Judges 1

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, March 28, 2016 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

After writing on the book of Habakkuk for the last few months and seeing how it applies to life in our culture today, Worldview Warriors is now digging into the book of Judges. But why should we study this big old Testament book?

First off, it’s important to define what a judge is in the context of this book. We think of a judge today as that person presiding over a courtroom, who listens to all the arguments and hands down a sentence on the accused. That is not what a judge is in the Biblical book of Judges. In this context, a judge is a military leader. A judge was to lead the people of Israel as they followed God’s will for them and conquered the land promised to them. A judge of that day was more like a combination of president and military commander today than a courtroom-style judge.

A judge can also be seen as a type or model of Christ. Jesus Christ is our ultimate deliverer, rescuing us from death as the penalty we deserve for our sin. A judge was a temporary deliverer, sent to save the people from whatever enemy was before them. We can look at the judges and see Jesus Christ in their stories.

So what’s the deal with the book of Judges? It’s the history of God’s people, the people of Israel. I was never a big fan of history class in school, but I recognize that history is important to study. We can celebrate the victories that we have had as a people, but also if we don’t know the mistakes that we have committed then we’re doomed to repeat them again. The book of judges tells many stories of times that God’s people were obedient to Him and were blessed for it, as well as many times when God’s people were disobedient to Him and were curse for it. These same principles still apply today, and we would be wise to take them to heart.

As I’ve said many times before, context is extremely important when studying any Biblical book. Judges is a historical book that links the books of Joshua and 1 Samuel. It covers the time period from Joshua’s day until the monarchy of Israel, when they first had a king. Judges also sets up the context for the book of Ruth.

Under the rule of Joshua (who led the people after Moses), Israel had conquered and divided up the promised land. However, occupying the land wasn’t so easy. In Judges, we see many battles that Israel engaged in, to take over the land that God had given them. In Israel’s case, the spiritual condition of the people (whether they were obeying or disobeying God) determined their political situation. When they followed God, he allowed them to conquer the other nations in their land and be delivered from oppression. When they turned against God and away from following Him, God would allow them to be oppressed by other nations.

So with all that context understood now, what happens in the first chapter of this book? The first thing they do in Judges 1:1-2 is to ask God to show them who should be in charge: “After the death of Joshua, the Israelites asked the Lord, ‘Who of us is to go up first to fight against the Canaanites?’ The Lord answered, ‘Judah shall go up; I have given the land into their hands.’” Their leader Joshua had died, so they needed a new leader. The people of Judah being in charge was the first step in this process. The people of Israel here are those who had obeyed God and conquered the Promised Land.

I encourage you to go read the whole chapter of Judges 1, as it tells of a variety of successes and failures of the Israelite tribes in battles. In this section, we see the tribes addressed individually rather than the nation as a whole. There are many details given in this chapter - too many to discuss in just a short blog post - but they are all important in showing how Israel succeeded at times and failed at other times.

Just because Israel was God’s chosen people didn’t mean that they always had happy times. Similarly, being a follower of Jesus Christ today doesn’t mean that your life will always be great and happy. Just as the people of Israel did, we all go through times where we do better or worse at following God’s commands in our lives.

Join with us in this journey through the book of Judges, and find yourself in these stories.

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