Thorns and Tears at Bochim
GOD commanded the Israelites to dispossess the Canaanites by taking over their cities, destroying their idols and altars, and refusing to enter into agreements with them. Apparently the citizens of Bochim failed to carry out those instructions. No one knows the exact circumstances, but the offenses were serious enough for the Angel of the Lord to come up from Gilgal to this village near Bethel and cry against it (Judges 2:1-2).
The timing of the sermon was important. The days of Israel’s conquest of Canaan were drawing to a close, yet many cities remained in the hands of, or at least were still influenced by, the Canaanites (Judges 1:27–35). Joshua’s life was over, and a new generation was coming into power (Judges 2:8-10). So Bochim’s spiritual failures were a serious matter. They set a dangerous precedent of idolatry that persisted from that day forward (Judges 2:3), as the Book of Judges shows. Apparently the people of Bochim tearfully repented of their wrongs and, in the presence of Joshua, offered a sacrifice to atone for their sins (Judges 2:5–6). But the pattern of spiritual adultery was established.
God’s people cannot worship whatever gods they will. Like Israel, believers today may need to limit their neighborliness if necessary to preserve their own faith and godliness. They must allow nothing to distract them from unswerving allegiance to the Lord, lest they unwittingly invite a host of thorny issues and a legacy of tears.
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