The cycle found in the book of Judges had its start in Joshua. It’s a cycle that I recognize and it explains the rise and fall of many Christians.
It’s a scene that many Christians (myself included) see; a celebrity gets into depression and kills him/herself and we often say “well, they didn’t have Jesus”, or something to that effect. We seem reassured about how the world is supposed to work, that bad people are “on their own”, that they don’t have a hedge of protection (Job 1:9-10). Yes, we’re very secure in that fact and sit back, reassured in our particular worldview.
…that is until it happens to a Christian.
The news has been filled with people breaking the law, suffering from depression, committing suicide, divorce, bankruptcy, and these stories revolve around people professing Jesus as their Savior.
It sort of puts the whole theory on its ear, that Christians are immune to such things.
“You were never promised a rose garden” is what I’ve heard many people who are older in the faith say. Basically, it means that no Christian is safe from trouble throughout the entirety of our life on Earth. Yep, you can’t argue with that because one of the enemies we fight is the world, our flesh, and devils (Ephesians 2:2-3), While the laws of God are still in play and can be acted on with results (read the whole book of Proverbs), you can’t get beyond the fact that “stuff happens” because of the corruption (read the whole book of Ecclesiastes).
Nope, you can’t escape the entirety of tribulation, but maybe things could be whittled down a bit.
In my last post, “The King Saul Effect“, I explained how a King could lead horrifically as well as the utter deconstruction of a man because of disobedience to God. His particular consequence came about through the tormenting of a demon (“troubling spirit”). I would like to go a little deeper into why he, and many Christians of today, might be experiencing trouble in their lives.
What we are going to talk about is forgetting and how it can keep you from the promises of God. With that in mind, we look into the book of Joshua & Judges and fair warning, this post is long because I include supporting scriptures.
With that in mind, let’s begin.
The importance of remembering everything God has done
In a nutshell, the entirety of the book of Joshua can be summed up as “what happens when you do your own thing.” The book of Joshua lays the foundation as to why things happen in the book of Judges by succinctly showing the reader what they should & shouldn’t do. With that in mind, we’ll begin our journey with Moses, going back a bit into Deuteronomy.
Moses gave the command that every seven years the law would be read. The understanding of this command is simple: so that each generation would hear, in multiple times throughout their lives, the law of God so that they would not forget:
“So Moses wrote this law and delivered it to the priests, the sons of Levi, who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and to all the elders of Israel. And Moses commanded them, saying: “At the end of every seven years, at the appointed time in the year of release, at the Feast of Tabernacles, when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God in the place which He chooses, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing. Gather the people together, men and women and little ones, and the stranger who is within your gates, that they may hear and that they may learn to fear the LORD your God and carefully observe all the words of this law, and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God as long as you live in the land which you cross the Jordan to possess.””
Deuteronomy 31:9-13 NKJV
The people of Israel so what Moses did in the land of Egypt in throughout the walk in the wilderness, and they remembered, even after his death, the generation that was allowed to cross over into the promised land remembered what Moses had done:
“But since then there has not arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, in all the signs and wonders which the LORD sent him to do in the land of Egypt, before Pharaoh, before all his servants, and in all his land, and by all that mighty power and all the great terror which Moses performed in the sight of all Israel.”
Deuteronomy 34:10-12 NKJV
God knew what was going to happen and he gave his knowledge to Moses and to Joshua that the people of Israel with the band in God and become “a harlot.”
“And the LORD said to Moses: “Behold, you will rest with your fathers; and this people will rise and play the harlot with the gods of the foreigners of the land, where they go to be among them, and they will forsake Me and break My covenant which I have made with them. Then My anger shall be aroused against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide My face from them, and they shall be devoured. And many evils and troubles shall befall them, so that they will say in that day, ‘Have not these evils come upon us because our God is not among us?’ And I will surely hide My face in that day because of all the evil which they have done, in that they have turned to other gods.”
Deuteronomy 31:16-18 NKJV
In understanding the heart of humanity, and in this case, the Israelites, God taught Moses a song. A song is a great way to remember words and teachings. God wanted Moses to teach the Israelites and their children. He I knew that once they were satisfied that they would stop looking towards God and start looking towards other gods:
““Now therefore, write down this song for yourselves, and teach it to the children of Israel; put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for Me against the children of Israel. When I have brought them to the land flowing with milk and honey, of which I swore to their fathers, and they have eaten and filled themselves and grown fat, then they will turn to other gods and serve them; and they will provoke Me and break My covenant. Then it shall be, when many evils and troubles have come upon them, that this song will testify against them as a witness; for it will not be forgotten in the mouths of their descendants, for I know the inclination of their behavior today, even before I have brought them to the land of which I swore to give them. ” Therefore Moses wrote this song the same day, and taught it to the children of Israel.”
