“THE BOOK OF JUDGES SHOWS US OUR SIN, SHOWS US OUR NEED FOR A SAVIOR AND SHOWS US THAT SALVATION HAS GOT TO BE BY GRACE.”
Judges is a book of disaster. Disaster that cycles round & round and spirals down & down. But before you read the very first verse of Judges, it will help you to read the very last verse:
Judges 21:25 - In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.
What explains this story of disaster, that cycles round & round and spirals down & down? "Everyone did as they saw fit“ – not ”as God said". That’s what we call Sin.
The book effectively charts the “canaanisation of Israel” – God’s people living in the land of Canaan, becoming just like the people of Canaan. And it makes for ugly reading.
Ch. 1 shows the start of disaster.
compromise. The courage & faith & victories of the people under Joshua seem to have been lost with the death of Joshua. Instead, what characterised this new generation of Israelites?
- "…the same thing that kept their fathers forty years out of Canaan kept them now out of the full possession of it, and that was distrust of the power and promises of God" [Matthew Henry]
Ch. 2 then introduces a cycle of disaster,
which will become pretty familiar to you:
- Rebellion – Israel reject their God and replace him with the gods of the nations.
- Retribution – God righteously punishes Israel, handing them over to the nations.
- Rescue – God graciously rescues Israel from the nations by raising up judges. Not law-court judges with wigs & gavels – but leaders, rescuers, saviours for the people.
- Rebellion, retribution, rescue. On repeat. A cycle that just reminds us as we read our bibles that we are never the heroes – only God is ever the hero.
Chs. 3-16 then depict the spiral of disaster.
The judges God provides start out pretty good but decline rapidly, along with the whole of Israel.
- Ehud, Othniel, Deborah – pretty good
- Gideon – a mixed report
- Jepthah – bad
- Samson – worse
- The behaviour of Israel & their leaders doesn’t just go round & round but down & down, worse & worse.
And by the time you reach ch.17-21 the rot has set in.
Chs. 17-21 show full-on spiritual disaster across the board,
with some of the darkest, most sinister scenes you’ll find in the bible.
The book of Judges is a book of disaster, hammering home the problem – “everyone did as they saw fit”
- Let the book do that to you – let it hammer home the horror of sin. Let every awful sin convict you, and humble you, and anger you, and instruct you, and change you.
The book of Judges is a book of disaster, hinting at the solution –
a leader that these judges could only faintly compare to
a rescuer who would halt the cycle & spiral of sin
a king who would lead his people back to God.
The Lord Jesus. Better than the best of the judges. The only hope to hold on to as you read the book of Judges.