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Week 11 - Judges 4-21, Ruth 1-4, Psalm 71-77

This week we are reading through one of the most challenging books of the Old Testament, Judges. I wanted to provide a few thoughts here that will help us to not lose sight of the good in the midst of some really bad stuff that happens.

The Last Line of Judges Explains the Whole Thing

The last verse of Judges reads, "In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit." This final line provides an explanation and context to the disturbing and even horrifying events that we read about in this book. As Israel descends into deeper and deeper levels of ungodliness, we are reminded that it was never supposed to be this way. God was supposed to be Israel's king, but they have rejected his rule and have decided to rule over themselves. And by the end of Judges, we see the ruinous results of their rebellion.

Judges is meant to be received as a tragic account of God's people turning fully away from God. As readers, we should be frustrated, angered, shocked, and horrified by the things that happen in this nation. But at the same time, the ending of Judges leaves us asking the question, will God return as the rightful king of Israel? When will this madness stop? The good news of the Bible is that God is faithful and he will return to rule over his people. We will see this happen in a temporary and flawed way with the rise of Israel's king, but we also know that God has raised up the king of kings, Jesus, who is the true and good king that rules over his people forever.

The Pattern of Judges is, sadly, Our Pattern Too

As you read, you will notice that there is a clear pattern that emerges. The Israelites rebel against God, they are oppressed by a foreign nation, God raises up a judge to save Israel, Israel returns to God, and the next generation turns away from God. The pattern repeats over and over again.

If we are being honest with ourselves, we find that the pattern that Judges describes happens in our lives as well. Where we fall away from God, we encounter difficulty and hardship, God shows up and helps us in a big way, we return to God, after a while we fall away from God again.

I find it helpful to remember that as I read Judges, I am also looking into a mirror describing how I am with God. Sure, my sins certainly look different than what I read in this book, but the wandering, forgetful, heart is the same.

The Judges are Deeply Flawed Saviors of Israel

Another important point to remember while reading Judges is that just because God uses a judge to save Israel, doesn't mean that they are morally good. Many of the judges do great things, but also sin in great ways. The clearest example of this is the judge Samson. He is the one who saves Israel in the biggest and most amazing way, but is also the most deeply flawed of all the judges.

Ruth is a Very Important Companion Book to Judges

Ruth, which we are also reading this week, provides an important counter perspective to the tragic events of Judges. While the men of Israel are going crazy in their ungodliness, there are women who remember the Lord. Ruth is not even an Israelite herself, but she marries into an Israelite family. Her faithful commitment to her family and her family's God is like a breath of fresh air in the midst of Israel's unfaithfulness.


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