Daily Devotional (6/15/2012) – “Judges”: ‘Gilgal… Stones of Forgetfulness’

June 16, 2012

“Judges” Devotional #4

Scripture:   Judges 2: 1-5; 3: 19-26

‘Gilgal:  Stones of Forgetfulness

Today’s devotional is the second part of a study on the Biblical city of Gilgal.  In order to get some helpful background info, you can find the first devotional here:

https://pastormackenstein.wordpress.com/2012/06/12/daily-devotional-6132012-judges-gilgal-the-original-rolling-stones/

We will now look especially in The Book of Judges to see how a place that was once seen as a beacon of God’s holiness became a place of regret and Israel’s unholiness.

As I shared in the last study, God delivered Joshua and the Israelites through the Jordan River, by parting the waters so that the Israelite army could pass through.  Joshua instructed the people to place 12 stones (one for each of the tribes) at the site of Gilgal to help the people always remember God’s faithful love and care for the people.  It was at Gilgal that all the people celebrated the Passover and the men of that generation received the covenant of circumcision.  God had “rolled” away their past identity and shame of being slaves in Egypt, leading them as free men and women into their new homeland.

We move hastily on to Judges 2: 1-5:

The angel of the Lord went up from Gilgal to Bokim and said, “I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land that I swore to give to your forefathers. I said, ‘I will never break my covenant with you, and you shall not make a covenant with the people of this land, but you shall break down their altars. ’ Yet you have disobeyed me. Why have you done this? Now therefore I tell you that I will not drive them out before you; they will be thorns in your sides and their gods will be a snare to you.”  When the angel of the Lord had spoken these things to all the Israelites, the people wept aloud, and they called that place Bokim (which means “weeping”).There they offered sacrifices to the Lord.”

The Israelites did not complete their “take-home test” of ridding the land of the false gods and peoples from within the boundaries of the Promised Land.  They compromised their integrity and allowed false religions to infiltrate their hearts and lifestyles.  But it is the significance of Verse 1 in the passage that is easy to miss.  Before this encounter, the last angel visitation that occurred to the Israelites was at Gilgal (which was outside the city of Jericho); where God gave Joshua the commands about how to bring down the walls of Jericho (Joshua 5:13 – 6:5).  The people were riding high on the emotion and spiritual connection with God that they had in the story above.  God had removed their shame, but they (by their own choices) had brought that shame back upon them.  Their disobedience meant that the foreign peoples and their false religions would remain within their borders, serving as a constant source of temptation and agitation to them.  Needless to say, this reality sank in and the people cried out to God…sacrificing to Him; but not truly repenting from their actions.

We move further on into the future and into Judges 3: 12-26.  We won’t look at this whole passage, but we will revisit the story of Ehud; the second Judge in Israel.  Aided by God’s power and guidance, Ehud killed the oppressive King Eglon and led the people of Israel in a dramatic victory over the Moabite forces. But, like the previous passage, there is a detail about Gilgal that is easy to miss.  Here’s Verses 18-19 and 26 from that story:

18 “After Ehud had presented the tribute, he sent on their way the men who had carried it. 19 At the idols near Gilgal he himself turned back…”

26 “While they waited, Ehud got away. He passed by the idols and escaped to Seirah.”

Verses 18-19 relate to Ehud brings the taxes to King Eglon who was residing at Jericho with the group that accompanied him; and then leaves.  Perhaps he was a regular part of this group of men that had this unfortunate task.  Maybe he had made this trip before.  This time…something was different.  Ehud leaves and has to pass by the area of Gilgal on his way back home.  He passes by the 12 stones… a memorial that was meant to remind future generations of Israelites to worship the Lord, not other gods.  Nearby, there are some other stones… carved idols!  In this sacred place, idols have been set up to worship foreign gods.  I can imagine the holy anger that rose up within Ehud, as he turned back to Jericho to exact God’s justice upon the corrupt ruler of Moab.  As if to drive the point home, it is recorded in Verse 26 that Ehud again had to pass by the idols after escaping from Jericho.

Here are some of my thoughts from these passages:

1.)     No matter how great of a past legacy of faith there is for an individual, family, or church; it will not endure without the next generation being taught by their elders about God and encountering Him themselves.  As great as the original 12-stone monument was for the people, they eventually become “stones of forgetfulness” for Israel.  The legacy of Gilgal eventually becomes so tarnished and jaded that the actual city itself is re-founded in another part of Israel… only for it to be spoken against by the prophets due to its sinful inhabitants.

2.)    Satan is a thief.  One of his chief aims is to remove any residue of the past positive encounters we have had with God.  Through discouragement, doubt, fear, anger, or apathy; he will encourage us to “forget” how God has brought us through life’s difficulties and to lose heart that He can/will do so again.  The wolf aims to get the sheep as far separated from the shepherd as possible… so far that the shepherd is out of its sight-line and that it actually believes the shepherd is no longer there for them.  God is ALWAYS there for us and we need to remember that fact.

3.)    God does not share his glory with other “gods.”  As much as Israel tries to test God during the times of Judges and throughout the Old Testament; God will not soften His stance on this.  He demands our whole heart, for His Glory and for our own good.  When we make “covenant” with other idols in our lives, it drives God’s influence further from our heart and life…only strengthening the hold those idols have over us.  But God is faithful to a faithless people, as He says in Judges 2:2…  “I will never break my covenant with you”.

May you rest in and fully understand God’s deep and passionate love for you.

Blessings,

Pastor Josh Mackenstein

Published in: on June 16, 2012 at 8:54 PM  Leave a Comment  
Tags:

The URI to TrackBack this entry is: https://pastormackenstein.wordpress.com/2012/06/16/daily-devotional-6152012-judges-gilgal-stones-of-forgetfulness/trackback/

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: