Violence, sex, massacre, brutality, deceit – more the words to describe the action in a modern thriller than words to apply to a book in the Bible. But they are all there: Judges carries these awful themes time and again. There’s a cycle of disobedience, foreign oppression, cries of distress and deliverance. You would think the people would learn after a couple of revolutions of the cycle, but they repeated the pattern six times, as though it were Groundhog Day.
What’s worse, the judges that God sends as deliverers don’t seem much better than the people.
What’s worse still (by my reckoning), is that four of them are listed among the “greats” of faith in Hebrews 11
So, having made myself read stuff that I didn’t want to read, what have I learned from the book of Judges?
- God remains faithful to his people throughout this dreadful time
- Doing your own thing is not a good option
- God offers opportunities for a fresh start; the downward corkscrew is not inevitable
- He uses unlikely people, those who fail drastically, to be part of his purposes
- His words in Isaiah 55:8 are true! – “I don’t think the way you think. The way you work isn’t the way I work.”
I need to keep processing all this. I still don’t “feel happy” about Judges and I need to pray that my way of thinking aligns more closely with God’s – not just in what I think about these circumstances thousands of years ago, but about my own circumstances – and ask myself, “Will you stop doing your own thing and align yourself with God’s way of working?”