(Through The Bible) – Judges and Ruth: Zac Poonen (Transcript)

Full text of Zac Poonen’s teaching on the Book of Judges and Ruth which is part of the popular series called Through The Bible.

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Zac Poonen – Bible Teacher

Let’s turn now to the Book of Judges.

The Book of Judges. Judges, chapter 1. Now, Judges is describing the backslidden state of Israel, immediately after this very powerful victory and triumph they had in the Book of Joshua over a period of number of years. And again we see the same lesson that we have seen before, that everything depends on God’s people having a good leader.

Wherever there were good leaders — whenever there were good leaders, Israel prospered. When Moses was leading Israel, everything was okay. When Moses went up to the mountain for 40 days — just 40 days! – they started worshiping idols, made a golden calf. Even Aaron could not control them.

Most leaders in Christendom are not strong enough to control God’s people, to keep them in the straight and uncompromising path, because those leaders don’t know God themselves. They seek popularity, like Aaron. And so a person who seeks popularity can never be a man of God, can never lead God’s people. Moses never sought popularity, neither did Joshua.

But by the time of the Judges, Joshua had died and there was nobody there to replace him.


We read in chapter 2 and verse 7…

Judges 2:7: “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 works of the LORD which He had done for Israel.”

And then Joshua died.

And then: that generation also died.

“And then there arose another generation, (Judges 2:10), who did not know the LORD”– That was the problem — “nor the work which He had done for Israel.”

The problem was: there was nobody who knew God. And I want to tell you, after many years and years of moving around so many Christian groups, I have to say I have seen very few people who know God, very few people who can say, like Elijah, as the Lord God lives before whom I stand.

Most people in Christian work today are professional preachers. They studied the Bible somewhere, they got a degree and they’re going out to serve God, or they got a zeal. There may be sacrifice, there may be zeal, but all that will not help if you don’t know God.

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Yeah, these were Israelites in the book of Judges. And we can say our church has got believers. But what type of believers? The apostles were also believers, and the people in your church are also believers. But what a difference between spiritual believers and carnal believers?

A man of God realizes it’s better to have a small church of spiritual believers than a large one full of carnal people. That’s like saying it’s better to have 1000 watt bulb than 20 zero watt bulbs. You agree with me or not? That’s what I mean.

You’re the light of the world. The intensity of that light depends on how much you know God. And if the leader doesn’t know God, the people don’t know God either. The people know the Bible. You can study the Bible and tell people all about it and they get to know the Bible just like teaching chemistry or physics or some subject like that in a classroom. But that doesn’t get people to know God. You can’t teach people to know God by just giving them information, and you can’t know God that way yourself. You got to go through trials, you got to humble yourself, you got to have a yearning in your heart. It’s in the hours of the night that we come to know God, not sitting in a classroom.

We need to know the Scriptures, but we need to go through the Scriptures, beyond the Scriptures to know God. The people who know their God will be strong, it says in Daniel 11:32.

So these people did not know God… and therefore, the sons of Israel (Judges 2:11) did evil and even began to serve other gods. So that’s the result of Joshua’s death, and it’s happened throughout Christendom. We read in the history of Christianity in the last 2000 years, wherever God has raised up a Godly man, a John Wesley here, a William Booth there, a Hudson Taylor here, a C. T. Studd there, they’ve been able to lead people to some extent… an A. B. Simpson here, a Charles Finney there, to some extent they’re able to lead them, but then they die.

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And another generation comes up. They hold the same doctrines, they take the same denominational name, but it’s not the same. Their doctrines are the same, their beliefs are the same, their theories of sanctification are the same, but they are not sanctified like their leader was, like their founder was. They claim to have the same baptism in the Holy Spirit that their founder had but the result is not the same. It must be some other spirit then.

See, this is what has happened in Christendom again and again and again and again. And again God has to raise up a man. God has always done His greatest work in the church through single man whom He has raised up in different generations, in different lands. And around such a man, God gathers together a few people who are concerned not so much for size as for quality, for the purity of a testimony for God in their generation. And I believe that India needs many, many, many such men and women, even women in the Book of Judges you find that when God couldn’t find a man, He found a woman called Deborah. That’s an encouragement to all the sisters.

So God is looking and when He finds one in the measure in which that person has yielded, He uses him. Not all were of the same quality, and you see that very clearly: in the book of Judges, there was hardly anybody, no one of the quality of Moses and Joshua. They were leaders. Gideon was a good man when he started out, but he declined towards the end of his life.

So the Book of Judges is very relevant to the type of life we see and Israel failed to conquer Canaan. And the Lord said to them in chapter 2, verse 3, He says…

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“an Angel of the LORD, (Judges 2:1-2) came and said ‘I brought you out of Egypt, I led you into the land. I said, ‘I’ll never break My covenant with you. I told you, you must make no covenant with the inhabitants of the land. You must tear down that altars.’ But you have not obeyed Me.”

You have not obeyed the Manufacturer’s instructions. You followed your own reasoning just like a lot of Christian leaders today. They don’t preach what God’s word says. They always think, how will it affect the people? Is this relevant to our time? Those are all in the first century; now we are in the 20th century. We must modify it. That’s exactly what these people also did. They didn’t follow exactly what God said.

And the result is: ‘Okay, you don’t listen to Me. Therefore, these people, you will not be able to drive them out. You will not overcome sin. You’ll live with your problems all your life, and these people will be like thorns in your sides, (verse 3). And their gods will be a snare to you.’

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