Day 13: Struggling to Grab Hold and Keep God’s Promises! (Part 2 Judges & ruth)

Judges… trying to hang on to the occupation of God’s promise!.    

General Background Stuff…

Let me give you five things that you will need to know to begin understanding the book of Judges. 

1.They were not obedient to Joshua’s last admonishment, which was to annihilate and destroy the enemy!

  • After Joshua’s military campaign, there were only small pockets of resistance left. Had Israel heeded Joshua’s last command, this would have been relatively easy to accomplish. But they didn’t. This resulted in those small pockets of resistance growing into overwhelming powerful enemies that plagued Israel for the next 300 years.
  • Judge 2:1-3 The angel of the LORD went up from Gilgal to Bokim and said, "I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land that I swore to give to your forefathers. I said, 'I will never break my covenant with you, and you shall not make a covenant with the people of this land, but you shall break down their altars.' Yet you have disobeyed me. Why have you done this? Now therefore I tell you that I will not drive them out before you; they will be [thorns] in your sides and their gods will be a snare to you."
  • Of course, the big question here is why didn’t they? After all the ways God had blessed them throughout their campaign, why did they fall short? Great question! Answer: I don’t believe they ever fully embraced the previous revelations that God had given them starting back in the era of the patriarchs.
  • I covered this stuff back in our very first session. Through the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, they were given the revelation of the importance of faith! That the very first step in seeing their relationship with God restored, was to become a people of faith, where they trust God with all their heart!
  • But Israel as whole, never fully embraced that, so that when God rose up Moses and gave them another revelation of how, not only he wanted a people who believed in him, but a people who would completely trust and yield their lives to him in such a way that their lives would show the world how God really was!
  • In other words, God wanted a whole nation of priests, but sadly, Israel said no!
  • They got scared and sent Moses to hear God on their behalf. The pattern is clear. Because they didn’t fully embrace the previous patriarchal revelation, they were not able to fully embrace the next priestly revelation of God.
  • Of course, God knew that this would happen, and used this situation then to show Israel yet another aspect of his heart. God raised up Judges to show that not only did he want a people full of faith, and a people set apart whose lives reflected him. He also wanted a people who would be delivered from all their enemies. A people free of fear!   

2. Because of Israel’s disobedience, which prevented them from ridding their land of their enemies, their task became one of only trying to survive while trying to maintain some sense of occupancy!

  • This is significant for understanding where the story in the next section will go next. Someone will need to lead
  • Israel
  • to the full occupation of the land and to secure its borders. Only then could God get on with his program to establish Israel as his instrument in reaching the whole world.

3. To help his people survive in their land, God will rise up and use some of the most unexpected heroes of that time.

  • The book of Judges is filled with stories of people trying to survive by any means possible. Most of the time, the people God used were violent, questionable people with unclear ethics. Not the kind of people one would think God would use to develop a story of salvation. In fact, I think most of us would expect to find only Godly leaders, who are good and noble and honorable to show us the way!
  • So, it is always something of a shock to enter the pages of the Book of Judges and find ourselves immersed in nearly continuous and unrelenting mayhem, using people with questionable character!
  • The title “Judges” comes from the 12 heroes of Israel (some major heroes, some minor) whose deeds it records. These were not magistrates, but military leaders sent by God to deliver His people during continual chaos. As I have point out, they are not the polished hero’s one might expect. On the contrary, some of them are very unpolished! Yet God uses them! And God wants us to know this!
  • God will work with whatever we give him! Which unfortunately, is always much. From reading this book, one can get the impression from God; if this is all you’re going to give me to work with, I’ll use these men and women, just as they are, to further my story of salvation.”
  • From this, we begin to understand something of the immensity of God’s grace! Despite our expectations that God would only use the perfect, flawless people, we discover something different. God does not require good people in order to do good work. He can and does work with us in whatever moral and spiritual condition he finds us in, to produce things far beyond whatever we do on our own!
  • Matter of fact, the God we are learning about here in this book, does some of his best work using the most unlikely people!

4. You need to understand that Israel, who had been nothing but a band of traveling nomads for the last forty years,             now found themselves experiencing and engaging in city life for the very first time.

  • This resulted in the relational ties between the tribes becoming strained because each tribe was now primarily engaged in solving its own problems. While this dynamic contributed to a growing sense of loyalty within families and their tribes, they ended up losing their sense of national unity.
  • This growing sense of isolation then added to Israel losing their corporate spiritual Identity of being exclusive followers of Yahweh. The prophet Samuel sums up Israel’s spiritual state in Judg 21:25 In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
  • Because of this, it wasn’t long until Idol worship began to creep back into the lives of many within Israel, which leads us our fifth observation that sets the tone for whole book of Judges.

