The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), April 3
Man is created in the image of God. Since the Fall, however, His image in man is marred by sin. Sin in the heart directs man to resist God’s merciful overtures. Sin reigns in culture as sinful people collectively resist God’s grace and do what is right in their own eyes. The grace of God gives man time to repent and the goodness of God allows oppression to occur to get man’s attention.
The Judges Era demonstrates both sin in the heart and sin in culture as God’s people live in oppression for years. Seven cycles of sin occur during this 350 years in Israel’s history and each cycle records a lengthy time of oppression (7, 8, 20, 18 (twice), and 40 years).
During one of these cycles Israel does evil in the sight of the LORD. They serve the gods of the peoples around them and totally forsake the LORD. The LORD allows the Philistines and Ammonites to shatter and crush them for 18 years. Finally, Israel cries out to the LORD, confess their sin, “We have sinned. Do with us whatever you think best, but please rescue us now” (Judges 10:15-16). They rid themselves of the foreign gods among them and serve the LORD. In response to Israel’s repentance, the Spirit of the LORD comes upon Jephthah, a son of Gilead and a prostitute, and he delivers Israel from the hand of the Ammonites.
Each generation fails to learn from the failure of the preceding generation and the cycle begins again. Sadly, oppression intensifies before Israel pleads for mercy, much like an overwhelmed and defeated army waves the white flag of surrender.
What does this repetition of oppression of rebellion during the Judges Era reveal about God and man?
- God will let His people go as far as they wish to go.
- Rebellion and pride are rooted deeply in the heart; it takes many years of oppression before those roots are loosened.
- Those who refuse to follow the LORD joyfully choose rather to live under oppression.
- When God’s people compromise with sin they will be as bad, if not worse, than the people around them.
- God is always ready to raise up a deliver when His people cry out in repentance.
- The old adage is still true, “Sin takes you further than you want to go, keeps you longer than you want to stay, and costs more than you want to pay.”
Questions from today’s reading (Judges 9:22-11:28):
How does the LORD deal with Abimelech regarding his murder of his brothers? What does this reveal about God?
What does Jephthah’s family life reveal about family life during the Judges Era?
What was Jephthah’s view of God? Where did he obtain that view? What does this reveal about Bible literacy?