Judges 10:6-16

Sunday Morning Bible Study

November 18, 2001


The book of Judges chronicles the history of Israel in that period between the time of Joshua conquering the land and the coming of the age of kings, a period of about four hundred years.  In this time period, we see a roller coaster kind of experience for Israel as they walk with God and are prosperous, then they fall away from God and go through difficult times, then they turn back to God, etc.

In a way, there’s a kind of picture in Judges of the person who has a kind of relationship with God where they are close to Him for a week or two, then fall away and get caught again in a bondage to one type of sin or another.


Harry Houdini, the famed escape artist, issued a challenge wherever he went. He could be locked in any jail cell in the country, he claimed, and set himself free in short order. Always he kept his promise, but one time something went wrong. Houdini entered the jail in his street clothes; the heavy, metal doors clanged shut behind him. He took from his belt a concealed piece of metal, strong and flexible. He set to work immediately, but something seemed to be unusual about this lock. For thirty minutes he worked and got nowhere. An hour passed, and still he had not opened the door. By now he was bathed in sweat and panting in exasperation, but he still could not pick the lock. Finally, after laboring for two hours, Harry Houdini collapsed in frustration and failure against the door he could not unlock. But when he fell against the door, it swung open! It had never been locked at all! But in his mind it was locked, and that was all it took to keep him from opening the door and walking out of the jail cell.  - Zig Ziglar

My prayer today is that if you feel like you’ve been in a prison, you may find that perhaps the door isn’t locked after all.  Perhaps today will be the day that God sets you free from a place you don’t belong.

:6-9 Israel falls again

:6 And the children of Israel did evil again … and served …

This seems to be the worst time of backsliding yet.  If you count, you’ll see seven different ways that the people have gone away from the Lord.

God had originally given Israel victory over the seven nations that had inhabited the land. Now Israel is serving seven foreign gods.

:7 he sold them into the hands of the Philistines, and … Ammon.

Ammon – the descendants of Benammi, the other son of Abraham’s nephew Lot, through incest with one of his daughters (Gen. 19:38).  These will be the main “bad guys”.


You become slaves of the one you serve

The people had begun to serve the gods of the Philistines and the Ammonites, and then God allowed them to become enslaved to them.
(Rom 6:16-18 KJV) Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? {17} But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. {18} Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.
Freedom from sin doesn’t just come by saying certain words or necessarily praying certain prayers.
Freedom doesn’t come with words, but with action. It’s not just who you talk about, it’s who you serve.

:8  they vexed and oppressed the children of Israel:


Fiery times break the bondage

I know this sounds kind of strange, but there’s a sense in which the bad things that happen to us can actually be good for us.
They’re the things that God uses to get our attention.
They’re also the things that God can use to break the bondage.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were three young men who made a decision that got them into trouble.  They made a decision not to worship Nebuchadnezzar’s idol.  As a result –

(Dan 3:21-27 KJV)  Then these men were bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. {22} Therefore because the king's commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flame of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. {23} And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. {24} Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king. {25} He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God. {26} Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, came forth of the midst of the fire. {27} And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king's counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.

Several things happened while they were in the fire.

For one thing, they didn’t burn up. 

For another, they weren’t alone.  Jesus was with them.

But something else happened.  The cords they had been tied up with must have been burned off.

Charles Spurgeon wrote,

Our lusts are cords that bind us. Fiery trials are sent to burn and consume them. Who fears the flame which will bring him liberty from intolerable bonds?

:9 the children of Ammon passed over Jordan to fight also against Judah …

The Ammonites lived on the eastern side of the Jordan River.  The idea here is that they not only were causing trouble to the Israelites that lived on the eastern side of the Jordan, but they were crossing over and causing trouble on the western side of the Jordan as well.

:10-18 Israel repents

:10 We have sinned against thee


Confession is a start

The people are acknowledging that they have fallen away from the Lord. This is a step in the right direction, but only one step.
I think it’s a good example to see that the people make two statements about their sin.
They see that they’ve walked away from God (“forsaken our God”) AND they see that they’ve fallen into sin (“served Baalim”)

I think that too often I focus on the sin I’ve fallen into and neglect the fact that at the same time I’ve sinned against God.


I’ve heard some of the commentators on TV talking about the terrorists and the their victims in the Twin Towers.  The New York Times has been running a series of articles about the lives of some of the people that were killed in the attack.  The commentators have wondered if the terrorists would have done their evil deed if they had known the people they were killing.  I think there’s an element of truth in that.

I think that when we realize just WHO we’re sinning against, it makes us think twice before diving headlong into our sin.

