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March 15 Today’s Reading: — Judges 2-4
“Nevertheless the Lord Raised Up Judges”
The book of Judges covers a period of about three hundred years, three hundred years of great turbulence in Israel’s history. Yet, there were periods of great revival in God’s church during those years. The object of God the Holy Spirit in giving us the book of Judges appears to be threefold.
1. These twenty-one chapters were written by divine inspiration to show us the unbelief, failure, and sin of God’s people, even in the midst of great privileges and blessings. — So it is with us!
2. Yet, in the midst of their unworthiness, how graciously the Lord God dealt with them. — So it is with us!
3. All the judges he raised up to deliver his people, he raised up as so many types and pictures of our great Redeemer, the Lord Jesus. By them the Spirit of God here glorifies him.
We see in this little portion of Israel’s history what conflicts await God’s elect after his work of grace is begun in the heart. — “Let not him that girdeth on his harness boast himself as he that putteth it off” (1 Kings 20:11). Never, until we drop this body of flesh in the grave, can Zion’s soldiers be done with battle. — “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death” (1 Corinthians 15:26). But what a sweet relief it is to our souls to know that triumph is sure! Though countless Canaanites are still in the land, the promise is that they shall not always be. “There remaineth a rest to the people of God” (Hebrews 4:9). Child of God, walk in the comfort of this sweet assurance today. Until the day of deliverance comes, let us be found fighting the lusts of our flesh under the banner and in the strength of him who is the Lord our Righteousness.
Our heavenly Father has wise and gracious reasons for leaving us in our present state throughout our sojourn here, daily struggling with the world, the flesh, and the devil. The history of Israel presented in the book of Judges shows us that God’s church is the same in all ages. Here the Lord God, our heavenly Father, leaves his people in the midst of their enemies to try us and prove us, preparing his chosen as polished stones for his temple. His intent is to make us ever aware that “salvation is of the Lord,” and cause our hearts to yearn the more for our home above.
As often as Israel behaved perversely and forsook the Lord their God, he sent their enemies to afflict them. So it is with God’s Israel today. He has promised (promised not threatened!), “I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men” (2 Samuel 7:14). He has promised (promised not threatened!), “Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes” (Psalm 89:32). Let us never forget that though it be a rod, it is the rod of the covenant, the rod of our ever-gracious, ever wise, loving heavenly Father, not the rod of our enemy, but of our dearest, most loving Friend. Though he raises up enemies to correct us, those enemies are his instruments of good for us. They can do nothing but that which he commands them. My Father, give me grace to remember this. Do, my gracious God, whatever is needful to hedge up my way with thorns, that I may not find my path, when my way is perverse before you.
How very precious is it to see in Israel’s history how everything pointed to the Lord Jesus! Brought, as the people were, by sin and rebellion, into a state of repeated slavery, God raised up the judges as their deliverers. But what are Othniel, Ehud, and Shamgar compared to our Lord Jesus Christ, who has delivered us with an everlasting salvation from the wrath to come! Look up, my soul, to your Savior when the corruptions from within and foes from without would bring you again into bondage. Out of all distress, and bondage, and sorrow let your mighty Advocate hear your cry. He was sent and sealed of the Father to drive out our enemies from before us; and he yet will do it. He who loved us and gave himself for us has made us more than conquers by his mighty conquests; and soon we shall wear the crown he has won for us!