Summary: A overview of the book of Judges based on Judges 1.22-3.6

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What if everyone did whatever they wanted? – Week 2:

Incomplete Obedience is Disobedience

Text: Judges 1.22-3.6.


1. The passages of the Scripture before us today are still part of the introduction to the book of the Judges. This introduction is not chronological in it’s treatment of events but repeats certain things over for emphasis. The death of Joshua is repeated three times in these early chapters, the next generation and their partial obedience is repeatedly referred to, an d the third generations total disobedience is also mentioned in detail. This is because the writer of the book of Judges is trying to set us up to understand the book as a cyclic book. There is a cycle to be repeated over and over again throughout the book. We will see what that cycle is today…and a very similar cycle has occurred in our nation.

2. These verses indicate for us that the decline of Israel began under Joshua and the “great generation” we spoke about last week. It is true that there was a great generation, but their children and their grandchildren slipped a bit farther away until by the time the elders, those around Joshua’s age died….the nation as a whole had left the truth; they were apostate.

3. Let’s take a few moments to read the entire text today before we make some pertinent observations.

4. Read Judges 1.22-3.6.

First, let’s think about the cyclic nature of this book indicated by the introduction we are reading …

I. The Cycle of the Book of Judges –

A. There is an old Chinese proverb “Fu bu guo san dai”. Translated it means “Wealth does not pass three generations”. This proverb has found it’s way into the modern world as follows: The first generation builds wealth, the second generation spends wealth, and the third generation loses wealth.

B. In a spiritual sense this is the cycle of the book of Judges. The first generation (e.g. Joshua’s) was characterized by obedience, the second generation was characterized by incomplete obedience, and the third generation was characterized by disobedience.

C. Here is the progression in these opening chapters…Joshua’s generation obeyed, their children partially obeyed, and their grandchildren disobeyed. This third generation was described in Judges 3.10 (read).

D. These opening chapters of Judges introduce us to the cycle that will be repeated over and over throughout the rest of the book. This cycle is:

Obedience Incomplete Obedience Disobedience

II. A Breakdown of the cycle –

A. What was this first generation like? We talked about this generation last week but let me remind you and expand a bit. This generation was obedient; they believed God’s Word, they respected Him and obeyed Him. They were courageous, committed, decisive, sensitive to the difference between right and wrong…these were people who truly followed the Lord wholeheartedly.

B. What was the second generation like? Let’s look at Judges 1.27-36 to see 3 characteristics. This generation, the children of Joshua and his leadership circle, were…

1. They partially obeyed God (v. 26, 29, 31).

2. They yielded to the will of the world (v. 27, 34-36).

3. They relied on the strength of man to do God’s work (v. 28, 30, 33, 35).

C. What about the third generation? Let’s look at Judges 2.1-10 This generation, the grandchildren of Joshua and his leadership circle’s generation, were…

1. They were disobedient (2.1-2).

2. They were defeated (2.3a).

3. They were idolaters (2.3b).

4. They were fakers (2.4-5).

5. They were selfish (2.6).

6. They were willfully lost (2.10).

7. They were ungrateful and ignorant (2.10).

-Let me make just a couple of …

III. Observations here…

A. This cycle was a result of their willful disobedience.

B. These repeated cycles were a downward spiral….each revival was less than the previous. Each deliver/Judge was weaker, each cycle when the people descended into unbelief they went lower than ever before.

C. These repeated cycles demonstrate humanity’s absolute inability to do right. There is no upward path to evolution, there is no scientific utopia like presented by Star Trek where there is no poverty, little sickness, little need….humanity cycles lower and lower on their own and only ever goes forward or upward when God intervenes.

I would briefly like to make a few…

IV. Applications:

A. Generations are usually measured in 30-40 year segments. This means three generation ago from today would have been the generation of Americans living and leading from about 1936-1966. If that is the first generation the second would be those living and leading from about 1966-1996, and the third would be those living and leading from 1996- 2026. Oh what similarities to the cycle of Judges I see in America today.

B. Our sins are greater than ever. Our generation is a generation of unbelievers and deliberately so. We are living in a generation when the lines between right and wrong, truth and error, strong character and weak character are blurred beyond recognition.

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