Study Eleven - Judges Forestall Threats
Old Testament - Book of Judges

  • Joshua Sounds a Warning - The battle was over and victory won. The conquered land had been distributed to the tribes and a loose confederacy settled down to a new way of life in Canaan. While God's people enjoyed the sweet rewards of the present, Joshua turned his eyes to the future. He saw a sleeping giant which could rise up and turn Israel's victory into ashes. All the land had not yet been possessed. Pagan people still dwelled in the Holy Land. If the Israelites were to succumb to the idolatrous influences in their midst, their glory would be lost.
  • The Sleeping Giant Awakens - Paganism was prowling the land, anxious to make Israel its victim. Those who bowed to both the Lord God and the Baals would be of little use to the Kingdom. Judgment was inevitable. Israel's political enemies become God's instruments of judgment. Formerly vanquished tribes had not forgotten that Israel was squatting upon ground that rightfully belonged to others. Morally and spiritually weak, Israel became easy prey for a number of land-hungry nations. In anguish Israel turned back to God and called for deliverance.
  • Deliverance Came Through the Judges - Just as God had used Israel's enemies as instruments of divine judgment; so the Creator used the judges as instruments of deliverance. The loose confederacy of clans, each of twelve tribes an autonomous unit, made each tribe vulnerable to attack. A king over the tribes could have provided need organization but the people believed God alone was to rule, and no earthly king must take that right from Him. It was the judge whom God raised up to organize the twelve tribes so that they might cope effectively with Israel's oppressors.
  • The Judges in Action - Thirteen judges are named: Othniel, Ehud, Shamgar, Deborah, Gideon, Abimilech, Tola, Jair, Jephthah, Ibzan, Elon, Abdon, and Samson. Six are given prominent mention in Judges:
    1. Othniel, Caleb's nephew, met the Mesopotamian surge by providing spiritual leadership the people needed.
    2. Ehud dealt with the Moabite attack by leading the main divisions of the Moabite armies into a trap.
    3. Deborah brought an end to the Canaanite subjection and wrote the "Song of Deborah" which praised and scorned the various tribes of Israel who dealt with the Canaanites.
    4. Gideon used psychological "terror-warfare" to throw the Midianites into a wild confusion.
    5. Jephthah met the Ammonite assault but was forced to sacrifice his daughter after a foolish vow.
    6. Samson stopped the Philistines with his great strength from his long hair as a Nazirite.

Lesson 11 and its symbolism:
  1. Vacant throne, unclaimed crown, and robe - Israel, during the period of the judges, was a loosely organized confederacy without king or central government.
  2. Disheveled figure on bottom right - Personification of Israel's political enemies during period of the judges.
  3. Figure holds stone axe - Israel's enemies during the period of the judges were the small powers of the immediate locale.
  4. Figure with ripped tunic and broken axe handle in hand - These small powers, who had attacked the Israelites and subjected them to bondage for brief periods, were defeated under rallies led by the judges.
  5. Six figures in center of picture - The six major judges of Israel.
  6. Judge with raised arm - Othniel delivered Israel from the Mesopotamian oppression.
  7. Judge with sword in hand - Ehud delivered Israel from the Moabite attack; sword symbolic of gift given to King Eglon.
  8. Judge with tent spike in hand - Deborah won victory over the Canaanites; tent spike associated with Sisera's death.
  9. Judge with lamp and trumpet in hand - Gideon carried out psychological warfare against the Midianites with trumpets and lamps.
  10. Judge with manuscript in hand - Jephthah defeated the Ammonites and in the process made rash vows.
  11. Judge with jawbone in hand - Samson defeated the Philistines.