Judges is a collection of stories that tell of the events that take place close to 400 years between Joshua’s death and the coronation of Israel’s first king, Saul. The purpose of Judges is most likely for us to see the consequences people face when they decide to abandon God and their faith.
Although I’m sure some of you already read through the reading, I wanted to give a quick breakdown of Judges (in case you want to read more than the eight chapters). Judges can be broken down into three parts:
Deciding to Abandon God (1-3). We read a pattern of Israel abandoning God and in response we notice God’s grace and anger.
God’s Commitment to Israel (4-16). Even with Israel’s cynicism, God raises up judges to deliver Israel from the oppression of outside military forces. He’s committed to the promises He made to Abraham. Othniel is the first of the twelve judges (3:9) and Samson is the last of the twelve judges (16:31).
Continuing to Abandon God (17-21). The phrase “everyone did what was right in his own eyes” is mentioned twice in this part of the collection of stories (17:6 and 21:25—bookends). God allowed Israel to deal with the consequences of doing what they thought was right. Living as if they were gods led to idolatry, lust, gang rape, murder, civil war, and ethnic cleansing.
There are two things that stick out to me again and again as I read Judges: God’s commitment to His people and purposes, and how we need to trust God because He can be trusted.
The ultimate purpose of God staying committed to delivering the Israelites was because they were the people He chose to raise up the Savior of the world—Jesus. Where the judges failed to save the people from their sin, Jesus doesn’t.
The other thing that stuck out to me is that we need to trust God because He can be trusted. Years before Israel saw God do some amazing things. Instead of seeing why God worked in those amazing ways in those generations, the generations we read about in Judges decided to abandon Him and live in ways that pleased themselves (3:1-8 is an example). Unlike generations before them, they weren’t willing to live by faith, trust God, and watch Him work—all of which take time, patience, and trust.
In your life, do you see God being committed to you and His promises? Do you trust God no matter what?
Jeff Geyer Pastor of Spiritual Formation and Family Ministries 703.971.4673 ext. 261 www.newhope.org