From Gilgal To Bochim

Photo by Johannes Plenio:

We saw last week how Israel, under the leadership of the Kenite turned Judite Caleb, followed God and was blessed. Before Joshua died he encouraged Israel to say true to God. Tonight let’s turn to Judges chapter 2 (though we will go back and finish Judges chapter 1). Read with me:

Judges 2:1-5 And an angel of the Lord came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with you. 2 And ye shall make no league with the inhabitants of this land; ye shall throw down their altars: but ye have not obeyed my voice: why have ye done this? 3 Wherefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you. 4 And it came to pass, when the angel of the Lord spake these words unto all the children of Israel, that the people lifted up their voice, and wept. 5 And they called the name of that place Bochim: and they sacrificed there unto the Lord.

From Victory To Defeat

an angel of the Lord came up from Gilgal to Bochim

An angel of the Lord came to Israel with a message direct from God. The Angel spoke from God just as our Bible speaks from God. What caused the Angel to come? Because Israel had gone from Gilgal to Bochim. You read this as a Gentile and think, “so what?”. You have to look at the places, and see what happened in the contexts. The Angel came from Gilgal. The Bible tells us that ..

Gilgal (also called Bethel) is the place where the second generation of Israel crossed the Jordan into the Promised Land.

It was at Gilgal that God had Israel cross into the Promised Land. The Priests were to go first, carrying the Ark of the Covenant, a holy box that contained manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the Ten Commandments on stone (Hebrews 9:4). As the Priests stepped into the Jordan, the Bible says:

Joshua 3:13 … when the soles of the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off from flowing, and the waters coming down from above shall stand in one heap.

God replicated what He did at the Red Sea with the first generation of Israel. While Moses (a Priest) held his rod over the water, the Red Sea parted and the people went through on dry land. As the second generation of Israel crossed the swollen Jordan River, the Priests step in carrying the Ark of the Covenant. As they step in the water, the water retreats, and stands up on both sides like it did with Moses 40 years before. Israel obeyed God, and started rolling forward.

Gilgal (the transliterated Hebrew word Gilgāl) means:

Israel was on the move. Following God, they would be a juggernaut that nothing could stop! To help Israel remember this time, Joshua had every tribe pick set up a memorial stone at Gilgal (Joshua 4:19-20). When you follow God, you can do the impossible. The Scripture says:

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Jesus told us,

John 15:5 (ESV) I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

After Israel first entered the Promised Land at Gilgal, the Israelite men proved their faith by being circumcised at Gibeath-haaraloth (Joshua 5:3). The name Gibeath-haaraloth means “Hill of the Foreskins”. A circumcised warrior has trouble walking, much less fighting. Being circumcised by flint knives (Joshua 5:2-8), the nation of Israel – an estimated 6 million men – “remained in their places in the camp until they were healed” (Joshua 5:7). Had the enemy attacked, Israel would have been slaughter. But Beloved, if God tells you to do something, He will protect you while you do it.

God told Israel, “today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you” (Joshua 5:9). Israel was no longer enslaved to Egypt, sin, nor self. They followed the Living God. Israel celebrated the Passover at Gilgal (Joshua 5:10). On that same day God stopped providing Manna to Israel, as their sustenance would come from the Promised Land as they followed the Lord.

Israel went from Gilgal to “Bochim”. Gilgal means “a rolling wheel”. Israel was moving on and couldn’t be stopped. But “Bochim” (a transliteration of the Hebrew Bōḵîm) means
“Place of WEEPING”.

How did Israel come from a place of victory to a place of defeat, from a place of fullness to a hungering place, from a place of joy to a place of misery? Let’s go back and finish Chapter One.

Israel Started Great, But Began To Drift

Judges 1:17-18 And Judah went with Simeon his brother, and they slew the Canaanites that inhabited Zephath, and utterly destroyed it. And the name of the city was called Hormah. 18 Also Judah took Gaza with the coast thereof, and Askelon with the coast thereof, and Ekron with the coast thereof.

