Judges: A Book of Warning

I know what you are thinking. Of all the blog topics that exist, why in the world would I choose to write about this? Don’t I know how dark the book of Judges is? The answer is simple. The book of Judges contains a very important warning that I believe the church needs to realize and understand. No, this will not be a super happy post, but hopefully it challenges you and causes you to take a look in the mirror, as I have done while reading this book.

I have honestly read the book of Judges several times, and quite honestly it isn’t one of my favorite books. It’s sad and depressing, and up until recently I wasn’t ever really sure why it needed to be included in the scripture. But the reality is that this is an extremely important book in the history of Israel. However, perhaps even more important than that it is a warning to today’s church to not follow their example. I will show you what I mean.

Judges chapter 2 is the key to the entire book of Judges. The Lord voices his displeasure at the inability, or perhaps more correctly the laziness, of Israel to drive out the Canaanites completely. He had already warned them through Moses that if they failed to drive out the wicked people of the land that those same people would become thorns in their sides. The book of Judges is that stark warning coming to reality. Because Israel failed to put forth the effort to claim their land, God refused to help them any longer. Slowly but surely, Israel began to lose more and more of its land to the people they were supposed to completely eliminate.

If you have ever read the book of Judges then you know that it runs in a consistent pattern. The people of Israel become oppressed, they cry out for a deliverer, and in his mercy God sends them one. It happens over and over again. The message from the writer is very clear: the people refuse to truly repent and so they continue in the same cycle of oppression and deliverance. The reality is that not much has changed in the Christian church of today. Undoubtedly, we all know people who just can’t seem to live the way that they should. The reason is that they refuse to truly repent.

From Judges chapter 3 to Judges chapter 16 this pattern continues. The book is full of story after story of heroes who come on the scene at just the right time to deliver Israel. God is frustrated with Israel, but in his mercy and kindness he refuses to give up on them. That is one of the few rays of hope in this book. The people of Israel have become morally bankrupt and have even turned to worshipping false gods, and yet God continues to deliver them from oppression. Truly he is slow to anger and full of compassion!

In Judges chapter 17 the writer shifts into a story about a man named Micah. I won’t go into all of the details, but this man basically decides to start his own religion and hire himself a priest. This seems like an insignificant story until Judges chapter 18, when the tribe of Dan comes to the man’s house and steals his idols and priest. What was originally a false religion for one man becomes a false religion for an entire tribe. The writer includes the story to show us how far Israel had fallen spiritually.

Unfortunately, that is not even the worst of it. The book ends with an incredibly tragic story that mirrors what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah in the book of Genesis. It shows the natural progression from spiritual apathy to downright depravity and unbelievable evil. The book is dark, but it is dark on purpose. The writer is not only writing history, but also trying to warn his readers about what happens when the people of God turn their backs on God. Make no mistake, this is not a warning to the world. We all know that judgment is coming for them. This is a specific warning to the people of God.

One of the interesting things about the book of Judges is that the writer repeatedly makes the statement “there was no king in Israel.” Up until recently, I thought that that was referring to a human king. While the writer might be indicating that, I don’t think that is really his point. You see, as I mentioned above, the book starts with Israel basically rejecting God as their king. When the writer says that there was no king in Israel, I believe that he is hammering home the point that Israel had rejected their true King, and that was the reason that they found themselves in such a desperate state. Remember, Israel was never supposed to have a human king. They were supposed to be ruled by the Lord Himself.

So what’s my point in saying all of this? To put it bluntly, the church had better be careful about rejecting Jesus as our King, and setting up our own “idols” in his place. Of course we don’t set up physical idols, because that would be way too obvious. Instead, we put our own opinions and beliefs ahead of the word of God. Some of us have substituted a true and genuine move of the Spirit with lights and performances. There is nothing wrong with lights or talent, but there is something wrong with those things replacing anointing.

I don’t want to be harsh, but at the same time the church needs to hear things like this, and sometimes we need to hear it repeatedly. If we are more concerned with the things of this world than we are the things of God, we are rejecting our true King in favor of our own idols and religion. If we are more concerned with how our church services appear than we are with having a genuine and powerful move of God, we are rejecting our true King in favor of our own idols and religion. Let the book of Judges be a warning to all of us. Rejecting the Lord as King NEVER turns out well.

The book of Judges offers little hope, and that is for a very good reason. There is no hope without genuine repentance. What the church needs now more than ever before is a spirit of genuine repentance. We need to lay ourselves on the cross and die out to our own fleshly desires, and we need to put Jesus back in his place as Lord of our lives, not just on Sunday but every single day of the week. The Apostle Paul said that he had been crucified with Christ. That is more than just a cool saying that we can put on a t-shirt. It is a way of life, or more specifically, the only way of life for those who would decide to follow Jesus. To be a Christian means to put aside my own opinions and desires, and to put the Lord on the throne of my life.

If you are discouraged after reading this post then I want to apologize. That is certainly not my point. However, as Christians we need to stop every once in a while and take a look in the mirror. If what we see in the reflection is not like Christ then we need to change. The judgment found in the book of Judges was a direct result of Israel rejecting that change and rejecting their King. May we not repeat their mistake.

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