Resisting the Flesh

Judges 8-9

The non-cooperation of Succoth, the snare of Gideon’s ephod, the fable of Jotham, and the reign of Abimelech the bramble provide lessons on the antagonism of the flesh to spiritual progress, and its longing for human rule, rather than that of the Lord.

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In a time of great spiritual decline, Judges describes particular heroes of faith. The opening chapter is set in the time of Joshua, but after his death in chapter 2 we read ‘and the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served Baalim’ and so on. Things went seriously wrong, and the Israelites lost their great liberty.

The backsliding, the evil associations, the intermarriage with pagans, the mixing of the culture of the Israelites with that of the Canaanites all led to a complete collapse of spiritual faithfulness and the adoption of idols. And we see the sad record of how the land was corrupted, God withdrew his hand of protection, and marauding invaders began to get the upper hand. There came about great times of repression, to the point later on that even Jericho – the great prize of the first conquest, taken by miraculous means – is captured by Moab.

Sadly this is happening all over again today, but in a different way. Bible believers are mixing with the ‘Canaanites’, adopting worldly music and worldly culture. It will lead to tremendous decline. You may see them at a certain time still preaching the gospel, still holding on to fundamentals, but because they’ve mixed their culture with that of the world, the blessing of God will be withdrawn, and things will collapse. We see it happening already. All over the Western world there are those who, in the last 50 years, have adopted worldly culture, and the quality of their churches has been lost. They are not the churches they used to be, by any means.

These scriptures are for our learning. These are great principles that we have to learn from.

But in chapter 3 there is a tremendous statement about Othniel, the first of the judges: ‘and the Spirit of the Lord came upon him’. And he was the first in a succession of judges which God raised up – all men who were set aside in a distinctive manner by the Spirit of God.

We notice, with Othniel, that the verse describing his raising up is very careful in its wording. He judged Israel first, and then went out to war. In other words, Othniel set about to reform the land before he could lead it to war and drive out the marauding Canaanites. And when things were straightened out, only then would the Lord be with them in defending themselves against their invaders.

Related Resource

Living for the Flesh or for the Spirit

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The Works of the Flesh

Part of a Bible Study series on Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians.