After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the Lord or remember the mighty things He had done for Israel.The Israelites did evil in the Lord’s sight and served the images of Baal. They abandoned the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They went after other gods, worshiping the gods of the people around them. And they angered the Lord. They abandoned the Lord to serve Baal and the images of Ashtoreth. Judges 2: 10 – 13 (NLT)
These verses and those immediately following summarise the philosophy underpinning the Book of Judges and indeed the Old Testament. Israel’s spiritual apostasy in repeatedly refusing to obey the Covenant God had made with them led to continuing military defeat at the hands of the Canaanites. The evil nature and unbridled violence of Canaanite society had been well known for centuries (Gen, 15:16) God in his divine mercy gave them 600 years to respond to Him and change their ways. They didn’t – their evil increased as time passed! This “sophisticated” Canaanite culture has been described as: “a snake pit of child sacrifice and sacred prostitution…. [people who were] ruthlessly devoted to using the most innocent and vulnerable of the community [babies and virgins] to manipulate the gods for gain.”
Israel’s disobedience in failing to fully oust the Canaanites from the Promised Land quickly seduced and corrupted Israel.
Albert Einstein reputedly remarked that insanity was “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” This aptly describes Israel’s behaviour throughout the time of the Judges (Jud 21:25) and Old Testament, a people in denial of, and rebellion against God, who became increasingly lead by values of individualism, relativism, materialism, and syncretism. Looks also very like an accurate description of our contemporary 21st century society.
God provided Israel with Judges to lead them in the troubled times the nation had placed itself in. But Israel’s downward spiral continued and indeed accelerated. Kings replaced Judges but only a handful were good and faithful to God in leading their people. Division, defeat, exile, repeated foreign occupation and dispersal would result. Israel’s obduracy and stupidity meant that it didn’t see their history as an immense repository of great truth and of inestimable value, a treasure trove of wisdom if only it had been willing to learn its lessons.
Tragically ancient Israel is far from being alone in such foolish actions and resultant tragic consequences. For example, England in the 18th century was a wealthy nation but morally decadent. Drunkenness was rampant, immorality prevailed at the highest levels of society. The country was one vast casino. Bear baiting and cock fighting were widely accepted sports. The frequent public executions were the greatest spectator attraction of the day. The country’s roads were plagued by highwaymen, the cities by street gangs and let’s not forget that the nation was at the centre of the transatlantic slave trade.
But God would and did move in revival of the nation! God had preserved a faithful remnant of believers who engaged in years (even decades) of fervent and persistent prayer and repentance. God moved powerfully through the likes of George Whitefield, John and Charles Wesley and many others to bring about what we know as the ‘Great Evangelical Revival’. A revival which not only impacted the church but radically reformed and transformed much of society throughout Britain and Ireland.
Revive us again, O God! I know You will! Give us a fresh start!
Then all Your people will taste your joy and gladness.
Pour out even more of Your love on us!
Reveal more of Your kindness and restore us back to You! Ps. 85: 6 – 7 (TPT)