Our Bible study groups are going to be starting a series of studies on the book of Judges this fall and I would like to invite you to study along with us. I know, people’s first reaction is, “what do you want to study that for?” But, Judges is one of the most instructive and interesting books in the entire Bible and gives us an amazing insight into human behavior and God’s mercy and love. Besides, it has some of the coolest and most exciting stories in the entire Bible. Who doesn’t like the story of Samson, Gideon and Deborah not to mention the less well-known characters, Tola, Jephithah, Ehud and Shamgar?
Rebecca Manley Pippert, in her classic, Out of the Saltshaker, wrote, “Whatever controls us really is our God… The person who seeks power is controlled by power. The person who seeks acceptance is controlled by the people he or she wants to please. We do not control ourselves. We are controlled by the lord of our life.” p. 48-49
We live in a world of false gods that call out to us with the same desire as the gods of the Promised Land called out to Israel. Our era can be summed up with the same phrase used in Judges to sum up the lure of pagan culture for Israel, “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” Judges 21:25 Three thousand years may have passed from the time of the Judges to our own time but culturally very little has changed in the world of temptation and sin.
Judges sits between the time of Moses and Joshua, and that of the anointing of the first king—around 1200 B.C. The children of Israel were instructed to drive out the pagan cultures from the land and establish the Gospel as the focal point of their life and faith. However, they refused to obey God’s will and ended up in complicated and destructive relationships with the surrounding nations throughout this period of their history.
The people were faced with the constant choice of following God and living a life in harmony with His will or following the lures and temptations of the world around them. Judges is primarily the story of how God’s people failed in their task to be a light to the pagan nations, and instead turned their backs on God to become more like the culture that permeated their lives. It is a book about doing, “what was right in their own eyes,” instead of following God’s will for them.
So, right about now you’re thinking this is going to be a depressing study. No, it is just the opposite. A study of the book of Judges shows us the mercy, love, compassion, and care God has for us all in spite of how flawed our characters. It is a book about how God brings victory into our life when we call out to Him regardless of how often we have failed.
Yes, Judges is a book of, “despicable people doing deplorable things,” and can be summed up as, “trashy tales about dysfunctional characters,” but it is also the story of God’s grace. Timothy Keller, in his book Judges For You, points out, “The Bible (unlike the books on which other religions are based) is not about following moral examples. It is about a God of mercy and long-suffering, who continually works in and through us despite our constant resistance to His purposes. Ultimately, there is only one hero in this book, and he’s divine.” p. 10
Keller couldn’t be more right, there is only room for one hero in our lives and He is God. Let me quickly give you a preview of the themes we will be exploring and see if it doesn’t entice you to study along with us.
God offers His grace to people who do not deserve it, or want it and often times don’t even appreciate it after it has been given to them. Judges also makes it clear that God wants lordship over our lives and is not satisfied with our surrendering aspects of our life to Him while reserving the rest for ourselves. Also, Judges makes it clear that renewal is a key aspect of honing spiritual growth and shows us how that is accomplished.
Judges gives us a deep insight into the tension between law and grace and the conditional and unconditional aspects of God’s ministry to us that is fully reconciled in the New Testament through Jesus. And lastly we have the confidence to know that God is in charge regardless of how things seem at the moment. No matter how much we try to be our own savior, what we really need is the true Savior—Jesus.
So I hope I’ve tweaked your interest a bit and you will study along with us. I’ll post insights and information through these posts and I hope you’ll place your thoughts and insights in the comment section at the end of each post. That way we can interrelate with each other and we all become one big study group. Feel free to share the posts with friends and form your own little study group around them if that would be helpful to you.
What I am striving for is to have the readers of this blog studying together and growing together in a deeper and more satisfying relationship with Jesus. We are family and need to encourage and strengthen each other in our journey. I believe knowing more about the struggles, failures, and disappointments found in the book of Judges will help us realize that God is greater than all this and brings victory, salvation, and deliverance to all who call on His name.
* 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