Idolatry Leads to Servitude
3 Now these are the nations which the Lord left, to test Israel by them (that is, all who had not [a]experienced any of the wars of Canaan; 2 only in order that the generations of the sons of Israel might [b]be taught war, [c]those who had not [d]experienced it formerly). 3 These nations are: the five lords of the Philistines and all the Canaanites and the Sidonians and the Hivites who lived in Mount Lebanon, from Mount Baal-hermon as far as [e]Lebo-hamath. 4 They were for [f]testing Israel, to find out if they would [g]obey the commandments of the Lord, which He had commanded their fathers [h]through Moses. 5 The sons of Israel lived among the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; 6 and they took their daughters for themselves as wives, and gave their own daughters to their sons, and served their gods.
7 The sons of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and forgot the Lord their God and served the Baals and the [i]Asheroth. 8 Then the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, so that He sold them into the hands of Cushan-rishathaim king of [j]Mesopotamia; and the sons of Israel served Cushan-rishathaim eight years.
The First Judge Delivers Israel
9 When the sons of Israel cried to the Lord, the Lord raised up a deliverer for the sons of Israel to deliver them, Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother. 10 The Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he judged Israel. When he went out to war, the Lord gave Cushan-rishathaim king of [k]Mesopotamia into his hand, so that [l]he prevailed over Cushan-rishathaim. 11 Then the land had rest forty years. And Othniel the son of Kenaz died.
12 Now the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord. So the Lord strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel, because they had done evil in the sight of the Lord. 13 And he gathered to himself the sons of Ammon and Amalek; and he went and [m]defeated Israel, and they possessed the city of the palm trees. 14 The sons of Israel served Eglon the king of Moab eighteen years.
Now, when it says “They were for testing Israel…” it isn’t like God didn’t know the outcome already. It could more also read, “They were to show Israel how fickle they really were, and how much they needed godly leadership.”
In our lives, we often find ourselves following someone, and we need to be careful who we follow. As Paul once said, “follow me as I follow Christ…”. Following someone who isn’t a good role model is just plain dangerous, and we need to be very cautious who we model our lives after.
Likewise, there may be folks following us. What sort of model are we giving for others to follow? Are we following Christ, or our own agenda, and what impact might that have on those who look up to us? In leading and following, there is ultimately only one worth following, and that is Jesus. We shouldn’t follow anyone who isn’t following Him, and we should follow Him closely ourselves to keep our followers on the right track.