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Judges 1:1-2; 2:1-4; 16

CONFRONTING A NATIONAL DISASTER

Intro: It does not take very long to discover that the book of Judges is not a very pleasant book. In fact, it one of the darkest books in the Bible. It describes a period in Israels history when they were without a strong, godly leader. Perhaps the times and the book are best summed up by Judges 17:6, “In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes. When man is left ot himself, it will not be long before he finds himself in deep trouble. This was the case in Israel as well.

God had birthed them in the furnace of grace and had delivered them from the horrible of slavery in Egypt. He had led them through the wilderness giving them blessing on top of blessing. They were a favored people. They were the chosen ones of the Lord God Almighty. He led them; He fed them and He protected them. Eventually, He led them into the land of Canaan. This was their Promised Land. It was a land flowing with milk and honey, and it was given to them by the sovereign will of God. All they had to do was enter the land, destroy the people who were living there and take up residence.

God had given Israel Himself; He gave them a Lord. God led Israel into Canaan; He gave them a land. He also handed to them His commandments; He gave them a Law. But, Israel denied the Lord, defiled the land and defied the Law. As a result, God was forced to judge this people He loved so very much.

But, Israels saga is not limited to their experience. Looking back through the corridor of time, one can see nation after nation that had a great beginning, achieving tremendous success only to suffer a horrible fall and a tragic end.

Today, we stand on the eve of our nation’s 229th anniversary as a free, sovereign country. There is no doubt that America had an amazing beginning. Our great nation was forged on the anvil of truth with the hammer of the Word of God by men who held tightly to their convictions and who were held in the strong grip of their faith in Almighty God. There is no disputing the fact that America was founded, not as a religious nation, but as a Christian nation! There is no question but that God Himself had His hand in the formation of this country.

Yet, like Israel of old, America has denied the Lord Who formed us. We have defiled the land He gave us. We have defied the Law He established us upon. As a result, America is no more a Christian nation. We are no longer “one nation under God.” We, like Israel, have turned away from the God Who made us great and we have gone after gods of our own design. We are a nation that has experienced the great and manifold blessings of God in the past; we are a nation that will face God’s hand of judgment in the future!

Today, I want to look back into the ancient past. I want to watch Israel as the move away from the Lord and what happened to them because of their sin. I want to observe God as He confronts a national disaster in Israel. Some may wonder what this passage has to do with us.

My friend, in these verses we can see a portrait of our nation as it is today and we can get a glimpse of what lies in store for America, if she does not return to God.

Whether you know it or not, we are facing a real crisis in our nation. We have religion, but there is no fear of God. We have civilization and culture, but they are built on the shifting sands of human philosophy and wisdom and not the firm foundation of the Word of God. I would like for us to look around today, even as we look back. I would like to take these verses and preach for a few minutes on the subject Confronting A National Disaster.

 

I. 1:1-2 A NATION MARKED BY GLORIOUS CONQUEST

(Ill. When Israel entered Canaan, the sky was the limit! God had promised them the land and all they had to do was claim it by faith. Notice what they enjoyed during those early, heady days of victory.)

A. They Enjoyed God’s Providence Verse 2, “I have delivered… God was going before them, preparing the way for certain victory. There was no way they could lose as long as God was behind them, ahead of them, above them and all around them, Rom. 8:31.

B. They Enjoyed God’s Protection Verse 19, “And the LORD was with Judah and drave out… This shows us that God was actively involved in helping Israel conquer the land of Canaan. He not only prepared the way; He also protected them in the way.

C. They Enjoyed God’s Power Verse 4, which says “and the LORD delivered…, tells us Who the real power on the battlefield was. He is the God of all power, Matt. 28:18; Eph. 3:20!

D. They Enjoyed God’s Promises For hundreds of years, beginning with Abraham, Gen. 12:1, God had been promising to give the nation of Israel a homeland. He is in the process of fulfilling that promise in these verses.

 

(Note: I know that America is not Israel. Some would like to tell us that the promises given to the ancient Israelites have been transferred to us. That is just not true. I don’t want to spiritualize these verses, but I do want to use them as an illustration of what the Lord did for America.

You see, just as surely as Israel was a nation formed by God and formed around God; I think the same can be said about the United States of America. I don’t have time to share all the evidence that is available to support that statement, but just let me briefly share a quote or two.

On March 23, 1775 in the Virginia assembly, that golden tongued orator, Patrick Henry lit the flames of the American Revolution when he said, “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased with the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God. I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death. But that is not all that Patrick Henry said. He also made this statement, “It cannot be emphasized too much or repeated too strongly that America was founded not by religionists but by Christians, not upon religions, but upon the gospel of Jesus Christ. Many would like us to forget that, but it is still part of our nation’s history!

