And an angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with you. And ye shall make no league with the inhabitants of this land; ye shall throw down their altars: but ye have not obeyed my voice: why have ye done this? —Judges 2:1-2
Our devotional thought today, although rather simple, is nonetheless profoundly deep and must have as much faith as necessary to move a mountain (that’s right, that of a mustard seed— an amount that requires all of grace).
One of the first things you will notice among every portion of text today scheduled in the M’Cheyne Bible Reading Plan is that the common and predominant theme in every chapter is the Word of God.
Here, at the very beginning of Judges 2, this angel of the LORD, this visit from the pre-incarnate Christ Jesus Himself, rebukes His covenant people for not obeying the voice of His Word. They have forsaken those specific commands He has mentioned; however, they root of their disobedience comes from Adam’s major sin, not trusting in the truth of God’s Word; not seeing the glory of God in His Word, neither seeing the benefit to God’s creation by His Word. The commands were for their own good. A slip in compromise was a slide down the hill difficulty that promised a very hard and trudging journey back up the hill.
Today’s reading from Jeremiah also provides some insights, especially as the LORD says that the inhabitants of Jerusalem have turned away from Him—
Thou hast forsaken me, saith the LORD, thou art gone backward: therefore will I stretch out my hand against thee, and destroy thee; I am weary with repenting. —Jeremiah 15:6
And how have they forsaken God? They were disobedient to God’s commands, unfaithful to His promises, and took for granted His gracious provision. They had forsaken God by forsaking His Word. An understanding of this is gleaned through the repentant voice of the remnant that comes forth prophetically by the mouth Jeremiah—
O LORD, thou knowest: remember me, and visit me, and revenge me of my persecutors; take me not away in thy longsuffering: know that for thy sake I have suffered rebuke. Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts. —Jeremiah 15:15-16
In the Acts of the Apostles we are told that the order and discipline of Christ’s church will come, and must come, from its members by the Word and prayer because of an emphasis given in the church to the Word and prayer, and a priority established in its leadership in the Word and prayer—
Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. —Acts 6:3-4
In order for the congregation to select wise, Spirit-filled men of good repute, they most know what the Word says in order to prayerfully seek those in whom the Lord Jesus would anoint in that appointment. The appointment of God’s ministers, whether teaching elders or ministering deacons, it is not worldly in wisdom, neither willy-nilly through the want of filling a vacancy, but by God’s Word in subjection to His will and way by prayer.
Finally, Mark’s Bible reading closes out this very thought, indicating that the very beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ came by, and comes by, God’s prophetic Word—
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. —Mark 1:1-2
The messenger of that passage was obviously John the Baptist, who preached the Word, according to the Word given by the prophets from Moses to Malachi, to prepare a people to receive the Word, a Word that had been sealed by the testimony of its silence for four hundred years. Amos prophesied that there would be a famine of God’s Word because of the people’s failure to heed the prophets of God’s Word (Amos 8:11). Religious men could look from coast to coast and from pole to pole and not find a prophet (Amos 8:12) until Elijah come (Malachi 4:5-6; Luke 1:13-17; Matthew 17:10-13), as a voice crying in the wilderness (Mark 1:3; Isaiah 40:3), to prepare the people with a remembrance of God’s Word (Malachi 4:4; Mark 1:3), in order to know the Word who became flesh (John 1:14), according to all of God’s promises of this Word to come, by His Word given from Genesis 3:15 (the Seed) through Malachi 4:2 (the Sun of Righteousness).
The Word of Christ and the Christ of the Word is a truth with such unity that, although vile men may try, it cannot be put asunder.