The problem for the children of Israel when they entered the Promised Land was they hadn’t paid attention to what God had told them. In order to understand Judges we need to look at the first chapter of Joshua and God’s directives for His people as they conquered the land. The reason this is so important is because there is great wisdom in God’s directives that can impact our own lives in our own time.
The children of Israel refused to enter the Promised Land so instead wandered in the wilderness for forty years until all the naysayers had died off. Then God, with a new crew under the leadership of Joshua, brought them up to the borders of the Promised Land once again. Now God speaks, not to the people, but to Joshua. He tells him, “From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun shall be your territory. No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you. Be strong and of good courage; for you shall cause this people to inherit the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.” Joshua 1:4-6
God reminds Joshua that He has promised all the land to the sons of Israel and He will not renege on His promise. He then gives a promise to Joshua that each of us should take to heart and cherish. God says, “I will not fail you or forsake you.” Notice God doesn’t say I might not, or I probably won’t or hopefully I won’t, but instead vows, “I will not fail you or forsake you.”
Have you ever gone through hard times and wondered where God was? Have you ever wondered if you aren’t fighting the battles in your life alone? Well the answer in the book of Joshua and the answer for the children of Israel and for us is an absolute promise of fidelity to us. God was vowing to the people that He would fight their battles, He would go before them into the land and He would give them victory. He would never fail them or abandon them, no matter what.
Now, what was to be the response of the people? They were to be courageous and strong. They were, in a nutshell, to put all their trust in God and have the courage and strength to follow Him regardless of how difficult the task looked. To conquer evils in our own life, and to drive out the giants that haunt our souls we need to be courageous and strong in the Lord.
Now lets look at one more text in Joshua chapter one, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; be not frightened, neither be dismayed; for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (v. 9) So here is what God is saying to the people as they prepare to cross the Jordan and invade the land of the Canaanites. Don’t be frightened of the circumstances you are about to face and do not be overwhelmed (dismayed) by the seriousness of the conflict. Instead be courageous and strong and the reason for that is God never forsakes or fails His people.
The children of Israel paid no attention to this and soon were fraternizing with the local population and from those compromises came apostasy and moral collapse of the entire nation. Let me illustrate what I am driving at by looking at Judges chapter one. “After the death of Joshua the people of Israel inquired of the Lord, ‘Who shall go up first for us against the Canaanites, to fight against them?’ The Lord said, ‘Judah shall go up; behold, I have given the land into his hand.’ And Judah said to Simeon his brother, ‘Come up with me into the territory allotted to me, that we may fight against the Canaanites.’” (1-3)
Did you pick up what is going on here in these first verses of Judges? God is saying to Judah I have chosen you and I will give you the land. It is a call to be courageous and strong, to put faith in the God who never forsakes or fails them. They are not to be dismayed over the enemy and most certainly shouldn’t be frightened because God will give the victory.
But, instead of trusting God Judah runs to his brother and says let’s go together and my real strength and courage is in Simeon not God. How many times has that rung true in our own households?
Israel, during the time of the Judges, had no King and the reason they didn’t have God reigning over them was because they wouldn’t listen and follow His leading. This is the lesson for us as Christians. When God speaks to us are we willing to hear and absorb His word or do we run to everyone and everything else to try and find a solution. The people during the time of the Judges were content to live their lives any way they wanted but when trouble came they ran to God to deliver them. I wonder if we Christians are much different to this day?
* All’s quiet in the front…really? Just because it’s hardly reported in the news these days doesn’t mean it’s not happening anymore. Many people around the globe are STILL experiencing persecution for their faith in God, and many even unto death. They need our support and continuous prayers. Please take the time to read some of their stories at http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/ there is much more on the internet but you have to search for it