Friday, September 14, 2012


For the week beginning Sunday September 16, 2012

(There are consequences for being unfaithful)
(Judges 2)

In the original biblical Hebrew text, the word used for “Judges” is “Shaphats” and it describes a leadership position that oversees all three aspects of government (executive, military, and judicial) in Israel. The author of the Book of Judges is unknown, but, “Talmudic” tradition seems to accredit the prophet Samuel with its authorship. This book takes up at a period in Jewish history when Israel was at rest. It then, takes us into era after era, where the Israelites repeatedly place themselves in torment by way of their sin and disobedience to GOD.
Joshua, and the leaders who served with him had all died, and the Israelites commitment to the LORD had died with them, or at least, been relaxed considerably. For instance, instead of driving out the remaining Canaanites from the land, as GOD had commanded them to do, the Israelites would sometimes defeat their foes, and then, force them into slavery. They also began to intermarry with the Canaanites, and even adopted their pagan gods and customs along the way. Sometimes, they would just simply refuse to attack their enemies’ fortresses at all.
This Old Testament book of Judges, chronicles the spiritual and political deterioration of Israel over an approximate 300-year span. Most of the book tracks five patterned cycles that served to characterize this era. Those cycles included;

·         “Sin” - The Israelites repeatedly turned to idolatry, and often abandoned GOD’s laws
·         “Servitude” - GOD then would permit the Israelites enemies to defeat and oppress
                              them for years at a time.
·         “Supplication” - A desperate Israel would turn back to GOD, confessing its sins, and
                                  begging for help.
·         “Salvation” - GOD would send them salvation in the person of charismatic leaders
                              called “Judges”, who would rid Israel of its oppressors, and return the 
                        land to peace.
·         “Silence” - They would then experience a period of silence, or “rest”, in which the
                          Judges would help Israel to remain faithful to GOD, during the
                    remainder of their lifetimes.

The tragedy here in the book of Judges, is that, this cycle, would repeat itself over and over again as the Israelites never relinquished their rebellious ways against GOD. In fact, each downswing became more and more serious, and each of the Israelites oppressions, became more and more severe.
Nevertheless, the book of Judges is illuminating, in that, for all who choose to read and understand its purpose and lesson, it offers and inspires hope, even to the most prolific of sinners. In it we see that, despite the Israelite’s failures, GOD was always willing to continue to give HIS fallen people new chances, by sending to them, HIS Judges (salvation), to rescue them, time and time again.
However, on the flip side, the grim lesson of Judges is that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Sin takes on many forms, and it goes from bad to worse, if we allow it to persist in our lives. The more we sin, the easier it becomes to sin, and if we do not rid ourselves of the attraction of sin, by filling our minds and hearts with the word of GOD, it will, ultimately, destroy us.
The “Judges”, from whom this book takes its name, were charismatic leaders, who rebelled against and defeated their oppressors, GOD’s way. And they would later serve as spiritual and political leaders to the entire nation of Israel, or, one or more of its tribal sectors. They, not unlike the later, “Davidic line of kings”, exercised powers similar to those which we now associate with our three branches of government here in the United States (Legislative, Administrative, and Judicial).
All of the events in the Book of Judges take place in the hill country of Canaan, which is still occupied by Israelite tribes today.  During that era, most likely between 1390 and 1050 B.C., the tribes were not united as they are now, and Judges often served only their own districts, and not necessarily, the whole of the land, that was occupied by Israel. And while the years specified in the Judges’ rules, total 410, the discrepancy can be explained by the overlapping of the terms of each Judge. This makes it difficult to fix a date to the terms of any given Judge.
Here in Judges chapter two, the author pretty much lays out the theme for the entire book, as it seems that the Israelites were, as many of us are, still today, bent on self-destruction, through our disobedience to GOD. This recurring chaos seems to hammer home the fact, that, if a man or woman goes their own way, they will drift farther and farther away from GOD, and in the end, the rift will have become so wide, that, eventually, GOD will have been reduced to this obscure figure, that he or she once knew, and of WHOM, at that time, they will only seek to avoid.
It seems as if GOD has placed a hunger and thirst inside of each of us, innately from birth, and the only way to satisfy that hunger or thirst, is by seeking, and ultimately finding HIM. It is for the purpose of GOD that man was ever created in the first place, and just as no man has ever created anything, that weren’t for his own purpose or benefit, then, so it is with GOD. Man was created to serve GOD! And until we can grasp and understand that, we will just continue to meander around, looking for “physical” answers, to problems, that have always been of a “spiritual” nature, or origin.  

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

                                           LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website

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