Dear radio friends,
Today I would like to direct your attention to what God’s Word tells us about a group of people who once lived in a place called Laish. They were colonists from a city called Zidon. The history to which I am referring is found in chapter 18 of the book of Judges. It is part of the history that took place during the 450 years between the man Joshua and king Saul. It is the period of history that the Bible refers to as Judges, or that period characterized by a repeated phrase, “In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”
I want to direct your attention to this group of unbelieving or heathen people of whom we read in Judges 18:7, “They dwelt careless, quiet, and secure. No magistrate was there to put them to shame. They had no business with any man.” Again in verse 10 we read that they were a people secure in a large land, a place where there was no want of anything that is in the earth. And in verse 27 we read that they were a people quiet and secure, but there was no deliverer.
I want to call your attention to these people of Laish because they capture, by the Holy Spirit’s inspiration, the spirit of our world today, from which God calls Christians to be separate. These verses capture the spirit of men and women who are turning their backs upon God, who are determined to live their lives their own way, to map out things for themselves, and to live their life without reference to God or His law, and who have no deliverer. For, you see, the Scripture is not simply the interesting record of past civilizations and thus irrelevant to our complex and advanced computer-age. But the Scripture is God’s revelation to us of the spirit of the world of unbelief in which His church and people are called to live to His glory.
I want to call your attention to these people, then, as they are a picture of what the apostle calls this present evil world from which God, through His Son, has by grace delivered His church.
Coming to the truth of Judges 18 and the different verses to which I referred (if you have your Bible open, you can look at those now – 7, 10, 27, 28), we find that these verses are giving to us the beginning and the end of the story of certain Zidonian colonists who settled in a place called Laish. The people of Laish were evidently originally from Zidon. We read in verse 7 that they dwelt careless, after the manner of the Zidonians. This suggests that they must have immigrated to Laish from Zidon. Zidon was a very powerful and luxurious trade city which was known throughout the Old Testament history of God’s people. It was a seaport, and it is often mentioned in the same breath with other trade centers. You might remember that Jezebel, Ahab’s wife, was from Zidon. Later on, the prophets Joel and Amos will pronounce God’s judgment upon Zidon, which engaged in slave trafficking, that is, selling the captive children of Israel to the nations, especially Edom. We read in Amos 1:9, “Because they (that is, the people of Zidon) delivered up the whole captivity to Edom, and remembered not the brotherly covenant.”
Evidently a number of these people of Zidon, this trade center, had wandered off on their own, anxious to find a place of their own and to live their own way. Why? Perhaps to avoid responsibilities of the life in Zidon, the taxes, the dangers of being called on to go to war to defend their city. Our text strongly suggests that they were looking for a place of their own. Perhaps things were crowded. They were looking for a fruitful place, so that their life would be more pleasant, relaxed, and prosperous. They found what they were looking for: a place called Laish.
Then we are told about the manner of life that they established in their new colony of Laish. They were, first of all, peaceable and peace-loving. They dwelt careless, quiet, and secure, we read. And there was no magistrate in the land that might put them to shame. They behaved themselves so well that there was no need for a magistrate in the land to keep the law. Evidently there were no internal troubles. Each one looked after his own business and did not interfere with anyone else. They were careless, quiet, secure, we read. They had taken no measures to defend their colony at all, no provisions against attack. And apparently they were unconcerned about anyone who entered into their land to spy it out or make observations.
More. We read that they were independent and isolated. They were far from the Zidonians and had no business with any man. They lived their lives among themselves and for themselves. They had nothing to do with anyone else. The richness of the area made them self-supporting. We read that it was a place where there was no want of anything that is in the earth. Their life was one of complete independence.
So here we have a group of people who have the idea of life in terms of self-fulfillment, advancement, ease, and pleasure, each one minding his own affairs. And so they would have continued were it not for the Danites, one of the tribes of Israel who also were anxious to find more room for themselves and who discovered this town of Laish and then, with 600 men and with weapons of war, came upon these colonists and destroyed them with the edge of the sword and burnt their city and took it with ease because, we read, “there was no deliverer there.”
This is a perfect picture of the life of many men and women today. It is very important to realize that there are a large number of ways in which men and women defy God and sin against the Almighty. There are polite ways, if I may put it that way. We must not only see the obvious and open ways of sin – drunkenness, abortion, shoplifting, fornication, immorality, homosexuality – we must not think that sin is confined only to these, but we must see that sin can be very subtle, very insidious and deadly. There are open and shameless lives of sin promoted today for sure, and defended with the anti-God spirit of our age. There are those who speak with cursing and swearing and dirty speech without the slightest hesitation. There are those who live openly in a notorious and evil way, flaunting the law of God and throwing it up, apparently, even into God’s face.
