5 Powerful Lessons the Book of Judges Has for the Church

  • Chara Donahue
5 Powerful Lessons the Book of Judges Has for the Church

God’s people have a long-checkered history with their Creator; blessings and failures, rebellion and repentance, wanton sin and long-awaited redemption. It often reads like a drama fueled by desires for all the wrong things. Despite all her imperfections the church is a gift to all those who follow Christ.

Together believers can gather and see the Spirit at work as they encourage each other and impact the world. The church is loved by God, and as much flack as she takes from the world today, we cannot give up on the beauty that the Spirit-fueled church embodies. The church began after the ascension of Jesus, but there are lessons for her throughout the whole Bible.

The book of Judges seems particularly relevant these days. Modern readers can be inspired by Deborah’s and Edud’s heroic stories. Others are deeply disturbing and remind us how much humanity truly needs Christ.

Here are five things we can learn from Judges to protect the health of today’s church.

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1. Prosperity Doesn’t Mean You Know God

1. Prosperity Doesn’t Mean You Know God

Joshua led the Israelites into the promised land, and the time of the judges emerged after his death. Although the Israelites inhabited the blessing, they did not know from where all blessings flow.

“After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel.” Judges 1:10

It is a frightening thing to know that churches can grow and find success not because they are close to the heart of God, but because they have learned through tradition and good business how to build an enterprise. The time of the judges was full of rising and falling, disaster and success, but there is a constant refrain of people forsaking the one true God for a false idol, which knowledge, business, and best practices can become. The church and its leaders can never forget where true life comes from. They must remember the prayer Jesus prayed for his church: “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” John 17:3

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2. Don’t Underestimate the Power of Those Who are Different

2. Don’t Underestimate the Power of Those Who are Different

One of the most striking and beautiful characteristics of the church is her diversity. She reaches across the world and makes disciples of all nations. While the global church may be made up of every race, sex, and ability, many local churches struggle with homogeneity. Another problem is when churches welcome others who are different, hoping that they will assimilate and adhere to their church’s customs, which may be outside of what Jesus asks of his people.

When building teams or choosing leadership, churches must remember that a body is composed of many parts, and each has their particular function.

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"We lose strength as the church when we demand that people think, act, and look the same."

“We lose strength as the church when we demand that people think, act, and look the same.”

In Judges 3 it was Ehud’s differing characteristic that enabled him to be Israel’s deliverer from Eglon, the king of Moab. Ehud was a left-handed strategist who was born into a right-handed society. While this difference is slight, it was vital to his success as a judge. Ehud was underestimated because he was different, and we lose strength as the church when we demand that people think, act, and look the same. We should all stand firm on the Word of God by following his commandments as the Spirit enables, seeking unity amidst diversity. We are at our best in glorifying God when the different parts of the church body function as a whole.

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3. Do Not Stifle the Power of the Women in Your Church

3. Do Not Stifle the Power of the Women in Your Church

It’s a tragedy when women are denied the opportunity to use their gifts in the church. Not only does it repress a large part of a congregation, but it is poor shepherding. Women are used by God powerfully throughout the Scriptures, and while the body of Christ may take different sides on the issue of women as pastors or elders, there is no question that women can move powerfully for the advancement of God’s kingdom. That power should not be stifled because women are of equal personhood and value in the kingdom of God.

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"She was vital, she was chosen by God, and she had a part to play."

“She was vital, she was chosen by God, and she had a part to play.”

Judges holds a few striking examples of courageously bold women. Deborah was a judge, prophetess, and a conduit of God’s military might. Her own military leaders desired her presence at their side.

Judges 4:8-9 reveals Barak’s plea: “Barak said to her, ‘If you go with me, I will go; but if you don’t go with me, I won’t go.’ ‘Certainly I will go with you,” said Deborah. ‘But because of the course you are taking, the honor will not be yours, for the LORD will deliver Sisera into the hands of a woman.’ So Deborah went with Barak to Kedesh.”

When Sisera, the bad guy in this story, was fleeing from Barak, he sought sanctuary from Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite with whom he had an alliance. Little did he know that Jael was cunning, hospitable, and his soon-to-be assassin. She welcomed him, offered refreshment and a place to rest and then, “… Jael, Heber’s wife, picked up a tent peg and a hammer and went quietly to him while he lay fast asleep, exhausted. She drove the peg through his temple into the ground, and he died.” Judges 4:21.  The Lord delivered Israel through her hands. She was vital, she was chosen by God, and she had a part to play. Churches must not overlook women’s ability to contribute in deep and meaningful ways.

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4. Leaders Rise and Fall, but God's Faithfulness Endures

4. Leaders Rise and Fall, but God’s Faithfulness Endures

The book of Judges shows that even the most heroic of leaders can fall and lead others astray. Gideon was told by an angel that the Lord was with him, and that he was a mighty warrior. After God gave him victory with intentionally insufficient resources, Gideon’s legacy concludes with failure.  Gideon refused kingship and embraced the sins of his idolatrous father under the guise of celebrating a military victory. Gideon treasured the spoils from those he overtook, and even if it wasn’t called a “god,” it received worship and the people lifted the testimony high.

“Gideon made the gold into an ephod, which he placed in Ophrah, his town. All Israel prostituted themselves by worshiping it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and his family.” Judges 8:27

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"We look to Jesus as our model of faith. No man or woman ought to be lifted to places of idolatry."

“We look to Jesus as our model of faith. No man or woman ought to be lifted to places of idolatry.”

This same tragedy strikes at the heart of today’s church; leaders begin in earnest with pure motives, desiring to shepherd souls, see redemption at work, and serve God well. But all the while they hide their sin. They fail those who trusted them and leave a legacy of betrayal instead of faithfulness.

