And the children of Israel cried unto the Lord, saying, We have sinned against thee, both because we have forsaken our God, and also served Baalim. — Judges 10:10
As a child, I loved to go to our boysenberry patch and feast on the berries. My mom had said I could only go there when she went with me. I also had to wear shoes, which was very hard for me to do in the summer. In spite of her instructions, I would often sneak out shoeless and reach over from the grass beside the patch to pick the berries, figuring that if I were careful, I would not get caught. Though at first my conscience bothered me, after I had done it for a while, I did not feel guilty anymore about disobeying.
One day my misdeeds caught up with me. I slipped out, again barefooted, and decided to venture into the middle of the patch where the berries were the biggest. As I started down the overgrown rows, I spotted a large clump of fruit on the bottom of a bush. I bent over to grab the berries, and as I came up, my long hair caught in the briers, and I couldn’t get loose. As I moved my foot forward trying to get untangled, I stepped on a bee, which promptly stung me! Effectively trapped in the briers, I started to yell for help, but no one came. I kept screaming, but still no help appeared. Within moments, I was desperate. I didn’t care if I got punished, I wanted out of there! I was definitely sorry for disobeying. Finally, my mom heard me and came to my rescue.
The Children of Israel also had a problem with obedience. They had disregarded the commandment of the Lord and had begun to worship Baalim and other gods of the nations round about them. God was angry at the way the Israelites were living. He had delivered them from bondage in Egypt and had done many wonderful miracles for them, yet they had still chosen to worship false gods instead of Him. Because of this, God punished them through crushing defeats by the Philistines and Ammonites. The Israelites had been “stung” by the results of their sin and disobedience. After much oppression and strife, the Children of Israel finally cried out to God. At first, He told them to go and cry for deliverance to the gods that they had chosen instead of Him. In distress, they cried out to God in total repentance and put away the gods of Baalim. God delivered them.
This chapter teaches two important lessons. First, because God is just and will punish sin, disobedience brings pain and suffering. We may get away with sin for a time, but it will catch up with us! Secondly, if we cry out to God in repentance, He will forgive us. Even though the Children of Israel greatly grieved the Lord by what they had done, when they were truly repentant, He delivered them from their oppressors.
Let us determine to live in obedience to God, rather than going our own way and inevitably suffering the consequences of disobedience!
The Israelite trend at this time was the total abandonment of the worship of Jehovah in favor of the gods of other nations. Baal gods were an extensive family of Canaanite gods. They were gods of nature, who supposedly brought rain, and fertility for crops, cattle, and people. The main figure of this religion was Baal, the son of El, the god of storm and rain. The name Baal can also mean “husband” or “Lord,” which made him sound somewhat similar to Israel’s God. Perhaps that contributed to Israel’s temptation to experiment with paganism. The attempts of Baal’s worshippers to please him ranged from gross moral indecency to child sacrifice. The degradation and cruelty of this religion was a major reason for the judgments of God toward Israel as seen in Judges 10:7-9.
The power of the Ammonite nation was at its peak during the time of the judges’ leadership of Israel. The land lay just east of the Jordan River across from Jerusalem. The land of Moab lay south of Ammon, and these two countries were usually allies. Together, they were a formidable foe that would be difficult to defeat.
God’s response to Israel’s initial plea for help indicates the seriousness of their idolatry and apostasy. He did not want His children to become permanent pagans; the implication of His statement in verse 14 was to point out that a god who cannot deliver is not worthy of worship. The response of the Israelites shows genuine repentance on their part. They acknowledged that they had sinned; furthermore, they “put away the strange gods . . . and served the Lord.” True repentance is more than just words; it will result in a definite change of action.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. Conditions during the period of the judges
C. Parenthesis: the tyranny of Abimelech
3. Tola (10:1-2)
4. Jair (10:3-5)
a. Israel’s sin (10:6)
b. Israel’s servitude (10:7-9)
c. Israel’s supplication (10:10-16)
d. Israel’s deliverance
(1) The preparations for battle
(a) The armies gathered (10:17-18)
When the Children of Israel were at the end of their rope, they did not look to their heathen gods for help, but to the only One who was really able to come to their aid. Let us purpose to stay true to God, so that we will never have to suffer the consequences of disobedience as the Israelites did!