Judah, led by Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite (Numbers 32:12; 34:19) utterly destroyed the Canaanite city called Zephath” (which means “Watchtower”). I’m guessing this was a key stronghold of the enemy. After destroying the city it was called Hormah” (Hebrew ḥārmâ) which means “devoted to destruction” or “broken rock”. Judah was on the roll. Why? Because we read:

Judges 1:19 And the Lord was with Judah; and he drove out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.

God was with Judah. Judah found it easy to drive out the Canaanites in the mountains, BUTcould not drive out the inhabitants of the valley. Those in the mountains had no iron chariots, as horse could only pull these heavily armored carriages on flat land. But in the valley they had chariots of iron. Why couldn’t Judah drive out the Canaanites in the valley? Was it because “iron chariots” are too strong for God? Is God like Superman – and IRON (the fourth MOST ABUNDANT element in the earth’s crust) just causes God to go, “Boy, that’s just too much for Me!” No, that’s foolish! There is nothing too hard for God” (Jeremiah 32:17). The problem wasn’t God – it was Judah.

It was easy for Judah to defeat those in the mountains, but more difficult in the valleys. Too often Christians give up when things get hard. But God allows the hardness to grow our faith.

Joshua had told the Israelites, “You SHALL drive out the Canaanites, even though they have CHARIOTS OF IRON and though they are strong” (Joshua 17:18). It was not that Judah couldn’t do it. It was that it became what they thought was “too hard” or “too uncomfortable”. The Bible says in …

James 1:2-4 (ESV) Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

I’ll be the first to say I hate difficulties. I hate having to work things out. Once I get everything set up the way I want it, I want it to stay the way it is. But life isn’t this way. Life has ebb and flow. Life has high and lows. Life has good and bad. We are told in

Job 5:7 (ESV) … {people} are born to trouble, as the sparks {of a campfire} fly upward

Even Apostles had to learn that – though trials may come – we are to keep on following God one day at a time, one step at a time. Before the Apostle Paul said “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me”, he wrote:

Philippians 4:11-12 (ESV) … I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.

Sometimes the Canaanites will be on the mountain, and we can easily knock them off, because God is on the mountain with us. But sometimes the Canaanites are in the valley in iron chariots. They can still be defeated, but we have to grit our teeth and do the unpleasant and difficult thing. And yet God has said,

Hebrews 13:5 (ESV) … “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Judges 1:20 … And they {Judah} gave Hebron unto Caleb, as Moses said: and he expelled thence the three sons of Anak.

Was Judah’s failure to defeat the Canaanites in iron chariots Caleb’s fault? Absolutely not! Caleb was following God. The three sons of Anak were giants, of a race of giants called the Anakim (see Numbers 13:33; Deuteronomy 1:28; 2:21). The giant that the Shepherd David fought named Goliath was descended from the Anakim. One commentary notes:

The Masoretic Text, the Hebrew text that has long been accepted by the Jewish people, states that Goliath’s height was “six cubits and one span.” Taking a cubit to be approximately eighteen inches and a span to equal six, this figures to a height of approximately nine feet, six inches. … His bronze armor alone weighed 125 pounds (1 Samuel 17:5)”

The iron blade of Goliath’s spear weighed 15 pounds. The man was a beast! And yet Caleb defeated three Goliaths. Why? Because Caleb trusted God, and kept striving to do what God said. Too often we give up too soon – and suffer for it! We need to keep on following God.

Illustrate: A very weak and sickly Christian withdrew from his Church and his family, and just wanted to die. Coughing, he often spit up blood. He prayed, and asked the Lord to take him home to Heaven. The Lord spoke to him. “There’s a boulder near the edge of your property. I want you to push on that rock every day. Push it because I said so. Keep pushing, and I’ll bring you home”. So every day the man would get up, and go out to push the rock. It didn’t move. He pushed and pushed, until sweat popped out of his body. He pushed every day for several hours, rain or shine, cold or hot. After a few years passed he was rocking on his front porch, about to go out and push the rock again, the Lord spoke to him. The man said, “Lord, I did what You told me to do. I pushed the rock – but I couldn’t get it to move. The Lord asked, “How are you feeling?”. The man said, I feel great. But I can’t move that rock. Jesus said, “Go look in the mirror, and tell me what you see”. The man looked – and he was no longer sickly and broken. He was strong, fit, and able to stand up straight. His cough was gone. Jesus said, “I never asked you to move the rock. I asked you to push the rock. While you obeyed me, your life changed. That rock made you stronger, made you a powerful son of God”.

