This week I am going to begin preaching through the book of Judges. I am excited about this series. It has been a while since I have exposited a historical narrative such as this book. Doing so gives me the opportunity to highlight some really interesting stories that make direct application to our lives today.
One thing, in particular, that I am looking forward to is teaching about the sinfulness of man. Judges is not shy in its description of our total depravity. In fact, I can remember my OT professor telling us that the writer’s objective is to disgust the reader.
And it does just that!
Right from the outset we read about a king whom the Israelites hunted down, cut off his thumbs and big toes, just before they killed him (1:6-7). In chapter three, Ehud deceptively infiltrated the king’s chambers, posing as a messenger, only to shove his sword deep into the king’s belly killing him on the spot (3:12-15). The horrid nature of this book goes on and on. Jael drove a tent peg through the temple of Sisera (4:21). Jepthah sacrificed his own daughter (11:39). Samson killed 1000 men with the Jawbone of a donkey (15:15), and then 3000 more when he collapsed the pagan temple (16:27). And how could we forget about the Levite and his concubine? I’ll let you read that one for yourself (Ch.19).
The book of Judges is ugly. There’s no doubt about it, and it’s for that reason many people read it and can’t believe it’s in the Bible. They can’t believe that a God of love and mercy would be involved in such horrific events.
But, that’s where we go wrong. The book of Judges is not a blemish on God. It’s a blemish on us. The point of the book is to show how bad we, human beings, truly are. God’s message in Judges is: “This is what happens when people abandon the Lord! Their true natures of sin and depravity come out!” Without God we are wretched people. I truly believe any one of us is capable of performing the horrific acts in this book. It’s only because of God’s restraining grace that any good dwells within us.
Don’t agree? Then talk to Paul. He said, “There is no one righteous, not even one…there is no one who does good, not even one” (Romans 3:10-19). Whether we admit it or not, we are utterly sinful people. Our hearts are “deceitful above all things and desperately sick” (Jeremiah 17:9). Just as in the days of Noah the Lord still looks upon the world and sees that man’s wickedness is “great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5).
Let’s pause for a moment. Stop! Because right now you’re thinking about how these verses apply to everyone else but yourself, and that’s not my intention. I want you, personally, to see your sin and how much you need a Savior! We are hopelessly lost without God’s grace. This is why He sent Jesus Christ. Christ died for rotten, self-centered people like you and me. He took the sin of God’s people upon Himself and bore the wrath we deserve.
So you see, Judges is meant to highlight, not only our sin, but our need for Jesus! We need His love, forgiveness, righteousness, holiness and perfect obedience. By trusting Him we can be right with God and changed into the people God wants us to be.
But without him, everyone does what is right in their own eyes (17:6).