Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Apr 5 2019 - Judges 2:6-23 – Rebellion and salvation

Joshua died and the generations that followed soon forgot what the Lord had done for them in bringing their ancestors out of Egypt and into the Promised Land – just as many years earlier, Pharaoh had forgotten the blessing Joseph brought to Egypt. The Israelites were surrounded by people who worshiped fertility gods whom they believed could secure a good harvest for them. Israel was soon enticed into worshipping these false gods. They lost sight of their calling to be different from those around them – to be a light to the nations. Instead they imitated them, perhaps hoping that this would ensure their acceptance among their neighbours and that they would be able to live peacefully in the land. 

But they had forgotten that the Lord was the source of their blessing and that turning their back on him was to invite disaster and defeat. They found that their neighbours became a threat to them and that there was no-one to help them. So, at last, they cried out to the Lord to save them.

Today's passage provides us with a neat summary of the cyclical storyline of the rest of the book:

The LORD raised up judges, who saved them... Whenever the LORD raised up a judge for them, he was with the judge and saved them out of the hands of their enemies as long as the judge lived... But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their ancestors, following other gods and serving and worshiping them. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways. (Judges 2:16, 18-19)

Judges underlines not only the need for God's people to be faithful to him but also their need of good leaders. But the problem with human leaders is that they die. Moses is dead; Joshua is dead; even the best of the Judges will die. The book of Judges will end with the hope that kingship may offer a better model for leadership in Israel; hereditary leadership will mean that there is always a successor when the king dies.

But the history of the Judges, and of the kings that follow, shows us that two problems remain unsolved; all human leaders – even the very best – are flawed and all human leaders die. Such leaders are no better than the people they lead. What is needed is a leader who, while made of the same stuff as those he leads, is quite unlike them – a saviour who is without sin and who has conquered death. The flawed judges and kings prepare the way for the coming of Jesus, the Christ.

We still need good leaders among the people of God. Self-effacing, Spirit-empowered leaders encourage and inspire faithfulness and boldness among the people of God and are used of God for the significant advance of his kingdom. But the cause of the kingdom does not depend on fallible and mortal leaders; it is dependent upon the risen power of our eternal Saviour. He has conquered death and, by his Spirit, creates a people who gladly submit themselves to God and serve the cause of his kingdom.

Father God, help us never to forget what you have done for us in the Lord Jesus. We live among a clamour of voices calling us to come and find our satisfaction in the life they are offering. Through the clamour, help us to hear the clear voice of Jesus calling us to follow him and find contentment in him. Thank you that in Jesus you have provided us with a once-and-for-all Saviour who has conquered death and who always lives to lead and direct the life of his people. Raise up more leaders among your people – men and women – who will be stamped with the image of Christ and will give themselves to the cause of your kingdom. And help us not only to follow their lead, but, taking our lead from them, to follow Christ and serve him with all our heart and mind and spirit.

Peter Misselbrook