Judges is a book about Jesus. Of course, I believe you can say that about every book of the Bible. Every page of sacred text from Genesis to Revelation is teaching us about Christ. Yet, I admit, that is easier to see in some books more than others. It can be particularly challenging in the books we refer to as the Old Testament. Many Christians (even ministers) pay little attention to these books because they can be so difficult to understand, much less find Jesus in them. Some even think that the Jesus we see in the New Testament is so different from what we encounter in the Old, that He came to actually correct the mistakes in those books. But Jesus did not come to correct the Law, but to fullfill it (Matthew 5:17ff) and our understanding of Him will be skewed if we ignore or oppose the teaching of the Old Testament.
So then, what about the book of Judges? What does it teach us about our Savior? Let me answer that by considering the story of Samson, possibly the most well-known of the judges.
Samson was born to a barren woman and was set apart at birth to “begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines (who were at that time the enemies of Israel)” (13:5). Then things kinda get crazy. Samson gets married (sorta) to a Philistine woman, loses a bet with some of her countryman, and then kills 30 men to pay off his debt. After that he sets fire to the crops in his ‘wife’s’ hometown (with the help of some foxes, literally, 300 foxes) and proceeds to kill 1,000 more Philistines when they try to take him out. After that, he spends the night with a prostitute, shacks up with Delilah, reveals the secret of his strength to her, has his eyes gouged out by the Philistines, and kills thousands more of them with his own death. (Have I mentioned that Judges is a dark book?)
What in the world does any of that teach us about God and Jesus?
Well, generally speaking, the story of Samson (like all of the stories in the book of Judges) teach us that our God is gracious. Go and read Judges 13:1 and 10:6 and 8:33 and 6:1 and 4:1 and 3:7 and 3:1. Seriously, read every verse (it won’t take long). Think the grace of God begins in Matthew? Think again! At any point in the book of Judges God could have justly walked away from Israel. And make no mistake, they did face consequences for their actions (God’s grace is never meant for more sin but for more praise). Yet, the grace of God continues to be seen in all these stories, including the story of Samson.
In particular, the story of Samson (as well as the other stories to some degree) teaches us that God has a plan to deliever His people from their enemies, even when they don’t see their need for deliverance. In all of the other stories the people cry out to God for deliverance from their enemies. But not in the days of Samson. They had grown comfortable in their captivity. So the Lord providentially seeks an opportunity against the Philistines. Look at Judges 14:4.
Yet still, what exactly does this have to do with Christ? It heps us answer the question of why Jesus had to come and die. Our enemies had us. We were slaves to sin and Satan and ourselves. And we were satisfied with our slavery. “But God shows his love for us in that while were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Christ came not to deal with the Philistines or the Romans or ISIS. He came to deal with sin and Satan and death. And all of hell could not stop Him from winning the victory we so desperately needed.
So trace the story. God used Samson to deliver Israel from the Philistines because He had a plan to send us Jesus, a descendent of Israel, who would set us free from all our enemies. God raised up Samson (and the other judges) to prepare the way for our Savior. All of the ‘deliverers’ (another translation for the the term ‘judge’) in the book of Judges are paving the way for the Final Deliverer, King Jesus. I love the picture of Jesus we see in the book of Judges. Don’t miss it!
You can listen to our sermons on the book of Judges here, or join us on Sunday morning at 10:40 for more!