Turning to Judges

Judges 1:1–7 (ESV) — 1 After the death of Joshua, the people of Israel inquired of the Lord, “Who shall go up first for us against the Canaanites, to fight against them?” 2 The Lord said, “Judah shall go up; behold, I have given the land into his hand.” 3 And Judah said to Simeon his brother, “Come up with me into the territory allotted to me, that we may fight against the Canaanites. And I likewise will go with you into the territory allotted to you.” So Simeon went with him. 4 Then Judah went up and the Lord gave the Canaanites and the Perizzites into their hand, and they defeated 10,000 of them at Bezek. 5 They found Adoni-bezek at Bezek and fought against him and defeated the Canaanites and the Perizzites. 6 Adoni-bezek fled, but they pursued him and caught him and cut off his thumbs and his big toes. 7 And Adoni-bezek said, “Seventy kings with their thumbs and their big toes cut off used to pick up scraps under my table. As I have done, so God has repaid me.” And they brought him to Jerusalem, and he died there.

We are going to jump into a devotional study of the Book of Judges. I stress the word “devotional” in this because an in-depth study of this book, where no stone is left unturned and where we try to answer every question we may have about the text, is just not possible for the format of this page. My goal is to look at smaller passages each day and draw out one way we can think about how it applies to us today. Even so, this is a long book and will take some time. I hope you will stick with me.

Judges takes place after the initial conquest of Israel under the leadership of Joshua. The Lord had told the Israelites to go into the land, take possession of it, and completely eliminate the Canaanites from the land. The reason for this last command was because the Canaanites worshipped false gods and bowed down to idols. The Lord did not want their false worship to lead the Israelites astray. As we will read, the Israelites failed to do what God had commanded in this regard and, as a result, fell into false worship and turned away from God.

It may be easy for us to look down on the Israelites and wonder how they could have failed, but how often do we do the same thing? How often do we leave small sin and temptation in our lives that leads to bigger and bigger sin later? I would guess that we are not much different than those we read about in this book. What are some of the things that God is calling for you to eliminate from your life so you can serve him from a pure heart?

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