There are five major themes in this book of 21 chapters. First is the theme of conquering—a task that remains unaccomplished. The reason for Israel’s failure to succeed is explained by the second theme—disobedience. Instead of ridding the land of the Philistines, Canaanites, Sidonians, Hivites, Hittites, Amorites, Perrizzites, and Jebusites, the Israelites settled among them. In essence they compromised. They didn’t just allow their neighbors to stay, they forsook God for idols.
Judges 3:7--The Israelites did what was evil in the Lord’s sight; they forgot the Lord their God and worshiped the Baals and the Asherahs.
The third theme of Judges is testing.
These are the nations the Lord left in order to test Israel, since the Israelites had fought none of these in any of the wars with Canaan. This was to teach the future generations of the Israelites how to fight in battle, especially those who had not fought before (3:1,2).
Knowing that it would take time to conquer Canaan and to ensure that the following generations would be battle-tested and capable of defending the land, God chose not to intervene supernaturally to drive out the inhabitants as He often did for Joshua.
The fourth theme is oppression. Think of the word misery. Each time the Israelites abandoned God for other gods and adopted native customs, they fell under their cruelty and tyranny. Nine times the book mentions the Israelites crying out to God for help. And this introduces the fifth theme for which the book is named, judges.
Twelve men and one woman are used by God to serve as judges or liberators to free their people from their persecutors. Othniel, Shamgar, Tola, Jair, Ibzan, Elon and Abdon barely get much mention for their leadership but account for 110 years of peace for the land. Ehud, Deborah, Barak, Gideon, Jepthah, and Samson are much more prominent in coverage and reveal amazing exploits made possible by God’s power. Their stories are incredible!
The Bible does not state who wrote this book but Jewish tradition promotes Samuel, the nation’s last judge, as its author. What is the main point of Judges? As we look at the five themes it becomes clear that God will not tolerate or allow sin to go unpunished. Thomas Carlyle wrote in French Revolution I “Through all time, if we read aright, sin was, is, will be, the parent of misery.” Sin points us to the need for a savior. God, looking upon all of mankind’s need for redemption, sends Jesus to be the perfect, Judge, King and Messiah.
Some sense of sin, and some serious and humbling apprehension of our danger and misery in consequence of it, must, indeed, be necessary, to dispose us to receive the grace of the gospel, and the Saviour who is there exhibited to our faith.--P. Doddridge in Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul
©2020 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)