As with Leviticus, Judges is often a neglected book in the Old Testament. While the narrative genre of the book lends to easy reading, the violent content contained in the book does not. Most of us find it easier to comprehend the love shown in John 3:16 and 1 Corinthians 13 than we do the warrior-saviors found in Judges. Nevertheless, these 21 chapters join with the rest of the Bible in pointing us to Jesus, so let us see how.
Often when we think of judges we picture men and women dressed in black robes, sitting behind a bench, and administering justice in a court room. However, the judges described in this book are quite different. These men and women are military leaders, raised up by God to deliver his people from rebellion and corruption. Judges 2:16 says, “Then the LORD raised up judges, who saved them out of the hand of those who plundered them.”
Over and over throughout the book of Judges, God’s people would become enticed by the sinful practices and lifestyle of the surrounding nations, particularly the Canaanites. Over and over the Israelites, “did evil in the sight of the LORD” (Judges 2:11, 3:7, 4:1, 6:1, 10:6, 13:1). Therefore God allowed them to be conquered and oppressed by these enemy nations until they cried out to God for help. In response, God would raise up a judge, or a warrior-savior, who would defeat God’s enemies and save His people (Judges 3:9).
But, lest we think of these judges as perfect saviors, many of them also fell prey to great sin. Gideon, Jephthah, and Samson were all strong warriors, but also guilty of significant disobedience to God. The shining exception to this rule was the only female judge: Deborah.
So how does all of this sin, and slavery, and death point us to Jesus? In the book of Judges we see God’s people in bondage to the enemies of God, unable to free themselves from their sin and captivity. Ultimately, they are rescued by deeply flawed, warrior judges, but only to once again be lured away by sin into captivity.
Likewise, today we are often lured away by the temptations of sin. We often finds ourselves held captive by greed, selfishness, jealousy, pride, and many other sins. Unable to free ourselves from these evil actions, we cry out to God for a savior, just like God’s people in Judges.
The only difference is that instead of sending a flawed, warrior judge, God has sent His perfect Son, Jesus. Jesus is our deliverer from sin. Jesus is our deliver from captivity. Jesus is our Savior from the oppression of the Enemy. And unlike the warrior-saviors in Judges who temporarily saved God’s people, Jesus died for sin once for all (Romans 6:10). Those who trust in Him are forever saved from God’s enemies.
So as we read through Judges this month, let the continued cycle of sin, oppression, and deliverance cause us to be reminded of the good news of the gospel: that God has saved us from our sin and enemies once and for all through Jesus’s death on the cross. Praise be to Christ, the great Warrior-Savior.