6 When Joshua had dismissed the people, the sons of Israel went each to his inheritance to possess the land. 7 The people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who survived Joshua, who had seen all the great work of the LORD which He had done for Israel. 8 Then Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of one hundred and ten. 9 And they buried him in the territory of his inheritance in Timnath-heres, in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash. 10 All that generation also were gathered to their fathers ; and there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel. Israel Serves Baals 11 Then the sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD and served the Baals, 12 and they forsook the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed themselves down to them; thus they provoked the LORD to anger. 13 So they forsook the LORD and served Baal and the Ashtaroth. 14 The anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and He gave them into the hands of plunderers who plundered them; and He sold them into the hands of their enemies around them, so that they could no longer stand before their enemies. 15 Wherever they went, the hand of the LORD was against them for evil, as the LORD had spoken and as the LORD had sworn to them, so that they were severely distressed. 16 Then the LORD raised up judges who delivered them from the hands of those who plundered them. 17 Yet they did not listen to their judges, for they played the harlot after other gods and bowed themselves down to them. They turned aside quickly from the way in which their fathers had walked in obeying the commandments of the LORD ; they did not do as their fathers. 18 When the LORD raised up judges for them, the LORD was with the judge and delivered them from the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge ; for the LORD was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who oppressed and afflicted them. 19 But it came about when the judge died, that they would turn back and act more corruptly than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them and bow down to them; they did not abandon their practices or their stubborn ways. 20 So the anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and He said, "Because this nation has transgressed My covenant which I commanded their fathers and has not listened to My voice, 21 I also will no longer drive out before them any of the nations which Joshua left when he died, 22 in order to test Israel by them, whether they will keep the way of the LORD to walk in it as their fathers did, or not." (Judges 2:6-22 NASB)As God promised, the people of Israel do live in the land of Canaan. For as long as those who walked with God in the wilderness lived, the people remembered God, and remembered to do all that He had commanded them. But then those people died, and their children and grandchildren did not know God as they had done, and they did not obey God's commands.
You see, there was a complication. There were still other people living in the land of Canaan. They had conquered it, but they had not gotten rid of everyone. Those people worshiped different gods and had different customs and to the children of the Israelites those gods seemed pretty cool and tehy worshiped them and forgot the ways of God.
So God allowed them to be oppressed and defeated by the people groups around them. When they stopped obeying God he stopped protecting them. It's funny how when things get hard we remember how God helped people before, in ways that are harder to remember when things are easy.
So God stopped protecting them, and it got very hard, and then God raised up a judge. There were men and women that God raised up and called to free his people and bring them back to God again. As long as those people lived, Israel remembered to worship and obey God. But when they died Israel went right back to doing whatever they wanted and suffered for it. Over, and over, and over, and over again.
Have you ever done something you weren't supposed to, and felt really bad about it when something bad happened to you because of it, but as soon as it was alright again you forgot and did that thing all over again? Maybe you didn't bring a sweater somewhere when your mom told you to, so you were really, really cold. But then once you got home and got warm you forgot all about it and the next time your mom said to bring a sweater you still didn't bring one, and you were cold all over again until your mom felt sorry for you and let your wear hers, or your little sister's, but you still can't seem to remember to bring a sweater? One of my children keeps doing that these days.
Israel just wouldn't learn from their mistakes. They seemed to do a pretty bad job of teaching their children to learn from their mistakes too, because the next generation was always making the same mistakes their parents had.
Do you remember when we talked about how Adam and Eve, and all of us, lost the Breath of Life in the garden when they disobeyed God? Without the Breath of Life, without God's spirit in us, obeying him was so incredibly hard. We just didn't have the power to do it without him constantly there reminding us to do it. This was a problem. It wasn't just a problem for Israel, it was a problem for everyone. We just didn't have the power to be good, to do the good things God told us on his own. We needed help. The Israelites still needed the Breath of Life back in them. But it's going to be a while before that happens. They are going to learn some pretty hard lessons along the way.