Today’s readings are Judges 1-2
Intro to Judges:
•The author of Judges is unknown but sometimes believed to be Samuel.
•This book covers about 300 years of Israel’s history, from the death of Joshua to the birth of Samuel. These times are marked by rebellion on the part of Israel. Without strong leadership, Israel quickly falls away and finds themselves in bondage to the world. Note: Freedom is found in YHWH, Bondage is found in the world. Remember that because the world will try to convince you otherwise. Not only did Israel fall into bondage, but by not heeding the wisdom of YHWH, they also intermarried and assimilated with the inhabitants of the land they failed to drive out and set forth worshipping their gods as well, thereby committing adultery against YHWH. They excused this by employing Syncretism, something we will discuss more and see as a recurring theme throughout the history and present day practices of YHWH’s people.
In short, the book of Judges shows us what happens when YHWH’s people turn their backs on His Word.
What is the role of a judge? Not what you think. We tend to think of a judge as someone who presides over a court case but this is not how the term is used here. During this time of rebellion and unfaithfulness on the part of Israel, the Father, in His continued mercy, raised up certain individuals (judges) from time to time to advise them, rescue them, and administer justice. We will read their stories here.
Below are the judges of the Bible, some are recorded in 1 Samuel.
- Othniel, judged for 40 years. Judges 3:7-11
- Ehud, judged 80 years. Judges 3:12-30
- Shamgar, unknown service term. Judges 3:31
- Deborah, judged 40 years. Judges 4:1-5:21*
- Gideon, judged 40 years. Judges 6:1-8:32
- Tola, judged 23 years. Judges 10:1-2
- Jair, judged 22 years. Judges 10:3-4
- Jephthah, judged 6 years. Judges 10:6-12:7
- Ibzan, judged 7 years. Judges 12:8-10
- Elan, judged 10 years. Judges 12:11-12
- Abdon, judged 8 years. Judges 12:13-15
- Samson, judged 20 years. Judges 13:1-16:31
- Eli, judged 40 years. 1 Samuel 1:9-4:18
- Samuel, unknown service term. 1 Samuel 1:1-9:27
Judges 1:1 shows us that immediately following Joshua’s death, Israel was seeking guidance from the Father. However, this quickly changed.
Judges 1:6-7 The cutting off of big toes and thumbs was a somewhat common practice and it served a few purposes. Among these are:
- It made the victim unable to properly hold a spear or other weapons.
- It made them unable to run rapidly.
- It was humiliating and also ensured that kings would not rule again as kings were generally expected to be perfect, not maimed.
Judges 1:13 Uncle? Yup. We read of Caleb giving his daughter as a wife to one of his younger brothers. Turn down the western mindset a bit because this was done in these times and served many purposes, one of which was keeping tribal lands within the tribe and protecting the overall strength of the tribe. We also read today that Achsah urged her uncle/now husband to ask her father for a field, which Joshua 15:18-19 shows us that he did give, but then the land was dry and so they were then given additional land with springs on it. Thanks to this marriage, although this land was allotted to them, it was still counted as tribal land.
Judges 1:27-35 lists a series of orders from the Father not being obeyed.
- Israel did not drive out the Canaanites. Ephraim did not drive out the Kitroites or Nahalolites.
- Asher did not drive out the inhabitants of Acco or Sidon, or Ahlab, or Achzib, or Helbah, or Aphilk, or Rehob.
- Napthali did not drive out the inhabitants of Beth-shemesh or Beth-anath.
- And the people of Dan were pressed back by the Amorites.
Recall that part of their responsibility for this land was to drive out the inhabitants and here we see clearly stated records that they stopped short in many, many cases and instead lived among these people who were supposed to be driven out. Recall that they were to be driven out by Israel specifically so that they would not be able to influence Israel. This willful disobedience will prove disastrous for Israel.
Judges 2:2 “…But you have not obeyed my voice..”
Please let us not hear that from the Father’s mouth someday.
