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This is clearly an incident to arrest our attention and to arouse our curiosity. Let us inquire: (1) Who this angel was? (2) What the meaning of "Gilgal" and "Bochim" is; and (3) What significancy may lie in that apparently meaningless ascent of the heavenly visitant from Gilgal to Bochim.
I. Most commentators recognise in this angel the uncreated angel of the covenant, even the second person of the Blessed Trinity. This "Angel" uses words which are emphatically the words of God Himself and of no lesser being.
II. Gilgal was the first camp of Israel after Jordan was actually crossed, it was at once a goal and a starting-point. To Christians it represents that position of vantage, that excellence of endowment whence they go forth in obedience and faith to subdue their spiritual foes. Bochim was the place of weepers the place of mere feelings, emotions, idle fears, barren sorrow, unavailing regret.
III. The visit of the angel to reproach us should teach us to make a vigorous move, to break up from Bochim, and make Gilgal once more our headquarters. Sentimental regrets, self-bewailing tears, barren religious emotions, only divert attention from real remedies and practical duties.
R. Winterbotham, Sermons and Expositions, p. 59.
I. The sin of Israel, here reproved, consisted in their not thoroughly driving out the inhabitants of the land and throwing down their altars. Christ bids His people mortify their members which are on the earth. Come out and be separate and touch not the unclean thing. For generally we have no definite plan of life at all. Hence vacillation, fitfulness, inconsistency, excess and deficiency, by turns. The opportunity of setting up a high standard and aim is lost, and soon, amid the snares of worldly conformity, we sigh for the day of our visitation, when we might have started from a higher platform and run a higher race than we can now hope ever to realise.
II. Consider the inexcusableness of the sin in question. Look back to the past and call to mind from what a state the Lord has rescued you, at what a price, by what a work of power. Look around on your present circumstances, see how the Lord has performed all that he swore to your fathers; the land is yours, and it is a goodly land. And if, in looking forward to the future, you have any misgivings, has He not said, "I will never break My covenant with you." What can you ask more? A past redemption, a present possession, and a covenant never to be broken. Are these considerations not sufficient to bind you to the whole work and warfare of the high calling of God, and to make cowardice and compromise exceeding sinful.
III. Consider the dangerous and disastrous consequences of the sin in question. Hear the awful sentence of God: "They shall be as thorns in your sides," etc. (Judges 2:3 ), and then see how the children of Israel lift up their voice and weep. The golden opportunity is lost, their error is not to be retrieved, its bitter fruits are to be reaped from henceforth many days.
R. S. Candlish, Sermons, p 155.
References: Judges 2:1-7.2.5 . J. Baldwin Brown, The Sunday Afternoon, p. 185.
Judges 1:0 and 2
The character of Joshua is, like that of many soldiers, simple and easily understood. He was strong and of a good courage, a man, fit not only for battle, but for tedious campaigning; full of resources, and able to keep up the heart of a whole people by his hopeful bearing. It was one of the most difficult of tasks which was entrusted to Joshua. He was to lead the people through a series of the most brilliant and exciting military successes, and then to turn them to the most peaceful pursuits. It has been said of the Romans, that they conquered like savages and ruled like philosophic statesmen. The same transition had to be accomplished by Israel, and into the strong hand of Joshua was the delicate task committed.
I. But the work he did needs some justification. Many persons have been staggered by the slaughter of the Canaanites. No doubt the Canaanites were idolaters, but is this not to propagate religion by the sword? The key to this difficulty was given in the very first confirmation of the grant made to Abraham. When the land of Canaan was made over to him and his descendants, he was told that they could not at once enter on possession, " because the iniquity of the Amorites was not full " The transference of territory was thus from the first viewed and treated as a judicial transaction. Between this and many other outwardly similar conquests there was all the difference which there is between a righteous execution, which rejoices the hearts of all good men, and murder, which makes us ashamed of our nature.
