These are notes collected from studying Judges with Matt Lantz and Matt Roefer. Anything good comes from the Lord. Everything else is from us!
The Book of Judges & Us
First, I highly recommend The Book of Judges & Us (Teaching by Peter J. Williams). I found this 2 hour teaching series on Judges really on point for us.
Ch. 2-3: Teaching War
“I will no longer drive out before them any of the nations that Joshua left when he died, 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.” So the Lord left those nations, not driving them out quickly, and he did not give them into the hand of Joshua. Now these are the nations that the Lord left, to test Israel by them, that is, all in Israel who had not experienced all the wars in Canaan. It was only in order that the generations of the people of Israel might know war, to teach war to those who had not known it before.
Judges 2:21-3:2 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage?search=Judges%202:21-3:2&version=ESV
Takeaway from Judges thus far: major players/judges that were used all seem to have deficiencies that worked in their favor: (1) Ehud was left-handed…I heard this is how he was able to slip his weapon past the guards, because they would check on where a right-handed person would hold their weapon, (2) Jael was a woman…thus the warrior enemy let his guard down around her, and she had access to kill him via tent peg, (3) Gideon was fearful…which I believe showed why he asked for so much confirmation, but this allowed God to “show off” and speak directly to him…and he still went forward, though fearful, (4) Samson was a womanizer…of course, this in itself is a sin more than a mere “deficiency”…but even this was used by God to get deliverance on the Philistines. In all this, I’m struck that God is looking for people with weakness and deficiencies. Like He said to Gideon: “I don’t want a big army…you’ll be tempted to think you did it…give me an army where everyone knows only God could have done this!” (my paraphrase). Our weakness is what God needs right now, and those humble enough to recognize this will be used mightily, IMHO.
Yes! I was also reminded in reading through the book again (which was so good) just how fallible all these Judges were! Some of them are even listed in Hebrews 11 hero’s of faith chapter. Yet, they still had so many flaws. Especially resonated with Gideon and that spoke to me.
I was really moved by chapter 2 early on and the compassion of God to even give Judges and then continue to give Judges over and over. He could have wiped them out way earlier for the continual sin and yet they continue to go back to their old ways after about every judge. We need good leaders but yet even good leaders are susceptible to sin. What a great reminder of all of our great need for Jesus and Him to break through to our sin.
Another takeaway: each Judge seems more and more carnal / sinful as the book goes on. Shows the slow fade into total corruption at the end of the book. Sadly, I think we might be living in a similar time (consider when someone like Trump [with his very flagrant issues] represents Christian policies more than other leaders in US…you know we’ve gone downhill).
I have spent the last two weeks in and out of Judges…Man it’s a disturbing book. The judges seem to go from pretty good, to okay, to bad, to worse. When that happens they had no leadership and did what was right in their own eyes. Isn’t that fitting for the world we live in and the history of the world. We walk away from God and start serving our own ideals.
Another thought that came to me was the Israelites did not drive out the Canaanites in their land, thus they started to resemble them and you couldn’t tell the difference between the Israelites and Canaanites near the end of the book. If we don’t drive out, get rid of bad habits in our life, we will look more and more like the world!
BTW – I have been pairing this study with Halley’s Bible Handbook; it’s been a great resource.