Sermon – Five Excuses for Our Rebellion (Judges 1:1 – 2:5) – Cornerstone Church Kingston
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Sermon 2 of 5

Five Excuses for Our Rebellion

Tom Sweatman, Judges 1:1 - 2:5, 4 February 2024

As we begin a new series in the book of Judges, Tom preaches from Judges 1:1-2:5. In this passage we see the rebellion of the people of God. What possible reasons could they have for rebelling against God? We see their downward spiral in rebellion against God, his response to them, and what it all means for us today.


Judges 1:1 - 2:5

1:1 After the death of Joshua, the people of Israel inquired of the LORD, “Who shall go up first for us against the Canaanites, to fight against them?” The LORD said, “Judah shall go up; behold, I have given the land into his hand.” And Judah said to Simeon his brother, “Come up with me into the territory allotted to me, that we may fight against the Canaanites. And I likewise will go with you into the territory allotted to you.” So Simeon went with him. Then Judah went up and the LORD gave the Canaanites and the Perizzites into their hand, and they defeated 10,000 of them at Bezek. They found Adoni-bezek at Bezek and fought against him and defeated the Canaanites and the Perizzites. Adoni-bezek fled, but they pursued him and caught him and cut off his thumbs and his big toes. And Adoni-bezek said, “Seventy kings with their thumbs and their big toes cut off used to pick up scraps under my table. As I have done, so God has repaid me.” And they brought him to Jerusalem, and he died there.

And the men of Judah fought against Jerusalem and captured it and struck it with the edge of the sword and set the city on fire. And afterward the men of Judah went down to fight against the Canaanites who lived in the hill country, in the Negeb, and in the lowland. 10 And Judah went against the Canaanites who lived in Hebron (now the name of Hebron was formerly Kiriath-arba), and they defeated Sheshai and Ahiman and Talmai.

11 From there they went against the inhabitants of Debir. The name of Debir was formerly Kiriath-sepher. 12 And Caleb said, “He who attacks Kiriath-sepher and captures it, I will give him Achsah my daughter for a wife.” 13 And Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother, captured it. And he gave him Achsah his daughter for a wife. 14 When she came to him, she urged him to ask her father for a field. And she dismounted from her donkey, and Caleb said to her, “What do you want?” 15 She said to him, “Give me a blessing. Since you have set me in the land of the Negeb, give me also springs of water.” And Caleb gave her the upper springs and the lower springs.

16 And the descendants of the Kenite, Moses’ father-in-law, went up with the people of Judah from the city of palms into the wilderness of Judah, which lies in the Negeb near Arad, and they went and settled with the people. 17 And Judah went with Simeon his brother, and they defeated the Canaanites who inhabited Zephath and devoted it to destruction. So the name of the city was called Hormah. 18 Judah also captured Gaza with its territory, and Ashkelon with its territory, and Ekron with its territory. 19 And the LORD was with Judah, and he took possession of the hill country, but he could not drive out the inhabitants of the plain because they had chariots of iron. 20 And Hebron was given to Caleb, as Moses had said. And he drove out from it the three sons of Anak. 21 But the people of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites who lived in Jerusalem, so the Jebusites have lived with the people of Benjamin in Jerusalem to this day.

22 The house of Joseph also went up against Bethel, and the LORD was with them. 23 And the house of Joseph scouted out Bethel. (Now the name of the city was formerly Luz.) 24 And the spies saw a man coming out of the city, and they said to him, “Please show us the way into the city, and we will deal kindly with you.” 25 And he showed them the way into the city. And they struck the city with the edge of the sword, but they let the man and all his family go. 26 And the man went to the land of the Hittites and built a city and called its name Luz. That is its name to this day.

27 Manasseh did not drive out the inhabitants of Beth-shean and its villages, or Taanach and its villages, or the inhabitants of Dor and its villages, or the inhabitants of Ibleam and its villages, or the inhabitants of Megiddo and its villages, for the Canaanites persisted in dwelling in that land. 28 When Israel grew strong, they put the Canaanites to forced labor, but did not drive them out completely.

29 And Ephraim did not drive out the Canaanites who lived in Gezer, so the Canaanites lived in Gezer among them.

30 Zebulun did not drive out the inhabitants of Kitron, or the inhabitants of Nahalol, so the Canaanites lived among them, but became subject to forced labor.

31 Asher did not drive out the inhabitants of Acco, or the inhabitants of Sidon or of Ahlab or of Achzib or of Helbah or of Aphik or of Rehob, 32 so the Asherites lived among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land, for they did not drive them out.

33 Naphtali did not drive out the inhabitants of Beth-shemesh, or the inhabitants of Beth-anath, so they lived among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land. Nevertheless, the inhabitants of Beth-shemesh and of Beth-anath became subject to forced labor for them.

34 The Amorites pressed the people of Dan back into the hill country, for they did not allow them to come down to the plain. 35 The Amorites persisted in dwelling in Mount Heres, in Aijalon, and in Shaalbim, but the hand of the house of Joseph rested heavily on them, and they became subject to forced labor. 36 And the border of the Amorites ran from the ascent of Akrabbim, from Sela and upward.

