March 31, 2023
Today ends the first three months of our endeavor to read through the Bible in a year, We begin today in Judges chapters 1, 2, and 3. We read about the wars after the death of Joshua, the warnings to the Israelites that went unheeded, and the first three judges of Israel Othniel, Ehud, and Shamgar.
Chapter 1 –
After the death of Joshua the Israelites got off to a good start. They inquired to God about military steps and God responded with guidance telling them exactly what they were to do and how to do it. They marched against Debir, the city where the records of the Canaanites were kept. The would defend Debir vigorously.
Caleb told them whoever attacks and captures Kiriath-sepher would be given his daughter in marriage. Othniel rose to the occasion and defeated the city. In time he would also become Israel’s first judge.
Judah captured Gaza and its territory as the Lord promised but they still had to fight. The Lord was with Judah in their battles and enabled them to take possession of the hill country, but they could not drive out the people who were living in the valley because these people had iron chariots. What ws the problem here because later we see God defeating others with iron chariots – simply put it was their lack of faith while on the hill.
Verses 31 to 36 record a shift in Israel’s victory record that would lead to problems down the road:
- The Benjaminites did not drive out Jebusites,
- Manasseh failed to take possession of Beth-shean,
- Ephraim failed to drive out the Canaanites who were living in Gezer,
- Zebulun failed to drive out the residents of Kitron,
- Asher and Naphtali failed to drive out the residents of the land.
This is sad picture we see painted here.
Chapter 2 –
An angel of the Lord appeared and rebuked them because they had not obeyed the covenant with the Lord. They were not to make a covenant with the Canaanites but were to destroy their altars and their gods. If they were to do this, they were putting God against the gods of the Canaanites.
The angel warned them of impending judgement should they not follow the Lord. Their sin would boomerang back on them. The people wept and sacrificed along with repentance. During the lifetime of Joshua the people worshipped God but after his death things fell apart. The abandoned God and followed other gods.
In other words they did what was wrong in God’s sight. When they abandoned God He handed them over the enemy and disaster came upon them.
Verse 16 – 19 provide a summary of the book of Judges. Israel sinfully departs from the Lord, their enemies oppress them, the Lord feels sorry for them when they cry for help, He delivers them, He defeats their enemies, they return to idols. Every time the cycle repeats itself the people grow more wicked.
Chapter 3 –
This is the list of the nations (3:1) the God left in the land to test Israel, to determine if they would keep the Lord’s commands. God raises up a deliver to save them by means of appointing a judge. A judge was basically a civil ruler whom God selected to deliver His people and take vengeance against His enemies.
The first judge was Othniel and we see The Spirit of the Lord came on a man to enable him to fulfill the task. By the time Othniel had died Israel had gotten used to God’s goodness and they forgot about Him. When life got so bad, they called out to God (after eighteen years) who raised up another judge. This man was Ehud. He deliver Tribute (a tax) to king Eglon.
The king, being excited to hear what Ehud said to him since he had received such a lavish gift did not know that the gift was sword stuck into his stomach. The message delivered was that God did not like him oppressing His people. Following Ehud as judge was Shamgar. He delivered Israel, striking down six hundred Philistines with a cattle prod.