Winners and Losers

The next few chapters in Judges are among the hardest ones of the book to study and preach. God’s name is not mentioned in chapters 8-10. They are a great reminder, however, that God is still on the throne even when He is silent! There is much to learn from these chapters.

God is still on the throne even when He is silent!

Abimelech’s Pride
In chapter 9 we read of Abimelech. In short, he killed his brothers and then God repaid his wickedness by allowing a woman to drop a millstone on his head and kill him. Abimelech is not a Judge, but he made himself King. If the Judges foreshadow the Righteous Judge to come, Jesus, then Abimelech is a type of anti-Christ or devil. Selfishness and pride are what made Lucifer the devil and got him cast out of heaven. We are never more like the devil than when we are full of pride. We are not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think. Pride comes before a fall. It looked like the evil was winning, but in three years Abimelech was killed by a woman’s kitchen utensil! There is a payday someday! The judgment of God may be slow, but it is sure.

Tola’s Peace
Judges 10:1-2 gives us all we know about a Judge named Tola. Just two verses! During his time, Israel experienced 23 years of peace. You don’t have to be famous to serve God!

Jair’s Prosperity
The next Judge that arose was Jair. Judges 10:4 tells us that he had thirty sons, thirty donkeys, and thirty towns. Jair was very wealthy. Only the wealthy could provide 30 sons with their own donkey (or the BMW, Mercedes, or Jaguar of the day)!

With both Tola and Jair no outside enemy is mentioned. The real problem is on the inside. Our biggest problem is the human heart. We are our own worst enemy. Verse 6 says that “Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord,” and in verse 10 they finally cried out the Lord and admitted their sin. Verse 16 says, “So they put away the foreign gods from among them and served the Lord.” True repentance is a change of mind and direction! They had completely abandoned God, but He heard their cry. “His soul could no longer endure the misery of Israel” (v. 16). God is not a pushover, but He is tenderhearted!

Jephthah’s Pain
Have you ever prayed something like, “God get me out of this and I will do anything you ask”? That’s what Jephthah did in Judges 11:30-31. While this is one of the most disputed passages in the Old Testament, we know He either offered his daughter as a human sacrifice or as a living sacrifice. We will not know which this side of heaven, but we know God is not pleased with human sacrifice. All that we learn about Jephthah in Judges 11-12 reminds us again that these earthly Judges all point us to Jesus.

Jephthah was born to deliver Israel, Jesus to deliver the world. Jephthah was rejected by his brothers; Jesus’ own received Him not. The Spirit of the Lord was upon Jephthah; Jesus said “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me….” Saving Israel cost Jephthah his daughter; saving the world cost Jesus His life. Jephthah mourned what was required of him, but still followed through. Jesus said, “If it is possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” Jephthah’s deliverance lasted 6 years; Jesus’ salvation lasts forever! Jephthah saved them from their enemies, Jesus saves us from our enemies and ourselves!

Judges 11:1 says, “Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty man of valor, but he was the son of a harlot….” Even if you start the son of a harlot you can end a mighty man! How will you finish your life? As a winner or a loser in the sight of the only Judge that matters?

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