The backdrop for this book is the death of their leader Joshua. People experience grief in many ways but this death seemed to make everyone forget what was important. They seek God and ask for direction but then go their own way. Long forgotten is Joshua’s exhortation to be strong and that God was “with us”. Godly leadership is replaced with each person doing their own “thing”. One nation under God became one nation under whatever god was available that day.
There are several things that stick out in this book but these stuck in my heart.
- God promises to never break His covenant with His people. That tells us that even though we are faithless, He will remain faithful. That is good news! That means if we fail we can go back and start over. In spite of a dark nation, God was still bringing forgiveness and HOPE. Hope that came from HIm and was irrevocable. Redemption and compassion are available in spite of the sin. Britney Spears used to sing “Oops I did it again” and that would be an appropriate hymn for this group of people. Repeatedly they keep sinning and following other gods, ignoring God’s word. History will repeat itself if nothing changes and the lesson keeps getting lost on them as they wander further and further away from God’s truth. I appreciate the emphasis of Homeplate Advantage on celebrating communion with your family as it helps us to remember what Jesus did on the cross and the character of God – despite living in a world that forgets God’s goodness. Intentionally remembering God and what He has done will help our children get to know Him and serve Him. Those who have to serve God are slaves, those who get to serve God are servants and blessed. We choose by seeking Him. We also choose by ignoring God or letting the culture chose for us.
- They cried out to God. The appeal is more than whining they are terrified they will get what they deserve so they plead with God to save them. We also see the words “they wept” several times. It is a book filled with tears. It is the sorrow of the sinner. They want God’s favor desperately, they want His blessing but repeatedly live outside of that possibility by turning to other god’s and everyone doing what is right in his/her “own eyes”. They felt like they were above the law and beyond the scope of God’s reach. God showed them otherwise. The clarion call of this book is that no ruler or king can take God’s place. He is sovereign and Lord over ALL. Seeking the leadership of another – whether human or not is still looking elsewhere. Idolatry is anytime we seek someone or something other than God to meet our needs. (Diet Coke, foreign gods, christian leaders, youtube… the list goes on). God sent deliverers and saviors to Israel to show them what He can do for them. Hebrews 1 tells us that in these last days God speaks to us, even delivers us through ONE way – Jesus. Natural or voted in leaders can do great things but they cannot replace or do Gods’ things. They have limited power and ability. Yet, the people vote and lobby and fight as if blessings and peace come thru human avenues. Posturing ourselves under God’s leadership, doing what brings His favor and being in covenant with Him is what counts. Crying because one is sorry is much different than crying because one has been caught red handed. The people wanted their way in their timing and when the consequences for their actions came they cried out to God. In His compassion He delivers them and then they do it all over again. History truly does repeat itself – but it doesn’t have to. If only they had stopped and gotten off the crazy train – returning to God and God alone they would have been spared so much grief and heartache.
- There are many horrific stories in the book of Judges. The people are barbaric and do heinous things. It surprises me that the one leader that makes way and stands head and shoulders above the rest is Deborah. Why are there not more movies about her? Sampson ends poorly yet he is a heroic figure for young boys. He runs from God, His call and in the ends kills himself. The leader that affects the nation is a female and shines brightly amid a wicked and corrupt generation. That speaks volumes about Gods leadership plans and I pray that women of influence everywhere will continue to shine. Our nation needs more godly Deborah’s! If you recognize the darkness, then please recognize one of the sources of light God chose. I continue to hear stories of Christian women being excluded, mocked and diminished and wonder why the connection is not being made between God’s favor and God’s way of doing things. As Oprah would say, “make the connection.” If we continue to do things in “our own way” rather than follow what God is doing, we too will end up repeating history and going around the bend again. If there are godly women in your organization or church – let them use their gifts and talents. Seek out their opinions and insight. It might just be that God has placed them there for that season for His purposes. God has preferences, we need to understand what they are and for what time and season.
- The last story in this book is about a bunch of men catching some dancing women and forcing them to be their brides. Does anyone hear Dolly Pardon singing in the background, “hear you come again?” When these new couples set up house and have children, what stories will they be told? Contrast the dancing women and the judge Deborah. Will the children continue to remember God, or will they go around the bend like their forefathers doing what is right in their own eyes? Honor, value, favor are part of God’s plan. When we short circuit covenant, we short circuit blessing. Grabbing a woman is very different than honoring a woman. I wonder why the story of the Concubine is also not loudly told? The contrast of their treatment to me reflects the blessing and favor of following God vs. following after our own flesh and desires. The outcome is just not the same. This time I noticed afresh the women in this book. Maybe its my older age or the reflection as my father passes this earth and I raise up godly young men. Will we pass on amazing legacies of honor and dignity? Will we remember their sacrifice and service and what brought them to that place or go our own way and live in the convenient here and now? What choices will we make that will forever mar or build the next generation? How we walk out God’s covenant is truly important. Our aim should be to do what is right in God’s eyes – the One who sees it all.
God, we submit to Your Lordship, Your will and Your ways. We remember Your covenant and want to be faithful to you in all we do. Remember us and give us Your favor we pray. Amen.
Our nation needs godly men, women and children to shine in its dark hours ahead. How will we learn from this precious book of the Bible and what difference will that make next political or news cycle? FB your thoughts.