Introduction to Judges - Part 2QUESTION: Intro to Judges - 2ANSWER:
by Pastor Nathan Shepherd (Dive Chapel, Candle Key, Florida)
Nathan Shepherd walked over the to powerpoint projector and turned it off. Someone turned the house lights back up and Nate stood on the ground level in front of the stage.
“Thanks Billy and Fenway. The Queen Eileen project is going to be a lot of fun over the next few years and we want everyone at the DC to be involved anyway you can.” The congregation gave a hearty clap offering.
“Now, this morning we are starting into the Old Testament Book of Judges. I’ve been really looking forward to this study, gang. There is so much New Testament truth woven into the twenty-one chapters of this book. Today, I’m just going to introduce Judges and we’ll start with Judges chapter 1 next week.
“We think that Judges was probably written by the prophet Samuel, the guy who anointed David as king in First Samuel 16. Eugene Peterson, in ‘The Message’ talks about the Book of Judges as ‘immersed in nearly unrelieved mayhem.’ I like that. Judges chronicles the time of the nation of Israel from when they make entrance into the Promised land up until the time that God acquiesces to their demands for an earthly king.
“Over the next several weeks we’ll consider the lives, loves, wars and struggles of twelve men and one woman who God used as heroes, even though most of them were quite ordinary. I could lead you through an ancient history lesson of the chosen people and that would be fun. But that’s not where this is going. I want us to consider this tome, not as part of Israel’s history, but as a roadmap of our own lives in Christ. Huh? Let me say that again. Gang, all of the junk that we see in the Book of Judges is a mirror, a precursor, of how we navigate the days in our own Promised land. In First Corinthians 10, verse 11, the Apostle Paul, speaking of the Old Testament, says, ‘Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition.’
“The model of Judges and of our saved lives is a seven step, circular cycle and we need to find the pressure points in all of our lives and break the cycle. As we’ll see in Judges, the top of the circle is us joyfully serving God. Then, we’re tempted, we have decisions to make and we tend to go off-road. Third, we succumb to sin. I do it, you do it, too. Fourth, we find ourselves enslaved to sin. Then, like the prodigal son, we find ourselves sorry about our sin and especially its consequences. So, at the sixth way point of the circle, we repent and the Lord delivers us from our sin. And we are back at the top of the circle – where we ought to be – joyfully serving God.
“I think the tales of the Judges will help us to see where we have each gone astray in the way we live in the Promised land of Jesus’ love. Remember that God commanded the Israelites to enter the land and totally wipe out all of the evil inhabitants. Not because God was a mass murderer, but because he knew that they, nor we, can live side-by-side with sin. This is very, very difficult for us living in a culture where sin is sooooo available. We’ve got to HATE sin like the Lord does.
“The theme of Judges is that the keys to abundant living, in the Promised land of our salvation, are obedience and faithfulness. Again, we enter the Promised land by faith – that’s your salvation experience. We inhabit and live abundantly in the land by obedience and faithfulness.
“The bottom line is we must conquer, vanquish, and wipe out the Canaanites in our lives. You are Americans in the twenty-first century. Lying, covetousness, lust and disobedience are the Philistines, Moabites and Amalakytes in your world. Take their cities, make rubble of their walls, slaughter the inhabitants. But, once you’ve conquered, refuse to be like the nation of Israel in Judges. Do not entertain the idols of the former inhabitants. Don’t let the Philistines back into your ‘Promised land’.
“Come with me and let’s see how the lives and times of the Judges rock along the same paths and same temptations that we face today. And, folks, the cool thing is that these ‘heroes’ we’ll look at in Judges would appear to be anything but. Most of the characters in this motley crew are sorry excuses for human beings, much less hero material. We’re going to see a collection of reprobates, chickens, agoraphobiacs, criminals, guys suffering from depression, and more than one Eeyore. But God can work with anything, any little thing, even me.
“To bring the text up to modern times, twice in this book we’ll see the phrase, ‘there was no king in Israel and everyone did what was right in his own eyes.’ Do you see a lot of that in Candle Key? In the state of Florida? In the good ol’ U.S.A.? On planet earth these days? I would submit to you that ‘right-in-eye-doing’ is our biggest problem today, just like it was back in the Promised land. So strap in tight and keep your hands and feet inside the roller coaster car at all times. We’re going riding on the ‘Great Hebrew Scream Machine’.Judges 1 – Go!