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Friday, February 25, 2011

Learning from book of Judges: You Don’t have to Reinvent the Wheel

The Book of Judges is a fascinating record of Israel after the receiving the lands promised by God and before the rule of Saul their first king. We can learn immense lessons that can aid us in our walk with God. I would like to focus just on five that I believe would help us our churches in worship and growth in general.

1. In the receiving of their section of the land, they forgot to work together. They demonstrate the fact that they could do more working together, than they could separately.  In Judges 1:27-34 there is the record of tribe after tribe failing to dislodge the previous residents of the land. Rather than ask their brothers for help, they just attempted to go it alone, and settled for a few victories, rather than the complete conquest. They forgot how they had gotten as far as they had. It is too easy to get wrapped up in our own world that we forget how much we need each other.

2. They failed to teach their children who God was and what He required. Worship and obedience are caught and taught; they failed at both. Judges 2:10 says, “After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel.”  Even growing ministries are just one generation from oblivion, if they fail in this area. Children must be taught what worship is all about, just as much as the adults.

3. Worship ceased to be a priority and they absorbed the culture around them. The very next verse [Judges 2:11] states: “Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD and served the Baals.” Just because worship might have been important to one group, it is never the guarantee that it will be for the next. The desire to “be like the nations around them” became so strong, they forgot what and who had made them what they were. There turn from the worship of Jehovah was not overnight, but slowing slipped away, one compromise at a time. There is great danger when we cease to be the salt and light God has called us to be and we are indistinguishable from those who do not know Christ.

4.  They only called on God when the thought they needed Him. Most of the book is comprised of the history of the people falling into pagan worship, being taken over by their enemies as punishment and God raising up a leader to free them from their desperate situation. Look at Judges 10:15-16: “But the Israelites said to the LORD, ‘We have sinned. Do with us whatever you think best, but please rescue us now.’ Then they got rid of the foreign gods among them and served the LORD. And he could bear Israel’s misery no longer.”   Relief was temporary, because their turning to God only lasted as long as the leaders’ life. The leader was able to lead them “out of the situation” with God’s help, but never to where they really needed to be. The leadership had failed to establish the ongoing patterns that would help them stay obedient.

5. They used their own reasoning as the standard of living, rather than the teachings of what God had commanded. The last verse in the book is perhaps one of the most telling: “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.” [Judges 21:25] We will base our decisions on one of the following: God’s Word, human intellect, history and tradition, or personal experience. Every decision we make must be evaluated from the truth of God’s Word, lest we ourselves begin to base our actions own what we think is the most logical, what seems right, or fits our personal convenience.  Only when we establish as our priority the Word of God as our ultimate authority will be avoid the pitfalls found in Judges.

We can learn from others mistakes, or re-invent the wheel.

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