To be frank, the book of Judges is one of the most discouraging books in the Bible. If you’re caught up with our Bible reading plan, you’ll finish Judges this Saturday, and you’ll probably be relieved in some ways. There’s a lot of evil in this book.
If you didn’t know how things were going to go, you probably began this book with a bit of hopefulness. After years of waiting, God’s people had finally entered the land of Canaan and possessed it. Joshua had led the people decisively and faithfully. Things were on an upward trajectory.
Only they weren’t.
Do you remember back in Deuteronomy when God warned the people about Canaan? He had said that they would need to be very careful when they entered Canaan because the pagan people groups there would “Canaanize” them . . . in other words, Israel would conform their practices and beliefs to those of the idolatrous Canaanite nations.
What we see in Judges is the exact fulfillment of God’s warning, summarized by the Scripture reading for this sermon: “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6; 21:25).
What happens when people forget God and do things their own way? What happens when we follow our own wisdom apart from God’s revelation?
To answer those questions, all you have to do is read Judges. It’s horrible, especially the last three chapters: selfishness, rape, mutilation, civil war, slaughter, more rape, . . . [And maybe, for a closer-to-home example, all you have to do is look around at our world . . .]
In the sermon Sunday I hope to help us think about the story of Judges and what God wants to teach us in this book. It’s a negative book, but no story is ultimately negative when viewed through a gospel-shaped lens. Thankfully, we can read Judges from a perspective shaped by our commitment to Christ as King. There IS a King in Israel, and He is Jesus Christ, King of all kings.