Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
And an angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with you.Jdg 2:4
There are few of us that are not rather ashamed of our sins and follies as we look out on the blessed morning sunlight, which comes to us like a bright-winged angel beckoning us to quit the old path of vanity that stretches its dreary length behind us.
—George Eliot, Mr. Gilfil's Love-Story.
Reference.—II. 4, 5.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxviii. No. 1680.
'Our case,' said Luther once, 'will go on, so long as its living advocates, Melanchthon and friars and learned men, who apply themselves zealously to the work, shall be alive; but, after their death, 'twill be a sad falling off. We have an example before us, in Jdg 2:10 : "And also all that generation were gathered to their fathers; and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the Lord, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel".'
God with the Judges
There is a great principle here, which runs far. That great principle is, God will not forsake the work of His own hands. Only be assured with adequate proof that this or that matter is Divine, and leave the rest. 'When the Lord raised up judges, the Lord was with the judge,' because they were the work of His own hand. God never dies. But if any man makes himself a judge the Lord will not be responsible for that man. That is the whole scheme of life. We cannot build out God; though we pile our judges high and lay them in great breadths like walls meant to be impregnable, it is all of no use; whatever it is, it is a poor thing, and not worthy of our notice, and as for our trust, woe to the man who thinks that straw, loose dry straw, can stand against the lava-flood.
I. This puts God in His right place; this asserts and illustrates the sovereignty of God. That is one of the terms that I should not like to become obsolete. Once it was quite a great instrument in the hand of the Church; the Church was strong in the possession of that conviction, the conviction, namely, that there is one God, one throne, one Providence, and that any who would set himself or themselves against God's eternal providence and sovereignty would simply be carried away as with a flood, and the sea would reject them, and they would be without a place. Why do we not rest upon these great rock truths? why are we always in panic and in fear? how is it that men will build upon bog and sand, and not upon the rock? What is the rock? The sovereignty of God; the nearness of the Sovereign, the beneficence of His rule, the love that runs through and accounts for His great ministry of redemption.
II. Secondly, the judge recognized the fact that God was with him. He did not live a life of vanity and ambition; he set a proper value upon his seat. If all our great men and leaders would know that they are where God has put them, many great and beneficent results would come out of that conviction. The judge recognized that he was sent.
Being sent, the judge or the representative of God is qualified. The qualification is in his being sent. God chooses no unsuitable instruments; God is not responsible for the tools and the working of those whom He never called to the judgeship, or sent into the pulpit, or conducted into parliament, or set in high places in the cities of commerce. If we realized that we were sent we should have no fear; the Lord does not send us without going with us; there will be no cowardliness, saying, There is a lion in the way. We shall not see the lion because of the glory of the Lord in whose shining all beasts and reptiles are lost as if they never existed. We need some such tonic as this.
III. In the third place, all true public appointments and true social economies and policies, prove their divinity by their real prosperity. That is a dangerous doctrine if treated roughly, if not qualified and commended by some severe reservations. We must first of all know what prosperity is.
IV. The reverse of the text is true. When the Lord did not raise up the preacher, teacher, legislator, statesman, merchant, leader, the Lord never went a step on the road with the man. If the Lord did not make the preacher, the Lord will never appear in a single sermon; if the Lord did raise up the preacher, all the opponents that righteousness ever had cannot put him down.
—Joseph Parker, City Temple Pulpit, vol. IV. p. 232.
Reference.—II. 23.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—Judges, p. 196.
And ye shall make no league with the inhabitants of this land; ye shall throw down their altars: but ye have not obeyed my voice: why have ye done this?
Wherefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you.
And it came to pass, when the angel of the LORD spake these words unto all the children of Israel, that the people lifted up their voice, and wept.
And they called the name of that place Bochim: and they sacrificed there unto the LORD.
And when Joshua had let the people go, the children of Israel went every man unto his inheritance to possess the land.
And the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the LORD, that he did for Israel.
And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died, being an hundred and ten years old.
And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnathheres, in the mount of Ephraim, on the north side of the hill Gaash.
And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel.
And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim:
And they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the LORD to anger.
And they forsook the LORD, and served Baal and Ashtaroth.
And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and he delivered them into the hands of spoilers that spoiled them, and he sold them into the hands of their enemies round about, so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies.
Whithersoever they went out, the hand of the LORD was against them for evil, as the LORD had said, and as the LORD had sworn unto them: and they were greatly distressed.
Nevertheless the LORD raised up judges, which delivered them out of the hand of those that spoiled them.
And yet they would not hearken unto their judges, but they went a whoring after other gods, and bowed themselves unto them: they turned quickly out of the way which their fathers walked in, obeying the commandments of the LORD; but they did not so.
And when the LORD raised them up judges, then the LORD was with the judge, and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge: for it repented the LORD because of their groanings by reason of them that oppressed them and vexed them.
And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they returned, and corrupted themselves more than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them, and to bow down unto them; they ceased not from their own doings, nor from their stubborn way.
And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel; and he said, Because that this people hath transgressed my covenant which I commanded their fathers, and have not hearkened unto my voice;
I also will not henceforth drive out any from before them of the nations which Joshua left when he died:
That through them I may prove Israel, whether they will keep the way of the LORD to walk therein, as their fathers did keep it, or not.
Therefore the LORD left those nations, without driving them out hastily; neither delivered he them into the hand of Joshua.