The Book of Judges.
Pr Edi Giudetti
The epistle written to the Galatians by the Apostle Paul is a wonderful summary of the Apostacy that is inherent in the Book of Judges. The people had forgotten God, and every man has done that which is right in his own eyes. No better description is given to define apostasy, no better description is given to understand the state of the Church and the world today.
O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? 2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? 4 Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain. (Galatians 3:1-4)
All that we have in the Bible is given to us that we may come to a true understanding as to the knowledge of the Character of God. God and the Lord Jesus Christ shows up so clearly throughout the pages of the scriptures, our right knowledge of him helps us to understand both our place in the world and the way of God with us, whether of love unto life or of his wrath unto death.
The Book of Judges is such a book that provides for us the most basic understanding of both the nature and character and needs of man, as well as the love and mercy and patience of God. The natural turning away of man from God, their apostacy, and his mercy demonstrated when we cry unto him, is the simple picture we obtain from the Book of Judges.
When God is forgotten the people fall.
“10 And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the Lord, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel. 11 And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served Baalim: 12 And they forsook the Lord God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the Lord to anger.” (Jud 2:10-12)
Joshua dies at the beginning of this book at the age of one hundred and ten years. The people served Joshua all of his days and when he died the people served all the elders who outlived Joshua, who also had seen the works of the Lord when they came out of Egypt.
These same crossed the Jordan River and were given the land promised to their fathers by God himself. When they died, the next generation born in the land, no longer followed the Lord. Within ONE generation, God is forgotten! The people followed other gods, the gods of the people that were round about them
2:11 And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served Baalim: 12 And they forsook the Lord God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the Lord to anger.”
If we include Eli and Samuel, Israel was blessed with a total of sixteen Judges during this period of some 400 years. And I do say that they were blessed with them. For if it was not for the mercy of God to give them judges they would certainly have continued to suffer at the hands of their own doing.
Seven times they turned completely away from the Lord during these years;
Seven Apostacy’s that led them to being under servitude no less than six times; then it led them to Civil war and ultimately to Confusion and Anarchy from chapter 17 to the end of the book.
This is where we see the pattern of things to come, not only for Israel but for all of mankind. This pattern so clearly represented in the Book of Judges about man attempting to live his life without God as his head, is a pattern you will see in your own life just as we see it in Judges.
You see, when we forget God we fall. When Adam desired to forget God, as the representative of mankind, mankind fell. No longer was God our head, but a liar and a murderer was to be our head, Satan would now have dominion of mankind and we can see with all clarity his desire for us.
5 And the children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, Hittites, and Amorites, and Perizzites, and Hivites, and Jebusites: 6 And they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons, and served their gods. 7 And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and forgat the Lord their God, and served Baalim and the groves. 8 Therefore the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and he sold them into the hand of Chushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia: and the children of Israel served Chushan-rishathaim eight years.
The Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites where never to be a people ordained to dwell with Israel, God gave clear instruction that they were to be purged from the land for their sin and Idolatry.
Just as the judgement came upon all the world for its violence and Idolatry through a great flood, and just as the Earth was to begin anew with Gods people that they might have all the opportunity that can be afforded them to live Godly and prosper and be blessed; So too was the Children of Israel to purge the land from the enemies of the Lord, the enemies of all righteousness.
These who served wood and stone, trees and animal and even insects, held to Creation as their God, they would fall down to the stock of a tree and say “Deliver me from mine enemies”. And when the creature is worshipped, man is held subject to it.
The Guardian Report
‘Te Urewera was granted legal personhood to resolve a dispute over who owns it, the government or local Maori people”
Rita Sharples (Former minister of Maori affairs) said “This is a profound alternative to the human presumption of sovereignty over the natural world”
‘The same will be true of the Whanganui River. It means the areas have stronger legal protection. In a document identifying Legal Entity in New Zealand under Subpart 3 respecting Te Urewera and its surrounding land, it says
“Te Urewera is a legal entity, and has all the rights, powers, duties and liabilities of a legal person”
The Guardian news agency says “lawsuits can be filed in their behalf” Shannon Biggs of Movement Rights says “it’s the most revolutionary piece of legislation anywhere in the world” In 2008 Equador was the first country to codify the “Rights of nature” principal in its constitution.
