JUDGES – Chapter 2 – Teaching Notes – Don D. Stephens
So the angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I swore unto your fathers; and I said, that I will never break my covenant with you. But you shall make no league with the inhabitants of this land; you shall throw down their altars: but you have not obeyed my voice: why have you done this?
Here, I believe the Angel of the Lord is Jesus, simply because the language is speaking for Jehovah in the first person. And, the message from the Lord is that they have not obeyed Him, and He wants to know why. They are not conquering, they are not taking the complete victory. The Lord, Himself, is now rebuking them for this failure.
Wherefore as I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods will be a snare to you.
The Lord is telling them that, because they haven’t fulfilled their part of the bargain, they are going to have a problem, from this point forward.
And it came to pass, when the angel of the LORD spoke these words unto all the children of Israel, the people lifted up their voices, and wept. And so they called the name of the place Bochim: and they sacrificed there unto the LORD.
Bochim means “weepers”. This is amazing! They cried, had an emotional experience, and sacrificed to the LORD. However, they did nothing about their condition. They didn’t go back and drive out the inhabitants. Often, when a person is under the conviction of the Spirit, God is dealing with them on the issues of their life, and they see their failures. When this happens, they have an emotional experience, sometimes even weeping. The problem is that the weeping is of no value if they don’t change. Unfortunately, most people feel that the crying is enough. But, they do nothing after they cry. They don’t change the circumstances, they don’t repent, and they don’t change. The just continue doing the same thing. The children of Israel did the same thing. They cried and offered sacrifices, but there were no changes.
When the people of Israel had a time of great emotional distress, they would tear their clothes. It was a common practice to show grief, sorrow and remorse. Later in their history, God told them “Rend your heart, and not your garments.” God doesn’t want to see an outward show, he wants to see changes. I believe it is actually possible that a person can cry away the conviction of the Spirit on our hearts. God wants changes.
Because they just wept, but there were no changes, the people they let survive become a thorn in their side. Their gods became a snare to them, and they were drawn to worship the gods.
Now when Joshua had let the people go, the children of Israel went every man to his inheritance to possess the land. And the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all of the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen the great works of the LORD, that which he did for Israel.
So, as long as this generation was alive, they served the LORD. As long as these men, who saw the marvelous miracles of God, who saw the works of God in the wilderness, who were able to relate to them their eyewitness accounts, were alive, the children of Israel served the LORD.
When Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died, being a hundred and ten years old. They buried him in the border of the inheritance of Timnathheres, in the mount of Ephraim, on the north side of the hill Gaash. And also all the generation were gathered to their fathers: there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel.
Here is a great tragedy! There was a failure, on the part of the parents, to adequately communicate to the children what God had done. God said that they were to gather the children, rehearse it in their ears. They had all kinds of memorials, like the pile of stones down near Gilgal, next to the Jordan River. The idea of these memorials was for the passing down of stories of what God had done for Israel, to each of the new generations. When a child saw the pile of stones, they would ask about them, giving the parent or grandparent an opportunity to express the story of how that was where they first crossed over into the Promised Land. It was an opportunity to share how the river was stopped in flood time, allowing the folks to cross over on dry land. They could express that these very stones came from the center of the river and, most importantly, that God was with them. The whole idea was to rehearse to the children the marvelous works of God. But, somehow, they failed to communicate to their children.
This is a very unfortunate thing. Revival rarely goes into the second generation. God works among a generation, among a people.
There is a powerful, glorious work of God. The problem is that, rarely does that work of God go into the next generation. This is a sign of the failure of the parents to pass on the heritage to their children of the wonderful works of God.
Even in the early church we find the same thing. When the apostles began to die off, the love began to grow cold. The Lord said to the church of Ephesus, “You have left your first love.” So often, this is the case.
Here, in Judges, we see the failure of the parents to adequately communicate to the children the power of Jehovah, whom they served. They did not fully obey God in driving out all of the inhabitants of the land, settling for something less than total victory, which, in turn, brought the great sorrows to them.
As the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and they began to serve Baalim: and they forsook Jehovah God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and they followed other gods, the gods of the people that were round about them, and they bowed themselves unto them, and they provoked Jehovah to anger. And they forsook the LORD, and they served Baal and Ashteroth.
Baalim is the plural of Baal, just as Ashteroth is the plural of Astoreth, the goddess of the Ephesians. So, they began to worship these male and female deities of the people of the land over which they had conquered. It is truly tragic, that the Truth didn’t go into the next generation. Somehow, there was a failure of the transmitting of God’s power.
And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, he delivered them into the hands of the spoilers that spoiled them, and he sold them into the hands of their enemies round about, so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies. [They deserted God, God deserted them.] And whithersoever they went out, the hand of the LORD was against them for evil, as the LORD had said, and the LORD had sworn unto them: and they were greatly distressed. Nevertheless the LORD raised up judges, which delivered them out of the hand of those that spoiled them. And yet they would not hearken unto the judges, but they went a whoring after other gods, and bowed themselves unto them: and they turned quickly out of the way which their fathers walked in, obeying the commandments of the LORD; but they did not so. And when the LORD raised up judges, then the LORD was with the judge, and delivered them out of the hand of the enemies all the days of the judge: for it repented the LORD because of their groanings by reason of them that oppressed them and vexed them. And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they returned, and corrupted themselves more than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them, and to bow down unto them; and they ceased not from their own doings, nor from their stubborn way.
This is the continuous tragic story of these people. This part is really the prologue to the book of Judges. This gives us a view into what we are going to be looking at, as we cover this sad period of history. Israel falls into the worship of the false gods, God delivers them into the hands of their enemies, God raises up a judge, who inspires the people spiritually to turn back to the LORD, and during the lifetime of that judge there is spiritual revival. When the judge dies, Israel turns back to these other gods, and they go back into captivity. This is that cycle, which we are going to follow, the tragic cycle of the history of the nation of Israel.
And so the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel; he said, Because these people have transgressed my covenant which I commanded their fathers, they have not hearkened unto my voice; I also will not henceforth drive out any from before them of the nations which Joshua left when he died: [‘okay, I’m through: I’m not going to drive out any more. You’ve disobeyed, you’ve broken the covenant.” And so, God withdraws His support and His strength] that through them they might be tested, whether they will keep the way of the LORD to walk therein, as their fathers did keep it, or not. Therefore the LORD left those nations, without driving them out hastily; and neither did he deliver them into the hand of Joshua.
God says He is through, He is not going to drive out any more nations for Israel. They have disobeyed and broken His covenant, so God withdraws His support and His strength.
Now, beginning in Chapter 3, we begin the prologue, with the first apostasy, the servitude, the first judge, followed by the second apostasy and the second judge. We will see some pretty gory stories in Chapter 3, when Eglon gets his message from the Lord.
What did you learn from Chapters 1 & 2? We learned to seek total victory, with no compromise with the flesh. We learned we need to live completely after the Spirit. We learned whatever we sow, we will, in kind, reap. We learned that we need to sow seeds of mercy, goodness, and love, so that we might reap the same.
May God lead us all into victory over those areas of the flesh that have held sway over our lives for so long. Don’t make a covenant with your flesh. Don’t decide that you’re just going to have to live with certain characteristics of your flesh. Though you’ve been troubled for a long time, and though you’ve tried so hard, turn it over and let God help you. Claim the victory through the power of God’s Spirit, and begin to walk fully after the Spirit. Strive for that rich, full, abundant life that God wants you to know as you walk in fellowship with Jesus our Lord.