New Leaders for New Times

KEY VERSE: “When the Lord raised them up judges, then the Lord was with the judge.” —Judges 2:18

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Judges 2:6,7, 11-19

AFTER Moses died, God appointed Joshua in his stead. God said, “There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee; I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Be strong and of good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them.” (Josh. 1:5,6) Joshua was faithful to his charge, and the children of Israel were obedient and therefore the nation was blessed. God dealt with his people under a theocratic type of government; that is, God was the guiding force directing the affairs of the people through his earthly representative, Joshua.

After Joshua died, the Lord apparently continued for a time to bless Israel under the leadership of the elders who were alive and had witnessed the mighty works of the Lord on behalf of Israel. “Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that overlived Joshua, and which had known all the works of the Lord, that he had done for Israel.”—Josh. 24:31

In due time the children of Israel asked the Lord, saying, “Who shall go up for us against the Canaanites? … And the Lord said, Judah shall go up; behold, I have delivered the land into his hand.” (Judg. 1:1,2) So Judah became a leader of Israel. But the account states that the people were disobedient, and in fact very wicked, for they mingled with the heathen, worshiped their gods, and intermarried with them. We read in the account, “The children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served Baalim. And they forsook the Lord, and served Baal and Ashtaroth. And 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.”—Judg. 2:11,13,14

When the Lord abandoned them, they fell prey to their enemies who enslaved them and abused them. But the Lord heard their cry for relief time after time and “the Lord raised up judges, which delivered them out of the hand of those that spoiled them.” (Judg. 2:16) The term ‘judge’, as used here, does not have the same meaning as we in this day attribute to the word. In Bible usage it means ‘to govern, to vindicate or punish’. These men were representatives of the Lord, and they governed by the power of God. We read, “When the Lord raised them up judges, then the Lord was with the judge, and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge: for it repented the Lord because of their groanings by reason of them that oppressed them and vexed them.”—Judg. 2:18

During this very dark period of Israel’s existence between Joshua and Samuel, thirteen judges are named in the Scriptures, this over a period of approximately 450 years. Finally, when the Prophet Samuel was an old man, he appointed his sons judges over Israel. But they “walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment. Then the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel … and said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.”—I Sam. 8:1-5

This request by the children of Israel was difficult for Samuel to accept, for he felt that he had been rejected. The account reads, “But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the Lord. And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them. According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee.” (Judg. 8:6-8) Then the Lord gave Samuel instructions how to select a king for the nation of Israel.

The performance of Israel under kings was no better than under judges, which the Apostle Paul tells us illustrates the point that imperfect man cannot keep God’s perfect law.—Rom. 3:19

Dawn Bible Students Association
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