San Lo Community, an update for the week of September 2, 2018…
Thank you Pastor Brian for the message from Judges 2:16-23, “Listen Up!” God gets our attention in various ways. As we begin our new series in Judges, we learn the importance of hearing God’s voice. Why should we listen to God?
1) Listening to God keeps us from TURNING away from Him. (vv.16-17) “Then the Lord raised up judges who delivered them from the hands of those who plundered them. Yet they did not listen to their judges, for they played the harlot after other gods and bowed themselves down to them. They turned aside quickly (from the one true God) from the way in which their fathers had walked in obeying the commandments of the Lord; they did not do as their fathers.” Verse 16 begins with “then.” After Joshua led Israel in to the Promised Land, the people did not do as God instructed. Their disobedience was extreme. God’s people ignored, rejected and refused to listen to Him. They “bowed themselves down” to the gods of that culture. It was “then” in verse 16 that God provided judges to save His people. God’s heart breaks when His people refuse to listen. Israel ignored those judges that God provided for them. Not only did they not listen but they turned aside quickly from Him. They were slow to learn that, when God speaks we should listen up. You will notice this pattern throughout our study in Judges; peace with God when they obeyed and turmoil when they refuse to listen. Judges is an account of God’s interactions with His chosen people, Israel. I hope you catch the parallel between God’s relationship with the nation of Israel and God’s relationship with you. There is the real consequence of losing peace with God when we take action without seeking to listen to Him first. In our service to God whether at home, church, work, or mission, it’s vital to learn to listen to His voice. Otherwise we may be that person who turns away from Him. Salvation is secured with Jesus but when we turn away from God there is a good chance we will miss His blessings. Daily moments with God is not for the sake of salvation but for the sake of sanctification, which means how you live out your faith. The way we live on earth has an eternal impact.
2) Listening to God keeps us from TROUBLES before Him. (vv.18-19) Seeking the voice of God helps us avoid trouble. God wants us to stay away from those things that cause problems in His relationship with us. Sometimes the difficulties we encounter are because we did not listen to God. (v.19) “But it came about when the judge died, that they would turn back (to false gods) and act more corruptly than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them and bow down to them; they did not abandon their (ungodly) practices or their stubborn ways.” How can God’s people choose to follow other gods when Father God has been so good to them? It was not just one bad decision that led them to troubles. Israel time and again rebelled and disobeyed His instructions. There is a danger in continual disobedience that one commentary called progressive deterioration. This just means that it becomes easier to “act more corruptly” with each decision to behave badly. God is our Father so we ought to know that when He speaks we should listen because it will help us avoid unnecessary trouble. Israel demonstrated spiritual immaturity because when the judge died they disregarded God’s instructions and followed other gods. God loves His people so much that He had to place them under harsh authority to test and build their faith by allowing Israel’s enemies to rule over them. It was not a pleasant time. If they would’ve only listened to God they would have peace, not problems. Instead of troubles they would enjoy triumph.
3) Listening to God keeps us from losing TOUCH with Him. (vv.20-23) Key verse 20: “So the anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and He said, “Because this nation has transgressed, forgotten, overstepped, My covenant which I commanded their fathers and has not listened to my voice, I will also no longer drive out before them any of the nations which Joshua left when he died.” What caused this distance between Israel and God? From verse 20 we understand that they transgressed or forgot their covenant with God. What binding agreement with God did Israel ignore? Judges 2:2 tells us “And as for you, you shall make no covenant or contract with the inhabitants of this land; you shall tear down their altars.” What did Israel do? We just read in verse 17 that instead of destroying altars to other gods they “bowed themselves down to them.” They did not get rid of anything associated with false gods. Rather they submitted themselves to the religion of the culture, stopped listening to God and abandoned Him. Without deliberate time with God, we may find ourselves in the same predicament as the Israelites who transgressed or forgot about and lost touch with God. The Israelites instead of impacting a culture that rejected God were influenced by the culture to the point of bowing down to other gods. If we fail to listen to God, through His word, prayer, or worship it’s easy to lose touch with Him. If not careful we could fall into the same trap as the Israelites who were influenced by the values of the world rather than influencing the world for God.
When God speaks we should Listen Up! It keeps us from TURNING away from Him, avoid TROUBLES before Him, and keeps us in TOUCH with Him. Being in TOUCH with God reinforces our purpose which is to tell others that “Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to Scriptures.” 1 Corinthians 15:3,4 This Gospel message is ultimately the reason why we listen to God.