Week 14 Devotion
This is going to be a very full week when it comes to the scope of what we are reading. We aren’t reading more than we normally do but there is quite a bit packed into this week. Finishing up the book of Judges is straightforward enough and I am glad to move on from it. This book is depressing in that it shows us the constant nature of sin that humanity must battle. It shows us that even when God’s promises are fulfilled in our lives our heart's tendency is to do what is right in our own eyes.
Thankfully, God is faithful even when we are faithless. But there is something about the book of Judges that serves to give us a greater understanding of the Bible as a whole. The relationship between God and His people follows this cyclical pattern. God initiates the relationship and blesses His people. His people joyfully accept His good gifts but then quickly fall back into selfishness, idolatry, and sin. Then when things get really bad the people remember God and cry out to Him for help and in mercy, He comes to our rescue. Then the process starts all over again.
And what this cycle shows us is that our need for God’s grace and salvation goes deep into our hearts. It also reveals that the only way we will ever be free from the sin that lies deep in our hearts is if God Himself does something about it because we are powerless to fix our own problem.
Here are some things to discuss…
This week let’s discuss a couple of the things we see in this book of judges starting with the significant role that women play in the book. We all know about the women in Samson’s life and the part they played in his downfall. But we also need to recognize the role that Deborah played in the life of Israel during the period of the Judges.
Chapter 4 starts out by letting us know that the people of Israel were doing evil in the sight of God but then Deborah is introduced as a prophetess and judge of the people. The term Judge refers to the leaders that God raised up to rule over the people in civil and military matters. The fact that Deborah is a Judge is significant. But even more significant is the manner of her leadership.
She showed courage even when Barak, a military commander, was fearful and unwilling to do what God had commanded him (Judges 4:6). She was a prophet and the people would seek her out at a known location (the palm of Deborah) to gain wisdom and guidance from her. She was the most consistent of all the judges and her faithfulness rises far above that of Gideon, Jephthah, and Samson. Deborah should be remembered for her faithful leadership of God’s people in a very unfaithful time.
Deborah, being a female leader in Israel, fell into some very unique company. But by the time we get through the book of Judges and into the book of Ruth we see another woman who deserves to be commended for her faith. The ugliness of the book of Judges leads us to appreciate the beauty that we see in Ruth.
The days are still filled with evil because the people are still doing what is evil in the eyes of the Lord. But in the midst of the rebellion and sin, we see this story of faithfulness, love, and redemption. This story is true and beautiful in itself, but it also points to something, or more specifically to someone, who will bring beauty and salvation out of the sin of the world. This story of redemption points to Jesus as the true kinsmen redeemer who paid the price to cover us with His steadfast love.
Here is something to meditate upon…
The book of judges is difficult to read because of the sin that lurks around every corner. It is difficult also because even the leaders of God’s people were deeply flawed. Yes, God used them to deliver the people from their enemies but God used them despite their flaws not on account of the absence of their flaws. These were broken and sinful men but God used them to do great things for His people.
Gideon was faithless. He struggled to trust the Word of God. He needed to be reassured over and over but God still used Him to bring a mighty victory over the Midianites. Jephthah came from a broken situation and even though He would become a great man in his day, he would also make a rash vow that cost him his only daughter.
Samson was a train wreck from start to finish. He showed his selfishness when he chose a Philistine woman instead of a woman of Israel. He showed his arrogance when he boasted and made a huge bet with the men at his wedding. He showed his weakness when he allowed himself to be seduced not by one woman but by two. Then his life comes to an end at the bottom of a collapsed banquet hall where his blood mingles with that of 3,000 Philistine men and women.
But the thing that should stand out to us as we read these stories is that God would still accomplish His purpose through such broken and sinful people. The book of Judges should humble us and it should also lead us to praise and glorify God. This book should warn us about the potential we all have to do evil but it should cause us to rejoice that we serve a God of grace and power.
Here is something to pray about…
As the book of Samuel gets underway we are about to see another one of God’s promises fulfilled. God promised Abraham that he would be the father of a great nation ruled over by kings that came from his family line. Under the leadership of Samuel, the prophet of God, Israel will finally get her king only to lose that king and gain another.
This book is where the story of Israel’s king begins and it too points beyond itself to the true king, the better king, the final king who will come to rule over God’s people forever.
As we read the book of Samuel let’s remember that where these kings fail, King Jesus succeeds. Let’s pray that our hearts would grow more and more thankful for the King that God has given us.
Let’s pray that we would not be like Israel who would rather have had a man rule over them than God. Let’s pray that our love for our king, our devotion to our king, and our longing to see our king would grow. Let’s pray together, “Come, Lord Jesus.”