Judgment of God Is Described: Page 6 of 6 (series: Lessons on Judges)
by John Lowe
This plainly points at the deliverances God wrought for Israel through the judges, by saving them out of the hands of those to whom He had sold them because of their sins, and how his soul was grieved for the misery of Israel (Jdg. 10:16), and this when they were reduced to the last extremity. God helped them when they could not help themselves; for there was none shut up or left; that is, none that dwelt either in cities or walled towns, in which they were shut up, nor any that dwelt in scattered houses in the country, in which they were left at a distance from neighbours. Note; God’s time to appear for the deliverance of his people is when things are at the worst with them. God tries his people’s faith, and stirs up prayer, by letting things go to the worst, and then magnifies his own power, and fills the faces of his enemies with shame and the hearts of His people with such great joy, by rescuing them out of extremity as brands out of the burning.
Verse 18 indicates that the Lord was with them throughout the period of the judge’s leadership and “He delivered them out of the hand of their enemies.” The Lord enabled the Judges to lead the people of Israel victoriously against their foes. Both the victories and the defeats recorded in the book of the Judges are interpreted as acts of God.
The statement that it repented the LORD because of their cry unto Him as a result of the subsequent oppression does not mean that God changed His mind about the need for allowing the oppression, but rather that He felt “sorrow” or “grief” for their agony. In other words, the author is merely indicating that God was not pleased with having to discipline His people in such a way, but that it was necessary lest they continue in greater sinfulness. Since God’s covenant with Israel was conceived of in the terms of a marriage, spiritual adultery was all the more serious. It was an attempt on the part of Israel to break her vows to Yahweh, her spiritual husband.
The judges ruled Israel during a transitional period that led up to the establishment of a monarchy that began with King Saul. But history shows that the ministry of the Judges had no lasting effect on Israel. However, a strong Judge could influence the people for God during his lifetime.
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.
When the judge was dead. It appears that in general the office of the judge was for life. However, when the judge was dead, they looked upon the dam which checked the stream of their idolatry as having been removed.
They corrupted themselves more than their fathers. They tried hard to outdo their ancestors in acquiring foreign gods and inventing irreverent and wicked rites of worship. They refused to stop worshipping their lifeless idols even though they could not do anything for them. In time they lost any shame they might have held for those idolatrous rituals that were both revolting and barbarous; they would not so much as diminish one step of their hard and stubborn way. Thus those that have forsaken the good ways of God, which they have once known and professed, commonly grow more daring and desperate in sin, and finally, they have their hearts hardened.
Their stubborn way. Their hard or difficult way. Most sinners go through great tribulation, in order to get to eternal perdition; they would have had less pain on their way to heaven.
1(Isa. 49.6) “And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.” The Servant (Isaiah) has a twofold mission from the Lord who formed Him from the womb to be his servant. That mission is to bring Jacob again to him and to restore the preserved of Israel. This first aspect of His assignment is to the House of Israel and to the believing remnant of Israel in particular. In addition, He is also commissioned to be a light to the Gentiles. This statement
is quoted in Acts 13:47 as being fulfilled by Jesus Christ.2
(Jer. 2:13) “For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” The people had committed two evils. First, they had forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living waters. Isaiah had already used this imagery of God’s blessing (Isa 44:3), and Jesus later alluded to it (Jn 4:10–15; 7:37–39). The second sin was that of idolatry, i.e., broken cisterns. To people living in an arid land where the search for fountains of fresh water and good cisterns to hold it was a daily priority, this imagery was a powerful object lesson.3
(Jude 10:6) “And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.”4
(1Sa 7:3,4) “And Samuel spake unto all the house of Israel, saying, If ye do return unto the LORD with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the LORD, and serve him only: and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines. Then the children of Israel did put away Baalim and Ashtaroth, and served the LORD only.”5
(1Sa 12:10) “And they cried unto the LORD, and said, We have sinned, because we have forsaken the LORD, and have served Baalim and Ashtaroth: but now deliver us out of the hand of our enemies, and we will serve thee.”6
(1Sa 31:10) “And they put his armour in the house of Ashtaroth: and they fastened his body to the wall of Bethshan.”7
(1Ki 11:5, 33) “For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. Because that they have forsaken me, and have worshipped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and Milcom the god of the children of Ammon, and have not walked in my ways, to do that which is right in mine eyes, and to keep my statutes and my judgments, as did David his father.”8
(2Ki 23:13) “And the high places that were before Jerusalem, which were on the right hand of the mount of corruption, which Solomon the king of Israel had builded for Ashtoreth the abomination of the Zidonians, and for Chemosh the abomination of the Moabites, and for Milcom the abomination of the children of Ammon, did the king defile.”9
(Jer. 44:18, 19) “But since we left off to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, we have wanted all things, and have been consumed by the sword and by the famine. And when we burned incense to the queen of heaven, and poured out drink offerings unto her, did we make her cakes to worship her, and pour out drink offerings unto her, without our men?”10
(Isa. 63:10) “But they rebelled, and vexed his holy Spirit: therefore he was turned to be their enemy, and he fought against them.” In spite of all of God’s good intentions toward His people, they were ungrateful and rebellious. And vexed his Holy Spirit. This was the nature, or the description, of their rebellion. Vexed means to afflict, or to grieve, or to pain. This idea is similar to the one conveyed in Ephesians 4:30. Note again in these verses a specific reference to the Trinity. Jehovah extended His mercy to His people, He sent His angel (Christ) to deliver them, but they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit, and Jehovah became their enemy. This was accomplished in Israel’s history by allowing heathen nations to conquer and plunder Israel.11
(1 Co 1.27-28) “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:” The selection of God is designed to bring to silence the wisdom of man. He selects the foolish to shame the wise; the weak to shame the strong; and the “nobodys” to shame the “somebodys.”12
(Gen 18:25) “That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”