Overview of Book of Judges – Like The Kid Who Had Too Much To Drink Promising Never to Drink Again…

Posted: July 20, 2017 in Book of Judges
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Personal Reflection
I think as we proceed today into the book of Judges, I want us today to think about our own spiritual journeys and about the larger picture of our nation. In the book of Judges, we see ourselves and we see our nation. I think for both myself and for our nation, the best opening illustration for all three (the book of Judges, my spiritual journey, and where we are at as nation right now) is to think back to college or high school when we were much younger and more foolish.

Back in those days, there would be parties where the booze was plentiful and there was no one to hold you accountable for how much you drank. Back in those days we had lower tolerances because of less experience and less understanding of how to pace yourself and we would simply drink too much to the point of being nauseated and ending up in the bathroom. You know the drill, you start with the dry heaves. You want to throw up but you can’t. You are feeling like your stomach is about jump out of your body. You sit by the toilet waiting for the volcanic eruptions to begin. You are sitting on the floor leaning against the toilet, bathtub or wall, whatever is easiest to keep you near the toilet. Your head is spinning and somebody keeps knocking at the door but there is NO way you are leaving. Because things are so bad, you can barely understand what they are saying. You simply mumble that there is somebody in here. You are just hoping and praying that they will leave and just stop talking to you. Having to formulate thoughts for even the most rudimentary conversation is a monumental experience. Finally, after what seems like has been a half hour of trying to throw up but can’t, it finally begins. The eruptions of whatever you may have had to eat that entire day plus whatever you have had to drink at the party. It is ugly and putrid smelling and it is at this point while in the middle of the body’s attempt to purge itself of alcohol beyond the level it can stand that the negotiations begin.

God please make it stop. God please make it stop. With each eruption, our body becomes weaker and more tired. What had been a fun ride up the alcohol mountain was now this whole body gut-wrenching descent down the mountain. We promise the Lord that we will quick this sinful behavior of excess if He will just make the nausea stop. We may think the nausea is over after about 5 or 10 minutes of non-pukeage. So, you go lay down on in the host teen’s bedroom and try to rest, regain your composure, and regain your strength. Then it hits again. Rushing back to the bathroom for the final battle with your stomach (and the stomach wins every time). Finally, you begin to feel better and your promise yourself that you will never do this again. Your body weak. Your mind a little foggy, but you have a sense of happiness that the convulsions are done and you are on the other side of what may be the worst few hours of your life to that point. You have joy that you made it through it. You make promises to God that you will do better. You may even promise to not drink anymore. You may even promise God that you will try to live a better life. You may even promise to start going to church or, if you go to church already, you promise to be more attentive and to read the Bible more. Just deliver me Lord from making offerings to the porcelain God! She is a cruel god who wants your guts and then leaves you empty and limp like a dishrag on the side of a kitchen sink. Just deliver me God from this and I promise I will honor you better!

That’s kind of symbolic of my own spiritual journey to the cross. I would only recognize God’s existence in times of trouble and then it was a negotiation as if I was equal to God. I would pull out my God card when it was needed. Although I grew up in a preacher’s parsonage (kind of like Israel being God’s people), I strayed far from God. Although I have had only a few periods in my life that I did not go to church somewhere, I did not find Jesus as my Savior until I was 39 years old. God and Jesus and all the following Jesus stuff and all this talk about how Jesus would change my life. I paid lip service to it. But all that changed lifestyle stuff was just too inconvenient for me. I wanted what I wanted. I wanted to live like I wanted to live. I developed my own theology of Jesus prior to salvation. I made him not the Son of God. I made him my revolutionary dude wailing against the status quo and the establishment. My Jesus was the one who dressed down the Pharisees and the one who cleansed the Temple. He was my anti-establishment hero that paid the ultimate price for being too anti-government for the wimpy leaders of the Jews and the Romans to handle. Great ideals and philosophy is what I thought of Jesus. But Him being God in the flesh and resurrected and all that stuff. Just couldn’t fully buy off on it. Jesus changing my lifestyle? I didn’t want any part of that. Unless of course, something went wrong or didn’t go my way or something happen to knock me off my feet, I would pray then. You betcha. If this whole God thing was as real as my saved family members and saved friends said it was, then I would recognize God’s existence and whomever this Jesus really was and pray, pray, pray. I was like ancient Israel. Short periods of obedience and recognition of God’s existence and control over my life followed by long periods of going my own way, making my own religion, and doing things the way I wanted to do them.

