Without a King
When my way isn't God's way
Without a King – Part 2
August 2, 2020 ~ Judges 2:10-19
Pastor Rob Culler (Note: These are the pastor's notes, not a transcript.)
“There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death,” (Proverbs 14:12, NLT).
That proverb brings me to the next part of our series.
Let me refresh your memory about a portion of biblical history. The people of Israel made progress in settling the Promised Land until they met resistance. Instead of overcoming that resistance, they quit trying and settled for less than God had asked of them and promised them. In failing to persevere and face the resistance, they started down a slippery slope they could never have envisioned. When they met resistance, they said, “We can’t,” but God saw it for what it was, “we won’t.” They did most of what God told them to do, but not all of it. They did what they thought was enough, but it wasn’t.
The title of this series is “Without a King,” and we’re focusing on what happens to a society when everyone feels they can do whatever they want. We’re going to find out that such a society eventually devolves into chaos and anarchy.
Today, we’re looking at a passage from Judges chapter 2 that gives us a general overview of the situation. Instead of reading the entire section at once, I’ll stop along the way to see what we learn.
Judges 2:10-19, NLT
10 After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the Lord or remember the mighty things he had done for Israel.
- Members of each new generation must choose which path to walk
- People cannot thrive on the spiritual power of their parents, each generation must personally experience the reality of God.
- We’re not sure what happened to this generation. One of two things was true: either the older generation failed to instruct their children and grandchildren in the ways of the Lord, or, if they had taught them, then the new generation refused to submit to God’s Law and follow God’s ways.
- Let me speak to parents for a moment. As parents, we have the primary responsibility to teach our children about who God is and how we should relate to him. This pandemic has reinforced that reality. In the absence of our usual children’s and youth programs, life goes on and our children still need spiritual nurturing.
- We would do well to heed Moses’ advice from Deuteronomy 6: talk to your children about a relationship with God again and again. Talk about it when you’re home and when you’re traveling; talk about it when you’re going to be and when you’re getting up. Remind them all the time.
- While we cannot guarantee that our children will serve the Lord, we need plant and the water the seeds and provide the best possible soil!
- We need to model a relationship with the Lord.
- We need to model our humanity and our need for forgiveness.
- We need to model asking for and granting forgiveness.
11 The Israelites did evil in the Lord’s sight and served the images of Baal. 12 They abandoned the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They went after other gods, worshiping the gods of the people around them. And they angered the Lord. 13 They abandoned the Lord to serve Baal and the images of Ashtoreth.
- They chose the way of the culture around them rather than God’s way.
- When I look at the culture around me, it’s not what I want my children (or anyone else’s children) to choose.
- Notice that in these three verses, the words “they abandoned the Lord,” are used twice. At some point, there was a conscious decision to walk away—a point where it was concluded that what the culture offered was better than what God promised.
- The offerings of this temporal world cannot compare to the promises of the eternal God.
- Culture preys (1) on our natural human appetites and urges, on (2) our fascination with more, and (3) our pride and need for significance.
- The gods of culture shift and change from generation to generation, but God never changes!
14 This made the Lord burn with anger against Israel, so he handed them over to raiders who stole their possessions. He turned them over to their enemies all around, and they were no longer able to resist them. 15 Every time Israel went out to battle, the Lord fought against them, causing them to be defeated, just as he had warned. And the people were in great distress.
- I used to teach a class where the most important thing I wanted students to remember at the end of the school year was that ideas have consequences.
- You are free to believe what you want, but your ideas lead somewhere. Are you willing to pay that price?
- For the people of Israel, the idea of following the cultural gods had consequences.
- God got angry at them.
- God handed them over to raiders; he turned them over to their enemies; he fought against them.
- In essence, God let them have their own way.
- Let me tell you, having your own way isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be.
- In The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis wrote that “there are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’”
16 Then the Lord raised up judges to rescue the Israelites from their attackers…. 18 Whenever the Lord raised up a judge over Israel, he was with that judge and rescued the people from their enemies throughout the judge’s lifetime. For the Lord took pity on his people, who were burdened by oppression and suffering.
- God’s anger has a purpose!
- He wasn’t angry because he wasn’t getting their way; he was angry because his people were hurting themselves.
- Those of you who love an addict know what I’m talking about. You get angry at the person you love, not because they’re not doing things your way, but because they’re hurting themselves, and they’re hurting those who love them.
- God got angry because they chose for him to let them have their way and suffer the consequences.
17 Yet Israel did not listen to the judges but prostituted themselves by worshiping other gods. How quickly they turned away from the path of their ancestors, who had walked in obedience to the Lord’s commands.
19 But when the judge died, the people returned to their corrupt ways, behaving worse than those who had lived before them. They went after other gods, serving and worshiping them. And they refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways.
- The people wasted their suffering. They didn’t learn the lessons God wanted them to learn and profit from His chastening.
- The Israelites were stiff-necked in the wilderness, but they were even more obstinate in the Promised Land. A new environment did not mean a new attitude.
So, what do we take from this?
- If you don’t remember anything else I’ve said today, I want you to remember this: when my way isn’t God’s way, I’m going the wrong way. Would you say that with me? When my way isn’t God’s way, I’m going the wrong way. Let’s say it one more time: When my way isn’t God’s way, I’m going the wrong way.
- Simply put, I want you to choose God’s way.
- In the big things, choose God’s way.
- In the little things, choose God’s way.
- When things are unclear, choose God’s way.
- When things get hard, choose God’s way.
- When you feel like giving in, choose God’s way.
- When you feel like giving up, choose God’s way.
- What is God’s way?
- God’s way is the way of his son, Jesus.
- Jesus said, “give up your own way; take up your cross, and follow me.”
- Our culture doesn’t usually honor the principles of giving up and following. That’s because our culture doesn’t understand them.
- Eugene Peterson described the way of Jesus well in The Message, “Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”
- Doing this will help us do life God’s way, and that’s important because when my way isn’t God’s way, I’m going the wrong way.
- Are you going the right way?
 Wolf, Herbert. (1992). The Expositor’ Bible Commentary: Volume 3 (p. 394). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 Wolf, 395.
What happens to a society when everyone thinks they can do whatever they want? We'll look at this question as we take a 6-week survey of the Old Testament book of Judges.