Mark 11:22 (ESV) .. Have faith in God …

Some Quit When It’s Hard, Others Compromise With The World

Judges 1:21 And the children of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites that inhabited Jerusalem; but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Benjamin in Jerusalem unto this day.

The city of Jerusalem was on the border of Judah and Benjamin’s territory, but it was mostly inside of Benjamin’s lot. So the children of Benjamin were supposed to run the Jebusites out of that city. Yet the didn’t. Why? Was it because they couldn’t. Not, it was because they compromised with the unbelievers.

Churches today are encouraged by social media, network news, and other churches that have compromised with the world to “just go along to get along”. The Bible tells us to not compromise with the darkness. God had told Israel to run the Canaanites – including the Jebusites – out of the land. One commentary notes:

As we go through this world, we will hear many calls to compromise. The “fleeting pleasures of sin” (Hebrews 11:25), “hollow and deceptive philosophy” (Colossians 2:8), and “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16) all tempt us to compromise in areas we should not. Usually, the temptation to compromise is heightened by some type of fear, such as the fear of being rejected or criticized. What makes compromise so dangerous is the subtle way it approaches us. Compromise, by definition, doesn’t involve a wholesale capitulation to worldly ways or ideals; rather, it accommodates them. Most of us would recoil at the thought of tossing Jesus aside and embracing an idol, but compromise never asks us to do that. Compromise says that we can have the idol and keep Jesus, too. There’s room on the shelf for one more object of worship, right? And what’s the harm, since we still have Jesus?”

Compromise with the world will spread through the whole Church if unchecked. We read:

Judges 1:22-26 And the house of Joseph, they also went up against Bethel: and the Lord was with them. 23 And the house of Joseph (tribe of Ephraim & the half tribe of Manasseh) sent to descry (tûr, seek out, survey) Bethel. (Now the name of the city before was Luz.) 24 And the spies saw a man come forth out of the city, and they said unto him, Shew us, we pray thee, the entrance into the city, and we will shew thee mercy. 25 And when he shewed them the entrance into the city, they smote the city with the edge of the sword; but they let go the man and all his family. 26 And the man went into the land of the Hittites, and built a city, and called the name thereof Luz: which is the name thereof unto this day.

The House of Joseph (Ephraim and the half tribe of Manasseh) goes to the House of Bethel (means “House of God”) to take it. Rather than trust in the Lord, the House of Joseph sees a man and tells him, Shew us, we pray thee, the entrance into the city, and we will shew thee mercy. Some have compared this to what Jacob did with Rahab the Harlot and her family in taking Jericho. Rahab was at one time a Canaanite Prostitute, but she came to believe in Israel’s God, the God of the Scripture. When Rahab hid the spies from the Canaanites, she turned on her own people to do what God put on her heart. As a result she was saved. When God praises the faith of the elders in

Hebrews 11:30-31 (ESV)By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. 31 By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.

James 2:25 (ESV) … was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?

Rahab and her family was not only saved by faith in God, but Rahab became part of lineage of Jesus Christ (see Matthew 1:5). The man that the spies questioned did not believe in God, but was compelled to tell them a secret way into the city in order to save his own life. Once the man was released, he went to the land of the unbelieving Hittites, and built a city there. Though the House of Joseph took Bethel, they did so in the power of man, not the power of God. They compromised their faith in God. This would come back to haunt Israel.

Instead Of Obeying God – I’ve Got An Idea!

Judges 1:27-28 Neither did Manasseh drive out the inhabitants of Bethshean and her towns, nor Taanach and her towns, nor the inhabitants of Dor and her towns, nor the inhabitants of Ibleam and her towns, nor the inhabitants of Megiddo and her towns: but the Canaanites would dwell in that land. 28 And it came to pass, when Israel was strong, that they put the Canaanites to tribute, and did not utterly drive them out.

