JUDGES Chapter 3
Judges is not an easy book to teach on as there is much darkness and turning from G-d that one begins to wonder why G-d does not just leave the Israelites to their own ways. But we can learn from this, that G-d never gives up or breaks the Covenant He has made with His people. He loves His people and is a Father to them. He disciplines them according to their sin so that they will turn back to him. From this we can also learn about what G-d has done for each one of us.
The Book of Judges is also packed with powerful expressions and principles. There is hope in Judges but it is an implied hope; a hope for a better future after a long and catastrophic time of people doing what is right in their own eyes and therefore by definition being out of the will of God at their own choice. The hope is for revival and regeneration; the hope is for God’s people to awaken from their self-imposed delusions.
In Judges chapter 3 we will learn about 3 Shofetim
- We will see how they are full of imperfections but G-d uses them to help save Israel.
- We will see that even when the followers of the G-d of Israel stray from G-d that the L-rd not only leaves the door open for their return but that G-d pursues them. The L-rd loves His people so much that He has pity on them even when they have turned their backs on Him and offer up to Him the gifts from their worship to other gods.
- They also behave as a people without shame in adulterous affairs. What a hope we have if G-d saves and forgives when we His people repent,
As we start chapter three we see that the Israelites are going to have to learn about war as those living in Canaan did not know about the Holy wars that their ancestors fought when they first came into the land. Also due to disobedience the Israelites are going to be tested to see that they follow G-d's instructions. We do need to remember that when the Israelites first entered the land had, they needed to learn one of the big lessons which was that they could not do it in their own strength. They had to listen to G-d and do it His way.
We are given the names of the people groups that G-d allowed to stay in the land of Israel. They number five chiefs of the Philistines and all the Canaanites, Sidonians and the Hivites. We are then told that this was done to see if the Israelites would pay attention to the ordinances (Torah
) of G-d given to them through Moses. We are told that the Israelite men married the women from the surrounding tribes and the men would also give their daughters as wives to the men of the surrounding tribes. Thus they fell into idolatry by serving the surrounding gods especially Baal and Ashtarte. We need to remember that to the Israelites when they saw other people serving an idol they could not fully comprehend that they did not have to pray to an idol or through an idol. How often do we feel that the grass is greener on the other side? We are no different to the Israelites.
Once again the Israelites turned from G-d and became caught up in idolatry. They had forgotten the Covenant G-d had made with them and so the L-rd used the pagan nations around them to discipline them. How humiliating it must have been as the conquerors were now the people who were conquered. We now see a pattern starting with disobedience, discipline, despair and then deliverance but within a number of years they would fall back into disobedience and start the cycle anew. The Hebrew is interesting as it literally says ”His nose became hot”. A wonderful metaphor for anger. This is a righteous anger from G-d and so punishment is fully justified. As the Israelites acted like pagans so G-d uses pagan nations to discipline his own people. Yet we see a wonderful picture of G-d's jealous love for Israel as He is not going to allow them to serve Baal. He refuses to let go and He will not allow the people to feel comfortable in their sin. The Israelites are given over into the hands of Cushan-Rishathaim King of Mesopotamia. The exact meaning of “Cushan– Rishathaim
" is not certain but can be translated as “dark one of double evil” or “Cushan of double wickedness”. Mesopotamia is the land between the Tigris and Euphrates.
What can we learn from this?
Sometimes when we do not follow the ways of G-d, G-d gives us what we want if we keep rebelling against Him G-d . In verse 9 The Israelites arrived at that point of crying out to G-d. The Hebrew word used for “cried” is “za'ak
” and this refers to a cry of distress in response to suffering asking G-d to intervene. We do not read here that Israel repented. We only read that they cried out to G-d and He responded to their misery. The wording is very similar to the words used in Exodus 2:24 -25. G-d raised up a Deliverer the Hebrew word used “yasha
” which translates as “to save, to help, to deliver, to defend.” G-d uses ordinary people through whom He chooses to do extraordinary things. This man is Othniel (G-d is might) the son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother. He came from a very solid family. His father in-law and Uncle was Caleb who would have taught him how to trust and follow G-d. He had fought the giants in Judges 1:13. He is about to become the first Judge of Israel. We read in verse 10 that the Spirit of G-d in other words the Holy Spirit came upon him and he judged Israel. He went to war and he won the battles against Cushan-Rishathaim King of Mesopotamia. Othniel then exercised his authority in managing the affairs of Israel for the next forty years. The land had rest, the Hebrew word used here is “shakat
” which means to be still, undisturbed, a state of tranquillity, a place of safety a security of peace. We are told that after 40 years Othniel died. Note that forty in Hebrew is a time of testing, trial or probation. There are many examples of the number 40, 40 days, 40nights. The prophet Ezekiel lay on his side for 40 days. The number forty can also represent a generation. See how many times you can find the number 40 mentioned. I understand that it is mentioned a 146 times in Scripture
We learn from this section of Chapter 3 that our Father in Heaven loves us, that He disciplines us and does answer prayer even when we have turned from Him. Are we prepared to give up the idols in our lives which could be money, fast cars, fancy, fancy home, football, etc? I am not saying that having money, fast cars or a fancy home is wrong; it is what we do with it that can become the idol.
Next time we will look at the rest of chapter 3.