2:1 Now the angel of the LORD went up from Gilgal to Bochim. And he said, “I brought you up from Egypt and brought you into the land that I swore to give to your fathers. I said, ‘I will never break my covenant with you, and you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall break down their altars.’ But you have not obeyed my voice. What is this you have done? So now I say, I will not drive them out before you, but they shall become thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare to you.” As soon as the angel of the LORD spoke these words to all the people of Israel, the people lifted up their voices and wept. And they called the name of that place Bochim. And they sacrificed there to the LORD.

(ESV)


Transcript (Auto-generated)

This transcript has been automatically generated, and therefore may not be 100% accurate.

Open it to judges, and, we're gonna be reading a large chunk with very many different names. So, if you are, an expert in in Hebrew or whatever it is, please excuse me for my pronunciation. And it is worth saying, if you were here in the morning service, Pete was Pete Pete started us off thinking about judges, but when we come to words like Israel and Gaza, it could be easy to be confused about the conflict that's going on right now in the Middle East. And we must remember that, actually, the they're very different things.

So Pete gave the example that there are multiple Kingsons in the world, They're not all the same. Israel now is not the Israel of the old testament. The the new Israel is god's people Jews and gentiles together, And we don't believe in physical violence in in this way. We believe as the church in a spiritual battle with satanic forces, things like that. So when we come and see these words, it is important as we read it now not to be confused.

And when we read through this week, not to be confused by what this means. We're gonna read from chapter 1 verse 1, and we're gonna go all the way to chapter 2. And verse 5. So let's read this together. After the death of Joshua, the Israelites asked the lord Hovas is to go up first to fight against the canaanites.

The lord answered, Judith shall go up. I have given the land into their hands. The man of Judah then said to the Sydneyites, their fellow Israelites, come up with us into the territory allotted to us to fight against the Kayla knights, We in turn will go with you into yours so the Simyanites went with them. When Judah attacked, the lord gave the canaanite and parasites into their hands, and they struck 10000 men down at Bezak. It was there that they found a Donite Bezak and fought against him, putting to route the canaanites and parasites.

Adonay Bezak fled, but they chased him in court and cut off his thumbs and big toes. Then Adonai Bezak said, 70 kings with their thumbs and big toes cut off have picked up scraps under my table. Now god has paid me back for what I did to them. They brought him to Jerusalem, and he died there. The men of Judah attacked Jerusalem also went tockett, and they put the city to the sword and set us on fire.

After that, Judah went down to fight against the canaanites living in the hill country, the negev and the West and foothills. They advanced against the Kainanites living in Hebron, formerly called Kerriath Arba, and defeated Shashai, a Himan, and Talmai. From there, they advanced against the people living in De Beir, formerly called Keriyath Sephfa. And Caleb said, I will give my daughter Aqsa in marriage to the man who attacks and captures Kiriya Sefa. Offnielsen of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother took it.

So Caleb gave his daughter axxa to him in marriage. 1 day, when she came to Othniel, She urged him to ask her father for a field. When she got off her donkey, Caleb asked her, what can I do for you? She replied, do me a special favor. Since you have given me land in the negev, give me also springs of water.

So Caleb gave her the upper and lower springs. The descendants of Moses's father-in-law, the Kenite, went up from the city of Palms with the people of Judah to live among the inhabitants of the deses of Judah in the neck of near Arat. Then the men of Judah went with the Cymonites, their fellow israelites, and attacked the canaanites living in Zephath, and they totally destroyed the city. Therefore, it was called Horma. Judah also took Gaza, Ashcalon, and Ekron, each city with its territory.

The lord was with the man of Judah. They took possession of the hill country, but they were unable to drive the people from the plains because they had chariots fitted with Iron. As Moses had promised, Hebron was given to Caleb, who drove from it the 3 sons of Anak. The benjamins, however, did not drive out the Jebusites who were living in Jerusalem. To this day, the Jebusites lived there with the Benjaminites.

Now the tribes of Joseph attacked Bethel, and the lord was with them. Where they sent men to spy out Bethel, formerly called Luz, The spies saw a man coming out of the city, and they said to him, show us how to get into the city, and we will see that you are treated well. So he showed them, and they put the cities of the sword, but spared the man and his whole family. He then went to the land of the hittites, where he built a city and called it Luz, which is its name to this day. But Manassa did not drive out the people of Bethshan or Tannak, or Door, or Ibrahim, or Magido, and the surrounding settlements for the canaanites were determined to live in that land.

When Israel became strong, they pressed the canaanites into forced labor, but never drove them out completely. Nor did a frame drive out the canaanites living in Giza, but the canaanites continue to live there among them. Neither did Zebulin drive out the canaanites living in electron or Naalol. So these Kayla knights lived among them, but Zabulin did subject them to forced labor. Nor did ASHA drive out those living in Ako or Siden or Aflab or AkZIP or Helber or Afhek or Rehab.

