The book of Judges opens to us one of the darkest times of man’s history. The people of God should have been celebrating victories and conquering a new land. Judges opens the window into the heart of mankind, and the picture is not pretty.

Seven times in the book the statement is made “every man did that which was right in his own eyes”. The result of that environment was catastrophic. It further emphasis that there was no King in those days. So every man was left to follow his own decisions.

This period of time lasted 450 years. This period of time was as long as the entire duration of the monarchy. Because there is one book of Judges, and six books of the Kings (Samuel, Kings, Chronicles), it is natural to feel like the Kings were a longer period of time. Both of these time periods were 450 years. Why?

God gave man 450 years to reveal what happens when man does that which is right in his own eyes. The result of that time period is so abhorrent and tragic, we scarce can comprehend it. The last five chapters of Judges are as bad and ugly as any period of history, any place on the globe. From this experiment and experience we can truly agree with God that it is not in man to direct his steps.

It might help to think of these Judges as freedom fighters. These judges were not perfect people, in fact some of them were badly flawed. They used methods that seemed unfair and even dishonest. The word Judge to us today speaks of courtrooms and juries. These men, (and one woman), were liberators, fighters, leaders of armies. They are renowned for their military campaigns. The following is a list of Judges and their term of time.

 Judge and who their enemy was:

Othniel/40 years Mesopotamia

Ehud/80 years Moab, Amon, Amalek

Deborah, Barak/40 years Caanan

Gideon/40 years Midian

Abimelech/3 years  

Toah/23 years

Jair/22 years

Jeptha/6 years Ammon

Ibzaim/7 years

Elon/10 years

Samson/20 years Philistines

Eli/40 years Philistines

Samuel/20 years Philistines

There were 111 years of oppression and 339 years of peace for a total of 450 years of the reign of the Judges. This is the same amount of years for the Kings. There was 120 years of the United Kingdom, 200 years of a divided Kingdom with Israel and Judah side by side, and an additional 135 years of Judah.

The conclusion is this, God gave man 450 years of man doing what he thought was right on his own. Then he gave man 450 years where a king ruled over his life. Both time periods ended in failure. Opening the door for the prophets and God’s voice being the law of man and earth. The only successful government has proved to be when God himself rules over the affairs of men.

In the first 16 chapters of Judges, it is all about God’s people being attacked from without. The enemy is from the outside. Then the last five chapters are the result when Israel turns upon herself and begins to carnage herself. The result is one of the most terrible times in all of history. Before it is over Israel will have killed more of her own that any of her attackers from the outside. If fact, she will have killed more of her own that all of the outside attacks combined over the entire 450 year period.

 What a statement God leaves on the pages of the Bible about what happens when we forget who our real enemy is and begin to war on our brothers.

In the last five chapters, it begins with the introduction of Idolatry into Israel with the story of Micah and his graven images. The stage is set for idolatry and it takes a thousand years and a dispersion (Israel), and a captivity (Judah), to finally purge Israel of Idolatry.

The story moves on to the tribe of Dan. This tribe is not satisfied with their inheritance so they look for new territory. They journey east, then north, a total of about 144 miles to conquer Laish. They rename the city “Dan”(hence the term from Dan to Beersheba). This is not the inheritance God assigned to the tribe of Dan. This story lets us see the terrible result of what happens when you are not satisfied with your inheritance. The tribe of Dan is forever removed from the pages of the Bible. The only mention I find is one descendant worked on Solomon’s temple. Dan is never mentioned again, never included anymore in the list of the tribes all the way to the book of Revelation.  

What more would anyone need to illustrate the danger of not being satisfied with our inheritance?

The book of Judges then moves on to the story of the concubine. The woman was abused and finally dies. Her master cuts her into twelve pieces and sends a piece of the evidence to each tribe. The nation goes to war and the result is horrific. Israel loses 65,000 men in the final chapters of Judges, all because they had a piece of the evidence. The tribe of Benjamin is reduced to 400 men and almost obliterated. I believe they would have been wiped out if not for a future son of Benjamin that would literally change the world, Saul of Tarsus. God preserved the tribe for Israel’s first king, and Christianity’s first missionary.

The moral of the story is again so stark. It is so dangerous to go to war over a piece of the evidence.  

Was all lost for humanity? Not at all. God in his infinite wisdom was letting man work through the slow process of human government to help man self discover for himself his need of God.

All was not lost, for even in this morass, at the bulls eye center of the greatest carnage were faithful people who held on to God. That is why Boaz steps onto the stage in the book of Ruth. There was in the days of the Judges, Ruth 1.1

Boaz’s home was a short distance from the epicenter of the great battle and carnage of the final chapters of Judges. Boaz’s life in the book of Ruth proves there are always people who remain true to God, even in the times of apostasy. 

Thanks for reading today….