“In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” – Judges 21:25
For 37 years (1961-1998), Jim McKay hosted ABC’s Wide World of Sports. “The thrill of victory...and the agony of defeat” became a national catchphrase. Everyone wants victory. Nobody wants defeat.
Joshua is a book of victory. Under Joshua, Israel followed the Lord (Judges 2:7; Joshua 1:16-18). But when Joshua died, it seems that Israel buried God, too.
Judges is a book of defeat. God said to the children of Israel: “but ye have not obeyed My voice” (2:2). While “How to Succeed” books are popular today, Judges—the only successful “How to Fail” book—was written by Israel long ago.
If you want to fail at life then Forget God. Judges 2:10 says, “there arose another generation after them, which knew not the Lord.” Somewhere between crossing the Jordan River and possessing the Promised Land, they FORGOT to teach their children about God—they failed (Deut. 4:9; 6:4-25). We are failures if we lose our children!
The second key to failure is: Forsake God. Judges 2:12, “And they forsook the Lord God of their fathers.” They had failed to win their children, who in turn failed to keep God first.
The final step to failure is: Follow after false gods. First you “follow” (2:12) then you “serve” (2:13). The number of false gods the children of Israel served increased (Judges 2:13; cf. 10:6). Sin becomes progressively more grotesque in our lives every day we practice it.
The opposite of failure is FAITH! Israel had turned from God to idols, to serve them. Paul admonishes us Christians differently in 1 Thessalonians 1:9. We are to turn “to God from idols to serve the living and true God.” Paul identifies this as our “work of faith” (v. 3).
The thrill of Faith or the agony of Failure is a choice we must make today!