The book of Judges tells of a dark time in the history of God’s people before there were kings. What should have been an era of thriving relationship with the Lord spiraled into a cycle of sin, suffering, and much-needed salvation. What becomes clear in reading Judges is that this book isn’t about the judges; it’s about God and God’s people. Specifically, we see what happens when God’s people turn away from God’s plans and purposes.
“Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the Baals. They forsook the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the people around them. They aroused the Lord’s anger because they forsook him and served Baal and the Ashtoreths.” Judges 2:11-13
Every turning away is a turning toward. Any time you turn from God, you turn towards something or someone else for satisfaction. This occurred on such a large scale that an entire generation came about who did not know the lord. There is a massive distinction here between Christianity and other religions. Other religions or people and things that we search for satisfaction in are always looking for something from you. God has already given everything for you.
“In his anger against Israel, the Lord gave them into the hands of raiders who plundered them. He sold them into the hands of their enemies all around, whom they were no longer able to resist.” Judges 2:1
God protects you when in danger and pursues you in disobedience. How many times do you remind your kid to wear a coat when it’s cold out? Eventually, we stop nagging and let them experience the natural consequences. We still care for them and help them, but they learn and grow.
“Then the Lord raised up judges, who saved them out of the hands of these raiders. Yet they would not listen to their judges but prostituted themselves to other gods and worshiped them. They quickly turned from the ways of their ancestors, who had been obedient to the Lord’s commands.” Judges 2:16-17
God’s provision was in the judges. Judges functioned as mediators of justice; settled conflict via war and aggression. They were by no means perfect people. In fact, we will explore their flaws and characteristics in the weeks to come.
“Whenever the Lord raised up a judge for them, he was with the judge and saved them out of the hands of their enemies as long as the judge lived; for the Lord relented because of their groaning under those who oppressed and afflicted them.” Judges 2:18
Israel groaned: sometimes verbal, but every time miserable. Sin always produces suffering.
“But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their ancestors, following other gods and serving and worshiping them. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways.” Judges 2:19
They were caught in a dangerous cycle of sin, suffering, supplication, and salvation. God was faithful even when they were not. This is true for many of us today. Are you caught in a cycle of sin and shame?
God relentlessly offers his grace to people who do not deserve it, or seek it, or even
appreciate it after they have been saved by it. – Timothy Keller