Monday, January 23, 2017

Rebellion's Cycle

My Life Group lesson for Jan. 22, 2017, using Lifeway’s “Explore the Bible” curriculum, as well as help from Bible Gateway and bits from Jay McCluskey and Adrian Rogers.

FIRST THOUGHTS

Have you ever received a speeding ticket?

Were you really speeding?

If the answer to the first question is “yes,” then the answer to the second question is usually “yes” also.

While we might deserve the consequences we receive, we sometimes mistakenly get upset at the officer giving us the citation.

When the Israelites were falling into rebellion and getting caught, they had a tendency not to understand the lessons learned.

UNDERSTAND THE CONTEXT

Judges 1:1-3:6

*** We’ve moved from the book of Joshua to the book of Judges.

*** Judges bridges the gap between the Israelites taking the Promised Land and the time of kings.

*** A generation after Joshua passed the Israelites fell into a cycle of rebellion, God’s judgment, and deliverance.

ABANDONMENT (JUDGES 2:11-15)

11 The Israelites did what was evil in the LORD’s sight. They worshiped the Baals 12 and abandoned the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of Egypt. They went after other gods from the surrounding peoples and bowed down to them. They infuriated the LORD, 13 for they abandoned Him and worshiped Baal and the Ashtoreths. 14 The LORD’s anger burned against Israel, and He handed them over to marauders who raided them. He sold them to the enemies around them, and they could no longer resist their enemies. 15 Whenever the Israelites went out, the LORD was against them and brought disaster on them, just as He had promised and sworn to them. So they suffered greatly.

*** History repeat itself.

--- Who has a favorite movie or novel they have watched or read more than once?

--- No matter how many times we watch the movie or read the book, the ending never changes.

--- As a history buff, it never fails to amaze that one of the main points of history is that mankind repeats the same destructive paths over and over again.

--- But as a Christian history buff, it’s much easier to see why our sinful nature gets in the way.

--- There’s a familiar pattern to the Israelites throughout the Old Testament:
The nation first served God, then they forsake Him in favor of fake gods.
God delivers them into the hands of their enemies.
The people wail and moan in servitude.
The people cry out to God in distress and repent.
God hears their prayer, raises up a judge to save them from torment and they win freedom again.
Copy. Paste.

*** We can’t be too quick to judge.

--- How often do we do the same?

--- If we aren’t steadfast and if we begin tolerating sin, how quickly do we fall into a pattern of sin-repentance-forgiveness-sin, and you notice yourself asking forgiveness for the same things over and over again?

--- The Israelites lost the will to drive their enemies from the land, and instead of being steadfast in a pursuit of Godly worship they began tolerating and then following the pagan practices of their neighbors.

--- We can’t let ourselves fall into the same behaviors as our unbelieving friends, co-workers, even family.

--- In 2 Corinthians, when the local pagan religions threatened to corrupt the Christians in Corinth, Paul called on the Corinthian believers to live separate lives (2 Cor. 6:16-17).

--- Paul saw it firsthand, too. Demas began as a devoted partner in ministry with Paul, but sadly he left the ministry “because he loved this present world” (2 Tim. 4:10).

*** Question - How easy is it for Christians today to get in with friends who don’t follow Jesus, and how much more likely is it for us to conform to their sinful ways?

REPENTANCE (JUDGES 2:16-19)

16 The LORD raised up judges, who saved them from the power of their marauders, 17 but they did not listen to their judges. Instead, they prostituted themselves with other gods, bowing down to them. They quickly turned from the way of their fathers, who had walked in obedience to the LORD’s commands. They did not do as their fathers did. 18 Whenever the LORD raised up a judge for the Israelites, the LORD was with him and saved the people from the power of their enemies while the judge was still alive. The LORD was moved to pity whenever they groaned because of those who were oppressing and afflicting them. 19 Whenever the judge died, the Israelites would act even more corruptly than their fathers, going after other gods to worship and bow down to them. They did not turn from their evil practices or their obstinate ways.

*** Actions have consequences.

--- Just as God was aware of Israel’s transgressions, even so today the Lord watches over us. When we seek to obey Him, He is aware of our devotion.

--- Unlike your browser you can’t go through life in “Incognito Mode!”

--- And during those times we deceive ourselves into believing we can live in sin and no one will know, the watchful eyes of the Lord still are upon us.

--- God let the Hebrews experience the consequences of their sinful choices.

--- After they had their way, their enemies became their masters.

--- But He also raised up someone to save them from their enemies when the people repented and cried out for help.

--- The people certainly didn’t deserve divine intervention.

--- But the Lord responded in grace with kindness.

--- When they were unfaithful, God was still faithful.

--- Even in our self-imposed suffering, God is good, offering help.

*** Drink your kids’ rebellious tears.

--- Your kids’ moans and sadness at being punished makes you sad, but what if you let them off the hook every time and they never learn their lesson? You’d be a bad parent.

--- How do they react? Usually with panic, right?

--- Every time something doesn’t go right in our lives, we tend to listen to Satan’s lies of fear, discouragement and despair.

--- Corrie ten Boom was a faithful Christian who hid Jews from arrest and deportation during the German occupation of the Netherlands. Even in that awful situation, she would say that “there is no panic in heaven, only plans.”

--- You may panic when your rebellion causes your world to go topsy-turvy, but He hasn’t quit on you.

--- The phrase “in the LORD’s sight” in verse 11 serves as a reminder to all of us that life is lived under God’s watchful eyes.

--- God watches over us just as a loving father keeps an eye on his children to encourage good behavior or to discipline bad behavior.

--- God has never stepped down from His throne. Jesus has not left His right hand, and the Holy Spirit has not stopped interceding for you.

TAKE-AWAY POINTS

Americans love a good rebel. We are a country founded by rebellion.

In the South there is still a sense of awe for the rebels of the Civil War.

We celebrate rebels in books, on TV, and in movies.

Of course, as a teenager you think of yourself as a rebel without a care, but your parents know that you’re actually a rebel without a clue.

When we rebel against God, however, we need a swift kick in our Biblical pants, so to speak.

Like the ancient Hebrews, we occasionally need to be reminded of God’s authority.

*** (1) God brings righteous judgment on His rebellious people, with the goal of their repentance.

*** (2) Is there any area of rebellion against God in your life? Ask for God’s forgiveness and make better choices.

*** (3) No matter where we stand in our relationship with God today, His desire is that we draw closer to Him.

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