Genesis ends with an abrupt halt. The Israelites were in Egypt. The promise for Abraham's seed had been re-emphasized for four generations. Now they are stuck. As Exodus begins there is a new hope. Moses emerges to lead them out of Egypt into the promised land. The Law is given to the people (Leviticus) and they are headed into the Promised Land! But... then we see in Numbers that this hope was cut short. The spies gave a bad report. Aaron dies. Moses is refused entrance into Canaan. Moses gives his last few speeches (Deuteronomy) before he dies. Hope seems lost again.
What amazes me is that up to the book of Joshua... God is faithful. God had certainly been at work the entire time from Ur to Canaan. Joshua leads the people in conquest after glorious conquest. The Israelite army toppled cities, defeated their enemies, slew giants, and finally saw the providence of God in its fullness. Over the previous few centuries, the Lord identified His seed and cultivated a nation for Himself. This was a nation of people that would be sanctified (singled out/set apart) not just to receive special blessings as God’s chosen nation, but would be charged to be a blessing in return. This is where we find the book of Judges.
It is shocking that through a series of dysfunctional families, incest, murder, genocide, inter-generational conflicts, years of famine, and foreign captivity, that God felt them to be ready for relative peace in Canaan. God proved His faithfulness to preserve His people. He keeps His promises. He delivers His holy nation again and again. After their deliverance from bondage, the people of Israel were ready to receive the precepts of a sovereign God. Would they have peace? Or would even peace come at a price?
When I read Judges I have to remind myself that they people needed to bless other nations. Having peace does not mean they would be a passive nation. In fact, in order to keep spiritual peace, there is often a physical toll. Standing up for God, His word, and resting on His promises comes with a price. They had to fight battles, both physical and spiritual to keep the Promised Land. Judges shows how they failed. They trusted in themselves. They each did what was right in their own eyes. They failed miserably. One goals of reading the Bible is to ensure these events do not happen again. May our nation rise up and take note of our blessings and the burden of freedom. It is not free and it is not everlasting. Let's honor our God and our nation by standing for freedom.
You are loved.
Dr. Ray Reynolds
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