16 Then the Lord raised up judges, who saved them out of the hands of these raiders. 17 Yet they would not listen to their judges but prostituted themselves to other gods and worshiped them. They quickly turned from the ways of their ancestors, who had been obedient to the Lord’s commands.
We move from Joshua to Judges and quickly find the nation of Israel in trouble, great trouble. What happened?
10 After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what He had done for Israel. 11 Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the Baals. 12 They forsook the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them. They aroused the Lord’s anger
Essentially all those adults who said to Joshua We will serve the Lord our God and obey Him (Joshua 24:24) had died and been gathered to their ancestors. Then we read another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what He had done for Israel and whether these were the children or grandchildren we are not told. I suspect the grandchildren as the children would have been repeatedly told of what God had done for their parents, but what did they tell their children? Likely the same stories, but without the passion of having experienced God’s favor directly and their children fell away as we are told. Various locations had a different Baal that was worshiped, but all required a form of prostitution and eventually child sacrifice. More information on the Baals may be found here.
To help straighten out the Israelites God raised up Judges which helped – for a time as we read further in this chapter, but only for a time.
18 Whenever the Lord raised up a judge for them, He was with the judge and saved them out of the hands of their enemies as long as the judge lived; for the Lord relented because of their groaning under those who oppressed and afflicted them. 19 But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their ancestors, following other gods and serving and worshiping them. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways.
The phrase that jumps out at me is They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways. No matter what happens this also seems to be true in our time as well. Especially this part where the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their ancestors. Of course this greatly angered the Lord their God.
20 Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel and said, “Because this nation has violated the covenant I ordained for their ancestors and has not listened to Me, 21 I will no longer drive out before them any of the nations Joshua left when he died. 22 I will use them to test Israel and see whether they will keep the way of the Lord and walk in it as their ancestors did.”
How was God to accomplish this? That’s the big question and is answered in the beginning of chapter 3. It would not be pleasant.
1 These are the nations the Lord left to test all those Israelites who had not experienced any of the wars in Canaan 2 (He did this only to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites who had not had previous battle experience): 3 the five rulers of the Philistines, all the Canaanites, the Sidonians, and the Hivites living in the Lebanon mountains from Mount Baal Hermon to Lebo Hamath. 4 They were left to test the Israelites to see whether they would obey the Lord’s commands, which He had given their ancestors through Moses.
Food to think on as we head into the weekend and go to church for fellowship, prayer, worship, and teaching from God’s word. While there and late examine ourselves to see if we have wandered far from Him.