I have been looking forward to blogging about the book of Judges after Pastor JD preached on the book this summer at the church I attend in the Triangle (Summit Church). The series was called “Broken Saviors” and it was a joy to listen to and study. So of course there are some things that I would not have known while reading this book, but luckily I have my notes from the sermons and they provide great insight! I will be using a combination of my sermon notes along with my notes I have taken while reading through the book as I was reading (which is what I normally blog off of).
The book of Judges shows the history of the Israelites following the death of Joshua and the constant ups and downs of the Israelites as they went back in forth on their faith in God and they experienced their greatest times of strength but also their greatest times of weakness. The first chapter tells of God handing the Canaanites into the hands of the Israelites as God had promised. All of the tribes had united to fight the Canaanites and the other various groups of people that were within the Promised Land from God and they were successful. The Israelites however did do something that they were not suppose to do which was allow the Canaanites to still live within the territories because they were being kept as slaves – God had told them specifically to kick them out completely. This is the beginning of the Israelites not following God completely. As a result of their failure to follow God completely, the Canaanites rose up once again against the Israelites. If they had gotten rid of the Canaanites completely, this would not have happened.
God tells the people that as a result of their disobedience: “’I will not drive them out before you, but they shall become thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare to you,’” Judges 2:3. A thorn in a person’s side means that it would be an annoyance or a pest that will not go away. The thorn might not be hurting or annoying you for a certain period of time but eventually it will start to again. (In the New Testament, Paul tells of a thorn in his side that God wanted him to continuously fight in order to show faith in Him.) So what do the Israelites do? They sacrificed to the LORD in verse 5 and by verse 11 and the death of Joshua happening in between, they were already worshiping Baals. The result of their unfaithfulness to God and their faithfulness to the false gods was of course for the Israelites to be plundered and torn apart by other groups within the Promised Land. While the people were being unfaithful to God, God was always in the process of raising up a savior and these saviors usually had their own brokenness or weakness to themselves (this is why the series at church was labeled “Broken Saviors”). The cycle of what happens throughout the entire book is as follows: “Whenever the LORD raised up judges for them, the LORD was with the judge. For the LORD was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who afflicted and oppressed them. But whenever the judge died, they turned back and were more corrupt than their fathers, going after other gods, serving them, and bowing down to them. They did not drop any of their practices or their stubborn ways. So the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel…” Judges 2:18-20.
God would then bring war to Israel as a test for the people, to see if they would turn to Him or to the false gods. God wanted them to show their faith for Him and this did not necessarily happen. Eventually God allowed the king of Mesopotamia to take over Israel and of course he rose up a savior named Othniel to save them, and as soon as he died they returned to their unrighteous ways. God then of course raised up a new savior and an unexpected, broken savior at that. He brought Ehud up as the judge to save them. Ehud was labeled as the left handed judge which at this time meant that he was disabled in some sense – like he probably couldn’t even use his right arm or hand. At the time Moab was ruling over the Israelites and their king was an extremely fat king named Eglon. Ehud was able to use his wit to kill the king by pretty much making Eglon’s officials believing he was in the bathroom when he really was being stabbed and then killed by Ehud. Eventually the Moabites went against Ehud with 10,000 men and they were all killed and defeated because God was protecting Ehud. Under Ehud, Israel “rested” for 80 years without turning away from God, but as always when Ehud the judge died, the people turned away from God once again. The next judge consisted of one verse and his name was Shamgar and he saved the people from the Philistines after they had turned away from God after Ehud’s death.
What does the judge Ehud show about God? He puts His strength in the weak and those that are willing to rely on their faith to protect them! God protects the weak always and He works through the weak to make them strong!