The Snare of Partial Obedience – Judges 1:1-2:5

By John Bellingham on March 9, 2014
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The Snare of Partial Obedience

Judges 1:1-2:5


– Judges takes place around 1200 BC shortly after the death of Joshua and before the establishment of the Monarchy in Israel

– The overarching purpose of the book is to show our need for a faithful King who will provide lasting salvation for the people of God


I. God’s Expectation for Israel

1)    Israel was commanded to destroy the Canaanites

a. Canaan was promised to Abraham

b. Canaan was partly conquered under Joshua

c. Tribes were instructed by Joshua to bring the conquest to its full completion

2)    Reason for the Conquest

a. Wickedness of the Canaanites

b. Preservation of a Righteous Remnant which would bring forth a Saviour for all nations

c. Judgment, not genocide!

  •  Conquest occurred only after an extended opportunity for repentance
  •  Conquest was not motivated by race – God spared righteous Canaanites (ie. Rahab) and later used the Assyrians and Babylonians to dispossess Israel from the land!
  • The Conquest of Canaan is a small foreshadowing of God’s future judgment of all sin and the reality of hell

Application:  We are not living in a ‘theocracy’ like ancient Israel, but God still demands full obedience from His New Covenant people.  What remnants of ‘Canaan’ lurk unchallenged inside your heart??


II. Israel’s Disobedience to God

1)    Disunity

a. Under Moses and Joshua, Israel was unified

b. Unity between Judah and Simeon at the beginning of this chapter gives way to tribal independence and failure by the end

2)    Worldliness

a. Treatment of Adoni-bezek (vv. 6-7) hints that Israel was already adopting Canaanite morality, instead of obeying God’s Word

b. The ‘Canaanization’ of Israel will become an increasing problem as the book progresses

3)    Cowardice

a. Judah thinks more highly of Canaanite technology than the power of Yahweh

b. The Kenizzites (Caleb, Othniel) demonstrate more courage than Israelites

c. The women (Achsah) show more resolve to take possession of the land than the men

4)    Disobedience

a. Failure to fully impose God’s judgment at Bethel results in new Canaanite city

b. Partial obedience of Judah and Joseph is contrasted with the total disobedience of remaining tribes

c. By v. 36 the borders of the land are described as being “Ammonite”

Application:  In what ways do our churches and spiritual lives resemble this pattern of compromise?


III. God’s Judgment on his People

1)    Condemnation from the ‘angel of the Lord’

a. Probably a pre-incarnate appearance of the eternal Son

b. Israel had renewed their covenant with God at Gilgal during the time of Joshua

c. Israel left to the consequences of their sin

2)    God’s judgment provokes repentance – for now….

Application:  Partial Obedience has long term effects!


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