Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Eiffel Tower

Friday, March 17, 2017

Canonical Reading Plan for Mar 18, Jdg 1-2

Today's readings are Jdg 1-2

Here's what we've seen so far, as God continues the process of His self-revelation and the details of His plan of redemption.

God made everything, including man and woman. They sinned and were ejected from the Garden of Eden. Sin separated them and all their descendants from God. Nevertheless, God had a plan to restore that relationship.

He revealed Himself to one man. He chose Abraham to become a nation of His people, gave him a family, then took them to Egypt where they were enslaved (Genesis).

God chose another man, Moses to lead them out of Egypt (Exodus). Through Moses, God gave His nation a set of moral and civil laws that were world changing in their impact. He also gave them a sacrificial system to atone for their sins and to relieve some of the tension of their separation from Him. God created a theocracy among His people, even as He led them to the land He promised them, a new land and a new home (Leviticus). On the way, He grew them into a mighty army (Numbers), further organized them, gave them a priesthood, a place for Him to dwell among them and, regardless of their incessant disobedience and complaining, continued to show them His grace (Deuteronomy). As it turns out, the laws and sacrifices are not meant to be the final solution to their sin problem. The laws are designed to show them the depth of their problem. The sacrifices are temporary measures, meant to reveal, step by step, God’s ultimate plan for redemption.

As they arrived at the Promised Land, God gave them military victories, and they were able to occupy it completely, even though they were not entirely obedient to His instructions (Joshua).

Now, in Judges, they are a new nation, led by God, governed by God, blessed by God, with God living among them, albeit separated by a veil in the Tabernacle.

You can see the progression. God is revealing more and more of Himself with each chapter. His plan to reconcile Himself to His people is taking shape. He has revealed Himself to His people, told them He would redeem them, given them a new home and a set of guidelines that will show even more of Himself to them.

It is not a coincidence that God has brought them to Canaan. God has His people on a pathway back to Him. If you look at the possible locations for the original Garden of Eden on a map, you'll see that it may have been to the north of Canaan or perhaps a bit to the west. 



Figuratively, God is bringing His people back to the Garden, back into a full relationship with Him. In Judges, we find them in their new homeland, but the journey is not yet complete. They are in the right place, the place God has given them, for now. But they are not yet back in the Garden. The relationship with God is growing but not yet full.

The Book of Judges is marked by a spiritually significant pattern of behavior: the people turn their backs on God, God punishes them through military defeat and oppression, the people cry out to God, God raises up a redeemer (judge) to deliver them. In this pattern, God is showing them how He operates and how He will ultimately and finally save His people. 

A revealing barometer measuring the spiritual health of Israel is related in Jdg 17:6 and repeated in Jdg 21:25, "In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes." We'll see that the heady days of victory and Joshua's godly leadership are evolving into a dark time as Israel becomes more like the nations they've conquered than the holy people they are called to be.

The first two chapters are not necessarily chronological in their order of events but should be read to learn why things happened the way they did rather than to see the historical sequence.

Jdg 1:1-22 reiterates Joshua's conquest of the land, but there are some glaring deficiencies in how thorough the people are in carrying out God's instructions (Jdg 1:27-34). Suddenly, the stunning military victories are not complete, and difficulties arise. What happened?

In Jdg 2, we find out.

Jdg 2:1-10 tells us all went well until Joshua and the generation of elders who served under him passed away. Then, in Jdg 2:11, we see that the people "did evil in the sight of the Lord" (a phrase that will become familiar) and served Baal! God's blessing was removed because they turned their back on Him and disobeyed Him! Still, God has mercy and shows grace. In Jdg 2:16, we see that God raises up judges who are the moral/civil leaders. Their job is to help the people walk in a godly manner. Later, we will see that many of the judges have their own struggles.

This should be a great encouragement to us. Israel's journey is not yet complete. Neither is their sanctification! God is patient. God is kind. He puts up with incredible deficiencies and failures in Israel. He does in us as well. When Israel sees their shortcomings, they cry out to Him (Jdg 1:4). They are sincere but weak. God knows this, loves them in spite of their weaknesses, and continues to work on their hearts. He does the same for us.

Israel's journey is not finished. Neither is ours! Our hope is in the promise of a faithful, sovereign, all-powerful God who will bring us home, once and for all. 

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