Sunday – February 2, 2014 – Read the Word on Worship
Word On Worship – February 2, 2014 Download / Print
“Then it came about, as soon as Gideon was dead, that the sons of Israel again played the harlot with the Baals, and made Baal-berith their god. Thus the sons of Israel did not remember the Lord their God, who had delivered them from the hands of all their enemies on every side; nor did they show kindness to the household of Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) in accord with all the good that he had done to Israel.”
Before we are told of the evils of Abimelech and of leaders of Shechem, we first are told of the evils of the Israelites, evils which were the reason for God’s judgment upon the nation. This is a judgment that came from within, rather than from without. It was Gideon who created the ephod which the Israelites worshipped. But as bad as this worship of the ephod was during Gideon’s lifetime, we see things went from bad to worse when Gideon died.
But upon Gideon’s death, the Israelites plunged “full speed ahead” into their idolatry. We are told that “they made Baal-Berith their god.” We are very familiar with the term Baal, but the expression “Baal-Berith” is new to us. In the Hebrew text, the term “Berith” means “covenant,” and so the Israelites made “Baal-Berith” their god. Or perhaps we should say the Israelites entered into a “new covenant” – not the Mosaic Covenant, and most certainly not the “New Covenant” of the New Testament – but a covenant with Baal as their new god. The Israelites are not worshipping the God of Israel and also some Canaanite god; they are worshipping a Canaanite god as their only god. They have rejected their covenant with God and have entered into a new covenant with a heathen god, exactly what God had warned them not to do.
Many Christians today, including me, bemoan the fact that our government has become more and more corrupt, so that people of both political parties have become cynical about the motives and actions of politicians. Can anyone deny the decline in morality and justice in government which has been increasing at an alarming rate in recent days? Homosexuality is not merely tolerated by our highest officials; it is praised as something good. Abortions – most of which are really murder – are accepted, praised, encouraged and all too often financed by our government. Our passage in Judges declares to us that our government, corrupt as it is, is precisely what we deserve. God has given the people of our country what many have wanted, as well as what we deserve.
How tragic it is to see that the people of Shechem put their faith in the wrong person. First they trusted in Abimelech, and soon they will trust in Gaal. There is only One who can deliver Israel and us today, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ. He is worthy of our trust and of our praise and looking elsewhere for deliverance will only lead to our destruction. May we pay attention to what is happening in our lifetime and turn to the Lord Jesus.