The Lord answers, “[The tribe of] Judah shall lead Israel; I have given the Promised Land into his hand” (1:2, NASB). This fulfills Jacob’s prophecy concerning his sons in Genesis 49:8 – “Judah, your brothers shall praise you…Your father’s sons shall bow down to you”.
Judah goes on to great conquest, defeating the residents of the Promised Land. The author of Judges says, “Now the Lord was with Judah, and they took possession of the hill country…” (1:19a).
FULL STOP! The second half of the verse forever changes or repeats world history, depending on your point of view. With the blessing of God in full bloom and the promise that all enemies will fall before them, Judah hesitates at the site of the iron chariots used by the residents of the valley and decides unilaterally that they cannot drive those people out.
This first act of Israel’s disobedience in the new era after Joshua triggers a Cycle of 13 events of disobedience in only the next 19 verses, where Israel does not drive out the inhabitants of the land, but rather chooses to live with them, in direct violation of God’s commands. It is an unprecedented collapse of unity with God.
At this point, a very angry angel of the Lord marches up to Israel and declares: “But you have not obeyed Me; what is this you have done?...I will not drive them out before you; but they will become as thorns in your sides and their gods will be a snare for you” (2;2b-3).
With full goose-bumps, I note that these are the same people who, three thousand years later, will hold a nuclear weapon over the heads of Israel. Thorn, indeed!
All told, of the 91 verses in this section reciting a summary of Israel’s history up to the appearance of the first judge, 36 verses tell the sad tale of the Cycle of disobedience followed by the eruption of God’s judgment against Israel, its devastation, and rejection into slavery for many years.
Please read Judges 2:1 – 3:8; it will take less than five minutes.
Now ask yourself a question:
To the extent that when Judah hesitated in disobedience to its established rule of law and changed the course of Israel’s history and world history for the worse, will America look back on the current moment when ignoring our rule of law by executive privilege and failing to lead allowed evil to triumph over good, during an unprecedented collapse of American unity?
Anyone who sees the gathering dark clouds of Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran as a unified team of Satan must ask if we have done this to ourselves.
As we shall see, Israel repents many times and God’s never-ending love sustains them.
When shall we repent in perfect unity?
The more things change, the more the Cycle stays the same.