Sin is not primarily breaking the law. Sin is breaking the heart of God and if we can absorb that into our hearts we will begin to understand the book of Judges. Sin is the condition of filling our hearts with other people, things, possessions, and desires that push God into the background. Sin is allowing anything but God to reign supreme in our life.
The book of Judges spans the history of Israel from the death of Joshua to the setting up of the first Monarchy under Saul. During this time Israel existed, not as a comprehensive nation, but as a group of tribes that gathered together in times of emergency to fight onslaughts from neighboring nations and tribes.
To defeat these invading armies God would raise up a Judge to lead His people into battle and deliver them from the oppressing forces arrayed against them. It is interesting that in reality the Judges of the book that bears that name were never judges of the nation in a judicial sense, but instead warriors who fought for the survival of the tribes of Israel.
The actual Hebrew word translated Judges is best translated deliverers and thus the book of Judges could well be called the book of Deliverers. Now an interesting thing about these Judges or Deliverers is that not one of them was charismatic or morally righteous. They were flawed and often their flaws worked against the tribes of Israel.
So why did God select such people to deliver his people out of bondage, and possible utter destruction at the hands of invading nations? It was to show that He was their true deliverer who preserved His people regardless of the strength and might of Israel’s enemies and the weakness of His own people. Whenever victory was won the people knew it was not because of their might and strength or their leaders strength but instead through the good will, love, and grace of God.
The book of Judges (Deliverers) is important to us because it is an amazing insight into our lives where we profess to be followers of God but spend most of our time pursuing gods of our own making. The refraining theme of Judges is, “in those days there was no King in the land,” and surprisingly when we study Judges we see that the author is not talking about secular kings. He is making a statement that during the time of the Judges God was never their King, but instead idols, false gods, and the culture of Canaan was what motivated them and infected them with sin.
When the children of Israel entered the Promised Land they were to drive out the Canaanites for a whole lot of reasons that we will talk about during the study of Judges. They never wholly accomplished this requirement and in reality had no interest in accomplishing God’s command. The result was they mingled with these pagan people and eventually took on their beliefs and practices in spiritual matters.
The history of Israel during the pre-Monarchy age of the Judges was one of apostasy, rebellion, enslavement and persecution, repentance, calling on the name of God for help, deliverance by God’s appointed, thankfulness and then allowing the cycle to start all over again.
It is said that the pain of divorce from someone a person loves deeply is a pain like no other. This is especially true when that person finds someone to take the place of the person divorced. The person who loves the most always hurts the most in any relationship. This concept of the pain of divorce is just the tip of the iceberg in regards to the pain God feels when we run after other lovers and make Him secondary in our life.
God’s love is so unending, so abounding, so marvelous, so all encompassing, so filled with grace, mercy, and forgiveness that it is in many ways beyond our comprehension. All this love He longs to pour out on us and fill our hearts with joy, peace, happiness, and wonder, but instead we fill our hearts with trinkets and bobbles. We push Him to the back, until like Israel in the time of the Judges, suddenly we remember God and call out to Him. Then just like in the days of the Judges God answers and rides to the rescue.
It is true sin is breaking the heart of God and it revolves around our having other lovers that take His place in our hearts. The book of Judges gives us an insight into the heart of Israel and it is not pretty, but it is very instructive. Israel had no King in those days because it had turned its collective back on their true King—God. Over and over they paid the consequences for their sins, but sin is addictive and unless God rules the heart we crawl back to our sins as soon as we are able after our deliverance.
Judges is God calling His people to look deep into their hearts and see how sinful they are and then putting their trust and faith in Him as their great deliverer from that sin and its consequences. So what is worked out on a national stage between the tribes of Israel and the surrounding nations is only an example of what goes on in our own hearts.
It is only when we understand the degree of our sinfulness that we will ever have the desire to stop breaking the heart of God through those sins. Israel never learned that lesson but we can if we pay attention.
* All’s quiet in the front…really? Just because it’s hardly reported in the news these days doesn’t mean it’s not happening anymore. Many people around the globe are STILL experiencing persecution for their faith in God, and many even unto death. They need our support and continuous prayers. Please take the time to read some of their stories at http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/ there is much more on the internet but you have to search for it