Click here to join the effort!
THE DANGER OF INDECISION
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 winch I sware unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with you. 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? 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. 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. And they called the name of that place Bochim: and they sacrificed there unto the Lord.
WE admire the condescension of Jehovah towards his chosen people, in that he raised up prophets to instruct them, and not unfrequently sent angels also to minister unto them. But the person who is here called “an Angel of the Lord,” seems to have been no other than “the Angel of the Covenant,” the Lord himself. It is certain that Jehovah did sometimes assume the appearance of an angel; as when he visited Abraham, and informed him of the judgments that were about to be inflicted on Sodom and Gomorrha. And it is clear that the person spoken of in our text was no created angel; for if he had, how could he with any propriety use such language? It was not a creature that brought the Israelites out of Egypt; but Jehovah. It was not a creature that made a covenant with them; but Jehovah. It was not a creature to whom they were accountable for their disobedience, or whose threatened dereliction they had such reason to deplore, but Jehovah: and the circumstance of his being said to come up from Gilgal, which is supposed to militate against this interpretation, rather confirms it: for it was in Gilgal, near to Jericho, that this same divine person had appeared to Joshua, as an armed warrior. That he was Jehovah, cannot be doubted; because he suffered Joshua to worship him; and even commanded him to put off his shoe from his foot, because the very ground whereon he stood was, by reason of his presence, rendered holy. In his conversation with Joshua he had called himself “the Captain of the Lord’s host;” and therefore there was a particular propriety in his appearing now to the people, to inquire, “Why they had not carried his orders into effect? and to threaten that he would fight for them no longer. Besides, at Gilgal the people had revived the ordinance of circumcision, and had kept a passover unto the Lord; in both which ordinances they had consecrated themselves to God afresh, and engaged to serve him, as his redeemed people. In coming therefore as from Gilgal, the Angel reminded them of their solemn engagements, and humbled them the more for their violation of them.
The particular address of the Lord to them, together with the effect it produced upon them, leads us to consider,
The danger of indecision—
The command which God had given to the Israelites was plain and express: they were “utterly to destroy the Canaanites, and to make no covenant with them [Note: Deuteronomy 7:2.]:” and on their performance of this condition was suspended the continuance of God’s interposition in their favour. But they were not careful to execute the divine command: and therefore God threatened, that the Canaanites, whom they had presumed to spare, should become a lasting source of pain to them; that they would gradually draw them into sin, and ultimately become instruments of inflicting on them the vengeance they had merited.
Such is the sin which God’s professing people still commit—
[The command to every one of us is to make no league with any one of our spiritual enemies; not with the world: on the contrary, we are to “overcome it;” to “come out from the people of it, and be separate;” to be “dead to” all its cares and pleasures, “being crucified to it, and esteeming it as crucified unto us:” we are “not to be of it, any more than Jesus Christ himself was of it.” With respect to the flesh also and our corrupt nature, no truce must be made with it, even for a moment: we must “mortify our members upon earth,” and “crucify the flesh with the affections and lusts:” we must not spare one evil desire, though it should be dear as “a right eye,” or useful as “a right hand;” we must “pluck it out with abhorrence, or cut it off, and cast it from us.” It is not sufficient to make them pay tribute: we must slay them; we must “shew them no mercy [Note: Deuteronomy 7:2.];” our hatred of them must be irreconcilable and incessant.
But what is our state? Do we find in ourselves this zeal? Instead of proceeding to the utter extirpation of our spiritual enemies, are we not satisfied if they do not reign? Are we not contented to let them exist, provided they keep themselves concealed from public view? — — — What then is the declaration of God unto us? Does he not warn us, that the evils which we spare shall become “as thorns in our sides, and prove a snare unto our souls?” And do we not find that it is even so in our daily experience? Let the person who still associates with the men of this world, say, whether he does not find that they are a clog to him in his spiritual course? whether his endeavours to please them do not lead him sometimes into sinful compliances, and his fear of displeasing them do not keep him from testifying against their evil ways? Will any say that he has found it practicable for “light to have communion with darkness, or Christ with Belial;” or that the soul can flourish whilst it is engaged in such a foolish attempt as that of reconciling the services of God and Mammon? Let the person who is still too deeply immersed in the cares or pleasures of the world, say, whether he has not often been led to strain his conscience in order to prosecute his ends, and to adopt some practices which in his heart he disapproved? — — — Let the person who harbours some besetting sin, ask, whether it has not often risen up with a force that was almost irresistible, and nearly, if not altogether, involved him in some flagrant transgression? Let the person in whom pride, or lewdness, or covetousness, or passion is suffered to dwell, answer this question — — — He knows but little of his own heart, who does not know, that sin is a flame, which, if not extinguished, may speedily “set on fire his whole nature [Note: Jam 3:6 with Deuteronomy 32:22.],” and “burn to the lowest hell.” Lastly, Let the person who listens to the temptations of Satan, say, whether there be any way of making him flee, but by perpetual resistance [Note: James 4:7.]? — — —]
If such then be the danger of indecision, let us consider,
The duty of those who are convicted of it—
Two things were produced by the declarations of the Angel in the breasts of all the congregation of Israel; which also our own experience calls for; namely,
An humiliation of soul before God—
[The people “lifted up their voice and wept.” And who amongst us has not abundant reason to follow their example? Whether we consider our sin or our punishment, we have but too much reason to weep. Indecision is not so light a sin as some imagine [Note: Job 31:25; Job 31:28.]: it shews an insincerity of heart, which is most odious in itself, and most offensive to God. See in what a light the Israelites beheld it, when once a conviction of it was brought home to their minds! and is not the sparing of inveterate lusts as wicked as sparing the devoted Canaanites? Does it not betray an equal want of reverence for God, of love to his name, and of zeal for his honour? Behold then what is the duty of every one amongst us: “Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning, and your joy into heaviness; humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, and he shall lift you up [Note: James 4:9-10.].” Nor does the threatened punishment afford us less occasion to weep: for a subjection to sin is the greatest evil that can befall us. If God should once say, “He is joined to idols; let him alone;” it would be a heavier judgment to us than immediate death and immediate damnation; because we should live only to “treasure up wrath against the day of wrath,” and should perish at last under an accumulated weight of misery to all eternity. O that the dread of such a punishment might humble us all in dust and ashes!]
