In Judges 2:16-23, the nation of Israel had settled in the promised land, and many things were quickly changing including their allegiance to God.
The generation of Joshua and elders who outlived him served the Lord during their lifetimes. But the times progressively changed! The godly generation disappeared from the scene and darkness was taking over.
Bible records that a new generation came up that did not know God or what he had done for Israel! What an ignorance! Who had failed? The children, or parents? But it seems the problem is much deeper here than the blame games…
Since they now did not know their faith-foundations, the surrounding nations provided all manner of options (including religious, and ethical foundations); and this plunged them into deep apostasy. Repeatedly, they went through a four-step cycle.
- The people sinned–
They rebelled against God, disobeyed God’s commands, broke God’s covenant, and worshipped foreign idols/gods. In fact, the subsequent generations reset the standards of evil from the previous levels. So sad!
- The people were punished for their sins–
In their wickedness, the provoked Lord anger. The people faced the consequences of their actions. The Lord RAISED up enemies against them. The enemies oppressed and plundered them.
When they went to war, they were defeated because God was no longer with them (Deut. 28:25-6), they started becoming unproductive in life because they were under God’s curse (Deut. 28:15-68). They had forsaken God and his word, which is their life (Deut. 32:47).
In their sinfulness, they became like an unfruitful tree, rainless clouds, waterless well, a desolate city.
By breaking God’s commands, they ended up broken.
In the end, they were crushed, despaired and broken. But in their brokenness, they cried to God.
- The people cried to God in Repentance– (Judges 3:9,15; 4:3; 6:6-7; 10:10).
The downward spiral of events in personal and national life led them back to God.
Bible records that they cried out to God in repentance (But seemingly their repentance is doubtful because they always went back to their sinful state). In their stubborn ways they refused to totally turn away from sin. They were unwilling to destroy their idols and to turn to the living God.
Suffering can bring something good! Later on, while reflecting on his experience, the psalmist appreciated his afflictions because through it, he learned God’s decrees (Ps. 119: 67,71,75).
- The Lord raised up judges for them–
When the people cried to God, God listened to their distress and answered their prayers by RAISING a judge to deliver them from their enemies. He had previously raised enemies against his own people, but due to their repentance, he now raised deliverers.
The coming of a judge was a sign of God’s graciousness, patience, compassion, abounding love, and faithfulness to keep his promise (Ex. 34:6). He remains faithful even when we are faithless (2 Tim. 2:13).
The Judge (savior/ rescuer) defeated Israel’s enemies and restored a state of peace and rest. Once again, the judges restored the people to a pathway of blessings of Deuteronomy 28:1—14 (of victory, fruitfulness, and prosperity). But they would eat the fruit and forget about the roots of the tree.
Sadly, the same pattern/cycle would replay itself with several other generation during the entire period of judges.
Elsewhere in the Bible and in different times, human inclination toward evil is evident.
In his time, Jesus talked of a “perverse generation” (Matt. 17:17); And Apostle Peter as he proclaimed the gospel warned people against a “corrupt generation” of his time (Acts 2:40). Paul reminded the Philippian believers that they lived in a “crooked and depraved generation”; similar to the times of Moses where people’s lives were characterized by rebellion, ungratefulness, and unbelief (Deut. 32:5, 20).
How did they confront this nature of apostasy in their times?
It is easy to see these people who lived in this period and falsely think we are unlike them. The present generation is also bent toward evil and rebellion. As an individual, how can I deal with ungodliness in my time?
- Make a Choice of Whom You Will Serve (Joshua 24:14-15)
Joshua lived at the edges of the period of Judges. Seemingly at the end of his life and ministry, people had chosen to serve other foreign gods that were visible. In his farewell address, he puts stark choices between them but reveals to them that he and his family will serve the Lord.
Serving God is a choice; that choice in turn is nurtured by the Holy Spirit. Amidst, apostasy or growing ungodliness, make a deliberate and courageous choice to live for God today. (at least to some extent the bird is in your hands….)
