The XX – Intro (live)
We’ve been in the book of Judges this week, and I doubt I’ll be any more help than your average Study Bible. But who knows?
The book of Judges seems to be one long slide into greater and greater depravity. The book opens with the frequently repeated observation that they were unable to drive out completely the other nations. This is meant to be a not so subtle clue that they are setting themselves up for idolatry later on. And sure enough, we only get so far as chapter two before they initiate a pattern of idol worship that will be the refrain of Judges.
Yet, the one characteristics of God that gets most clearly highlighted in the midst of all this is his long-suffering. His willingness to forgive and forgive and forgive. Even as the nation continues on its gradual decline.
The decline begins with the people. They chase after other gods, only to be handed over to foreign powers. Then God raises up a judge to deliver. At first the judges seem like noble enough heroes. Othniel, Ehud, Shamgar, Deborah. Even Gideon, at first. Then things begin to take a turn. Gideon is wildly successful, and somewhere along the line, something got twisted just a bit. It became more about him than about God. And he began to draw attention to himself.
While the moral bankruptcy of the people is seen throughout, eventually we see the faults of the leaders more and more. Abimelech, Jephthah, Samson. And if the point isn’t clear enough, how about these gems: The Levite (so shameful we don’t even get his name) and his concubine that dies being raped to death in Gibeah. The civil war that ensues. The genius plan hatched to get wives for the Benjamites. All pretty sordid stuff.
In those days there was no king in Israel;
everyone did what was right in his own eyes.