Lo que Jueces 1 y 2 nos puede enseñar sobre el discipulado

What Judges 1 and 2 can teach us about discipleship

The book of Judges begins looking backward and ends looking forward. This period of Israel's history opens thus: "After the death of Joshua" (1:1'); His final words create a tension that points to the time of the monarchy of Saul, David, Solomon, and their successors: "At that time there was no king in Israel; everyone did what seemed best in his own eyes" (21:25). To understand and appreciate the great peaks and valleys, the triumphs and (more often) the tragedies of the time of the judges, we must begin by looking back, as verse 1:1 advises us.

The God who keeps His promise

Joshua was the successor of Moses chosen by God to lead the people of Israel (Num 27:12-23). He was one of only two men in the entire generation rescued from Egypt who had remained faithful in trusting in God's promises to bring His people to the promised land of Canaan (Number 14:30). So he and Caleb (who we meet later in Judges 1) were the only two who escaped God's judgment of death in the wilderness and were able to enter the promised land.

The book of Joshua records God's work in and through His people to fulfill the promises He had made to them. to take them to the land, to defeat their enemies and to begin to give them blessing and rest. It is a book that teaches us that, since God always keeps His promises, God's people can obey and worship Him in a courageous way. It is also a book that prepares the ground for Judges.

At the beginning and end of Joshua, God gives specific instructions to Joshua and the people that provide us with a standard by which to measure their progress in Judges 1. First, God tells them the dimensions of the land that "I will give to you" (Joshua 1:3-4). Second, it reminds them that their military advances (which depend on the Lord) must be accompanied by an intimate and humble spiritual life—a walk with God. They must have "great courage and steadfastness to obey the whole law and meditate on it [the book of the law]" (v 7, 8). Victory and rest will come because they are a people that depends on and obeys God; They will not be God's people by achieving victory and rest for themselves. You should not expect success if you do not accompany all your work with obedience to God while meditating on His word and trusting in His promises.

The book of Joshua records the beginning of this process of entering and taking possession of the land. Most of the time, the people obediently trust in God and He grants them victory. But as Joshua nears the end of his days, there is still much to do. The land is available to Israel, but they have yet to settle in it, trusting God to remove the current inhabitants.

The people still have to trust that God will keep His promises, and they have to boldly obey Him: "You will take possession of it [the land], just as He has promised. Therefore, strive to fulfill everything that is written." in the book of the law." (23:5-6).

An outward manifestation of this obedience that relies on the promise (what we might call covenant fidelity) is that Israel is not to enter into covenants with other nations, serve their gods, or form marriages with them (23:7,12). The purpose of driving out the Canaanites is not revenge or economic, but spiritual. They must be removed so that Israel does not fall under their religious influence: "Remain faithful to God, as you have done until now" (v.8). They were to build a country that would be their home to serve God, a land where surrounding nations could see the true God through the lives of His people.


Courageous Spirituality

God's call to His people (then and now) is to combine spirituality with courage. True discipleship is radical and risk-embracing because true disciples trust God to keep His promises to bless them and do not trust their own instincts, plans, or insurance policies.

It is difficult to be truly brave without having faith in God. The kind of bravery that does not arise as a result of faith in God is recklessness, macho heroism, or simply cruelty. It may have its origins in insecurity, or in a desire to show self-sufficiency, or in hopelessness. Only courage that is based on faith will maintain a middle position between atrocities, on the one hand, and cowardice and ineffectiveness, on the other.

Faith in God's promises means not always following the expected and rational path. When Joshua dies, true faith will be required to conduct this campaign the way God intends. On the one hand, the Israelites should never retreat when fighting any group of people from Canaan, no matter how much stronger they are than Israel. Common military policy dictates that you do not fight against superior armies over which you have no numerical or technological advantage. On the other hand, Israel cannot simply plunder and enslave any group of people in Canaan, no matter how much weaker they are than the Israelites. Common military policy dictates that you do not get into the trouble of driving out a people who are not dangerous and which you can dominate and exploit economically. Who Israel decides to fight and how Israel responds to the victory will show whether they are truly trusting the promises, whether they are truly obeying the Lord.

Judges, finally!

The opening chapter of Judges, read in light of and measured against the pattern of the book of Joshua, is a masterpiece of narrative. God's verdict on the Israelites' progress is not delivered at the beginning (as we will see) until the beginning of chapter 2. But the narrative itself shows us that Israel, at this point, is faithful although imperfect. The foundations are being laid, and although they are strong in certain parts, from the beginning they begin to erode.

Chapter 1 tracks the successes (and other circumstances) of nine of the Tribes of Israel. Much of the focus falls on those of the tribe of Judah as God says they must be the first to complete the conquest of their assigned territory (v 2).