The ASHAites lived among the Kaylenite inhabitants of the land because they did not drive them out. Neither did Natalia drive out those living in Beth Shamesh, or Beth Annath. But the NAFTAites too lived among the Kaylenites inhabitants of the lands, and those living in Besh and mesh and Beth Annath became forced laborers for them. The Amorites confined the Danites to the hill country, not allowing them to come down into the plain. And the Amorites were determined also to hold out in Mount Harris, Eijalon, and Shelby.

But when the power of the tribes of Joseph increased, they too were pressed into forced labor. The boundary of the Amorites was from Skorpion Pass to seller and beyond. The angel of the lord went up from Gilgul to Bokim and said, I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land as I swore to give to your ancestors. I said, I will never break my covenant with you, and you shall not make a covenant with the people of this land, but you shall break down their altars. Yet you have disobeyed me.

Why have you done this? And I have also said I will not drive them out before you. They will become traps for you, and their guards will become snares to you. When the angel of the lord had spoken these things to all these rights, the people wept aloud, and they called that place Bokim. There, they offered sacrifices to the lord.

Alright. If you'd like to take your seats, everybody. And, good evening. My name is, Tom, I'm 1 of the pastors here. And, if you would like to turn back to judges chapter 1 in your bibles, that would be great.

And well done, Rory, for reading that to us. That was no easy bible reading. But the Bible's fantastic, isn't it? I mean, I was thinking as we were having that read. If you've been with us in the morning services recently, we've been working our way through the book of colossians, which is a letter written by a man called Paul to a church in colossae, and we're 2000 years on from the writing of that letter from that man in prison to that church.

And now we're going back 1500 years even further to this part of the world, and we're confronted with places we hardly recognize the names of people that sound strange to us. And yet as we cross over and transcend the different cultures and the different time zones, we find the same glorious god speaking to us with great clarity and summoning us to worship him and inviting us to, worship him and love him in turn from our sin. And, what other book could offer such unity. It's a compelling testimony, isn't it? To the truthfulness of god's word.

And, we are going to be spending some time looking at chapter 1, but mainly chapter 2 verses 1 to 5. Just to say 1 extra thing about the media fast. It might be that you are here and you haven't signed up for any of the media fast meals for whatever reason and you're sat here tonight thinking, oh, the boat has sailed on this for me. And, in some ways it has, but in other ways, it hasn't. So on Thursday evening, the normal late night church slot, which is 8 o'clock here, we're going to repurpose and turn into a media fast meal and bible reading.

And so if you've got nothing to do this week, you haven't booked on, but you would like something to come to Thursday night is a come 1, come all, come here Thursday night. We're gonna read judges together and, and pray so you can partake in it in that way. Then also Friday night what we do is we all gather here for a home group meal. So the home groups will cater for the members of their group, but the idea is that they also make a little bit extra so that any visitors and guests can join them, and, and be part of that, and we'll be reading, Ruth chapter 4 together. So you do you can come to that if you would like both Thursday and Friday.

And, on Friday, we're gonna be reading Ruth chapter 4. And, after seeing all the the darkness and the sin and the pain of judges. We're gonna read that glorious verse from Ruth 4, blessed be the lord god who has not left you this day. Without a redeemer. And what good news that is gonna be a redeemer.

After all that we've read. Anyway, let's have a look. Let's pray and ask the lord's help. Father, thank you that we, come to you, the god of eternity and the god of the ages. We thank you that you speak with power and clarity, into our world.

And, that this ancient book, diagnosis problem with the human heart, and it diagnoses what is wrong with our own culture so many thousands of years on, and it reveals to us that the solution to our problem has never changed. We need to turn from our sin, and we need to believe in the 1 great judge and savior, the lord Jesus Christ. And we pray that as we look at these words this evening, and, some of the verses sound strange and distant to us, we pray that your Holy Spirit would give us insight and clarity that we might understand the meaning of these words and the application to our hearts and we pray that you would help us to leave here, changed people. And, we ask in Jesus' name. Oh, man.

Oh, man. Well, if you're, familiar with, with this book of judges, if you've read it before, you'll know that it really does deserve a play. Among the great tragedies of history. So if you think about, literary tragedy, some of the the most famous ones, Romeo and Juliet, probably the greatest tragedy of all and, other Shakespeareian tragedies, McBeth, and Hamlet, and these these great stories, which are so full of sadness and tragedy. While the book of judges definitely deserves a place among the world's greatest tragedies.

I mean, when you read through this book, the cruelty that people show to 1 another is absolutely breathtaking, and the level of violence makes you cringe away from the pages at sometimes. It is a a dark and dirty and violent book. But the main the main note, the dominant note is 1 of sadness, and it is 1 of tragedy. Are these as these people who were so loved by the lord, as these people who had been redeemed, as these people who had had god's affection set upon them, he had chose them out of the world, to be different. These were his treasured possession, as they sometimes slowly, sometimes very quickly, depart from the lord who had called them and loved them.

