When they cried out to the LORD, he raised up for them a deliverer, Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother, who saved them.
The book of Judges is a roller coaster read as the people, as we noted yesterday, ‘did as they saw fit’ with disastrous results. The down-side of the roller coaster. But each time this happened and the people cried to the LORD in their trouble he raised up a Judge to save them. The up-side!
Our English usage tells us that a Judge in literally one who sits in judgment in a court of law but the usage in the Book of Judges has the meaning of ‘one who puts things right’ which is a slightly different focus.
The message of the book is that man cannot sideline God with impunity and that to do so is to be abandoned by him until such time as the situation becomes more than can be borne and there is repentance and a plea for mercy.
As indicated, this happened time and again and God’s rescue of his people makes glorious reading but each Judge had a finite life span and on the Judge’s death the people again when whoring after false gods.
After the death of the last and perhaps the most famous Judge namely Samson things got worse ad worse and the final chapters of the book are almost too explicit to read.
What are we to learn from this?
It is all too easy to write it off as being Old Testament; long ago; unsophisticated people from a primitive culture. But we do that at our peril, for here we have a clear warning of the results of sidelining God, of doing what we see fit!
Paul writes these words to the Galatian church.
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Galatians 6.7-8
There is a real sense in which the people of Israel in the time of the Judges ‘mocked God’ yet time and time again he had mercy on them saving them from their enemies.
We live post the Cross of Christ where God has shown his mercy and grace but that mercy and grace will not last for ever. The time is coming, it may be near, it may be far, we simply do not know, when God will call all to account. But till that day comes we are living in the Day of Salvation
2 Corinthians 6.2.
What gift of grace that is! Let us be sure that we know it for ourselves and live it out to the glory of God.