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Old Testament Survey

Judges




Key Verses

2:15, 16
2:20-23
21:25


Key Chapters

Chapters 1-2


Key Concepts

Evil
Judge, Judged, Judgment
Cycles


Thoughts for Reading

Why do we need a Savior?
Once we are saved, do we still need a Savior?


If Joshua is a book about victory, Judges is its counterpart, a book about defeat. The defeat is pictured both as sin against God and oppression by foreign invaders. Judges presents a cycle which is ever present in all of our lives as we try to walk with God.

The following chart will show the contrasts present in the two books.

Joshua

  • Creates Faith
  • Describes Israel&s Possession of the Land
  • Occurs in Fulfillment of God&s Promise
  • Presents a Unique Test of Faith
  • Presents the Consequences of Faithful Obedience

Judges

  • Exposes unbelief and Disobedience
  • Describes Israel&s Occupation of the Land
  • Experiences the Curses and Blessings of the Mosaic Covenant
  • Presents the Normative Experience of a Sinful Nation
  • Presents the Consequences of Continued, Unchallenged Disobedience

Title

The Hebrew title is a word which means “judges, rulers, deliverers, or saviors.” The idea of this word is one of liberation or deliverance. The concept conveyed is that the judges first freed the people from their enemies and, only then, would they act as a modern judge in weighing and resolving the disputes of the people.

Author and Date

Tradition holds that Samuel is the author of Judges. Some of the descriptions and comments of the work strongly support the proposal that it was written early in the existence of the monarchy, so the tradition has some internal support in the book.

Judges lasts for 340 years from 1390-1050 when Saul began to reign. Based upon these dates, a time frame is:

However, it may well be that the epilogue is not chronological to the rest of the book, in which event the other two dates would need to be adjusted accordingly.

Theocracy

A theocracy is the description used to denote that the Jews were under the direct government of God himself. In simple terms, God was to be the King of the nation. His will was to govern all of His subjects, who should be viewed as the servants of God. God was to rule over the public and private affairs of the people.

Since God is the true Judge of Israel who delivers the people, it is His judgments which are right and just (11:27). The role of the Judges were under the direct control of God. They were:

It is important to note that obedience is not a prerequisite to blessing in this book. Judges shows that the blessings of God’s covenant are separate from any human merit, which in turn calls for a response of obedience. The judges are weak. God delivers, not on the basis of human merit or might, but according to His choice of covenantal faithfulness to Abraham.

Purpose

The opening chapter sets the stage for this book. The nation of Israel did not drive out the inhabitants of the land (1:21, 27, 29, 30). The complete conquest of the land has failed. Since the people do not turn to God, God leaves the inhabitants of the land to be a “snare” or cancer in the sides of the Israelites to test the faith of the nation (2:20-21).

Judges 1:21
And the children of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites that inhabited Jerusalem; but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Benjamin in Jerusalem unto this day.

The failure of the people lies in their compromise with pagan religions and the things of God.

Judges 17:6
In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.

Judges presents a cycle – a cycle in the life of the nation of Israel – a cycle which shows up in the life of each individual person alive today. The measure of the spiritual health of the nation – and of Christians – may be measured by which portion of the cycle predominates in their life.

The cycle starts with the idea that when one becomes prideful and self-sufficient one forgets God.

In Judges, the servitude is found in the form of invading armies. The salvation is in the form of military and political leadership on the part of the Judges to drive out the invaders and give the people rest in the land.

There are six or seven sins or apostasy stories which clearly show the cycle.

Sin

  • 3:5-8
  • 3:12-14
  • 4:1-3
  • 6:1-10
  • 10:6-18
  • 13:1

Servitude

  • Mesopotamia - 8 years
  • Moab- 18 years
  • Canaan - 20 years
  • Midianites - 7 years
  • Philistines - 18 years
  • Philistines - 40 years

Salvation

  • Othniel - 3:9-11
  • Ehud - 3:15-30
  • Deborah and Barak - 4:4-5:31
  • Gideon - 6:11-8:35
  • Jephthah - 11:1-12:7
  • Samson - 13:2-16:31

A seventh cycle is found by many at 8:33 a second deliverance by Gideon.

In addition to these seven “major” judges, the book also records the reign of six other judges.

Jesus in Judges

The Judges themselves are all types of Christ, the savior of the people. Since the Judges are only human, they cannot have a lasting effect on the people. They deliver the people for a short while, giving a period of rest after their conquest. The judges are not national in scope, but provide rest only within a given geographical region. Scripture does not speak to the events in the rest of the area during these time periods, but one may assume the patterns continue everywhere, since the sin-servitude-supplication-salvation pattern still applies to our lives today.

In Judges, then, we see:

We also find God delighting in using the weak things of life. Remember what Paul writes?

1 Corinthians 1:26-29
26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.

In Judges God uses men who have no major standing in life and whom we know almost nothing about. But, more than that, we see God using things society thinks of as weak. Think of

Can God use you? Are you weak enough?

 

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December 9, 2019

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