FullSizeRenderThe book of Judges records a dark period in the history of Old Testament Israel. It was a time where moral restraint had been cast off, a time in which people did what seemed right to them.  It was a time of moral relativism where people became their own judge of right and wrong.  Rather than building their lives upon the objective truth of God’s Word, they followed the desires of their own heart.  In fact, the last verse of the book helps us understand why things were in such a sad state of disarray:

Judges 21:25 – “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”

Once the Israelites became settled and comfortable in the land, they also became spiritually complacent, which inevitably led to spiritual compromise.  Joshua had faithfully led the people after the death of Moses.  After Joshua and his generation died, Judges 2:10 says, “And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that He had done for Israel.”  The book of Judges records how the people forgot God, turned from the truth, and even worshiped other gods.  There is a cycle that happens over and over again throughout the book of Judges.  First, the people become complacent and forgetful of all that the Lord had done on their behalf.  Then, they adopt the practices and customs of the surrounding nations, even worshiping their false gods.  Next, they fall into bondage by some oppressor.  Finally, moved to pity by their brokenness, the Lord who raises up a ‘judge’ who delivers them from their cruel oppressors.  Though the book of Judges records the tragic failures of Israel in the land, the overarching theme is the faithfulness of God.  In this way, the book of Judges presents us with the truth that we are sinful people who are helpless to save ourselves.  In short, we need a Savior to rescue us from ourselves.

There is a tension that we find in Judges between what God has said He will do to bless His people and what He must do to punish their sin.  How can God be gracious to a disobedient people, while at the same time being just?  It seems as if He is in an impossible situation. He has sworn to bless His people, but also sworn to punish their sin.  It is this dilemma that keeps us in suspense throughout the book, as well as throughout the entire Old Testament.  The answer to this tension between God’s love for His people and His wrath upon their sin is only solved by Jesus at the cross.  There at the cross, my sin was laid upon Jesus, God’s own Son, so that His righteousness could be given to me.

All of the judges who are mentioned throughout the 21 chapters of Judges are imperfect saviors.  They cannot provide the ultimate salvation that the people are in such desperate need of.  These imperfect saviors point us to the one Perfect Savior who would one day come to our rescue–Jesus Christ.  As you read the book of Judges, be sure to pay attention to the sin pattern of Israel.  Think of how sin is so very subtle and deceptive, and how it leads one into bondage.  Be encouraged as you read the stories of various saviors that God raises up to save His people.  Thank God for how they ultimately point us to the only Savior given among men who can provide us with a perfect and final salvation, the Lord Jesus Christ, the One in whom we must place our faith!  Our failures must drive us to His nail scarred feet, to the only place where mercy, grace, and forgiveness can be found.

For our Green Street family, be sure to pick up a copy of the Scarlet Thread Bible Reading Plan at the welcome desk in the lower lobby.  Or, you can also access it online.