January 16, 2016
This week is the first of several studies in January on the book of Judges following the theme of the five sermons given/to come.
Read Judges 2:1-3:2 which summarises this 325 year period in Israel’s history.
Write down the key points mentioned here and discuss them in your group.
Read Judges 2:10. Why do you think this happened? Contrast this with the promises and example given by their parents/grandparents ‘to serve God alone’. Joshua 24:14-28.
What was God’s motive for the way he treated Israel? See also Judges 2:20-3:4.
Discuss what is meant that God did this to ‘test’ the Israelites. Judges 2:22.
What was the response God was looking for from Israel?
Do you think God tests us today? Give reasons for your answers.
Read Judges 3:7-31 and write down some key points about the first three judges. Consider also Daniel’s words in italics.
“Othniel, it seems, was a hero, a great man, faithful and courageous, but when we read the account given to us, it doesn’t really pour onto him much honour. This is because that is not the focus; (in verses 9 and 10) God raised up a deliverer (v. 9), the Spirit come upon him and the Lord gave the king of Aram into the hands of Othniel (v. 10). God does not want us to idolize the man, rather, he wants us to glorify the God who equipped him.
And all this allowed God to fulfil his purpose in delivering the Israelites; the amount of detail in this story is making it clear that such ‘fortunate’ events didn’t happen just by lucky coincidence, but in God working all things together.
So again, Ehud’s account is not included in the Judges to tell an interesting story, but to highlight God’s sovereignty and show that He is the one in control; in bringing Israel under the oppression of the Moabites in the first place, but then in everything leading up to their deliverance from them.
We don’t know a lot about Shamgar. His account is only 1 verse. We learn who his father is, that his weapon was an oxgoad and that he killed 600 Philistines. Some bible scholars believe that he was not an Israelite, as his tribe isn’t mentioned, and his father’s name might not be Jewish. None of that really concerns us, for as we have seen so far, God is the one in control here, and it doesn’t really matter what the background of this fellow was, he was used (by God) to deliver Israel, again.
The judges we have looked at were not the focus of the story; they were instruments in the hand of God. He showed mercy in using these sinful people to redeem his people, to save them from their oppression. The people of Israel were experiencing the consequences of their rebellion against God, the results of their own sins. God sent people to oppress them because of their disobedience. God was merciful to raise up people who would redeem, and free the Israelites from whatever mess they had got themselves into. When they cried out, God heard and answered their call. But these judges could only save the Israelites for a time. The judges were themselves sinful people and when they died the Israelites went back to their sinful ways.”
Consider the following conclusion to Daniel’s message.
‘The judges are reflections or images of The Great Judge, our deliverer, Jesus Christ. He is without sin, and he cannot die. We can be redeemed from the result of our sins not just temporarily, but for ever; for as long as Jesus lives he can be our righteousness. For our sinful state has made us enemies of God; but when we cry out, God is merciful; he has provided the judge who will deliver us. God alone deserves the glory; he has orchestrated the whole thing, he is in control; and any achievement is made through the strength that God provides. The Israelites were out of favour with God, for they had chosen to live in disobedience. But God only wanted to reconcile them to himself. Now he has, but only through the perfect Judge that will not die.’
Read 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 and discuss the blessings Paul mentions and the responsibility you as a Christian has as someone who has been reconciled to God.