By Johnny O. Trail — The book of Judges offers some interesting history about the Israelites and the relationship they had with the Philistines. Samson had humiliated the Philistines by destroying their standing crops with fire. Since Dagon was a god of grain, this was a direct challenge to their deity. The biblical text says in Judges 15.4-5,
“And Samson went and caught three hundred foxes, and took firebrands, and turned tail to tail, and put a firebrand in the midst between two tails. And when he had set the brands on fire, he let them go into the standing corn of the Philistines, and burnt up both the shocks, and also the standing corn, with the vineyards and olives.”
This outrage was swiftly answered by the Philistines. They sought out Samson at Etim and asked the Israelites where he might be found:
“And the men of Judah said, Why are ye come up against us? And they answered, To bind Samson are we come up, to do to him as he hath done to us” Judges 15.10.
The Israelites were afraid of the Philistines even though Samson had defeated them handily at every engagement. Add to this that he was the strongest man who lived, and Israel had an undefeatable champion.
Moreover, they served an all-powerful God who was able to deliver them from the most desperate of situations. Before the nation of Israel entered the Promised Land, God promised to deliver them from their enemies. Deuteronomy 20.1-4 says,
“When thou goest out to battle against thine enemies, and seest horses, and chariots, and a people more than thou, be not afraid of them: for the LORD thy God is with thee, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And it shall be, when ye are come nigh unto the battle, that the priest shall approach and speak unto the people, And shall say unto them, Hear, O Israel, ye approach this day unto battle against your enemies: let not your hearts faint, fear not, and do not tremble, neither be ye terrified because of them; For the LORD your God is he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.”
Thus, there was no reason for them to surrender anyone or anything to their antagonists.
Nonetheless, the biblical text makes it plain that they had already capitulated their freedom and were under the yoke of the Philistines. Judges 15.11 says,
“Then three thousand men of Judah went to the top of the rock Etam, and said to Samson, Knowest thou not that the Philistines are rulers over us? [emph.—J.O.T.] what is this that thou hast done unto us? And he said unto them, As they did unto me, so have I done unto them.”
The Israelites describe the Philistines as “rulers over us” instead of acknowledging that God was their true ruler and king. They had already surrendered to the Philistines.
Considering the text in Judges, one might ask, “Have Christians in our age surrendered to the evil?”
While the text of Judges deals with a literal enemy in the Philistines, the New Testament deals with those who have figuratively surrendered themselves to sin. Romans 6.16 says,
“Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?”
Have our congregations surrendered the pulpit to milquetoast preachers who preach lessons with no substance and very little scripture?
Say what you will, but the preachers and writers of the New Testament used scripture in proclaiming God’s word. Instead of avoiding topics that are difficult and “controversial,” God’s spokesmen need to be addressing matters that endanger people’s souls. 2 Timothy 4.1-3 says,
“I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears.”
If one is timid about proclaiming the truth, he might need to find a profession other than preaching.
Have we surrendered sound doctrine for toleration and understanding?
The Apostle Paul was not tolerant of those who taught false doctrine at Galatia. He said in Galatians 2.5, “To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.” That is, Paul did not yield for one moment to proclaim the truth in the face of false teachers. We need more Christians who are like Paul in this manner.
Have we surrendered to recreation and entertainment during church assemblies rather than being with the saints when they come together for Bible study and worship?
The book of Hebrews was written to people who were discouraged from following Jesus. The writer of the book endeavors to offer hope and suggestions for remaining faithful. Among other things he encourages his auditors to assemble. Hebrews 10.23-25 says,
“Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”
While this passage is often used to make an argument for Sunday worship assemblies, the context applies to every assemblage of the congregation.
Have we surrendered our morality to Hollywood’s ideas of entertainment?
Some have determined that a “few bad words” are bearable for a good movie or television program. It is not possible for one to continually be exposed to bad language and “adult situations” without some degree of spiritual decay. James 1.27 says,
“Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”
Have we surrendered to our society’s indoctrination regarding “alternative lifestyles?”
Satan is working overtime to ram the agenda of the LGBTQ+ proponents down the throats of those who believe such lifestyles are sinful and will cost a person their soul. Popular media and culture would have one to believe that every other person is gay. Acceptance of these “lifestyle choices” are not enough to many who support such things. The LGBTQ+ coalition wants forced acceptance and indoctrination. If it means using liberal judges or shaming tactics, this is exactly what they are willing to do. While we must be kind to every person, a child of God cannot endorse what scripture calls an “abomination.” Leviticus 18.22 says, “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.”
Have we surrendered the Bible’s teachings on marriage, divorce, and remarriage, because it means that some might have to repent of adulterous relationships?
Jesus was very plain about God’s intentions regarding this matter. Matthew 19.9 says,
“And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.”
To this end, there are records of people repenting of such arrangements in the first century church (1 Corinthians 6.9ff). Moreover, there are examples of people in the Old Testament who had to do something similar (Ezra 10).
Instead of surrendering, we need to proclaim God’s truths will all boldness.
When the Apostles were threatened for proclaiming Christ, they prayed for boldness in teaching God’s word, and they were supplied with just that. Acts 4.29-31 says,
“And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus. And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.”
As persecution against the truth grows, many will be tempted to forsake Christ. This is the very thing that happened to some in the first century church. 2 Timothy 4.10 says,
“For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia.”
Demas surrendered to “this present world.”
Would you be guilty of doing the same?