Dr. Joe Temple

Survey of the Book of Judges

In our study of the book of Joshua we discovered that Joshua, under the leadership of God, led the children of Israel into the promised land. The book closed with an account of the death of Joshua, indicating that a new period in the life of Israel was to begin. The book of Judges begins that new period.

Open your Bibles, please, to the book of Judges, because we are going to have a survey of the book, so to speak, but we will be looking at some Scriptures within the book, and recognize the beginning of the period of which we speak. If you will glance at the first verse:

Judges 1

1Now after the death of Joshua it came to pass, that the children of Israel asked the LORD, saying, Who shall go up for us against the Canaanites first, to fight against them?

We are interested right at the moment on the first phrase of the first verse:

Judges 1

1Now after the death of Joshua it came to pass…

What we are going to find here in the book of Judges is what is related to the history of the nation of Israel after the death of Joshua. We are going to discover that it emphasizes the religious and military struggles of the nation during a long period of settlement in the land. If this is all that we learn from the book of Judges, we would not learn any more than we would learn in an ordinary college course in the book of Judges. It would not be of great benefit and blessing to you, but I do trust that the Holy Spirit of God is going to minister the Word to us in such a fashion that our hearts will be blessed. But before we give Him the opportunity to do that, I think it will be necessary for us to get familiar with some of the facts of the book. That is what we plan to do in this lesson.

Judges as Defenders

We remind you something about the title of the book. In our English translation, it is “the Book of Judges.” Now this word “judges” comes from the Hebrew word shaphat , which refers not only to judges, but is translated as well by the word “deliverer” and the word “defender.” It is important for us to recognize that, because this is what the judges did for the children of Israel. We are prone to think of a judge as one who sits upon a judicial bench and hands down judicial decisions. Actually, these judges did very little of that. They did more of what is described in Psalm 82. Turn there with me and hear God as He reminds the rulers of Israel of what their obligation to the children of Israel actually was. Psalm 82, verse 1:

Psalm 82

1God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods.

This word “gods” begins with a small letter, and it means “rulers,” “kings” or “judges”–anybody in authority.

Psalm 82

1God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods.
2How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? Selah.

Here he is criticizing them for what they are doing. They are judging unjustly, and they are being pressed by wicked people who are able to offer them bribes. But in verse 3, he tells them what they ought to do.

Psalm 82

3Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.

You will notice the first statement, “defend the poor.” The word “defend” there is the translation of our Hebrew word shaphat , which is translated by “judges” in the book of Judges itself, so we recognize that a judge is a defender.

Judges as Deliverers

Turn, please, to the first book of Samuel, chapter 24, where you will notice an incident in the life of David that will illustrate the meaning of this word at which we are looking. You will remember that David was the annointed king of Israel, but Saul was unwilling to relinquish his place to him, and so warfare existed. Saul had fallen asleep in an unguarded state, and David had slipped over to his camp. He could have plunged his sword into Saul's breast, but he said, “I dare not lift a hand against the Lord's annointed.” May I pause there long enough to suggest to you, Beloved, that Saul was out of God's will. He was even usurping a place that God said that he had no business to have. He was doing everything that he ought not to do, but he was still God's annointed, and David said, “I will not lift my hand against the Lord's annointed.” Some of us need to be careful in our criticism of the men of God who are true to the Book. We oftentimes disagree with their approach to things. We often wonder why they do certain things that they do, but we need to be careful that we do not lift our hand against the Lord's annointed.

David explained to Saul how he could have taken his life, but he would not. He said in verse 15:

I Samuel 24

15The LORD therefore be judge, and judge between me and thee, and see, and plead my cause, and deliver me out of thine hand.

Notice the word “deliver” there. It is the verb form of our Hebrew word shaphat , which indicates what the meaning of a judge or the occupation of a judge actually is. A judge is a defender. He is a deliverer. So the book of Judges takes its title from these individuals who were raised up by God to defend and to deliver the nation of Israel.

