Our theme for Judges is: When the people of God forget to remember the works of God as told in the word of God, they lose their will to obey God – and without the protection of God, life becomes painful.
When Israel loses the will to obey God, and falls into sin and rebellion, they not only lose the joy of walking with the creator of the universe, but they lose the protection that comes with obeying God. They then become servants to the very nations they were supposed to eliminate. And then life for the Israelite's became painful. So they cried out for deliverance, and God sent a Judge who brought peace. That peace was the very platform of forgetfulness which led to another period of sin and rebellion. That’s the cycle we see in the book of Judges – and too often in our own lives as well.
As we’ve seen, Joshua is about Israel’s successful conquest of the land of Canaan. Under the leadership of Joshua, Israel achieved victory through obedience, faith and courage. In Joshua,
“Israel served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua and had known all the work that the LORD did for Israel” (Joshua 24:31).
As long as Joshua was alive – everyone knew about God, and the remembered what God has done for them.
But then Joshua died. Judges describes the post-Joshua era like this:
“And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD or the work that he had done for Israel (Judges 2:10).
“They did not know the LORD or the work he had done for Israel.” Wow! So, I guess what you don’t know can hurt you. As Israel assimilates the culture and beliefs of the Canaanite’s, we see a steady eroding of their moral and spiritual fiber and national security.
Pop Quiz: Do you know what the LORD has done for you? Last week I wrote about “Forgetting to Remember.” How are you remembering what the LORD has done for you?
Pro Tip: Taking specific steps to write down what God has done, or is doing is one simple step to remember what God has done, or is doing in your life. Plus, it tends to lead to thankfulness.
This is what Moses said about remembering what the LORD has done:
You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates (Duet. 6:5-8).
Bottom line – we are to be consumed with God and his word. It’s not just an add on. It’s central. And our motivation is to be love, not guilt, shame or manipulation.
At the end of Joshua’s life, he repeated this love based teaching to Israel;
“Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, to love the LORD your God, and to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments and to cling to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Joshua 22:5).
Is love central to you experience or your relationship with God? Or are fear, shame and control driving your relationship with God?
The theme of Judges could have been: When the people of God remember the love of God, and the works of God as told in the word of God, they are motivated to obey God – and enjoy the blessings of walking with God.
God’s goodness and faithfulness are to trigger my response of worship, love and willing submission to Him and His plans.