W.I.S.H. – Weekly Insights for Spiritual Health 11-17-2021
Read: Judges 2:16-17 “16 Then the Lord raised up judges, who delivered them out of the power of those who plundered them. 17 Yet they did not listen even to their judges; for they lusted after other gods and bowed down to them. They soon turned aside from the way in which their ancestors had walked, who had obeyed the commandments of the Lord; they did not follow their example.”
The 12 tribes, as one nation, defeated many small city kingdoms to claim the promised land. United they were more powerful than the small city kingdoms of the Canaanites. When they become spread out geographically, things changed. They still had battles with the Canaanites, and their border brought them into conflict with the powerful Philistines. The Philistines were a coastal people, so they controlled the lowlands and coast. They had migrated to the promised land and were not native.
There are 16 “judges” listed in the book of Judges. They are: Othniel, Ehud, Shamgar, Deborah, Gideon, Abimelech, Tola, Jair, Jephthah, Ibzan, Elon, Abdon, Samson, Eli, Abiathar, and Samuel. The judges were not kings, but they were leaders. They were tasked with keeping the people safe from their enemies and keeping the people faithful to God. Most of the judges are unfamiliar to us because only their names and years of leadership in the Bible. A few judges are better known i.e. Sampson, Gideon, Deborah, Samuel. Note that Deborah is listed as a judge over God’s people – gender wasn’t a limitation for leadership for the LORD.
In a worldly sense the system of judges wasn’t as efficient as the nations around them who had kings. In time God’s people asked to have a king, like the other nations. It grieved God to grant that request. The world was changing. Soon they’d be surrounded by expanding superpowers. Egypt to the south; Babylon, Assyria, and Persian to the east; the Hittites to the north; and the Greeks in the west.
The united kingdom worked well for a time (King David, King Solomon), but the divided kingdom with Israel in the north and Judah in the south would not last. Divided they would fail and fall to their enemies. Divided, neither nation was faithful to the LORD. We will resume following God’s people after the New Year. Next up is Advent and the birth of the promised Messiah. Fortunately, God’s plan is greater than our human failings; from the beginning God was playing the long game.
Pastor Rob Nystrom