To be honest, I’m not sure why I chose to do the study for this side. I don’t know what sort of off day I was having to look in the tour book, see that this is where the bodies of Saul and his sons were hung, and say, “Yep, I want to do the devotion for that town!”
So I’m not going to talk about that. I’m going to go a little further back in history from Saul, back to the period of the conquest. The city of Bet She’an, along with a lot of other places we’ve been, like Megiddo and Migdal, were allocated to the tribe of Manasseh, who didn’t manage to conquer it.
The tribe of Manasseh certainly wasn’t alone in being unable to conquer the local people, and in the beginning of Judges 2, God comes down pretty hard on them. For starters, the people had disobeyed him, not merely in not conquering the cities, but in even making agreements with the locals.
But the failure the people experienced here wasn’t just about disobedience or a military defeat. It had long-lasting consequences. These people, God said, “shall be thorns in your side, and their gods shall be a snare to you”.
The people failed to obey God, but that failure caused them lasting trouble. They didn’t manage to get rid of the pagan, idolatrous peoples, so that paganism and idolatry would be right there beside them.
I wonder if we’ve ever experienced something like that in our own lives. I know this is sort of similar to what I walked about two days ago at Korazin, about repenting and not procrastinating about it, but this is maybe a step on. Maybe you’ve tried to get rid of a sin you know about, but you haven’t managed to remove it all from your life, and so you keep falling into the same trap. A sin or an influence in your life becomes a snare.
God told the Israelites to expunge the local Canaanites, with their idolatrous ways, from the land, so that His people could live a life free from the negative influences of pagans and become a holy witness to the nations. Instead, they let the Canaanites stay around, and eventually that influence pulled them down, even caused them at times to fall into idolatry, as we’ve seen. In fact, in the very same chapter, the Israelites started worshipping Ba’al.
Fourteen-hundred years later, God called us, and Jesus called us, to live a different life, to become a witness of Him to the world. Are we going the same way as the Israelites of old before us? Are we already going that way? Are we becoming so desensitised to the modern idolatry and paganism going on around us that we’re allowing it to pull us down without even noticing? Has our own failure to drive bad influences out of our lives become our own stumbling block?