Monday Morning Preacher: Judges 1.1-2.6

The second sermon in our series on Judges, titled {UN}faithfulness, centers on the progressive, but deliberate, disobedience of God’s people.  The video can be found here.  The passage contains a lot of verses, 41 to be exact.  It is not often we read that many verses in a service, but whenever I do, there is deep level of satisfaction as the my finite words are drowned out by the eternal words of Scripture.  It reminds me of Paul’s charge to a young pastor named Timothy was to “devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture” (1Tim 4.13). We would do well to do this more.

Not only was the text long, it was complicated. As a purely historical narrative, Judges would make a lot more sense if it started in chapter 2. The first chapter is strange, containing three seemingly unrelated vignettes including an assassination, a romance, and an operation of Israel’s “Seal Team 6”.  In on sense, the author did record actual history so his Jewish readers knew what happened THAT DAY without a king, in order to understand what is happening THIS DAY with a monarchy in conflict.  At the same time, God intended Judges as a record of redemptive history to point Christians to King David’s heir, Jesus, as well as show us a picture of our own salvation by grace, and our own continuing fight in that grace today.

As I reflect on the sermon, here are the points that I would want to repeat, reject, or reform:

There is the reality of small compromises: For most, the choice to pursue sin is not an overnight decision. What I mean is, the major manifestations of sinful choices, and their devastating effects, usually comes after a series of minor compromises.  It is rare for someone to wake up one day and decide to become a meth addict, thief, or murderer.  We see with God’s people, what begins as mostly” faithful, becomes partially faithful, until it is completely rebellious.  Similarly, what begins for us as a little toleration of sin, soon turns to a little accommodation of sin, until it devolves into a lot of oppression to sin. If not dealt with, the smallest of sins will lead to death; but it usually begins with minimizing its power to kill you.

There is the lie of partial obedience/disobedience: The lie of partial obedience is the same as the lie of partial disobedience.  Both are rooted in the ONE BIG LIE that your own work actually counts for something with God.  The lie of partial obedience wrongly proclaims that, through your own efforts, you can actually be “good enough” for a perfect and holy God to accept you.  The lie of partial disobedience wrongly claims that you aren’t “bad enough” to deserve death.  The Bible is pretty clear about this, reminding us that are best works are filthy rages and that there is no one who is good…not even a little.  ( Isaiah 64.6Romans 3.11-18)

There is the truth of partial obedience/disobedience:  Partial obedience or partial disobedience both deserve death.  In fact, everything that falls short of God’s perfection does.  We are more sinful than we will ever admit or know.  For our rejection of a holy and loving God, we deserve death.  I have heard it said that I preach too much on sin, law, the “old man”, etc. Whether this is true or not, I’m not sure. I do know that every pastor has their own unique style which probably attracts some and repels others.  But in terms of the truth that is spoken, I find it difficult for any pastor to preach about grace without sin, gospel without law, Genesis 2 without Genesis 3, or the resurrection without the crucifixion for that matter.  It is an incomplete story. Whether or not there is a proper order to things, I don’t know, that is probably dependent on the particular text.   All that to say, you need both.  Ultimately, a proper teaching on sin and the truth of partial obedience/disobedience should lead you to the cross of Christ.  The moment we start to believe that we are good enough, or that we are not that bad, is the moment that Christ’s perfection becomes unnecessary and his death/resurrection meaningless.  The truth is, we are more sinful than we will ever admit or know…AND, through faith in Christ, we are more forgiven and loved than we could ever imagine.

There is the difference between inheriting and possessing: This is the most intriguing point for me, something that I won’t spend too much time on.  As I have said, there is something to be learned about the Christian life in Christ from the Israelite in the Promised Land.  In Israel, we have a picture of a people saved by grace who are called to fight IN that grace.  They have inherited the land AND yet they are called to fight for what is already theirs. There work is not done.  Not only are they given an incentive (full life) to fight for more, God promises them the ability to fully realize that life.  Similarly, we are also called to fight.  Because of Christ, our motivation has changed–we don’t fight to get God. We already have Him irrevocably.  In some way, however, we do fight to experience (not completely) what we have eternally in this life now.  Not fighting is a recipe for idolatry–the heart of faithlessness. A pastor friend of mine stated it this way: If there is no fight for your inheritance, perhaps you have no inheritance to fight for. ouch.

Next Blog — What does Judges have to do with David and Saul?


Author: Sam Ford

Sam Ford is a preacher, planter, and pastor from the Pacific Northwest. He is currently pastoring Restoration Road Church in Snohomish, WA.

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