Throughout the Bible and modern times, we see that when people turn from God, there are detrimental side effects. After Moses’ death, Joshua leads the Israelites into the Promised Land. The book of Judges covers the time from Joshua’s death to the first king of Israel.
During this time, the Israelites have no king to lead them in God’s will. They wander and fall into sin over and over again. A theme verse for the book is Judges 21:25, “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.”
This phrase is repeated at least seven times in Judges. The Israelites write their own moral code and disregard the laws that the Lord had commanded them.
The Israelites’ main commandment from God was to drive out the foreign Caananites of the Promised Land. The Israelites refused to obey this command and proceeded to live among the Canaanites and even married them.
For this reason, God calls judges to help guide the people of Israel. These “judges” do not practice in court like typical judges today, but rather, they are deliverers or saviors of the people. The Lord uses these judges to deliver the Israelites from their enemies, the Philistines.
The Judges are also a foreshadowing of Jesus, who would one day permanently deliver whoever believes in him from the eternal consequences of death and sin.
Throughout the book, the Lord raises up 12 judges to watch over the people of Israel. In the book, the people of Israel fall into a cycle of disobedience, punishment, oppression, deliverance and peace, then the cycle continues over and over again.
None of the Judges are perfect, but God works through their imperfections for his own glory. From left-handed judges to women who were typically disrespected in that day, the Lord uses people from all walks of life.
As we dive into the story of the Israelites and read as they fail over and over, be reminded that we are just as sinful and flawed as they are. Our only saving grace is Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit living within those who profess Jesus’ name.