It is a real tragedy. And within a book that is tragic, I think 1 of the most the saddest verses, in this whole book is this 1 here in chapter 2 verse 2. The last 5 words of verse 2 that there's there's something so sad about them. Here here is the angel of the lord. Here is god himself.

Taking on the form of a man of an angel and coming to his people and foreshadowing that great day when god himself would become a man in the person of the lord Jesus Christ and here he is coming to his people and look what he says to them at the end of verse 2. Why have you done this? Why Have you done this? That's such a searching question, isn't it? Why have you done this?

And of course, he's referring in the first case to all that we've just read in chapter 1. You've got the people of god And here they are, they're in the promised land, and, they've begun to take some of their inheritance. That's in the book of Joshua, but there's still some work to do. They still need to claim that which god has given them. And chapter 1 really is a a game of 2 halves.

In the first half, there does seem to be some success in the in the short term. You've got characters like Caleb, great name. Even though he's very, very old at this point, his appetite for the lord's work has not diminished 1 Iota. He still wants to, give his last years and make them his best years in service of the lord. You see Judah in the first view verses going up in the strength of the lord to do what they have been called to do.

So it's sort of good in parts the first half But then you come to verse 19, and if this chapter had a soundtrack, it would change at that point. Because it from verse 19 onwards, things begin to snowball downhill pretty quickly. And this is what the angel of the lord is referring to. Just have a look with me and see if you can pick up some of the repeated phrases. Verse 19, the lord was with the men of Judah.

That's good. They took possession of the hill country. That's good. But they were unable to drive the people from the planes because they had chariots fitted with iron. And then verse 21.

The Benjaminites, however, did not drive out the Jebozites. Who were living in Jerusalem. And to this day, the Jebites live there with the Benjaminites. Verse 27, but Vanessa did not drive out the people of those places, the settlements for the canaanites were determined to live in that land. Now isn't that sad?

See how the language changes there. Not only did they not do it, but they could not do it because the canaanites were determined. They said, this is our land. We were here first. They put their foot down and their flag in the ground.

You're not having it. And so they weren't moving there in the strength of the lord. And then verse 28, when Israel became strong, they pressed the canaanites into forced labor, but never drove them out completely. Sounds like it might be economically lucrative that decision, but it's actually a compromise. That's what the author would want us to see is a compromise They didn't do what they should have done.

They made a deal with those who lived there. Then verse 32. The asherites, I mean, this is really sad. The asherites lived among the canaanite inhabitants of the land because they did not drive them out. So it's not that the canaanites lived among them.

It's that they lived among the canaanites. You see how the language has changed? Getting worse. And then verse 34, the Amorites can find the Danites to the hill country, not allowing them to come down into the plane. See, it gets worse and worse.

Now they're not even sharing the land anymore. Now they've been confined to the hill country. Off you go. Run to the hills. You're not even gonna share this with us.

We're not gonna be your slaves. We're not gonna let you live here. You run to the hills. Literally, that's where you're gonna that's where you're gonna live. You see it gets worse and worse and worse and worse, doesn't it?

You might imagine going home 1 day. And as you open the front door, you realize that a squatter has come into your house. And a squatter has decided to move into at first your box room. And that's what they're gonna have. That's gonna be theirs.

That's their box room now. And you argue with them and you tried to persuade them to come out, but they won't go. They won't go and you don't know what to do. And so you think, well, they're they're in my house now. This is my inheritance.

This my but but they're here. And then you come home from work the next day, and you discover they've taken over not only the box room, but your bedroom as well. And they're now living there. And that belongs to them as well. And they've moved some of their kitchen utensils into the kitchen, and they've cordoned off a cupboard or 2 for themselves.

And then you come home the next day. And you put your key in the door and you found they've changed the locks. And now the whole house belongs to them, and there's a little note in the door that says I've refitted the shed for you. You can live there. It's at the bottom of the garden.

And you can't do anything about it, so you think. And you just accept it? Well, we can't do it. And so you move your whole family down into the shed. And now your living there and the squatter has taken over your inheritance and your property.

And then 1 day you look at the squatter, and you think, actually, he seems to have quite a good life up there in what used to be my house. Maybe I can offer to be his slave. Why don't I knock on the door and I'll offer him my services? And so he very generously lets you back in and makes you live in the loft, and you become his slave. And then eventually you think, do you know what?

He seems like such a good guy. I'm I'm gonna I'm gonna worship him. I'm gonna do things his way. I think his strategy is right. And you see this slow compromise.

They would not do what they were told to do. And they accommodated that which they should never have accommodated. And things got worse and worse and worse. Until the angel of the lord comes to them in 2 verse 2. And he says, why?

Have you done this? He doesn't say what have you done? That would be a good question, wouldn't it? In Genesis chapter 3 verse 13, when Adam and Eve have sinned against the lord. The lord comes and he speaks to adamant then he addresses Eve in verse 13.

