By Samuel Ridout
The Book of Judges is a most important link between the earlier and later history of Israel. It gives the history of the passage of rule from the Theocracy of early times to the kings who continued till the time of the captivity. The unbelief and declension exhibited in this transition form the staple of the narrative, with the unrepenting patience of God who, spite of the utter incompetence and unbelief manifested by the people, comes in repeatedly to their succor. He is meanwhile manifesting His own purposes, which have their accomplishment alone in Christ, and which will be fulfilled, thanks to Himself, in the day now so near.
But Israel stood for humanity in all their probation, and we may well expect that the moral principles involved here will be of the widest application to all who are in responsible relationship with God. As the book of Joshua abounds with typical narrative which applies in a most marked way to the blessings of Christianity, so this book will be found to carry the typical lessons further. They deal mainly with declension and recovery, and one can hardly fail to notice the resemblance between them and the prophetic history of the professing church, given in the second and third chapters of Revelation.
If this be true, it will be seen at once that the book is of immense practical importance to the Church of Christ. Of the history of declension we are alas only too familiar from sorrowful experience. May it be ours to learn also more of the secret of recovery, and of divine power in days of universal ruin, through the instrument that is feeble enough, instances of which abound throughout the book.
As has been said, it is a thoroughly practical book. If it has its proper effect, it will bring us, individually and unitedly, upon our faces at our "Bochim," there to find the tender mercy of One whose heart yearns over His beloved Church today with the same love that led Him to give His Son for its redemption. The ruin will never be rebuilt, and all must wait for the coming of our Lord. But how much testimony for God, how much quiet feeding the flock of Christ, and deliverance of His own from the enemy is yet possible for us if we but learn the lesson set before us in this book.
The following lectures are an effort to set forth these lessons, in the hope that real fruit for God may result from their perusal. Much help, both in disposition and subject matter, has been received from the divisions and notes in the Numerical Bible, which, together with those on the book of Joshua, are of new and especial interest.
Being here given in very much the form they were delivered in, the reader will find both the helps and blemishes of spoken discourse — a familiar and colloquial style easy to be understood, while there is a tendency to diffuseness which prevents the book from being a manual for study. If it stirs an interest, and points a lesson, the reader will be able to prosecute the study for himself.
That our God may use this feeble effort to present His truth even as He used Shamgar's ox-goad and Gideon's lamps, is the prayer of the writer.