Hey Relentless students! I hope you are all doing well and finding fun ways to keep your minds occupied these days. I find myself gaming more playing games such as Animal Crossing and Call of Duty but to each their own. Today we will continue our journey through the scriptures and enter a book that has some strange and gruesome stories.
After Joshua's passing there is a shift in the people. They were focused on God and serving Him but Joshua died they turned to the cultures around them and began to worship other
gods. Then the people would fall on hard times and call out to God, God would respond by sending in someone to relieve the situation and bring the Israelites back to Him. Israel would then serve God again for some years and repeat the process several times. This was later penned the "Judges Cycle".
The Judges Cycle is the central focus in the book of Judges (go figure) and helps us understand what was happening with the people of Israel. Once the people would turn from God by ignoring His laws they would become slaves or be attacked by neighboring people groups. The people of Israel would call out to God to come and save them, even though they turned their backs on Him. God then raised us a judge. Now, this judge did not wear a powdered wig and chant "order in the court". The judge was more like a terminator crossed with a prophet. They were military leaders that were connected with God. He spoke to them like the prophets that would come later and gave them victories in wars to set the Israelites free. Then, the people of Israel would praise God and follow Him, until they messed up again.
There are 12 different judges listed in this book and each of their stories reveals the Judges Cycle described above. There are 3 that most of us know well and 4th that you should remember from Sunday morning with yours truly.
The first is Ehud who stabs the king of Moab and the fat swallowed the sword and Ehud escaped via the sewers. One of my favorite stories in the Bible not pertaining to Jesus.
There is also Deborah, the only recorded female judge. There were no men fit to fill the role in all of Israel and to prove that point God appoints her judge. During a time when men were always in the primary roles, God calls a woman to be the judge of Israel and she even opens the door for a man to take the life of the oppressive king, but in the end, a woman still takes his life.
Then came Gideon, a man who was so worrisome he questioned God several times, testing Him to prove his call. First, when God came to Him he asked for proof, and when the proof was provided asked to be spared. Then, when God calls him to go to war he tests God with the fleece. After, God tests him by only letting him bring 300 of the 30,000 men that were available to fight the war. Using scare tactics, Gideon is victorious.
Finally, we arrive at Samson. We all know the story, big muscles, and bigger hair. God gave him the strength to defeat any of his foes. His weapon of choice was the jaw bone of a donkey and he used it well. Unfortunately, he meets a woman who learns that the strength comes from the his hair and gives him a snip during his slumber.
The judges were broken people and each had their flaws as you read through the book. They were there to be perfect but military leaders able to free the people from slavery and war. Their stories had to do with turning the people back to God through strength and victory. By the end of the book, we see that even the judges don't fix everything. The people of Israel are still turning away from God as quickly as they are looking to Him. We see a massive slaughter of their own people as one of the tribes hide a group of men who were raping the women. This brings us to the end of Judges.