The same thing I think could be said of our nation. We are so much like ancient Israel that it is not even funny. We started out with great spiritual leadership that led us as a nation to be God-fearing nation and there were uncounted blessings bestowed upon our nation because of its overall and general obedience to the Lord. We were a biblically literate nation. We were a nation that wanted to follow God’s way. We incorporated God into everything we did as a nation. Even our currency was imbued with the idea that we had full and complete trust in the Lord. Sure, we had pockets of things about our nation that was ungodly and ugly and wrong but generally as a nation there was this overriding allegiance to God and that God would guide our nation. However, as we have been blessed, we began to think that we were our own gods and that we could choose what is right and what is wrong. We could define for ourselves what is right not God – if he even existed to begin with. God became inconvenient. We removed Him from the public square and our schools and our homes. Whatever feels good, do it. That became the mantra of our nation. No longer would we be bound by fixed morality as stated in the Bible. We want it to be OK to live as we wish. We want it to be OK for us to live in whatever manner we please. Sex in whatever form you like and whenever you like with whomever you like is what we want. We have gone as far de-emphasizing the existence of the hardcoded and obvious differences between men and women. We can be whatever sex we set in our mind. We call it freedom from oppression of the past. We call it personal expression. All of the sins of the Bible are now glorified in the public square. Sure, there are pockets of what is of the virtues of God in our nation now as there was in the time of ancient Israel, but the overriding and general flow of our nation is away from God and toward the god that we have made of ourselves – saying that God is an opiate of the past and that we are our own gods now. We know best. Just as with ancient Israel, who acted the very same way, God’s judgement will come through the events and the consequences of us turning away from Him play themselves out. Sin, whether we say it is no longer sin or not, is still sin and sin has its consequences. We may have periods of spiritual revival as a nation (just look at the spike in church attendance and concern over spiritual matters after 09/11) but we return to making ourselves gods in short order. Kid of like the teenager promising to never drink again after a john-hugging night but is then right back at the party at the next kids house the next Friday. Our nation is that kid.

It is true for my spiritual journey story. It is true for our nation’s spiritual journey story. It was true for ancient Israel’s spiritual journey story. It is true that God will allow us to suffer the consequences of the sins we commit. Yet, as in Judges, and as in our own spiritual journeys, God will forgive us if we repent and turn to Him. For it is through our humbly coming before Him and begging forgiveness through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice that we are restored. When we fully understand that our way of doing things is ungodly and leads to self-destruction, He will forgive. He will restore. He will allow our sin results play themselves out but we are restored.

Are you tired of being sick and tired? How’s that life of doing things your own way working out for you? If you want to really see the ugly side of what sin does to people and what collective turning away from God does to a nation. Just join me today in reading the book of Judges and see where it all leads. Then, let’s talk about the faithfulness of God who sent His Son to give you away to walk away from sin and be restored to a right relationship with God Almighty.

Amen and Amen.

Now, here’s a summary of key information about the Book of Judges to keep in mind as we walk through it beginning tomorrow. Thank you to http://www.gotquestions.com for this following synopsis of the book of Judges:

Author:
The Book of Judges does not specifically name its author. The tradition is that the Prophet Samuel was the author of Judges. Internal evidence indicates that the author of Judges lived shortly after the period of the Judges. Samuel fits this qualification.

Date of Writing:
The Book of Judges was likely written between 1045 and 1000 B.C.

Purpose of Writing:
The Book of Judges can be divided into two sections:
1) Chapters 1-16 which gives an account of the wars of deliverance beginning with the Israelites’ defeat of the Canaanites and ending with the defeat of the Philistines and the death of Samson;
2) Chapters 17-21 which is referred to as an appendix and does not relate to the previous chapters. These chapters are noted as a time “when there was no king in Israel (Judges 17:6; 18:1; 19:1; 21:25).” The Book of Ruth was originally a part of the Book of Judges, but in A.D. 450 it was removed to become a book of its own.

Key Verses:
Judges 2:16-19: “Then the LORD raised up judges, who saved them out of the hands of these raiders. Yet they would not listen to their judges but prostituted themselves to other gods and worshiped them. Unlike their fathers, they quickly turned from the way in which their fathers had walked, the way of obedience to the LORD’s commands. Whenever the LORD raised up a judge for them, he was with the judge and saved them out of the hands of their enemies as long as the judge lived; for the LORD had compassion on them as they groaned under those who oppressed and afflicted them. But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their fathers, following other gods and serving and worshiping them. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways.”

Judges 10:15: “But the Israelites said to the LORD, ‘We have sinned. Do with us whatever you think best, but please rescue us now.’”

Judges 21:25: “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.”

Brief Summary:
The Book of Judges is a tragic account of how Yahweh [God] was taken for granted by His children year after year, century after century. Judges is a sad contrast to the book of Joshua which chronicles the blessings God bestowed on the Israelites for their obedience in conquering the land. In Judges, they were disobedient and idolatrous, leading to their many defeats. Yet God has never failed to open His arms in love to His people whenever they repent from their wicked ways and call upon His name. (Judges 2:18) Through the 15 judges of Israel, God honored His promise to Abraham to protect and bless his offspring (Genesis 12:2-3).

After the death of Joshua and his contemporaries, the Israelites returned to serving Baal and Ashtaroth. God allowed the Israelites to suffer the consequences of worshiping false gods. It was then that the people of God would cry out to Yahweh for help. God sent His children judges to lead them in righteous living. But time after time they would turn their backs on God and return to their lives of wickedness. However, keeping His part of the covenant with Abraham, God would save His people from their oppressors throughout the 480-year span of the Book of Judges.

Probably the most notable judge was the 12th judge, Samson, who came to lead the Israelites after a 40-year captivity under the rule of the ruthless Philistines. Samson led God’s people to victory over the Philistines where he lost his own life after 20 years as judge of Israel.

Foreshadowings:
The announcement to Samson’s mother that she would bear a son to lead Israel is a foreshadowing of the announcement to Mary of the birth of the Messiah. God sent His Angel to both women and told them they would “conceive and bear a son” (Judges 13:7; Luke 1:31) who would lead God’s people.

God’s compassionate delivery of His people despite their sin and rejection of Him presents a picture of Christ on the cross. Jesus died to deliver His people—all who would ever believe in Him—from their sin. Although most of those who followed Him during His ministry would eventually fall away and reject Him, still He remained faithful to His promise and went to the cross to die for us.

Practical Application:
Disobedience always brings judgment. The Israelites present a perfect example of what we are not to do. Instead of learning from experience that God will always punish rebellion against Him, they continued to disobey and suffer God’s displeasure and discipline. If we continue in disobedience, we invite God’s discipline, not because He enjoys our suffering, but “because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son” (Hebrews 12:6).

The Book of Judges is a testament to God’s faithfulness. Even “if we are faithless, He will remain faithful” (2 Timothy 2:13). Though we may be unfaithful to Him, as the Israelites were, still He is faithful to save us and preserve us (1 Thessalonians 5:24) and to forgive us when we seek forgiveness (1 John 1:9). “He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful” (1 Corinthians 1:8-9).

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