But there is another type of person who is guilty of the same ungodliness. There is a type of life which includes, perhaps, a larger number of people than those who are openly ungodly – the Zidonian colonist type. What I would refer to as the polite, the socially acceptable, and the politically correct ungodly – a way of sin which is seen in the unspoken attitude assumed toward God, in the outlook on life, in how one defines the purpose for life, and what one erects for a standard for their life to determine good and evil.
Let us look at these Zidonian colonists. They appear nice and harmless. All they desired to do was to live their own lives their own way. They do not desire to interfere with the life of anyone else. What suits them, that is all that they ask. And they ask that they be treated the same way. They dislike, they are incensed, they are wounded by any type of religion which interferes with them, which would judge them, and which would demand renouncing their control of their life – their decision-making.
Oh, they would have no objection to sentimental idealism. A little worship, a little celebration time on Sunday morning – occasionally this would be good. But they will not live their lives according to God’s rule, but as they have mapped their own way. I’ll have it my way, thank you, and any religion must pass my standards. My thoughts, my rights, my wrongs are the important thing.
They do not necessarily break the law or cause trouble. They are often respected. They are carefree. They are successful. All goes well from year to year. The family seems happy. The kids have got it all together. Everything is OK. It is a respectable, apparently happy, life. It just ignores the living God and shuts Him out of their life and heart and says, “The center of my life, the purpose of my life, the decision-making for my life, is me.” Politely they turn their back on God and live as ungodly and irreligious as the man who staggers on a sidewalk in drunkenness or abuses his children. They can be in the church. The apostle Paul refers to a form of godliness but denying the power thereof (II Tim. 3).
Are you influenced by the polite ungodliness of our day? Is your life ordered and controlled by God’s law, by His holy will? Are you in touch with God through Scripture? Or do you bow down to an idol that you call the Christian God but you have made God out to be the way you want Him to be? Put it this way: Is your life a God-controlled life as revealed in Holy Scripture, or do you consult yourself? Are you living your own life your own way independently from the living God? I am not asking if you openly deny Him in your words. I am not asking if you could have been found to curse this past week. I am asking, Are you denying God in your life? Is it God’s way or your way? Do you simply sprinkle a little religion over the top of your life and live your life according to your own decisions? To be in the way of God is more than just showing up at a church occasionally. Has polite ungodliness wormed its way into your heart?
The way of life that we are being warned of in the Zidonian colony is, first of all, a very selfish life. The sin of selfishness, according to Scripture, is a serious sin. It is the sin of idolatry. It is the sin that cuts at the very heart of life and is an attack upon God Himself. These Zidonian colonists considered no one but themselves, and having found a nice place that suited them, they settled down and cut off all communication with the outside world. They had what they wanted. The thought of needs of others really did not bother them.
Selfishness, you see, does not always take the form of grabbing or shoplifting. It often shows itself in a total lack of concern for the lot of others. It is to be happy, as long as it is all right with me and I have everything that I need, and as long as I do not have to make too many adjustments for other people. Everyone out for himself. Listen to men and women, boys and girls, of every age as they talk today. Listen to them. What are they after? What do they covet? They covet the maximum of personal pleasure and the minimum of effort and responsibility. Have a good time, that is all that counts. The principle for life to which they are sold is self. But the Bible says this is idolatry. This is a denial of the living God. It is a denial that your life is not for yourself but is to be found bowing and serving and worshiping the only God through Jesus Christ.
What concerns most people today? As long as the economy is strong, not too much. Today the world in which we live is drunk, drunk on things, satiated with possessions. Why? Because this is a departure from God and the way He has given for our life. God calls us in Scripture to live no more unto the idol self. God calls us in humble obedience to Himself as the living God. He tells us the truth that we are not the owners of anything. We are only His stewards. Not even your very life – especially not your life. It is not yours! That is so true for the child of God. Our life is not ours. It is the purchased possession of Christ. God tells us, There is only one goal; there is only one purpose; there is only one right thing for life; there is only one truth, so to speak: the kingdom of God and its righteousness. That is how you are to live, press unto the kingdom of God.
The Bible asks us: What is the blessed man or woman? He is the one who hungers and thirsts after God and after the righteousness of Christ. What does our Savior say to us as His children redeemed in His blood and given faith by the Spirit? Does the Savior say, settle down where you are and enjoy yourself until your hearts are content and do not worry about anybody else? No! He says this: Take up your cross and follow Me.
So, as saints, we who have freely received shall also freely give. The selfish life is the desire to look after yourself first, last, and always. And it is to turn your back upon the great law of God: Worship the Lord thy God and Him only shalt thou serve. Do you remember who quoted those words? No religious fanatic, but the very Son of God.
Still more. The way of the life of the Zidonian colonists is a foolish life. They dwelt carelessly, we read. They saw that everything was OK at that time. Nothing really troubled them. They gave no thought to the future, of possible attacks or spies. They refused to think about where they were headed in their prosperity. Do not spoil the party by telling us what is coming. All is well now. We are comfortable with our short-sighted vision. We are utterly mindless about the future. They did not analyze their false security. They refused to consider the basis upon which they were living. Oh, we can’t be bothered by that! Here they sit upon a top of a volcano. But it is of no concern to them as long as there is no eruption. They did not bother their heads about where they were going. They did not even take notice that five men from the tribe of Dan had already come and spied them out and that an army was marching to destroy them.
What is the basis of your life? Have you thought deeply and thoroughly over your life in the light of God’s Word? Do you say, Well, so long as there is no problem today…. You do not concern yourself about anything else. You shelve your problems. Life, you say, is too short to worry about it. Back to the good life!
This is the gospel, if I dare use that word, this is the perversion, the filth of the message of the evil one, and it is loud in our day. “Enjoy it while it lasts.” Is this the philosophy of your life? Is it? Do you live as if what you have in your own life is going to last? Have you made provision? Perhaps the spies of leukemia have entered into the city of your health. Are you ready? Maybe, in God’s will, paralysis from the neck down will meet you today or tomorrow in a car crash. Sorrows, death, trial or disappointment, adversity, heartache, loneliness, pain – even if you escape these, there is a grave that has been marked for you. This is marching toward you today. Awake, says the Scripture. The Scriptures call is plain and urgent. Put on the Lord Jesus Christ. The night is far spent. The day is at hand. Make no provision for the lusts of the flesh to supply it. Arm yourself with the Word of God. Take the whole armor of God. Up, arm yourself, quit you like men, says the Scriptures.
The Zidonian colonists were destroyed. They had no deliverer. These are the words: They (that is, the tribe of Dan) came into Laish unto a people who were quiet and secure. And they smote them with the edge of the sword and burnt the city with fire. There was no deliverer because it was far from Zidon, and they had no business with any man.
How wonderful it seemed at first. They were quiet and secure. They had nothing to worry about. They were a god to themselves. They did not want anyone to interfere, no one telling them what to do. They had freedom. But suddenly 600 men stood one morning with swords flashing in the sun and descended upon them for mass slaughter. They had no deliverer. Their own life became their snare. Their glorious freedom became their destruction. And their way of life caused their death.
There is nothing new under the sun. There are many who are going to make the way of the Christian life to be narrow and to be oppressive. I know some who turn their back on God in their youth. Oh, they did not say that. But in their life now and by their actions they said that Jesus Christ is oppressive. They wanted to live their life their own way. College tantalized them with intellectual pride. Their own job and independence tempted them so that they could think that religion was just this personal walk with Christ and, therefore, when that was all said and done, they could decide for themselves how they wanted to live. They could live together outside of marriage. They could go boating on a beautiful Sunday. They could have a few beers with the guys. They could make friendship with interesting, though unbelieving, people. They live for themselves.
But an enemy is coming. And they have no deliverer. Now things are coming into their lives and they are not strong enough to meet them.
Young people, do not cut yourself off from the truth of God. Do not think that you can turn your back on God for a while and all will be OK. Is there a deliverer who stands with you today? Hear God’s Word. How do you meet the onslaught of the accusing conscience concerning your sin? What will you have to say before the judgment of God? Those who turn their back in unbelief upon God and live their life to suit their fancy, adopting their own modern ideas which harmonize with their own sinful lusts and instincts – what do they have?
The glorious gospel is that there is a deliverer. His name is God’s Son, Jesus Christ. He is the One who, of grace alone, has redeemed us unto God while we dwelt in our carelessness, in our ease, in our sins. Christ died for His children through the death of Jesus Christ. We are now reconciled to God, and through Jesus Christ, by faith, we declare God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in trouble. And the call of the gospel: Live unto Him. Yield yourselves wholly unto Him. Awake unto righteousness.
We are now free, no longer to live to self, but unto Him. That is joy, that is life – surrounded by His salvation, brought before the King of kings on bended knee. Life is summed in this question: Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?
Heavenly Father, we thank Thee for Thy Word, and we pray for its blessing on our souls. Amen.