Judges 1-2 (Israel's Victory, Israel’s Failure, & God’s Mercy)
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Judges 1 - Victory and Defeat in the Promised Land
A. Continuing victory in Israel.
1. (1a) After the death of Joshua.
Now after the death of Joshua
a. Now after the death of Joshua: In this period of the Judges, Israel lost the critical next link in its godly leadership. Moses was the great leader used by God to bring them out of Egypt; Joshua was Moses’ assistant and the great leader used by God to bring them into the land of promise. But Joshua appointed no leader after him to guide the whole nation. They were in a critical place where they had to trust God more intensely than they ever had before.
i. God gives wonderful human leaders to His work on this earth, and it is always difficult for God’s people when those human leaders pass from the scene. In such a situation, we may live in the past, wishing that leader were still with us.
b. After the death of Joshua: During this period of the judges (lasting some 340 years), there was no standing “office” of national leadership. Israel had no king, no president, and no prime minister on earth - only God in heaven. Yet at the necessary and appropriate times God brought forth a leader for the nation. For the most part these leaders would rise up, do his (or her) job, and then return to their obscurity. This required that the people of Israel maintain a real, abiding trust in God.
i. These national deliverers were not elected and they didn’t come to leadership through royal succession. They were specially gifted by God for leadership in their times, and the people of God recognized and respected that gifting.
ii. When this book uses the term judge, it doesn’t mean someone who sits in a court and decides legal issues; the Hebrew word shaphat has more the idea of a heroic leader. “The Hebrew word Shophetim is derived from a word meaning to put right, and so to rule, and this is exactly what these men did.” (Morgan)
iii. The people of Israel had great obstacles. They were surrounded by people who lived in the most terrible immorality and idolatry, making a constant temptation to the same sins. The idolatrous lives of the Canaanites who lived around Israel were focused mainly on three things: money, sex, and having a relationship with God on my terms instead of God’s terms.
c. After the death of Joshua: The Book of Judges shows us a time that is sometimes confusing, difficult, and dark. For this reason, many neglect the Judges and regard this period of time as a “dark ages” of Israel’s history.