And he says to her, what is this that you have done? What is this that you have done? That's a good question, isn't it? What is it? Let's go over it.

Let's rehearse history. What is the deed that you have done? But this question is even more penetrating, isn't it? Why? Why have you done this?

This is a question about motives. There's something haunting about that question, isn't there? Why have you done this? That question is like a diver which dives down into the depths of your heart and searches around the bottom for a pearl of a motive to bring back up to the surface. What what led you to do this?

What was lacking in me that made you do this? What inadequacy did you find in my promises? That made you do this. Why did you do this? And that is a searching question for all Christians, isn't it?

When we sin against the lord. When we choose a path that is not his path, the question comes, why? Why have you done this? Very hard to give a suitable answer to that, isn't it? Why have you done this?

And so what we're gonna do in the time that we've got left is to look at 5 possible ways The Israelites could have answered that question. 5 possible justifications for why they did what they did, and we're gonna assess them, and we're gonna see if any of these excuses hold weight. We're gonna see if any of them stand up to scrutiny. You know, was there any legitimate reason why they chose to do what they did in not taking their inheritance as the lord told them to do. And the first 1, we're gonna look at is this.

Why have you done this? Well, lord, your instructions aren't clear enough. Why have you done this? Well, your instructions weren't clear enough, lord. You didn't tell us what we needed to know.

It was not our driving that was the problem. It was your navigating. It was you you were you you should have made things clearer to us. Don't know if you've ever had a go, a flat pack DIY thing, and, you, you build it, and you can see quite clearly at the end that something is not where it should be, or a panel has been reversed or the ugly side of the wood is facing out when you think it probably should be facing the wall. And the immediate response of my own heart is to blame the instructions for their lack of clarity.

And you go searching back through, and I'm saying they that should be more obvious. You know, why didn't why isn't that clear? And as you read it, you think though. Okay. Yeah.

There, there was a okay. Fair enough. There wasn't a bit of a warning about that. But the instinctive response is to say, well, it can't be a fault with my craftsmanship. It must be with the fault, the the instructions that I received.

And that's 1 possible justification, isn't it? Why have you done this? Will the instructions won't clip? We didn't know. And yeah, of course, that won't hold any water will it.

If you were to turn back to numbers 33, in verse 50 to 56. We don't have to turn there now, but numbers 33 verse 50 to 56. The lord is absolutely clear. In what was to happen when they got into the promised land. He was gonna be with them, and they must drive out the in the inhabitants of the land They must not worship their gods.

They must break down their altars. They must not have anything to do with them. They must drive them out in the strength of the lord And if they don't, the people that live there will become like smoke in their eyes. Like thorns and splinters in their flesh. It would be like trying to trek through a wooded jungle with no path.

And there's nettles on every side stinging you and branches scratching you. Life is gonna be hard work for you. If you don't drive them out. And so the lord gave them in that section of scripture, both a positive, drive it out, and take the inheritance. I'll be with you And a warning, if you don't do this, this is what's gonna happen.

He was crystal clear with them. There was no problem with the instructions. And you can see that even here. In 2 verses 1 to 2. Look what the angel of the lord says halfway through verse 1.

I said, I will never break my covenant with you and you shall not make a covenant with the people of this land. This is what he had said to them. Remember, he's going over the instructions. But you shall break down their altars yet you have disobeyed me. There was no problem.

With the quality or the clarity of the instructions. That will not stand up to scrutiny, that excuse. And isn't that true for us as well when we choose to sin against the lord? So often in my own heart, when I sin against the lord, I don't do so from lack of knowledge about what God would have me do. I suppress the truth and then do what I wanna do anyway.

It's not that I sinned thinking, oh, it just wasn't clear. Oh, if only I'd known, I wouldn't have done that. The truth is in the pit of my heart. I do know. I do know.

What the lord says that I should and shouldn't do, but I choose in that moment to squash it down in favor of another route, which I think will be better. And so this excuse is hopeless, isn't it? They can't say, why have you done this? Oh, the instructions weren't clear enough. Well, what about this?

Maybe they could say this 1. Here's number 2. Your hand isn't strong enough. Your instructions weren't clear enough. Your hand isn't strong enough.

We weren't sure that you could do it, lord. I mean, the residents of this place are really strong. And some of them are massive. You know, when the spies go up in the book of numbers and they come back and they say, where the land's really fertile, and, they're really advanced in all these ways, and you should see some of the blokes there. They're huge.

I don't know if you've started watching Gladiator, recently. The new series of Gladiator is back on, and it's just a mate. It's just so good. Saturday night, 10 past 6 It's the family entertainment of the week. And, kids love it, adults love it.

Basically, the people who are applying to go on the show, people of my generation who loved it when they were kids, heard that it was coming back and sent an application form off straight away. And it's just so good. And and some of them, I mean, some of the blokes on there and the women too, but the blokes, particularly, are units. I mean, there's this guy called giant. You know, he's 6 foot 6.

