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                             The Book of JUDGES

 

Background

     The Book of JUDGES covers a chaotic period in Israelís history, a period between Joshuaís death and the rise of the monarchy. Under Joshua, Israel had generally conquered and occupied the land of Canaan, but large areas remained yet to be possessed by the individual tribes. Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord continually and "there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes."(21:25). By deliberately serving foreign gods, the people of Israel broke their covenant with the Lord. As a result, the Lord delivered them into the hands of various oppressors. Each time the people cried out to the Lord, He faithfully raised up a judge to bring deliverance to His people.

Purpose

      The book of JUDGES serves to show the faithfulness of the Lord to His covenant. Whenever His people repented and turned from their evil ways, the Lord always forgave them and raised up Spirit-empowered leaders to deliver them from their oppressors. Also, this book illustrates the disastrous consequences of breaking fellowship with God through idolatrous worship. Sin separates us from God. The Lord requires commitment from His people. When we commit sin, the Lord in His love chastises us until we come to full repentance. When we cry out to Him, the Lord faithfully responds to us. He forgives us, brings deliverance to us, and restores fellowship with us. He responds to the cry of penitent heart. The Lord is faithful and His love is constant.

 

The Holy Spirit at Work

      The activity of the Spirit of the Lord in the Book of JUDGES is clearly portrayed in the charismatic leadership of the period. The following examples of heroic deeds attest to the power of God through His Spirit:

1. Othniel The Spirit of the Lord came upon Othniel (3:10) and enabled him to deliver the Israelites from the hand of Cushan-Rishathaim, king of Mesopotamia.

2. Gideon Through the personal presence of the Spirit of the Lord, Gideon (6:34) delivered Godís people from the oppression of the Midianites. Literally, the Spirit of the Lord clothed Himself with Gideon. The Spirit empowered this divinely appointed leader and acted through him to accomplish the Lordís saving act on behalf of His people.

3. Jephthah The Spirit of the Lord equipped Jephthah (11:29) with leadership skills in his military pursuit against the Ammonites. Jephthahís victory over the Ammonites was the Lordís act of deliverance on behalf of Israel.

4. Samson The Spirit of the Lord empowered Samson to perform extraordinary deeds. He began to stir Samson (13:25). The Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him on several occasions. He tore a lion apart with his bare hands (14:6). At one time he killed thirty Philistines (14:19) and at another time he freed himself from ropes that bound his hands and killed a thousand Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey (15:14,15).

The same Holy Spirit who enabled these deliverers to do exploits and fulfill the Lordís plans and purposes is at work today. He desires to move upon His people so that they too can do impossible things. The Lord wants to bring deliverance to His people, and He is looking for consecrated men and women whom He can empower with His Holy Spirit.

 

                             TRUTH-IN-ACTION through JUDGES

 

        Truth JUDGES Teaches                  Text        Action JUDGES Invite

Guideline for Growing in Godliness

Judges emphasizes the necessity of trusting Godís presence and divine resources rather than our own. Even those talents and abilities we have from birth are corrupted by sin must be energized by the Holy Spirit to bear fruit for God.

6:14,16 Believe that God strengthens those He calls and commissions. Trust in the promise of His abiding presence.

10:13,14 Heed Godís warning: Do not continue to rely upon your fleshly wisdom and ability lest God limit you to those resources rather than releasing His wisdom and power through you.

Keys to Wise Living

Wisdom is knowing how to apply what you know to be true. Therefore, wisdom demands that you ascertain the Lordís direction and leadings for your life. Also, JUDGES warns against assuming that all leadings are true. Self-righteousness and religious sentiment can be a source of serious deception.

6:36-40 Test and confirm any sense of divine leading. Refuse to move impulsively. Be certain of Godís direction; it results in greater confidence.

17:3 Know that God rejects any idolatry, regardless how religious or sincere oneís sentiment may be. Be wary of religious deception.

Steps to Dealing with Sin

Sin presents a constant struggle with which we must deal or risk downfall. When we resist sin, we often feel the battle is over only to be tempted by the same sin again and again. Sin never goes away, and so we must constantly be on guard against it. However, even when we are overcome with sin, we have hope. God always gives another chance to turn from sin and back to Him.

2:2,3 Understand that sins not dealt with radically and ruthlessly ultimately weaken and make cause downfall.

14:17 Persist for victory in your struggle against sin

16:4-22 Guard against the seductions of the world and the flesh. Understand that compromise will eventually weaken and war you out, giving the Evil One an occasion to overpower you.

16:28 Repent quickly when overcome by sin. Be confident that God is faithful to honor all truly heartfelt repentance.

Lessons for Leaders

Good leadership is a key to the triumph of Godís purposes. JUDGES underlines the need for Godly leaders who speak with prophetic, anointed voices. When there is a lack of such leadership among Godís people, the people lead unrestrained lives guided by their own opinions rather than Godís Word and Godly wisdom.

2:10-15 Know that a lack of Godly leadership will cause Godís people to become worldly and incur Godís judgment. Strive to become Godly in your leadership.

17:6; 18:1 Pursue a prophetic dimension in your ministry.

Key Lessons in Faith

Faith sees beyond trials and obstacles, knowing that God is sovereign over such and uses them to shape us and strengthen us for future battles. Faith also relies on an ever present God to bring the necessary answer and supply the present need.

2:22; 3:2-4 Accept adversity and welcome opposition. Believe that God will use them to train you in obedience and strengthen you in spiritual warfare. Avoid relying upon men due to a lack of confidence in Godís presence. Faith in God honors Him and results in your receiving what He intends for you.
Steps in Developing Humility

JUDGES stresses that humility is acknowledging that any good or righteous acts we accomplish result from Godís working through us. We often think of humility as a weak self-abasement when, in fact, it is a bold confidence in a faithful God.

7:1-8 Understand that Godís spiritual victory does not depend upon natural strength or ability. Rely totally upon godís enablement and strength.

8:27 Refuse to build any monuments to your successes or victories. Know that they will likely become an occasion of stumbling for yourself and others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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