Judges 2:16-23 (Part 1) – Christians in America: When Did We Go from “We” to “They”?

Posted: July 30, 2017 in Book of Judges
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Judges 2:16-23 (Part 1 of 3)
The Lord Rescues His People

It is not very popular these days to take a stand against that which is in opposition to the Bible’s commands. Christians are considered “they” in our society today. We are no longer considered the “we” of our society. Recently, I was watching CNN, that bastion of objective reporting that it has become (LOL!), where they had a panel of “experts” dissecting and, of course crucifying Trump for his decision today to ban transgenders from military service, and one thing that struck me was that one of the panelists talked about how Christians saw this as a hot button issue since this more than any other issue involves personal choice. The reporter even went as far as saying that even if Christians gave some leeway to the argument that gay people may be born that way, transgender issues represent a cut and dried issue for Christians involving a choice to go against nature. Although that statement is false as we Christians do also see homosexuality as a lifestyle choice rather than a genetic issue. The general liberalism on that issue of some Christian denominations may have skewed that thought. The true Christian view of these issues are that they are all wrong in the sight of God and that just like any other sin, we must repent from them and return to God through Jesus Christ. The falsehood of her statements was not what struck me. The thing that struck me the most, was the fact that she referred to Christians as “they” and not “we”.

We no longer live in a society that is ruled by Christian principles. Christian principles are seen as an oppressive thing of the past where we are prevented from doing what we want and believing what we want to believe. Sexual morality as defined by the Bible is no longer seen as valid and that whatever your sexuality is, you should be free to pursue. We are own little islands in which we are own gods, free to determine what is right for us alone. We are own moral bubbles floating around freely. Homosexuality, transgenderism, unrestrained heterosexual freedom, baby mommas, baby daddies, it is all OK now since we have displaced the one true God with ourselves. With us as our own gods, we must only do no harm (like the Hypocratic Oath for doctors) or at least do more good than bad then we all go to heaven. No longer are we restrained by that archaic Christian concept that one sin condemns us to hell and that we must have a Savior. Jesus thus must be taken down from his place of singular deity because we don’t need saving now. Jesus is demoted to just another philosophy among those that you can choose from in life that fits your needs and your desired lifestyle. If you don’t like the parts of the Bible that are against how you want to live your lifestyle, you ignore them. You then must begin to see all religions as equal ways to heaven. Under this pantheistic view, we effectively eliminate hell. There is no need to talk of hell because that is old-fashioned and that our god is a loving, non-judgmental, all-tolerating god. He just loves us and lets us do what we want because our god just wants us to be happy to pursue what we define as right for our own moral little bubble. Our god today is like the old Lionel Ritchie song from 1977 (wow, really? That song’s 40 years old) where god is “easy like a Sunday morning!” The god we have now invented for ourselves is no longer the God of the Bible. The god we have invented for ourselves has caused true Christians to be considered “they”. We are “they” and we are roundly criticized, vilified, and marginalized at any point we go against the current trend toward pantheism and self-worship. If you buck the trend toward self-worship, you are considered an ogre with your knuckles dragging the ground. Some Christian denominations are so scared of being vilified by the majority of self-worship that pervades our society that they have adopted some of the self-worship concepts in contrast to the clear mandates of the Bible. In order to be seen as culturally with it and relevant some denominations have ignored the Bible and embraced the culture.
It is this idea of the self-worship as a form of idol worship that our country has fallen into was what came to mind this morning as I read through this passage, Judges 2:16-23, for the first of three times this morning. The same thing was happening to Israel. Let’s read about it now:

16 Then the Lord raised up judges,[a] who saved them out of the hands of these raiders. 17 Yet they would not listen to their judges but prostituted themselves to other gods and worshiped them. They quickly turned from the ways of their ancestors, who had been obedient to the Lord’s commands. 18 Whenever the Lord raised up a judge for them, he was with the judge and saved them out of the hands of their enemies as long as the judge lived; for the Lord relented because of their groaning under those who oppressed and afflicted them. 19 But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their ancestors, following other gods and serving and worshiping them. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways.

20 Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel and said, “Because this nation has violated the covenant I ordained for their ancestors and has not listened to me, 21 I will no longer drive out before them any of the nations Joshua left when he died. 22 I will use them to test Israel and see whether they will keep the way of the Lord and walk in it as their ancestors did.” 23 The Lord had allowed those nations to remain; he did not drive them out at once by giving them into the hands of Joshua.

In this passage, we see that God often delivered His harshest criticism and punishment to those who worshiped idols. Why were idols so bad in God’s sight? To worship an idol violated the first two of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3-6). The Canaanites had gods for almost every season, activity, or place. To them, the Lord was just another god to add to their collection of gods. Israel, by contrast, was to worship only the Lord. They could not possibly believe that God was the one true God and at the same time bow to an idol. Idol worshipers could not see their god as their creator because they created it. These idols represented sensual, carnal, and immoral aspects of human nature. Adding the worship of idols to the worship of God could not be tolerated by Him.

Why would the people of Israel turn away so quickly from their faith in God? Simply put, the Canaanite religion appeared more attractive to the sensual nature and offered more short-range benefits (sexual permissiveness and the promise of increased fertility in sexual activity and in farming). One of its most attractive features was that people could remain selfish and yet fulfill what they thought were their religious requirements. They could do almost anything they wished and still be obeying at least one of the many Canaanite gods. Male and female prostitution was not only allowed but was encouraged as a form of worship. Faith in the one true God does not offer short-range benefits that appeal to our sinful human nature. The essence of sin is selfishness. The essence of following God’s ways is selflessness. We must seek Christ to live in God’s way.

Do you not see what America is becoming is just like the Israel of the Judges era? We have turned away from God and worship our own free expression of the desires of our hearts and it is that desire that we worship not God. We may feign belief in God in our nation now but only when it does not get in the way of our self-worship and pantheism of all roads lead to heaven. We no longer need a Savior. We are own gods. There is no real sin. There is no condemnation. God is our buddy. Jesus is our friend. We have elevated ourselves to being our own gods and we define what is right for ourselves not some higher external being known as the one true God.

Let us pray for revival. Let us pray for bold Christians. Let us pray for Christians who care enough about the reality of hell that we don’t want our worst enemies to go there. Let us pray for an evangelistic explosion where we relate the Word of God in ways that meet people where they are at in their self worship in today’s world. Let us quit being “they” and engage the culture of self-worship with the truth of the Word of God in loving ways but yet reveal the truth about sin. All of us are sinners who blind ourselves at times to our sins and call them good, until we encounter a pure, holy and just God who exposes our sins for what they really are. It is only then that we see that Jesus is necessary. Jesus not just a friend who tolerates anything we do but rather our only way to be saved from the condemnation of our sins to that very real place known as hell.

God give us that boldness and that caring. We pray for the day that we are no longer they!

Amen and Amen.

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