“And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and served the Baals. And they abandoned the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt. …so the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and He gave them over to plunderers, who plundered them…and they were in terrible distress.” – Judges 2:11-15
“Then the LORD raised up judges, who saved them…and whenever the LORD raised up judges for them, the LORD was with the judge, and he saved them from the hand of their enemies…but whenever the judge died they they turned back and were more corrupt than before.” – Judges 2:16-19
The Book of Judges is unique among the other Old Testament Books. It takes place in a time when there was a void of leadership among the people of Israel and, therefore, it was quite chaotic. All the stories that are presented in it’s chapters identify a problem that we all have when it comes to following the Lord…we continuously drift toward our own selfish and sinful ways. The Book seems to be an endless cycle of rebellion and rescue.
In other words, it is a graphic illustration of our story. A vivid description of our sinful condition and our desperate need for a savior. Although it is filled with the names of familiar heroes like Deborah, Gideon, and Samson, I believe that there is something they all have in common when we look at the Book as a whole.
Each story follows a similar pattern of the struggle that we all can relate to in our efforts to follow the Lord faithfully and it begins with our sinful tendencies. The phrase, “And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD…” is repeated over and over throughout the Book. As always, straying from God’s design brings unwanted consequences. This brings about suffering and misery, which, in turn brings about a cry for help and results in God sending a rescuer (judge) to save them. But, once they experienced relief and there was a void of leadership, it would start all over again…”Wash, rinse, repeat”. It seems that we, like Israel, are always drifting in our walk with the Lord.
But, more importantly, this cycle of rebellion and rescue reveals to us again the relentless passion of God to redeem us. He does not quit or give up on us! It amazes me as I read these stories that God keeps on rescuing them. I feel like Peter when he asked Jesus how many times he should forgive someone who wronged him...”seven times?” Jesus answered, “seventy times seven.” (Matthew 18:21,22). In the Book of Judges God illustrates this type of extraordinary and patient love. It is almost annoying as God keeps showing up…keeps bailing out these rebellious people…keeps on showing mercy and grace beyond all reason. Oh, wait…
“Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into His presence with singing! Know that the LORD, He is God! It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise! Give thanks to Him; bless His name! For the LORD is good; His steadfast love endures forever and His faithfulness to all generations.” – Psalm 100