Summary: Message 2 in our exposition of Judges. The message continues discussion of the elements in the sin cycle by illustrating them.

Judges Series #2

Life Cycles

“Cycle Identified and Illustrated


Last week we just got started identifying the life cycle found in the book of Judges. We reinforced the Biblical concept that every person lies somewhere in this circle of life.

All of us run this cycle multiple times throughout our life. The writer of Judges first oriented the reader to the timeframe and then identified the particular cycle that Israel followed repeatedly over a decade of history. He then illustrated the cycle with seven examples from Israel’s history finishing with a story illustrating the depth of depravity whole nation can sink when they eliminate God from life. In chapter one, the tribe of Judah “inquired of the Lord” what they should do and experienced victory over the enemy. In the last chapter, the writer records, “everyone did what was right in their OWN eyes” and they succumbed to idolatry, immorality and anarchy.

Judges illustrates the course and consequences of rebellion against God, compromise and doing one’s own thing so that we might take heed and continually embrace God’s ways. Judges illumines the path to deliverance that we might repent and cry out to God for deliverance. Judges also powerfully illustrates how God uses ordinary, even reluctant and unlikely people to facilitate extraordinary deliverance in response to our cries for help.

Basic Overview in Outline form

I. Life Cycle Identified 1:1--3:6

II. Life Cycle Illustrated (Seven examples) 3:7-16:31

III. Sin Illustrated 17:1-21:25

Historical Background

Judges picks up the historical narrative where Joshua left off but instead of a story of victory under the direction of Yahweh, we read about defeat and depravity because of compromise and incomplete obedience. The time of the Judges follows a new generation of Israelites who were unfamiliar with God or warfare.

I. Life Cycle Identified

A. Incomplete obedience brings divine discipline 1:1-2:5

1. Judah’s Victories 1:1-20

Now it came about after the death of Joshua that the sons of Israel inquired of the LORD, saying, "Who shall go up first for us against the Canaanites, to fight against them?" The LORD said, "Judah shall go up; behold, I have given the land into his hand."

They started out great by seeking God’s direction. God promised His presence and victory. “I have given Judah the land.” The key phrase is “the Lord was with them.”

2. The other tribe’s failures 1:21-2:5

Because the various tribes failed to do what God instructed by purging all the enemies from the land, they enemies regrouped and reorganized to recapture their territory.


The Angel of the LORD promised discipline instead of blessing because they disobeyed. The Angel of the Lord appeared to Joshua to issue the instructions regarding the conquest. Here, the Angel reappears to ask why they failed to carry out His orders.

B. A flashback to Joshua’s death 2:6-10

The writer contrasted Joshua’s generation and the current generation. Joshua’s generation took possession of the promise made to Abraham through obedience. The Judges generation forfeited possession because of disobedience and compromise.

All that generation (the people who entered the land) also were gathered to their fathers; and there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel.

There arose a new generation without a personal experience with God. They did not even know the stories of deliverance and the power of God demonstrated earlier. This illustrates the importance of a first had knowledge of Jesus for EVERY generation.

C. Life cycle identified 2:11-22

Next, the writer introduced a cycle that repeats seven times throughout the rest of the book.

This is like the overture to a musical where the composer introduces the principle musical themes.

1. SIN 2:11-13

2. SLAVERY 2:14-15


4. SALVATION 2:16-17

5. SERVICE 2:18

After the influence of the God-empowered judge disappeared through death, the people fell back into sin and started the cycle all over again. This exposed the shallowness of their relationships with God. What happens when we find ourselves alone? What we do when no one is looking or prodding reveals true character.


SIN (Defection)


God perfectly laid out a personal and national standard of behavior and relationship He expected His chosen people to live by.

“Now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require from you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the LORD’S commandments and His statutes which I am commanding you today for your good? Deut 10:12-13

The Ten Commandments regulated their relationship to God and each other.

God demanded absolute fidelity and exclusivity and priority.

“The LORD will scatter you among the peoples, and you will be left few in number among the nations where the LORD drives you. There you will serve gods, the work of man’s hands, wood and stone, which neither see nor hear nor eat nor smell. But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul. Deuteronomy 4:27-29

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