Friday, July 8, 2011

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday July 10, 2011

(Repeated sin puts our lives into a downward spiral)
(Judges 2)

In Judges, chapter 2, the Angel of the LORD, or, a “Theophany of CHRIST”, came down from Gilgal to Bokim with a message for the Israelites from GOD. The message clearly reminded them of how they had disobeyed the LORD in the short time that they had been in the “Promised Land” of Canaan. GOD wanted to let the Israelites know of HIS plan to abandon them in their efforts to finish driving out the Canaanites that still lived in the land among them. This would serve as punishment for their disobedience to the LORD’s commands. However, the LORD would wait until after the death of Joshua and the rest of Israel’s faithful leaders, before HE would began HIS punishment phase.
When the angel finished speaking, the Israelites began to weep with sorrow, and they offered up sacrifices to the LORD in an effort to atone for their sins. The Israelites then continued to serve the LORD faithfully until after Joshua, and all the leaders who served with him, had passed away. After Joshua died at the age of 110, he was buried in the land that he inherited at Timnath-serah, in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash. And after Joshua’s generation had died, a new generation came up who did not acknowledge the LORD, or, remember HIS mighty works that HE had done for Israel when HE brought them out of Egypt. They abandoned all of the ways of the LORD, and they worshipped the Baals, and all the other gods of the Canaanite people around them. As a result of their disobedience, the LORD fought against them in every battle, bringing them defeat after defeat, just as HE had promised through HIS Angel.
The book of Judges chronicles the relaxing of the Israelites commitment to GOD, and the spiritual and political deterioration that always follows. Most of the book tracks five patterned cycles that seem to characterize every single era and generation in the history of mankind. First, there is “sin”, as the Israelites turn to idolatry and abandon GOD’s laws. Then, GOD places them into “servitude”, as HE allows their enemies to overtake and oppress them as punishment for their sins. After feeling the sting of servitude, GOD’s people humble themselves with “supplication”, confessing their sins, repenting, and asking GOD for forgiveness. GOD then sends HIS “salvation” in the person of a charismatic “Judge” who would defeat Israel’s oppressors and deliver them out of bondage. Then, there would be a period of “silence”, or, peace, that would last all the days of that Judge, as their leadership helped Israel to remain faithful and obedient to GOD. However, this tragic pattern of sin, servitude, supplication, salvation, and silence, repeated itself over and over again, with each downswing and oppression, becoming more and more severe.
The grim lesson of the Book of Judges is that it re-enforces the biblical truth that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). It also teaches us that sin takes on many forms, and that, it always goes from bad to worse, whenever we allow it to persist in our lives. The more we sin, the easier it becomes, and if we don’t rid ourselves of sins attraction, by filling ourselves with the word of GOD, it will, ultimately destroy us.
Here in Judges, chapter 2, the author, whom the Jewish Talmud accredits to be the prophet Samuel, pretty much lays out the theme for the entire book. He shows us quite clearly how the Israelites, just as many of us today, were and are, hell-bent on self-destruction by way of our lifestyles, which reflect continued disregard for the laws of GOD.
This recurring chaos seems to hammer home the fact that, if a man or woman goes their own way, or the way of the world, they automatically move away from the ways of GOD, and the choice to do evil always merits consequences from GOD. GOD is the ONE WHO sees most clearly, the long-term effects of our choices. That is why it is so imperative for us to trust GOD through HIS Word, and, to have confidence in the guidance of HIS HOLY SPIRIT. And we, who call ourselves by HIS name (Christians), must still voluntarily turn to HIM before HE can help us get out of our downward spiral towards an unstructured existence, and, out of a pattern of self-destruction.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

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