Judges

  • When you were younger did you ever “buy” a present for a family member when actually it was your parent who picked it out and paid for it?
  • What’s a sport or musical instrument that you’ve once been very passionate about but that later you put aside in favor of something else?
  • Have you ever seen someone give themselves credit for something that actually done for them by someone else (i.e. a project at a school science fair that their parents worked on)?

When Joshua died, the people of Israel continued to live in the land promised to them by God. But as they did so, they did not fully follow God’s commands to stay committed to him alone. Instead, they kept some of the previous inhabitants around to serve as forced laborers, which angered God. He knew that the Israelites would be tempted to worship the statues to the Baal, which were said to give rain to ensure good harvests.

Time after time, the Israelites turned away from God who had led them into their promised land. They worshiped the false gods of the neighboring peoples. Each time that a neighboring tribe would raid their lands and attempt to subdue them, they would again cry out to God for mercy and He would raise up a judge to deliver them. The judges were prophets who spoke for God, delivering legally-binding decisions in disputes, as well as military leaders who would rally the Israelites in battle. They would drive back their enemies and as soon as the threat was gone, the people would relapse into their previous disobedience to God.

The people that God called upon to serve as his judges often did not fit the part or even want to serve. At least one of the judges was a woman named Deborah. She would sit under a palm tree in the hill country and people would come from far and wide for her to settle their disputes. She even led men into battle. Gideon was hiding wheat in a wine press to safeguard it from the Midianites when the angel of God came to tell him that he would lead his countrymen in battle. Gideon tried several times to explain to God that he wasn’t up to the task, claiming that he was the weakest member of his family inside the weakest clan in the tribe of Manasseh. But still God called him to lead his people to victory.

Taking it even further, before the battle God repeatedly reduced the number of men ready to fight alongside Gideon until the number had fallen from tens of thousands (many of whom were afraid) to just three hundred who were not afraid to fight. God knew that if an overwhelming force won the day that the Israelites would not give him credit for the victory. Instead Gideon took the three hundred men and launched a sneak attack on the Midianite camp, making them believe they were surrounded on all sides by many more soldiers than he actually had.
But still, the people of Israel abandoned God as soon as the danger had passed. They lapsed back into disobedience and waited for a new savior to rise up such as an extremely strong man named Samson. But instead he used his enormous strength, not to protect God’s people, but to bully all those around him, humiliate his enemies and flaunt his personal desires over all other considerations.

In those days there was no king in Israel; all the people did what was right in their own eyes. (Judges 21:25)

So often we accomplish something that we never had dreamed we would be able to do. And instead of acknowledging we had help (from the coach who pushed us hard in practice, the parent who forces us to study, or the friend who shared their notes, etc.), we take all of the credit for ourselves. God brought the Israelites into the Promised Land. He gave them all the laws they needed to live in peace with Him and each other. Yet they could not seem to remember that. When they were in crisis and begged for his help, he raised up people to save them. But he made sure to pick people who didn’t have the characteristics we would associate with a hero.

God equips the called. He doesn’t call the equipped. We must remember to give him credit for those times He got us through a tough situation. And as well, we must remember to not only come to him when we need help. He wants an ongoing relationship with us, one in which we are always pursuing a righteous life.

Remember: It’s not about you.
A person’s pride and selfishness can only get them so far before they need help from someone else. Don’t forget that.

Pray.
God already knows that we often think we know better than Him. He already knows what each of us struggle with in our lives. He knows we often doubt our abilities. So why try to hide it from Him? Pray honestly with God about your shortcomings. Pray honestly with God about your struggles to live the way he wants you to.

More.
The Lunch Date