Summary: The Children of Israel begin the period of the Judges well, but begin to neglect their relationship with God and this leads to defeat, much as the Christian who does not nurture that relationship with exist in the weakened flesh.
When I was in junior high a Catholic priest came to visit my debate class. I know, today a visit to a public school by a religious official would warrant calling out the SWAT team and raising the terror alert to red, but it was a different nation in those days.
Anyway, I remember this gentleman handing out a sheet of paper filled with advertising slogans for products we recognized. But the slogans had been altered slightly to reflect a higher, spiritual reality. It started out saying "God is like â€¦"
God is like a Hallmark card: He cared enough to send the very best. (John 3:16)
God is like Coke: He’s the real thing. (Jeremiah 10)
God is like Budweiser: The King of Kings (Revelation 19:16)
God is like Allstate: You’re in good hands (John 10:28-29)
For our study in the book of Judges I’ve come up with an ad slogan that fits this too (nothing bad about this company either).
The attitudes in the book of Judges are like Burger King: Have it our way.
"Hold the faith, and hold the worship, other gods they don’t upset us, all we ask is that You let us have our way.
You see, there is God’s way, and then there is our way. Judges is a book where see humanity decide they know better than God. A theme for the book of Judges can be found in 21:25 In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. Not being ruled by God’s Spirit and obeying what you think is right, rather than what God says is right, is a recipe for hardship, defeat, weakness, sin, debauchery, and death.
It’s a two step process: 1. Walk away from loyalty and faith in God (even by ignoring your relationship with Him) and 2. Putting our needs, opinions, desires, and values above those of the Lord. Here’s how it works: the weaker you are in your relationship to God, the weaker you become in standing against sin and temptation and not acting like God becomes the norm and seems right - but that doesn’t make it right.
Proverbs 14:12 There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.
The book is not all depressing. We see small victories: Deborah, Ehud, Samson - but even they pose problems. Ehud was a cold blooded killer and Samson was a rebellious man who refused to grow up! So Judges is a book that we learn from primarily by contrast, rather than example.
The theme we looked at in our study of Joshua was: "Living a victorious life in the power of the Spirit." In Judges our theme is: "Destroying the Flesh by the Power of the Spirit." We’re going to spend a fair amount of time looking into Romans 6, Galatians, Proverbs, and the epistles of Peter, the book of the Revelation and Paul’s letters to the Corinthians for guidance on how to kill the flesh and empower the Spirit. It’s all about being freed by the blood of Christ to make a decision, making that decision, then allowing God’s Spirit to do the work.
As a Christian we face a choice every day: do I live today in God’s strength or do I attempt to accomplish things by my own wits and power? Though I want to choose to let God’s Spirit flow through me I sometimes forget the boat anchor holding me back: the flesh-that old nature that died on the cross with Jesus but is still hanging around trying to get me to go back to the ways in which I lived prior belonging to Jesus Christ. And if you don’t belong to Christ then you are completely ruled by that nature-a nature that the Bible says is opposed to God (who is all good).
Yes, even if we allow the fleshly nature to motivate and influence us, God can still accomplish things, but at what price and what more could have been done had we lived a life dependant on Him, dedicated to Him, and open to His changing us into His image? That’s what we’ll explore in this book: revealing the nature of the flesh, and ways to defeat it in allowing God’s Spirit to cleanse and empower us.
Judges covers the years between Joshua and the monarchy (1030bc). There were 15 judges in all. Eli and Samuel were the last. Judges is about how the spiritual condition of Israel affected its military and political situation. For us it is about what happens when we try to live our lives outside of the grace, wisdom, discipline and power of the Lord.
The book is broken up into three parts: the success and failure of Israel in Canaan (1:1 - 2:5), the period of the judges (2:6 - 16:31) and two stories of the consequences of sin and corruption (17:1 - 21:25)