The book of Judges is one of my favorites in all of the Bible simply because of the many incredible stories told within. As you are reading these accounts and others like them in Scripture, it is important to remember that just because something is recounted in a biblical narrative that does not mean God approves. For example, though God uses Sampson to work out His purposes I do not believe Scripture would have us model our lives after this man…..can you say “hot-tempered, meat head!” Likewise, Gideon “tested” God with the fleece and God was gracious by playing along. However, Deuteronomy 6:16 commands, “do not put the Lord your God to the test.” In fact, this is one of the things I love about the whole Old Testament….it gives story after story about how God loves and uses people just like you and I….stubborn, messy, disobedient people. This, of course, does not mean that we should use God’s grace as a license to disobey!
One of the most important things to notice in Judges is the pattern of God’s people that is highlighted in Judges 2:6-3:6 and then illustrated throughout the rest of the book. God has just helped Israel take possession of the promised land in dramatic fashion under the leadership of Joshua. Having seen God provide in this way the people should be ready to enjoy the peaceful rule of God in their lives and their land, but alas…..
The generation that actually saw God provide dies and a new generation comes to power who doesn’t know God in this personal and powerful way. (2:10)
This new generation begins to take on the priorities of the culture around them instead of steadfastly holding onto the worship of God in the ways of obedience. (2:11-13)
Because of this, God hands his people over to their enemies in defeat. (2:14-15)
After suffering the results of disobedience, God’s people finally cry out to the Lord for help (1:18, 4:3 and elsewhere) and the Lord sends a “judge” to rescue them.
God’s people maintained a measure of gratitude and obedience during the rule and blessing of God through a particular judge. But when that judge and the generation who had experienced God’s blessing dies and a new generation comes to power the cycle begins again. (2:19)
Note, you will also be reading the account of Ruth. As you read, notice how this story is a powerful testimony of personal faithfulness during a time of general unfaithfulness….”Ruth” takes place during the time of the judges.
Here’s some questions I’d love to hear your response to….
What can we learn about the results of faithful obedience and disobedience to God as we read these accounts?
Do you see the pattern established in Judges continuing to work out in the lives of people today? If so, how?
What are some keys to breaking these patterns both within ourselves and as we think about preparing the next generation….our children and grandchildren?