Summary: We have the tendency to commit sin, then repent, then give our devotion to God, then when all is well, we sin again and we fall into bondage. This is the experience of Israel in the Book of Judges. Only Jesus can break this bondage of sin.
Judges 2:18-19 (NIV) " 18 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 relented because of their groaning under those who oppressed and afflicted them. 19 But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their ancestors, following other gods and serving and worshiping them.They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways.
We are going to start a new series on the Book of Judges.
This book is believed to have been written by the prophet Samuel around 1050 to 1000 BC.
It presents to us a very sad and turbulent period in Israel's history.
It is very different from the previous Book of Joshua that we just studied.
Joshua is a book of victory, triumph and success in claiming the promised Land.
Judges however shows the failure of Israel to conquer their enemies, claim their inheritance, and the huge effect that this had on their life and relationship with God.
That is true in our lives.
We not only have victories but we also experience failures and disappointments in life.
And most of the times, because of wrong choices, our failures are much more than our victories.
Throughout this entire book of Judges, we see a repeated cycle, one that we will call ‘The cycle of sin’.
In these two verses that we have just read, we find the pattern for the entire book – a pattern of sin, bondage and repentance that would last for nearly 350 years (around 1380 to 1050 BC).
For instance, one of their enemies is Mesopotamia or the king of Aram.
They were in bondage for 8 long years because they forgot the Lord and served idols.
But then, on their lowest moment, they cried to the Lord and God heard their cries.
He raised up a judge named Othniel who delivered them and gave them rest for 40 long years.
This is found in Judges 3:7-11.
In this series, we will study his life and the lives of other judges such as Ehud, Deborah, Gideon, Jephtah and Samson, among others.
Actually, these are called judges but in reality, they don't really judge.
When we think of the word judge, we think of someone who makes legal judgment just like our Judiciary system in the court of Appeals.
But here in the Bible, these judges are actually military leaders who inspired Israel to go to battle and attack the enemy because of the bondage of slavery from their enemies.
Only God has the power and the authority to judge justly and fairly.
The often repeated verse of Scripture in this Book of Judges is this – ‘Then the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD…’
That means, they have chosen to do evil rather than to act righteously before God's sight.
That word "again" refers to a repeated action due to bondage of sin.
In short, the entire book of Judges is about Israel going through a cycle of sin.
And this cycle of sin is always true in our Christian lives.
We have the tendency to commit sin, then repent, then give our devotion to God, then when all is well and we are prospering, sin again take control and we fall into bondage.
It goes on an don.
That is the human nature written in every one's heart.
It is very difficult to break free from such bondage because we have no power of our own to do that.
But there is a greater power from God through Jesus coming to rescue and deliver us from the cycle of sin.
Another way to look at this cycle of sin is this:
First, Israel falls into idolatry, then, Israel is enslaved, then, Israel cries out to the Lord, then, God raises up a Judge, then, Israel is delivered, finally Israel served the Lord.
When the judge or deliverer after a short life span dies, the people who put their complete trust on this judge or deliverer again fall into sin and bondage.
The cycle repeats itself.
Here is a question for you to think about.
Why was there a cycle of sin during the time of the Judges?
What was the reason for this cycle of sin?
One of the reasons was probably the lack of a strong military and moral leader after the death of Joshua.
Compared to the situation at the time of Moses who had already prepared Joshua to take over his position long in advance.
But when Joshua was about to die, there was no mention of a successor being groomed to take over his leadership.
And so, after the death of Joshua, all hell broke loose to destroy Israel.