Judges (Jdg)

The seventh book of the OT, having 21 chapters. Time to read: 2 hrs.

It covers the period 1375 to 1050 BC and was probably written by Samuel. With God’s help the Israelites had mostly conquered the Promised Land from numerous wicked nations.  At the end of Joshua’s life, they had again declared their allegiance to God (Josh 24:16,21,22,24). For several centuries following, judges were chosen to lead the people. Their role was both political and religious, administering justice and being God’s representative to the nation. Of the various judges the most notable are: Deborah, Gideon, and Samson. Eli and Samuel were also judges although they are not included in the book of Judges (1 Sam 4:18, 7:15). 

Outline.  With no strong leadership, the Israelites’ focus on God and their spiritual zeal soon faded and sin took over.  They disobeyed God by not completely eliminating the enemy which in turn led to inter-marriage and idolatry (Deut 7:2-36; Jdg 3:6).  God used other nations to punish the Israelites for their sin, to bring them to repentance and test their allegiance to Him.  There were six periods during which 12 delivers or judges were raised up to lead the people back into freedom.

Main lesson. This book shows Gods certain judgment against sin but also His love and mercy when there is repentance.

Key verses and thoughts: * “Because you have disobeyed they will be as thorns and snares to you” (Jdg 2:1-3). Sin and evil habits not completely dealt with will be a constant source of problems. There can be no compromise or complacency in our response to divine direction or conviction of the Holy Spirit.

* “A new generation grew up neither knowing God nor what He had done for Israel” (Jdg 2:10,11). Each person needs a vital relationship with God; no one can rely on his or her ancestor’s record of accomplishment. While God’s dealings with and blessings upon us should be passed on to others, they can’t take the place of first hand personal experience.

* Time after time the Israelites cried out to God in their distress and they were delivered but then turned back to the old lifestyle (Jdg 2:18-23, 3:7-11). As we are biased towards sin, this can be a familiar pattern in our lives. Sin must be fully dealt with – no halfhearted repentance. Determination, commitment and obedience to the Holy Spirit are required to live a consistent, victorious life, maintaining our freedom in Christ (Gal 5:1).

* Clear and definite guidelines or instructions needs to come from leaders or else there is chaos and no united direction, each person doing their own thing in their own way (Jdg 17:6, 21:25).

See also: backslide, Deborah, Delilah, Eli, Gideon, Judges of Israel, obedience, repentance, Samson, Samuel.