When the children of Israel in doubt and disobedience failed to obey God and destroy the people in Canaan and their altars, they ended up just as God said they would. They worshiped the gods about them and joined in the worship of false gods along with the Canaanites whom they refused to destroy as God had commanded them.
So, what would God do? How would he respond? The Scriptures explain that God turned against them. We find described for us here some aspects of God's nature that we don’t like to see. God can get angry. His wrath against sin comes vividly in this circumstance with the children of Israel.
They had observed it previously against their enemies. They saw God’s wrath and judgment against them for their sin. Now God turned his anger against the children of Israel, because they doubted and disobeyed God. He began to judge them for their sin.
Notice it says he would no longer defend them. He abandoned them. What enabled them to overcome their enemies in the first place? They experienced victory because of God’s presence and power on their behalf. Now God told them that he would abandon them because of their unbelief.
Troubling times arrived on the horizon. Furthermore, God saed to them, “Not only will I abandon you, but I will become your adversary. I will join the side of your enemies against you.”
If the children of Israel could only defeat their enemies with God on their side, what chance did they have when God went on the side of the Canaanites? They had no chance whatsoever to overcome their enemies in themselves. They had hope only as long as they believed and trusted God.
So God became their enemy.
These events reveal another aspect of God’s character, mercy. It says he saw them in their distress. That describes someone suffering from claustrophobia. You understand claustrophobia, don’t you, that hemmed in feeling, that closed in feeling that you get sometimes. You can feel it especially with mobs of people, strangely so, people all about you, but you can still feel hemmed in, crowded, suppressed, and captive. That describes the children of Israel, in distress because of their disobedience, because of their unbelief.
Well, God observed it all, and He had pity on them. He promised that He would raise up judges for them to defend them. God raised up powerful men, strong and mighty leaders to overcome their enemies. They enjoyed peace as long as that judge lived.
When a judge died, sadly, we notice the cycle repeating itself. They went back into sin again, disobeying God worse than the previous generation. God again judged them, becoming their adversary. He raised up another judge in pity to protect and deliver them. This cycle repeats itself throughout the whole record of the book of Judges.
Why would God move upon Samuel to write this record of the book of Judges, a kind of a depressing book with a discouraging record? Why would God do this? I want to suggest to you a few reasons why God provides this record and provided it for the children of Israel.
God wanted the children of Israel to realize their true condition and nature without God. When they turned their back on God, what happened? They went into sin, idol worship. They ended up slaves. Plunderers came in, destroyed many of them, and took away all of their possessions. They became subservient to the nations that God intended them to destroy…hopeless without God.
It also shows us that when the children of Israel did believe God and obey him, He proved himself mighty on their behalf. He blessed them, protected them, and provided for them.
We also see in this passage and repetitively throughout the rest of the book of Judges, an ongoing revelation of God, his character and nature. We notice here his anger and his wrath against sin. God hates sin, and he judges it.
We see it not only in the destruction of the Canaanites when they first entered the land, but we also see it here in the experience of Israel, his own chosen people. When they disobeyed and deserted God, he judged them as well and punished them for their sin.
We also see the sovereignty of God in charge of the nations. God reveals himself as ruler of all things, not just a god of a small territory, not just the god of only one particular people, but the supreme sovereign God over all things: the Canaanites, the plunderers, and the Israelites, a sovereign God in charge of his creation.
We also see God as a holy God who cannot look upon sin and must punish it. We also see God described as a pitying God, a God of mercy, a God of grace who provided for his children out of his pure grace. He could have left them in their sin and in their destruction, but out of grace and out of mercy, he would raise up a judge to help them.
We also see God providing a warning for the children of Israel, for Samuel wrote this book for the children of Israel. It provides for them a graphic warning, a warning to them of God’s demands, a warning to them of God’s judgment upon them when they fail to obey and to believe. It shows the certainty of that judgment would come upon them, because of their sin.
It also provides a book of remembrance to them of God’s grace and mercy. If they would turn to God and trust him, he would provide for them. They would experience his presence and his blessing among them once again.