The Guardian goes on to report that this notion is gaining credence in Bolivia and India also. It tells us that the environment needs to be protected as “comprehensively as humans are”
Jacinta Ruru of the University of Ortago says
“we believe that we come from the land and the land has its own personality, its own heartbeat, its own health and its own soul”
This is what occurs when God is forgotten.
Man’s natural inclination to worship is shifted, not removed! And when mans subject of worship becomes the creature and not the creator, the creature and its wellbeing becomes preeminent.
In the minds of these “lawmakers”, a child in the womb is not a legal person with rights to be protected, but a river, a tree and a rock are legal persons with their own personality, their own heartbeat, their own health and their own soul. Reality together with logic and consistency is eliminated when a false form of worship is accepted.
Perhaps you might recognise that just as God was forgotten by Israel in the book of Judges, so too God is forgotten by much of the world today. But two thousand years ago God told us that a shift of worship would occur when the God that man knew is rejected;
21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. (Rom 1:21-23)
Brethren, God is the creator, the author and finisher of your faith. It is he who sustains our life, he who leads us, he who shows us the way of life and warns of the way of death. The Kings of Mesopotamia worshipped the creature, and the people of Israel where enslaved to them when they thought to relate to the culture rather than stand on the truth.
“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Prov 14:12)
When God is remembered the people sorrow
Jud 3:9 And when the children of Israel cried unto the Lord, the Lord raised up a deliverer to the children of Israel, who delivered them, even Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother. 10 And the Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he judged Israel, and went out to war: and the Lord delivered Chushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand; and his hand prevailed against Chushan-rishathaim. 11 And the land had rest forty years. And Othniel the son of Kenaz died.
This will be the pattern set in the Book of Judges all the way to the end of the 16th Chapter. Fourteen Judges are given to Israel over the period of their Seven Apostacy’s, some governed consecutively, some after a short space of trial and servitude of the people. If God is not to be their governor, and if his Word is not to be their standard, then they are given to the natural wickedness of those who they had chosen to dwell with. Apostacy becomes the norm for all the children of God.
But, WHEN GOD IS REMEMBERED THE PEOPLE SORROW
Jud 3:9 And when the children of Israel cried unto the Lord
Seven times in the Book of Judges, this phrase is recognised; Five times during the servitude of the nations and twice during the Civil war against Benjamin for the mischief of the men of Gibeah.
But… the children of Israel cried unto the Lord (3:15)
And the children of Israel cried unto the Lord (4:3)
And the children of Israel cried unto the Lord (6:6 & 6:7)
And the children of Israel cried unto the Lord (10:10)
And the children of Israel went up and wept before the Lord until even (20:23)
and all the people, went up, and came unto the house of God, and wept, and sat there before the Lord (20:26)
Certain it is that the people sorrowed for their sin against the Lord, they sorrowed when they recognised that all that came upon them was due to their own doing, their own error, their own neglect. They burdened themselves under the weight of their servitude and they remembered the God of their fathers.
A remembrance of God who is not far from any one of us is readily available to those who know him. And this is the sorrow to which God is motivated to deliver his people;
Othniel, Ehud, Shamgar (Chp 3), Deborah and Barak (chp 4), Gideon (chp 6&7), Abimelech, Tola and Jair (8-10), Jeptha, Ibzan, Elon and Abdon (10-12) and finally Sampson (13-16). He was the last before Eli and Samuel. These are the ministers God had given to the people of Israel when he heard their cry. In this we see so clearly the mercy of God unto the people yet again.
This ‘Cry’ turns his face toward them. This sorrow is what tugs at his heart for his love toward them is not for any good on their part, for they were the least of all the people of the Earth, but his love for them was by choice and he turns to them when they turn to him.
Can you see the nature and character of God? Can you see through this book that he is the God of love and mercy and forgiveness? For when his people who are called by his name, humble themselves and pray and seek his face and turn from their wicked ways, then he will hear from heaven and forgive them and deliver them.
If we forget God he will turn away and let us alone when we ourselves are turned to Idols, but when we remember him and cry after him for he is our God, then and only then will he turn to us and forgive our sin.
HE WILL SAVE, HE WILL PARDON, HE WILL FORGIVE and he has given to us the way the truth and the Life through his son.
Friends, sin is just like any debt that must be paid. DEBTS CANNOT BE TRULY FORGIVEN, They must be paid by someone. Our bankruptcy laws has the Creditor pay for the debt incurred by the debtor. There is no “Get out of Jail Free” cards but in the game monopoly, in real life it does not exists.
If the criminal does not pay for his debt to society, society pays the debt. If the borrow does not pay his debt to the Banks, the Banks pay. If the Banks don’t pay their debts The government pays them. If the Government defaults on their debts, the civilization pays them. There is NO TRUE FORGIVENNESS of Debt without the cost paid by someone.
And God paid the cost of our sin against him by becoming Man, being manifest in the flesh, spilling his own blood and through his sacrifice we are healed. Your sins are nailed to the cross when Christ became sin, he which knew no sin, and we believed to the saving of the soul.
This is the Gospel, but it is available ONLY to those who Cry unto the Lord. It is not to be expected by those who do not sorrow for the sin of their souls. This is when the Lord turns his face and delivers us from our sin.
Judges is a perfect picture of the ongoing mercy of God who is every ready to forgive sin and give life.
When God is merciful the people rest.
Judges 3:11 . And the land had rest forty years. And Othniel the son of Kenaz died.
Verse 30 after Moab was subdued; “And the land had rest fourscore years.” In chapter five when Jael killed Sisera with the tent peg and Deborah sang her song of Glory to the Lord, in verse 31 it concludes; “and the land had rest forty years”
In Chapter 8, after Gideon was used of God for a great deliverance of the Children of Israel from the hands of the Midianites, in verse 28 it tells us;
Thus was Midian subdued before the children of Israel, so that they lifted up their heads no more. And the country was in quietness forty years in the days of Gideon.”
Nothing beats the opportunity we have to be able to do our work, live our lives, enjoy the fruit of our labor, love our families and celebrate the goodness of God, more than rest. What a blessing it is to rest, to simple rest in the blessing the Lord has blessed us with.
We are not talking here of rest as in sleep, but rest as in being and living without fear. No anxiety to trouble us. No concern over the future. No trouble to be expected. No sin to warrant concern of consequence.
This is the joy of the Garden of Eden, this is that pleasure man was created to enjoy with God and this will come again to those who know the Lord, those who’s sin have been paid for by Christ and have believed in him to the saving of their souls.
The land had rest Forty years, eighty years, forty years, forty years
Clearly this refers not to the land specifically, but to the people who inhabit the land. When countries are at war or in peace we are referring to the people not the land they inhabit, so this is God telling us that there is a peace and rest afforded the people who have cried out to God and whom God had mercy.
This is the rest man is promised when he remembers God and trusts in his governing principals. When a person has cried out to God and asked him to save him from his sin, this same person is also desiring peace. Peace with God.
How wonderful it is to think that man could indeed have peace with God, to know that at his end he is accepted. Not for any goodness on his part but for simply believe God had made the way through the sacrifice of his son Jesus on the cross for him.
And imagine the peace and rest he can have when he no longer needs to fear being found guilty again of sin!!!! In legal terms, he can never again be tried for that which has been paid for.
It is what is referred to as Double jeopardy.
What is double jeopardy?
Wikipedia defines it as “a procedural defence that prevents an accused person from being tried again on the same (or similar) charges and on the same facts, following a valid acquittal or conviction.”
When a crime has been paid for by the criminal, he can rest that he no longer can be tried for the same crime he committed. In other words, you cannot be fined again for the fine you had already paid.
Israel had rest when they turned to God from their apostasy, but forty years or eighty years signifies the temporary nature of that rest.
Jesus was once offered for sin, and it washed sin away forever. When you ask Christ to save you, you are asking him to save you from sin itself, and when he does, he also saves you from the PENALTY OF SIN, because he paid for that himself IN FULL ON THE CROSS.
DOUBLE JEOPARDY is instituted in Christ. When he said “it is Finished” on the cross, he used the same word represented on the document given to the person who has served his time for his crime. A document he keeps till death to ensure he is never tried again. It is his guarantee of freedom for that crime AND HE CAN REST.
Turn to 2 Corinthians 1:21
21 Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; 22 Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.
The word ‘Earnest’ refers to a down-payment, or a guarantee or a promise. For the criminal, his letter showing his debt paid in full was his guarantee and promise to keep him free. For the Christian, their guarantee and promise is the Spirit of God who makes his dwelling in us the moment we are born again. It sounds incredible, but this is that which is given us and allows us to truly REST.
In other words we are made JUST, being Justified by God through Christ.
Turn back to Romans 5.
5 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
Peace with God is that rest that can only come when we are justified, that can only come by faith in Christ. This was Gods mercy upon Israel during the time of the Judges, when they cried to him, he had mercy. When he had mercy, the people had REST. This is Gods mercy and his grace that extends to those today who cry to him for their sin, his GIVES US REST and peace.
Without a standard confusion reign
The natural State of man when he will not be governed.
In Chapter 17 where the total confusion and anarchy of Israel begins and at the end of the book of Judges, being the very last verse, is found the phrase that is held to be the summary phrase of the entire book.
17:6 In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.
21:25 In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.
When we think that the next book in our lineup is the 1st Book of Samuel, a king is anointed by God to govern the people, this is somewhat significant. The king sets the standard for the nation. Up and until Samuel, the last effective Judge of Israel, God was their king. God was the standard for the people. Gods words was to govern the people and judge the people and bless the people and prosper the people.
The Lord had set the standard for the people to follow and be taught in, the Lord and his words became the governing principal, THE STANDARD for which all judgement was to be judged of ALL THINGS. But by the time of the last judge in the book of Judges died (Sampson), so too did any desire to follow any governing rule.
17:6 In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.
When a King is not to given to rule and reign, WHEN a STANDARD is not set as a final authority, then the only governing principal for men is that which is privately determined by themselves. When this occurs, the civilization falls to the lowest common denominator; essentially, anarchy. This was exactly that which occurred in the last few chapters of Judges.
And now we are to consider our days today, how do we compare to the time of the Judges? Do we have a strong governing principal for which our lives and its course is to be governed? Or is there a risk that we are coming to the point where “every man does that which is right in his own eyes”?
Friends, it is difficult to know where to start and where to finish with this topic, the examples today are innumerable. But allow me to consider it from the governing perspective that Israel found itself in Judges respecting the periods in between the times where the Land had rest.
“Every man did that which was right in his own eyes”
People who are placed in government who hold to no other principal other than doing that which is right in their own eyes, create LAWS based on those same preferences, when that occurs, the governed are enslaved. Mesopotamia and the surrounding nations could afflict Israel through a King who held to no RULE of LAW.
In the Book of Esther; Ahasuerus and Haman held to NO GOVERNING PRINCIPAL other than ‘that which is written cannot be unwritten’ The king himself was held to his own law even if he discovered it was wrong. A Law was then written to destroy the entire nation of Israel who dwelt in the 120 provinces governed by the King, Genocide was ordered and none but God could have saved them.
In the Book of Daniel “that which is written cannot be unwritten” was the same governing principal that burdened Darius when he was tricked into writing a Law that convicted Daniel for his petitions to the Lord rather than to Darius the King, but not even King Darius could save Daniel from the Lions den.
Only eighty years ago The NAZI party in Hitler’s Germany held to no RULE OF LAW other than that decreed by their leader and the JEWS were again afflicted losing one third of their entire population.
We can see that the writing of Laws according only to the standard of each man doing that which is right in his own eyes can effect both the individual (Daniel) or an entire people group. You see, when “MIGHT MAKES RIGHT”, and the mighty are not holding to a just standard, the people are afflicted.
In 2009 a book was written by a defense attorney named Harvey. A. Silverglate called “Three Felonies A Day”.
In its pages he outlines how the multitude of Laws are being written in which their vague, unspecific nature, together with their immense volume of number are making criminals of the entire population of the country to the point in which he calculated the average American Citizen is committing Three Felonies each and every single day.
He gives account after account of people convicted of Crimes they had no intention to commit. Standing on a foot path sending a text message or simply waiting for a ride, can convict a person of;
- Obstructing traffic
- Obstruction of Justice (in the way of a Policeman’s pursuit.)
Perhaps you received a package rapt in plastic rather than the usual cardboard box. Simply for receiving the package you can be charged with a Federal offence. In 2001 three men were charged and convicted under the Lacey Act for taking possession of Lobster Tails from a foreign country that were under size and came in plastic rather than cardboard. They were sentenced to eight years of prison.
Perhaps you got tickets to an event and decided to call in sick at work so you can attend the event, yes its dishonest and no you should not have done it, but it was a surprise ticket and it was your favourite football team/ soccer team/ baseball/ basket ball, whatever. But you certainly did not know that you have just committed a federal crime refers to as a “Scheme or Artifice to defraud”. You now have a criminal conviction which will limit you for the rest of your life.
Perhaps you like dirtbike riding and take you bike into your favorite area, a snow blizzard hits and you get lost overnight. An officer finds you the next day and charges you with Violation of The Wilderness Act because you had unwittingly ridden the bike in an area disallowed by Government. In 1996 Bobby Unser was convicted of the federal Crime and sentenced to six months in prison. His was operating a Snow Mobile in a National Forrest Wilderness area.
“[Three Felonies a Day] argues that federal criminal law is so comprehensive and vague that all Americans violate it every day, meaning prosecutors can indict anyone at all.”
—Adam Liptak, The New York Times
“Technology exacerbates the problem of laws so open and vague that they are hard to abide by, to the point that we have all become potential criminals.”
—L. Gordon Crovitz, The Wall Street Journal
“In Three Felonies a Day, Harvey A. Silverglate zeroes in on governmental misconduct—the brazen abuse by certain federal prosecutors of immense government power for purposes other than justice.
—Michael S. Greco, former president of the American Bar Association
Law abiding citizens beware: Prosecutors wield Godlike power as they decide how to interpret vague and open-ended statutes that can turn the stuff of everyday life into a federal case. Individual freedom and the rule of law hang in the balance.”
—Susan R. Estrich, Robert Kingsley Professor of Law and Political Science, University of Southern California
When there is no standard, when every man does that which is right in his own eyes, the land no longer experiences rest. In the Last days the Bible teaches that “the Earth shall real to and fro like a drunkard” (Isa 24:20)
It’s not a positive end to the book of Judges. To some people “Every man doing that which is right in his own eyes” is seen as freedom. But the Bible teaches that, when every man thinks this way, so too do the rulers, and when they think this way, the people are enslaved.
Do you have a standard?
Do you hold to a governing principal outside of yourself, one that never changes, one that never contradicts, one that is just?
The Bible is that standard, there is no confusion found it is pages.
If God is not king, CONFUSION REIGNS.