And don’t let this be said of us,
“And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of YHWH and served the Baals. And they abandoned YHWH…” Judges 2:11
“Baals” refers to any of many multiple false gods. Although baal in singular is a primary god of the Canaanites, use of this word in plural form usually means one of many false gods.
The Lord Raises Up Judges
16 Then the Lord raised up judges, who saved them out of the hand of those who plundered them. 17 Yet they did not listen to their judges, for they whored after other gods and bowed down to them. They soon turned aside from the way in which their fathers had walked, who had obeyed the commandments of the Lord, and they did not do so. 18 Whenever the Lord raised up judges for them, the Lord was with the judge, and he saved them from the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge. For the Lord was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who afflicted and oppressed them. 19 But whenever the judge died, they turned back and were more corrupt than their fathers, going after other gods, serving them and bowing down to them. They did not drop any of their practices or their stubborn ways. 20 So the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he said, “Because this people have transgressed my covenant that I commanded their fathers and have not obeyed my voice, 21 I will no longer drive out before them any of the nations that Joshua left when he died, 22 in order to test Israel by them, whether they will take care to walk in the way of the Lord as their fathers did, or not.” 23 So the Lord left those nations, not driving them out quickly, and he did not give them into the hand of Joshua. Judges 2:16-23
- Notice the language the Father uses with regards to His people going after other gods and bowing down before them. In His eyes, His people are committing adultery against Him and the language represents that.
- What is the additional behavior they are charged with? Turning aside from the way their father’s walked, who had obeyed the commandments of the Father. Their fathers obeyed the commandments, while they did not.
- The Father, in His mercy, still has pity on them and sends a judge to serve as a deliverer.
- The people are faithful while the judges are alive but turn back to their own ways when they are again absent of the strong leadership of each judge. What a tragic truth.
We have much to learn in this book. As we read we’ll see why many scholars consider this historical account of Israel to be a parallel of the church (body of believers) of today. That’s stings.
We are just beginning Judges and I have to confess that my heart is heavy as I look ahead to this book, but it is very important that we read it. I read this book with a heavy heart because I can see myself in so much of it.
We are going to see the Israelites compromise time and again, deciding to make peace with the people they were commanded to drive out and settle into the land amid people who worshipped false gods and idols.
Eventually, as slippery slopes tend to lead us, they intermarry and compromise even further, opening the flood gates to syncretism: the blending of two or more religions to form a new one.
When they do this, time and again, they will insist that they are still honoring YHWH – alongside their idols. Essentially, they create an entirely new religion and then have to create in their minds an image of YHWH that sanctions this – which becomes yet another false god.
Honestly, it’s hard to even type about because I’ve done this just as brazenly in my life – before I took the time to read the word of YHWH for myself and understand His clear instructions. If you’ve ever been there, if you are there, if you find yourself there, you know that you spend the rest of your spiritual walk laying it all at His feet each day and asking Him to show you where you are relying on your thinking over His – and spend the rest of your time praising His name for being faithful in doing just that.
We are going to see what happens when YHWH’s people give an inch with regard to obedience – and the world helps them to take a mile. Next thing you know we’re in the car careening down the interstate and we have to fashion a god in our own image to convince ourselves that the Father is okay with it.
But the cliff is always just ahead and that car only picks up speed.
Syncretism. It’s pretty much the opposite of being set apart with a heaping spoonful of blasphemy stirred in. Now I know that isn’t the most encouraging thing to read when starting a new book BUT history, when ignored, is doomed to repeat itself.
Prophecy, YHWH’s Word, and His Grace offer all of us a chance to stop that car, get out, and close the door behind us.
And it is with this in mind that the Father has given us this portion of His word for us to read.
Wisdom from the Father is being passed down to His children today. With a grateful heart, we receive it!
Test everything, hold tight to what is good.~ 1 Thess 5:21
We are saved by Grace alone: Obedience is not the root of our salvation, it is the fruit!