Then the LORD raised up judges, who saved them out of the hands of these raiders. Yet they would not listen to their judges but prostituted themselves to other gods and worshiped them. Unlike their fathers, they quickly turned from the way in which their fathers had walked, the way of obedience to the LORD’s commands. Whenever the LORD raised up a judge for them, he was with the judge and saved them out of the hands of their enemies as long as the judge lived; for the LORD had compassion on them as they groaned under those who oppressed and afflicted them. But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their fathers, following other gods and serving and worshiping them. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways.
Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel and said, “Because this nation has violated the covenant that I laid down for their forefathers and has not listened to me, I will no longer drive out before them any of the nations Joshua left when he died. I will use them to test Israel and see whether they will keep the way of the LORD and walk in it as their forefathers did.” The LORD had allowed those nations to remain; he did not drive them out at once by giving them into the hands of Joshua. (Judges 2:16-23)
There’s nothing new under the sun. Joshua’s conquest of the Promised Land was incomplete. Before he died, he told the people of Israel that they needed to make a choice about who they would worship. They responded by promising to worship Yahweh. They even ratified a treaty with God. According to that treaty, if the people were not faithful in worshiping Yahweh and treating one another with love, then God would no longer give them victory over their enemies.
So when God stood before the Israelites after Joshua had died he reminded them of the terms of their agreement with him. But, as the generations passed they repeatedly forgot about the treaty, so God repeatedly punished them with foreign conquerors. But whenever they repented, God raised up leaders—the judges—to rescue his people from those oppressors. But as the book of Judges so sadly relates, every time they were rescued, they quickly reverted to their old behavior.
Nevertheless, no matter how often the Israelites turned away from God, no matter how often they sinned, God was always ready to forgive them and rescue them from all their troubles. There was no end to God’s mercy and grace. God gives us never-ending second chances. It’s never too late with God.