Summary: A look at the period of the Judges
Today, we are going to look at several hundred years of tragedy. It is found recorded for us in the book of Judges. turn with me to Judges 2. If you are using one of the bibles in the seat racks, it is on page _____. Today we pick back up in our journey through the Old Testament. We learned that
Genesis is a book that gives us the “beginnings” -
Exodus teaches about “redemption” Leviticus teaches about “holiness” -
Numbers teaches about “testing” Deuteronomy teaches us about “instruction” and “wisdom” in obeying God’s word. Joshua is a book that teaches us about “faith in conquest” or “stepping out in faith.” God chose to work through the line of Abraham, leading his descendants out of slavery in Egypt and unto a land he would give to them. In Joshua we saw the people cross the Jordan River, and step out in faith to follow God in claiming the land that was given to them. But in Judges the key idea is “Chaos” because the phrase we find repeated over and over again is “every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” There is a lack of consistent leadership and a lack of commitment in following God.
As we ended the book of Joshua, we saw a people who for the first time were in a position where they were able to enter a land that was their and where they could follow God’s leading completely. They were possessing the land, facing opposition, and the people are at a crossroads as to whether or not they will follow God.
Back in Genesis 12, God promises Abraham two things: a land for his descendants, and that his descendants would be a blessing to all the nations of the earth. Here in Judges they have entered the land, but we see today their FAILURE to impact their land with their faith.
In Judges 1 we read of the failure of the tribes to follow God and drive the idol-worshiping peoples out of the land. We see 19 Judah and Simeon fail; 21 Benjamin fails; 27 - Manasseh fails; 29 Ephraim fails; 30 - Zebulun fails; 31 Asher fails; 33 Naphtali fails; 34 Dan fails. So we come to the book of Judges and see the failure of the Jews to impact their world. Instead of following God completely, no matter what the cost, the Jews gave up because the battle seemed too hard. They wanted to follow God if it was convenient, but they failed to follow him completely. And we often are the same way. We talk a good talk, but when the going gets tough, we often want to quit.
Look with me in Judges 2:10-15 and we will see the pattern the Jews followed.
After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel. Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD and served the Baals. They forsook the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshipped various gods of the peoples around them. They provoked the LORD to anger because they forsook him and served Baal and the Ashtoreths. In his anger against Israel the LORD handed them over to raiders who plundered them. He sold them to their enemies all around, whom they were no longer able to resist. Whenever Israel went out to fight, the hand of the LORD was against them to defeat them, just as he had sworn to them. They were in great distress.
The biggest mistake, and the initial mistake the Jews made, was a failure to teach their families the truths about God. So the next generation grows up not knowing about God. As a result of not knowing about God, there is a failure to follow God. And when people do not follow God, they will find someone or something else to follow. We see the Jews adopt the idols of the pagan culture they live in. In verse 14 we see they forsake God. And in verse 15 we see judgment is sent from God to show the Jews their need of God.
The book of Judges is a record of how God used “judges” to deliver his people from judgment and lead them in following the Lord. Judges 2:16 tells us “Then the LORD raised up judges, who saved them out of the hands of these raiders.” A judge was not a “court official” as we think of a judge in our society today. Rather, he was a political leader, military leader, and spiritual advisor all rolled into one. Probably one of the best examples of this was Ulrich Zwingli, one of the leaders of the Presbyterian church during the reformation, who led the church, led the society, and led the armies in battle. God uses these spirit-empowered political military leaders to free his people from bondage.