REFLECTIONS FROM THE BOOK OF JUDGES: My goal in writing reflections from Judges are the following: First, to encourage you the reader that if you will pay attention to the words on the page and listen carefully you will mine a lot of truth for life without the need of a commentary or any secondary source. That is, “take up and read” to enrich your soul Christian.
Second, I write to give you a model of how observations can be done in scripture that do not read into the text something foreign to the author’s intent. This will help you experience the joy of discovery and increase your confidence in your ability to comprehend God’s word.
Third, by doing the above my hope is that you will be able to hear God’s voice all the more clearly and follow Him all the more closer. For, it is the word of God that is forever settled in heaven, and not our subjective impressions however valid they may be. That is, we have a more sure word of prophecy according to Peter—meaning the inscripturated word of God—then a glorious experience we may claim to have (2 Peter 1:16-21). Too often we Christians have bizarre ideas of what “God” is supposedly speaking to us and when it contradicts the Bible, be assured we are not hearing his voice.
JUDGES 1-2: A REBELLIOUS PEOPLE FORSAKE THE GOD OF THE COVENANT
Joshua the son of Nun is dead (2:8), most of Israel does not take complete possession of the land (1:27-34), because they had forsaken the God of the covenant and wandered in their hearts to worship and serve the gods of the nations they had conquered (2:1-5). Israel continuously served the Baals, thus forsaking the LORD, the God of their fathers and thus provoked God to anger (2:11-13).
Just as the LORD fought for Israel against her enemies, now He was in a sense Israel’s enemy and would fight them (2:14-15). God’s anger rightly burned against Israel because they exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for the worship of created things—“gods”—which are no gods at all but rather demons leading them astray from worshipping the pone true God. Thus, God gave them over and yet, in their rebellion, God still sends them judges to rescue them from their enemies (2:16-18).
But the cycle of unbelief returned on the death of these judges and Israel’s wickedness would increasingly outdo the previous generation’s unrighteousness because they forsook the LORD:
“19 But it came about when the judge died, that they would turn back and act more corruptly than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them and bow down to them; they did not abandon their practices or their stubborn ways. 20 So the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and He said, “Because this nation has transgressed My covenant which I commanded their fathers and has not listened to My voice, 21 I also will no longer drive out before them any of the nations which Joshua left when he died” (2:19-21)
When rebellion is at an all-time high Gods anger will be kindled against unrighteousness and would result in God no longer fighting for Israel in order to test whether or not Israel would be faithful to the LORD:
“23 So the Lord allowed those nations to remain, not driving them out quickly; and He did not give them into the hand of Joshua.” (2:23)
Forever God’s word is settled in heaven, thus what He promises to do, will be fulfilled whether or not it’s favorable to us (2:1-5). His faithfulness which springs from his holiness is such that God will always keep His promises (even if it hurts His people for a time). This is because from Him, and through him, and back to Him are all things. God’s the author of the drama, people are the players in this redemptive story and when God’s own forsakes Him, death awaits—except for mercy.
This scenario of rebellion and restoration, sin and salvation, and victims becoming victors is a biblical theme. It reminds us that when the God of creation decrees a thing and choses a people, there’s never a dull moment because the choices people make are significant and thus have real life consequences.