Almost immediately Judah fails. "Then those of the tribe of Judah said to their brothers of the tribe of Simeon, 'Come up with us... and we will fight'" (v 3). Militarily this is common sense. But spiritually this is unfaithfulness. The word given by God was, "Judah will be the first to go up"; Judah fails to obey completely.

They go, but they don't go alone. His discipleship was exercised half-heartedly. However, because they had gone up as instructed, "when Judah attacked, the Lord gave the Canaanites and the Perizzites into their hands" (v 4). They completely defeated the inhabitants and captured and killed Adoní Bézec ("the Lord of Bézec"), who recognizes the justice of this judgment upon him; “Now God has repaid me in kind! ", v 7). It is important to note that, while many 21st century readers might have many doubts about Israel's conduct in Canaan, this defeated Canaanite does not. God's judgment throughout history is to hand over people to the consequences of the life they have chosen (Ps 64:3-4, 7-8; Rom 1:21-32).

Having won this victory, Judah continues to take its inheritance (Judges 1:8-11, 17-18). Among the record of these victories, the narrator focuses on a spiritually courageous family in Israel: the family of faithful Caleb. Here, in miniature, is how all of Israel should be. Caleb offers his daughter to the man who "defeats Kiriath Sepher and conquers her" (v 12). What he wants for Achsa is the life he has chosen for himself: one of covenant fidelity, of bold obedience in response to God's promises. "And it was Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother, who conquered it" (v 13).

Achsa, then, shows that she is her father's daughter. Her new husband, Othniel,'s urgent need to ask Caleb for land (v 14) and her own request to Caleb, "give me also springs" (v 15), expose her desire to take, settle, and enjoy the blessings of the promised land. Caleb, Othniel (whom we will meet again in 3:1-6) and particularly Achsa show us enthusiastic and unconditional discipleship. In this sense, they – and the Kenites (1:16), distant relatives of Israel who nevertheless "accompanied the tribe of Judah... to the wilderness of Judah" – represent a warning to the rest of the people. As will often be the case in this book (as it is among God's people to this day), it is the improbable and the foreigner (a woman and the Kenites) who show real and radical faith.

Common sense

If chapter I ended with verse 18, it would be almost completely encouraging and would be a good sign for the rest of the Judges. but verse 19 shakes us. "The Lord was with the men of Judah. ​​They took possession of the mountainous region, but they could not drive out those who lived on the plains, because those people had iron chariots." Judah does not trust in the power of God, so he measures his own strength against that of his enemies and fails to drive the plainspeople who owned iron chariots from the land.

Common sense, but without faith, begins to prevail here. Judah does not trust God; then it does not secure their inheritance so that they can worship God without commitment. The remnant of the Canaanites will become a thorn in their side for centuries to come.

It is not our lack of power that prevents us from enjoying the blessings of God or worshiping God with all our hearts; It is our lack of faith in His power. When we trust in ourselves and base our walk with God on our own calculations rather than simply obeying, we find ourselves making decisions like Judah's. Othniel attacked a city with the power of God; The tribe of Judah concluded that they could not attack with their own power. It is discipleship exercised half-heartedly, and Judges will show us that this type of discipleship precedes the abandonment of discipleship completely. The warning for us is clear!

No, neither, no

The contagion of half-hearted obedience, of half-trusting God's promises, spreads. Those of the tribe of Benjamin failed in that they "failed to drive out the Jebusites" (v 21). Joseph's house makes covenants with a Canaanite instead of trusting God's covenant promises (v 22-26). Manasseh fails to expel several inhabitants and then, when they are strong enough, decides to exploit them with forced labor (v 27-28). The implicit reason is that it made more economic sense and required less effort to enslave them than to expel them. Convenience trumps obedience.

Those of Ephraim allow the Canaanites to live among them (v 29). Zebulun chooses to subject them to forced labor (v 30). The people of Asher fared even worse: instead of allowing the Canaanites to live among them, they lived among the Canaanites (v 31-32), as Naphtali does (v 33). Finally, the tribe of Dan was "driven back... into the hill country" (v 34). What matters in verse 36 is not the boundaries of Israel's assigned inheritance, but the boundary of the Amorites, the areas where they "were determined to remain" (v 35). Here, there is no boast of greater military resources or numbers. Rather, the reason given is greater willpower and boldness superior in tenacity. God's people have become less brave than people who do not know God.

In many ways, and on first reading, this is a chapter about a great achievement. Israel lives in the promised land and has settled large areas of it. Two generations earlier, when the Israelites were suffering under the yoke of slavery in Egypt, they could not have dreamed that this would be the lives their grandchildren would live, but (and it's a big "but") Israel has not completely trusted or obeyed. The Israelites now live alongside the Canaanites who worship idols. Like buried mines. These idols remain in a dormant state in Judges 1, ready to explode in the spiritual lives of God's people.

This article was adapted from a portion of the book Judges for You , published by Poiema Publicaciones .
You can download a free sample by visiting this link.

Pages 15 to 21

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