The wayyyyyy too brief overview of Judges
Now leading to one of our longer journeys through the Old Testament, the book of Judges is stuffed full of details. So much detail in fact, that we would advise having some pen and paper handy to keep up with everything.
There’s bloodthirsty kings bent on revenge. There’s a ruthless woman commander murderer and illegitimate, outlaw son. And there’s a wholeee lot of fake gods and crying about being sorry over worshipping those same fake gods.
Judges is truly worth a read. Check out this quick overview:
Tragedy Strikes the Israelites
The era of Judges was a nightmare filled with trials and tribulations for the Israelites.
After the reign of Israel’s spiritual leaders, Moses and Joshua ended, the people had to learn to lead themselves. Unsurprisingly, they couldn’t do this and decided to turn to idols and false gods to worship rather than trust in the Lord who led them from slavery in Egypt.
Because of their unfaithfulness, God turned His face from them and their land. Next thing you know, the Israelites were placed in bondage and had to pay really high taxes from surrounding Canaanites who conquered their lands. The Israelites were finally able to come to their senses and realize only the one true God could save them.
As loving and forgiving as the Lord is, He heard their cries and decided to send ‘judges’ to rule over and save the people of Israel.
Leaders of Israel
There were a total of 12 judges to represent the 12 tribes of Israel. Here is a quick summary of a few major ones:
–Othniel: First judge of Israel, relative of Caleb (Caleb was one of the faithful spies along with Joshua in previous book.)
–Deborah: Wise woman serving as judge over Israel who stayed courageous in the Lord and led an army into battle through a warrior named Barak.
–Gideon: An extremely doubtful warrior who constantly asked for proof of the Lord’s presence. Destroyed an entire army with only 300 men.
–Samson: Known as one of the strongest men to ever live. Lived his entire life under an oath to the Lord. Forbidden to cut his locks of hair or eat unclean foods. Obeying the oaths allowed him superhuman strength from the Lord.
Samson’s reign as a judge could stand alone as an entire chapter in itself. From defeating a lion with his bare hands to killing a thousand Philistine men with the bone of a donkey’s jaw, Samson was not a man to be played with. As strong as he was, he had a pretty horrible ending that resulted in his hair being cut (meaning his strength from God disappeared) and crushing stone pillars, killing countless Philistines as well as himself.
That’s Judges in a super quick nutshell. You can also check out Overview Bible, which has a bunch more helpful info on all the books of the Bible.
Now let’s jump into how to relate this book and its messages to our everyday lives as young adults in the 21st century!
Big Takeaway #1- More teams, less solo heroes.
Judges 2:18 – “Whenever the Lord raised up a judge for them, he was with the judge and saved them out of the hands of their enemies as long as the judge lived.”
This begins the period of leaders who were sent to save Israel from their troubles. The Lord pours his love onto His people by sending them strong warriors and wise rulers to lead them in a better direction.
The Lord specifically makes His presence known in the midst of very judge, as He never leaves their sides.
The big takeaway for us young adults from Judges 2:18
God understands there are hundreds of battles we are constantly fighting each day. What we need to understand, but are usually too stubborn to admit, is that there are battles we can’t face alone. When faced with being alone, it becomes easier to start sinking into the swamps of our problems like quick sand.
When this happens, God is quick to react and knows one hero isn’t always enough to rescue us. He can send multiple heroes or a team to our aid in an instant. Look for the team in your life that will help push you forward. Whether it be a close youth pastor or accountability mentor, there are people around you that can strengthen your walk with the Lord.
Big Takeaway #2- Yet again self doubt is okay!
Judges 6:15-16 – “”Pardon me my Lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family. The Lord replied, “I will be with you and and you will strike down all the Midanites.”
The Lord finds favor upon a less than average man named Gideon in this verse. He specifically chooses him to lead his tribe and the Israelites into battle. But Gideon, being a total skeptic, is full of nothing but reluctance. How could he, such an unimportant man, lead so many people?
The big takeaway for us young adults from Judges 6:15-16
God doesn’t just work on your ability to do something. You can come from the literal trenches of the deep seas in life and still be raised up into the heavens if God calls your name. The Lord doesn’t care about your past or skills. He only cares about your soul, your heart, and your faith. And as long as you have those, God can use your availability to do great things beyond your own skill.
You may still doubt your own ability in the future, but don’t doubt what God is capable of doing through you. Gideon’s story just goes to show that when the Lord chooses you to serve a purpose, His will cannot be stopped.
Big Takeaway #3- Be willing.
Judges 7:3 – “Now announce to the army, ‘Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.’ So twenty-two thousand men left while only ten thousand remained.”
Here, the Lord is speaking to the judge Gideon. The Israelites who witnessed the presence of God circling Gideon were so encouraged that 32,000 men volunteered to serve in his army.
Yet, a major problem remained.
God was not pleased at all with this extreme number of warriors. The Lord seeks glory and praise in victory over every battle. With so many warriors present in Gideon’s army, a victory would be bound to make the Israelites cocky about their own strength, not God’s. So the Lord decreased Gideon’s army from a mighty 32,000 to only 300!
The big takeaway for us young adults from Judges 7:3
It goes to show when going into any battle we have in life, especially our spiritual one, we have to be willing! Our triumphs over battles must always honor the Lord!
It wasn’t enough for Gideon’s soldiers just to be able to fight, since many were scared and unwilling to take the test. Only the ones who passed God’s test with fire lit eyes and burning passion in their souls to fight for the Lord remained.
As mentioned before God can work with you and give you the ability, but you need to bring the willingness to receive Him. From there, He can multiply your successes and overcome your trials in ways you never thought possible. If the Lord could move His men of 300 to defeat an army of 135,000 enemies, imagine what He can do for you.
Big Takeaway #4- No matter how far you stray from the Lord, he still loves and is with you.
Judges 16:28 – “Then Samson prayed, “Sovereign Lord, remember me. Please God, strengthen me just once more…”
This is Samson’s plea to the Lord in his final moments. After living a life of brutal savagery, killing anyone or anything in his way, Samson now has to atone for his crimes. The Philistines have him in bondage and publicly make a mockery of him for all to see.
With the whole world against him and life seeming so bleak, Samson knows just who to turn to. God.
The Lord hears his final prayers and grants him the strength one final time to destroy all of the Philistines around him by bringing the temple pillars crumbling down.
The big takeaway for us young adults from Judges 16:28
No matter your past or how far you’ve strayed from the Lord, nothing is too terrible for Him to forget about or stop loving you. The Bible gives us Samson as the perfect example of someone who was horribly selfish and caused nothing but pain and anguish to all those around him. But even with all the evil sin he committed in his adult life, the Lord was still there for him.
Sometimes it’s easy for us to believe we are too far gone from the Lord and there’s no hope in being saved. Society now is so quick to ‘cancel’ someone who’s made a mistake or constantly remind us of our pasts. Fortunately, God is not like us. He fully forgives and is more than happy to be there whenever we call out to Him.
Up Next- Ruth
The next chapter lets us take a step back from all the bloodshed and misery. Read more about a true love story for the ages in Ruth!