Some quick observations about the judges Cycle:
- The pattern predicted in Deuteronomy 28 now begins
to emerge. Times of crisis were caused by Israel’s consistent disobedience.
The same sin that caused Cain to murder Abel, that caused Noah’s generation to
be judged, that caused God to confuse people’s language at Babel and judge the
Egyptian generation for grumbling in the wilderness was evident during the period
of the Judges.
- Their success or failure was totally depended on
whether they would obey the covenant, thus acknowledging God’s leadership as their
King. Of course, their struggle was maintaining this status. But unfortunately,
because of their lack of obedience and embracing fully the revelations that God
had previously given them, they got stuck in this pattern of going from apostasy
to renewal over and over again.
- Remember, in wanting to see his people restored
to where they were before the fall, God began revealing the necessary ingredients
to having a vibrant faith. First, they needed faith as seen through the revelation
of the Patriarchs. Next, they need to fully surrender their lives to God as
seen through the revelation of the priesthood.
- The burden of this book, the third major revelation
that God wanted to reveal to Israel through raising judges was God’s heart to
see his people fully delivered from their enemies and the fear of those enemies.
- And the way God delivered his people was through
imperfect people, once again showing them that their salvation comes through
Burden: Judg 2:16 Nevertheless, the LORD raised up judges who
delivered them out of the hand of those who plundered them.
Method: almost every judge
had a handicap of some sort. Whether it was physical, emotional, or moral, they
all had a liability to overcome. They were all just ordinary people, people you
would have never thought or ever expected to be leaders. Once again revealing
God’s grace and how he works in and throughout lives despite our struggles.
Outline: In this book we are given twelve different examples of this!
Introduction (1:1-3:6) —the reason for
1. 1st Judge: OTHNIEL of
Judah: 3:7-11 “Lion of God” 1394 B.C., defeated Mesopotamia. A man who
struggled through being Caleb’s younger brother (3:9, 10).
2nd Judge: EHUD of
Benjamin 3:12-30 “strong” 1336 B.C. defeated Moab —a man who had a natural
3rd Judge: SHAMGAR 3:3?
— 1316 B.C., defeated the Philistines — a man with not much in his hands
4th Judge: DEBORAH of
Ephraim 4:1.5:31 “a bee” and Barak — 7296 B.C. defeated Jaban of Canaan — a
woman who desired to serve God (4:4)
5th Judge: Gideon of Manasseh
6:1-8:32 — 1249 B.C. —defeated Midian — a frightened. unbelieving man (6:11,
15) (ABIMELECH: 8:33.9:56 — the arm of flesh cannot serve God! 1209 B.C.
6th Judge: TOLA of
Issachar “worm” 10:1.2; 1208 B.C. Judged for 23 years
7th Judge: JAIR of Gad
“He will enlighten” 10:3-5:1183 B.C.
8th. Judge: JEPHTHAH of
Gad “He will open” 10:6.12:7; 1161 B.C. A man from a corrupt family background
9th Judge: IBZAN of
Judah “Great fatigue” 12:840: 1737 B.C.
10th Judge: ELON of
Zebulon “Magnificent oak” 72:11, 12: —1130 B.C.
11. 11th Judge: ABDON of
Ephraim “servile” 12:13-15; — 1120 B.C.
12th Judge: SAMSON “sun
like” 13:1.16:31; 1141 B.C. Deliverer from the Philistines. The grievous story
of a man who knew the “power of God” for service, but not die “within” for holiness.
A man of moral weakness.
(APPENDIX: Ch. 17-21 chronologically
Ch. 17-21 belong to Ch. 3 but thematically they form a fitting conclusion to the
book and a proper introduction to I, II Samuel (see 21:25).
Insights into some of
the people that God used…
- Throughout this outline, the pattern is the same. Each judge
had a weakness, yet despite these flaws, God used them anyways! Here are just a
1. Judges 3:9-11 Otheniel was Caleb's younger brother. Caleb was seen
as a super spiritual giant since it was only he and Joshua who made it into the
- This speaks
to all those who feel insignificant when compared to their brothers or
sisters in the Lord. God can still use you!
