Judges 10.6-16 Total Unfaithfulness, Total Grace

September 23, 2012 Series: Judges | Still{Un}Faithful (Part 2 of 2)

Topic: Old Testament Passage: Judges 10:6–10:16

Intro: Sinfulness of Sin
The study guide will indicate that today’s text was SUPPOSED to be Judges 10.6-11.28. But, I couldn’t get past verse 16. I have spent the better part of a week considering my own sin. I am not convinced that we comprehend the sinfulness of sin. The cross of Jesus Christ is God’s bold proclamation that we are more sinful than we will ever know or admit AND that we are more loved than we can possibly imagine. Without coming face to face with the ugliness of our flesh, we cannot comprehend grace.

6 The people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals and the Ashtaroth, the gods of Syria, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the Ammonites, and the gods of the Philistines. And they forsook the Lord and did not serve him. 7 So the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he sold them into the hand of the Philistines and into the hand of the Ammonites, 8 and they crushed and oppressed the people of Israel that year. For eighteen years they oppressed all the people of Israel who were beyond the Jordan in the land of the Amorites, which is in Gilead. 9 And the Ammonites crossed the Jordan to fight also against Judah and against Benjamin and against the house of Ephraim, so that Israel was severely distressed. 10 And the people of Israel cried out to the Lord, saying, “We have sinned against you, because we have forsaken our God and have served the Baals.”

v. 6-9 Sin as Idolatry
The beginning of Judges 10 is the record of two ordinary guys, one known and one unknown, both dead. They combined for 45 years of faithful leadership. Up to this point, there have been seven rebellions by God’s children, seven oppressors sent by God to punish God’s children, and seven deliverers used to rescue God’s children. They are still unfaithful and He is still faithful.

After the deaths of Tola and Jair, Israel sins again. But this time it is described somewhat differently. They have not just sinned, they have become SIN EXPERTS, SUPER SINNERS with PHD’s in UNFAITHFULNESS. They again do evil in the sight to the LORD, namely, they break their covenant obligations. But this time, they are not satisfied with just one measly god. This time, they expand their false worship to include every god BUT the Lord. FULL ON, unashamed, unhindered, no holds barred idolatry. The writer lists seven gods of the seven different peoples God had told Abraham, Moses, and Joshua he would drive out. Joshua 3.10 And Joshua said, “Here is how you shall know that the living God is among you and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Hivites, the Perizzites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, and the Jebusites. Their idolatry, their lawlessness, their rebellion is complete. It’s not that they are not spiritual, it’s not that they are not religious, it’s not that they don’t serve faithfully, it’s that they do all of these things for every other god except the one true God who made them, promised them, saved them, sustained them, led them, and blessed them.

The people of Israel face the consequences of having failed to heed God’s commands to expunge sin from the land. Different logical arguments can be made about why they failed, but at the heart is a simple answer—disobedience rooted in disbelief of God’s Word. Thought God’s children are called to worship God and transform the culture, they worship false gods and conform to an immoral pagan. And the culture was attractive. The Canaanites were not cavemen. Their culture was very wealthy with highly developed urban centers full of art, literature, architecture, and more. The Canaanite cities were vastly superior to any Israelite towns and the lure of materialism was as powerful as it is today.

And because wealth was directly related to the production of food, agriculture became connected with spirituality, and “fertility” of the soil became connected with the fertility of men and women. The Canaanites developed a system of sacred prostitution as a way of religious life. Their religious practices included sex worship, religious prostitution, incest, and other forms of sexual immorality, as well as human sacrifice. The Bible records their zeal for wealth, sexual perversion, violence, divination, and pagan “hanky panky” (Lev. 18.24-25; Deut. 18.12). In essence, Israelites became idolatrous because they were attracted to money, power, greed, sex, indulgence, and violence. What happens to a culture that begins to glorify these things? The Bible is clear: Psalm 115.4-8 4 Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands. 5 They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see. 6 They have ears, but do not hear; noses, but do not smell. 7 They have hands, but do not feel; feet, but do not walk; and they do not make a sound in their throat. 8 Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them. And as they worship the gods of money, sex, and violence, we see money, sex, and violence driving the narrative of the book of Judges.

Our Idolatry
Unlike ancient times, idols are not as easy to identify because it is unlike we’re carving out wood totems and placing them in our backyards. But we have the same seven gods. Their called pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, sloth, and anger. Our responses in to stress or pain life usually reveal our idols. When we are angry, we often have told ourselves there is something we must have (control, security, respect, etc.). And that something has simply become too important to us. When we are worried, again, something is usually way too important to us. Something, we don’t have or may lose, has become necessary to save us from that personal hell we’ve created in our minds (approval, money, health, a relationship, etc.). When we are hopeless, usually we have made something in our live essential to our happiness. And when we fail to obtain that something, or lose it, live becomes meaningless.