II. The new leader of Israel received a name which, by identifying his leadership with God's, gave constant promise of victory. Originally called Hoshea, or Salvation, this name was changed, when he led the spies, to Jehoshua, or the Lord is my Salvation. And it has never ceased to seem significant to the Christian that this name of Joshua should have been that by which our Lord was called. (1) We are, in the first place, reminded by this parallel that the help afforded to us in Christ is God's help, and this in a fuller sense than was true in Israel's case. The Angel of the Lord was one person, and Joshua another. But in the person of Jesus Christ these two are one the human Leader and divine Saviour. (2) We are reminded by this parallel that as in the conquest of the land by Joshua, so in our salvation, there is a somewhat perplexing mixture of miracle and hard fighting. (3) We see in this conquest to which Israel was led by Joshua, in what sense and to what extent we should look for present victory over sin. Joshua did not deal only in promises, and no one who is in earnest about sin will be put off with mere expectations of deliverance. The Saviour I need is one who can help me to-day, one who counts my present enemies His enemies, and who can communicate to me such real strength as shall make the difference between my being defeated and my conquering them. If you fall into sin that makes you doubt whether Christ is a present Saviour, there is really nothing else to say than this: You must win back again the ground you have lost.
M. Dods, Israel's Iron Age, p. 3.
I. Observe, first, that the reprover of the people is termed "an angel." "An angel of the Lord came up from Gilgal." But the first utterance carries us to the thought of One higher than angel or archangel. The speaker describes Himself as the deliverer of Israel out of Egypt, and He finishes with the denunciation, "Ye have not obeyed My voice." The coming up from Gilgal seems to connect at once the prophet of Bochim with Joshua's vision of the Captain of the Lord's host. In this place and in many others, we have a previous manifestation of the second person of the Trinity in the form of the manhood which in the latter days He was about to take into God. We here see the eternal Word in one of His three great offices, viz., that of prophet or teacher. The burden of His prophecy is worthy of the Divine speaker, for it is the simple enunciation of the fundamental truth of all religion man in covenant with God, and bound to comply with the terms of that covenant.
II. Consider the result of the prophesying. The general result was but transitory. The people wept and sacrificed unto the Lord. But no amendment ensued. The whole effect was a momentary outburst of feeling and a hasty sacrifice. Most true picture of the reception of the word of God in after time. It is sensational or emotional religion against which Bochim is our warning. There are two principal elements of this fruitless sorrow. The first is want of depth of soul. The second is the "after revolt of the human mind against the supernatural."
Godly sorrow issues in a repentance not to be repented of, in that thorough turning of the life to God's service, from which, in the hottest fire of temptation, there is never a turning back to the way of evil again.
Bishop Woodford, Oxford Lent Sermons, 1870, p. 63.
References: Judges 2:4 , Judges 2:5 . Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxviii., No. 1680. Judges 2:18 . Parker, vol. vi., p. 162. 2 Ibid., vol. v., p. 324.Judges 3:4 . Ibid., vol. vi., p. 163.Judges 3:9 , Judges 3:10 . Ibid., vol. v., p. 333.Judges 3:15 . Ibid., vol. v., p. 339. Judges 3:16 . S. Baring-Gould, Village Preaching for a Year, vol. ii., Appendix, p. 16. Judges 3:20 . T. Guthrie, Sunday Magazine, 1873, p. 281; T. Cartwright, Thursday Penny Pulpit, vol. vi., p. 125.Judges 3:31 . S. Baring-Gould, Village Preaching for a Year, vol. ii., Appendix, p. 47; Parker, vol. v., p. 344; T. Kelly, Pulpit Trees, p. 21.Judges 4:1-7.4.24 . Clergyman's Magazine, vol. iv., p. 279. Judges 4:8 . J. Keble, Sermons for the Christian Year: Sundays after 2rinity, Part I., p. 64.Judges 4:8 , Judges 4:9 . S. Leathes, Truth and Life, p. 99. Judges 4:14 . Clergyman's Magazine, vol. xvi., p. 273.
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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Judges 2". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany