Judgment of God Is Described: Page 1 of 6 (series: Lessons on Judges)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

Chapter 10

Judgment of God Is Described Judges 2.11-19

Scripture
11 And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim:
12 And they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the LORD to anger.
13 And they forsook the LORD, and served Baal and Ashtaroth.
14 And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and he delivered them into the hands of spoilers that spoiled them, and he sold them into the hands of their enemies round about, so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies.
15 Whithersoever they went out, the hand of the LORD was against them for evil, as the LORD had said, and as the LORD had sworn unto them: and they were greatly distressed.
16 Nevertheless the LORD raised up judges, which delivered them out of the hand of those that spoiled them.
17 And yet they would not hearken unto their judges, but they went a whoring after other gods, and bowed themselves unto them: they turned quickly out of the way which their fathers walked in, obeying the commandments of the LORD; but they did not so.
18 And when the LORD raised them up judges, then the LORD was with the judge, and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge: for it repented the LORD because of their groanings by reason of them that oppressed them and vexed them.
19 And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they returned, and corrupted themselves more than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them, and to bow down unto them; they ceased not from their own doings, nor from their stubborn way.
Commentary
Israel missed the opportunity to be a Witness for Jehovah. The nations in Canaan were in terrible bondage to ignorance, idolatry, and immorality, and they desperately needed to know the true God of Israel. But instead of giving illumination 1(Isa. 49:6 ), the Jews stooped to imitation and joined their neighbors in their sins. What an opportunity Israel missed, and what a price they paid!
In their relationship with God and their neighbors, the next generation of Israeites failed. Are we also failing in these ways today?
11 And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim:
We have within this passage a preview of the entire period of the Judges. Here we can trace the fourfold cycle which characterized that time:
• Sin (vv. 11–13)
• Servitude (vv. 14, 15)
• Supplication (not stated here, but see 3:9; 3:15; 4:3; etc.)
• Salvation (vv. 16–18)
This pattern of behavior has also been described as:
• Rebellion
• Retribution
• Repentance
• Rest
This synopsis of Judges, as Jensen points out, brings into focus the two divergent truths evident throughout the book:
1. The desperate wickedness of the human heart, revealing its ingratitude, stubbornness, rebellion, and foolishness;
2. God’s longsuffering, patience, love and mercy.
No book in the Bible brings these two truths into sharper contrast—the utter failure of Israel and the persistent grace of Jehovah.
The statement that they served Baalim indicates that they worshiped localized Baal deities. Baal was a fertility god. He was looked upon as the chief vegetation god of the Canaanites and was thought to bring productivity to crops, animals, and men. He was also associated with the occurrences of weather and was usually depicted in Canaanite carvings as holding a lightning bolt in his hand. Thus, he is also called the “god of fire,” indicating the significance of Elijah’s challenge to the prophets of Baal (see I Kgs. 18). The Hebrew word ba˓al means “master,” or “lord.” When the Israelites settled in Canaan, they soon discovered the local Baal deities were looked upon as the individual lords of the land. Thus, by worshiping him they were forsaking the lordship of their God for the lordship of Baal! The text also refers to their serving other gods … of the people among whom they lived. As they forsook the Lord, they … served Baal and Ashtaroth. These were multi-breasted female fertility deities, whose worship often included bizarre sexual practices. The Babylonian form of this deity was Ishtar, and the Roman form was Easter (whose fertility signs, interestingly, were a rabbit and an egg). They made these false gods supernatural rulers or governors, each having his peculiar district and office; but when they wished to express a particular Baal, they generally added some particular epithet, such as Baal-zephon, Baal-peor, Baal-zehub, Baal-shamayim. The two former were adored by the Moabites; Baal-zebub by the Ekronites. Baal-berith was honored at Shechem; and Baal-shamayim, the lord or ruler of the heavens, was adored among the Phoenicians, Syrians, Chaldeans, etc. And whenever the word baal is used without adding a tag, it probably meant the sun, among all these people. The

author (ultimately, the Holy Spirit), gives us a general idea of the series of events in Israel during the time of the judges; four events that were repeated over-and-over in the same order.

12 And they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the LORD to anger.
13 And they forsook the LORD, and served Baal and Ashtaroth.
The people of Israel forsook the God of Israel, and gave that worship and honor, which was due to Him alone, to the dunghill deities of the Canaanites. “Be astonished, O heavens! at this, and wonder, O earth! Hath a nation, such a nation, so well fed, so well taught, changed its God, such a God, a God of infinite power, unspotted purity, inexhaustible goodness, and so very jealous of a competitor, for stocks and stones that could do neither good nor evil?” (Jer. 2:11, 12). Never was there such an instance of foolishness, ingratitude, and disloyalty. Observe how it is described in verses 11–13. In general, they did evil; nothing could be more evil, that is, more provoking to God, or more prejudicial to themselves, and after all it was done in the sight of the Lord; all evil is exposed to him, but he takes special notice of the sin of having any other god. In particular:
a) They forsook the Lord (v. 12, and again v. 13); this was one of the two great evils they were guilty of 2(Jer. 2:13 ). They had been joined to the Lord in covenant, but now they forsook him, like a wife treacherously leaves her husband. “They forsook the worship of the Lord,” however, those that forsake the worship of God, do to all intents and purposes forsake God himself. It aggravated them that he was the God of their fathers, and that they were born in his house, and therefore bound to serve him; and that he brought them out of the land of Egypt, he loosed their bonds, and upon that account they also were obliged to serve him. This was one of the greatest aggravations caused by their evil doing (they forsook the Lord); they forsook the God who brought them out of Egypt; a place where they endured the most severe oppression and were subjected to the most degrading servitude, from which they never could have rescued themselves. They were set free by such an awesome display of the power, justice, and mercy of God, that it should never have been forgotten, because it was the most stupendous event that had ever occurred. They forsook HIM, and served idols that were as destitute of real life as they were of influence and power.
b) When they forsook the only true God they did not turn into atheists, and they were not so foolish as to say, There is no God; but they followed other gods. They were a religious people, with a religious history; so much so that there remained within them the desire to have a God. Israel had the honor of being a peculiar people who were dignified above all others, and yet they ignored their privileges and special standing with the Great God, who created them and loved them and would eventually die for them. Instead, they were fond of the gods of the people that were round about them. Baal and Ashtaroth, he-gods and she-gods; they made their courtyards a shrine to honor the sun and moon, Jupiter, Juno, Baalim, and Ashtaroth. They forsook Jehovah, who is true God, and replaced Him with many Gods. Whatever they took for their gods, they served them and bowed down to them, gave honour to them and begged favors from them. In time they forgot God’s word—when you forget the word of God, you are in danger of forsaking the God of the Word, which explains why Israel turned to the vile and vicious worship of Baal.
Served Baal and Ashtaroth. Ashtaroth is a plural word for Ashtoreth, the Phoenician goddess (the Astarte of the Greeks), which were worshipped as idols during times of spiritual decline in Israel. 3Jude 10:6; 41Sa 7:3, 4; 51Sa 12:10; 61Sa 31:10; 71Ki 11:5, 33; 82Ki 23:13. Jeremiah 9(Jer. 44:18, 19 ) refers to Ashtoreth as the "queen of heaven." In a general way, probably, Baal and Ashtaroth mean the sun and moon; but in many cases Ashtaroth seems to have been the same among the Canaanites as Venus was among the Greeks and Romans, and to have been worshipped with the same obscene rites. The term is also used to represent all the female divinities, whose rites were celebrated by the most gross and revolting acts.
14 And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and he delivered them into the hands of spoilers that spoiled them, and he sold them into the hands of their enemies round about, so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies.

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