2. Judges 3:15-30 Ehud was left-handed.
- Being left
handed back in that culture was a far bigger deal than it is now. Point being,
physical disabilities can't stop God from using you. In this case, God
used his handicap to free his people.
3. Judges 3:31 Shangur had
nothing but a ox poker in hand.
- Not much
in hand, but God used to displace 600 Philistines. Just an ordinary guy,
not a great leader, or not an orator! Just someone
poking along. (Pun intended)
4. Judges 4:4-9 Debora obviously was a women, which was her liability since she was living in a male dominant
the New Testament perspective, there is no longer any distinction between
men and women and their place in God’s kingdom. Gal 3:28-29 There
is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all
one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed,
and heirs according to the promise. Meaning, don’t let your
being a women hold you back!
5. Judges 6:11-40 Gideon who was the poorest and the youngest of his
great illustration of how God’s perspective is so different than ours! When
we first meet Gideon, partly due to his youth and financial situation, he
is full of fears and doubts with lots of questions! Nevertheless, God calls
him a mighty man of valor. And then God uses him to whittle down the enemy
from 30,000 down to 300.
6. Judges 12:7 Jephthal was a son of a harlot
- He is
a great example of how God is not limited in our lives because our past or
7. Judges 15:20
Samson the strongest who had ever lived! (he would have been a good 700 club guest)
- He is
great example of a mighty man who was able to conquer nations yet could
not conquer his own passions. In the end, his greatest victory was his own
Summary: For 300 years we watch Israel caught up in
this existence of roller coaster faith. Thus, we must ask ourselves the
question why? Why was Israel’s
victory only partial and short-lived? Could it be because they had not fully embraced
the revelation of faith as seen in the patriarchs or completely surrender their
lives as seen through the priesthood? I believe so! I think that is one of the
main lessons that this book has to offer us. That before we can be fully
delivered from our enemies, we must grow in our faith and our willingness to surrender
our all to God!
Ruth: Covenantal loyalty is rewarded!
- As we read the broad, comprehensive biblical story of God at
work in the world, most of us are impressed:
- First you have God speaking creation into being!
- Then you have God laying the foundations of the
life of faith through great and definitive fathers and mothers like Abraham and
- Then you have God saving a people out of a
brutal slave existence through a great man of faith named Moses. And then you
have God shaping and molding Israel into a mighty army that entered and conquer
the promise land.
- Then you have God raising up amazing leaders called
judges who directed and guided God’s people through a whole slew of
- In other words, these first seven books of the
bible have given us some very impressive stories of great heroes! So
impressive, in fact, that many of us, while remaining impressed, feel left out.
We look at our own unimpressive, very ordinary lives, and feel like outsiders in
comparison to such a star-studded cast.
- Often then, we disqualify ourselves. Many of us
are burdened with Guilt of willful sin and then we assume that what is true for
everyone else is not true for us. We conclude that we are, somehow, “just not
religious enough” and thus unfit to participate in the big story.
- But then we come to this book and find this small
story of two widows and a farmer in their out-of-the-way village that in the end,
challenges us to rethink our own story!
- Ruth, was an outsider, not born into the faith
and felt no natural part of it, like so many of us. But she found herself recruited
and adopted into God’s story, and was given a surprisingly significant role, which
becomes clear by the unassuming end statemen: “Boaz
married Ruth; she had a son Obed, Obed was the father of Jesse, and Jesse the
father of David.”
- Did you catch that? Ruth turns out to be the
great-grandmother of David and therefore a direct ancestor of Jesus!
- The point being that all of us have place in
God’s story. We all count, every last one of us! That regardless of how insignificant
we might feel about ourselves, when it comes to God’s story, we all play a vital
Storyline: Naomi and her husband and two sons live
in Moab during the time of Judges. Both Naomi’s husband and one of her sons dies.
Ruth was the wife of that son. Naomie decides to go back to Israel, and Ruth
chooses to go with her. Once back, Ruth seeks out a distant relative of Naomi’s
named Boaz, who does a little wheeling and dealing so that he can marry Ruth!
