Judges-Defeat and Deliverance

While the book Joshua is filled with victories and success from the Lord, Judges tells a very different story of discouragement and despair.  Instead of joy we see sobs, instead of progress failure, instead of faith unbelief, and instead of freedom captivity.  Why would God allow the Israelites to go through a cycle of constant failure and judgment?  It was done so that His Justice could be revealed.

God is a Righteous and Just judge, which means He will always give to us what we rightfully deserve.  The Jewish law given to Moses was very clear about their responsibility to obey God, and the curse that would be experienced if it was disobeyed.  For those who obeyed there would be a blessing, while the disobedient experienced suffering.

Following the death of Joshua the tribes of Israel forgot about God’s Justice and began to do whatever they wanted in life.  This resulted in seven rebellions, judgments, and restorations in the book of Judges.

They began the conquest of Canaan well by asking for God’s guidance regarding who would lead the people (1:2).  The tribe of Judah was chosen and they immediately began to continue the work of Joshua, but ended up not defeating all of the people.  This process of killing or conquering most people in the cities but not all continued to become worse over time.  (1:19-21, 24-25, 27-36).  As if that wasn’t enough, the Jews began adopting the Canaanites style of life and worship (2:2-3) that resulted in God’s refusing to give them victory over the nearby cities (2:20-22).

God’s Justice (demand we live a Holy life or face consequences) is seen in the constant cycle of Sin, Punishment, and Deliverance that fills Judges.[1]  Of course the Justice is clear in His punishment of sin, but when the Jews repented of those wicked acts God was quick to deliver them.  The Justice of God means we receive blessing in times of repentance as well as punishment in times of sin.

The first rebellion began as the Israelites became too focused on living in peace with the surrounding enemies (3:5) and created boundaries which where favorable for the Amorites while embracing their religion.  Unfortunately for the Jews this just resulted in captivity (3:7-8).  After eight years of judgment God raised up the first judge Othniel to deliver them.

This cycle continued with a judgment of eighteen years ended by the judge Ehud (3:12-31), an oppression of twenty years before Deborah and Barak set the people free (Jud. ch. 4-5), and seven years of being controlled by the Midianites before the deliverance of Gideon (6:1-8:32).

Amazingly the Jews had not learned their lesson and continued rebellion, which brought a great civil war to the Country (8:33-10:5) that was ended by Tola.  The Philistines finally entered Israel and held the land captive for eighteen years (10:6-12:15) and later forty years before the coming of Sampson (13:1-16:31).  The book ends with sad stories of religious depravity (17:1-18:31) moral depravity (chapter 19) and political depravity (Chapter 21).

It’s easy to read the book of Judges and blame God for what happens to the Jews.  After all He was the one who took away their freedom and allowed other nations to control them for years.  But when we take a closer look it becomes clear that the rebellions of Israel are what brought this judgment.  The moment they turned to the Lord in repentance He would immediately send a judge to deliver, but in His Justice God would wait for them to repent.

Many times we can’t understand the plans of God for our lives (especially in judgment) and we feel the Lord is being unfair to us.  But it’s important to remember that God is completely Just and Righteous, He will only give to us what we deserve.


Because of Who He is,

John Wilburn

[1] Judges 3:5-16:31

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John Wilburn

Church planter, teacher, and disciple-maker in Barrouallie St. Vincent

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