Judges 1-5: “The Earth is the LORD’s”
A few quick lessons learned about free-loaders, no-loaders, fear but also faith, duty, honor, courage and "Semper Fidelis."
(1) Smoking the peace pipe with the LORD’s enemies violates God's honour and covenant. Sounds like some modern American Anglicans, for starters.
(2) Religious Syncretism; no “antithesis;” "live and let live;" three-streams.
(3) Absence of courage, faith, industry, diligence and “covenant breaking.”
(4) And, to the converse, thankfully, graciously and efficaciously, the sovereign grace of God and His gifts of courage, industry, diligence and a God-stirred respect for the Word and honor of the LORD. It was the "school of hard knocks" for the generation that had not learned to fight. Wusses needed to learn to fight manfully. Babies needed to be weened off baby bottles.
Israel had been called to “wipe out the Canaanites.” Hello, Marcion, welcome to the discussion as you grind your teeth. Also, to you liberals, welcome, the book of Judges is for you.
The land “was the LORD’s” and His only. The LORD’s name was to be worshipped there, not the name of the Baals and Astoreth. Clean-up operations were ordered up. A "Flood" by a different name was ordered up. But, the younger generation had not learned “unceasing warfare against anything and everything that opposed the honor of His name” (1). Fear of men obtained rather than the fear of the LORD. They feared those controlling the valleys while they themselves repaired to the hills and the softer life.
Ergo, discipline time. Welcome to boot camp.
The Angel of the LORD pronounced divine judgment. God would no longer drive the Canaanites out, but would spare them—the Canaanites—in order to discipline and train the covenant children to fight and endure. To grow up and do one’s duty.
To teach the lads and lasses that yielding to peaceful alliances with Romanists, Tractarians, Wesleyans, Arminians, and charismatics was wrong-headed.
The lads and lasses had turned God’s character into “one amongst the other” deities…with a negotiated character according to the predilections of the prevailing sentiments, the Zeitgeist of the day…God was grandly demoted to being one of the greatest Gods in the pantheon, but not the ONLY LORD GOD of the covenant as defined previously. Go ahead, redefine God to "have Him as you want him." Go ahead, don't rock the boat!
They violated the relationship with God. They were weak-minded and weak-willed sophomores. So, life would be served up with hardships. West Pointers and Navy Academy men would call it "adversative training."
But, despite the puerilites and weaknesses, the great theme of divine and sovereign grace continues as it had throughout preceding centuries. God works faith, repentance, courage, faith, honor, decency and integrity. Without God's gracious covenant, there would be no people of faith.
Judah was one of the tribes to "take the fight" to the nature-worshippers, the Canaanites. Simeon joined. Adoni-bezek, the king of Bezek, had attacked and oppressed God’s people. They defied God’s name and covenant. But Judah and Simeon were “life-takers” and “heart-breakers.” They took several towns, including Jerusalem. Benjamin promised to rebuild it, but “sorta’ didn’t get around to it.” Failure of faith-driven follow-through. No "Semper Fidelis." Fear of men still obtained. Small faith and lightness-in-the-loafers still existed.
We get a foreshadowing of the Final Judgment, when lives, bodies and souls, will be cast into you-know-where. For the Marcionites and liberals, this is for you. For narcissists, you too.
Eighteenth century Enlightenment views have cast darkness on this reality, as have 19th-20th century liberals. As Kant would say, "mankind has become unencumbered." Not so fast. Like those results of 20th century fascism? There really is a thing called the "intermediate state" in our catechisms: heaven and hell. Sorry, Tractoes and Romanists, purgatory's off the table.
We live with one by-product: massive "cultural narcissism." And rampant Marcionism which this forum has recently engaged. Anti-nomianism too.
One day idolaters will learn they are “not the center of the universe” nor that “their self-esteem” is massively important. Judges is a wonderful foreshadowing of the Great Cleanup or Global cleansing.
In another showdown for the LORD’s honour, name, Word, and promises, Ephraim and Mannasseh were not much better. They took Bethel and some towns. But, they refused to follow through and forced some towns to the tribute.
The Canaanites would be left in the land on two accounts: (1) a judgment for their covenant transgressions and (2) to train them—the elect—for the future. The 7000 who will not bow the kneel to Baal. These disciplined and trained leaders would be the ones who, from time to time, will take the trash to the curb.
We surely learn that making alliances, smoking the peace pipe, and offering communion to enemies of the LORD’s Word, Law, Gospel and ways is not the way to go. That transgresses and violates the covenant relationship.
The Canaanites were nature-worshippers. Nature was their deity, or, nature without the True and Living God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The Canaanite deity was bounded and controlled by nature. Their entire way of life, agriculture, and activities were without God. It’s the grand reductionism of the character of God evinced by Romans 1.18-32.
Cushan-rishathaim of Mesopotamia would be one such oppressor. He would preside over several kingdoms including God’s people . But God raised up Othniel. God stirred him. God by the “Spirit of God” opened his heart, filled his thoughts and, thereby, brought freedom from the fear of men and enabled him to believe and honor God. Othniel is a type and model for Churchmen. He is also a foreshadowing of Christ who would be born of the Virgin Mary. Othniel brought deliverance and peace for forty years. That came by fighting and not smoking the peace pipe with enemies of the LORD. It's what the old Dutch Calvinists used to call the "antithesis."
Oppression from another source, the east, from Ammonites and Amalekites. Ehud was raised up against another oppressors, Eglon. Ehud viewed Eglon as an enemy. For further details, see Judges.
One of our favorite Judges or Judgettes was Deborah. It involved the northern and central tribes of Israel. She raised the “standard.” She “restored the Word of God” amongst the dullards and the manboys. She exhibited faith, courage, leadership and vision. She shamed the impoverished, weak, accommodating and hypogonadic men. She even “commanded” a "Commander," Barak, in the “name of the LORD.”
A commander with fear? What’s up with that? A woman "out-doing" and "leading" a Division Commander? What an insult, but things had degenerated into wimpdom.
That’s exactly right. As a result, he led an assault from the mountains against Sisera and his chariots in the plains. Sisera would be chased into a tent and would be killed by another woman. The woman would drive a tent peg into the exhausted and sleeping Sisera. After Israel’s victory, a theme-song was sung.
The big picture on the song (although more could be said): (1) God’s glory was revealed like that at Sinai. (2) Attaboys were awarded to the tribes that participated—Naphtali, Zebulun, Issachar, Ephraim, Manasseh, and Bejamin. These would be exemplars for future covenant children. Covenant children raised to maturity, faith, resistance, defiance of the LORD's enemies, and strong assurance. (3) But, Deborah didn't stop with the attaboys. She reproached the lame and lazy manboys. Dan and Asher stayed by the seashore. Reuben was a no show.
Deborah’s song is like an “after action” report. How very modern!
The modern church faces the same issues: oppression from within, heroes from within and no-loads from within. God maintains His gracious promises to His people but the judgments remain until the Final Judgment.
“May those who love the LORD be like the sun as it rises in its might!”