How Decay Starts!
By Henry Nelson
Judges 1:1-361After the death of Joshua, the Israelites asked the Lord, “Who of us is to go up first to fight against the Canaanites?” 2The Lord answered, “Judah shall go up; I have given the land into their hands.” 3The men of Judah then said to the Simeonites their fellow Israelites, “Come up with us into the territory allotted to us, to fight against the Canaanites. We in turn will go with you into yours.” So the Simeonites went with them. 4When Judah attacked, the Lord gave the Canaanites and Perizzites into their hands, and they struck down ten thousand men at Bezek.5It was there that they found Adoni-Bezek and fought against him, putting to rout the Canaanites and Perizzites. 6Adoni-Bezek fled, but they chased him and caught him, and cut off his thumbs and big toes. 7Then Adoni-Bezek said, “Seventy kings with their thumbs and big toes cut off have picked up scraps under my table. Now God has paid me back for what I did to them.” They brought him to Jerusalem, and he died there. 8The men of Judah attacked Jerusalem also and took it. They put the city to the sword and set it on fire. 9After that, Judah went down to fight against the Canaanites living in the hill country, the Negev and the western foothills. 10They advanced against the Canaanites living in Hebron and defeated Sheshai, Ahiman and Talmai.11From there they advanced against the people living in Debir . 12And Caleb said, “I will give my daughter Aksah in marriage to the man who attacks and captures Kiriath Sepher.” 13Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother, took it; so Caleb gave his daughter Aksah to him in marriage. 14One day when she came to Othniel, she urged him[a] to ask her father for a field. When she got off her donkey, Caleb asked her, “What can I do for you?” 15She replied, “Do me a special favor. Since you have given me land in the Negev, give me also springs of water.” So Caleb gave her the upper and lower springs.16The descendants of Moses’ father-in-law, the Kenite, went up from the City of Palms[b] with the people of Judah to live among the inhabitants of the Desert of Judah in the Negev near Arad. 17Then the men of Judah went with the Simeonites their fellow Israelites and attacked the Canaanites living in Zephath, and they totally destroyed[c] the city. Therefore it was called Hormah.[d] 18Judah also took[e] Gaza, Ashkelon and Ekron each city with its territory. 19The Lord was with the men of Judah. They took possession of the hill country, but they were unable to drive the people from the plains, because they had chariots fitted with iron.20As Moses had promised, Hebron was given to Caleb, who drove from it the three sons of Anak. 21The Benjamites, however, did not drive out the Jebusites, who were living in Jerusalem; to this day the Jebusites live there with the Benjamites. 22Now the tribes of Joseph attacked Bethel, and the Lord was with them. 23When they sent men to spy out Bethel , 24the spies saw a man coming out of the city and they said to him, “Show us how to get into the city and we will see that you are treated well.”25So, he showed them, and they put the city to the sword but spared the man and his whole family. 26He then went to the land of the Hittites, where he built a city and called it Luz, which is its name to this day. 27But Manasseh did not drive out the people of Beth Shan or Taanach or Dor or Ibleam or Megiddo and their surrounding settlements, for the Canaanites were determined to live in that land. 28When Israel became strong, they pressed the Canaanites into forced labor but never drove them out completely. 29Nor did Ephraim drive out the Canaanites living in Gezer, but the Canaanites continued to live there among them. 30Neither did Zebulun drive out the Canaanites living in Kitron or Nahalol, so these Canaanites lived among them, but Zebulun did subject them to forced labor.31Nor did Asher drive out those living in Akko or Sidon or Ahlab or Akzib or Helbah or Aphek or Rehob. 32The Asherites lived among the Canaanite inhabitants of the land because they did not drive them out. 33Neither did Naphtali drive out those living in Beth Shemesh or Beth Anath; but the Naphtalites too lived among the Canaanite inhabitants of the land, and those living in Beth Shemesh and Beth Anath became forced laborers for them. 34The Amorites confined the Danites to the hill country, not allowing them to come down into the plain. 35And the Amorites were determined also to hold out in Mount Heres, Aijalon and Shaalbim, but when the power of the tribes of Joseph increased, they too were pressed into forced labor. 36The boundary of the Amorites was from Scorpion Pass to Sela and beyond.As many times as I have been to doctors, had shots, etc; I have never disliked those things worse than having to go to the dentist. A couple of years ago, our family dentist hired a dental hygienist and things changed dramatically. Every 6 months we go and get our teeth checked and cleaned and this dental hygienist seemed to always find very small areas of decay. At first I would get mad at her because she was always wanting to cut that decay out and put in fillings; but I then realized that the longer you allow that decay to stay there, the worse it would be in the future. Because of the way I had handled tooth decay in the past, I ended up having to have a tooth capped.In this new series, we are going to look at a different type of decay that is happening. We are living right now in a time of spiritual decay and if something does not change quickly there is not going to be anything left.We live in a nation that 50 years ago was conservative. What is “normal” now was obscene then. The idea of acceptable “profanity” on TV. or gay rights was not even considered. The teaching of evolution as fact in our schools and creation as religious fanaticism was unheard of. Parents being criticized and punished for disciplining their children would have been laughed at.God was in our schools, our homes, our cities, and our churches. We must even question if God’s Spirit is moving in our nation’s churches in 2014. We have went from a “Leave It To Beaver” mentality to a “Sex In The City” mentality.This week I want us to see where and how this decay begins. Joshua had died and now the Nation of Israel was seeking direction. Now they did go to the right place- God; but no one was seemingly stepping up as the leader. When a leader cannot be found, the people begin to take on habits and actions of those around them and that is what the Israelites had done.When these people move or go to be with the Lord what happens? Our church has been in the midst of a transition for the last year. We have seen many younger families come into our church and we have seen many of our older members either go to be with the Lord or not be able to do what they used to because of their health. This is something I have really been concerned about