Today, Pastor Scott Eynon led us through another chapter of The Story at Community Christian Church. It was chapter eight entitled “A Few Good Men…and Women.” This chapter took us through the Book of Judges, a dark time for the children of Israel.
We picked up from last week’s story of triumph when the Israelites entered the promised land under the leadership of Joshua, who challenged his people in his closing address — perhaps a State of the Israelites speech — in Joshua 24:15-16 (NIV) “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Then the people answered, “Far be it from us to forsake the Lord to serve other gods!”
However, it didn’t take too long before they forgot that commitment. As it states in Judges 2: 8-10 (NIV) “Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of a hundred and ten. And they buried him in the land of his inheritance, at Timnath Heres in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash. After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel.”
What happened was the torch of faith was not passed on from one generation to another. In the relative twinkling of an eye, the Israelites had forgotten all that the Lord their God had done for them. Basically, they stopped telling The Story.
But God is merciful and even though the Israelites began to worship the idols of Baal, he would hear their cry when their persecutions became great, His righteous judgement against them for abandoning their way. And God therefore raised up Judges, not what we would consider judges in today’s terms but rather political and military leaders. One of the interesting tales of an Israelite Judge is Deborah, a prophetess, who ended up leading the people to a great military victory because of the seeming cowardice of a man named Barak. We also studied the exploits of two other Judges — Gideon and Samson.The lesson according to Pastor Scott: “God enjoys using the overlooked and the unlikely as He writes His story. God sees you not for what you are but for what you will become.” And so it was with our Founding Fathers who were unlikely men who wrote an incredible story, of a nation rooted in liberty and freedom. They created America not for what it was, but for what it could be. And just as God raised up “Judges” along the way in dark times, so has America produced brave men and women who have stood to guarantee this blessing of liberty would not be lost.
But what happens, as with the death of Joshua, when we stop passing on the legacy, the torch of liberty to subsequent generations? We find ourselves where we are today, worshipping false gods and images, forsaking the fundamental principles that led to our growth, opportunity, and prosperity.
As Israel forget its legacy of faith, we in America are forgetting our legacy of liberty. And lest we forget, our liberty, the courage to challenge the British empire, was rooted in faith. And as Pastor Scott said in closing, “A faith that can’t be tested can’t be trusted.” I believe the restoration of the faith of our fathers will result in a greater America.
The closing verse of Judges, Chapter 21, Verse 25 (NIV) states, “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.” Replace the word “king” for leader and that is where we find ourselves in America today.