Judges Part One Dive
DON'T BE A THEN CHRISTIAN
One of the repeated terms in Judges is “Then Israel did evil in the eyes of the Lord.” You are going to see this (and highlight it!) over and over again as we journey through Judges. It is really very annoying, to be honest. I am a freak at doing everything right, a stickler for the rules and making sure that when I put my hand to a task I give it 100%. So I have to say Judges is a little frustrating for me. I had to keep reminding myself that this is generation after generation because if this book was the life of just one person, this person is an idiot. The merry-go-round of doing evil…being overtaken…left in bondage for a time…crying out to God…God saving them by raising up a deliverer.. in peace for a time… then doing evil again. Oh my goodness, it really gets very annoying.
I was screaming at my Bible – “People can you not see the cycle of sin that you are in, can you not see that every generation does the same thing? Can you not learn from the mistakes of the previous generations and break the cycle, get off the merry-go-round I beg of you.” And as my frustrations with these “stupid people” was burning in my bones (the very reaction that Samuel was hoping for when he wrote this book!), God clearly impressed on my heart – you are a THEN Christian! My first reaction was, how rude God, I am not like these very annoying people, and then reality struck. I could see the cycle in my own life, when God has had to rescue me out of bad situations, he has calmed my fears and set me in a time of peace, I find myself happy, content, not fighting, no war, and before I know it I am complacent, dropping the things that are keeping me on his path, falling back into my old habits. And then bam I’m back on the merry-go-round again, and I have to be rescued all over again. He was right - don’t you hate it that God knows you better than you know yourself and he reminds you of it when you get all pious and forthright about how amazing you are!!
So what does it mean to be a THEN Christian?
Then, means 'after that – afterwards.' To be a THEN Christian means, what do you do after God has rescued you? What do you do when God has got you out of the mess you are in, do you continue to follow him or do you find yourself back in the situation where you need to be rescued.
Let me show you where this is in Judges.
It begins in 1:10
'After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel. Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the Baals.’
It breaks my heart as you read Judges, the ‘THEN’ moments
Let me show you three things that will stop you from being a THEN Christian
1. DON’T FALL INTO THE TRAP OF COMPLACENCY - In Judges the THEN moment happens when God has rescued them and they go back to life as normal. They go into a time of complacency. Complacency means to feel smug or uncritical satisfaction with oneself or one’s achievements. They got comfortable in their own efforts and go back to their old ways. When God rescues you, let it change your life and how you live it.
Have you ever noticed that when you are in trouble, you pray more, fast more, attend church more – you need God to help, so you cry out to Him. And in his faithfulness he rescues you, but what would it look like if we did these things consistently and didn’t forget God in the time of rest.
2. GIVE UP THE PATTERN THAT GOT YOU IN TROUBLE IN THE FIRST PLACE. Judges 1:16-19 is a summary of the book of Judges. And there is the saddest line found in verse 18-19 “But when the Judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt that those of their ancestors, following other gods and serving and worshipping them. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways.”
When God rescues you give up the ways that got you in trouble in the first place. There are patterns of behaviour in your life that perhaps got you into the mess that you needed to be rescued from. You need to give up your stubborn ways so that when you are in your time of peace, you don’t fall back into that normal pattern of behaviour.
The Israelites in Judges are so bad that when they are rescued, they not only go back to doing evil but you can see in the above verse that they go to ways even more corrupt, they follow Baal, they serve other gods, the gods of the Asherahs. Not only did they go back to their bad behaviour but they add the bad behaviour of the people around them. When God rescues you change the pattern of behaviour that got you in trouble in the first place.
3. DON’T FORGET WHO RESCUED YOU. I know that as we read Judges this is generation after generation but why didn’t they teach the next generation and remind them of who rescued them and the reason why they were in the time of peace. Why did they have to learn it over and over again themselves?
I love Psalm 103 – it goes over and over in my head on a daily basis – Forget not is benefits. I remind myself daily of the one who rescued me and the reason I am where I am today. The reason I am free is not because I did anything, actually, the thing that I did well was making a complete mess of my life. I remember the moment that Jesus came into my bedroom and saved me from my mess, I remember the moment crying out to God saying I can’t do this anymore, I desperately need you. I never want to live a life that has to be rescued over and over again, because I never want to be back in that pit. So I take Psalm 103 on advisement and say it over my life, Forget none of his benefits. Never forget who rescued you, never forget the reason you have peace, remember the one who redeemed your life from the pit and who gives you compassion.
A Psalm of David.
1Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.
2Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;
3Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases;
4Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;
5Who satisfies your years with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.
It’s OK to have your prodigal son moment in the pig pen, when you come to your senses, realised where you are and come back to the Father. But when he takes you back, be so grateful that you never get back in the pig pen again! Remind yourself of what he did for you that keeps you out of the pig pen. Remind yourself of what it cost Jesus to rescue you. Remind yourself of his goodness and mercy and that it is only by him that you live and breath.
17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father."
These things will stop you from being a THEN Christian and help you be a Christian that ends up being used as a Judge to rescue others for Christ!