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Understanding the Old Testament - Lesson 13

Judges

The Book of Judges offers stories from Israel's history and faith journey, highlighting the crucial role of judges as deliverers from oppression and idolatry. The book, forming part of the former prophets in the Old Testament, chronicles Israel's occupation of the Promised Land from 1406 to 586 BC. Unlike modern judges, these biblical figures are tasked with delivering God's people from their enemies and calling them to faithfulness. The book emphasizes Israel's repeated unfaithfulness to Yahweh, symbolized by their idolatry and disobedience to the covenant. Despite their flaws, each judge serves as a type of Christ, empowered by God's Spirit to save and deliver. By learning the narratives of each judge, such as Gideon and Samson, readers uncover profound symbolism and parallels with Christ's ministry, culminating in the realization of humanity's need for an eternal, unchanging judge—Jesus Christ—to rescue them from corruption and ensure lasting salvation.

Miles Van Pelt
Understanding the Old Testament
Lesson 13
Watching Now
Judges

I. Introduction to the Book of Judges

A. Definition and Purpose of Judges

B. Historical and Theological Context

II. Structure and Contents of the Book

A. Two Introductions and Conclusions

1. Crisis of Israel's Inheritance

2. Crisis of Israel's Faith in Idolatry

3. Loss of Land and Crisis of Faith

4. Almost Total Loss of Tribe

B. Twelve Judges

1. Major Judges

2. Minor Judges

3. Abimelech - Anti-Judge

III. Examination of Major Judges

A. Othniel

B. Ehud

C. Deborah and Barak

D. Gideon

E. Jephthah

F. Samson

IV. Themes and Theological Implications

A. Nature of Judges as Types of Christ

B. Judges as Instruments of Salvation

C. Continual Cycle of Corruption and Deliverance

D. Need for a Permanent Judge - Jesus Christ


Lessons
Resources
Transcript
  • Engage with the Old Testament to grasp its Gospel-centered nature. From Genesis to Ecclesiastes and Psalms, discover foundational truths, wisdom, and insights on suffering. Strengthen your faith and find enduring hope in God's Word.
  • Gain insight into the Old Testament's theological core, centering on Jesus Christ. Explore its diverse genres, languages, and authors, unified by Jesus as its focal point. Understand how biblical evidence supports Jesus as the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, shaping interpretation.
  • In this lesson, Dr. Miles Van Pelt provides the thematic framework for the Old Testament. The Old Testament's thematic core is the Kingdom of God. Through this lesson, you'll understand its covenantal nature, from pre-temporal arrangements to various administrations like redemption, works, and grace, unveiling God's salvation plan in Christ.
  • Discover the intricate covenantal structure of the Bible, revealing its theological depth and unity, from the division of the Hebrew Bible to its mirroring in the New Testament, all centered around Jesus Christ.
  • Gain insight into the Pentateuch's covenantal structure, Moses' authorship debate, and evidence supporting it. Understand its significance as the foundation of Israel's relationship with God and its relevance for biblical theology.
  • Through this lesson, you will understand the theological, structural, and thematic intricacies of the book of Genesis. You'll grasp its role as a foundational text in both the Old and New Testaments, exploring themes of covenant, creation, fall, redemption, and the fulfillment of promises. You'll gain insights into the genealogical structure of Genesis, its portrayal of key biblical figures like Adam, Noah, and Abraham, and its connection to the overarching narrative of the gospel.
  • Exodus reveals Yahweh's promise—"I will be with you"—unfolding divine presence and covenant. It anticipates Jesus as fulfillment—a better Moses and Tabernacle—ushering in God's eternal presence among humanity.
  • Studying Leviticus unveils the intricate system of laws and rituals at Mount Sinai. It explains sacrificial atonement, priestly consecration, purity laws, and the theme of holiness, prefiguring Jesus as the ultimate priest, sacrifice, and source of holiness.
  • Discover the Book of Numbers' insights on Israel's journey, God's faithfulness, consequences of disobedience, and parallels to Christ, cautioning against questioning God's holiness and emphasizing His desire to dwell among His people through the Holy Spirit.
  • Gain insight into Deuteronomy's covenant renewal for Israel entering Canaan, emphasizing obedience, typology, and its relevance for Christian living.
  • Gain deep insight into the former prophets, exploring themes of Yahweh's faithfulness, Israel's unfaithfulness, and the typological significance of the Mosaic covenant. Understand its relation to the Abrahamic covenant and its fulfillment in the New Covenant under Jesus, revealing God's plan for restoration.
  • Joshua unveils Joshua's leadership, divine promise fulfillment in Canaan, obedience's significance, and Jesus as the ultimate fulfiller of God's promises.
