The book of Judges is a cautionary tale of what happens when God’s people neglect to train their children in the ways of the Lord. Moses and Joshua had given the Israelites a strong foundation for propagating the faith. They instructed them how to teach the next generation. They provided meaningful rituals like the Passover. This was an opportunity each year to recount the Hebrews’ deliverance from slavery in Egypt.
But in the flood of prosperity made possible by being in the Promised Land of Canaan, the parents of Israel forgot their duty. Perhaps they were too busy going to the cabin for the weekend or to soccer tournaments against the Philistines. Whatever the reason, a generation grew up that did not know the Lord. Because they were ignorant of God’s commands they made up their own morality. They thought that casual sex was fine because that’s what the Canaanites did as part of their worship of Baal. They thought it was all right to have little idols in their homes because all the people around them had them. The result is that the book of Judges makes discouraging reading. You certainly don’t want to read the last four chapters before you go to bed at night, unless you want nightmares.
The writer, who some believe was Samuel, explains the problem. “There was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” It is a picture of our own country today. However, there is reason for hope because Judges isn’t the end of the story. Samuel comes on the scene as he anoints David. David’s reign was the greatest days in Israel’s history. Europe today is filled with countries that once were spiritually alive in the Reformation but now their churches are empty. But this doesn’t need to be the end of the story. God can raise up other Davids, like Wesley and Whitefield, Edwards, Spurgeon, Moody, and Billy Graham.
So Judges shows us the importance of training our children in the ways of God and also of calling on God to bring renewal to our own land.
C. John Steer