The Weepers of Bochim
February 14th, 1960 @ 8:15 AM
THE WEEPERS OF BOCHIM
Dr. W. A. Criswell
2-14-60 8:15 a.m.
On the radio you are sharing with us the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the early morning message entitled The Weepers of Bochim. In the Bible, you can easily follow the message if you will turn to chapter 2 of the Book of Judges; chapter 2 of the Book of Judges, and the passage is the first five verses:
And the Angel of the Lord came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I swear unto your fathers: and I said, I will never break My covenant with you.
And ye shall make no league with the inhabitants of this land; ye shall throw down their altars: but ye have not obeyed My voice: why have ye done this?
Wherefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you.
And it came to pass when the Angel of the Lord spake these words unto all the children of Israel, that the people lifted up their voice, and wept.
And they called the name of that place – the Weepers – Bochim: and they sacrificed there unto the Lord.
In the first verse in the King James Version, you have it translated "an Angel of the Lord." In the fourth verse, you have it translated, "the Angel of the Lord." The verse number 4 is exactly like the verse number 2 – I mean, number 1. And the first verse ought to be translated "the Angel of the Lord" – the Angel of Jehovah, the Angel of the Covenant. That is that mysterious second Person of the Trinity that appears time and again in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, He is incarnate. He is in flesh. His name is Jesus. In the Old Testament, He is called "the Angel of the Covenant," or "the Angel of the Face," or "the Angel of the Presence," or "the Angel of Jehovah." It says here that the Angel of the Covenant, the Angel of Jehovah came up from Gilgal to Bochim.
Now, the last time that we met this mysterious second Person of the Trinity was at Gilgal. Over against Jericho by the side of the camp of Israel at Gilgal, there stood a Man "with a sword drawn in His hand: and Joshua went up to Him, and asked, Are You for us or for our adversaries?" And that mysterious Warrior Christ, replied,
Nay, but as Captain of the host of the Lord am I now come.
And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said, What saith my Lord unto His servant?
And the Captain of the Lord’s host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot: for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so.
That is in the fifth chapter of the Book of Joshua. So this mysterious Angel of the Lord receives the obeisance and the worship of Joshua, and He says to Joshua the same thing that was said to Moses from the burning bush: "Loose thy shoes from off thy feet: for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground."
So whoever this Angel of Covenant is, He is the same One that appeared to Moses in the burning bush, and said that His name is "I Am that I Am" [Exodus 3:14]. And He is the same One who receives reverence and obeisance and worship from Moses and from Joshua. That means that He is the Lord God Himself. And He appears here to the people of Israel – coming up from Gilgal for a second meeting. At Gilgal was the place of the dedication of the people to the Lord. It got its name, Gilgal, from "circle." There God rolled away the reproach of Egypt from all His people – out of bondage, out of wandering. Now they have come into their inheritance. And at Gilgal, they observe for the first time – after that observance out of Egypt – they observed the Passover. And it was a day of great commitment and dedication unto the Lord. So from Gilgal, there comes this second Person of the Holy Trinity – the Angel of the Covenant. And He says, "I made you to go up out of Egypt" – referring to Himself as the Lord God – "I made you to go up out of Egypt, and I brought you into this land that I sware unto thy fathers"; and I said to you, you shall destroy the inhabitants of the land; you shall break down their heathen, idolatrous altars, "and you shall make no covenant with the people of the land. . . . but you did not hearken unto My voice: . . . therefore you shall not be able to triumph over them; but they shall remain in your midst to be a snare and a pitfall and a curse to you" [Judges 2:2-3].
Isn’t that one of the most tragic announcements you could ever find in the life of any people? From then on, they were to be afflicted by the executioners of God. Sometimes it would be the Amorite, sometimes it would be the Midianite, sometimes it would be the Philistine, sometimes it would be the Syrian, sometimes the Assyrian, sometimes the Babylonian, sometimes the Roman – but from then on, these ruthless merciless invaders were to have in them the driving Spirit of God Himself. They were to be the executioners of the Lord God Himself. Isn’t that a tragic thing that God should be against us and should work for our hurt and for our discipline? So it was here in this Book of Judges, which is one of the saddest books in all of the Bible. "These things are written for our admonition; they are ensamples to us upon whom the end of the ages has come" [1 Corinthians 10:11]. And we are admonished hereby, we are admonished to look upon the nature of our Lord God and to heed the warnings that God has written here in His Word.
