Summary: 1 of 5 messages on the book of Judges. This message is introductory and covers the first 3 chapters of Judges. The cycle of sin and repentance.
The Verdict on Judges
One Generation Away From Ruin
February 5, 2006
This is the reality of every age and every nation. It has always been so.
From the time of Noah and his sons to the days of Sodom and Gomorrah we are just one generation separated from ruin. Consider the great civilizations, empires, dynasties, and nations from the birth of history until our time. In times past there were the Babylonians, Greeks, Medes, Persians, Egyptians, Chinese, Carthaginians, Romans, Goths, Ottoman Turks, Russians, Germans, British, Spanish, and French. In every one of theses nations there is a time of greatness and a time of ruin – always just one generation removed.
The chosen people of God are no exception. The children of Jacob – Israel were a great people in the days of the exodus. Under Moses they came through the wilderness into the Promised Land. Under Joshua they took the land. Under the Judges they lost it – well almost.
What we see in the book of Judges is a downward spiral of sin and despair leading to ruin. It’s played out over and over as each generation discovers how close to ruin it is.
This is not the plan for man. Our God is a God of covenants and promises. He desires to pour out his great blessings on us. One of my favorites is in Deuteronomy 28:13
The Promises of God
13 The LORD will make you like the head and not like the tail; you will be on top and not on bottom. But you must obey the commands of the LORD your God that I am giving you today, being careful to keep them.
But the promises of God are unrealized because of our failure… In the book of Judges we see this and so much more.
In the case of Israel the promises don’t come true. Israel gets the land, but never gets everything that God wanted for them. Is it that God does not keep his promises? The New Testament has promises as well.
Can we trust these promises? Do we enjoy these promises? If not, why not? Has God failed to keep his promises to us?
Studying through the OT reveals that God is not at fault – it is His people. But what did they do to disqualify themselves from the promises of God?
In the book of Judges we will see many things and learn many lessons. They will guide us into being a people who possess the promises of God.
The Book of Judges
Israel’s Downward Spiral
Chronologically, Judges takes place after Joshua has lead the people into the promised land and continues until the coronation of King Saul. (About 325 years)
Definitively, a judge is not a person who determines guilt or innocence in criminal cases. He or she is a person who delivers their people from their enemies. They are real people with real flaws and not always someone to be imitated. That’s one of the characteristics of the Bible – it lays out the truth, unvarnished and raw.
Thematically, we detect a cycle in the book of Judges that Israel goes through over and over.
First, Israel does evil in the eyes of Yahweh.
Second, Yahweh gives them into the hands of their oppressors
After a time Israel cries out to Yahweh and Yahweh raises up a deliverer ( i.e., judge)
Then finally – for a season – there is peace and prosperity under the leadership of the judge.
Then, Israel does evil in the eyes of God… and the spiral of death and ruin starts again – with each repetition the situation gets a little worse. By the end of the book of Judges Israel is in a real mess.
Why the decline? What happens in Israel to cause such a drift from God?
There are several reasons.
They Lost their Trust in God
After Joshua died, the Israelites asked the LORD, “Who will be first to go and fight for us against the Canaanites?” 2 The LORD said to them, “The tribe of Judah will go. I have handed the land over to them. 3 The men of Judah said to the men of Simeon, their relatives, “Come and help us fight the Canaanites for our land. If you do, we will go and help you fight for your land.” So the men of Simeon went with them.
Because they lose their relationship with God they begin to lose trust in him. Early on we see the seeds of this lack of trust.