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deteriorating house April 1 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: Judges 1:1- 3:6

Deterioration; how to avoid it

When our houses are new the brick and/or siding look beautiful. A new house or a carefully maintained house is usually a statement of success. Unless continually maintained, however, eventually the exterior and roof deteriorate to an awful looking state. The interior may be worse. Long ago, under Joshua's leadership the Israelites quickly conquered most of their Promised Land. They were successful, but success is not enough to keep a nation strong.

One of the dangers of being successful is that you forget how you got there; you forget to be thankful; you start taking it easy and do not discipline yourself to do the things that bring success; and you fail to train others in the right ways.

Today we begin the book of Judges. In historical context this book appears to follow the history of Israel immediately after Joshua's death (see more… for the chronology of the book of Judges). As discussed last time, Joshua tried to keep his nation from deterioration by having the Israelites agree to a covenant to follow the LORD completely. The influence of Joshua, however, lasted for only one generation after he died.

What happened to cause this deterioration? The Israelite tribes failed to drive out the wicked Canaanites from their lands; the priests failed to instruct the people about the Law of Moses and how to live in obedience to God; and the parents, in turn, failed to instruct their children about the LORD. Unfortunately, their children did not know the LORD or what he had done for them. The tribes, the priests and the parents all failed in their responsibilities (Judges 1:21, 1:27- 2:3; 2:10). What about us? Are our churches, Christian organizations or families deteriorating? Do we drive out the evil from them or tolerate it? Do our leaders and teachers teach the Bible faithfully and apply it to our present situations? Do we faithfully instruct our children in the things of the LORD? Do we set a good example that they can follow or are we hypocrites? We must set the proper example and show diligence in our leadership if we are to succeed. It is not someone else's responsibility - it is ours. Obeying the LORD completely leads to life, peace and oftentimes prosperity.

Judges 2:11-19 provides a summary of the book of Judges. This Scripture describes the downward spiral of the spirituality of the Israelites. The deterioration of the nation was a cycle of sin->servitude->supplication->salvation. Israel served and worshipped idols of the kingdoms they were supposed to dispossess. The idols were carved images of imagined gods. Their worship of foreign gods made God angry, so he allowed other nations to oppress and defeat them. Israel then cried out to God in their misery. In God's grace and mercy he then sent Judges who led the people morally and militarily. For a while they had victory and peace, and then they grew complacent. After each judge died, Israel fell even into even worse sin than that of their predecessors. As a result of their sins their inherited territory shrank. To stop the cycle of sin we must repent and confess our sins; we must renew our commitments; we must obey God completely and not let the world influence us toward wrong behavior and idolatry.

Because of the sin of this generation, God no longer drove out the inhabitants of Canaan. According to Judges 3:1-2,4 God did this for two reasons: First, he wanted to teach them warfare. A whole generation grew up not knowing what it was to struggle to secure their inheritance (this is a strong argument against pacifism in our churches and in our own spiritual lives). The Israelites were soft and spoiled and not strong physically or spiritually. Second, God allowed the inhabitants to be a thorn in their sides in order to test the Israelites to see whether they would obey his commands, which he had given their forefathers through Moses. Each generation must struggle, see their lost condition and seek the LORD for deliverance. Each generation must see that complete obedience leads to life and peace. We must not get soft. We must arm ourselves and always be ready since we are in a spiritual warfare (Ephesians 6:10-18). We must lead disciplined lives to please our LORD.

Lessons to live by:

•  Success is not enough to keep a nation, organization, or family strong. One of the dangers of being successful is that you forget how you got there; you forget to be thankful; you start taking it easy and do not discipline yourself to do the things that bring success; and you fail to train others in the right ways.

•  To stop the cycle of sin we must repent and confess our sins (more...); we must renew our commitments; we must obey God completely and not let the world influence us toward wrong behavior and idolatry.

• We must set the proper example and show diligence in our leadership if we are to succeed. It is not someone else's responsibility - it is ours. Obeying the LORD completely leads to life, peace and prosperity.

• How can we keep godlessness from creeping into our families and churches? First, we must set the example. Second, we must be careful to teach the Word of God and to share stories about his working in our lives. Third, we must lead our children to know the LORD in a personal way. Fourth, we must not get soft; we must lead disciplined lives to do all that God requires and teach our children to do the same. Fifth, we must arm ourselves and always be ready for spiritual warfare.

•  Each generation must struggle, see their lost condition and seek the LORD for deliverance. Each generation must see that complete obedience leads to life and peace.

Today's Bible memory verse:

Ephesians 5:17 “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is.” (NIV)

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