5. Israel’s disobedience in failing to rid the land of their enemies and them beginning to engage in idolatry resulting in      the consequences that God had warned them would happen if they were disobedient to his commands.

  • Deut 28:15 However, if you do not obey the Lord your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come upon you and overtake you:
  • Lev 26:14-17 "'But if you will not listen to me and carry out all these commands, and if you reject my decrees and abhor my laws and fail to carry out all my commands and so violate my covenant, then I will do this to you: I will bring upon you sudden terror, wasting diseases and fever that will destroy your sight and drain away your life. You will plant seed in vain, because your enemies will eat it I will set my face against you so that you will be defeated by your enemies; those who hate you will rule over you, and you will flee even when no one is pursuing you.
  • This last verse best describes Israel’s experience for the next 300 years and helps us understand the pattern of this book. The result of the five dynamics I just explained, set the scene for what scholars described as the emergence of the cycle of Judges.


The cycle Judges:

  • The cycle Judges goes something like this; Those who hated Israel ruled over them, and continually robbed them of their crops and bounty! Nevertheless, there was still something within the hearts of Israel that would rise and begin to draw them back to God after a season of suffering. This oppression caused Israel to begin seeking and crying out to God.
  • In response to this, God would raise up a godly judge. This judge would then deliver Israel from their oppressors and Israel would experience a season of peace. During this season of peace, Israel would begin drifting away from God which eventually led Israel to disobedience. And then the whole cycle would begin again! Twelve times throughout the book of Judges we see the cycle repeated!
  • These next five passages of scripture describe Israel’s experience throughout the whole book of Judges:
  • Judg 2:8-9 Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of a hundred and ten.
  • Judg 2:10-12 After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel. Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the Baals.
  • Judg 2:14-15 In his anger against Israel the Lord handed them over to raiders who plundered them. He sold them to their enemies all around, whom they were no longer able to resist. Whenever Israel went out to fight, the hand of the Lord was against them to defeat them, just as he had sworn to them. They were in great distress.
  • Judg 2:16-19 Then the Lord raised up judges, who saved them out of the hands of these raiders. Yet they would not listen to their judges but prostituted themselves to other gods and worshiped them. Unlike their fathers, they quickly turned from the way in which their fathers had walked, the way of obedience to the Lord's commands. 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; for the Lord had compassion on them as they groaned under those who oppressed and afflicted them. But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their fathers, following other gods and serving and worshiping them. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways.
  • Judg 2:20-23 Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel and said, "Because this nation has violated the covenant that I laid down for their forefathers and has not listened to me, I will no longer drive out before them any of the nations Joshua left when he died. I will use them to test Israel and see whether they will keep the way of the Lord and walk in it as their forefathers did." The Lord had allowed those nations to remain; he did not drive them out at once by giving them into the hands of Joshua. 

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 his grace!


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 the chaos

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).

2.     2nd Judge: EHUD of Benjamin 3:12-30 “strong” 1336 B.C. defeated Moab —a man who had a natural disability (3:15).

3.     3rd Judge: SHAMGAR 3:3? — 1316 B.C., defeated the Philistines — a man with not much in his hands

4.     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)

5.     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.

6.     6th Judge: TOLA of Issachar “worm” 10:1.2; 1208 B.C. Judged for 23 years

7.     7th Judge: JAIR of Gad “He will enlighten” 10:3-5:1183 B.C.

8.     8th. Judge: JEPHTHAH of Gad “He will open” 10:6.12:7; 1161 B.C. A man from a corrupt family background (11:7)

9.     9th Judge: IBZAN of Judah “Great fatigue” 12:840: 1737 B.C.

10.  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.

12.  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 few examples:


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 promised land.

  • 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 society.

  • From 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 family.

  • Another 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 family situations.

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 destruction!


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 Sara
  • 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 difficulties.
  • 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 role!


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 David.



I.               Ruth Decided — Ch. 1

II.              Ruth Devoted — Ch. 2

III.            Ruth Redeemed — Ch. 3

IV.            Ruth Rewarded — Ch. 4


Theme: Companionship! In this story we discover that the basis of human’s relationships that God honors is covenantal love.

  • 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!

  • Question: "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 faith.
  • 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 land.
  • 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!