Judges part 1


Tonight we will begin looking at the book of Judges. This book is considered the dark ages of the children of Israel because it shows how they went from one generation that was faithful and true to God to another generation who constantly struggled with remaining faithful to God. As long as I can remember I have always called this book the yo-yo book because as long as there was a judge alive the children of Israel would be faithful to God but as soon as they died they would turn back to false Gods which would lead them to oppression.


The book covers a period of 300 – 350 years and we can find 13 Judges covered. Some of these judges have a lot said about while others are just briefly mentioned. Within this book  we read about 7 different times the children of Israel fall away from God which leads them to being oppressed 7 times by 7 different heathen nations which gives us 7 cries of help to God and 7 deliverance from their enemies. You might remember that Joshua reminded the children of Israel that they would be oppressed by their enemies if they turned their back on God.


Joshua 24:20  "If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, then He will turn and do you harm and consume you, after He has done you good."


From this I believe the theme of Judges is God means what he says. I also like what one commentator says about this book.


"When a Christian reads the book, he is impressed with the way in which it underlines the truth that rebellion against God brings punishment, but repentance brings restoration."


The book of Judges begins showing how the children of Israel were faithful and then it shows them go down hill and the book ends in anarchy.


The key word: is confusion because they always seemed confused on what they should do. They couldn’t make up their mind weather to serve God or serve idols.


Key verse: Judges 17:6  In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes. Also 21:25


This verse summaries the whole problem with the people in this book because they did what was right in their own eyes and this sounds exactly what is happening today in our time. So many people are turning away from God and doing those things which they see is right in their own eyes. That is why we have so many denominations today. These people would do good to learn the valuable lesson that is taught in book of Judges that if you do it your way God will not be pleased because you are turning your back on God and you certainly will not make it to heaven. Paul warned Timothy about this type of rebellion that  was going on and would continue to go on.


2 Timothy 3:1 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:  2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,  3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good,  4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,  5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!


Paul had to deal with this problem in many of his letters. But that one that stands out to me is the book of Galatians  where he says,


Galatians 1:6 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel,  7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.  8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.


Just as soon as these Galatians had embraced the good news of Jesus Christ they were already turning their back on this new message filled with hope and returning back to old law. So we can see from these passages and from the examples of why we should take to heart the message that is taught in the book of Judges. 


Author is not named However many believe that is was Samuel for the following reasons.

1. The work is from a single individual.

2. The life of Samuel fits into the historical time-frame because the narrative was written before Jerusalem was captured and after Israel had a King (Judg. 1:21; 17:6).

3. The author also knew that the Tabernacle had been moved from Shiloh, an event that took place in Eli's priesthood (Judg. 18:31).

4.  The book appears to have been written by a prophet because it harshly condemns the leader's wrong-doings.

5.   Hebrew tradition historically supports Samuel as the author.


The book Judges brings out 3 specific sins of Israel.

1. They did not drive out the Canaanites as God instructed

2. They practiced idolatry

3. They married pagan wives.


Now lets look at some practical lesson we can learn from the book of Judges.


1. One of the most important lessons to be learned is that we are always just one generation away from apostasy.


Judges 2: 7 So the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the LORD which He had done for Israel.  8 Now Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died when he was one hundred and ten years old.  9 And they buried him within the border of his inheritance at Timnath Heres, in the mountains of Ephraim, on the north side of Mount Gaash.  10 When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the LORD nor the work which He had done for Israel.  


You see Joshua’s generation was strong and faithful to the Lord but this tells us this new generation did not know the Lord nor did they know what he had done for Israel. Folks this should be a real eye opener and teach us how important it is to teach each generation what God has done for us and why we should serve him. Now think about all those reminded that were set up for the children of Israel to remember what God had done. They had the Passover, and many other feast through out the year. They built several structures to be used as teaching devices but apparently all of these things  had been neglected because that would be the only explanation of why this new generation didn’t know God or what he had done. We take this lesson to heart because if we neglect to teach the next generation about God then they will repeat history and end up like this new generation of people in the book of Judges.


The first place we need to begin is in the home with our families. Moses put it best in,


Deuteronomy 11:18 " Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  19 "You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.  20 "And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates,  21 "that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land of which the LORD swore to your fathers to give them, like the days of the heavens above the earth.


Deuteronomy 4:9 " Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren,  10 "especially concerning the day you stood before the LORD your God in Horeb, when the LORD said to me, 'Gather the people to Me, and I will let them hear My words, that they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children.'


Here Moses teaches us the necessity to teach Gods word to our children so they in turn can teach the word of God to their children and so on. If we neglect to do the we could end up like Eli in 1st Samuel who was a priest remember how his 2 sons didn’t know the lord so they did all kinds of sinful things and because of this God killed his 2 sons and took Eli priesthood from him all because he neglected to teach his children of about God and how they should live their lives toward him.


Another thing we must teach this new generation is the importance of leadership. We can see from,


Judges 2:18 And when the LORD raised up judges for them, the LORD was with the judge and delivered them out of 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 oppressed them and harassed them.  19 And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they reverted and behaved more corruptly than their fathers, by following other gods, to serve them and bow down to them. They did not cease from their own doings nor from their stubborn way.