Deuteronomy 31:19-22 NKJV
The song is as follows:
““Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak; And hear, O earth, the words of my mouth. Let my teaching drop as the rain, My speech distill as the dew, As raindrops on the tender herb, And as showers on the grass. For I proclaim the name of the LORD: Ascribe greatness to our God. He is the Rock, His work is perfect; For all His ways are justice, A God of truth and without injustice; Righteous and upright is He. “They have corrupted themselves; They are not His children, Because of their blemish: A perverse and crooked generation. Do you thus deal with the LORD, O foolish and unwise people? Is He not your Father, who bought you? Has He not made you and established you? “Remember the days of old, Consider the years of many generations. Ask your father, and he will show you; Your elders, and they will tell you: When the Most High divided their inheritance to the nations, When He separated the sons of Adam, He set the boundaries of the peoples According to the number of the children of Israel. For the LORD’s portion is His people; Jacob is the place of His inheritance. “He found him in a desert land And in the wasteland, a howling wilderness; He encircled him, He instructed him, He kept him as the apple of His eye. As an eagle stirs up its nest, Hovers over its young, Spreading out its wings, taking them up, Carrying them on its wings, So the LORD alone led him, And there was no foreign god with him. “He made him ride in the heights of the earth, That he might eat the produce of the fields; He made him draw honey from the rock, And oil from the flinty rock; Curds from the cattle, and milk of the flock, With fat of lambs; And rams of the breed of Bashan, and goats, With the choicest wheat; And you drank wine, the blood of the grapes. “But Jeshurun grew fat and kicked; You grew fat, you grew thick, You are obese! Then he forsook God who made him, And scornfully esteemed the Rock of his salvation. They provoked Him to jealousy with foreign gods; With abominations they provoked Him to anger. They sacrificed to demons, not to God, To gods they did not know, To new gods, new arrivals That your fathers did not fear. Of the Rock who begot you, you are unmindful, And have forgotten the God who fathered you. “And when the LORD saw it, He spurned them, Because of the provocation of His sons and His daughters. And He said: ‘I will hide My face from them, I will see what their end will be, For they are a perverse generation, Children in whom is no faith. They have provoked Me to jealousy by what is not God; They have moved Me to anger by their foolish idols. But I will provoke them to jealousy by those who are not a nation; I will move them to anger by a foolish nation. For a fire is kindled in My anger, And shall burn to the lowest hell; It shall consume the earth with her increase, And set on fire the foundations of the mountains. ‘I will heap disasters on them; I will spend My arrows on them. They shall be wasted with hunger, Devoured by pestilence and bitter destruction; I will also send against them the teeth of beasts, With the poison of serpents of the dust. The sword shall destroy outside; There shall be terror within For the young man and virgin, The nursing child with the man of gray hairs. I would have said, “I will dash them in pieces, I will make the memory of them to cease from among men,” Had I not feared the wrath of the enemy, Lest their adversaries should misunderstand, Lest they should say, “Our hand is high; And it is not the LORD who has done all this.” ’ “For they are a nation void of counsel, Nor is there any understanding in them. Oh, that they were wise, that they understood this, That they would consider their latter end! How could one chase a thousand, And two put ten thousand to flight, Unless their Rock had sold them, And the LORD had surrendered them? For their rock is not like our Rock, Even our enemies themselves being judges. For their vine is of the vine of Sodom And of the fields of Gomorrah; Their grapes are grapes of gall, Their clusters are bitter. Their wine is the poison of serpents, And the cruel venom of cobras. ‘ Is this not laid up in store with Me, Sealed up among My treasures? Vengeance is Mine, and recompense; Their foot shall slip in due time; For the day of their calamity is at hand, And the things to come hasten upon them.’ “For the LORD will judge His people And have compassion on His servants, When He sees that their power is gone, And there is no one remaining, bond or free. He will say: ‘Where are their gods, The rock in which they sought refuge? Who ate the fat of their sacrifices, And drank the wine of their drink offering? Let them rise and help you, And be your refuge. ‘Now see that I, even I, am He, And there is no God besides Me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; Nor is there any who can deliver from My hand. For I raise My hand to heaven, And say, “ As I live forever, If I whet My glittering sword, And My hand takes hold on judgment, I will render vengeance to My enemies, And repay those who hate Me. I will make My arrows drunk with blood, And My sword shall devour flesh, With the blood of the slain and the captives, From the heads of the leaders of the enemy.” ’ “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people; For He will avenge the blood of His servants, And render vengeance to His adversaries; He will provide atonement for His land and His people.””
