A Miracle of Divine Mercy
Anything short of complete obedience to God brings on His promise of righteous judgment. It is only by God initiating to offer mercy and grace that anyone can be delivered from His judgment.
Judges 19-21 – Perversion, depravity, cowardice, and anarchy
The fruit of partial obedience
The Book of Judges (Barry G. Webb, pgs 64-65)
What this key passage from Judges [2:16-3:6] says is clear enough, but listening to it involves more than hearing the particulars. It involves attending to it as part of Scripture as a whole and trying to understand its significance in that wider context. If the passage is listened to in this way, it contributes at least three things to a biblical view of God and the human condition.
First, it tells us that culture is not morally neutral; it is simply the manifestation of what we are, and is therefore no more exempt from moral judgment than individual people are. The culture of the Canaanites was not simply a preferred way of life with no moral significance, and insofar as the Israelites were seduced by it they “did what was evil in the eyes of Yahweh” and made themselves liable to the same kind of judgment.
Second, evil is something far too deep to be eliminated by the simple punishment of this or that particular act or person. It so corrupts the nature of men and women and their whole way of life that nothing and no one is exempt from it, and only wholesale destruction can remove it. In short, “Evil is irremediable”; that is why radical root-and-branch judgment is necessary. Without hell there can be no heaven. The view of both the Old and New Testaments is that there were times in the past when such judgment was justified (e.g., the world of Noah’s day, Sodom and Gomorrah, the Canaan of Joshua’s day), and that the present world stands under the very real threat of similar destruction (e.g., Matthew 24:37; Luke 17:26-30; 1 Peter 3:20).
Third, and closely related to this, is the biblical message that not all religion is good, and that religion does not guarantee protection from divine judgment. Everyone in Judges is religious, Canaanites and Israelites alike. Even at their most reprobate, the Israelites are religious, but their religion does not secure God’s favor or make them proof against His judgment. They are warned in both the law of Moses and the prophets that if they do as the Canaanites do, they will suffer the same fate as the Canaanites. The Bible’s view is that religion, like everything else, is capable of being true or false, good or bad. The idea that all religions are equally valid, and therefore exempt from moral judgment, is contrary to the teaching of both the old and New Testaments. The books of Joshua and Judges make this point in a particularly powerful way.