He's got lats like I've never seen before. And these guys are absolutely massive, and it makes you believe in the nephilim. You think, yeah, no, I I, you know, that that there's this super species of giant men. And, this is what they're thinking. There's no way.

You know, you've got this like IT consultant who's 5 foot 8 and skinny as a rake going up on a podium against giant, you know, who's 6 foot 6, and enormous, and weighs as much as a JCP, and, like, there there's just not gonna happen. You know, there's no way we can do this lord. That's what they're saying. Your hand isn't strong enough to to do this. Like, you don't you don't have to put there's no way we can beat these guys.

And yet, of course, we find out in god's word that that excuse is hopeless as well. It's hopeless. Look at 2 verse 1, what the lord says to them. His look how he reminds he reminds them. Of just what sort of strength is on their side.

The angel of the lord went up to to, from Gilgau to Bokim and said, I bought you out of Egypt. I bought you out of Egypt. Do you remember that? You were slave there for hundreds of years? Under the tyrannical oppression of a dictator with no hope of getting out yourself?

Well, how did your fortunes change? With my outstretched arm, and my mighty hand. That's how it changed. And I rid you of your oppressors, and you saw the magnitude of the signs and the wonders that I performed for you. You saw rivers turn to blood, and you saw hail like you'd never known fall from the sky.

And you saw livestock die. And you saw even the plague of the firstborn. You these were my miraculous wonders. I bought you out, and then I split the ocean in half for you. And you walked through it, and I guided you.

You I am you know I'm strong enough. You know the power of my hand. And then you remember Mount Sinai when I invited you come to the foot of the mountain, and you weren't to cross over the threshold, but you could stand and you could see the lightning and hear the thunder and watch the gloomy clouds gather, and you heard the voice of the lord from that place. You felt it as the ground shook. And then when you came into the land, Jerichoco, and you watched the city crumble just with the blast of some trump hits, who did that for you?

Who did that for you? Even this Adhanie Bezak character. I mean, look, it is possible, isn't it? You've got this tyrannical thumb severing, big toe, severing king, who's wrecked the lives of so many people, but in the strength of the lord, even someone like him can be conquered. You know it can be done.

My hand is not too strong. My power is not weakness. This is not a good use. Why have you done this? Your hand wasn't able.

You've forgotten your history. And for us, we can add into all of that the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The greatest event in all of history, and the greatest demonstration of strength the world has ever known when the son of god emerged from the tomb on Easter Sunday morning. And as we've sung already, he beats sin, he killed death, he crushed all of our fears. That is the strength of our god, even 1 who can overturn the curse of death.

I think sometimes for us, you know, when we choose to disobey the lord and go against his word, often it is because we've forgotten the sort of strength that is available to us in the character of god. And we we come to believe that in that moment, This sin or this temptation is stronger than my god. How can I resist it? It's so powerful. I'm undone by it.

I don't have what I need to fight it. Nonsense because available to us is this god, this is our god. The god of mighty work of great deeds of outstretched arm. That's not going to cut it with the angel of the lord if they try that. Is it?

Why have you done this? Your instructions weren't clear enough. Your arm wasn't strong enough. It's not gonna work. Thirdly, to see if there's any other excuses that they could try.

Your presence isn't sweet enough. Your presence isn't sweet enough. And you can imagine them, can't you going into this land? And saying, Lord, look, we are going into a world, that is so much more advanced than anything we've ever seen. The technology is years ahead of ours.

The the literature is more developed. Their cities are more fortified. Their armies are better trained. It's it's glittering. It's dazzling.

And who are we We're just a bunch of desert dwellers who've been scrabbled together, who've been wandering around in the wilderness. Look how advanced they are. Look how impressive this culture is. This is gonna be a sweeter life. Can imagine you can, you know, you can you can see the mental maths happening in their minds.

Ah, this is how these people live. These are the gods they worship. These gods have given them that sort of life. These gods are the ones we should throw our lot in. The land is fertile.

The technology and the literature is advanced. How can we how can we resist it? This is sweeter than what we've got. This is more impressive than what we've got. In other words, lord, We don't think that your presence with us will satisfy us in the way that this culture could because look what they've got.

Have a look at Isaiah 58 on the screen written years after judges, but it's always been true for the lord's people. The lord says, and the lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire. In scorched places, and make your bones strong. And you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water whose waters do not fail. That is what god has always been for his people.

He is the 1 who will satisfy them more than anything in a culture could ever do. He will be with them, and he will give them what they need in the sun scorched lands, and he will make them rivers of living water and he will give them joy beyond their wildest measure. He will give them that in himself. He satisfies his people. And I think the truth is when it comes to our own personal sin or mine at least.

However, I might try to justify it or whatever it uses I might make for it. In the end, it's a it's a preference issue. I I preferred something other than him. I thought that something else was sweeter and better than him. I thought to go the root of this world, And to take what the culture tells me to take and to listen to the voice of Satan whispering in my ear would bring me more pleasure.

Than to listen to my god and to be with my god. That's what sin is at the end of the day, isn't it? It's always a worship issue. It's a preference issue. What do we prefer?

The glitz and the glamour of Canon or the 1 true eternal god who's covenanted to be with and be all that we need. That excuse is not gonna hold water, is it? Your instructions weren't clear enough Your arm wasn't strong enough. Your presence isn't sweet enough. Have you ever tasted it?

Could you say that? If you've ever known and tasted seen that the lord is good. Hopeless. Let's have a look at another 1. Our equipment isn't good enough.

Your presence isn't sweet enough. Our equipment isn't good enough. And you see interestingly in chapter 1, the repetition of this idea of chariot You know, this chariots thing seems to be a big deal. You know, they're going into, this land, and how on earth are they gonna compete against these chariots fortified with iron. We're never going to be able to do that.

We've gotta go and live in the hills because at least those things can't climb up the hills. If we try to live on the flat lands and on the plains, we're toast because they can just roll over us in those chariots. We better run to the hills where the chariots can't come. And so this is what they're sort of saying. Lord, we don't have what we need.

They've got the chariots. We're not as advanced as them. But again, they seem to have forgotten what they have, which is infinitely more powerful than a chariot fortified with Ayard. What do they have? They have the promises of god, the promises of the covenant god.

That's why in the Psalms, you find this phrase, some trust in chariots and others in horses. But we trust in the name of the lord, our god. Let them trust in the chariots and the horses. We have something infinitely more powerful. We have the strong name of the lord.

Our god. And you can see that again in 2 verse 1. Look at what is said here about what they possess. The angel of the lord went up from Gil Gal to Bokim and said I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land I swore to give to your ancestors. I said, I will never break my covenant with you.

I will never break my covenant with you. You have my word. You have my promises. I will do all that I have covenanted to do. You are not lacking any kind of weapon.

You have what you need in my word. It may not seem as impressive to them as chariots and swords and shields, but it really is, isn't it? They have the word and the promises of god. They have the covenant keeping god with them. They they have what they need.

They have the equipment that they need to do this task. And the same is true of us, isn't it? Our battle is not against flesh and blood. Rory was saying that at the beginning. We are not engaged in that kind of warfare.

Our battle is against the spiritual forces and the darkness of this world. And in the gospel of the lord Jesus Christ, we have all that we need. To put sin to death and to live for god's glory. Isn't that what ephesian 6 is all about? You have the helmet of salvation.

And you have the breastplate of righteousness, and you have the sword, which is the word of god with it to do battle, and you have the belt of truth to hold all your armor together. This is all military language for a spiritual battle, and it is all the promises of god. That's what you have for this task. And so what a hopeless excuse that would be, our equipment is not good enough. Can you imagine it?

Fifthly and lastly. The leader isn't visible enough. Our leader isn't visible enough. And here's the thing, there is a glimmer of truth in this 1. If you have a look at chapter 1 and verse 1, so go back with me to the start of 1 verse 1.

After the death of Joshua, the Israelites asked the lord, who of us is to go up first to fight against the canaanites. And so you can see that at the start of judges, there is something of a leadership crisis. They've known life under godly Moses. They've known life under godly Joshua, but a next leader in that line has not been in appointed. They doesn't seem to be 1 that they can follow at this time.

And that's why when you get to the end of the book of judges, you find everyone doing what is right in their own eye. Because they got no leader to help them. And so that there is a truth in this. There isn't that sort of leader here at this time. And yet, of course, we also see from the chapter that the lord had not left them leaving us after all.

That even though there wasn't an earthly leader man, there was not a vacuum of leadership in Israel at that time. Because the lord would lead them, and the lord would guide them, and the lord would help them if they would turn to him. And you can see hints of that in verse 19 and 23. We had them read already in verse 1. The lord was with the men of Judah.

The lord was with the men of Judah. Verse 23 or verse 22, Now the tribes of Joseph attack Bethel and the lord was with them. The lord was with them. And the reality is not not for 1 second had god left them without a leader. They always had him.

That they could go to and inquire of and pray to. And the same is true for us, isn't it? We know that after Jesus Christ rose from the dead, he went back to heaven. And he sat down at the right hand of god, and that god has now installed him in the highest place and given him the name above every names, and that he is our leader. And we can look to him for guidance.

He is our king. We can always appeal to him and seek his leadership and his governance of our lives. We have not been left without a leader. We have Christ our king in whom we can trust. And so you see all of these excuses There's just no there's just no way that they could that there's just nothing they can say, is there?

That question in verse 2, Why have you done this? Why have you done this? And the truth is here's what really does happen in the passage. They don't offer any excuses. They've got nothing to say.

Their mouths are closed. What can they say? In response to that. What justification can they offer? These 5 we've seen would be embarrassing.

And so what do they really do in verse 4? When the angel of the lord had spoken these things to all the Israelites, the people made their excuses. Now, they wept aloud. And they called that place weeping, and there they offered sacrifices to the lord. Now sadly, what looks like repentance turns out to be very superficial, and we saw that this morning.

