Judges – Revival in Days of Apostasy
Key Verses – 19:6, 21:25
In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.
In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.
Apostasy means to fall away from or depart from the truth. This book is the sad and tragic account of Israel’s departure from the law of God in the years following the death of Joshua. As such it is a most relevant for us, as we too live in an age of departure from the truth of God.
The Holy Spirit
In days of general decline, God raised up deliverers or judges to lead the people politically, militarily and most importantly, spiritually. On seven occasions we are told that the Spirit of God came upon these individuals; Othniel (3:10), Gideon (6:34), Jephthah (11:29), and Samson (13:25, 14:6, 14:19, 15:14). In an age of general departure God can revive his people, but only through the dynamic of the Holy Ghost.
While we inevitably focus upon failure throughout this book we must remember that for most of this period of history Israel enjoyed rest and peace.; Othniel – 40 years; Ehud – 80 years; Deborah – 40 years; Gideon – 40 years; Tola – 23 years; Jair – 22 years; Jephthah – 6 years; Ibzan – 7 years; Elon – 10 years; Abdon – 8 years; Samson – 20 years. In days of decline God is able to bless with periods of peace and rest, for the church, which will bring benefits to the nation.
1: The Seeds of Apostasy
Chapters 1 – 3:4
From Conquest to Capitulation; Chapter 1
The people moved from winning territory over their enemies to surrendering ground, verses. 19, 27,29,30,31, 32, 33.
Revival at Bochim; Chapter 2:1-4
A message which brought the people to tears.
Spiritual Rebellion; Chapter 2:6-23
Political appeasement gave way to spiritual apostasy.
The Sovereignty of God; Chapter 3:1-4
God permitted the failure of the people as a test.
2: The Saviours in Apostasy
Chapters 3:5 – 16
These deliverers, the judges were saviours in that they rescued the people from their enemies. Tragically after the death of a judge the people returned to their idolatry, indicating a shallowness in faith and conviction. It appears to be feature of life in these times that as the years progressed and as the people became more wicked their religious leadership became increasingly shallow. Samson is the most glaring example of a strong man who could be incredibly weak. With Gideon’s fascination with an ephod and Jepthah’s rash vow we are reminded of the weakness of great and good leaders.
Othniel; Chapter 3:5-11
Coming from the family of Caleb, with a wife who had a true vision (1:13-15), it would appear that Othniel was a worthy successor of Joshua.
Ehud; Chapter 3:12-30
Shamgar; Chapter 3:31
Deborah; Chapters 4-5
a Deborah’s Battle; Chapter 4
b Deborah’s Song; Chapter 5
Gideon; Chapter 6-9
a Preparation of the People; Chapter 6:1-10
b Gideon Called; Chapter 6:11-22
c Gideon Consecrated; Chapter 6:12-32
d Gideon’s Fleece; Chapter 6:33-40
e Gideon’s Army; Chapter 7
f Gideon’s Critics; Chapter 8:1-21
g Gideon’s Weakness; Chapter 8:22-35
h Gideon’s Son; Chapter 9
Tola; Chapter 10:1-2
Jair; Chapter 10:3-5
Jepthah; Chapters 10:6-12:7
a Jephthah’s Background; Chapter 10:6-18
b Jephthah’s Commissioning; Chapter 11:1-11
c Jephthah’s Message; Chapter 11:12-28
d Jephthah’s Vow; Chapter 11:29-40
This is the most difficult passage in the Book of Judges and one which has often been debated. It is impossible to believe that Jephthah offered his daughter, however, as a human sacrifice. Such offerings were pagan and were never associated with the worship of the true God. It is more likely that she was offered to a solitary religious life where she would be excluded from ever being married.
e Jephthah’s Challenge; Chapter 12:1-7
Ibzan; Chapter 12:8-10
Elon; Chapter 12:11-12
Abdon Chapter 12:13-15
Samson; Chapters 13-16
a Samson’s Birth; Chapter 13
b Samson’s Marriage; Chapter 14
c Samson’s Conquests; Chapter 15
d Samson’s Death Chapter 16
3: The Signs of Apostasy
Idolatry in the Tribe of Dan; Chapters 17-18
The story of Micah and his fascination with false worship with the thieving of his priest and his ephod would certainly indicate that the land generally had gone a long road in leaving God.
Civil War with Benjamin; Chapters 19-21
These chapter reveal a debauchery and depravity which is as intense as any found anywhere in the scriptures. The people were also vindictive endeavouring to destroy the tribe of Benjamin where the wicked deed was done. There certainly is a sense of every man doing what he thinks right, just as in our day. Such a course is ruinous.