There is no excuse for some of the sin we have seen God bring to light as he purifies the church, but we have this hope: God never fails. As Ed Stetzer said, “Lest we move from disappointment to despair, however, we must remember this very, very important fact: We look to Jesus as our model of faith. No man or woman ought to be lifted to places of idolatry, lest they crumble under the weight of sin.”

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5. Stand on Truth, Not What Seems Right in Your Own Eyes

5. Stand on Truth, Not What Seems Right in Your Own Eyes

It is so easy for the inner monologue to sound like truth, but we often lie to ourselves to ease the discomfort that our own mistakes and sin have left in our souls. We begin to accept the counsel of our fears and desires instead of standing firm in what God says is true. We do what the people who lived in the time of the judges did: “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.” Judges 21:25.

We cannot be willing to exchange truth for tolerance. We need to look for what is right in the eyes of God, who reigns as the true king. When we do what is right in our own eyes, without consideration for the truth of God, we become our own gods in a world of millions of others acting as their own gods. And the wars that break out among households, churches, and nations begin to rival those of the petty squabbles among the false gods in ancient myths.

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"Judges reveals the brokenness of humanity apart from the Spirit."

“Judges reveals the brokenness of humanity apart from the Spirit.”

These are just a few of the lessons that Judges holds for the church. If you have never read the book, today is a good day to start. Far beyond the paltry dramas you find on Netflix or Twitter; not only will you find the full stories to the lessons mentioned here, you will also read of Samson, the rash vow of Japheth, a tragically slain concubine, and many more. Judges reveals the brokenness of humanity apart from the Spirit interceding. These stories clearly show that what the church needs most is Jesus’ rule and reign.

Chara Donahue is a freelance writer who is working on her first book. She enjoys doing biblical counseling, speaking to women, and savoring coffee when her four kids are out playing with dad. She holds an MSEd from Corban University, is passionate about seeing people set free through God’s truths, and is the founder and editor of Anchored Voices. Get in touch with her on Facebook or Twitter.

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Man Spends Most Of His Life An Atheist But Then Gets Baptized With Only Days Left To Live

baptized in water adult

Just before passing away, an atheist man sees the light and gets baptized in water as an adult in front of his family. What a powerful moment!

Thomas Roberts spent his whole life as an atheist. But the final days of stage four lung cancer changed his heart. And though he had little time left, Thomas desperately wanted a baptism by immersion.

What Baptism Means

Baptism by immersion is an outward display of an inward change. It comes after we have accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior. We know Jesus died for our sins, was buried and lives again in our hearts.

RELATED: Hospice Baptism Is A Final Wish Granted As Dying Man Prepares To Leave For Heaven

Romans 6:4 says we have been buried with Him through baptism into death. We’re now dead to the power of sin. Raising up after being baptized in water expresses our new life in Christ and our union with Him.

Thomas Roberts desperately wanted a baptism by immersion. But as a patient in a wheelchair and dependent on oxygen, it would be a huge undertaking for the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital for this man to get baptized in water.

But, the team at the hospital wasn’t about to let anything stop them from helping this man hand his life over to God!

The incredible team worked together to pull off a miracle. They removed the dying man’s oxygen for just a few moments. And, surrounded by his family and a team of caregivers, Thomas was baptized in water as an adult!

Lifelong Atheist Accepts Christ Before Death

Corey Agricola serves as the chaplain at the hospital. He’s also part of the hospital staff who made this incredible moment possible.

“I have served in the ministry over 20 years and seven of those at UAB,” he said. “This is the greatest day of my career.”

Before baptizing Thomas in water, the chaplain said, “Thomas, you never thought you would preach a sermon in your life; but you preached today. You made an impact on people who you do not even know.”

The baptism by immersion overwhelmed Thomas’ family.

“It brings me complete comfort and peace because I know where he is going now,” his sister Gina Gibson said. “I don’t have to worry about it. Now there will be great joy just knowing where he is going.”

Just a few days after being baptized in water, Thomas lost his battle to cancer. But we can all rest easy knowing that He is pain-free in Heaven. And that knowledge extends to his family.

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: 94-Year-Old Woman Baptized And Says It’s Never Too Late To Become Christian

“He is at peace,” Gina said. “He was born again. You could see that on his face after the baptism. He was born again.”

WATCH: Powerful Moment Dying Man Gets Baptized In Water As An Adult

h/t: CBS 17

Featured Image: UAB News

365 DEVOTIONAL

Happily Ever After (Revelation 21:3)

  • Will you read a book or watch a movie if you know it has an unhappy ending? Explain.
  • What are you looking forward to most in heaven? Why?

When you’re grieving, the hurt and sorrow can seem endless. Wave after wave of pain crashes down on you. You can feel your strength draining away. In times like these, it’s natural to ask, “Will it ever end?” The good news? The answer is yes. Revelation 21 gives us a glimpse of eternity in heaven—and grief, pain and suffering are nowhere in sight.

The reason is simple. In heaven there will be no more death. Unlike earth, where best friends, beloved grandparents, friendly neighbors, young kids and countless really, really good people die every day, heaven is all living, all the time.

That may not seem like much of a consolation to someone who’s suffered a devastating loss here on earth. But if we hold on to that truth—if we trust that God always keeps his promises—we will find comfort.

Prayer

Dear God, thank you for giving us eternity with you to look forward to. When we are hurting, remind us that our pain is temporary. Amen.

Taken from Once a Day At the Table

TODAY’S NEW TESTAMENT READING

View today’s reading at Bible Gateway

1 Thessalonians 1

1 Paul, Silas and Timothy,

To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:

Grace and peace to you.

Thanksgiving for the Thessalonians’ Faith

We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.

New International Version (NIV)

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