You  see as long as their was leadership in place the children of Israel was faithful but as soon as they died they would digress back into sin. This tells us we need to do everything  we can to encourage future leaders in the church today because if we do not we have more and more people who are following after their own ways and falling from the Lord because they don’t have strong leaders who are promoting Gods truth. Notice the advice that Paul gives Timothy,


2 Timothy 2:1 You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.  2 And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.


Paul is talking about future leaders in Gods kingdom. We are to encourage these the faithful men to take on the responsibility of leading Gods people in victory over sin and over false doctrines so that Gods kingdom will remain strong until the end. This is the kind of leadership we need today because we don’t want to end up like the children of Israel in the book of Judges.


2. Another great lesson we learn from this book is that true repentance from the heart will bring you back into favor with God. I think one of the greatest examples of true repentance is found in Judges 10. In this chapter the children of Israel have fallen away from God again and they cry out for help but this time God is fed up with their rebellious attitudes.


Judges 10:10 And the children of Israel cried out to the LORD, saying, "We have sinned against You, because we have both forsaken our God and served the Baals!"  11 So the LORD said to the children of Israel, "Did I not deliver you from the Egyptians and from the Amorites and from the people of Ammon and from the Philistines?  12 "Also the Sidonians si-do'-ni-anz and Amalekites and Maonites oppressed you; and you cried out to Me, and I delivered you from their hand.  13 "Yet you have forsaken Me and served other gods. Therefore I will deliver you no more.  14 "Go and cry out to the gods which you have chosen; let them deliver you in your time of distress."  15 And the children of Israel said to the LORD, "We have sinned! Do to us whatever seems best to You; only deliver us this day, we pray."  16 So they put away the foreign gods from among them and served the LORD. And His soul could no longer endure the misery of Israel.


Even though God was fed up with these people when he saw that they truly repented and they put away their false Gods he could no longer endure their misery and so he delivered  them again from their enemies. This should gives us great hope in knowing that when we repent and we turn away from your sinful ways that we to will be restored to right relationship with God almighty no matter how bad we were before. We can really see the great love of God and great mercy he has for us as continues to forgive us of our sins when we true repent. 


3. Another lesson we learn from this book is that we can accomplish great things in the name of God even if we are small in number. We have seen this over and over when we looked at the book of Joshua but we also see this in the book Judges from the story of Gideon. Remember how God wanted Gideon to save Israel well notice Gideon’s response. 


Judges 6:15 So he said to Him, "O my Lord, how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house."  16 And the LORD said to him, "Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man."


We need  to learn this message and we need to learn it well. We should never make excuses for not trying to do great things for God. Some might say we just don’t have enough people in this church to do this or do that. When we think this way we are no better then Gideon. We need to understand that God is our side and we can do anything that we set out minds to if we will simply realize that God will help us an be there for us. This same concept applies to each individual Christian. Sometimes we like to say what can I possible do by myself? Again, we as individuals can do great things  for God if we simply realize that he will be there for us the whole way. Could you imagine if the apostle Paul had had the is mentality? If he did we wouldn’t have all those wonderful letters of his and he wouldn’t have started all those churches in those areas he visited. But we know he didn’t have this mentality instead he accomplished many great things for the Lord because he understood that God was on his side. Notice what he says in,


Philippians 3:17  Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.


Let us follow his example and be courageous Christians knowing that we can do great things for God no  matter how small we may think we are. 


4. Another lesson we learn from Judges is if you play with fire you are going to get burned. How many times have you heard Christians say Oh I can handle being around sin without sinning myself. Well, I think Samson probably thought this about Delilah but he could not handle her. 


Judges 16:16 And it came to pass, when she pestered him daily with her words and pressed him, so that his soul was vexed to death,  17 that he told her all his heart, and said to her, "No razor has ever come upon my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother's womb. If I am shaven, then my strength will leave me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man."


You see Samson was finally worn down by this women and gave up is secret and his life. This story is great example of what Paul says in,


1 Corinthians 15:33  Do not be deceived: "Evil company corrupts good habits


We need to realize that we don’t need to put ourselves into situations that can cause us to sin nor should we everything we can stay around a sinful situation and not be tempted to sin ourselves. The next time you hear of Christian say they won’t sin being around the wrong people remind of Samson and Delilah.


These are some of the major lessons we can learn from this dark time in history. Before I close I want to mention a few more notable points about this  book.


1. This book has 2 beginnings. 1. First it starts out telling us the brief period of faithfulness after Joshua’s death. 2. Second it tells us the beginning of the children of backsliding.

2. Joatham’s story of the trees in Judges 9:7-21 is the oldest Parable in the world that we know of so far.

3. This book is the first record of where a women rises up a prominent leader of the children of Israel in Judges 4.

4. Moses grandson Jonathan becomes the first recorded idolatrous priest in the history of the Jews in Judges 18:30


There are many more fascinating stories and things for us to discover in this eye opening book that we will examine in the coming weeks. I hope you have learned from this overview some of the important lessons we can apply to our lives today from the OT book. Rightly did Paul say,


Romans 15:4   For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.