They then have a family where Ruth ends up becoming the great grandmother of
I. Ruth Decided — Ch. 1
Ruth Devoted — Ch. 2
Ruth Redeemed — Ch. 3
Ruth Rewarded — Ch. 4
Theme: Companionship! In this
story we discover that the basis of human’s relationships that God honors is
- Ruth 1:16-18 But Ruth replied, "Don't urge me to
leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I
will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I
will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely,
if anything but death separates you and me." 18 When Naomi realized that
Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.
- Does this sound familiar to you? It should
because it has been used in wedding vows forever. But as you can see, marriage
isn’t the context for this expression of devotion and commitment. Rather, it is
spoken by one women to another expressing nonsexual covenantal love. Ruth was absolutely
devoted and concerned for her mother-in-law and wanted to assure Naomi of her ongoing
commitment to take care of her.
- It was this kind of loyal friendship that God
rewarded by bringing her into genealogy of Christ.
- As we saw a couple of weeks ago, relationship is
everything! All of the law and the prophets is summed up in this one word, relationships!
First with God and then with others.
- Relationships are God’s primary tools in causing
us to grow. And it’s our commitment to stay in relationships, that enables us
to get through the ups and downs every relationship goes through, that allows
God to mature into the image Christ.
Lastly, the book of Ruth gives us a
unique picture of Christ coming to us as the Kinsman redeemer!
"What is a kinsman redeemer?" Answer: The kinsman-redeemer is a male relative who, according to
various laws of the Pentateuch, had the privilege or responsibility to act on
behalf of a relative who was in trouble, danger, or need.
- The story of Ruth and Boaz begins when Ruth and
her mother-in-law, Naomi, lose their husbands and return to Bethlehem penniless
and without a male protector. Upon arriving in Bethlehem, Naomi sends Ruth to
glean in the fields of Boaz, a wealthy relative of Naomi.
- Ruth, following Naomi’s instructions, puts herself
in a situation where she meets Boaz and he asks her; Ruth 3:9 "Who
are you?" he asked. "I am your servant Ruth," she said. "Spread
the corner of your garment over me, since you are a kinsman-redeemer."
- Boaz accepts, willingly takes Ruth as his wife,
and together they bear a son named Obed who became the grandfather of David,
the forefather of Jesus.
- Now, like so many other biblical stories, we are
given another type and shadow representing God and pointing us once again to Jesus!
- Clearly, from the stories we have already read, Yahweh
is Israel’s Redeemer, the one who promises to defend and vindicate them. He is
both Father and Deliverer (Exodus 20:2).
- In the New Testament, Christ is often regarded
as an example of a kinsman-redeemer because, as our brother (Hebrews 2:11),
He also redeems us because of our great need, one that only He can satisfy.
- In Ruth 3:9, we
are given this beautiful and touching picture of Ruth, unable to rescue
herself, requesting of the kinsman-redeemer that he cover her with his
protection, redeem her, and make her his wife.
- In the same way, the Lord Jesus Christ bought us
for Himself, out of the curse, out of our destitution and then made us His own
beloved bride! He is the true kinsman-redeemer of all who call on Him in faith!
To summarize Israel’s history from their captivity in Egypt up
to this point:
- Because of the people’s unbelief, God caused the
generation that had been redeemed from Egypt to wander in the desert for
forty years in the wilderness until they had died out. Only two men could enter
the Promised from that generation, Joshua and Caleb. They alone obeyed by
- Joshua then led Israel into the Promised Land to
occupy it, but because of the people’s disobedience, they were never able to
deliver God’s just judgment against the Canaanite peoples that remained in the
- This resulted in God’s people experiencing a
roller coaster existence, going from oppression to victory over their enemies.
Nevertheless, despite these revivals, they were only short lived. The land was
never fully secured. Meaning, that God’s program for the world could not advance
to the next step without God raising up a leader who would unite Israel and
totally rid their land of their enemies!
- In this way, the storyline of judges sets us up for
what is coming next, the life of David!