But it's interesting, isn't it? That when confronted with their sin, their mouths have to close? And that's true for all of us, isn't it? What excuses can what what suitable excuses can we offer for the times when we deliberately disobey the lord? And we're told elsewhere in the Bible that 1 day a day is coming when every mouth will be closed, and all the excuses that people have offered here on earth.

How could I worship Jesus? There's not evidence for him. How could I worship Jesus in such a pluralistic society. There's so many religions. There's no way there could only be 1.

How could I worship Jesus when this bible is so untrustworthy? It was written by men. How could I worship Jesus when there's so much suffering in the world or all the excuses that we might come up with a day is coming? When every mouth will be closed, and there will be none to offer. And that's what happens here.

And so the question for us, is are we currently offering excuses for some area of unbelief in our life? For some area when we have not been uncompromising with our sin. For something that we've begun to accommodate, is there a squatter living in your house? Is there a squatter of some kind? Who's taken over a room, maybe 1 or 2, and at first you hated it, but now you've learned to live with it, and truth be told you're actually starting to like it.

What excuse can we offer? This is where we need to repent properly, isn't it? Of our sin. And to close our mouths and come back to the lord. And the wonderful news of this passage is that we can.

We must not miss the glimmers of god's grace in this passage. Reading the book of judges, I think, is a little bit like having the lights turned off very suddenly. So you're in Joshua, and you're in a room that's quite well lit, and you can see what doing, but you know what it's like when suddenly someone turns off a light, and immediately you're plunged into darkness, and you can't make head nor tail of where you are. You can't see or discern what's around you. And so what do you have to it it takes a little time for your eyes to accommodate to the darkness.

But then eventually they begin to. And then you start to see objects and shapes and maybe little areas where a bit of light is reflecting and your eyes begin to adjust to the darkness and then you begin to see. Well, that's what this book is like. You come to it and you're plunged into darkness initially. But as you read it, you begin to discern the promises of god and the character of god and the gracious nature of god that really is still in the room.

Hasn't left is here. And we can see evidences of god's grace in chapter 2 and chapter 1. I mean, the very fact that the angel of the lord even comes to them is an evidence of god's grace, isn't it? He didn't have to do that. He could've just left them in their sin.

He could've just handed them over to further rebellion. He could've withdrawn his word from them. The worst judgment of all, to have the word of god withdrawn. But chapter 2 begins, the angel of the lord went up. He came up.

He sought them out because he wanted to speak to them, and he was kind enough to confront them. And that's the graciousness of god, isn't it? That he doesn't totally leave us. He will come to us through his word and invite us to repent and plead for us to come back. Well, the lord Jesus Christ does that for us brothers and sisters, isn't he?

Doesn't he do that? To some degree through the preaching of his words this evening? And through songs, isn't he coming up to you like the angel of the lord and saying I'm not willing to leave you with that squatter? I'm not willing to leave. I want I want you to come and listen and see what you've done, and I want you to turn That's what he does.

That's gracious, isn't it? The fact that you're even here this evening is gracious because god is coming up in the person of his son to speak to us. And of course, the other evidence of god's grace here is that all of these promises remain true for us. The lord still promises to be with us. And he still says, I will give you what you need in my promises.

And he still says if you turn to me, I will prove myself sweeter than a thousand pleasures of this world. And all all of these promises still stand, and they are available to us. And we can turn to the lord this evening. No matter where we're at, and we can come to him. Because the best thing about the book of judges, really, is that there is grace, even for people who haven't made the most of grace.

They haven't done what they should have done with god's grace. And yet there's more grace for those people. And so as we close, let's have a moment of quiet, and, I'll give you an opportunity to just perhaps think upon this passage and the things that we've learned maybe to deal with some of those squatters, which you've let in, and you really shouldn't have, to bring them to the lord. And to thank him for his mercy in Christ. The angel of the lord said, why have you done this?

Lord, there are so many ways that we try to excuse ourselves, and, we might be able to justify our own sin to ourselves and to others around us. But we know in our most honest and clear thinking moments that we have no answer to that question. And we are sorry for when we have not done what you tell us to do. And for where we have not enjoyed your presence with us, for where we have not put your promises to work, so many ways that we have just allowed the spiritual canaanites to live among us, to live within us, and we've even started to love their ways. And we're sorry.

And yet we thank you for Christ, who is that great man of the lord who has come to us and died for us. And in the greatest demonstration of your power has risen from the dead, and we thank you Jesus that you are alive, and we come to a god this evening who is not dead, but who lives forever. And we thank you that you are powerful to forgive our sin, that you are so loving and you have so much grace and abundance of grace for failures, and we want to make use of that for ourselves this evening. And we pray that you would help us. To follow you wholeheartedly in the strength of your spirit in Jesus' name, amen.


Preached by Tom Sweatman
Tom Sweatman photo

Tom is an Assistant Pastor at Cornerstone and lives in Kingston with his wife Laura and their two children.

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