Deuteronomy 32:1-43 NKJV
It is established very firmly the law, the song, and the works that Moses had done in the sight of all the people of Israel:
“in all the signs and wonders which the LORD sent him to do in the land of Egypt, before Pharaoh, before all his servants, and in all his land, and by all that mighty power and all the great terror which Moses performed in the sight of all Israel.”
Deuteronomy 34:11-12 NKJV
Joshua wanted to reiterate to the people of Israel how important it was, before they crossed over, to meditate upon the Law of God, to not forget Him:
“Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”
Joshua 1:7-8 NKJV
The nation of Israel was zealous and ready to follow Joshua who had come out of Egypt along with Moses. In the beginning, they would do exactly as God had commanded them through Joshua:
“And to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh Joshua spoke, saying, “Remember the word which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, saying, ‘The LORD your God is giving you rest and is giving you this land.’ Your wives, your little ones, and your livestock shall remain in the land which Moses gave you on this side of the Jordan. But you shall pass before your brethren armed, all your mighty men of valor, and help them, until the LORD has given your brethren rest, as He gave you, and they also have taken possession of the land which the LORD your God is giving them. Then you shall return to the land of your possession and enjoy it, which Moses the LORD’s servant gave you on this side of the Jordan toward the sunrise.” So they answered Joshua, saying, “All that you command us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. Just as we heeded Moses in all things, so we will heed you. Only the LORD your God be with you, as He was with Moses. Whoever rebels against your command and does not heed your words, in all that you command him, shall be put to death. Only be strong and of good courage.””
Joshua 1:12-18 NKJV
Things were going fine until one person did something that was against God:
“But the children of Israel committed a trespass regarding the accursed things, for Achan the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed things; so the anger of the LORD burned against the children of Israel.”
Joshua 7:1 NKJV
Because of this transgression, a battle campaign that should’ve gone well failed:
“Now Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is beside Beth Aven, on the east side of Bethel, and spoke to them, saying, “Go up and spy out the country.” So the men went up and spied out Ai. And they returned to Joshua and said to him, “Do not let all the people go up, but let about two or three thousand men go up and attack Ai. Do not weary all the people there, for the people of Ai are few.” So about three thousand men went up there from the people, but they fled before the men of Ai. And the men of Ai struck down about thirty-six men, for they chased them from before the gate as far as Shebarim, and struck them down on the descent; therefore the hearts of the people melted and became like water.”
Joshua 7:2-5 NKJV
That one person doing, what might seem insignificant to the human mind, doomed an entire campaign. Joshua, being the leader of the people, took the brunt of this defeat. He didn’t understand that one person caused this calamity:
“Then Joshua tore his clothes, and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the LORD until evening, he and the elders of Israel; and they put dust on their heads. And Joshua said, “Alas, Lord GOD, why have You brought this people over the Jordan at all—to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? Oh, that we had been content, and dwelt on the other side of the Jordan! O Lord, what shall I say when Israel turns its back before its enemies? For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land will hear it, and surround us, and cut off our name from the earth. Then what will You do for Your great name?””
Joshua 7:6-9 NKJV
God let Joshua in on the 411:
“So the LORD said to Joshua: “Get up! Why do you lie thus on your face? Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them. For they have even taken some of the accursed things, and have both stolen and deceived; and they have also put it among their own stuff. Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they have become doomed to destruction. Neither will I be with you anymore, unless you destroy the accursed from among you.”
Joshua 7:10-12 NKJV
God is very particular about idols in the midst of his nation and it can be said that God is very particular about idols in the midst of an individual’s home:
“Get up, sanctify the people, and say, ‘Sanctify yourselves for tomorrow, because thus says the LORD God of Israel: “ There is an accursed thing in your midst, O Israel; you cannot stand before your enemies until you take away the accursed thing from among you.””
Joshua 7:13 NKJV
These few small things taken, coveted for a time, and then buried, never to be used was the cause of this. Keep in mind, it wasn’t the actual things that did this, but the disobeying of God‘s Commandments:
“Now Joshua said to Achan, “My son, I beg you, give glory to the LORD God of Israel, and make confession to Him, and tell me now what you have done; do not hide it from me.” And Achan answered Joshua and said, “Indeed I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and this is what I have done: When I saw among the spoils a beautiful Babylonian garment, two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. And there they are, hidden in the earth in the midst of my tent, with the silver under it.””
Joshua 7:19-21 NKJV
Thankfully, because we have Jesus Christ to go to for our transgressions, we don’t have to suffer the consequences of Achan, his children, and property. Thank you God for your son Jesus Christ!
