My church is currently going through a sermon series on the book of Judges. It’s not the kind of book when you want to feel good about yourself or the people of God. It’s a book where God’s people failed miserably and repeatedly, continuing a vicious cycle that involved them being hounded by a foreign people, crying out to God for deliverance, and God sending a judge to do just that.
I realized something today. In the book of Joshua, God commanded the people of Israel to utterly annihilate the enemies in the land they were claiming. At first, all went well, but further in, they fall into idolatry and are no longer able to drive out all the peoples in the lands they are taking.
These people are the very ones whose idols will enslave the people of God. These are the very ones whom Israel will serve as a result of that idolatry. Disobedience and sin always have consequences.
I also see that God never spurns the cry of His people. At some point, He probably would have been justified in bailing on them. After all, they did turn their backs on Him and run after other gods. They even forgot what He had done to bring them into this Promised Land.
God is faithful to His promises even when we’re not. God’s faithfulness often makes up for our lack of it. I’m thankful that God’s mercy isn’t dependent on my spiritual fervor or His grace dependent on my obedience.
All those judges that brought deliverance were pointing toward a coming Deliverer who would deliver His people once and for all. My pastor pointed out that while people may recoil from all the violence and bloodshed in the Old Testament, there is just as much of that in the New Testament. It was all directed at one man– the promised Messiah and Deliverer Jesus– who endured a very violent death on the cross for us.
That still doesn’t make for an easy read of Judges. I’m glad to be past it and into the book of 1 Samuel.