JUDGES 3, 4 and 5
In my opinion, Judges is the best ‘window’ into human nature in the whole Bible. If you digest the stories and teachings of Judges, you have no grounds for asserting that human beings are essentially good and naturally god-fearing! The human heart is no different today; most people will call out to their unknown god – and even to the real one – if they are in a desperate situation and have no other means of help. When we are going through one of life’s many crises, we suddenly give the Lord our full attention at last; we turn up to church meetings (even prayer meetings!) and ask the advice of church leaders. We make promises to him that we will serve him forever if only he will rescue us from this dire situation.
And usually he does. Our situation improves, we are momentarily grateful, and then we ease ourselves back into our self-sufficiency and spiritual slothfulness. Our friendship with God goes back onto the top shelf to gather dust until the next insurmountable problem comes along.
Now, if you treated your husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, parent, child, or best mate that way – they would soon take you to task for your selfishness and self-centredness. You would be guilty of just ‘using’ people’s friendship and goodwill and discarding that relationship when you didn’t need to take anything more. Your friends would find something better to do with their time. So why is it OK to treat God that way? Do we think that he has no feelings? (He does: Ephesians 4:30.) Do we believe that he is cool with this style of Christianity? (He is not: Revelation 2:4.) We can see from the Book of Judges that he gets extremely angry with lukewarmness and unfaithfulness, and that it costs us a great deal in the end. So, let’s learn the lessons of history, rather than repeat them!
Othniel, Ehud, Shamgar and Deborah are the heroes so far. These will soon be followed by Gideon, Jair, Jephthah, Ibzan, Elon, Abdon, and Samson. Their stories are enthralling, and their commitment was real. Read about it in Chapters 3 – 5 today. What these people have in common is that none of them were the normal leadership material; they were very ordinary, and sometimes rather unpleasant people. None of them fitted the normal pattern of super-hero, all were chosen by the Lord and filled with his Holy Spirit to do a powerful task. Ehud was left-handed and, on that basis, may have been able to smuggle a weapon past King Eglon’s security staff. Incidentally, this is the first biblical evidence that being significantly overweight is bad for your health! Deborah was a woman – which was highly unusual in leadership circles at the time.
One final warning from today’s readings: learn how to use tent pegs safely!