Summary: Message 1 in our exposition of Judges introducing the cycles of sin that occur seven times in the book.
Judges Series #1 Life Cycles
We encounter cycles all through our life. Even our calendar forms a cycle of days, months, years, decades and centuries. Seasons follow a cycle. Wind operates on a repeating cycle.
Crops, weather, rain, the earth and moon cycles, humanity. The cycle of life runs its course from one generation to the next. The dictionary defines a cycle as a sequence of event that is repeated again and again, especially a causal sequence. All of our lives consist of cycles from medical to spiritual. Judges identifies a spiritual cycle; a cycle related to our relationship with God. In case of Judges, the cycle traces Israel’s relationship with God through a series of events having a causal relationship. That is, one event leads to another, which leads to another. I am most interested in the spiritual cycles we all experience. At times, we feel close to God and spiritual motivated. At other times, we plunge into what has been called “the dark night of the soul” where we feel spiritually drained and empty and life isn’t fun anymore.
One moment we boldly resist temptation and move forward with freedom and enthusiasm.
The next moment, we repeat lifelong struggles with sin and fall backward in discouragement and a sense to bondage to our passions. Scripture and history demonstrates that we are not alone.
For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well. James 3:2
We ALL stumble in MANY ways.
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 1 John 1:8
If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. 1 John 1:10
How is it that we are surprised when others or we sin? All people sin and fall short of God’s standard and expectation.
The Gospels record an enlightening example from a prominent follower of Jesus.
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" And they said, "Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets." He *said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." And Jesus said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven." Matthew 16:13-19
Just a short time later, the holder of the keys of the kingdom of heaven speaks again.
From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day. Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, "God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You." But He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but man's." Matthew 16:21-23
The writer, who is basically unknown but thought to be Samuel, first orients the reader to the time frame and then identified the particular cycle that Israel followed over and over. He then illustrated the cycle with seven examples in Israel’s history and finishes with a story of the devastation that arises when no one takes charge and every person does what is right in their own eyes. In chapter one, the tribe of Judah “inquired of the Lord” what they should do.
In the last chapter “everyone did what was right in their OWN eyes”. As much as I hate running this continuing cycle between sin and “sainthood”, it is a fact of life. Life plays out in cycles.
Over the next several months, we will explore Israel’s experience with this particular life cycle over a period of several decades. Judges illustrates the course and consequences of rebellion against God and doing our 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 indicates how God uses ordinary, even reluctant and unlikely people to facilitate extraordinary deliverance in response to our cries for help.