Why is the Book of Judges in the Bible?

This morning we begin a sermon series through the biblical book of Judges. If you’re not very familiar with Judges, let me offer a few words of description: chaotic, violent, graphic, bleak. This is humanity at its worst. Deception, oppression, cowardice, narcissism, prostitution, murder, gang rape, human trafficking, civil war, and more appear in these 21 sordid chapters. So why would we go through this part of the Bible together? First, because God chose to include it in His word, and we believe God knows better than we do what we need to hear. Second, because there are so many relevant and important lessons for us, like…

The unstoppable grace of God. No matter what His people do, God is utterly unwilling to abandon them. He relentlessly offers His grace to people who don’t deserve it, want it, or appreciate it when they get it. Israel is hell-bent on destroying themselves, but God continually intervenes. His covenant love overcomes everything, even their own rebellion and foolishness.

The importance of leadership. There could not be a more appropriate description of our times than the line we find repeated several times toward the end of the book: “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” Judges diagnoses the reason: everyone was serving his own god. In the gap between the strong leadership of Joshua and David, spiritual pluralism took over. Anarchy and disaster was the result.

The value of women. Judges describes worse treatment of women than any other book in the Bible. The stomach churns to read some of these horrifying incidents—which is precisely the author’s point. He doesn’t recount these stories to validate this behavior. It’s his way of illustrating the depth to which people have sunk. In other words, the best way this author can imagine to show how wicked society has become is to highlight its treatment of women. The more men ignore God and do what is right in their own eyes, the worse the women fare. As such, how women are treated serves as a barometer for the spiritual condition of society.

Our need for Jesus. Judges is often preached moralistically, drawing our attention to the best qualities in the main characters and filtering out the bad ones. But if anything stands out from these stories, it’s that these are badly flawed “heroes,” and if salvation is going to come from any place, it must come from the Lord. This book is designed to leave readers literally begging for Jesus!