Time Period of the Judges

We are always interested in just how long a certain book covers as far as time is concerned, and I have always been interested in the figures which men put together for evaluation of a subject like this. I think one reason I am interested in them is that I am such a poor mathematician, and I find it very difficult to know sometimes how they arrive at their figures. But historically the time that is suggested for the book of Judges is from 1380 BC to 1043 BC, and the commentaries that give you those dates have various reasons for giving you those particular dates. You will find that the commentaries vary in their estimation of the dates from two to three hundred years, but there is a sure date given to us for the book of Judges, and you will find it in the Acts of the Apostles. I suggest that you turn to this Scripture and mark it, and then you will have the time period that is covered by the book of Judges. You will find, if you begin to compute figures as some of these mathematicians have done, that there seems to be a discrepancy. Please be humble enough to admit that you are wrong in your computations and God is right, because His Word never fails; it is always correct.

In chapter 13 of the Acts of the Apostles, you find Paul's message at Antioch. They visited the synagogue; the Scripture had been read. According to custom, visiting brethren were invited to speak, and so in verse 16, we read:

Acts 13

16Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience.
17The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an high arm brought he them out of it.
18And about the time of forty years suffered he their manners in the wilderness.
19And when he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Chanaan, he divided their land to them by lot.

Now notice verse 20 particularly:

Acts 13

20And after that he gave unto them judges about the space of four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet.

Notice the period of time–about 450 years. If you are looking at the historical dates I've given you, you will see that there are around 337 years. The difference is explained in a variety of ways. Personally, I think it wise to accept the figure given here in Acts, chapter 13, and rest upon the fact that God knows what He is talking about. When there are slight discrepancies that we cannot understand, then we are willing to leave the matter with God.

Author of the Book

Who wrote the book of Judges? I would suggest to you the only thing that I know for sure and that is that I don't know. The author of the book of Judges is anonymous. There is some reason to believe that Samuel was the author of the book of Judges. As a matter of fact, in the Babylonian Talmud, they insist that Samuel was the author of the book of Judges. Of course, you realize that the Babylonian Talmud is not the inspired Word of God, so we cannot put any more credence in that statement than we can any secular literature which we might find in that particular period of time. Since we do not know who the author was, there is no harm in considering the possibility that Samuel could have been, but as I have said so often, when we have considered together facts like this, it really makes no difference who the human author was; the important thing for us to remember is that the Holy Spirit is the author.

Every book is built around a theme, and if you find the theme of any book in the Bible and keep that theme in mind as you study it, you will always be able to understand the book more clearly and you will be able to recognize what the Holy Spirit of God is talking about, because everything that He says and everything that He does will be built around that particular theme.

Theme of the Book

I want to give you the theme verse for the book of Judges. The theme verse is twice repeated in the book of Judges. You will find it first in Judges, chapter 17, verse 6:

Judges 17

6In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.

This is the theme verse for the book of Judges. “There was no king; every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” After the sad account of what happens when men do that which is right in their own eyes, lest you might forget what the theme of the book actually is, the theme verse is repeated as the last verse of the book. Read again :

Judges 21

25In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.

Keep in mind that when you were studying the book of Judges, you were studying about a period of time when every man did that which was right in his own eyes. I wonder if there is any need for me to suggest to you that the book of Judges, in the light of what I have just read, should have definite relevance to the age in which we live. There may have been, and I'm sure there were, other ages in our history when every man did that which was right in his own eyes, but I wonder if there has ever been a day when it is more pronounced than it is in this particular day. You obey the laws you want to obey; you disregard the laws that you don't like. Every man did that which was right in his own eyes.

Outline of the Book

I've suggested to you that I believe that every book of the Bible has an outline which the Holy Spirit has placed there. I believe this is true of every book in the Bible. Now any outline of any book that you might make will always be helpful to you, and you may make an outline of the book of Judges, which would be very helpful in your study. I would encourage you to do that, but I remind you that if you find the outline that is given in the Word itself, with the divisions properly marked by the Holy Spirit, then you will never make any error in your interpretation of the truth that you find within the book itself.

I want to begin by giving you a very general outline of the book of Judges. We will talk about these divisions individually in a little while, but at the moment, we would like for you to get fixed in your mind that actually the book of Judges is divided very plainly into three divisions.

I have used three words which begin with the same letter that you might have an aid to your memory. There is, first, the approach, found in chapter l, verse 1 through verse 4 of chapter 3. Then there is the apostasies, which are described in the paragraph which begins with verse 5 of chapter 3 and goes on through verse 31 of chapter 16, and then there is what I have referred to as the appendix, which begins with verse 1 of chapter 17 and goes through verse 25 of chapter 21. You will keep in mind that when I use the word “appendix,” I'm not speaking of something that the doctor would like to remove. I'm speaking of something that is added to the book after the body of truth has been presented.