The most basic question which God poses to every one of us is this: Does something or someone besides Jesus Christ captivate your heart and thus control your life? Life only has meaning /I only have worth if I have or don’t have ___________________What captivates you? What do you look to for security, hope, meaning, and acceptance? Where do turn to obtain power or success? What do you sacrifice time, money, and resources for? Who or what are you most loyal too? What do you spend your free time thinking about? What do you look forward to, plan for, organize your life around? What do you delight in? What, ultimately, takes the place of God in your life in so far as it governs most of your decision making? Sin is idolatry.

Sin as Lawlessness
Sin begins with idolatry and always leads to lawlessness. And though sin promises joy, satisfaction, and success, lawlessness leads to spiritual-poverty even if you “look” successful. Joshua 1.7 -8 Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. 8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. In essence, sin is to reject that God’s law is good and believe prosperity lies outside of His Word. The Bible defines sin as the deliberate breaking of a good law, specifically, God’s law. The law not only forbids the doing of evil, whether in thought words or deed, it commands the doing of good in thought, word and deed. Sin, therefore, is lawlessness. It is not just brokenness, it not just falling short of God’s standard; it is rebellion against the Creator and rejection of His Moral Law. That is the problem with this world. Mankind did not “fall” because it tripped accidentally—they jumped with both feet off the high dive into the empty pool of rebellion head first with a smile on their face. Men fell because our first parents Adam and Eve rejected God’s Command and believed the promises of sin that say: God is a liar and something other than God will make me happy.

Our Lawlessness
Israel disobedience destroys their lives. And they cry. The last time Israel cried, in Judges 6, God sent a prophet to tell them the heart of the problem: YOU HAVE NOT OBEYED MY VOICE (10). And they have chosen to ignore God’s Word. Hear what they say in verse 10 in their distress: We have sinned against you, because we have forsaken our God and have served the Baals.”. These were children whom God had warned. There were children whom God had saved. These were children whom God had blessed. And yet, they cry out to God will full knowledge of what they have done. They are not confused as to why they are being oppressed—they sound like entitled adolescents who expect to be saved. An expectation that you deserve forgiveness is a result of minimizing sin.

We have redefined sin in our world as something a bit easier to swallow. Today’s heretics teach that our “brokenness in the world world” is not disobedience, but bad thinking, bad parents, bad culture, bad experiences, bad schools, bad socio-economic systems, bad governments, even bad movies, bad music, and bad video game. The problems with the world are not derived from these bad things, it is bad men with rebellious hearts—we are bad. Perverting “sin” into something other than rebellion rooted in the heart, allows us manage our problems away with new laws, new pills, or new counselors with new books, new TV shows, and new ways of thinking. Rebellion rooted in the heart is only resolved by repentance, turning from sin to God. The problem with the world is our lawlessness. Men have disobeyed God’s moral law and positioned themselves as their own Lords with their own laws. The moral law of God not only forbids the doing of evil but also commands the doing of good. Whatever falls short of the law of God--in whole or in part (James 2.10)—is therefore sin, whether it is the omission of good or the commission of evil. Whatever hierarchy of sin you’ve created in your mind to convinced yourself that “you’re not that bad”, realize that that your “little” sin still required the death of Jesus.

Sin as War
But it gets worse. Sin is idolatry. Sin is lawlessness. Sin is a declaration of war. Sin is not simply an unfortunate choice or a moment of forgetfulness. Israel made a willful choice to join the enemies of God—enemies that God had already SAVED THEM FROM ONCE. There was an active volitional disobedience—it is an addiction that they fed. According to Scripture, sin is not simply hatred of God’s way, it is hatred toward God and hostility toward Him. Sin is walking and working against God. Sin is rebelling and fighting against God. Sin is resisting and running from God. Sin is blaming and blaspheming God. Sin is despising and disowning God. When we sin we DOUBTS GOD’S TRUTH and exchange it for lies. When we sin we DENY GOD’S NAME and his attributes.

Rejects the sufficiency of God – it is better elsewhereChallenges the justice of God – God won’t not care.Ignores the omniscience of God - God won’t see.Despises the goodness of God – God won’t Abuses the grace of God – God’s freedom is to serve me.Perverts God’s sovereignty – God will use this for his glory.

