Summary: An exposition of Judges 1:1-2:5. The story of Israel's incomplete obedience and the disaster it brings.
Church At The Gates: Missoula, MT Church
Judges 1-2:5 | Week 1 | Finish the Job
The Lists in our Lives
You have a list. Everyone has a list. Maybe it’s a “honey-do” list or a list of assignments from Professor No-Fun or a list of New Year’s Resolutions you’ve just barely started or you’re almost done abandoning. Either way, you have a list.
This list, in some sense, guides your day to day life. You know, too, that if the list isn’t completed in the manner expected, credit won’t be given and you’ll suffer the exasperated sigh and gaze of a disappointed spouse, a lower grade on your assignments, the loss of a job promotion, or any number of other things.
We know this truth intrinsically:
Incomplete Obedience Has Consequences
You Had One Job
The Israelites had left Egypt. They had wandered in the dessert while an unbelieving generation died off. They stood on the dry river bed of the Jordan River as the Lord held back the rushing torrent. They fought the battle of Jericho and the walls came a tumblin’ down. They continued the conquest of the promised land.
Their one job? Destroy the Canaanite presence in the promised land. Down to the last living thing. (Dt. 20:16-28Open in Logos Bible Software (if available))
Under Joshua, they secure a large portion of the promised land but fail to conquer the land and the people completely. Joshua, nearing the end of his life, understanding that finishing the job will fall to the next generation offers this charge to the people of Israel:
“14 Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
Joshua 24:14-15Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)
The people reply enthusiastically:
“16 Then the people answered, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods, 17 for it is the Lord our God who brought us and our fathers up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, and who did those great signs in our sight and preserved us in all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed. 18 And the Lord drove out before us all the peoples, the Amorites who lived in the land. Therefore we also will serve the Lord, for he is our God.”
Joshua 24:16-18Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)
This is good news. In fact, for a man facing his own mortality, wondering what his legacy will be, wondering if the stubborn, stiff-necked people will devote themselves to the Lord — their declaration is great news. It is a promise that can comfort an old man about an unknown future.
This is where the book of Judges really begins: with the good news of Chapter 24. Judges is a sequel of sorts to the book of Joshua. As readers, we’re meant to enter the first words of Judges with a cautious optimism.
The Book of Judges
Date: 1051 b.c. The book covers from 1375-1070 b.c.
Author: Samuel. We get this from rabbinic tradition as there is no attributed author within the book itself.
Title: The title “Judges” is from the latin translation of the Old Testament. The Hebrew word for “judge” denotes not only a position of legal decision making but also of leading deliverance against foes. A good way to think of the judges of this time, then, might be to think of them more like charismatic MMA fighters than our modern day judges. These men (and Deborah) were leaders of the tribe responsible for far more than just making legal decisions but also for the very leadership and protection of their tribes.
Purpose: To show God as the ultimate judge and the ultimate source of salvation.
This book, with all of its intrigue, violence, and troubling descent into madness, is really a story about God. He’s the main character. It’s the Lord who appoints judges. It’s the Lord who empowers judges. It’s the Lord who hands over Israel to the canaanites. It’s the Lord who hears the cries of his people. And it’s the Lord who delivers his people. He is the preeminent character in this book.
Message: No matter how extreme the rebellion, God is able to save.
The book of Judges, if you haven’t read it is riveting. It reads like a Hollywood blockbuster. If you got the team that made “God’s Not Dead” and “Fireproof” in a room with Quentin Tarantino and asked them to make a movie about God from this time period — you’d end up with the book of Judges. Things get dark, things get extreme but no matter how dark the cloud, God is always present, always working, always aiming at saving his people.