When I speak of an appendix in this fashion, I do not suggest it is added as an afterthought. I do not suggest it was added by a later hand. I suggest it is information that is taken out of order chronologically and placed where it was placed that God might emphasize the whole truth of the book. Bible scholars have long been convinced that the book of Judges should include the book of Ruth, as far as its being complete is concerned. One reason is not only the subject matter which is contained in the book of Ruth, but in some of the more ancient manuscripts, the book of Ruth is included as part of the book of Judges. So that is something for you to think about as you study the book of Ruth. You will have it in its proper setting.

I would like for us to look at these three divisions of the book more in detail so you can see exactly why I say that this is the outline which the Holy Spirit has placed within the book itself. The first thing we would call to your attention is the approach to the book, found in the first two chapters and the first 4 verses of chapter 3, the reason for the apostasies, which are described in the book of Judges. After the great heritage which the children of Israel had, there must have been some reason the apostasies occurred as they did. There must be some reason these people departed from the faith.

Incomplete Obedience

The reasons are given here in what we have termed “the approach to the book.” The first reason I have designated, “incomplete obedience.” Now this phrase, “incomplete obedience,” I have designated because it refers to the fact that the children of Israel did not drive out the Canaanites from the land as God had commanded that they should do. So from chapter 1, verse 1, on through chapter 2, verse 5, you find constant reference to the fact that the children of Israel had not fully obeyed the Lord. They did not drive out the Canaanites.

I don't know that there will be any particular value in our reading this portion of the Word to you, because it will emphasize merely what we have said. We have added to the first reference chapter 2, verses 20-23, because the fact is still emphasized there, and then chapter 3, verses 1-4. The children of Israel did not drive out the Canaanites. They made tributaries of them; they made friends with them; they became associated with them. This incomplete obedience on the part of the Israelites was the reason that brought on the apostasies which are described in this book.

An Untaught Generation

There is another reason presented in the approach to the book, which brought on the apostasies. I have designated it “an untaught generation.” I think it might be wise for us to notice that portion of the Word because it seems so relevant to our particular day. You will notice in Judges, chapter 2, verses 6-7:

Judges 2

6And when Joshua had let the people go, the children of Israel went every man unto his inheritance to possess the land.
7And the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the LORD, that he did for Israel.

Everybody who saw what God had done served the Lord during the days of Joshua and during the days of the elders who outlived Joshua.

In verses 8 and 9:

Judges 2

8And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died, being an hundred and ten years old.
9And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnathheres, in the mount of Ephraim, on the north side of the hill Gaash.

Of course, you recognize this to be a recapitulation of what you found in the book of Joshua. Now in verse 10:

Judges 2

10And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers:

The old folk had all died. Now notice:

Judges 2

10…and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel.
11And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim:

Here is the second reason for the apostasies: An untaught generation arose and they did not know the wonderful works of God. They had seen no miracles in their lives. They did not know the Lord, and so it was easy for them to go off after false gods, to serve those false gods as they would.

Surely as I say that, our minds are in unison as we say that we are living where before our eyes there is a generation that has been raised on permissiveness, and that's the reason we are seeing the problems that we see today. There is a generation who, when they went to their colleges and universities, were greeted by professors who said to them, “If I can cause you to disbelieve everything that you have been taught in your Sunday Schools, I will feel like I have accomplished my purpose.” They have accomplished their purpose. There is a generation who does not know the Lord, and there is a generation, sad to say, who has seen very few miracles worked before their eyes. How tragic it is for children to be raised in a family where God never works any miracles. How tragic it is for children to be raised in a church that does not believe in prayer and does not believe that God is able to do exceeding, abundantly above all that we ask or think.

Mark what I say to you. You may be disappointed sometimes because your young people do not follow through every step of the way that it looked like they would when they were very young. You may be disappointed; you may be discouraged, but remember this: They never forget the Word, and they never forget the miracles. Only this week, a seventeen-year-old-boy called me on the phone. I went with his parents to the jail when he was twelve years of age because he was picked up for something or other. Seventeen years of age, traveling across the country and he doesn't know where he is going or what he is doing. He is part of the new generation, but he just had to come by Abilene in his course across the country. He just had to come to church here one more time. He just had to call me one more time and talk to me about the Lord. Now these things are not forgotten, so take courage in that, but my, how pathetic it is when there is a generation that is untaught. And if this last generation has been untaught, it may not be our fault; but if the Lord tarries, let's not let the next generation be untaught. Let's take up with our grandchildren where we may have failed with our own children and be sure that there is a generation who will know something about the miracle-working power of our God.