Titus instructs, that the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, it teaches us to say “’No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope.” (Titus 2:11-13).
In the midst of apostasy, we can say a loud and firm “NO” to ungodliness and worldly passions.
- Cultivate Your Faith in God–
Jesus mentioned the “unbelieving and perverse” (Jn 17:17) in a context where his disciples were unable to heal a boy with seizures.
Privately, the disciples asked Jesus why they were unable to heal the boy; and Jesus responded, “because you have so little faith” (Matt. 17:20). The disciples, like their contemporaries suffered one common problem- Faithlessness.
In a faithless generation we need to walk by faith not by sight. (Matt. 17:19), believing in God and his word.
Paul, reminded the Philippians that they can shine line stars in the universe.
- Work out your salvation with fear and trembling(Phil 2:12-13)-
Our God-given gracious gift of salvation requires some working out. It is like a baby that should be nursed to maturity, it is like a investment that needs to be multiplied, it is like a farm that need to be cultivated…. This is a daily activity.
Salvation is such a precious gift from God that we should hold it dearly and treasure it. It should be done “With fear and trembling”- knowing that by our own, with our weaknesses and unworthiness, we cannot make it (Jn. 15:5). But that God works in us… to accomplish his good purpose.
The external world may be full of darkness, but our hearts should be continually lit by the light and hope of salvation. The Spirit of God will certainly bring to completion the good work that God has begun.
- Hold fast/firmly the word of life(Phil. 2:16)-
The word is the gospel. It is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes (Rom 1:16). It is a powerful word that is able to transform people’s lives. It is the word that brought things into being that were not (Gen. 1) and calmed a raging storm (Matt. 12:13). It is the word that can release divine power in our lives. The Thessalonians received this word and treated it specially, not as words of men (1 Thess. 2:13). It is powerful and authoritative word in matters of faith and practice. It reveals, nourishes, perfects. Through it we rise and prosper. It is our life.
The word of God is qualified by ‘life’ (cf. 1 Jn. 1:1). The word gives life (it is the spiritual food that sustains a Christian- Jn 6:63). It is the word of life because it proclaims the true life in Christ; it is a message of salvation and new life Acts 13:26; 5:20). It is what offers life in a lifeless world. It is what brings light in a dark world. Keep this word alive in you.
Sometimes we feel the darkness around us is overwhelming. But we are called to shine like stars in the universe. Don’t be bothered by darkness around us, stars shine brighter when it is darker. Darkness brings them out. May God raise godly and resourceful people along our paths to nurture the gift of God in us into fruition. Those who shine for God NOW, will in the coming kingdom shine like stars forever (Dan 12:3)
- Set yourself apart for the Lord
Be separate from the evil of the present by accepting the message of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.
By the grace that is in Christ Jesus, stand out in a perverse generation!
While talking about money, riches, greed and covetousness, Paul exhorts Timothy, “But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called…” (1 Tim. 6:11-12). camel. Let the world know of your faith in God.
How did a nation easily forget their God and what he had done in the history of their nation? The fact is, this new generation chose to rewrite their story without God. In wanting to control the present, they removed God from their past; the same God who controls their future. God and the great historical figures and their devotion to God were rewritten and God was removed from the picture. They became ignorant of God’s ways, covenants, and doings.
Even us today, it is easy to fall into the temptation of looking at our past and seeing no God, even though the challenges we may have once faced. Israelites in their sinfulness chose to interpret their past (victories and events) without God
God’s deliverance through the judges was short-lived but Christ’s deliverance is eternal.
So, how can be break a cycle of unbelief? it is only through Jesus that we can be rescued completely.
The devil can lay hostage to a generation. He comes to steal (identities, purposes, and destinies), kill, and destroy. But Christ comes to bring life in abundance (Jn. 10:10).
These are part of thoughts shared at Kabarak University Chapel (Nakuru Campus), this week.