Before we begin to look at the third chapter of Judges, there is one important item from chapter two that I failed to mention in yesterday’s post. Judges 2:11-23 sets forth a vicious cycle that repeats itself over and over throughout the book: 1) the people did what was evil in the sight of God; 2) the people cried out to God for deliverance; 3) God heard the cries of his people and appointed a judge for the nation; 4) the judge was used by God to rescue the people; and 5) after the judge died, the people returned to their wicked ways. This cycle just keeps repeating. With that intro, lets look at chapter 3.
Judges 3:4 – The Lord left them to test Israel, to determine if they would keep the Lord’s commands he had given their fathers through Moses. Chapter 3 begins with the revelation of why God left the pagan nations in the promised land. Certainly, the direct reason was as judgment on Israel’s disobedience (Judges 2:1-3) but as usual, God is up to more than we can anticipate by looking at the surface of things. The testing that is taking place here cannot mean that God used these nations to reveal something about his people that he did not already know. Scripture is clear that God is omniscient, knowing the end from the beginning. No, this testing was to prove the metal of Israel. God would uncover their tendencies towards disobedience and faithfulness. He would give this new generation an opportunity to exercise faith and watch him work with their own eyes. Through the testing, God would be about the work of refining his people.
I think there is a natural application for us in this text. The trials and difficulties in our own lives are ordained by God to: 1) reveal the sin in our own hearts; 2) move us to greater dependence on the Lord; and 3) to strengthen us for the journey. The next time you are facing a particularly difficult time, don’t think that God has left you. Just the opposite; God is intimately engaged in your life to make you stronger in him and more Christlike.
Folks, from this point on, the book of Judges is going to get bloody. This is a dark period in the life of Israel. The Reformation Study Bible states that the judges were leaders with multiple roles. In foreign affairs, they were military deliverers. In national affairs, they were to be administrators of justice. In religious affairs, they were supposed to be model keepers of the covenant with God. You will notice that the Holy Spirit comes upon these judges for special empowerment (3:10; 6:34; 11:29; 13:25; 14:6, 19; 15:14). But the judges are not the heroes of this book; God is. In fact, we will see the judges consistently acknowledging that their victories actually belong to the Lord.
Beloved, keep on in your reading of God’s word. It will prove a great blessing to you!