O Come, Faultless Judge
Open Your Bible
Judges 2:1-23, Ezekiel 11:19-20, 2 Corinthians 3:4-6
BY Guest Writer
In the book of Judges things really start to go wrong for God’s people. Or rather, it’s where God’s people really start to go wrong. Judges 2 is framed as a test—a test that the Israelites fail miserably. In a sense, this chapter sums up the story of the entire book of Judges. Perhaps it’s also the story of all of us, easily tempted away from God and enchanted by the glittery offerings of the world, of other gods.
Joshua had faithfully led God’s people into Canaan, and at first, the Israelites remembered God’s steadfast love. “They had seen all the Lord’s great works he had done for Israel” (v.7). But then, distracted by the pagan gods of their new neighbors, they forgot God. They wandered with their hearts, after having wandered for decades in the desert.
The cycle of apostasy is a fancy theological term for what followed: the Israelites forgot God, and each time He sent a leader called a judge to remind them. But after the judge died, the Israelites went right back to worshipping the pagan gods of their neighbors.
Exodus 34 gives us the most accurate picture of God’s character, because God gives it Himself. He tells Moses that while He is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in faithful love, and forgiving of rebellion (vv.6–7), He’s also a jealous God, who wants our undivided devotion (v.13). God’s desire for HIs people’s affection is woven into His faithful love. God sent judge after judge, knowing all the while that His people would still fall away. Only one leader, only one judge, could turn His people’s hearts back to Him for good: Jesus.
It’s hard to read Judges without it feeling a little like I’m looking in a mirror. It’s not hard for me to remember seasons of my life when I drew closer to God’s heart and found in Him my all. But it is just as easy—maybe easier, if I’m honest—to remember seasons of the opposite, when I chased worldly fulfillment, idols, and false saviors.
God knew our hearts, broken by sin, would be prone to wander, and prone to wander they will be until His Kingdom comes in its fullness. We need not wander in the desert, though, following after imperfect and temporary leaders; we can follow Jesus. When we turn away from the lesser things of this world, and turn to Him, our faithful and final Judge, He promises to soften our hearts toward Him and His heavenly purposes. He welcomes us into relationship with Him and calls us His own (Ezekiel 11:19–20).
Melanie Rainer is a bookworm from birth who makes her days writing, editing and reading in Nashville, where she also joyfully serves as the editor of Kids Read Truth. She has an M.A. in Theological Studies from Covenant Seminary, spends as much time as she can in the kitchen, and can’t wait until her two daughters are old enough to read Anne of Green Gables.