At the end of the Book of Joshua, the people of Israel boldly declared that they would remain faithful to the Lord their God and obey all his commandments. The Israelites pledge their committment to their covenant relationship with God. However, after the death of Joshua, the national and spiritual life of Israel began to rapidly spiral downward into chaos and apostasy. We are told in chapter two of Judges that the generation that had crossed over the Jordon River had died and "there arose another generation after them that did not know the Lord or the word that he had done for Israel" (2.10). In response to the apostasy of the Israelites, the Lord raised up judges who would provide temporary leadership during times of particular distress. Throughout the narrative of Judges we find the same cycle repeated over and over again:
This period in the life of Israel is one of transition between the leadership of Moses/Joshua and the era of kings, which will begin in the Book of First Samuel. In many ways, the Book of Judges demonstrates Israel's need for a king. Without a central source of leadership, the people consistantly strayed from the Lord and his commandments. Although the various judges were able bring about sporadic victories, the people of Israel fell deeper and deeper into sin and idolatry.
As we read the Book of Judges, it is important that we continue to recognize God's faithfulness to his covenant with Israel. In Judges 2.1, the Lord emphatically declares, "I will never break my covenant with you." Even when Israel utterly denies their committment to the Lord and commits idolatry, the Lord remains faithful to his promise. As Christians, we can look back at this period and see God's hand at work. We can see God preserving a faithful remnant among his people, for it is through the people of Israel that God will raise up the Savior. God is preparing the way!
NOTE: I am creating a Photo Gallery where I will be posting pictures and maps that relate to the readings. There is a link in the upper left hand corner of the page.