After all of that, the Israelites follow God‘s command and God fulfilled his promise:
“So the LORD gave to Israel all the land of which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they took possession of it and dwelt in it. The LORD gave them rest all around, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers. And not a man of all their enemies stood against them; the LORD delivered all their enemies into their hand. Not a word failed of any good thing which the LORD had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass.”
Joshua 21:43-45 NKJV
Later, when Joshua was advancing in age, he knew that his time was coming and he wanted to reaffirm what God had told the nation:
“You have seen all that the LORD your God has done to all these nations because of you, for the LORD your God is He who has fought for you. Therefore be very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, lest you turn aside from it to the right hand or to the left,”
Joshua 23:3, 6 NKJV
He also wanted to remind them of what God had said:
“and lest you go among these nations, these who remain among you. You shall not make mention of the name of their gods, nor cause anyone to swear by them; you shall not serve them nor bow down to them, Therefore take careful heed to yourselves, that you love the LORD your God. Or else, if indeed you do go back, and cling to the remnant of these nations—these that remain among you—and make marriages with them, and go in to them and they to you, know for certain that the LORD your God will no longer drive out these nations from before you. But they shall be snares and traps to you, and scourges on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from this good land which the LORD your God has given you.”
Joshua 23:7, 11-13 NKJV
Joshua remembered the time that he was with Moses, that God knew that the nation would leave Him to follow other gods. In the following passages, Joshua wanted to be blameless and make sure that the people understood and witnessed against themselves what God had commanded the nation at the very beginning. Joshua reminded the people of all the things that God had done and also reminded them of things that it happened along the way. Here is the people’s response:
“So the people answered and said: “Far be it from us that we should forsake the LORD to serve other gods; for the LORD our God is He who brought us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, who did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way that we went and among all the people through whom we passed. And the LORD drove out from before us all the people, including the Amorites who dwelt in the land. We also will serve the LORD, for He is our God.””
Joshua 24:16-18 NKJV
It is at this point that Joshua begins to set the people up as to the gravity of their promise:
“But Joshua said to the people, “You cannot serve the LORD, for He is a holy God. He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins. If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, then He will turn and do you harm and consume you, after He has done you good.””
Joshua 24:19-20 NKJV
The Israelites of that generation reaffirmed what they had said to Joshua:
“And the people said to Joshua, “No, but we will serve the LORD!” So Joshua said to the people, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the LORD for yourselves, to serve Him.” And they said, “ We are witnesses!””
Joshua 24:21-22 NKJV
Even after that, Joshua knew that there were idols and him or them a final time to put them away, to destroy them:
““Now therefore,” he said, “put away the foreign gods which are among you, and incline your heart to the LORD God of Israel.” And the people said to Joshua, “The LORD our God we will serve, and His voice we will obey!””
Joshua 24:23-24 NKJV
The people of Israel serve the Lord during the time of Joshua and the elders:
“Israel served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had known all the works of the LORD which He had done for Israel.”
Joshua 24:31 NKJV
… but soon after he had died, the people would forget within the next generation:
“Now Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died when he was one hundred and ten years old. And they buried him within the border of his inheritance at Timnath Heres, in the mountains of Ephraim, on the north side of Mount Gaash. When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the LORD nor the work which He had done for Israel.”
Judges 2:8-10 NKJV
Within the entire book of Judges, the cycle would begin as it did in the book of Joshua, but on a more grand scale.
The final analysis
When reading Judges as well as hearing about the cycle that some Christians seemed to be locked into, we get a thorough understanding as to a reason why. When we forget God, we:
- Seek after idols by coveting them first (Joshua 7:19-21)
- We harbor those idols in our home, even forgetting them, but they’re still there
- When we have forsaken God by disobeying Him (Joshua 7:10-12), calamity happens
The entirety of the book of Judges is what happens when we forget about what God has done and that cycle can happen easily. Achan and his entire family paid the price for him “wanting.”
With this long post in mind, I’m also reminded that I have a Lord who died for me so I wouldn’t have to die for disobeying God. All I have to do is come to God and confess my sin(s) and tear down anything that is against God. In the old covenant, the people were under the law, even after Achan confessed his sin, his punishment was death not only to him but to his household (Joshua 7:19-21). Now, Christians can come to Jesus with our confessions and God is quick to forgive and forget (Isaiah 43:25, Psalm 103:12), but it’s only through Jesus, by confessing Him as your Lord & Savior that you can be forgiven (John 14:6, Romans 10:8-10).
Never forget what God has told you. Read the Bible every day ALOUD, so you can hear it. Read passages to your household as the Jews did long ago. If you don’t have Jesus in your life, you are under the penalty of the Law and there is only one sentence…death. With Jesus, there is only one solution…life, and life abundantly (John 10:10).