  • Discover the Book of Judges, detailing Israel's history and faith journey. Learn about judges as deliverers from oppression and idolatry, portraying parallels with Christ's ministry. Uncover a pattern of uncreation due to idolatry, emphasizing the need for an eternal judge—Jesus Christ—to save from corruption.
  • In this lesson, Dr. Miles Van Pelt provides insights into the book of Samuel, exploring its characters, themes, and the transition from judgeship to kingship in Israel. Learn of the significance of the Davidic covenant, culminating in Jesus as the ultimate King of Kings.
  • Gain insights into the Book of Kings, revealing its historical and theological significance. Discover the fulfillment of Davidic covenant, reasons for Israel's exile, and anticipation of the new covenant. Recognize Jesus as the ultimate fulfillment of its promises.
  • This lesson reviews latter prophets' insights into Israel's exile for breaking the Mosaic Covenant, the prophetic office's nature, diverse prophecy genres, and the execution of covenant lawsuits, all pointing to God's judgment and hope for restoration.
  • Explore Isaiah's profound prophetic themes, from redemption to impending judgment. Unravel his life and ministry's context, review the debate around authorship, and learn essential tools for study.
  • Enjoy this lesson on Jeremiah, a second Moses figure, and his prophetic message of repentance, redemption, and a new covenant. Explore the book's chiastic structure, historical context, and theological significance, offering hope amidst Judah's fall.
  • Studying Ezekiel reveals its focus on the glory of the Lord and the temple. You learn of Ezekiel's exile, his visions, and themes like covenant theology, creation, and apocalyptic elements, offering profound insights into hope amidst crisis.
  • Discover insights into the minor prophets' diverse genres and themes, from covenant infidelity to divine restoration. Witness Jonah's repentance narrative and prophetic visions culminating in Christ's fulfillment. Embrace Yahweh's justice and compassion, urging Israel's return, leading to Jesus as the ultimate authority.
  • Understand the structure and themes of the Hebrew Bible's writings section. Explore diverse literary forms, intentional divisions mirroring prophets, and the overarching theme of exile and return, illuminating Israel's covenant journey.
  • Discover the depth of the Book of Psalms: 150 songs divided into 5 books, expressing diverse emotions and worship forms. Explore themes, structure, and practical applications for personal devotion and prayer.
  • Gain insights into human suffering and theodicy through Job's trials. Explore themes of faith, resilience, and God's sovereignty amidst adversity. Discover hope in God's incomprehensible sovereignty amid life's trials.
  • Proverbs is a book of timeless wisdom from Solomon, who was gifted by God. By studying this book, you can learn to navigate life with righteousness and discernment, rooted in the fear of the Lord.
  • Journey through Ruth, where redemption, loyalty, and divine providence intertwine. Ruth, a symbol of strength, aligns with Boaz, embodying ancient customs. Their union shapes history, reflecting the enduring legacy of faith amidst life's complexities.
  • Explore the Song of Songs for insights into marriage and intimacy. It navigates the tension between true love and temptation, advocating for unwavering commitment and passionate intimacy, reflecting God's desired relationship. Discover timeless wisdom for modern-day love and marriage.
  • Ecclesiastes reveals life's futility without God, emphasizing the necessity of fearing Him. Through Solomon's wisdom, it prompts reflection on divine purpose amid existential questions.
  • In Lamentations, mourn the fall of Jerusalem and exile, finding hope in God's sovereignty.
  • The book of Esthers contains themes of providence, hiddenness of God, and faithfulness in exile. You will uncover the intricacies of Esther and Mordecai's roles in the deliverance of the Jewish people, as well as the establishment of the festival of Purim. This study will equip you with insights into how God's providence operates amidst human events, even when His presence may seem concealed, and how faithfulness in exile can lead to unexpected outcomes of deliverance and restoration.
  • Through this lesson on the book of Daniel, you'll gain insights into its structure, themes of faithfulness in exile, comparisons with Joseph, and its significance for understanding apocalyptic literature, providing a comprehensive understanding of God's sovereignty and care for His people.
  • Explore Ezra and Nehemiah for insights into post-exilic restoration, intertwining faith, governance, and cultural renewal. These books point towards a deeper longing for true and lasting restoration and echo themes found in apocalyptic literature such as the book of Revelation.
  • The Book of Chronicles traces Israel's history, emphasizing kingship, priesthood, and divine selection. It anticipates restoration, pointing to Jesus as the ultimate priest-king who fulfills God's promises.

