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Will We Learn From History? 

If we do not learn from history, we will surely repeat the horrors of it

Judges 2.6–3.4

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • December 1, In the year of our Lord, 2013



  1. Spanish/American philosopher George Santayana said wisely,

    Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
  2. The Lord reminds us of the past, showing 
    1. the mistakes of previous generations, and
    2. the achievements of other generations.
      1. As Paul explained the faith of Abraham, the apostle said,

        23 Now it was not written for [Abraham’s] sake alone that it was imputed to him, 24 but also for us (Rom 4.23–24a).

      2. After quoting the Old Testament, Paul declared,

        4 For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope (Rom 15.4).

      3. In reference to the wilderness wanderings, he said,

        6 Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted.

        11 Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come (1Co 10.6, 11).

  3. Experience teaches us best, but 
    1. Benjamin Franklin actually said,
    2. as a criticism of fools,

      “Experience keeps a dear school, yet fools learn in no other.”

      1. Do we have to experience everything to learn?
      2. No, learn from previous generations.
  4. If the Holy Spirit wants us to learn from the Book of Judges, and 
    1. if George Santayana spoke the truth, and
    2. if Benjamin Franklin was right,
      1. what mistakes should we avoid that Israel made and
      2. what victories should we imitate that Israel won?


  1. Judges 2.6 – Possess Your Inheritance

    6 And when Joshua had dismissed the people, the children of Israel went each to his own inheritance to possess the land (Jdg 2.6).

    1. Joshua had done all that he could.
    2. It was time for Israel to enjoy that which they had conquered.
  2. Judges 2.7 – Serve the Lord

    7 So the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the LORD which He had done for Israel (Jdg 2.7).

    1. Seeing the great works of the Lord
    2. moved them to serve the Lord.
      1. Show me someone who sees the Lord’s works
        1. in Scripture and
        2. in the world
          1. daily, and
          2. I will show you someone who seeks to serve the Lord.
  3. Judges 2.8–9 – Honor Leaders

    8 Now Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died when he was one hundred ten years old. 9 And they buried him within the border of his inheritance at Timnath Heres, in the mountains of Ephraim, on the north side of Mount Gaash (Jdg 2.8–9).

    1. What did Joshua see in 110 years?
      1. He lived as a slave,
      2. wandered as a freeman,
      3. witnessed the tabernacle,
      4. aided Moses,
      5. fought as a warrior, and
      6. rested as a conqueror.
        1. He did it all successfully because
        2. he did what the Lord told him to do,

          7 Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. 8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success (Jos 1.7–8).

    2. Joshua typifies Jesus.
      1. Moses could not take the people into the Promised Land.
      2. Joshua had to do it.
        1. Joshua’s name is the Hebrew equivalent of the Greek name Jesus.
        2. However, only the true Jesus can take us into the true Promised Land.
  4. Judges 2.10–19 – Remember the Past 
    1. Step number one—Remember the Lord and His work:

      10 When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the LORD nor the work which He had done for Israel (Jdg 2.10).

      1. How did that happen?
        1. Did Joshua, the elders, and that generation fail to teach the youth?
        2. Did the youth fail to learn what they were taught?
          1. The text does not say, because
          2. it does not matter.
            1. Either way, this new generation did not know the Lord.
            2. Name a greater tragedy!
      2. Watch out for the generation that does not know the Lord!

        1 Hear the word of the Lord,
        You children of Israel,
        For the Lord brings a charge against the inhabitants of the land:
        “There is no truth or mercy
        Or knowledge of God in the land.
        2 By swearing and lying,
        Killing and stealing and committing adultery,
        They break all restraint,
        With bloodshed upon bloodshed.

        6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.
        Because you have rejected knowledge,
        I also will reject you from being priest for Me;
        Because you have forgotten the law of your God,
        I also will forget your children.
        (Hos 4.1–6)

      3. Parents, do what you can to prevent a picture like that today
        1. by bringing your children to Bible classes,
        2. by teaching your children the Bible at home,
        3. by attending all the worship services, and
        4. by living as a kind and gentle Christian.
    2. Step number two—Do not do evil in the Lord’s sight:

      11 Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served the Baals; 12 and they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt; and they followed other gods from among the gods of the people who were all around them, and they bowed down to them; and they provoked the LORD to anger. 13 They forsook the LORD and served Baal and the Ashtoreths (Jdg 2.11–13).

      1. When people do not know the Lord,
        1. they will do evil in His sight.
        2. Guaranteed.
      2. In this case, Israel served idols.
        1. Who is God?
          1. He is the Creator, Sustainer, and Judge of all life.
          2. Idolatry says that something else does those jobs.
        2. Therefore, idolatry is spiritual adultery.
      3. The writer says Israel did these things in the sight of the Lord!
        1. How many spouses practice adultery in view of their spouses?
        2. Israel committed their sin in the land God gave them!
      4. It was the Lord who had delivered Israel from Egypt.
        1. Those gods had not done so.
        2. Those gods could not keep Israel from coming into the land.
      5. So, why did Israel worship them?
    3. Step number three—Learn from oppression:

      14 And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel. So He delivered them into the hands of plunderers who despoiled them; and He sold them into the hands of their enemies all around, so that they could no longer stand before their enemies. 15 Wherever they went out, the hand of the LORD was against them for calamity, as the LORD had said, and as the LORD had sworn to them. And they were greatly distressed (Jdg 2.14–15).