How does these events connect to Jesus? Does it in any way connect to Jesus? Remember when God created the heavens and the earth he created mankind without sin. When they sinned, God made a promise to them that he would send to them a Savior. A very simple description at the start, a seed of the woman would come and crush the head of the serpent, a simple description of a coming Savior.
But through time God began to progressively reveal more and more about his plan of providing this Savior. He chose the family of Abraham and said, “Through your family will come that seed.” So now we know the people. That family grew and multiplied as God said. He raised up saviors, examples for them. Moses became the first example. Then we see Joshua. they provided vivid examples of a savior, the kind of savior that God would provide, powerful, strong, through whom they would experience victory over evil and sin and their enemies.
We see it here pictured with the judges to come. God would provide saviors for them in the form of judges who would provide victory and relief for them. Throughout succeeding history after the judges, God gave them kings and prophets that God used to help further identify this Savior who was yet to come.
We find that all fulfilled in one man, Jesus Christ. He fulfills all of the pictures, all of the descriptions, all of the promises, and all of the prophesies of the Savior who would come. He came and took on human flesh. God took on human flesh, a unique man, God and human in one person, Jesus, the Savior, the champion.
In his lifetime, he overcame evil. In his death on the cross, he defeated the serpent according to the promise that God gave to Adam and Eve in the Garden. He crushed the head of the serpent. He rose again from the grave victorious over death. Now all of the effects of sin that came through the temptation of the serpent and through all of his evil machinations and temptations that he has brought upon mankind, so that we can now find salvation through faith in God’s Savior, Jesus. All those who place their faith and trust in Jesus would find relief. Jesus promised that.
Well, what correlation does all of this have to us today? Where does it apply to us? How do we fit in all of this?
Well, we certainly can heed the warnings that God gave through writing of this book that originally went to the children of Israel. This book vividly describes our very day. We live in a day that fits the description of the book of Judges: evil present, idol worship abounding about us. We even find a professing church that has succumbed to the temptations of the world and has declined in its obedience and its faith in God.
The professing Church has begun to rest upon the world and what the world can provide for it. We see the description in Judges fitting very clearly to our circumstances today, not only the world, but also the Church.
Because of the record that God has provided for us through the book of Judges and its warnings to the children of Israel, we can recognize that same warning. We can heed the warning that God gave through this book to those people centuries ago. We can believe him and, in faith, cast our hope and confidence upon God’s Savior Jesus Christ, the Son of God. In him we have hope, certainty, rest, reconciliation with God, and victory over evil in our personal lives daily.
The Church can recognize restoration when it follows the leadership of the Lord Jesus Christ. He has promised. He told us that if we will obey and worship him and him alone that he would bless us. The Church can experience a revival and a restoration, a renewal from its present spiritual decline, if it would heed the warning that we see provided for us in Judges.
What can the Spirit of God do with these truths as we have looked at them and how can he apply them in our lives today? He can refute error. We may have a false view about God. We may have a false view about ourselves and about mankind. These truths open our eyes to the truth that God wants us to see and understand.
They can reassure us. They can rebuke us, and they can point out to us our unbelief and disobedience.
How will you respond to these truths and to the work of the Spirit of God as he comes to you? You can just reject it. Set it aside and say, “I don’t believe it. Interesting story, but I don’t believe it. I don't have any interest in it.” You can be just like the children of Israel, deliberately, intentionally set it aside.
You could say, “Tomorrow. I will t think about it again. Maybe the next day I will think about it again. I will ponder this some more. It sounds interesting.”
I would remind you, my friends, you don't have tomorrow. Tomorrow never comes. You only have today. And so if the Spirit of God has opened your eyes to see the truth, even just a glimmer of the truth, enough on which to cast your faith and your confidence and come to trust the Savior that God provided according to his promise, Jesus Christ, the only Savior of sinners like you and like me.
I pray that the Spirit of God will open your eyes to see the truth, that he will reassure you with the truth and that he will bring you to faith, trust, and confidence upon the Savior that God has provided for us. I pray that today will mark the day when you will trust him and trust him anew, trust him repeatedly, trust him with reassurance.
The Bible promises, “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.” Simple faith, based upon maybe just a glimmer of truth, will make an eternity of difference.
I pray that the Spirit of God will bring that into fruition in your lives today.