The Adoption of World Religion

There is a third reason in this approach. You may want to call these first two chapters the background of the book. There is another reason for these apostasies and I have been pleased to call it “the adoption of world religion.” I am using that term, “world religion,” very generally. I am talking about the fact that is indicated in the Scriptures which are before you that the nation of Israel adopted the religions of the world about them. Will you keep this in mind: They did not turn their backs on God. They did not say, “God, we are through with You.” They simply said, “God, we believe there is a little good in Baal. We believe there is a little good in Ashteroth, and we believe we are going to follow along with some of their sacrifices. It can't hurt anything, can it?”

Baal was the god of the mountains, which was supposed to have brought the rain, for they had prayed to God for rain, but God had withheld rain because of their disobedience. So they said, “God, we will pray to You, but it won't hurt to throw in a little extra prayer to Baal, too.” That is the reason there was such a contest between Elijah and the followers of Baal on Mt. Carmel. Baal was the heathen god of rain. Ashteroth was the heathen goddess of fertility. She was the one who made things grow. God had told them that if they stayed in the land and were obedient to Him that their crops would be so good that they would hardly finish harvesting one crop until it was time to reap another crop. But they had disobeyed, and so their crops were not growing, and they said, “Well, let's pray to God about it, but let's also do something else. Let's pray to these other gods and see what actually happens.” So you see, it wasn't a case of their forsaking the Lord; it was a case of their adding to what they already had.

Here again, you should be able to see a parallel because in the present ecumenical movement that is sweeping this world, you're encouraged to take the new things you learn into the church where you have been reared. Don't forsake it. Don't say it is old-fashioned. Don't say that it is silly and fundamental. You stay there and enlighten them. Liberalism, which at one time could be fought with unsheathed swords out in the open, cannot be fought that way any more because it has infiltrated the church that is true to the Lord Jesus Christ.

You see, there will be much for us to learn in the book of Judges. It should be of real blessing to us.

Disobedience as a Result of Apostasy

Now we said the second division of the book might be labeled by the word “apostasies.” Here you will have the oportunity of seeing the divisions which I believe have been placed there by the Holy Spirit of God, because the first key phrase in relation to the apostasy is, “and the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord.” You find this phrase in verse 7 of chapter 3. We told you that the background is in goes chapter 3, verse 5, where we read:

Judges 3

5And the children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, Hittites, and Amorites, and Perizzites, and Hivites, and Jebusites:
6And they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons, and served their gods.

Notice verse 7. You might want to mark it in your Bible and familiarize yourself with the phrase, because it is the Holy Spirit's mark of distinction in the book.

Judges 3

7And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD…

Then it goes on to tell what they did. If you will glance down at verse 12, of chapter 3, you will see the phrase again:

Judges 3

12And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD…

And then over in chapter 4, verse 1:

Judges 4

1And the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD, when Ehud was dead.

In verse 1 of chapter 6:

Judges 6

1And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD…

In verse 6 of chapter 10, you find the same verse again.

Judges 10

6And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD…

In verse 1 of chapter 13:

Judges 13

1And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD…

I say to you that this phrase, oft repeated, is the Holy Spirit's division of the book because this phrase introduces an apostasy and the subsequent discipline of God. We are not going to name the particular apostasy today because they are all somewhat similar, but when they did evil the first time, God put them under the control of Mesopotamia. The second time He disciplined them with the nation of Moab; the third time with the nation of Canaan; the fourth time, with the nation of Midian; the fifth time, with the nation of the Philistines and the Ammonites together. The sixth time He disciplined them with the nation of the Philistines. Now, the length of time that they tarried under the dominion of these foreign nations depended upon the length of time it took them to recognize their evil–their sin–confess it, and get right with God.

