Old Testament: Judges IntrO Below
Poetry: Psalm 106
New Testament: Luke 6
— Introduction to the Book of Judges —
We don’t know who wrote the Book of Judges, but we do know it records the events immediately after those recorded in the Book of Joshua. The book of Judges is named after the judges that ruled the land of Israel after Joshua’s death.
Although there are several exciting stories of God’s deliverance recorded in the book, reading the book of Judges can be depressing. This is because it records the downward spiral of Israel and its relationship with God. The loop looked sort of like this:
- Israel would follow God for a while.
- Then they would turn away from God and worship idols.
- God would punish them by sending invaders to torment Israel.
- The Israelites would cry out to God for deliverance.
- God would raise up a Judge to deliver them.
- Israel would then follow God for a while. (loop)
One thing that makes reading Judges so frustrating is that with each iteration of the cycle, the Israelites fell further from God. And their punishments got worse.
Judges 21:25 tells us the root cause of all of these problems, where it says, “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.”
People did whatever they wanted, instead of following God’s commands.
As you read the book of Judges, I challenge you to compare and contrast your own life with the experiences of the Israelites and see what practical lessons you can apply to your own life.
– – Devotion – –
Imagine waking up one morning in a world where there are no laws. No local police, no elected officials and no military force defending civilians’ rights. Instead, everyone just does what is right in their own eyes. Ok, that is a little terrifying. Yet, the book of Judges tells us twice, “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.” (Judges 17:6 and 21:25) As we will discover, the Israelites are soon allowing disobedience and selfishness to rule. The covenant with God was broken and they begin to rule themselves. It can be difficult to read the accounts of the people and their judges because they do not seem to have a moral compass. We must remember this is a narrative telling us what they did, not approving of their actions. Human beings NEED the LORD to teach us what we should and should not do. People are excellent at justifying and rationalizing our wrong doing, but thankfully God is there to help us. As Proverbs 21:2 states “A person may think their own ways are right, but the Lord weighs the heart”.
How far did Israel fall during this time period? Psalm 106 states that they shed the innocent blood of their sons and daughters for idol sacrifice to false gods. “They defiled themselves by what they did; by their deeds they prostituted themselves.” (v.39) This Psalm contrasts how good, loving, and mighty the LORD is against the people that reject Him. If we want to be blessed, we must act justly, and do what is right (v.3).
The LORD loves us as a perfect Father. He wants us to be in a close, loving relationship with Him so He has given us the scriptures. Through them we have explanations of good actions and forbidden, sinful actions. Through the scriptures, we have scores of examples of those that chose to follow the LORD. Most of all the scriptures explain who the LORD is. His amazing plan for His creation and an incredible future for His children. It is so important for us to understand and do what the LORD commands us to do.
Thankfully the scriptures also include the instructions of Jesus Christ, God’s Son. His teaching shows us that we can do what is right by putting his words into practice. We can be like the faithful builder that dug down deep and put the foundation on rock. The storms of life can’t tear our faith down because it is well built. (Luke 6:46-49)
- How important is it to you to do what is right? How do you most often decide what is right and what is wrong?
- How important is it to God for you to do what is right? How does He tell us what is right and what is wrong?
- What is the result when everyone does as they see fit?
- What do we learn about God in today’s Bible reading? What do we learn about His Son in Luke?