Judges 2 gives us a summary of the sin/repentance pattern seen throughout the book, and it allows us to consider how God wants his people to live. After all, he’s still the same God today. He made it clear to his people then, and it remains clear to us now, that what we do and who we are matters to him.
Your influences matter. (Judges 2:1-5)
God led the Israelites out of Egyptian slavery and to the Promised Land. He instructed them to get rid of the foreigners living there and to not dwell with them and be influenced by their worship of other gods. They didn’t listen, eventually adopted many of their practices, and were unfaithful to God. So, God removed his protection and favor and allowed the foreigners to frustrate and infiltrate the Israelites.
God cares about your influences, too. While the specifics of those have changed over the years, the impact of a bad influence has not.
“Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” (1 Corinthians 15:33)
Do your influence distract you from following God? Are you compromising your beliefs because you want to fit in or be accepted? Who you spend your time with matters. Who and what you let influence you (e.g., people, books, television shows, online interactions, etc.) matters. Are you being corrupted by bad character?
Your heritage matters. (Judges 2:6-10)
When Joshua’s generation was gone, the Israelites were no longer aware of the Lord and what he had done for them. They neglected their heritage, especially their spiritual heritage, and this led them to disregard what mattered to God. It led them to syncretism (i.e., combining their worship of God with that of worship of other gods).
Remembering your spiritual heritage is emphasized throughout the New Testament, too.
“When He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’” (1 Corinthians 11:24-25)
Communion is about remembering your spiritual heritage. We’re also instructed to be ready to give our testimony, which requires a constant remembrance of God’s activity in our lives.
“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. (1 Peter 3:15)
Your spiritual heritage matters. It’s not about remembering the shame and guilt but about remembering who erased that shame and guilt and delivered you from your life of slavery to sin. Remembering is a theme found throughout the Bible for this very reason. We are to remember why we are where we are today, who brought us here, and where he is taking us now.
Your focus matters. (Judges 2:11-15)
Once the Israelites allowed those who worshipped other gods to influence them and when they no longer remembered their heritage, they lost focus on God. Their behavior toward him changed, and they then lost his blessing and protection.
Today, our focus still determines the reality of our lives.
“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” (Colossians 3:2)
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)
Do you regularly think about God and what he desires, or does what others think and the world’s offerings steal your focus? Is God and your relationship with him your top priority? Do you regularly remember what he’s done for you, and do you tell others about it?
Your actions matter. (Judges 2:16-19)
God’s people were not faithful to him and lost his blessing and protection. They forgot their heritage and were disobedient to his instructions. Even so, God raised up judges to correct and guide them. These judges (e.g., Gideon, Sampson, Deborah, and many others) were not perfect, but they did listen to God by correcting and leading his people back to him.
Everything we do – every action we take – matters to God. It always has.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” (Colossians 3:23-24)
Living counterculturally isn’t easy. Yet, living how God desires is always the right choice. If you allow him to direct you, you’ll make a big impact in leading others to him. Being used by God is never a small thing. Obedience to him always matters.
Your obedience matters. (Judges 2:20-23)
The Israelites did not listen to God regarding their influences. They failed to remember their heritage. They didn’t stay focused on him, and they didn’t live as he instructed. Their disobedience resulted in removal of his blessings and protection. He instead allowed other peoples to harass them and to test their obedience to him.
Obedience in our attitudes, actions, and words matters to God. Whether we follow his will or not impacts the blessings he allows into our lives. It also shows our love for him.
“Jesus replied, ‘Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.’” (John 14:23)
Obedience leads to fellowship with God. It’s a word we struggle with our whole lives. All people throughout time have struggled with it. Just read the Old Testament for more examples. The book of Judges alone gives a comprehensive picture of this. You can just watch the news today, too, to see this struggle. Obedience. Submission. Compliance. Some look at it as conformity or confinement, but it’s really reverence and respect for the one who gave us life.
A Better Way
Even though we fail in our faithfulness to him, God still points us toward a better way. In the Old Testament, that better way was always a savior (i.e., judges, a king, Jesus). We see the sin cycle, which we are all familiar with, at work over and over again alongside God’s faithfulness also continually at work.
In the New Testament, that faithfulness culminates in Jesus, and the rest of the New Testament instructs us how to live based on his example. That way, as the New Testament scriptures above show, fits within the faithfulness of God seen throughout Judges and the Old Testament.
Faithfulness matters. God has forever been faithful. Allow yourself to be Motivated by God’s Faithfulness.