“16 Then the LORD raised up judges, who saved them out of the hand of those who plundered them. 17 Yet they did not listen to their judges, for they whored after other gods and bowed down to them. They soon turned aside from the way in which their fathers had walked, who had obeyed the commandments of the LORD, and they did not do so. 18 Whenever the LORD raised up judges for them, the LORD was with the judge, and he saved them from the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge. For the LORD was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who afflicted and oppressed them. 19 But whenever the judge died, they turned back and were more corrupt than their fathers, going after other gods, serving them and bowing down to them. They did not drop any of their practices or their stubborn ways.” (Judges 2:16-19–ESV)
God did what?
He raised up judges. It is important to see that general pattern. God raised up the judges. God saved the struggling people of Israel.
That is the general pattern of God-human relationships. See Psalm 14:1-3 for a few verses that provide background to the human heart. Those verses say that all have turned away and do not seek God.
The people responded how?
By being stubborn. They did not listen. They continued their idolatry. Any obedience they had was short-lived.
Why did God do it?
He had compassion on them. Note that it was not because of something Israel did that led to their rescue. It was God’s compassion. Note the similarity to the bondage that the people knew in Egypt. They groaned in Egypt and they groaned in Canaan. God heard, had compassion and raised up judges.
Incomplete obedience was the rule
When the judge who led Israel died the people rapidly slipped further. The judges mainly seemed to be like brakes on national decline.
What must we think? What must we do?
We are fools if we think we are of a different character than Israel for mankind has not become different.
Those who know and have known the grace of God must shun any hint that we are master of our spiritual situation.
When the fireman places his ladder on the window of your burning and collapsing apartment you are not the hero by getting on the ladder. N0 credit accrues to you for leaving the burning building.
When God sends his son to die on the cross for our sins re-opening the way to godliness, a right relationship with our creator and a place in his house (heaven) he is the fireman.
Where are we now willfully guilty? There is a difference between temptation and greed. The Christian is yet tainted by tendencies to sin. That is one thing and a thing we can be rescued from. It is another thing when the Christian says in his heart, “but I like it” and proceeds to do it. One should confess these sins and run from them. One is a fool to do otherwise.
We must think rightly about our country. The Christians in our nation may well be brakes on national decline. We must not fall prey to the notion that our country is Christian. It has historical facets of that, but so did Israel. Israel had great graces and yet slipped the faster when they threw off the seatbelts of godliness. To know and reject godly guidelines results in a greater crash.
The people of Israel were stubborn. Neither our nation nor our church nor ourselves are immune to that.
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