An application to God through the medium of sacrifice—
[“They sacrificed there unto the Lord;” and had recourse to the blood of sprinkling for the remission of their sin. Though their weeping was very general, and very bitter, insomuch that the name of the place, which was Shiloh, was called Bochim, or Weepers, from that circumstance, yet did they not hope to pacify their offended God with tears: they knew that an atonement was necessary; and they sought him. therefore in his appointed way. O that we might learn from them! Humiliation is necessary; but it is not sufficient: tears, even if we could shed rivers of them, could never wash away sin: the blood of atonement is necessary; “without shedding of blood there is no remission.” We must apply to the Lord Jesus Christ, and “go to God through him.” We must acknowledge our obligation to his sacrifice for all the mercy and forbearance we have already experienced; and must look to it as the only means of our reconciliation with God: it is his blood, and “his blood alone, that can ever cleanse us from our sin” — — — And here I would particularly remind you that the sin laid to the charge of Israel, was not of commission, but of omission; not some flagrant enormity, but a lukewarmness and neglect of duty: yet did they see the need of a sacrifice to atone for that. In like manner, though we should have no guilt imputed to us but that of omission and defect, yet must we apply to the blood of sprinkling, and seek for pardon through that one Sacrifice which was once offered for us on the cross.]
Learn then from hence,
The value of a faithful monitor—
[We do not like faithful admonitions, even from those whose special duty it is to reprove sin. We are ready to account them harsh and severe. But what is the office which a friendly monitor performs? Is it not that which the Angel of the Covenant himself executed, yea, and came from heaven on purpose to perform? But it may be said, that we alarm men, and make them melancholy: true; we shew them their guilt and danger, and try to bring them to a state of humiliation on account of it, and to an affiance in the Lord Jesus Christ for the pardon of it. But is this an evil? If the whole congregation were affected precisely as the whole congregation of Israel were, every one weeping for his sins, and seeking the remission of them through the great Sacrifice, would it be a matter for regret? No: we would to God that this very place might this day deserve the name of Bochim; and that the remembrance of it might never be obliterated from your minds! Sure we are that the congregation of Israel felt themselves deeply indebted to Him who thus sought their welfare; and we have no doubt but that, however an ungodly world may hate our reproofs, there is not a contrite sinner in the universe who will not regard his monitor as a father, and “receive him as an Angel of God, even as Christ Jesus [Note: Galatians 4:14.].” They will not hesitate to thank him, who, by bringing them to weep here, has kept them from weeping and wailing and gnashing their teeth in hell for ever.]
The danger of forgetting the admonitions that have been given us—
[During the days of Joshua and the elders that outlived Joshua, the Israelites maintained some measure of steadfastness in their duty to God: but afterwards they fearfully declined, and brought upon themselves the most afflictive judgments. The whole remainder of the chapter from whence our text is taken, elucidates this truth. The impressions which were now made upon them gradually wore away; and the people relapsed into their former state of supineness. Of the unreasonableness of their conduct they were fully convinced: for, when the Angel asked them, “Why have ye done this?” they could not offer one word in extenuation of their guilt: but when they ceased to listen to the voice of conscience, they proceeded from one wickedness to another, “till there was no remedy [Note: 2 Chronicles 36:15-17.].” And how often is this seen amongst ourselves! Many are deeply affected on some particular occasion: they will weep, and pray, and think of the Saviour; but in process of time they lose all their good impressions, and “go back with the dog to his vomit, and the sow that was washed to the wallowing in the mire.” The Lord grant that it may not prove thus with us! May our “goodness not be as the dew, or as the morning cloud that passeth away;” but rather as the sun, which shines brighter and brighter unto the perfect day.]
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Judges 2". Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany