Acts Devotionals

Judges of Israel

Relocating to a new country has many exciting aspects … one of which is that everything starts anew. Although, transferring money from one country to another has proved challenging. Mistakes have been made, slowing down the process. At the bank where an account was opened, some mistakes were made as to my name, as well as in obtaining a debit card. When one needs cash to survive, not having access to what is available, is extremely testing. However, this was Micky Mouse stuff compared to Israel! From the creating of the nation to their entry into the Promised Land took many, many years:

Ac 13:20 All this took about 450 years.

In their case this was largely related to their sin. Just think of it … from the time Jacob landed in Egypt with his sons and their families, throughout their growth and development period, to their struggle for freedom, adding a few wars into the picture, including the desert wondering with all the adult population that left Israel dying off, to their entry into the Land of Canaan … it took 450 years. My little discomfort with banks is literally insignificant to their trials, testing and suffering. Soon my accounts will be settled … in their case, only after the 450 years were the Israelites settled in their new home, Canaan. Now Paul moves forward some years and we read:

Ac 13:20 “After this, God gave them judges until the time of Samuel the prophet.”

1) The people know all these detail. At least, those born Jews ought to have known the details of Jewish history. Remember we said that Paul was ingenuous in the way he laid out his message of encouragement. Behind him is the Holy Spirit. To get to Messiah and the Gospel, he reminds them of their own political and religious history. They hear him as he speaks of the various steps God used to realize Genesis 3:15 leading up to Messiah. Also, don’t forget that they are now God’s people, living in their own place (Land), and living under God’s rule (Reign).

2) Living under God’s rule with judges.

Ac 13:20 “After this, God gave them judges until the time of Samuel the prophet.”

The Jews understood this phrase, but we might not.

(1) Firstly we must establish the origin of judges.

Dt 16:18 Appoint judges and officials for each of your tribes in every town the LORD your God is giving you, and they shall judge the people fairly. 19 Do not pervert justice or show partiality. Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous. 20 Follow justice and justice alone, so that you may live and possess the land the LORD your God is giving you.

God knew how fickle the people would be and how prone they would be to follow paganism and the idols of choice. As soon as this happens, people lose focus on God and His required morality and the behavior that follows. Judges would be men appointed from each tribe to “rule and lead” the people in a godly manner, ensuring godly conduct and interpersonal relationships as the people of God.

(2) Coupled to this they had a military position of leading people in war.

(3) Judging over legal cases was required as well.

(4) The Book of Judges is very helpful to understand the great need for judges.

Jdg 2:8 Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of a hundred and ten. 9 And they buried him in the land of his inheritance, at Timnath Heres in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash. 10 After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel. 11 Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD and served the Baals. 12 They forsook the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them. They provoked the LORD to anger 13 because they forsook him and served Baal and the Ashtoreths. 14 In his anger against Israel the LORD handed them over to raiders who plundered them. He sold them to their enemies all around, whom they were no longer able to resist. 15 Whenever Israel went out to fight, the hand of the LORD was against them to defeat them, just as he had sworn to them. They were in great distress.

Joshua dies and his generation too with the new generation growing up not knowing God, nor even the history of Israel and her God. They became idolaters, provoking God to anger who “sold” some Israelites to raiding parties, who become slaves. In the nations distress God raised up judges to rescue the people, but as soon as the judge died the people returned to their wickedness … refusing to leave their rebellion and sin and return to God. (Read Judges 2:16-19).

3) Each time warriors from a tribe landed up being sold into slavery, the people cried out to God for help. He raised up a judge to be a “political and military leader” to save them. Once he died the people returned to their wickedness. Is this not so true of us? We sin and wander from the Lord. He exercises discipline, punishing us in some way. We cry in agony for His help promising to live repentantly. Then, once all is well we descend into our rebellious ways again until God’s hand of discipline falls upon us again. Consider the theme of the Book of Judges:

Jdg 17:6 In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.


Jdg 21:25 In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.

4) God has raised up pastor teachers to be a type of “political, religious, military” leader over the souls of His people. Before this alarms you, let me quickly say that through a proper teaching of the Scriptures you ought to be better citizens of your country … “political”. Through healthy Biblical expositions you ought to be better citizens of God’s Kingdom in your local Church … “religious”. And then through good applicatory preaching you ought to be able to take your stand against the enemy of your soul … “military”. Beloved, why is it that our pastor preaches his heart out, trying to provide us with a healthy spiritual diet so that we don’t become like those Israelites and follow all sorts of idols? We hear him preach. We agree with what He says as he applies Scripture. We even talk about the great message to our friends … yet we do not apply what we are taught! Why are we like the Israelite tribes during the period of the judges? If you are a parent, would you raise your child not to know Jesus? The Israelite parents in Joshua’s age died with him leaving an offspring who never knew God. Who is to blame? For our prayer today, let’s pray the words of a famous hymn’s ending … “Come Thou fount of every blessing”.

My God … oh, to grace how great a debtor, daily I’m constrained to be. Let Thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to Thee. Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love—here’s my heart, oh take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above. Amen.

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