Understanding the Old Testament 
Dr. Miles Van Pelt
ot102-13 
Judges 
Lesson Transcript
 

We have now come to the Book of Judges. The Book of Judges is the second of four books that make up the former prophets, the historical theological account of Israel's occupation and tenure in the Promised Land that runs from 1406 to 586 BC. The title of the book, Judges, is a translation of the Hebrew word, Shofatim, which just is translated, Judges.

But this type of judge is not like our modern-day judge who wears black robes and sits behind a large desk with a gavel. The judges in the Book of Judges are called to deliver God's people from the oppression and subjugation of the enemy. However, they render judgment on the enemy and call God's people to faithfulness.

So, how do we think of judges in the Book of Judges? They bring judgment on the enemies of God. In the Book of Judges, here's what I say. I've had the opportunity to preach this book in the context of the local church, and I always begin every sermon this way. In the Book of Judges, there are two introductions, two conclusions, and 12 judges. Six major judges, six minor judges, and one anti-judge, Abimelech. And if you can remember that in the Book of Judges, there are two introductions, two conclusions, and 12 judges representing each of the tribes of Israel. Six of them are major judges, meaning longer accounts and six of them are minor judges, meaning smaller accounts. Then you will have the basic content of the Book of Judges. 

The purpose of the book is to describe and record Israel's unfaithfulness to the covenant that Yahweh made with them back in Deuteronomy. The key refrain in the book, six times over, that marks the beginning of every major judge cycle is this, "And Israel did that which was evil in the eyes of the Lord." And in every instance, the evil that they're doing is the forgetting or forsaking of Yahweh and whoring after the idols of the nations around them and the gods around them.

In terms of historical context, we're looking at approximately 1350 BC to 1050 BC. So after the passing of Joshua's generation, all the way to Samuel and the advent of the monarchy in the Book of Samuel, we'll know that from the refrain at the end of the book, four times it says, in those days there was no king in the land. So in some sense, the judges are preparing us for kingship, but in the time in which they existed, there was no king except for Yahweh, who is their king, but they're led by various charismatic leaders raised up by the Lord called judges.

The Book of Judges, in terms of its characterization of the people of God, is contrasted with the Book of Joshua. In the Book of Joshua, the portrayal of the people of God is relatively positive, and the portrayal of the people in the time of the judges is fundamentally negative. For example, Joshua 24-31, says, "Israel served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had experienced everything the Lord had done for Israel." So, good leadership, good people. But contrast that with Judges 2:10-12. "After the whole generation of Joshua had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel.Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the Baals. They forsook the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them up out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them, and they provoked the Lord to anger." Those are the people in the time of the judges. 

