In the first article of our Bible journey, we covered the Torah or the first five books of the Bible. We established the foundation for the story line through Genesis and studied how the law fits in with the story line. We are now going to dive deeper into the narrative starting with Joshua and Judges. In this article, we will complete an important chunk of the narrative and by the end, we should have a better understanding of what God is showing us through the story of the Israelites and the bigger story leading to Christ.
The book of Joshua starts with God’s call of Joshua to not be afraid and to be Israel’s new leader. Joshua leads the people across the Jordan and into the promised land where they have much success against other nations. Joshua and the Israelites with God’s help defeat mighty kings and nations. There is still land to conquer towards the end of the book and the tribes of Israel are allotted lands for their people. The book ends with the death of Joshua and the promise of the people to serve the Lord. So the book ends on a high note, with the people promising to serve the Lord and each person is in their allotted land that God blessed them with. I think the whole story of Joshua can be summed up with one phrase that comes out of Joshua 24:21, “But the people said to Joshua, ‘No! We will serve the Lord.’” Joshua is a story of rich blessings that come from dedication and devotion to Yahweh. If we stay faithful to the Lord, we will be richly blessed by Him.
With this we smoothly transition into the book of Judges which takes a turn for the worst at the first page. Some of the tribes drive out the people in that land, but others do not because they did not fully listen to God. Then something interesting happens. In Judges 2, we see a generation come up after the one that Joshua had been with that did not know God and so they did evil. The Lord sends judges to rule the people and yet they still do not listen. God then says that the nations will not be driven out before them, rather, they will know be used to test Israel if they will remain faithful. The plot is starting to twist here but let’s pause. We can get so wrapped up in the narrative of the people of Israel but we must also remember the promise of Genesis 3. We must continue to look for a seed of the woman who will crush the head of the serpent. Even though we haven’t had a direct mention of the snake, he is everywhere in this narrative. When the Israelites do evil in the eyes of God and do not obey His word, it is a direct link back to the tree that the humans ate of. Sin continues to rule the people instead of the people ruling in God’s wisdom.
There are many famous rulers in Judges like Deborah, Gideon, and Samson. Yet even these do not bring what Israel needs. In Judges 20, a civil war breaks out between the Israelites and the tribe of Benjamin and everything seems to spiral downward. Judges ends with the somber statement in Judges 21:25, “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.” Everyone was defining good in their own terms instead of the terms God had set for them. It is a complete disaster for God’s chosen people, one that needs a savior to rescue them.