I love starting to read a new book. Especially in the Old Testament, it’s helpful for me to put what I’m reading into context so I can understand God’s story even better. Judges picks up right where Joshua leaves off in the lives of the Israelites. Joshua’s strong leadership will be remembered, but memories will soon fade. We’ll see how the Israelites have a hard time staying true to their God in the absence of strong spiritual leadership. Unfortunately, there was no obvious successor, like Joshua had been following the days of Moses.
We’ll see a definite pattern emerge that will play over and over during the years of the Judges. You might even say this type of behavior continues in some fashion even today. We’ll meet new Bible heroes up close, seeing how God chooses some with questionable qualifications! God sees the heart and always knows what he is doing.
In our first reading, we see victory. You’ll recall that with God’s help, Joshua had led the people to victory over many regions and towns in the land of Canaan. However, it was not total annihilation in some areas, and there were faithless people remaining to be dealt with. The big threat of the Canaanites still living was not their military strength but their religion, which had nothing to do with Israel’s God.
What do we see? Joshua is dead, and the Israelites asked God for some direction on where to begin. The answer came to start with “Judah, for I have given them victory over the land.” Victory was realized. We watch these armies march right across the land with continued success. The conquest continued. God was leading the way, and the people were in tune with God.
You may recall Caleb from the Book of Joshua. Here we meet Caleb’s nephew, Othniel, and how he comes to be husband to Caleb’s daughter. We were just talking at church recently about how close marriages were common until the last couple generations. “Kissing cousins” has a Biblical basis! Be watching for how Othniel’s story unfolds in the coming days.
What we should take away from today’s reading is that God gives victory to those who follow him. We should always check in with God before taking action. Having a plan that is blessed by God is so much better than working hard on something that isn’t going to work because it’s counter to God’s intended blessing.
Have you ever tried to do something and end up wondering why nothing is working? Or maybe you are finding it impossible to make a decision about something in your life. We often forget to consult God. And even if we do consult him, we may tend to keep our ears closed to the direction we’re given. I know I’ve done that, and I’m sure I’m not alone. Sadly, I often misinterpret what the message is in the first place, too. I hear what I want to hear, in other words.
As we walk through the Book of Judges, remember these passages span a time period of 300+ years. We may feel like the events happen right on top of each other. We can expect to meet twelve (12) judges, each with a different style of leadership, but all are used by God. We’ll also see periods of time between each judicial appointment. What happens during those “dry spells” will be very telling and might even explain what is happening in our world today.
I’m looking forward to this 300+ year journey as God’s story continues to unfold. Take some time today to reflect on what God is saying about a decision or action you should be taking.
Let’s pray …
Father God, thank you for the assurance you are always by my side. When I start to feel afraid or unsure of what I am doing, help me to just stop, pray, and listen for your direction. Help me remember to invite you into the planning process. I want to be living the mission you have for me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.