Cycles of History (Part 2)
Yesterday, we read a lengthy portion of text from Judges 2 that summarized the sad cycles of Israel's history after the death of Joshua. When we analyze their history closely, we can see that there are four basic steps to each cycle. Let us begin considering those steps at this time.

God was exceedingly good to the Israelites. They would not have escaped Egyptian bondage without His powerful deliverance, and they would not have had a chance at overthrowing the people of Canaan without His help.

Deuteronomy 28:1,2 records the fundamental condition that had to be met in order for God to shower His blessings upon them - "Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the LORD your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the LORD your God." The verses that follow detail the extent of the blessings God would bestow upon His children if they were obedient to Him. However, a little later in the chapter (verses 15ff), God describes the terrible suffering they would be afflicted with if they chose the path of disobedience - "But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you..." In the days of Moses, God clearly set forth His expectations for His people, and He spelled out the consequences of both obedience and rebellion. Tragically, the nation of Israel chose the latter throughout much of their history.

Judges 2:10 explains that within a generation of Joshua's death, the children "did not know the LORD nor the work which He had done for Israel." Why did they not know? Because they had not been taught by their parents (cf. Deut. 6:4-9)! They took for granted the blessings that Jehovah bestowed upon them, or--worse yet--they attributed them to the idols of the Canaanite people. "They forsook the LORD and served Baal and the Ashtoreths" (Jud. 2:13). The destructive path they chose did not go unnoticed by the true and living God!

"And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel. So He delivered them into the hands of the plunderers who despoiled them [as He promised He would in Deut. 28, if they rebelled]; and He sold them into the hands of their enemies all around, so that they could no longer stand before their enemies. Wherever they went out, the hand of the LORD was against them for calamity, as the LORD has said, and as the LORD had sworn to them. And they were greatly distressed" (Jud. 2:14,15). The punishment inflicted by the Lord was not mere retribution. Certainly God hoped they would come to their senses and turn back to Him.

We will contemplate the fourth step of the cycle tomorrow as we conclude this study.