After the high of Joshua, we enter a downward spiral in the book of Judges. For those following the Bible Reading Plan there are some dark days ahead in in the book of Judges. In the first chapter the phrase "did not drive out" is repeated time and again and Israel failed to drive out their enemies, their obedience and trust of the Lord was slipping. They started looking at the might of their enemies and stopped looking at the power of God. As Tim Keller puts it "God sees any failure to obey is a failure to remember." At the beginning of chapter 2 God reminds them of his power and might - he brought them out of Egypt - remember the plagues and the crossing of the Re Sea - pretty powerful stuff - so what are a few iron chariots to God? But like us, they got easily troubled because they were looking down rather than up.
So then God hands them over to their enemies, and then they cry out to the Lord and he raises up a judge (a leader/rescuer). There is deliverance and peace for a time, until the cycle continues like this:
The book of Judges contains a number of these cycles getting worse and worse each time - but there's also some great and very exciting rescues!
The book ends with a very depressing summary - "In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes."
We're left longing for the perfect king who can bring perfect deliverance. Each of the judges is a type of Christ - rescuing God's people using unusual means, but each of them fall short and the deliverance is only temporary. We're left longing for the king of kings. This week (Easter) is a great week to reflect on our need for him and rejoice in how he brought deliverance for us.