God never likes to discipline people but when He has to, He has to, and His hand will rest heavily until the sin is confessed and the situation is corrected. So we find that the first disciplinary action on the part of God because of the first apostasy lasted eight years. The next one lasted eighteen years. The next one lasted twenty years. The next one lasted seven. The next one lasted eighteen. The next one lasted forty years. When I look at those figures of years, I marvel at how hard-headed and rebellious people can be against God, what they will do to have their own way and leave God out of their lives.

Let me emphasize this phrase again: “And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord,” is the key phrase whereby you will be able to recognize the outline which the Holy Spirit has placed in the book.

God's Appointment of Judges

There is a second key phrase that we would like to draw to your attention which emphasizes the outline of the Holy Spirit. It reads, “And when the children of Israel cried unto the Lord…” My, my, we looked at that list before. Seven years, I believe, was the shortest amount of time, wasn't it? Seven years of rebellion against God, before they cried unto the Lord, and the longest time was forty years. But oh, how good our God is. When they cried unto the Lord, what did He do? He raised up judges for them. You will find the phrase, “When the children of Israel cried unto the Lord,” in the following verses: chapter 3, verse 9; chapter 3, verse 15; chapter 4, verse 3; in chapter 6, verse 6.

Time will not permit us to turn there and read, but as you do, you will find them making the same statement, practically speaking. The Lord heard the cry of the children of Israel, and He answered their cry. He raised up unto them judges. There was Othniel first, and when Othniel was raised up, the land had rest, the Scripture says, for forty years. They went back into apostasy, they cried out to God and God raised up a man by the name of Ehud, and another man by the name of Shamgar, and they delivered the children of Israel and the land had rest eighty years. Then they went off into apostasy again, but they came to the place where they cried unto the Lord, and the Lord raised up–unusually so, but in one of the rare instances where He did–a woman by the name of Deborah and a man by the name of Barak, and when they delivered the children of Israel, the land had rest forty years. Off into apostasy they went again, but they cried unto the Lord, and this time the Lord raised up several judges for them. He raised up Gideon; He raised up Tola; He raised up Jair as judges to deliver the children of Israel. Under Gideon, they had rest forty years. Under Tola, they had rest twenty-three years. Under Jair, they had rest twenty-two years.

You are probably wondering why I'm leaving out the name of Abimelech. The reason I left him out is so that I could emphasize that he was not a judge whom God raised up. He was a man who, after Gideon's death, went to his own people in Shechem and said, “Surely you don't want the descendants of Gideon telling you what to do. Why don't you put me on the throne?”, and for a brief period of three years, in open rebellion against God, not in alliances with enemies, but among themselves, Abimelech arose.

One of the most interesting parables in the Word of God comes from the story of Abimelech, at which we will be looking by and by, as the Lord makes it possible for us to continue our study.

We remind you, that in chapter 10, verse 10, the children of Israel cried unto the Lord again, and the Lord heard them and raised up first a judge by the name of Jephthah who ruled six years. Then there was one by the name of Ibzan, who ruled seven years. There was one by the name of Elon who ruled ten years. There was one by the name of Abdon who ruled eight years. Now you understand that God delivered them out of the dilemma in which they found themselves through Jephthah, and then as the land had rest, these other judges succeeded Jephthah and led the children of Israel in pathways of peace.

If you have followed the book of Judges very carefully, you know that some of these individuals are mere names. There are not many very interesting stories connected with them, but as I look at Jephthah, I think of a most interesting story connected with him. This is the man who said to God, “If you will give the victory, I'm going to make you a promise. The first thing that meets my eyes when I return home, I will give to you.” And who do you suppose it was who ran out with her arms open to greet her daddy? The daughter that he loved more than he loved his own life, but he kept his vow. We will talk about it when we get there.

You probably noticed that we do not have any Scripture reference that indicates when the children of Israel cried unto God again, because after Abdon died, they went into apostasy, and God delivered them into the hands of the Philistines for forty years. There is no record that they cried unto the Lord for deliverance, but here is an amazing thing to me: The Scripture tells us that before we cry, He answers, and while we are yet speaking, He answers; and though there is no place where they cried unto God, God had to keep His word. They were His people, and so He raised up Samson to deliver the children of Israel.

