Judges - Sin

Background

Judges relates important episodes in the period of Israel's settlement in Canaan between the death of Joshua and the advent of Samuel. Israel would forsake Yahweh and follow after other gods, and Yahweh would give them into the hand of an oppressor. Israel would cry out for deliverance, Yahweh would send a deliverer, and Israel would be obedient to Yahweh until the death of the deliverer, when the cycle would begin again. The deliverers were called "Judges." The term had a broader connotation than "judge" does today in the English-speaking world. A "judge," was a military leader, civil administrator, and decider of cases at law.

Individual Judges

A. Othniel (3:7-11)

B. Ehud delivers from Moab (3:12-30).

C. Shamgar (3:31)

D. Deborah (and Barak) deliver from the Canaanites (4:1-5:31).

E. Gideon delivers from Midian (6:1-9:57).

F. Tola and Jair (10:1-5)

G. Jephthah delivers from Ammon (10:6-12:7).

Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon (12:8-15)
Samson begins the deliverance from the Philistines (13:1-16:31).

Theme

(Judges 2:16-19 NIV) 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. Unlike their fathers, they quickly turned from the way in which their fathers had walked, the way of obedience to the Lord's commands. {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 had compassion on them as they groaned 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 fathers, following other gods and serving and worshiping them. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways.

The people of Israel never learned. The whole cycle of sin is repeated seven times! "Those who not study history are doomed to repeat" goes the famous saying. In our daily lives, how many needless pain do bear just because we do not learn from our mistakes. When something bad happens to us, it may be God punishing us for our sins. Let's learn from our mistakes and avoid having to face further punishment from God.



Causes of sin

Not appealing to the authority of the Bible

(Judges 21:25 NIV) In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.

Our society today is so prone to sin because we do not appeal to an authority to decide whether something is a sin or not. We try to reason out for ourselves. Sin becomes something which is relative and not absolute. No wonder we fall into sin!

If we know what sin is, we can avoid it. If we do not know, how easy it is to fall into sin's trap. That is why a constant study of God's word is so essential to our Christian life.

(Psalms 119:9 NIV) How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word.

(Joshua 1:8 NIV) Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.


Test for sin

(Judges 2:19-22 NIV) But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their fathers, following other gods and serving and worshipping them. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways. {20} Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel and said, "Because this nation has violated the covenant that I laid down for their forefathers 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 forefathers did."

We often wonder why God allow us to encounter temptations. Here is the explanation. God allows us to have temptations so that He will know whether we will obey Him or not. It is impossible to know if one will pass if that person has never sat for the exams.

In this case, God allowed the Canaanites to remain in the land so that Israel will always have to decide whether to follow their ways and sin or follow God's ways. Similarly, God allowed the tree of the knowledge of good and evil to be in the garden of Eden so that He will know whether man really wants to obey Him. He has no intention of creating us as robots.

So what should be our response towards temptation? Try thinking of every temptation as an opportunity to show God how much we love Him and want to obey His word. Whenever we turn away from temptation, whisper a prayer to God that we love Him. Before long, we will no longer see temptation as a burden but as a reminder to show our love to God in tangible ways.

Discussion : Are there any trials/temptations God has allowed in your lives to test you?


Compromise leads to greater sins

God wanted the Israelites to drive out the inhabitants when they take over the Promised Land. But many did not do so.

(Judges 1:27-28 NIV) But Manasseh did not drive out the people of Beth Shan or Taanach or Dor or Ibleam or Megiddo and their surrounding settlements, for the Canaanites were determined to live in that land. {28} When Israel became strong, they pressed the Canaanites into forced labor but never drove them out completely.

(Judges 2:10-12 NIV) After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, 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 fathers, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshipped various gods of the peoples around them. They provoked the LORD to anger

It may seem at first so harmless to let a little sin get into our lives. The Israelites are probably thinking "What's the big deal? We are not committing any sin. We are only kind to our neighbors." Yet, it was God who specifically forbade them to allow the heathens to remain in their land (Judges 2:1-3) knowing that this would lead to serious consequences.

In our lives too, we think too lightly of some sin. What's a small lie here and there? What's wrong with cheating in small amounts as long as no one gets hurt. Small sins usually results in big sins because we compromise on our principles. When we say its okay to tell a small lie, we have to convince ourselves that falsehood is not wrong. Eventually we end up telling big lies.


Prevention of sin

(Judges 2:18-19 NIV) 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 had compassion on them as they groaned 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 fathers, following other gods and serving and worshipping them. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways.

The role of the judges was very important because they provided some accountability. We know the saying : when the cat is not in, the mouse goes out to play. In the office, when the boss is not around, everyone tends to work slowly, engage in more informal conversations, go home earlier, etc. Likewise when the judges were not present, there was no one to be accountable to and people fall into sin.

It is dangerous to live the Christian life not being accountable to anyone. That is why it is important for Christians to have fellowship. Paul recognizes the importance of this when he says:

(Hebrews 10:25 NIV) Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Even so, many Christians choose to live their Christian life by themselves. They do not attach themselves to any home cell group or to any Christian fellowship. They go to church on Sundays and disappear for the rest of the week. For such people, even when they drop out of church, no one will know and persuade them to come back. They easily fall into sin because they don't have accountability.


Deterrent to sin

(Judges 6:1-7 NIV) Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites. {2} Because the power of Midian was so oppressive, the Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds. {3} Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples invaded the country. {4} They camped on the land and ruined the crops all the way to Gaza and did not spare a living thing for Israel, neither sheep nor cattle nor donkeys. {5} They came up with their livestock and their tents like swarms of locusts. It was impossible to count the men and their camels; they invaded the land to ravage it. {6} Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the LORD for help. {7} When the Israelites cried to the LORD because of Midian,

God takes no pleasure in the suffering of His people. The only reason why God permitted His children to suffer is because He knows that the temporary suffering of the punishment of sin will do us good in the long run and help us to avoid the permanent consequences of sin. That is why we are told to be glad that God even bothers to punish us.

(Hebrews 12:8-10 NIV) If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. {9} Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! {10} Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.