Cycles of History, Part 1 (JUDGES 2)
Those who don’t learn from history are bound to repeat mistakes of the past. During much of the history of the Israelite people, they did exactly that–they committed, time and time again, the sins of their ancestors and suffered in like manner.
Judges 2 records a transitional period in the history of the Hebrew nation. Moses had faithfully led the people out of Egypt, through decades of wandering through the wilderness, and eventually to the edge of the Promised Land, Canaan. Joshua took over from there and faithfully led the Israelites across the Jordan River and into the bountiful land that God had given them. They had to fight for it, but the Lord was with them in battle and enabled them to be victorious–as long as they served Him obediently. However, once Joshua and the elders who outlived him perished, the nation entered into a downward spiral.
Listen to the sad words from Judges 2:10ff – “When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the LORD nor the work which He had done for Israel. Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served the Baals; and they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt; and they followed other gods from among the gods of the people who were all around them, and they bowed down to them; and they provoked the LORD to anger. They forsook the LORD and served Baal and the Ashtoreths. And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel. So He delivered them into the hands of plunderers who despoiled them; and He sold them into the hands of their enemies all around, so that they could no longer stand before their enemies. Wherever they went out, the hand of the LORD was against them for calamity, as the LORD had said, and as the LORD had sworn to them. And they were greatly distressed. Nevertheless, the LORD raised up judges who delivered them out of the hand of those who plundered them. Yet they would not listen to their judges, but they played the harlot with other gods, and bowed down to them. They turned quickly from the way in which their fathers walked, in obeying the commandments of the LORD; they did not do so. And when the LORD raised up judges for them, the LORD was with the judge and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge; for the LORD was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who oppressed them and harassed them. And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they reverted and behaved more corruptly than their fathers, by following other gods, to serve them and bow down to them. They did not cease from their own doings nor from their stubborn ways.”
In this inspired passage (which is paralleled in Nehemiah 9:23-31), the sad history of God’s people is summarized. God blessed the children of Israel richly, but they soon forgot His ways and rebelled against Him. Once they began suffering for their sins, however, they cried out for mercy. God had pity on them numerous times, as their history shows, even though He knew their repentance would be short-lived.