By Toni Ford
In the closing chapters of the Book of Joshua, we see that the children of Israel, as a nation, are resting from war and enjoying the riches God had given them in the Promised Land. But when we move to the next book, in Judges, we see the nation of Israel suffering from invasion, slavery, poverty and civil war. So, what happened in that time between the two books?
We find the answer in Judges 2:1-3, which says, “I brought you out of Egypt into this land that I swore to give your ancestors, and I said I would never break my covenant with you. For your part, you were not to make any covenants with the people living in this land; instead, you were to destroy their altars. But you disobeyed my command. Why did you do this?”
Warren Wiersbe describes it beautifully when he said, “Instead of exhibiting spiritual fervor, Israel sank into apathy; instead of obeying the Lord, the people moved into apostasy; and instead of the nation enjoying law and order, the land was filled with anarchy. Indeed, for Israel it was the worst of times.”
There are three lessons we can learn from the mistakes made from the nation of Israel. These lessons can provide wisdom on how to live a life within the promises of our Lord and finishing well.
Finish rather than settle. The boundary lines for the twelve tribes had been determined years before during Joshua’s reign. However, the people had not yet fully claimed their inheritance by defeating and dislodging the entrenched inhabitants of the land. One of the recurring statements from the first chapter of Judges, the Lord makes to the nation of Israel is, “you failed to drive out…” The Lord had already given all the land to the children of Israel. They owned it; it was there land. However, they didn’t possess of all of it, and therefore could not enjoy all of it.
Claim rather than compromise. The children of Israel were very much aware of the Lord’s promises to them and His faithfulness to carry through on His promises. However, the Jews eventually became so accustomed to the sinful ways of their pagan neighbors that those ways did not seem sinful any more. Israel started to live like their enemies and imitate their ways. James 4:4 reminds us as believers today that the first step away from the Lord is “friendship with the world.”
Persevere rather than quit. Perseverance takes determination and a resolute mindset. Success does not always come easy or quickly when one is persevering, so it requires pushing forward, even in the midst of difficulty or delays. The children of Israel would drive out the foreigners to a certain point, but when it got difficult or if it involved more time, they gave in and quit, thus causing sin to enter their land, which led to greater bondage. Galatians 6:9 says, “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing, if we don’t give up.”
Dear Lord, please forgive me for the times when I have not lived according to your promises but have sought instead, “friendship with the world.” I pray today that you would give me the courage and strength to persevere when life is hard, to live in the promises of your Word and to finish what you have called me to do here on this earth. Thank you for the blessings that come from obeying you and your Word.