The book of Judges is a historical record of Israel’s initial years in the land of promise. Joshua had led the Hebrew nation into the land which God had promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They had divided the land to the separate tribes of Israel. However, the book of Judges is not just a historical account; it also reveals the sad spiritual journey Israel would take for many years.
Partial obedience is never enough to please God and that was the fatal mistake Israel made. They did not rid the land fully of the Canaanites that had first possessed the land. They conquered them and enslaved the Canaanites, but they did not dispose of them from the land as they were told to. The author states, “It came about when Israel became strong, that they put the Canaanites to forced labor, but they did not drive them out completely,” (Judges 1:28).
The generation of Israelites that compromised and tolerated only partial obedience to God’s commands raised a generation that did not know God (Judges 2:10). A generation was raised not knowing God, nor appreciating His promises and blessings upon Israel. So that paved the way for them to do evil and serve the Baals. Generation after generation passed and left Israel in a sad predicament, “In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes,” (Judges 17:6).
Eventually God would bring unrest upon Israel for serving idols. Israel’s enemies would overpower them, but the people would cry out for God’s help and assistance to overcome their enemies. While the book of Judges pictures Israel’s unfaithfulness, it also pictures God’s grace. The Lord would send judges, or deliverers, to Israel save them from their enemies. While Israel would be faithful to God for a short period of time, they’d soon find themselves back in apostasy. God was patient with them and continued to rescue them. In the book of Judges we have some of the great forerunners of the One Redeemer and Savior of Israel, Jesus Christ.
Othniel, Ehud, Shamgar, Deborah, Gideon, Jephthah, Samson, and others brought victory and deliverance to the people of God. They overcame Israel’s enemies and liberated the children of Israel. Jesus Christ came to this world in order to deliver us from sin. He is the great redeemer and Savior of the world (1 Timothy 4:10). We must humble ourselves and seek God’s mercy and trust in the Savior Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins (cf. Acts 2:38).
by Sean P. Cavender