Series on Leadership #1
Why We Need Leaders
050-00736 Judges 2:8-19
I. Franklin Roosevelt had to work hard to persuade Harry Truman to be his running mate in the 1944 presidential election. Truman wanted to go to the Senate, but incumbent vice-president Henry Wallace was unpopular with many Democratic leaders. So Truman was approached, and accepted the job with extreme reluctance. On April 12, 1945, he was summoned to the White House. There he was shown into Eleanor Roosevelt's sitting room, where she told him that President Roosevelt was dead. After a moment of stunned silence Truman asked her, “Is there anything I can do for you?” She shook her head. “Is there anything we can do for you?” she said. “For you're the one in trouble now.” Today in the Word, April 27, 1992
A. Leadership – There have been so many books written, so many lectures given, so many words of advice and wisdom about leadership, so many journals, organizations, and seminars devoted to leadership both within and without the church that no one could possible read them all and retain much of what they read.
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2. Where leaders supposed to find time to lead?
B. There is and always has been a need for good leaders in the world.
1. Just two short months ago we in the United States culminated a two year search process to elect a new president.
a) Why two years?
b) Because we feel a need for strong leadership.
c) And the man who was elected promised to offer just that.
2. At the same time, a number of large corporations which have long been trusted are begging for help because they are failing.
a) Banking Institutions loaned out more money than people had equity.
b) Major department stores have gone out of business.
c) The big three automakers have failed to remain competitive and sit at the brink of extinction.
d) We know that in the business world, despite all the books about good leadership and success we need strong leadership.
3. And our families hurting.
a) There too many children in foster care because parents have not cared for them.
b) There are too many young men and women dropping out of school or joining gangs because they do not have acceptable role models.
c) There is a sharp increase in suicide because children cannot find love, meaning, and purpose.
d) The family today is in need of strong leadership.
4. We need leaders.
II. We need true leaders and we always have.
A. There is a sad cycle within human history.
1. God created and made us in his image.
a) But we failed to obey God.
b) We introduced sin into the world.
2. God called Noah to lead humanity into a new world.
a) But Noah’s sons failed to obey God.
b) Sin reappeared in the world.
3. God called Abraham to father a people that would lead all peoples to him.
a) But the children of Abraham turned away from God relying on their heritage of birth rather than their obedience to God.
b) Sin began to eclipse the holiness of God.
4. God called Moses to bring his people out of their bondage to sin in order to make of them a holy nation reflecting his glory.
a) But the children of Israel whined and complained that God was not good enough.
b) Sin kept them out of the Promised Land.
5. God called Joshua to lead the next generation into the land of promise where they would dwell as a light to the nations.
a) And they followed God through their leader Joshua.
b) They remembered the failure of their fathers under Moses and determined to not fail again.
B. Joshua’s work was done and he died and was buried in the land that God promised to him. Now what?
C. Judges 2:10-11 After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel. Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord…
III. Note carefully: The People of God failed in attitude and in action.
1. Under Moses the Hebrews did not trust God or follow his appointed leader so were not allowed to enter the Land of Promise.
2. The children of this failed generation learned their parent’s lesson. They obeyed God’s covenant and followed God’s leader.
3. When Moses’ died, the mantle of leadership was placed upon Joshua who led this new generation to the Promised Land.
4. But then Joshua died and these faithful died as well.
5. The generation that followed “knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel.”
6. There was a serious problem here, one that is not uncommon.
7. The parents failed to teach their children.
a) They may have tried.
b) They may have modeled a covenant life.
c) But no matter what they did or how they did it they failed to communicate the faith to their children.
d) This failure of passing faith from one generation to the next is why God commanded that we teach our children.
(1) Deuteronomy 6:4-6 (NIV) Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.
(2) Deuteronomy 6:20-21 (NIV) In the future, when your son asks you, “What is the meaning of the stipulations, decrees and laws the Lord our God has commanded you?” tell him: “We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand…”
8. Such is the core meaning of baptizing our children.
a) We place our children within the covenant community of God’s people.
b) Their advantage is that within this community we teach them what the Lord has done for his people.
c) We teach them of the mighty acts of God in salvation – we introduce them to his grace and forgiveness – we introduce them to and help them to know Jesus.
1. Judges 2:12-13 (NIV) They forsook the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them. They provoked the Lord to anger because they forsook him and served Baal and the Ashtoreths.
2. Baal and Ashtoreth.
a) The Baals and Ashtoreths (11, 13) were nature gods (male and female, respectively) worshipped by the Canaanites. They were believed to control the weather and to have power to increase the fertility of soil, animals and humans. (D. A. Carson)
b) So instead of looking to the God of creation they turned to the god’s of fertility and life of the Canaanites.
c) Two words need notice:
(1) They followed means literally “they walked after” which was commonly done in religious rituals – parading to a sacred place of worship as if making a pilgrimage. Contrast this with the pilgrimage made from Egypt to the Promised Land. The children’s game Follow the Leader comes to mind.
(2) Worshipped is a word that means to bow and lie prostrate before. Worship is not the exalting or lifting up but the bowing down before your god.
(3) Following and bowing are acts of devotion and commitment.
(4) Whereas Israel was created to worship and obey God Almighty, creator of heaven and earth, they instead worshipped and obeyed the Canaanite gods of weather and fertility.
(5) This helps us understand the Lord’s reaction.
3. The sin that so angered the Lord Almighty was the sin of adultery.
a) The Hebrews were to destroy all of the people residing in the land promised to them because they were to have and love and obey and worship only one God.
b) But these Hebrews were a people who did not know the YHWH.
c) Worse, they were people who claimed allegiance to other gods.
d) They mingled with the cultural faith of the Canaanites.
IV. But the One True God is Faithful.
A. We should not be so simple to think that God is beyond any sort of passion or emotion about our sin.
1. The pain we feel when a deep relationship with another fails is a reflection of the pain of God over our turning from him for the enticements of the world.
2. Ephesians 4:30 (NIV) …do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
B. But despite God’s anger over sin, His character is that of love, mercy, and compassion.
1. So with his people, when they turn from him in adulterous sin, he responds with corrective discipline.
2. And when his people feel the burden of their sin and cry out to God once again, he provides salvation.
V. This is the pattern over and over in the book of Judges.
A. The salvation the Lord brings comes in the form of a new leader, a judge.
1. The judges were those who God used to:
a) Bring God’s salvation to the people.
b) Turn the people’s hearts to God.
2. The judges were not a replacement for God.
a) They were representatives of God.
b) And as such, they were shadows of Christ.
c) For Jesus is the One True Leader to which all leaders must point.
B. Story is told of a missionary who lost his way in an African jungle. He could find no landmarks and the trail vanished. Eventually, stumbling on a small hut, he asked the native living there if he could lead him out. The native nodded. Rising to his feet, he walked directly into the bush. The missionary followed on his heels. For more than an hour they hacked their way through a dense wall of vines and grasses. The missionary became worried: “Are you sure this is the way? I don't see any path.” The African chuckled and said over his shoulder, “Bwana, in this place there is no path. I am the path.” Today in the Word, May, 1996, p. 24
1. John 14:6 (NIV) Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life.”