JUDGES - INTRODUCTION
A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim
2000 James Melough
book records the history of Israel from the death of Joshua until the coming of Saul,
and apart from the few short-lived victories achieved under the Judges (12 men and
one woman), the record is one of defeat for Israel. As Scofield puts it, it is one of “rebellion, retribution,
repentance, and restoration.”
events cover approximately 400 years, scholars differing considerably as to the exact
beginning and end of the period, so that approximate dates only can be given, c.1400
- 1100 BC
author is generally assumed to be Samuel.
a result of the seven-year campaign under the leadership of Joshua the whole of
Canaan had been potentially subdued, it remaining only for each tribe to exterminate
the original inhabitants from its allotted portion. The sorry record is of their failure to do this, and of their
choosing instead in many instances to put the enemy to tribute, or to leave them in
undisputed possession of what God, under Joshua, had given Israel, and commanded them
to possess. This was flagrant
disobedience, soon compounded by their intermarrying with the Canaanites, and bowing
down to their gods, the result being that often they themselves became the servants
of the enemy they ought to have exterminated.
retribution frequently took the form of God’s delivering His disobedient people
into the hand of the enemy, whose tyranny caused Israel to cry out to Him for
deliverance. In response to that cry He
raised up deliverers in the form of the Judges, through whom He broke the yoke of the
oppressor; but, as noted already, the history is a dreary repetition of this cycle of
rebellion, retribution, repentance, recovery, and renewed rebellion.
is to be noted also that there is clear evidence that the rule of some of the Judges
overlapped, and that the deliverances were almost invariably local rather than
picture is generally recognized as being simply the symbolic history of the
professing Church, whose history has followed exactly the same pattern.
The victory accomplished by the true Joshua at Calvary has set before the
Church the same potential power to overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil, as
Joshua’s conquest of Canaan set before Israel the power to overcome the inhabitants
of that land. But she has simply
repeated the cycle that makes her history a repetition of Israel’s.
record has been preserved, however, to instruct us, Israel’s chastisements being
God’s warnings to us that the same results must attend our own disobedience; the
deliverances and victories assuring us that we, through obedience, may enjoy the same
results in our conflict with the spiritual foes against whom we wrestle (Eph 6:12),
and who are symbolized in the Canaanite tribes who opposed Israel.
Not the least of those foes is the flesh within us, its varied characteristics
being represented by the assorted enemy tribes occupying Canaan.
very necessary lesson will have been missed if we fail to read another clear
statement in the history of the Judges. To
be looking for the world to be subdued by the Gospel during this present age, or to
expect revival in the Church world wide, is an idle dream that simply declares our
failure to understand the clear teaching of Scripture.
There was no recovery for Israel nationally until after the reign of Saul, and
the coming of David, nor will there be victory for the Church at large.
Her expectation is, not of overcoming the world, but of being caught up to
meet the Lord in the air (1 Thes 4:16-18). Shortly
after that catching up to heaven (the rapture of the Church), the seven-year
Tribulation era will begin, in which the reign of the beast will correspond to the
evil reign of Saul (who is himself a figure or type of the Tribulation age beast
ruler), and as his reign was followed by that of David, who while he lived passed the
scepter to his son Solomon, so will the reign of the beast be followed by that of the
Lord Jesus Christ, of whom David and Solomon are types, David representing Him in
rejection and suffering; Solomon representing Him in millennial power and glory.
deliverances granted Israel in response to repentance, in the days of the Judges,
were local, and of short duration. The
history of the professing Church during the past 2000 years has been the sad
confirmation that the one history is but a repetition of the other: the Church’s
recoveries have also been local, and of short duration.
days of the Judges ended with the enemy in control, and Israel divided, the Divine
record being that, “In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did that
which was right in his own eyes.” He
is spiritually blind who fails to see that this is also the description of the days
we are living in. As Israel’s national
deliverance came only when the usurper Saul was dead, and David was seated on the
throne, so will there be victory for the Church, and for the believing remnant of
Israel, only after the Tribulation-age beast ruler is dead, and the scepter of earth
rests in the hand of Christ. Then, and
only then, will Israel - the believing remnant that will emerge from the Tribulation
- rule over the earth, a literal descendant of David sitting on the throne in the
earthly Jerusalem, while the Lord Jesus Christ, and the resurrected saints with Him,
rule over the earth from the heavenly Jerusalem.
The government of the millennial earth will be what it was in the days of
David and Solomon: a theocracy.
concluding this very brief introduction we might note that as Ephesians is generally
accepted as the NT counterpart of Joshua, so is 2 Timothy viewed by many as the NT
complement of Judges.