From Eternity Past


Chapter 53—The Judges, Deliverers of Israel

This chapter is based on Judges 6 to 8; 10.

Satisfied with the territory already gained, the tribes’ zeal flagged, and the war was discontinued. “When Israel was strong, they put the Canaanites to tribute, and did not utterly drive them out.” Judges 1:28. EP 391.1

The Lord had faithfully fulfilled, on His part, the promises made to Israel. It only remained for them to complete the work of dispossessing the inhabitants of the land. But this they failed to do. By entering into league with the Canaanites they transgressed the command of God and failed to fulfill the condition on which He had promised to place them in possession of Canaan. EP 391.2

At Sinai they had been warned against idolatry. “Thou shalt not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do after their works: but thou shalt utterly overthrow them, and quite break down their images.” So long as they remained obedient, God would subdue their enemies: “I will send My fear before thee, and will destroy all the people to whom thou shalt come... . And I will send hornets before thee, which shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite, from before thee. I will not drive them out from before thee in one year; lest the land become desolate, and the beast of the field multiply against thee. By little and little I will drive them out from before thee, until thou be increased, and inherit the land... . Thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor with their gods. They shall not dwell in thy land, lest they make thee sin against Me; for if thou serve their gods, it will surely be a snare unto thee.” Exodus 23:24, 27-33. EP 391.3

God had placed His people in Canaan to stay the tide of moral evil, that it might not flood the world. God would give into their hands nations greater and more powerful than the Canaanites. “Ye shall possess greater nations and mightier than yourselves ... from the wilderness and Lebanon, from the river, the river Euphrates, even unto the uttermost sea shall your coast be.” Deuteronomy 11:23, 24. EP 392.1

But they chose ease and self-indulgence. They let slip their opportunities for completing the conquest of the land. And for many generations they were afflicted by the remnant of these idolatrous peoples, that were as “pricks” in their eyes and “thorns” in their sides. Numbers 33:55. EP 392.2

The Israelites were “mingled among the heathen, and learned their works.” They intermarried with the Canaanites, and idolatry spread like a plague throughout the land. “Yea, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto devils... . And the land was polluted with blood.” “Therefore was the wrath of the Lord kindled against His people, insomuch that He abhorred His own inheritance.” Psalm 106:35-40. EP 392.3

Until the generation that had received instruction from Joshua became extinct, idolatry made little headway, but the parents prepared the way for the apostasy of their children. The simple habits of the Hebrews had secured them physical health, but association with the heathen led to indulgence of appetite and passion, which gradually enfeebled the mental and moral powers. By their sins the Israelites were separated from God, and they could no longer prevail against their enemies. Thus they were brought into subjection to the very nations that they might have subdued. EP 392.4

“They forsook the Lord God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt.” “They provoked Him to anger with their high places, and moved Him to jealousy with their graven images.” Therefore the Lord “forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh, the tent which He placed among them; and delivered His strength into captivity, and His glory into the enemy's hand.” Judges 2:12; Psalm 78:58, 60, 61. EP 392.5

Yet He did not utterly forsake His people. There was ever a remnant who were true to Jehovah, and from time to time the Lord raised up faithful and valiant men to put down idolatry and deliver the Israelites from their enemies. But when the deliverer was dead and the people were released from his authority, they would gradually return to their idols. Thus the story of backsliding and chastisement, of confession and deliverance was repeated again and again. EP 393.1