Read the Bible in 2011 ◊ Week 7: Tuesday
“Then it came about, as soon as Gideon was dead, that the sons of Israel again played the harlot with the Baals, and made Baal-berith their god. Thus the sons of Israel did not
remember the LORD their God, who had delivered them from the hands of all their enemies on every side; nor did they show kindness to the household of Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) in accord with all the good that he had done to Israel.”
In today’s Bible reading of Judges 7–11, you’ll find the truly thrilling stories of how God enabled Gideon, with only 300 men, to defeat the Midianites. When I was a child, our Sunday comics had a weekly half page of Bible stories. I still remember seeing the pictures of Gideon’s men drinking at the stream, and then routing the Midianites with their torches and pitchers and trumpets.
Remember in Judges 6, after Gideon tore down the altar to Baal, he was given the name of Jerubbaal, “Let Baal contend against him”? Sadly, you’ll find that once at peace, Israel turned back to idol worship (8:24, 33; 10:6) as well as to fratricide (chapter 9), with only affliction and misery turning them back to God. God’s words to Israel in Judges 2:1–5, were fulfilled over and over. Yet God has mercy on His people and continues to deliver them.
An older Holman edition of the New American Standard Bible contains a brief summary of each book of the Bible. This is what it says about the book of Judges:
“Judges carries on the history of Israel from the death of Joshua to the time of Samuel. This period, during which the people repeatedly disobeyed and departed from God, is one of the darkest times in their history. As they repented of their sins and turned to God, He raised up leaders, judges, who delivered them.
“Although the writer of this book is unknown, it is believed to be the work of Samuel.”1
If you go back to Judges 2, you’ll find the root of the problem: when they came and lived in the land promised to them by God, Israel disobeyed God with their covenants with the Canaanites, and by leaving the altars to idols (cf. Deuteronomy 12). God tells them the people will be thorns in their sides and their gods well be snares to Israel. When Joshua and the elders who survived him died, the next generation did evil in God’s sight and served the Baals and the Ashtaroth idols of the Canaan culture whose followers practiced sexual rituals2 and human sacrifice (cf. Deuteronomy 12:31).
The history in Judges is a cycle of terrible evil deeds, dreadful consequences, merciful deliverance and then a forsaking of God all over again—starting the cycle once more. In Deuteronomy 6, God had told Israel that they were to be careful to do His commands. Not just outward obedience—His commands were to be on their hearts, and they were to teach them and continually talk of them with their children; the next generation was to have faithful examples and diligent teaching and conversation about God and His commands. Sadly, and with deadly consequences to many, their fear of God and their diligence to keep His commands never went far past the alleviation of their own misery and into the understanding of the next generation.
May God enable us to learn from their example.
Isaiah 42 Photograph: ChristianPhotos.net – Free High Resolution Photos for Christian Publications
1Biblical Backgrounds: A Survey of Each Book, “Judges,” from Holy Bible New American Standard,
Red Letter Edition, Holman Bible Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee,
©The Lockman Foundation, 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972, 1973,1975,1977.
2F. F. Bruce, “Judges,” The New Bible Commentary: Revised, D. Guthrie, J. A. Motyer, eds.,
A. M. Stibbs, D. J. Wiseman, contributing eds., p. 258.
Original content: Copyright ©2011 Iwana Carpenter