Diana Geipel, Kidfusion grades 2/3 coordinator
Chapters 1-3 in Judges demonstrate God’s patience and compassion with disobedient people. This book is an important link between Joshua, Saul and David. Moses had prepared/discipled Joshua as the next leader of Israel, however Joshua did not prepare any individual to lead Israel. After Joshua’s death, the people “did what was right in their own eyes.” (Joshua 17:6 & 21:25) They also clamored for a leader. God selected 12 Judges, actually military leaders, from the 12 tribes of Israel/clans over a period of years. Often tribes would join together in their conquest of the Promised Land.
An angel restated God’s promise to Israel “I will never break my covenant with you and you shall not make a covenant with the people of this land, but you shall break down their altars. Yet you have disobeyed Me. Why have you done this? Now therefore I will not drive them (your enemies) out before you and they will be thorns in your sides and their gods will be a snare to you.” Judges 2:1-3
The next generation had not experienced the miraculous escape from Egypt and provisions for 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. “They forsook the Lord, the God of their fathers… They worshipped various gods of the people around them. They provoked the Lord’s anger” Judges 2:12. God was angry with His people for their disobedience. He repeatedly forgave them, when they experienced battle defeats, and they were humbled and repented. The Lord gave them a new leader or Judge with a new opportunity to obey His perfect ways. “The Lord had compassion on them” Judges 2:18. The Lord allowed enemies not to be driven out but remain to “test Israel and see if they would obey the way of the Lord” Judges 2:22. There were recurring cycles of disobedience, foreign oppression, cries of distress and deliverance. (Judges 2:11-19 NIV notes p 323)
I discovered several fascinating situations:
Judah & the Simeonites cut off the thumbs and big toes of an enemy king, making him unfit for military service.
Some enemies had iron chariots.
Israel cried out to the Lord and He gave them a deliverer named Ehud, who was left handed.
Eglon king of Moab was “a very fat man” and was killed with a sword in his belly. King Eglon’s servants thought “he was relieving himself in the inner room of the house.” When they finally unlocked the door, they found him dead.
One of Israel’s enemies was the Hittites. Innumerable archaeological discoveries support the authenticity of the Bible, such as when archaeologist John Garstang in 1908 made discoveries finding evidence for the Hittite Empire exiting 1600-1200 BC and its culture, religion and language. (The Archaeological Encyclopedia of the Holy Land, Avraham Negev p 16 Beyond Reasonable Doubt Dennis Moles, Radio Bible Class Ministries.)
Applications I see from these chapters: God had anger and patience with His people again and again in their cycles of disobedience. For us today, if we want God’s blessing, we need to follow God’s ways. There were consequences for Israel’s sins, for example the foreign pagan nations became a “thorn and snare to them” Judges 2:3, hindering them from true obedience and worship. God desires us to obey and provides His Word and helpers, as He provided Judges to give them another chance to obey and be blessed.