Israel’s Failure. God’s Grace.
Let’s be up-front: Judges has some awful stuff in it.
There’s prostitution, bloody war, revenge, pack-rape, murder, and more. In fact it gets worse as it goes along. We’re given a summary of the downward spiral of Judges in chapter 2:
16 Then the Lord raised up judges, who saved them out of the hands of these raiders. 17 Yet they would not listen to their judges but prostituted themselves to other gods and worshiped them. They quickly turned from the ways of their ancestors, who had been obedient to the Lord’s commands. 18 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 relented because of their groaning under those who oppressed and afflicted them. 19 But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their ancestors, following other gods and serving and worshiping them. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways.
The book is a repetitive tale of failing to keep the lord’s commands. God gives them judges, and when those judges serve God their land has peace. But, the judges themselves are often dodgy, and whenever they aren’t there the behaviour of the people is disgraceful.
If you look across the whole book it seems to go further up the disgraceful dial. Each week the studies will give you a visual indicator of just how bad things are going:
You wonder why God doesn’t abandon them.
The answer is because this book shows us just how life-giving Jesus is in comparison to everyone and everything else. These people need not just a good leader, but a good one who won’t die. They need a leader who helps them enjoy and obey God when they’re not looking. They need a leader who treats them way way better than they deserve. They need a leader who deals with their sin against God once and for all.
So Judges is a story of Israel’s failure. And it’s a story of God’s grace as he helps them when he shouldn’t, and allows us to see just how powerful and wonderful is Jesus and all he’s done.