I recently studied through Judges, a book that both appalled me and buoyed my faith. If you’d asked me earlier this year, I probably would’ve said that I’d read Judges before. And maybe I have. But once I started into the book in its entirety, I doubted I’d given it a good effort. The reason? Judges is shocking!

I highly encourage you to read it for yourself, so I’ll refrain from giving away all the good details. But basically: People get stabbed, God selects an army based on how they drink water, and the Israelites make the first “championship ring.”

The Basic Gist of Judges

I highly encourage you to read it for yourself, so I’ll refrain from giving away all the good details. But basically: People get stabbed, God selects an army based on how they drink water, and the Israelites make the first “championship ring.”

All the while, the nation of Israel takes a circuitous route to godliness that makes even my own bumpy sanctification process seem progressive.

I first studied the book this past summer. But when I tried to recall the finer points earlier this month, I realized (to my dismay) that I’d done a poor job of journaling about the book of Judges. I’d written pages about how certain passages made me feel, but I didn’t study it the way I would have liked.

So, while the rest of the Christian world turned to the gospels this December, I flipped back to Judges. I didn’t want to end the year without actually remembering why I found this book so impactful.

This time, I took did two specific things:

  1. I created timeline of each of the judges as I read. If it was mentioned, I also included how long they judged and how long Israel rebelled after each judge died.
  2. I paraphrased each chapter into a 2-4 sentence summary I could remember and understand.

Through this practice, I found myself getting more excited and involved in the book. I was more actively engaged, and as a result: was getting a lot more out of it

A Plan for Redemption

The way I see it, Judges is the perfect book for every wanna-be perfect girl. Coincidentally, it’s also the perfect book for every imperfect girl (and guy) who is sick of their own sinful nature. We keep doing what we don’t want to do (Rom. 7:15), and get frustrated with ourselves for our hypocritical little lives. But Judges intersects that condemnation. It reminds us that for every time we fail, God is there to receive us the moment we call out to Him.

And though I thought it odd to study this book during the advent season, it turns out that Judges offers quite a bit of hope. Hope of a Messiah.

See, the book of Judges lends its name to the twelve Israelite Judges who helped spiritually and militarily govern the people around 1300 B.C. One such judge was named Samson, and both his birth and his life foreshadow the ultimate Judge who would one day come to reign.

Samson: An Imperfect Judge

First, an angel of the Lord appearing to Samson’s mother. He tells her that though she is barren, she would soon conceive a son (Judges 13:5). The angel prophecies over the boy’s life, saying he will be set apart as a Nazirite and that his hair is not to be cut.

Sure enough, Samson is born and as he grows, so does his strength. He judges the nation of Israel for twenty years, and it’s evident that the Lord’s grace is upon him because he is able to tear apart a lion with his bare hands!

But his downfall comes when he is tempted three times by a Philistine seductress named Delilah. Unlike the ultimate Judge (Matt. 4:11), Samson caves under pressure and tells Delilah what she wants to know: the source of his strength.

With that knowledge, Delilah betrays her lover. The shear off his hair (at which point, he is rendered weak), gouge out his eyes, and parade him like a captured trophy. In his suffering, he asks the Lord to grant him strength one last time so he can kill the Philistines. The Lord answers, allowing Samson the strength to capsize the temple pillars and bring the temple down on top of himself and the hundreds of Philistines inside–a situation foreshadowing how Jesus cleared the moneychangers from His Father’s temple and then declared that he would destroy and rebuild the temple in three days.

What Samson destroyed, he couldn’t rebuild. What his predecessor, Gideon, conquered, was only temporary. The enemies that Deborah vanquished eventually rose again.

The Perfect Judge: Jesus

But just as God kept coming to rescue the Israelites, he comes to us now in the person of Jesus: the final Judge. The perfect Judge. Jesus Christ the Righteous.

And as we enter a new year, maybe you need to hear that truth. Friend, as long as you’re breathing, you’ll make some pretty epic mistakes and bad decisions. But as long as you’re breathing, you also have a good and faithful advocate in Jesus. He is in control. He reigns. And He forgives those who repent and turn from their sins.

Let the beauty of that change the way you walk into the next 365 days of life. Because if you think you’re going to knock this thing out of the park, you’re sadly mistaken. Trust me: you want this Judge. You need this Judge.

And He’s right here waiting to walk you through an incredible, grace-laden, growth-filled year of life.



2 thoughts on “What You Need to Know About the Book of Judges

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