Judges 2: 1-5
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Judges is a book that continues the story of the possession of the land started in Joshua and what happened in the country once Israel settled there. This prepares us to read and understand the great love story that is Ruth. Relying on the power and glory of God, Israel managed to defeat their enemies and was able to face the many challenges they faced living in God's land. But Judges tells us that not everything was successful. We are told that the people succumbed to the temptations represented by the religion and lifestyle of the pagan peoples that surrounded them. The book begins with the continuation of the story of the conquest of the land giving us some disturbing information: the tribes of Israel failed to take possession of the entire land. Here we will learn what happens when God’s people do not fully live out their calling.
1. Who is speaking here?
In God's land, God gathers his own. What they need to learn is that the Lord is a God who is present and actively involved in the lives of his own.
2. What is God accusing them of here and what is its consequence?
Painfully, we read that God gathers his own to charge them with abandoning him. They have ignored God and have preferred to follow the foreign gods. This passage marks a change in God's relationship with his people. At Sinai, the Lord promised not to annul his covenant with them. But this divine commitment demanded total commitment from the people, which has not happened.
Here, God (who is also a judge) informs them that he will not drive out the heathen nations, and that these peoples will be a constant nightmare for Israel. The land of God will no longer be the land of blessing but will be a place of pain and suffering.
3. How do the people react to these words of God?
The people listened to God and wept. They were aware of having failed their call. They were not living as God's people in God's land. Quite the contrary, they were drawn to the siren songs of pagan religions. Crying at being rebuked by God is a good thing. But Israel is going to learn quickly that this is not enough.
4. How do the people NOT react to these words of God?
The text informs us that they called ‘Boquim’ (place of those who mourn) the place where God spoke to them. But the rest of the book tells us that they did not change their attitude. They continued to worship other gods. What is the use of crying if there is no change in attitude? Feeling bad about sin is not enough, we must modify our behavior.
Think: In our preparation to read the great love story found in Ruth, we have learned here some important lessons: The first thing is that God is trustworthy 'I will never break my covenant with you', v. 1. Although the people have turned their backs on him, God continues to be with them. The second thing is that belonging to God’s people involves a commitment of fidelity to the God who gathers us, ‘you shall not make a covenant with the people of this land’, v. 2. We have also learned that to feel sorry for our sin is not enough, we must change our attitude. The gospel makes it clear: ‘Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.’, Matthew 3:8.
Ideas for prayer: Thank God for being faithful even if we are not. Ask him to help you change your attitude if God asks you to do so.
Chilean Book of Common Prayer. Prayer of repentance, public worship service 1.
Almighty and merciful Father, we have strayed from your paths, and like lost sheep we have wandered away from you. We have followed the wishes and purposes of our own heart. We have disobeyed your holy commandments; we have not done the good that you want, but the bad things that you hate, and there is no right thing in us. Now, oh Lord, have mercy on us poor sinners. Forgive our guilt. Restore us, Lord, by fulfilling your promises declared in Jesus Christ our Savior, and for his sake, grant that henceforth we may live a righteous and holy life for the glory of your name. Amen.