Missiology Through Scripture – Judges 2:20-23

“So the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he said, ‘Because this people have transgressed my covenant that I commanded their fathers and have not obeyed my voice, I will no longer drive out before them any of the nations that Joshua left when he died, in order to test Israel by them, whether they will take care to walk in the way of the LORD as their fathers did, or not.’ So the LORD left those nations, not driving them out quickly, and he did not give them into the hand of Joshua.” – Judges 2:20-23

God references Israel as “this people.” This is not a term of endearment, but evidence of God’s anger toward his chosen nation. God had covenanted with his elect. This was a covenant God would never break, no matter how many times his children walked away from their commitments. God continues to honor the covenant even while he is punishing Israel.

God had previously cleared the path for Israel by eliminating our redirecting her enemies. Now, God was allowing the foreign nations to do harm and to Israel and did not make victory easy for his elect. Tertullian said, “And thus, throughout almost all the annals of the judges and of the kings who succeeded them, while the strength of the surrounding nations was preserved, He meted wrath out to Israel by war and captivity and a foreign yoke, as often as they turned aside from Him, especially to idolatry.”[1] While Israel still experienced God’s eternal promises, he allowed his chosen people to suffer justly in this life.

The hearts of God’s elect continue to turn from the Lord and continue to seek pleasure outside of his will. Our disobedience is the natural state of our existence and occasionally God allows us to experience the painful result of our desires. When we do not walk in God’s ways we periodically receive the pain and heartache we have earned.

God can call the nations to himself or use the nations to meter out our well-deserved punishment. As we go to the nations to serve God we are to do so with a God-centered heart bent on increasing his glory and calling his people to their Creator. Our obedience and worship is what God seeks. He calls us to reach the nations for his good pleasure and the joy of his disciples.


[1] Tertullian, “Scorpiace,” in Latin Christianity: Its Founder, Tertullian, ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe, trans. Peter Holmes, vol. 3, The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885), 636.