Another great American named George Washington, the first president of our country, the father of America read from the Bible when he was inaugurated. He took his oath of office with his hand upon the Bible and then he leaned down and kissed the pages of God’s Word. His first official act as President was to take the entire Senate and the House of Representatives to church. They stayed there for a two-hour worship service. Then George Washington said this, “It would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act my fervent supplication to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the counsels of nations and whose providential aids can supply every human defect that his benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States. And then George Washington said, “No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand which conducts the affairs more than the people of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency.

America is not an accident! She is the product of the sovereign, providential will of Almighty God. She was founded on His Word and down through the years, God has blessed America! This nation has enjoyed God’s protection, His power, His promises and His provision. Many would love to rip these facts from the fabric our nation’s history; but they are true. America was a nation marked by glorious conquest!)

II. 2:1-2 A NATION MARRED BY GRADUAL COMPROMISE

(Ill. All did not remain well in Israel. Notice Judges 2:7, 10. These verses tell us that the old generation that had seen God move in power and glory died out. A new generation came of age that forgot their heritage and denied the God that had made them what they were. Israel began a slow, steady descent down the slope of compromise.

When they entered the land, they had been commanded to utterly destroy the people of Canaan, Num. 33:51-56. They are warned in those verses that if they fail to drive out the nations, they themselves will be afflicted and that God Himself will turn against them. This became a reality in Israel.)

A. 1:19 The Canaanites They Feared After some initial success, 1:4-19a, Judah came up against some people that he feared. They did not drive these people out due to fear.

B. 1:27-30 The Canaanites They Favored We are told here that many of the tribes did not drive out the people of the land, but merely put them to tribute. That is, they enslaved the Canaanites and forced them to work for Israel.

C. 1:32-33 The Canaanites They Frequented It gets worse! In these verses we are told that some of the Israelites “dwelt among the Canaanites. They became accustomed to the vile and wicked ways of the Canaanites and accepted them for who they were.

 

(Note: Of course, this same trend can be seen here in America! We have already taken many of the same steps down that slippery slope that Israel took all those years ago. Remember, the key verse of this book is Judges 17:6 which says, “In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes. That means that there was no fixed standard of right and wrong. People did as they pleased. They did what they wanted to, without regard for God or what He had to say about the matter. That is where we are in this nation today!

In 1960 a poll was taken that showed that 65% of Americans believed that the Bible was the inerrant, inspired Word of God. Another poll was taken in 1992 and by then only 32% still believed the Bible was the perfect Word of God. In other words, less than one-third of Americans believe that there is a perfect standard for judging what is right and wrong. Judges 2:10 is being lived out before our eyes!

Another poll taken in 1992 asked this simple question: Do you believe that there are moral absolutes? Do you believe that there are some things that are absolutely wrong and some things that are absolutely right? 70% of those who answered that poll said that they did not believe in moral absolutes! That is scary! Our children are being taught that there are no absolutes. There are no wrong answers. Nothing is right and nothing is wrong. That is frightening if you follow it to its logical end. It means that abortion, murder, drugs use, alcohol use, pre-marital and extra-marital sex, etc, is all right if you want to do it.

Well, thank God that we still have the church right? Not so fast! A recent survey found that only 57% of professing Christians believed in moral absolutes. We are in a mess in America! With no clear standard for right and wrong, the door is open for people do as they please; just as they did in the days when Israel was sliding into the chaos of compromise. Ill. Isa. 5:20 is a passage that speaks to our day very well.

Well, as they did in Israel, America is busy compromising with the Canaanites of our day. There are some that we cannot seem to overcome. They have “chariots of iron.” We cannot seem to deal with drugs, crime, abortion, immorality, sexual perversion and moral decay. When we face these Canaanites that we fear, we simply adjust to them and accept them as “being part of life.”

Then there are the Canaanites that we favor. Things like legalized gambling, lotteries and alcohol are accepted by society because they are supposed bring revenue into the hands of the community and the government. But what about their enormous cost? What about broken homes? What about shattered innocence? What about a system that preys on the poorest among us? Look at the price America is paying economically for turning away from God and walking off into compromise! Look at our world! People are playing with vices that are destroying our young! Still we tolerate these Canaanites because they are supposedly working for us!

We fear some Canaanites; we favor others; but there are some that we frequent. That is, we live around sin so much that we begin to get desensitized to it. Instead of maintaining our spiritual purity, we begin to adopt the ways of the world. We talk like them; we walk like them; we do what they do; go where they go; watch what they watch; like what they like; smoke what they smoke; drink what they drink. We have adopted the attitude that sin is not all that bad anymore. We have allowed to walls of separation that existed between the church and the world to erode to the place that it is hard to tell the difference between the two any longer. Friend, don’t be fooled, you cannot play around with sin and not get burned, Pro. 6:27. Things have a way of getting out of hand quicker than you can imagine. Ill. Larry Waters and his amazing balloon ride.[1]

We have become a nation of compromisers. We are afraid to take a stand against sin for fear of being labeled “intolerant.” We are so politically correct that we are afraid we might offend someone with our “religion.” We are already paying a high price for our disobedience; but I am afraid that we are slated for far harsher judgment as a nation.

 

III. 2:3-4 A NATION MAIMED BY GRIM CONSEQUENCES

(Ill. Because of their sin, Israel faced the Lord’s judgment. Notice what happened to Israel, what may await America, if we do not repent.)

A. 2:3 They Endured A Divine Sentence God vowed to remove His protecting hand from Israel. He would allow the Canaanites they had compromised with to be a thorn in the side of Israel. He would allow the false gods of Canaan to be a snare to them.

America can expect no better treatment. Even now, we can see that our nation is under a sentence of divine judgment.

         Militarily we are weak and stretched to the limit. We are vulnerable to military attack. All the while our enemies grow stronger and bolder every day.

         Economically we are in serious trouble. People are struggling as they lose their jobs to China, Mexico and Vietnam. It was said recently that China could bring America to its knees without ever firing a shot, through economic means.

         Culturally, we are fighting a losing battle. The divorce rates have quadrupled in the past 30 years. Teen suicide has doubled and violent crime has risen 500%. One out of every three children is born to a single mother. In some cities the illegitimacy rates are as high as 80%!

         Morally we are totally bankrupt. Our government spends nearly 200 million dollars per year teaching kids how to use condoms. They use that same money to attack abstinence based sex education. 56 million Americans are suffering from a venereal disease of one form or the other.

         Spiritually we are in a deplorable condition. The Bible and prayer have been removed from our schools. The Ten Commandments continue to be attacked and relegated to the dust bin of history. Just this week, the Supreme Court came down against a display of the Ten Commandments in a court house. Some people fear the Ten Commandments. They say they might be dangerous to some child who might read them. I don’t know about you, but I would rather take my chances with someone who had been exposed to the bible, prayer and the Ten Commandments; than someone who had been taught that there is no such thing as right and wrong.

         We are under attack in the natural realm as well. Look at the hurricanes, the earthquakes, the floods, the tornadoes, the fires and fierce storms that are afflicting every part of our country.

         These are but a few of the signs that we are facing impending judgment from God. The fact is, our Protector has removed His hand of protection. But, it is not God’s fault. We have no one to blame but ourselves, Jer. 2:19! We are reaping the crop that we have been sowing for the last 100 years, Gal. 6:7! We have sown to the wind and we are reaping the whirlwind!

B. 2:4-5 They Expressed Deep Sorrow That generation called on the Lord because of their sins. Folks, repentance is the only hope this nation has! I am firmly convinced that the only thing holding this country up today is the prayers of a remnant of godly people. I challenge you to seek the face of the Lord for your nation!

C. 2:6-15 They Evidenced Deepening Sin The day came when Israel totally walked away from God, 2:11-15. Their compromise was transformed into wholesale sin and total disregard for the Word or will of Almighty God. For this, Israel paid a terrible price. Judgment came and they suffered the awesome wrath of a holy God.

Look around America today and you will see a nation that has forsaken God; rejected His Bible and thumbs its nose in defiance of the God Who formed her. God is given mere lip service in the public arena; while the same people who declare His Name in vain deny Him by their works and their walk. This trend is only going to get worse as the end times draw closer. Judgment is coming and America is going to pay a terrible price for her transgressions.

 

Conc: I realize that this has been a hard message. I love this nation and I want to see America spared the judgment that I think has already begun. I do not want to end on a down note. I want you to look at verse 16. I like the word “Nevertheless.” In spite of their failures, God still sent them men to lead them and to speak to them. Sometimes they listened, sometimes they did not. But, it still suggests that God was patient, loving and was giving them every chance to set things right.

Today, I want to challenge you to do a few things for me as we prepare to close. First, I wonder who might feel led to come and pray for our nation, our President and for God to send revival one more time. Who will align themselves with God and seek to confront a national disaster?

Second, there may be some people here who have never trusted Jesus as their Savior. Friend, He loves you and died for you. If you would like to be saved and He is calling you to come to Him, you can come right now.

Third, Some of God’s precious saints have been guilty of walking in compromise with the world and you need to get that matter straightened out with the Lord today.

If He is speaking to your heart today, I invite you to come to Him and get what you need.



[1] http://www.serve.com/cyberkaya/balloons.htm

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