Chapters 1 and 2 of Judges is like a summary of the detailed history that we will be reading in Judges: Israel drove out some of the inhabitants, but not all. They were not careful to drive out all of the inhabitants. They did evil in the sight of the LORD, were oppressed because of it, but then God raised up a judge for them. When the judge died, they again did evil in the sight of the LORD. Rewind and repeat.
The narrative of Judges opens with the two tribes, Judah and Joseph (Ephraim and Manasseh) – there are those two again – who successfully and actively sought to drive the Canaanites out of their territory. Judah was very successful, except for the Canaanites of the low land. I suppose the LORD would help them drive out those Canaanites, when they grew stronger and more numerous. God does not give you a task, and then not equip you to accomplish that task. Sometimes the LORD gives us something to do, and it takes our whole lifetime to do it. But we have to keep at it, until we accomplish what He has said.
Ephraim was successful in driving out the Canaanites they went up against. But the rest of the tribes got complacent after Joshua’s death, and liked the peace they had with their neighbors, and ceased trying to drive the Canaanites out. In spite of Moses’ warning, and in spite of Joshua’s warning, they were content to mix with the Canaanites.
Mixing with the world is much easier than opposing it, isn’t it? It is our death! Be on guard, be diligent!
Then something curious happened. After that whole generation that had inherited the Land of Israel had died out, a new generation arose who did not know the LORD or know the ways of the LORD, or know the works of the LORD (Jud 2:10). How could such a thing have happened? Remember we learned that Deu 6 teaches Israel, in order to keep the Commandment, the first commandment to have no other gods before YHVH, Israel must 1) listen to the LORD’s word (Deu 6:4); they must 2) pay heed to the LORD’s word (Deu 6:12); they must 3) observe the LORD’s word (Deu 6:17), and they must 4) teach the LORD’s word to their children (Deu 6:21). If Israel did all the others, but did not teach the words of the LORD to their children, then a new generation will arise who does not know the LORD. And that is what happened.
That is what happened with the LORD’s people then, and that is what will happen with the LORD’s people today, if we do not put the LORD’s word, including Deu 6, on our heart, to do all that is written therein!