as lay pastor; because although our numbers are about the same, finances are fine, etc.; the “shoes” of the Estelle South’s of the world are not being filled.Now, I am not trying to be an alarmist, because the truth is many of our younger folks are stepping up and learning how to serve in those areas God has called them to; but if we as church do not continue to do our part as individuals we are going to be in trouble. When we get ourselves in situations where just a few people are doing all the work we then watch a handful of people get frustrated to the point of quitting while everyone else sits back and watches.Compromised AttitudesHere we find a compromise in attitude. Israel was supposed to go in and destroy the enemy. They were to not leave any of the enemy alive. We see that they did go in and destroy the Canaanites and Perizzites at Bezek; but instead of just killing Adoni-Bezek they cut off his thumbs and big toes. This was an act to humiliate the enemy and it was something that many other nations did. Since when did God want His people to take on the actions of other nations?As God’s children, we struggle with this temptation of compromising our attitudes. Comments like, “There was only 2 “cuss words” in that movie”; are good examples. Notice how small of a thing this is. Those small things grow bigger and bigger. All the devil needs is a small foothold. Amen!Compromised FamiliesHere we see some very slight compromises within Caleb’s family. Othniel won Acsah’s hand in marriage and Acsah quickly began to work her charm on her husband and her daddy. In verse 14 it says that Acsah urged her husband to talk to her dad about getting some property. The word used here in the Hebrew actually means “to nag”. She was “nagging” her husband to get this field for her and instead of leading his family, Othniel quickly gave in.Not only did she get the land, but once she got it; it was not good enough. She was given desert land and so she wanted more. This time she went to daddy herself and asked for some springs of water and she got them.There are 2 notable family compromises here that we are dealing with in America right now:1. The role of husband and wife were confused. Now I know you do not like to hear this; but God has a specific design in marriage. The husband is to be the head of the household. He is to lead his family spiritually. Wives are to follow their husbands leadership. The problem we face in today’s culture is there needs to be a balance. You will either find situations where the man tries to rule with an “iron fist” and that is not right; or you will find situations where the woman is not going to let some man tell her what to do. Amen!2. Children want everything their parents have right now. Their parents have worked years and years to have the things they do and these young adults want the same thing or more at no cost. Just as Caleb did, we often give those things to our kids without any thought of what we are teaching them. I know we all want the best for our children, but sometimes the best thing you can do for them is allow them to struggle a little bit like you did when you first got married. It will make them stronger and will teach them how to trust in the Lord and how to manage what they have. Amen!Compromised WarfareThere are numerous compromises found here concerning the warfare and taking of the Promised Land. I need you to go back to verse 8 for a moment to see our first compromise.1. They won but did not occupy. Jerusalem was not actually occupied by the Israelites until David took it. Judah attacked Jerusalem and burned it; but then left. In time the people of the land moved back into Jerusalem.Many of us have victory over spiritual battles in our lives; but then we just walk away from them and they come back. For example: How many times have you corrected a problem in your life that you have been fighting for a long time and then all of a sudden fall back into it. It took me a long time to realize that winning the battle is only part of the solution, you cannot let your guard down. Amen!That is why Jesus said we must deny ourselves, take up our cross daily, and follow Him! Amen!2. They followed part of God’s instructions but not all of them.God had told them many times that when they took a city that they were not leave any of the people alive; but we see here several times where instead of killing everyone they just made them slaves. Now what would be wrong with that? They could get the best of both worlds. They did not have to kill anyone and they could get someone to do their manual labor and the types of things they did not want to do. Amen!Folks, we are no different. God tells us to completely get rid of the sin in our life. That is spiritual warfare and when we get rid of most of it, but not all of it; it will surely come back to haunt us. Get rid of all of it!Not only was it more difficult to do it God’s way, but God’s way was dangerous. Notice in verse 19 that they could not take the plains because the people had chariots. Now could they not take the plains or did they just not want to because of the danger? This verse also says that God was with them so either they just did not want to take the risk or God could not handle it. Which one is it?We must stop taking the easy way out! Yes, what God ask us to do is risky and dangerous in our eyes; but if God is with us who can be against us? We have talked about many times through the years as a church that we need more space; but every time we go to get serious about it, what happens? We come up with reasons why we should not do it. Such as, “We do not really need that space right now”, or “We do not have enough money”, or Maybe if we had the faith to step out we would have more people, we would have more money, etc.ConsequencesThere are always consequences to compromise. For the Israelites, their consequences were that those people they did not drive out of the land would become thorns in their sides. Their reaction to this news was sadness and crying. I want to tell you that when you do not drive out sin in your own life, those sins will become thorns in your side. You will be left in sadness and tears.I want to tell you that as a lay pastor, I need to confess to you that I have been guilty of some compromises. I have allowed myself to settle with just part of what God is blessing us with instead of taking all that He has promised. Amen!When I as lay pastor I let things slide such as apathy, gossip, fear of danger , fear of the task being difficult, etc.; I have compromised and we will suffer. Amen!What I need from each one of you this week is this: Get on your faces before God, clean up whatever you have allowed to settle in your own life, find out what God has called you to do, and join with me as we storm the gates of hell and allow God to reign victorious in our city and church!
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