Book of Judges

Today's Bible reading: Judges 2:11-23

The Book of Judges tells the sad story of how the Israelites were tempted by their pagan neighbors and become unfaithful to God – seduced by the fertility cults into the worship of Baal.  It is a story which goes in a recurring cycle … a cycle which provides the theological framework for this book of the Bible, as follows: 

1. Despite the grand promise of loyalty to God made at Shechem, Israel returns to its old ways of idolatry.  It reaps a sad harvest through its disobedience of the divine command to have nothing to do with the local Canaanites and the gods.  But the fertility cults - with their temple prostitution - prove more attractive than the worship of the Lord.  2. God uses neighboring pagan nations to harass and oppress certain tribes as punishment for their disobedience.  Israel's enemies are used by God to bring it to its knees.  Note that at this stage Israel is a loose confederation of tribes, not united by any central political institutions.  3. In their misery the people still know where to look for help.  They turn to God, and He hears their groaning.  4. God raises local leaders - called Judges - to deliver the people from their oppressors.  In each case a terrible crisis is averted.  5. But faithfulness to God lasts only as long as the Judge is alive.  Then it’s back to the old story of rebellion and worshiping the fertility gods.  This cycle is repeated again and again with sad regularity.  Ironically and tragically, God allows the enemies of His people to remain as a constant threat to security – to keep Israel in touch with its Savior-God!

Prayer: O Lord, grant us the rhythm of repentance and forgiveness in our day-to-day lives.  Grant also sincerity and faith through Christ, our Savior.  Amen