A Portrait of Apostasy – Judges 2:6-3:6

By John Bellingham on March 16, 2014
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A Portrait of Apostasy

Judges 2:6 – 3:6


– The first introduction to Judges (1:1- 2:5) is written from the perspective of the Israelites.  The second introduction (2:6 – 3:6) is written from the perspective of Israel’s God.

– The purpose of this second introduction is to introduce the pattern of apostasy (falling away) which will be illustrated by the stories of the Judges in the main section of the book.


I. Source of Apostasy (vv. 6-10)

1)    Faithfulness of the First Generation

a.      Joshua held up as a model leader – a ‘type’ of Christ (cf. Hebrews 4:8-11)

b.      People served the Lord as long as Joshua and the elders were alive

c.      Joshua anticipates the coming apostasy in his final public address (cf. Joshua 24)

2)    Faithlessness of Future Generations

a.      A generation which did not ‘know’ the Lord

  • Knowing about God vs. knowing God!
  • Amnesia leads inevitably to apostasy

b.      Generational Drift

  • First generation accepts the gospel
  • Second generation assumes the gospel
  • Third generation abandons the gospel


Application:  Instructions for Christian Parents

a.      Do not neglect your spiritual duty to shepherd your children (Deut 6; 1 Cor 7:14)

b.      The most important inheritance you can leave your kids is the treasure of the gospel

c.      You cannot believe for your kids or guarantee their salvation – be faithful to do your part and trust God to do His part.


II. Cycle of Apostasy (vv. 11- 19)

1)    Cycle of Apostasy outlined here in Judges 2 establishes a pattern for the rest of the book

2)    Step 1: Disobedience (vv. 11-13)

a.      Idolatry

  • Baal and Ashteroth – fertility deities
  • Idolatry changes form, but the old gods of Canaan are still with us today!

b.      Spiritual ‘prostitution’ (v. 17)

  • Idolatry is adultery!
  • Idolatry uses us and abuses us

3)    Step 2:  Discipline (vv. 14-15)

a.      The ‘jealousy’ of God’s love

b.      The severity of God’s rod

c.      The proof of God’s grace (cf. Heb 12:5-11)

4)    Step 3: Despair (vv. 15, 18)

a.      ‘Terrible distress’

b.      ‘Groaning’ indicates the re-enslavement of Israel within their own land (cf. Ex 2:24)

5)    Step 4: Deliverance (vv. 16 -18)

a.      The warm compassion of God

b.      The sovereign initiative of God in salvation

6)    Step 5: Decay (v. 19)


Application:  The inability of the ‘judges’ to provide a lasting salvation points forward to the ultimate Judge and the salvation that He alone can provide.


III. God’s Providence in Apostasy (2:20- 3:6)

1)    Testing of God’s People

a.      Every Christian is faced with a continual choice: obey God or disobey God

b.      Christianity is more than a free ticket to heaven – it is a commitment to Lordship!

2)    Training of God’s People

The persistence of sin in our world and in our hearts trains us to wage war against it through God’s power (cf. Titus 2:11-14)



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