Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Sep 10 2011 - E100.26b – Judges 2:16-3:6, The Lord raised up judges

Today's passage acts as an introduction to the book of Judges and 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 the need for the people of God to have 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. We need more leaders of the calibre of John Stott who recently went to be with the Lord. 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.

Heavenly Father, I have to admit that the reading of the Old Testament can become quite wearisome with its repetitive stories of human rebellion and your gracious acts of salvation. 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