When we sin we DESTROYS GOD’S WORK. All God’s works were good exceedingly, beautiful even in admiration; the works of sin are deformed and monstrously ugly, for it works disorder, confusion, and everything that is abominable. When we sin we DISTORTS THE IMAGE of God in us: Sin is in conflict with the image of God in which man was made. When God made man, he made him in his own image. And when the devil made sin, made it in his own image and likeness. We are devil-like when we sin. “In short, sin is the dare of God’s justice, the rape of his mercy, the jeer of his patience, the slight of his power, the contempt of his love…it is the unbraiding of his providence, the scoff of his promise, the reproach of his wisdom. And as is said of the man of sin it opposes and exalts itself above all that is called God so that it as God sitteth in the tempot of God, showing itself as if it were God” Ralph Venning pg. 32.

v. 10-15 God’s Wrathful Response to Our Sin:
And how does God respond to Israel’s idolatry, lawlessness, and rebellion. He punishes it. We always imagine God’s judgment as active and violent. This time, it what appears a worse punishment, God gives Israel exactly what they want. 11 And the Lord said to the people of Israel, “Did I not save you from the Egyptians and from the Amorites, from the Ammonites and from the Philistines? 12 The Sidonians also, and the Amalekites and the Maonites oppressed you, and you cried out to me, and I saved you out of their hand. 13 Yet you have forsaken me and served other gods; therefore I will save you no more. 14 Go and cry out to the gods whom you have chosen; let them save you in the time of your distress.” 15 And the people of Israel said to the Lord, “We have sinned; do to us whatever seems good to you. Only please deliver us this day.” He handed them over to an oppressor, but now, he hands them over to their gods. When God rightly punishes their sin, Israel cries, confessing that they have willfully abandoned their God and served other gods. And God responds to their confession that speaks to the complete and utter irrationality of sin. Then he says,I’m DONE. I will NOT SAVE YOU ANYMORE. Go and cry to the gods you have chosen. I have pursued and protected you enough. Though it is fearful thing to be in the hands of the living God, it is hellish to be apart from Him.

v. 16 God’s Loving Response to Us:
But verse 16 is amazing. And this is where I couldn’t get beyond. God doesn’t utterly abandon his children why, because unlike other gods, he is personal with a heart. 16 So they put away the foreign gods from among them and served the Lord, and he became impatient over the misery of Israel.

There is Jesus. Though we know our sin is idolatry, our false gods please us for a time. Though we know that sin is breaking the law, it feels like breaking the speed limit. Though we know that sin is a declaration of war, it feels like a foolish game. Our disobedience as something unfortunate but certainly not that bad or worthy of crucifixion.

We know that sin is breaking God’s rules, it is breaking God’s heart. Have we ever wondered why God uses marriage imagery for his relationship with God? Like a REALLY unfaithful bride, they whore themselves out with every man they come across—whores. Judges 2.16-18 16 Then the Lord raised up judges, who saved them out of the hand of those who plundered them. 17 Yet they did not listen to their judges, for they whored after other gods and bowed down to them. They soon turned aside from the way in which their fathers had walked, who had obeyed the commandments of the Lord, and they did not do so. Consider then that sin is a declaration of divorce. Divorce is destructive. Adultery-caused divorce even more so. The pain and anger and rejection is unbearable. That is how God feels.

Israel is a bit more repentant. God does not deliver them because they are repentant. He delivers them because he loves. God is a person. He is compassionate. He is patient. Your sin grieves Him deeply, so much so, that he sent his Son to make things right for you. And he does this knowing that you have told him, “I’m really not into you (IDOLATRY)”. That you have thrown his law out the window. That you have, in fact, lifted up a gun and pointed it at him declaring yourself god and Him your enemy. Yet, despite all of that, that you have rejected him, replaced him, and rebelled against Him—he loves you. This is the God who calls you to serve him. He offers grace, love, and forgiveness. He knows what you have done and he has let you do it. But loves you too much to let you remain that way.

Ask God to show you your heart. Weep at your sin. GRACEFight the temptation to minimize your sin. Maximizes Grace.Confess your sin BEHIND the sin, your idolatry. - GRACERepent of the sin (not just feel sorry) – GRACE

Also, as idols are revealed, bear in mind this helpful adage by McCheyne: “For every one look at your sin, take ten looks at Christ!” Our sins will never have the final word. Our hope is always in the finished work of Christ. Exodus 4.6-7. 6 The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7 keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”

Benediction 2Corinthians 5.14-15

More in Judges | Still{Un}Faithful (Part 2 of 2)

November 25, 2012

Judges 20-21 Faithful Substitute

November 18, 2012

Judges 19.1-30 Unfaithful Acts

November 11, 2012

Judges 17-18 Unfaithful Worship