Reading: Judges 1-6
There was only one problem with the judges in Israel. In Judges 2:18, we read how, after Joshua had died, and the people of Israel began to live in disobedience to the Lord, the Lord would raise up a judge for them. And the Lord would be with the judge, and deliver the people from their enemies as long as the judge lived. But the next verse tells us the problem.
18Whenever 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. 19But 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. (Judges 2:18-19)
The only problem with Israel's judges was that they died! God would raise up a judge and things would go great, until he died.
As we read on we find, the Lord raised up various deliverers.
9But when they cried out to the LORD, he raised up for them a deliverer, Othniel..., who saved them. 10The Spirit of the LORD came upon him, so that he became Israel's judge and went to war. The LORD gave Cushan-Rishathaim king of Aram into the hands of Othniel, who overpowered him. 11So the land had peace for forty years, until Othniel son of Kenaz died. (Judges 3:9-11)
Notice, the Lord raised up a deliverer, who saved them, upon who the Spirit of the Lord rested. And things went great, until he died.
Then another deliver is brought on the scene.
Again the Israelites cried out to the LORD, and he gave them a deliverer—Ehud, a left-handed man.... The Israelites sent him with tribute to Eglon king of Moab. (Judges 3:15)
Now Ehud had a great little secret sword he kept hidden on his thigh. The story of how he delivered Israel from the obese king of Moab is hilarious. It is the kind any ten-year-old boy would love to read (Judges 3:15-30). At the end of this account we read:
27When he arrived there, he blew a trumpet in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites went down with him from the hills, with him leading them. 28“Follow me,” he ordered, “for the LORD has given Moab, your enemy, into your hands.” So they followed him.... 30That day Moab was made subject to Israel, and the land had peace for eighty years. (Judges 3:27-30)
Here we have a deliverer who brings peace to Israel. After killing the king of Moab, when the Israelites meet up with him, he begins with two familiar words, “Follow me.” Familiar to those of us who know a future Deliverer who has defeated the strongman who held us captive to death, who comes bidding us to follow Him. Then, with Ehud, we find that one problem again:
After Ehud died, the Israelites once again did evil in the eyes of the LORD. (Judges 4:1)
Eventually the Lord raises up Gideon who subdues Midian. Yet, again we read,
No sooner had Gideon died than the Israelites again prostituted themselves to the Baals. (Judges 8:33)
All of these judges were speaking of the need for the people of God to be delivered or saved, and of the way that God will deliver or save His people by honoring the judge or deliverer. The people were saved because of him (Judges 2:18). The Spirit of the Lord was on the deliverer. The people were called to follow him, and be willing volunteers (Judges 3:28; 5:2, 9). But they also speak of a need which these deliverers could never fulfill—the need for a deliverer who would live forever. And that Deliverer has indeed come. And because of the resurrection from the dead, God now delivers His people from their enemy, on behalf of this Deliverer, and this time it is an unending Deliverance.
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