Before We Move On…
Do not merely listen to the Word and deceive yourselves. Do what it says (James 1:22).
On Sunday, September 24, our journey through the book of Judges will conclude. Some of us will no doubt welcome the opportunity to move on and explore the more sunny parts of the canon. Yet James reminds us we’re not prepared to proceed away from any portion of Scripture until we’ve put what we’ve heard into practice. So, with that principle in mind, here are some overarching takeaways I hope we can glean from our study:
1. Setbacks will test both our loyalty and our obedience to God. The people of Israel were reeling after the death of Joshua, Moses’ successor. Instead of turning to God for leadership, Israel decided to quit their conquest, cozy up to their idolatrous neighbors, and put their covenant with God on the back burner. Moments of success did arise, but Israel repeatedly failed to acknowledge God’s role in bringing about those opportunities for repentance. Before we move on, we need to ask ourselves, are we merely fair-weather Christians? Will we remain loyal to God in both times of plenty and famine? Do we worship success or do we worship the Lord who gives success?
2. Lasting loyalty will depend upon our love for God above everything and everyone else. While Judges is filled with leaders who demonstrated profound faith and who accomplished amazing feats in God’s name, they were all deeply flawed in one way or another. Fundamentally, they all allowed some other priority to crowd out their love for God. Personal welfare, fame, sex, accomplishments, and pride all managed to interfere with their love for God. Before we move on, we need to ask ourselves, what other priorities (including important and worthwhile priorities) might be competing with our love for the Lord?
3. Despite our failures, God’s sovereign purposes will prevail. No individual—no matter how miserably they may have failed—could ultimately thwart God’s plan to save His people through Christ. Leaders in Israel were at their best when they relied on their availability before God, not their ability. They were successful in God’s eyes when they humbly submitted themselves to God’s will and to God’s authority. Before we move on, we need to ask ourselves, have we surrendered our lives entirely to Christ as Lord? Is there still some aspect of our lives—some agenda, some hope, some fear—that our pride is preventing us from handing over to Christ?
I pray these questions will prompt us all to do more than merely listen. May God’s Word continue to penetrate our hearts so that we might do what it says.