turned from the ways of their ancestors, who had been obedient to the Lord’s commands. 18 Whenever the Lord raised up a judge for them, he was with the judge and saved them out of the hands of their enemies as long as the judge lived; for the Lord relented because of their groaning under those who oppressed and afflicted them. 19 But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their ancestors, following other gods and serving and worshipping them. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways.

The line of God’s promises grows very thin at times in the story of the Old Testament. Of course, it’s not God giving up on his people, it is the other way round. Why did a generation grow up not knowing the Lord? Because the older generation had failed to teach them – they are the ones to blame. When we see churches and congregations fading away and closing, it may well be that they had not as a body nurtured and discipled their younger people, nor taught them, nor passed over reins of leadership. I can see churches right here in my area where stubborn clinging on to traditions is resulting in younger people moving away.

If a church is not reaching out to the whole demographic in its patch then that’s a church that’s needing to pray.

It is a privilege for the older to take on the younger as apprentices – see how Joshua had accompanied Moses and learnt from him. It is a mark of our maturity that we are prepared to let go of the things we’re used to and comfortable with for the sake of the newer and younger members, though we never should be that comfortable in the first place! It’s a mark of shame that it was Joshua’s generation that had failed.

As could be expected, the new generation of Israel pick up the practices of their neighbours, who, I have to assume, are more faithful in their worship practices than the Israelites. The Israelites were offending God even if they did not know they were offending him. They’d win no land that way.

God is not a knee-jerk God, nor is he devoid of love. To see his people move away from him is a cause of sorrow and heartache for him for a long time before he is moved to anger. In his love and mercy God created a new order for the Israelites, the Judges. God favoured his people while the judge was alive.

Israel simply went back to its old ways when there was no judge. When things got tough they called out to God, and he graciously sent another judge. In the end, God decided that the Promised Land would still contain those nations that Joshua had not routed, and they would be a constant thorn in Israel’s flesh.

The line of promise hangs on in there. There’s some fascinating reading in the shorter and longer accounts of various judges in the following chapters of this book. Some are awesome, and some are weird. Like Ehud, I am left-handed, but I never did what Ehud did. And as for Jael, …

Does your church fellowship rely on certain individuals to keep it going?

How does your fellowship grow when there is a leadership vacancy?

Are Palestinians a present, God-allowed thorn in Israel’s flesh?

Father God, you are loving and caring, you are long-suffering and slow to anger. You are merciful and kind. You let me wander, but you will always draw me back when I cry out to you. Thank you, Father. Amen.

Whose land is it?