I one time heard Dr. L. R. Scarborough say that there are four hundred warnings about hell and damnation and judgment in the Bible. He said life is like a road four hundred miles long, and at every mile post, there is a sign to the wicked and the unbelieving: "This road leads to hell." And he said when a man goes down a road four hundred miles long and at every mile post there is a sign, "This road leads to hell," he said, "The wise man is the man who would take heed thereunto and turn and be saved" So it is here in the Word of the Lord. These things are written for our admonition, that we might profit thereby and might be spared the vengeance and the judgment of Almighty God.
Now I have taken time out this morning to see if I can share with you what is very difficult to say in public and in a mixed audience. Why was it that God announced His purpose to destroy the Canaanites? When you read here in the Bible that the children of Israel are brought into the land of Canaan, and a sword is placed in their hands, and they are charged to slay every man, woman, and child of the Canaanites, to us today that seems such a vengeful thing – such a cruel and heartless thing. Why is it that God said, "You are to destroy the entire nation of the Canaanites?" [Deuteronomy 20:17]. Well, that is very obvious when you read archeological studies and when you follow through the life and the religion of the inhabitants of the land. Now I am going to start out with the language of the Scriptures, and then for just a moment, I want you to see the kind of people who dwelt in Canaan and why it was that God said they must be destroyed and the land must be cleansed from its polluted inhabitants.
I am reading now from the eighteenth chapter of the Book of Leviticus beginning at the twenty-first verse:
Thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molec, neither shalt thou profane the name of God: [I am the Lord].
Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: [it is an abomination].
Neither shalt thou lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith: neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto: [it is confusion].
Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you:
And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants.
Ye shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you:
(For all these abominations have the men of the land done, which were before you, and thus the land is defiled;)
That the land spew not out you also, when ye defile it, as it spewed out the nations that were before you.
For whosoever shall commit any of these abominations, even the souls that commit them shall be cut off from among their people.
Therefore shall ye keep Mine ordinance, that you commit not any of these abominable customs, which were committed before you, and that you defile not yourselves therein: I am the Lord your God.
Just in the providence of life, I have stumbled into some archeological reports just made public regarding the religion of these Canaanites. I do not know how you would speak of it. It is unspeakably vile and iniquitous. One of the things they did was to offer their children into the burning arms of Molech, an idol cast in the form of a hollow creature [with] a fire – burning, furious fire – kindled underneath, and the children of the worshipers thrown into the hands, burning arms of the fire god.
Another of the abominations of the Canaanites was they offered sacrifices when they built a house, and in these archeological excavations, underneath the foundation of any building built by the Canaanites, you will find the skeletons of those who were sacrificed as living offerings to their deities when a building was built.
The most impossible of all of the things that mind could imagine of defilement and iniquity lay in the god Baal that they worshiped – who copulated, who cohabitated with animals, and the priests and the priestesses of Baal did the same thing. They lived with animals and copulated with animals – the men and the women. And when they worshipped Baal, that was one form of its worship – an impossible thing even to imagine.
Then they had houses of sodomites and houses of sacred prostitutes, and that was the way that the Canaanites worshiped their gods and their goddesses. To find the evil effect of that upon Israel itself, you have but to read the reign of the King Manasseh. He turned the temple of the Lord into a phallic religion itself – the worship of the male organ of regeneration – and set up in the holy temple of God an image of that phallic religion. And on one side of the temple, he built sodomite houses – the Bible says for, quote, "consecrated men," and on the other side, he built houses of ill fame for "consecrated women." That was the religion of the Canaanites, and God says in the word that "the land itself vomiteth out its inhabitants" [Leviticus 18:25]. And God said, "Thou shalt not lie down with any beast, nor with mankind with mankind, or with womankind with womankind." It was a filthy, dirty, iniquitous, abominable defilement beyond anything you can ever conceive of in your life. To you, religion is identified with morality, with righteousness. For a man to be religious is, if he is a true religionist, for a man to be godly. But in the ancient, Oriental, heathen religion, morality and righteousness and godliness had nothing to do with religion. Practically all of it was built around a worship of fecundity and sex, beyond anything that you could describe; the language of those ancient peoples is never translated, and the pictures are rarely ever published. That is why the Lord God said, "You are the – you are the executioners of the judgment of God upon the land, and you are to clean the land of its filth and of its iniquity and its defilement" [Deuteronomy 9:4-5; 17:11]. God so interdicted that worship of idols until He said in Deuteronomy, "Any city of the Hebrews that gives itself to idolatry shall itself be destroyed, every soul in its confines" [Deuteronomy 13:12-15].
Now you have an example here in the Book of Judges, as it starts off, of Canaanite cruelty. In the first chapter of the Book of Judges and the fifth verse, it begins, "And they found Adoni-Bezek;" that is, the king of Bezek, the Lord of Bezek; Adoni, "Lord," of Bezek.
And they found Adoni-bezek in Bezek: and they fought against him, and they slew the Canaanites and the Perizzites.
And Adoni-bezek fled; and they pursued after him, and caught him, and cut off his thumbs and his great toes.
And Adoni-bezek said, Threescore and ten kings, having their thumbs and their great toes cut off, gathered their meat under my table: as I have done, so God hath requited me. And they brought him to Jerusalem, and there he died"
For a king to mutilate one other king might be accounted for – he might have had a spite against him, or he might have had a fit of temper against him – but for a king to take seventy kings and maim and mutilate their bodies and force them to eat the crumbs that fell from his table is, of all things, a representative of a cruel and a blood-thirsty and a sadistic nature. Now, this is a typical Canaanite king. Why he went to war against those seventy other kings, we do not know. For an ambitious, bloodthirsty spirit does not need provocation; it finds it itself. So this Canaanite king has gone to war and has mutilated seventy kings and forced them to eat like dogs, hungering for the scraps that fell underneath his table. And the hand of God placed in the hand of the Israelite the sword of the judgment of God. And they were commanded in the name of the Lord to bring the day of vengeance upon the iniquitous, indescribably vile and cruel Canaanites [Deuteronomy 9:4-5]. Now, that is no different from the God of all the ages, and the God that we know and worship today, and the God before whom someday we shall stand, for God is a God of judgment, and He requites upon His people and upon this world their sins and their iniquities. "Be not deceived:" God is not laughed at, "God is not mocked," God is not scorned, "for what a man soweth, that shall he also reap" [Galatians 6:7]. And Adoni-bezek said, "As I have done, so God hath requited me" [Judges 1:7].
There is in this world a great Ruler, a moral Judge, and He holds the destiny of this world in His hands; and God metes out to these who do evil according to their evil deeds. For example, when Elijah stood before Ahab and said, "In the place, in the exact spot where the dogs licked up the blood of Naboth, there shall the dogs lick up thy blood" [1 Kings 21:19]. And when that soldier at a venture drew back his bow and the arrow pierced between the joints of the harness into the heart of Aha, and his blood flowed out into the chariot, they washed the chariot out by the pool of Jezreel, and there the dogs licked up his blood in the place where the dogs had licked up the blood of Naboth [1 Kings 22:34-38].
Sometimes that requiting of the judgment of God – sometimes it is upon the person himself, such as [when] the leprosy of Naaman cleaved to Gehazi the false and lying and thieving servant of Elisha [2 Kings 5:27]. Or the leprosy fell upon Uzziah the king for transgressing the commandment of the Lord [2 Chronicles 26:16-21]. Sometimes it falls upon the man himself. Sometimes that judgment falls upon innocent people for a wicked man’s sake; the Lord slew seventy thousand of the men of Israel because of the sin of David in numbering the people [2 Samuel 24:15]. I think of a "Hitlerite" Germany – think of the thousands and the millions of innocent people who died because of the ruthless ambition of that unspeakable man – the judgment of God falling upon others for his sake.
Sometimes that judgment is immediately, immediately sentenced, as upon Herod when he died of worms – eaten up with worms when he blasphemed God [Acts 12:23]. Sometimes it is in the generations to come, as because of Saul’s iniquity in violating the covenant with the Gibeonites; the judgment of the sin of Saul fell upon Saul’s sons [2 Samuel 21:1-9]. Sometimes it is in these after years, as of the sin of Manasseh. God forgave Manasseh, but because of Manasseh’s vile, evil life, God destroyed Israel, and sold them into the bondage of Babylonian captivity [Jeremiah 15:4]. God says in this Book – God says in this Word that there is a judgment from heaven that is visited upon iniquity and upon sin and upon transgression. We don’t escape it. It is as certain as that God hath placed, in the heart of this universe, great moral laws. And these things are written here in the Book that we might be admonished and that we might pause and learn that the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord [Proverbs 9:10].
Now I haven’t time to follow through this judgment of God upon Israel here in this Book of Judges. I just point it out to you. Every time that it says here – every time that it says here that Israel forsook the Lord and served Baal and Ashtoreth – every time it says, "and they did evil in the sight of the Lord," every time it is followed by the same kind of a sentence. Look: "And Israel forsook the Lord, and served Baal and Ashtaroth. And the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and He delivered them into the hands of the spoilers" [Judges 2:13-14]. I turn the page: "And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and forgat their Lord, and served Baalim and the groves" [Judges 3:7]. There is that Asherah phallic religion – groves – translated "groves." "Therefore the anger of the Lord was against Israel, and He sold them into their hands" [Judges 3:8]. And then again, "And the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord. . . And the Lord sold them into the hand of Jabin" [Judges 4:1-2]. There is never an exception to that.
Who did that? The Lord did that! "And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord," and the Lord delivered them, and the Lord sold them. What is that old and oft-quoted phrase from the Psalms? "Except the Lord keep the city, the watchmen waketh but in vain" [Psalm 127:1]. Our destiny as a people and as a nation does not lie in our missiles that we speak of so much – or in our hydrogen bombs that we read of so much – but it lies in the imponderables of God! If God is against us, and if America sins away her day of grace, all the missiles in this earth and all the hydrogen bombs we can manufacture will not deliver us from the hands of our oppressors. If America sins beyond a certain line invisible but known to God, our nation shall be destroyed like Israel was destroyed, like Judah was destroyed, like Germany was destroyed, like Japan was destroyed. I do not know of a chapter that brings such awful, referential fear as the first chapter of the Book of Romans. Roman 1:24: "Wherefore God gave them up." Roman’s 1:26: "For this cause, God gave them up." Roman’s 1:28: "For this cause, God gave them up."
Ah, the awful, terrible thing of falling into the hands of the living God! Wouldn’t that be a terrible, hopeless, helpless thing, were it not for the other sentence, which I have not time except just a quote? And in their sorrow and in their misery, in the darkness of their awful hour, oppressed and afflicted, the children of Israel cried unto the Lord, "O God, O God!" And every time they cried, every time they repented, every time they asked mercy from heaven, every time they did it, God looked down upon His children, saw their tears, heard their groanings, and delivered them. Isn’t that an astounding thing? You would have thought that generations ago God would have wiped off the inhabitants from the face of the earth. But "His mercy endureth for ever" [1 Chronicles 16:34; Psalm 106:1]. "Even before you call," He says, "I will answer thee" [Isaiah 65:24]. How good, how long-suffering and how patient is our God! No wonder the New Testament says, "It is the goodness of God that leadeth thee to repentance" [Romans 2:4].
While we sing our song this morning, the first stanza, while we sing that hymn, is there somebody you this morning to give his heart in faith and trust to Jesus? Is there somebody you to put your life with us in the fellowship of the church? On the first note of that first stanza, would you come and stand by me, while all of us stand and sing the hymn together?