Monday, June 6, 2011

Judges

Judges is the book that you read and think, "The Israelites will never learn." They keep going through a seemingly neverending cycle of falling away from God, getting into trouble then God sends someone to the rescue they return to serve the Lord and then it starts all over again. I guess it's true what they say about history repeating itself.

There are many people mentioned that God sent to deliver his people, I don't plan on going through all of them. I'll go over the most famous, such as Gideon and Samson, but I'll also tell you about a couple of the others. If I went through all 13 judges you might as well go read the whole book. It would save me some time.

To begin, let me tell you that during this time the Israelites did not have a king. I only mention this because throughout the book of judges this was mentioned about 100 times. It seems to be of importance. Maybe if they had a solid ruler they wouldn't have fallen so much? I don't know, but no king resided over the Israelites.

Ehud:
When you read about Ehud, it's one of those that you end up reading with your mouth hanging open in the craziness of what happens. Ehud is a left-handed judge who went to visit Eglon the king of Moab (the Moabites were oppressing Israel.) He said that he had a secret message for the king and they were left alone together. When Ehud got close to the king he pulled out a sword and stabbed the king in the gut. Judges 3:22 says "Even the handle sank in after the blade, which came out his back. Ehud did not pull the sword out, and the fat closed in over it." Did I mention the king was a very large man? After Ehud killed the king he locked the doors to the room. When the servants went to the king and noticed that the door was locked they believed that the king was relieving himself. While they waited the king died and Ehud got away, and through this Israel was delivered.

Deborah:
Deborah was a prophetess and was a judge of Israel. They often came to her to settle their problems. She had called a man named Barak to her and told him that he was to gather up his forces and that God would deliver Sisera, the commander of the Jabin's army into his hands. Barak insisted that Deborah go with him and because of this Deborah told him that Sisrea would now be delivered by a woman instead of Barak. When the battle began Sisera ran to a nearby camp and Jael, from a tribe that they were friendly with, let him into her tent. She fed and watered him and he soon fell asleep. Jael then took a tent peg and hammered it through Sisera's temple. And the Israelites were delivered once more.

Gideon:
Gideon was called on by the Lord but was doubtful of his call. He was from the weakest tribe and considered the least in his family. Essentially he was considered the weakest of the Israelites. He tested God by taking a wool fleece and asking God to make the fleece wet and leave the ground dry and then again, but this time with the ground wet and the fleece dry. After he gathered his men. God said that there was too many men and sent away those who trembled in fear. After they left God said that there were still too many and told Gideon to take the men to get a drink and the men that pulled the water up in their hands were those that they would use to deliver the Israelites. He ended up with himself and 300 men. They went to the camp at night on the surrounding mountains while the Midianites camped in the valley and took their trumpets and jars and make enough noise that God made the Midianites turn on themselves.

Samson:
Samson is the most famous of the judges. Everyone now knows that he was a Nazarite. He was set apart from the beginning by God to deliver his people from the Philistines. Samson did quite a lot before he got mixed up in the likes of Delilah, but we won't worry about it now, just know that one involved a riddle, one some new rope, and then there is that whole mess with the donkey jaw. Samson fell in love with Delilah and the Philistines used that against him by paying her to get out the secret of his strength. After constant nagging he finally revealed that his strength was in his hair, in which she shaved his head while he slept and then gave him up the the Philistines. They gouged out his eyes and shackled him up. The Philistines were having a celebration and brought out Samson as entertainment. He was put in between two pillars and he prayed to God to let him die along with the Philistines and he used his strength that God had given him to collapse the arena that they were in. The Israelites were delivered once again.

It is a cycle we get ourselves to in life. That's what I've learned. If you let yourself be swayed into idol worship then you spend your time waiting for someone to come and rescue you. But Jesus has already done that. He has come to our rescue, we just have to take him up on it and break the cycle.