Saturday, June 18, 2011

Judges and Jesus Christ.

Just for the record…I can’t sleep. Maybe because this has been on my brain for 2 weeks and it’s time to get it out of there. There isn’t much space up there anyway.

A few months back I wrote a blog about Leviticus. Two people read it. But in that blog I said that Jesus is everywhere in the Old Testament. And that’s true. I just read the book of Judges and this book of the Old Testament is packed full of Jesus and New Testament application.

The Bible is not a boring book. Don’t believe me? Read Judges. A guy stabs a king with an 18-inch sword and can’t pull it out because the guy is so fat. The words “taught the men a lesson” is literally in the 8th chapter. I mean, the Bible basically says a guy takes grown men behind the wood shed. But that’s not the craziest thing. Seriously. Read it. It’s unreal, and Jesus’ fingerprints are all over it. Jesus is our Greater Judge.

The thing about Judges is that they weren’t really judging Israel in the way our American culture would think. Like they weren’t standing before Israel in a court room and declaring judgment, that really was more or less the role of the prophets (that job sucked by the way—read the prophets some time, just for kicks). The Judges were really more like defenders or better yet, deliverers.

Judges were Deliverers.

This begs the questions: who needed deliverance and why do they need it?

The problem in Israel was that God’s people kept going through this cycle of trusting/obeying Him and then disobeying Him a few years later. It happened over and over again. It’s pretty unbelievable when you read it in the text, but it’s actually exactly what still goes on today in 2011.

One generation of Israelites would follow hard after God and the next would do nothing but wickedness and evil in the eyes of God. And the people would get themselves into huge messes, because that’s what happens when you worship false gods (it’s called idolatry) instead of YAHWEH.

So God would send a Judge to deliver them out of their predicament, bless the nation and then keep the people in line. But…then the Judge would die and the people would go right back to whoring after other gods—false gods. And yes I used the word “whoring.” The Bible does too, try not to be offended.

So…God would send another Judge. And then…another. On and on this went until eventually the line of the Judges ended because Israel wanted a king instead. Well, fortunately for us, Jesus is both our Judge and King—and He is perfect at both.

Now, let’s be clear, when we see the Judges roll onto their particular scenes in history, we never see them condoning the actions of the people, but we never see them bringing hellfire and brimstone to the people either. They didn’t have to. The people were already under judgment. They were already suffering the consequences of their sin. In order for God to really bring wrath onto them, all He would have to do is nothing.

Think about it: if the biggest, baddest bully on the block is punching you in the mouth, does the Light-Heavyweight champ have to show up to judge you and bring wrath? No, you’re already getting you’re tail whipped by that behemoth of a kid who repeated 5th grade like 4 times. It’s the same thing with God and His people. Israel was always getting merked by everyone else in the world when they were in discord and disobedience with/to God. So God intervening was not a sign of judgment, but rather it was a sign of deliverance out of the judgment Israel was already under.

So…Israel was in trouble and the Judges would show up, tell them why they needed to repent and then deliver them out of whatever mess they were in.

Hmm…this sounds like Jesus. What did He say in John’s Gospel? He said in chapter 3 that He hadn’t come to condemn the world because we stood condemned already. The Gospels tell us Christ came to seek and save that which was lost. He came to ransom—or deliver us His chosen people. He sounds like an Old Testament Judge to me—except way better. Because no Judges has to follow Him up—in fact, who could? Hebrews makes it clear that His deliverance, His ransom, His redemption is a one time, eternal deal—no follow up is necessary.

This is why Jesus is our Greater Judge—Our Greater Deliverer.

Having said all of that, I do feel as if the office of Judge is no longer in place, but God does raise up very special people in ministry even in our New Testament Era. These men (and women) are called by God to draw a line in the sand, stand for truth, lead God’s people, and deliver the Church through tough times, much like the Judges did for the nation of Israel. I could be waaaaay off here, but let men explain what I am saying.

First of all, people didn’t select the Judges. God selected them. They didn’t have a standard length of their term. Some were “in office” a lot longer than the others. Some are mentioned for like a paragraph and others get multiple chapters dedicated to their lives and escapades of Judging Israel. Some are very prominent but others are seemingly minor.

This is the same with men in ministry. People don’t call men into ministry, God does. Of course, people can affirm and confirm God’s call (this is a great thing), but it is God who calls men to stand in the gap for His People.

Also, just like the Judges, these men come and go quite differently. Some are called young—some old. Some guys get 10 years in the mission field. Others get 60 years in the states as they preach in a local pulpit. Some guys have big names, conferences, blogs, podcasts, books and multi-site church formats. And some have a brick building with no A/C and no sound system. And none of these men are better than the other in the sense that a book deal or big church makes you better than a guy without one, it’s just how God chooses to work. God delivers the tools to these men and they work.

When I think of these kind of men, I am very thankful. Men like Polycarp, Irenaeus, Augustine, Luther, Spurgeon, and others, including what I affectionately call “Team John” (John Calvin, John Owen, John Edwards, John Wesley, John MacArthur, John Piper). They all held the line.

They all served Christ. None were perfect. None were really Judges, but all of them, in my limited estimation, were ordained by God to dwell in a specific place, during a specific time, amongst specific people so that they declare the Gospel with boldness—because while these men cannot deliver us, God can. The Gospel can. And God uses men (and women) to be His mouthpieces for the proclamation of deliverance.

Jesus delivers. Jesus saves. Jesus Judges.


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