Items filtered by date: October 2013 - Harris Creek Baptist Church
By the end of Gideon's life, we start to see a pattern of God's people using good for evil. When we get to Judges 11, we see this pattern in full effect with the story of Jephthah. Jephthah is another unlikely leader of Israel during the period of the Judges, but he seems to be even more misguided than any of his predecessors. In Judges 11:30–31, Jephthah unnecessarily vows to sacrifice whatever comes out of the door of his house if God would grant him victory over the Ammonites. After the victory, Jephthah returns home only to have his only child be the first to come out to greet him. In a tragic story of someone misguided in his faith, we see Jephthah go on to kill his daughter. While the story in Judges 11 is horrific in every way, it's also an unlikely place where we are given a glimpse into the grace and love of God.
So far in our study of the Book of Judges, we have seen God's willingness to work in messy situations. In fact, one of the biggest takeaways has been the idea that we are, like God, to learn what it means to use evil for good. As we get to the story of Gideon in Judges 6–8, the entire book begins to take a turn for the worse. Gideon is a judge who seems to be considered a "good" judge, yet the way the author tells his story is a little different than our modern interpretations. In Gideon's story we begin to see that it's not only possible to use evil for good, but also that it is possible to use good for evil. Something we must understand if we are going to live faithfully in a morally gray culture is that even our best attempts to be spiritual or religious can have evil motivations. Gideon's story reminds us that the danger we must guard ourselves from is replacing God's divine agenda with our own personal ambitions.
Judges 4 begins with the end of Ehud's life, and the text says in Judges 4:1, "After Ehud died, the Israelites once again did evil in the eyes of the LORD." This is one of the first times we see evidence of a cycle that continues throughout the Book of Judges. The cycle involves Israel doing what is evil in the eyes of the LORD; God allowing them to be oppressed by a foreign ruler; Israel crying out to the LORD for redemption; and God raising up a judge to deliver them. Judges 4 intentionally compares the story of the Exodus out of Egypt to this cycle in Judges in order to remind us that God actively works to bring justice within His world. The God of the Bible is not a passive player in the world, but as Walter Brueggemann says, "There is an accountability to the purposes of God to which all must answer. God who saves and creates watches over 'his' will and judges those who violate 'his' purposes."
For a variety of reasons, the Church often ignores the Book of Judges, but it is a book that is applicable to our culture today. Judges is full of stories about heroes who are a mixture of good and evil, faithful and rebellious. From their stories we learn both positive and negative examples of how we can live faithfully in a morally "gray" culture like ours today. One of the first and best examples of a judge who was a "mixed bag" is the story of Ehud in Judges 3. Ehud is an unlikely hero who uses his sinister side to bring about redemption for the people of God. In the story of Ehud we are confronted by the fact that while we may want to exclude God from the messiness and filth of life, He won't allow it. The God of the Bible is often found working in scandalous— and even evil—situations in order to bring about His redemption in the world.