Introduction to Judges – Pt. 2 (Judges 2:6-10)

Introduction to Judges – Pt. 2 (Judges 2:6-10)


Many pastors have carefully selected their text to fit with the occasion of Mother’s Day. Our general pattern is to preach through the next passage.

Whereas many pastors are preaching about how great our mothers are, I’m going to talk about the pattern of failure that pervades Judges. Relevant? Absolutely! Every mother here (and the rest of us) knows the feeling of failure. In fact, for many of us, it’s debilitating!

So here’s the message of Judges:

You are not OK! But you have a gracious God who says “Come as you are!”

Last week we spent a considerable amount of time simply looking at the structure of the book of Judges. This morning, we are going to focus on the theme of failure and the many forms it takes. But there’s hope! Because…

Those keenly aware of their failures, are most prepared to receive God’s grace.

Read Judges 2:6-10

Political/Military Failure

The constant refrain is that they “…did not drive out the inhabitants of…” (1:21, 27, 29, 30, 31, 33).

Many nations in the Promised Land were left unconquered. Despite early success when Yahweh is explicitly with them, both the southern tribes (Judah and Benjamin, 1:1-21) and northern tribes (1:22-36) increasingly fail to complete the conquest.

It only goes downhill with the Civil War against Benjamin in the end.

Some Challenges: Does Judges contradict Joshua? Is the conquest completely successful under Joshua, but a failure in Judges? The job wasn’t done (Joshua 13:1; 15:63; 16:10; 17:12-13).

What about Jerusalem? It bordered Judah (1:8) and Benjamin (1:21).

Weren’t Hebron and Debir already captured in Joshua? Judges is a flashback (Othniel 1:11-15; Josh. 15:15-19): The structure of ch.1 is geographical (south > north) rather than chronological.

Biggest Challenge: Understanding the ethics of the conquest (”Harem” 1:17; Deut. 7:1-5; t/o Joshua). The conquest…

  1. Carried out Yahweh’s justice (Genesis 15:16; Deut. 18:9-14).
  2. Protected the Israelites from Canaanite religious influence.
  3. Fulfilled the patriarchal promises concerning the land.

Recommendation: Derek Thomas’s message at the Ligonier Conference ’10: “If God Is Good, How Could He Command Holy War?” (Josh. 6)

Of much greater concern than Israel’s Political/Military failure was their…

Religious/Moral Failure

From the account of the first judge (Othniel), we see another phrase that will be all too familiar by the end (3:7).

The spiritual and moral decay of the Israelites are portrayed throughout Judges. It is likened to a downward spiral, because they get progressively worse as we near the end.

There have been excavations of an Israelite “high place” where they found a Bull of Bronze inscribed to god El.

Interestingly, these Israelites were NOT less religious. They didn’t stop worshipping altogether. They became more religious. They multiplied gods. They turned away from the One, True, and Living God by honoring the fertility gods and goddesses of the Canaanite nations (Baal, Ashtaroth).

Their downfall was thinking they could honor God alongside the gods of their neighbors. It was syncretism. They would fail just like every nation before/after them. Syncretism = Worship without regard for God’s revelation.

Satan’s subtlest trick is to convince us that we’re OK just as we are. We don’t really needanything.

  • Attend church…if it helps.
  • Watch sports…if you enjoy them.
  • Read Scripture…if you have the time.
  • Better yet, binge on Netflix!

Judges teaches us that you don’t have to stop believing in God to fall under condemnation. Simply worshipping Him however you want will bring judgement.

This leaves us with one more failure to consider…

Leadership Failure

The phrase repeated in the end is: “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (17:6; 18:1; 19:1; 21:25). It reflects the need for anointed leadership.

  • Sums up the end of one phase and points forward to the next.
  • Israel failed to serve God as king (8:22-23).

God’s covenant faithfulness involves justice and mercy. There are consequences and grace.

Many today, see the judges following the nation’s “progressive deterioration”:

  • Othniel > Gideon > Jephthah > Samson.
  • Acsah > Delilah > Unnamed Concubine. (What about Deborah, Jael, the “certain woman” who killed Abimelech, and Jephthah’s daughter?)

However, the earliest interpretations were mostly positive:

Ecclesiasticus, Jesus Ben Sirach (2C BC): The judges also…whose hearts did not fall into idolatry and who did not turn away from the Lord—may their memory be blessed!

Josephus acknowledges some significant failures as well.

The New Testament contains a handful of references and allusions to Judges, all of them positive.

Hebrews 11:32-40:

  • Hebrews tells us to imitate these men of “whom the world was not worthy.”
  • The judges are shadows of Christ Jesus, the only perfect judge.

God picks the weak to overcome the strong. Almost every judge is a surprising selection in terms of their heritage and character. But, in each case God transforms them into deliverers.



  1. Political/Military Failure: Reveals how little Israel regarded sin against God.
  2. Religious/Moral Failure: Reveals how quickly they turned away to false worship.
  3. Leadership Failure: Reveals Israel’s inability to govern themselves in a way that honored God.

Unfortunately, mankind hasn’t come very far since then. The message of Judges is:

You are not OK! But you have a gracious God who says “Come as you are!”

That’s both humbling and relieving. We won’t succeed where Israel failed, but we place our hope in One who already did!

Those keenly aware of their failures, are most prepared to receive God’s grace. And that grace is freely offered to you in the gospel of Jesus Christ!