When David committed adultery with Bathsheba, he wrote,

(Psa 51:1-4 KJV)  Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. {2} Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. {3} For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. {4} Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.

If you’ve been away from the Lord, the place to start is with confession – telling God what you’ve done.
Confession means to be honest with God.  It means that I don’t have any secrets from God.  It means that I don’t try and cover anything up, but instead I bring everything out into the light with God.  When I do this, I find cleansing and forgiveness.
(1 John 1:7 KJV)  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

God forgives me because Jesus paid for my sins with His own blood.  Jesus died on a cross for the purpose of paying for my sins.

:11-13 Did not I deliver you from the Egyptians … Yet ye have forsaken me

Note:  There are seven groups of people that God mentions delivering Israel from (just as there were seven gods they had sinned with in verse 6).


Remembering past deliverances

This can be a bittersweet thing for a person who has fallen into a sin, gotten out, and then fallen back in again.
We don’t fall because God fails, we fall because we’ve walked away from the Lord. God didn’t fail us, we failed Him.
Part of the road back comes when remember where we’ve fallen from (Rev. 2:5)

:13  wherefore I will deliver you no more.


God gives up

Perhaps one of the greatest judgments God can make on a person is simply to let them go and let them suffer the consequences of their own actions.
(Rom 1:24-26 KJV) Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: {25} Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. {26} For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections …
Sometimes we don’t want to admit it.  Sometimes we want to find someone else to blame for our predicament.  But sometimes the trouble we’re in is simply a result of what we’ve brought on our self.

:14  Go and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen;


Eliminate your options

I think that God is challenging the people to see just how sincere they are in asking Him for help.  They’ve expressed words as if they want God’s help, but do they?  Perhaps they’re just keeping all their options open?
I understand that towards the end of his life, someone asked Elvis why he wore so many gold religious emblems around his neck. He had a Star of David, a cross, a crescent, etc. He replied, “I’m not taking any chances”.
It’s like the kid who prays for God to help him on his science test, but also keeps his lucky rabbit’s foot in his pocket, “just in case”.
God wants us to “empty out our pockets” and show Him that we are trusting in nothing else but Him. We have no contingency plans in case He doesn’t come through. We are looking to no one but Him.

:16 they put away the strange gods


God is looking for action

Here’s the turning point for the people.
Talk is cheap. God doesn’t just want to hear you say you’re sorry, He wants to see you take a step in the right direction.
I heard David Hocking talk once about a person who came up to him after the service and asked for prayer to quit smoking. David asked the man how serious he was about quitting. The man said he was very serious. David asked what was in the man’s shirt pocket. The man said cigarettes. David asked the man to give them to him. Then they went to the bathroom and flushed them down the toilet. “Hey!” the man said, “that’s not fair! That was a full pack!” David asked the man if he really wanted to quit. Then David asked the man if he had any cigarettes in his car…

You can imagine the rest of the story.

How bad do you want to change?  The Bible has a word for when we change the direction our life is going.  The word is “repent”.

:16 and his soul was grieved for the misery of Israel.

Once God sees the people are sincere because they have actually put the other gods away, the people find out that God has pity on them.


God really does love you

You may seem to think at times that God has given up on you.  No.  He’s waiting for you to get serious about your life.
It’s not that God’s love for you is conditional, as if He’ll only love you if you change.  He’s always loved us.
(Jer 31:3 KJV)  The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.
God’s greatest demonstration of love is found at the cross.
(Rom 5:8 KJV)  But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
(1 John 3:16 KJV)  Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
The point is that He loves you and He wants you to change.


Get back up and try it again

I think this can be one of the most frustrating things in life – when you’ve failed God over and over again, and you just want to quit it all.
I would love nothing more than to pretend that Christians don’t ever fall back into sin.
But sometimes it happens.  Sometimes a Christian will fall over and over again.
My message to you today is that if this is you, then get back up again and keep trying.
Let’s review the “The Five Chapter Book”

Chapter One:  A man was walking down the street.  He fell into a hole.  He groped his way in the darkness.  After a long time, he made his way out of the hole.

Chapter Two:  A man was walking down the same street.  He pretended not to see the hole.  He fell in.  After a long time, he made his way out of the hole.

Chapter Three:  A man was walking down the same street.  He sees the hole.  He falls in.  He says it's not his fault.  After a long time, he made his way out of the hole.

Chapter Four:  A man walks down the same street.  He sees the hole.  He knows it's there.  He tries to walk around it.  He falls in.  He knows it's his fault.  He quickly gets out.

Chapter Five:  A man takes another street.