Now, what and who are the judges? Modern consensus is this, and this is a summary out of a particular book, and because I don't like the summary, I'm not going to tell you who it comes from because it might seem that I'm not, you know, favorable towards it. Here we go. The modern consensus. Ehud is a deceptive left-handed assassin, Barak the coward, Gideon the coward and the backslider, Jephthah the man who sacrificed his daughter as a whole burnt offering, and Samson the violent sex-addicted Nazarite. That's the modern consensus about the interpretation of the judges. Let me just explain it this way. In our modern interpretation of the book of Judges, we normally assess them as doing terrible, hideous things in the service of God, and they are sinners. I agree, just like you and me, but they are not necessarily as fundamentally flawed as we think, and normally we think of it this way. Well, if God can use someone like Samson, he can certainly use someone like me to do good in the kingdom, but that's entirely wrong. 

I'll argue this way. You are not like any of the judges. All of the judges are types of Christ and faithful in their ministry. And we, if we want to identify with anyone in the book of Judges, we are the people of Israel who continue to do that which is evil in the eyes of the Lord. So we've got to be very careful in how we do that, and we'll talk about that because of what the judges are like, that is, what is their office? So if the judges are not crazy, wacky, sinful people who are evil and to the core and doing negative things all the time, what are they? The alternative. Some of the judges are portrayed as second Moses figures like Gideon, but all of the judges, I'm going to argue, serve as types of Christ.

According to Judges 2, they were raised up by the Lord to deliver God's people and provoke obedience to Yahweh in their lifetime. They secure rest for the land, and are empowered by the Holy Spirit to accomplish the calling of God in their lives. Let's manifest that or flesh that out a little bit. The judges were raised up by Yahweh to save and deliver his people from the oppression of the enemy. Consider Judges 2.16. "Then the Lord raised up judges who saved them out of the hand of those who plundered them." So the judges are raised up by God and they are saviors, the verb yashadr. 

Then we read in Judges 2.17 that the people of Israel did not listen to the judges because of their idolatry. It says in 2.17, "They did not listen to their judges for they whored after other gods and bowed down to them. They soon turned aside from how their fathers had walked, who had obeyed the commandments of the Lord, and they did not do so."

It also says that the Lord was with the judge. Now this is interesting because the Lord was with Abraham, the Lord was with Moses, the Lord was in Joseph, the Lord was with Gideon, and so the promise of the divine presence goes with the call of the judge. The promise of the divine presence goes with the judge. For example, in Judges 2:18, whenever the Lord raised up judges for them, the Lord was with them and he saved them from the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge. The people's temporary obedience was tied to the judge. For example, in Judges 2:19, we read, "But whenever the judge died, they then turned back and were more corrupt than their fathers, going after other gods, serving them, and bowing down to them." They did not drop any of their practices or their stubborn ways. So it's interesting to think that during the time of the judge, after he had saved them, Israel was obedient to the law of Moses. But once the judge died, they started whoring after the gods again. They got worse and worse and worse. Dan Block calls this the Canaanization of Israel. That is, the longer Israel is in the land, the more they look like the Canaanites they were supposed to kick out. That's what's happening here. But the judge is not so.

The judges are special, redemptive-historical figures raised up by God, empowered by the Spirit to deliver God's people and to provoke obedience to the law. Consider some testimonies from Scripture about this, or consider some testimonies about this. 1 Samuel 12.11, Samuel recounts the ministry of some of these guys. Then the Lord sent Jeroboam, that is Gideon, Barak, Jephthah, and Samson, and he delivered you from the hands of your enemies on every side so that you live securely. Samuel has a positive assessment here. Then there's a guy in the intertestamental period named Ben Sirah who wrote the book Ecclesiasticus around 200 BC, and he makes mention of the judges, and this is the earliest interpretation of the judges that we have. And it says in Ecclesiasticus 46:11-12, "The judges too, each when he was called, all men whose hearts were never disloyal, who never turned their backs on the Lord, may their memory be blessed, may their bones flourish again from the tomb, and may the names of those illustrious men be worthily born by their sons." Now, this may be an overstatement on Ben Sirah's account, but it does describe the fact that the judges were thought of as positive redemptive historical figures from a very early time. It's the earliest interpretation of the book of Judges.

Well, what does the New Testament think about some of these guys? Right? Consider the astonishing words of Hebrews 11:32-39. "And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell you about Gideon, Barak, Samson, and Jephthah, four of the six major judges. David, Samuel, and the prophets." What were these guys like? "They were men who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, gained what was promised, who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword, whose weakness was turned to strength, and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. These judges, with these judges, women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released so that they might gain a better resurrection." Think of Samson. "Some faced jeers and flogging while others were still put in chains and put in prison." Samson. "They were stoned, they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted, mistreated. The world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains in caves and holes in the ground. These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised." 

Now let me go back and read the names of those judges. Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah. If I were going to mention any of the judges, I might have mentioned Othniel, the first judge, or Ehud, the second judge, who seemed to be good, you know, and you can't impugn them for anything. But what you're looking at here is Samson, the sex-addicted Nazarite, Jephthah, the man who supposedly murdered his daughter. Barak, who wouldn't go into battle alone but had to take someone else with him, the prophetess herself, Deborah. Or Gideon, who constantly was afraid and afraid and afraid. And the Bible says about these people, these were men of faith, men of faith, who conquered kingdoms and administered justice. So the testimony of the New Testament is very strong about the nature of the judges. And so that's what they are.

For me, listen, the judges are types of Christ. The judges are types of Christ. Jesus Christ was raised up by the Lord to deliver God's people, empowered by the Spirit to do so. And while he is alive, which is now forever by way of resurrection, his people are guaranteed obedience. It is a wonderful thing to think about. 

Outline and contents. This is a very interesting thing to consider. The book of Judges is a highly structured literary jewel. Look at your screens with me and you'll see that the book of Judges has two introductions, two conclusions, and 12 judges. Six major judges, six minor judges, and one anti-judge, Abimelech. 

First, let's look at the two introductions and the two conclusions. In the first introduction, you'll see the crisis of Israel's inheritance, that is, their inability to possess the land because of their disbelief. Secondly, you'll see the crisis of Israel's faith in idolatry.So they can't possess the land because they don't believe in Yahweh, and they have this crisis of faith because they're pursuing the idols. Well, if you look at the two conclusions below, you have the same two issues in reverse. First, you have the crisis of Israel's faith, idolatry. Then you have the crisis of Israel's inheritance, again, loss of the land. And this time, they almost lost the total tribe of Benjamin in that holy war. So you can see that the introductions and the conclusions are related to one another in an A-B-B-A pattern. So when you're reading about the first introduction, you should consider reading about the second conclusion because they match. And when you're reading the second introduction, think about reading the first conclusion because they match, and read one in light of the other. Read one in light of the other. And then you have the 12 major judges.

Now, the judges and their structuring is very interesting. I'm going to lay it out here for you in a minute, but let me do this for you. If you want more on this, of course, you can see my biblical training lectures in the Institute, but I've also written a commentary on the book of Judges that appears in the ESV Expositional Bible Commentary Series, and you can get that and kind of have more details of this. Because in these lectures, I won't have time to go through each judge, or any of the judges, and argue that they are types of Christ. But in my commentary, I do that, and it's a non-technical commentary meant to be accessible to everyone. So I would encourage you to get that book and to kind of track down the fact that crazy Van Pelt thinks that the judges are good figures, and I want to see how he did that.

But let's take a look at the contents here. The six major judges appear in two triads or two groups of three, and it works this way. You group them by their opening formula, and this is in the commentary. So Othniel begins with this opening line, Israel did that which was evil in the eyes of the Lord. Then Ehud and Deborah Barak begin with a slightly tweaked introductory formula, where it says, Israel did evil in the eyes of the Lord again. And Israel again did evil in the eyes of the Lord. And so you've got the thesis statement, then it happens a second time, and a third time. Then you get to the Gideon narrative in the second triad, and it begins again with the Othniel statement, just simply Israel did evil in the eyes of the Lord. And then it's followed by, and they did evil again, and they did evil again with Jephthah and Samson.

So there's a literary, an intentional literary hinge for that. Now again, we've seen this, you can go to the whiteboard now, you can see, you've seen this now, this diagram two times. This is the structure of the Hebrew canon if you tilt it over, the whole Bible. This is the structure of the book of Genesis, but it's also the structure of the book of Judges. You have your introduction, you have your conclusion. And then you have two triads of three, you have Othniel, Ehud, and Deborah, Barak. Then you're going to have Gideon, Jephthah, and Samson, and Samson. I'll tell you about that in a second. Then the six minor judges are inserted at strategic points to mark climactic judge narratives. So Shamgar goes right there, and there's one of him. Then you're going to see, you're going to see Tola and Jair right here, and you'll see two of them. And then you're going to see Ibzon, Elon, and Abdon right here, and so there's going to be three of them here. And what it does is, you can see here, I'll just mark this as one. You've got one minor judge marking the climactic Deborah-Barak narrative. You've got two minor judges marking the climactic Jephthah narrative, and three minor judges marking the climactic, climactic, climactic Samson narrative. Samson is the climactic judge in the Book of Judges. His deliverance from Israel is unique, his deliverance of Israel is unique. He does it by himself, and it costs him his life. And so it's unique to all the other ones, and it's an amazing narrative. 

Now, the other interesting thing is that Judges 3 and 6 are double-judge narratives, double-judge narratives. And what do I mean by that? Deborah delivers, Deborah and Barak work together to deliver God's people in Judges chapter 4. But in Judges chapter 5, there's a song rehearsing the deliverance. So you get the narrative account, but then you get the poetic account, so it's a double-judge account like that. With Samson, you get Samson judges, and then it says, and Samson was a judge for 20 years, the first part. And then it goes on and on, and then it says, Samson was a judge for 20 years.

It's not that he judged for 40 years, he was a judge for 20 years, but they used that marker to give him two different narratives, his ministry in Timna to defeat the Philistines, and his ministry in Gaza to defeat the Philistines, so it's a double-judge narrative. Now, what's interesting is how this diagram corresponds to the Genesis 1 paradigm, and it works this way, it works this way. Notice that it's well known that day 3 in creation is a double creation day, and day 6 in creation is a double creation day. First, you get all the animals, then you get man and stuff like that, and there's a split, then you get vegetation and stuff like that over here, and there's a split, stuff like that. It appears that the author of the Book of Judges has intentionally set forth the account of the narrative in this pattern, not so that you can see a creation pattern, but an uncreation pattern. That is, up here, you have things going relatively well, that is, they're possessing the land to some degree, and judges are doing their thing. Down here, it's complete chaos in the seventh panel, where Israel has become like Sodom and Gomorrah. And then you get the judges who work this way, and what this does is it doesn't show you, in the Book of Genesis, you move from chaos to cosmos, Sabbath rest, but in the Book of Judges, you're moving from cosmos to chaos, and what it is is the uncreation of Israel, and that's what this literary design teaches us, the uncreation of Israel. Let's just take a look briefly at each of the judges, and let me give you a little bit of background there for it. 

Othniel is the first judge in the Book of Judges. His account is also the shortest. The judges tend to get longer and longer as we go. It contains only five verses, and 16 contiguous independent clauses, without any background, foreground, or narrative embellishment. However, it provides the framework, or the paradigm, for all the remaining judges. So the purpose of the Othniel narrative is not so much to tell you about what happened, but to tell you about how to measure all the other judges. He's the paradigm, and there are seven parts to each of the judge narratives, more or less. There are some additions and subtractions, but there are seven basic parts, and we get this from the Othniel narrative in Judges chapter 3, and here are the seven parts.

Number one, Israel does that which is evil in the eyes of the Lord, idolatry. Number two, Yahweh sells or gives Israel into the hands of the oppressor for X number of years. Number three, Israel cries out to Yahweh for help. Number four, Yahweh raises up a judge, deliverer, and savior. Number five, Yahweh delivers his people with the judge, serving as the instrument of salvation. Yahweh is the agent of salvation.The judge is the instrument of salvation. Number six, the land has rest for X number of years, and number seven, the judge dies, which leads to the people doing evil again. That's the framework.

Ehud then delivers Israel from Moab and King Eglon. Eglon means cow, and so we've kind of got references back to the golden calf. He has a word from the Lord for that king, the sword of the Lord. The Ehud narrative reminds us that the sin of Israel's idolatry goes back to the golden calf, and in the Ehud narrative, the Lord is mocking Israel's idolatry.The Lord is mocking Israel's idolatry. 

In the Deborah and Barak narratives, Deborah and Barak deliver Israel from the Canaanites in a way that recalls the Red Sea deliverance of Israel from Egypt. Horses, chariots, judgment by water, song of commemoration, double-judge narrative. When you read the Deborah and Barak narrative, go back and read Exodus 14 and 15, and you'll find many, many parallels. 

Gideon delivers Israel from the Midianites. Gideon, more than any other judge in the book of Judges, is styled as a second Moses figure. If you read Gideon's call to ministry in Judges chapter 6, and you go back to Exodus chapters 3 through 6, you'll see many, many parallels. So the deliverance of Deborah and Barak is a second Exodus event. The deliverance of Gideon constitutes him as a second Moses figure.

Jephthah, the fifth judge, delivers Israel from the Ammonites. He delivers at the cost of his one and only child, recalling the sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham in Genesis 22. Now, let me briefly rescue Jephthah because this is a big point. Jephthah by no means executed his daughter to fulfill his vow. What he did do is he submitted her to a lifetime of temple or tabernacle service where she would never have a husband. If you read the narrative, it's all about her virginity, not knowing a man and never being able to produce children, which would have been the end of Jephthah's line because she was his one and only. The word used to describe Jephthah's daughter as his one and only child is the same word used to describe Isaac in Genesis chapter 22 when Abraham is told to offer up Isaac. There is no way that Jephthah would have made it into the hall of faith if he had sacrificed his daughter to win that battle. It was forbidden.

Finally, Samson, the sixth and final and climactic judge in the book of Judges, is raised up by the Lord to deliver Israel from the Philistines, kind of the daunting interior enemy of Israel. His account begins with a special birth narrative that is almost identical to the birth narrative of John the Baptist. There are only seven birth narratives in the Bible. Isaac, Jacob, Esau, the twelve patriarchs, Samson, Samuel, John the Baptist, and Jesus. He is in a great crowd. In terms of these types of scenes, these birth narratives, they're always looking for the true and right seed and the true and right Savior. Only Jesus is both seed and Savior. He delivers first in Timna and then in Gaza. He fights on his own without any army. He's betrayed by his people and delivered over to the enemy. He's betrayed by a woman unto death and achieves his greatest victory in death. Consider, again, Hebrews 11 at the end. In terms of Samson, if you want to be shocked positively, now, of course, I'm going to read a quote by a guy named Barry Webb, and he wrote this article, A Serious Reading of the Samson Story. Now, he doesn't take my more positive view of the judges, but at least he says this about the external components of the Samson narrative."His birth is announced beforehand by an angel. His conception is miraculous. He is rejected by his own people. Its leaders bind him and hand him over to their pagan overlords. His saving work is consummated in his death, a death in which he brings down Dagon and lays a foundation for deliverance to be more fully manifested in the future." In other words, here, in this most unlikely figure, we see possibly more clear than anywhere else in the Old Testament the shape of things to come.

Judges is the gospel promised beforehand. The book of Judges shows us the corrupting nature of idolatry and the human inability to escape corruption. We need to be saved, rescued, and delivered.Each of the judges is a type of Christ. They are raised up by God and enabled by the Spirit. They save, they rescue, they deliver God's people.They secure rest for the land and promote obedience to the covenant. The problem is that the judges died, and when they died, the people became even more corrupt than before, climaxing in the events of Judges 19 to 21, complete corruption. We need a judge to save us that will not die and so keep us to the end, and we have that judge in Jesus Christ.

The judges are a part of that great cloud of witnesses that help us to fix our eyes on Jesus. They are the ones of whom this world is not worthy. The book of Judges is one of those lost books in the Hebrew Bible. We don't know what to do with it, but it's a remarkable book that reminds us about the danger of our sin and the willingness of God to run us down and to save us at every opportunity.