My, there are some interesting truths about this man. You know him well. You have studied about him in Sunday School, and you have seen him on the movie screen as well as they can portray him; but the thing that interests me about this man, Samson, is what God did with him. The Lord has been teaching me some things about him, and I just mention this to whet your appetite. We will not talk about it, but do you know that Samson was going to go off with a worldly girl and his folks got all upset about it and said, “This isn't right; this isn't the way we raised you. This isn't what we intended for you.” God said to them, in so many words, “It isn't what you intended, but it is in My plan. It's in My plan because I have something in mind to do through this alliance. You didn't plan it that way, but I did.”

When I saw that, it just bowled me over, and I have been doing some studying and meditating and I have been asking the Lord, “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things out of Thy law.” Now, I don't want to leave you with the impression that God endorses sin. That's not what I'm going to tell you when the time comes, but I do want to share with you some things that I have learned–that God sometimes does have plans that He doesn't let us in on, and they may not look like God's plans. They may even look like the Devil is working, and he is. We may throw up our hands in despair, and say, “Why did this have to happen?” And if God spoke to our hearts as He did to people in that day, we might hear Him say, “No, you didn't plan it, but it is coming as no surprise to Me. It's part of my overall plan for what I have in mind.” My, what a comfort that was to my heart when I discovered it! We will be saying more about it when the time comes, but as I say, that is just to whet your appetite.

Appendix of the Book

We now want to mention the third division of the book, the appendix. Now keep in mind what I said. The appendix is not something to be removed; it is something to which you should give very close attention, because the Holy Spirit is pleased to take certain truths that would come chronologically somewhere else in the book and put them all together in one place so that the very impact of them would jar you into reality. If He took these things, such as Micah's idolatry, which is described in chapters 17-18, and put it up there about chapters 6 or 7, there is so much idolatry up there, it wouldn't have made any impression upon you, so He put it all by itself so He could drive home a point.

The other thing that He brought to our attention, out of chronological order but for the sake of importance, is what I have described as “war on Benjamin.” I believe that we will suggest to you that this is an indication of how the book begins and how it ends. Will you look at the first verse of chapter 1:

Judges 1

1Now after the death of Joshua it came to pass, that the children of Israel asked the LORD, saying, Who shall go up for us against the Canaanites first, to fight against them?

What was their question? “Lord, who shall lead us against our enemies on the outside?” What do you find over here at the very end of the book? You find the children of Israel asking another question. What is the question? Not “Lord, who shall lead us against our enemies?”, but, “Who shall lead us against the children of Benjamin?” They began walking in the Spirit, and they ended walking in the flesh over there in chapter 19 of the book.

God's Anger and God's Forgiveness

In closing, may I suggest to you one thing I feel I must say. I had some other things I wanted to talk with you about–some spiritual values in the book–but one of them we just must leave with you to finish off the book, so to speak. What was the result of all of these apostasies into which the children of Israel went? Well, you have already seen it, but we want to emphasize it. First, there was the anger of the Lord. Will you go back to Judges, chapter 2, and notice in verse 14:

Judges 2

14And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and he delivered them into the hands of spoilers that spoiled them, and he sold them into the hands of their enemies round about, so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies.
15Whithersoever they went out, the hand of the LORD was against them for evil, as the LORD had said, and as the LORD had sworn unto them: and they were greatly distressed.

What was the result of their apostasy? The anger of the Lord. You know many people stop there, and all they talk about in relation to sin and disobedience is the anger of the Lord, how angry the Lord is, but remember this: There was not only the anger of the Lord, there was the mercy of the Lord indicated as well. Glance at the same chapter and notice in verse 16:

Judges 2

16Nevertheless [even though He was angry] the LORD raised up judges, which delivered them out of the hand of those that spoiled them.

No matter how great their disobedience, when the cry of the humble heart came to God, He heard. May I encourage your hearts by saying that God never turns a deaf ear to a humble and a contrite heart. I had a letter this week from a dear soul who said, “I feel so far away from God. I've confessed my sin. I 've begged for forgiveness, but I feel so far away.” How I wish that I could get across to that precious soul that she doesn't need to feel that way. God heard her the moment that she whispered that first little cry, whatever it was. “Lord, I'm sorry. Lord, I repent.” I don't think God is too concerned about the words you use. Whatever the cry of her heart was, God heard her. She doesn't need to feel far away from God. Think how angry God was with the children of Israel; nevertheless, the moment they cried, He heard and forgave them.

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Abilene Bible Church
Dr. Daiqing Yuan Tim Temple Dr. Joe Temple
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