Israel’s tribes are compromising more and more with the Canaanites. Manasseh did not trust God, but instead made them their servants. The Canaanites were told to pay tribute or taxes to Israel. As long as they paid their taxes, they could keep on living in the land and in the various cities that were not conquered.

Judges 1:29-33 Neither did Ephraim drive out the Canaanites that dwelt in Gezer; but the Canaanites dwelt in Gezer among them. 30 Neither did Zebulun drive out the inhabitants of Kitron, nor the inhabitants of Nahalol; but the Canaanites dwelt among them, and became tributaries. 31 Neither did Asher drive out the inhabitants of Accho, nor the inhabitants of Zidon, nor of Ahlab, nor of Achzib, nor of Helbah, nor of Aphik, nor of Rehob: But the Asherites dwelt among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land: for they did not drive them out. 33 Neither did Naphtali drive out the inhabitants of Bethshemesh, nor the inhabitants of Bethanath; but he dwelt among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land: nevertheless the inhabitants of Bethshemesh and of Bethanath became tributaries unto them.

You see the words Neither did repeated over and over again. Have you ever seen dominoes, stood in lines on end, and when one domino fell, it knocked the other down, and so on and so forth until ALL the dominoes are laying flat on the floor in total disarray. That’s what this section of Scripture is like. One nation compromised with the world, and then another, and then another. This is how evil spreads.

Jesus said to His Church:

Matthew 5:13-16 (ESV) “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

We as God’s people are commanded to obey Him, to do what He has said do. Israel refused to do this. Instead they started a slow drift away from God. So the Angel of God comes and tells them:

Judges 2:1 And an angel of the Lord came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with you.

God is not the problem that Israel has. God led Israel to the Promised Land, just as He said He would. God never broke His word.

Judges 2:2 And ye shall make no league with the inhabitants of this land; ye shall throw down their altars: but ye have not obeyed my voice: why have ye done this?

God was VERY CLEAR what He expected of His people. God is VERY CLEAR with us in the Church. He has given us two great Commandments:

Matthew 22:37-40 Jesus said unto {US}, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

That’s very clear. There is no ambiguity there. In fact, every Scripture that God gives us command is very clearly black and white. God is not hard to understand – unless our hearts are hardened. Israel knew EXACTLY what they were supposed to do. We read on:

Judges 2:3 Wherefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you.

God gives us a choice. The way to blessing and peace is to follow the Lord. You can’t take the Promised Land if you don’t listen to the Voice of the Maker of the Promised Land. There are consequences for disobeying God. You can be saved, and drift away from victory and blessing to defeat and misery. Have you drifted?

I was talking to someone the other day about their faith in Christ. They claim to love the Lord, to be saved – and yet have drifted away. So I asked them some questions to do a little spiritual triage. What is spiritual triage? Well, medical triage is “a preliminary assessment of patients or casualties to determine the urgency of their need for treatment”. Spiritual triage is similar to this. If you are born again – saved by faith in Christ – there are certain evidences that this is true. So let’s examine three questions.

1 Do you love and honor the Word of God? It is faith in the Word of God that leads you to a state of salvation. The Gospel is found in the Word of God. The truths of our faith are found in the Word of God. If you are born again by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, you should love and adhere to the Word of God.

2 Do you love the God Who saved you? Do you care more about what He thinks and says than what the world thinks and says? Do you keep His commandments. Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments”. (John 14:15-24; 1 John 2:5-6). If you do not love God nor want to keep His commandments, then you are probably not saved.

3 Do you love the Church that Jesus died for? Jesus said, “Upon this Rock I will build MY CHURCH” (Matthew 16:18). Have you abandoned the Church to “do my own thing”? The Church is the Kingdom of God, the Family of God. If you do not love the Church, you may not be saved. What do you think Heaven will be, but a gathering of the Church?

I guess this could all be condensed to “Do you love?” Those who are saved love the Word of God. Those who are saved love God. Those who are saved love the Church, and truthfully, all people. Do not base your salvation on what the world says – but on what God says. Repent, and turn to Jesus Christ. Give your life unconditionally to Him, for He died unconditionally for you. Follow Him, for He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. May God the Holy Spirit draw you to a saving faith in God through Jesus. Amen and Amen.

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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