      1. The Lord became angry.
        1. He expected their loyalty.
        2. Instead, they insulted Him.
      2. He showed His anger by allowing their enemies to conquer them.
        1. In the past, their enemies could not stand before them.

          9 “…the Lord has driven out from before you great and strong nations; but as for you, no one has been able to stand against you to this day (Jos 23.9).

    4. Step number four—Cry to the Lord:

      16 Nevertheless, the LORD raised up judges who delivered them out of the hand of those who plundered them. 17 Yet they would not listen to their judges, but they played the harlot with other gods, and bowed down to them. They turned quickly from the way in which their fathers walked, in obeying the commandments of the LORD; they did not do so. 18 And when the LORD raised up judges for them, the LORD was with the judge and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge; for the LORD was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who oppressed them and harassed them (Jdg 2.16–18).

      1. Israel did not learn the lessons of her own history.
      2. We read the Book of Judges and other Books of the Old Testament, and
        1. we wonder why they did not learn from former generations.
        2. Do we learn from former generations of Americans and Christians?
          1. Do we even know the history of America and of the church?
          2. Do we know the history of this congregation?
    5. Step number five—Do not revert to sinning:

      19 And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they reverted and behaved more corruptly than their fathers, by following other gods, to serve them and bow down to them. They did not cease from their own doings nor from their stubborn way (Jdg 2.19).

      1. Sorrow filled their hearts during their oppression, and
        1. out of gratitude, or
        2. even fear of the judge,
          1. they stayed faithful to God during the life of the judge.
          2. Yet, faithfulness is not about
            1. the men before us, but
            2. the God above us.
      2. When that Judge died
        1. they saw it as freedom to do whatever was right in their own eyes.
        2. They made a serious misjudgment, because
          1. when the judge died,
          2. God did not die.
      3. Why judges were necessary,

        That Does It, Kids

        Though He’d promised they’d be His elite,
        this time God pre-arranged their defeat.
        As He sent them each judge,
        they’d hold onto their grudge,
        and when urged to obey, dragged their feet.

  5. Judges 2.20–23 – Heed the Lord’s Voice

    20 Then the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel; and He said, “Because this nation has transgressed My covenant which I commanded their fathers, and has not heeded My voice, 21 I also will no longer drive out before them any of the nations which Joshua left when he died, 22 so that through them I may test Israel, whether they will keep the ways of the LORD, to walk in them as their fathers kept them, or not.” 23 Therefore the LORD left those nations, without driving them out immediately; nor did He deliver them into the hand of Joshua (Jdg 2.20–23).

    1. The Lord gave Israel a choice:
      1. Jehovah God or
      2. the gods of the Canaanites.
    2. Now consider the message of verse 21.
      1. God chose not to drive out their enemies.
      2. Isaiah 66 provides insight as to what the Lord does.
        1. Israel insisted on a certain way of living,
        2. God let them experience it,

          4 “So will I choose their delusions,
          And bring their fears on them;
          Because, when I called, no one answered,
          When I spoke they did not hear;
          But they did evil before My eyes,
          And chose that in which I do not delight.”
          (Isa 66.4)

          1. They made a choice,
          2. so God made a choice.
            1. They wanted something strongly.
            2. He let them have it, although it hurt them.
      3. Second Thessalonians 2 teaches that God still operates that way,

        10b …they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie (2Th 2.10–11).

        1. When we insist upon something,
        2. God gives it that we might experience it to see its evil.

          “Experience keeps a dear school, yet fools learn in no other.”

    3. If we do not drive out from our lives the pests,
      1. the Lord will leave them as tests,
      2. ignoring our requests.
  6. Judges 3.1–4 – Pass the Test

    1 Now these are the nations which the LORD left, that He might test Israel by them, that is, all who had not known any of the wars in Canaan 2 (this was only so that the generations of the children of Israel might be taught to know war, at least those who had not formerly known it), 3 namely, five lords of the Philistines, all the Canaanites, the Sidonians, and the Hivites who dwelt in Mount Lebanon, from Mount Baal Hermon to the entrance of Hamath. 4 And they were left, that He might test Israel by them, to know whether they would obey the commandments of the LORD, which He had commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses (Jdg 3.1–4).

    1. The generations that did not know the Lord or His works, and
      1. who had not fought the wars to conquer the land,
      2. turned from the Lord to various idols in the land.
    2. Therefore, the Lord left the nations in the Land of Canaan
      1. that Israel might know war and
      2. that they might show Him their obedience.
        1. They had not made personal sacrifices.
        2. That would change as they fought wars for freedom.
          1. They did not appreciate the Lord or His commandments.
          2. By leaving the nations in the Land of Canaan,
            1. Israel had to choose
            2. between Baal and Yahweh.
              1. What choice would they make?
              2. What choice would you make?
    3. When God sent a Judge to deliver Israel,
      1. God blessed Israel with peace, because
      2. war had been a curse.
        1. If we wish for peace to continue in the nation and in the church,
        2. let us listen to the Book of Judges.


  1. Oh, please remember the Lord, 
    1. who saves you,
    2. who gives you all good things,
    3. who will save you in the end from eternal destruction,
    4. who will also take you to heaven.
  1. Remember that Jesus is your Leader, but 
    1. the Bible also shows Him as the Judge.
    2. We will each stand before Him.
      1. If we have been for Him,
      2. He will be for us.
        1. Make that decision today.
        2. Be for Jesus!