Upon reading through the Book of Judges one of the themes that would unfold before your eyes is the “Canaanization of Israel.” You may not initially define what you read as that, but nonetheless, it’s there, definitive, and progressive. The phrase itself deals with the land the children of Israel were commanded to conquer and what happened because they didn’t conquer it the way the LORD had commanded them to. When the children of Israel went into the land of Canaan under the leadership of Joshua, they didn’t have to ‘wing it’, they were given specific instructions to possess the land and expel the inhabitants. Deuteronomy 7 lays this out very clearly:
In Judges 9 the usual cycle of apostasy, oppression, groaning, and deliverance is put on pause while judgment arises, not from outside of Israel, but from within. The previous judge, Gideon, had not finished well; and his sins appeared to forecast what was going to follow in Israel after he died. Although he turned down the offer of kingship, he nonetheless lived like a king, gathered a harem, accumulated wealth, and made a golden ephod that became a snare to him, his family, and Israel. Yep, that’s the same Gideon from Sunday school class. Ironically, the man who rejected the kingship named the son of his concubine in Shechem, Abimelech, which means ‘my father is king’. It’s no surprise, then, that Abimelech coveted a place of kingship as he grew older. You could imagine him thinking (based on his name), ‘If my father was king then someone has to be his successor, right?’
For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous. (1 John 3:11-12)
Time and again in his first epistle John pointed his readers back to what they heard from “the beginning”. With false teachers trying to bring in destructive heresies and, most likely claiming new revelation, John repeatedly pointed back to the apostolic message his readers heard from the beginning.