Why a Sermon Series from the Book of Judges?
This Friday at New Life Church we're going to start an 11 week sermon series through the book of Judges. Judges is the seventh book of the Bible, and records the time after the nation of Israel inherits the Promised Land. Unfortunately, it's not a very happy story, and the book of Judges contains some of the most brutally violent, bloody, and depraved texts in all of scripture. It's definitely not a book for the squeamish or the faint of heart.
Then why do a sermon series on the book of Judges? In fact, why preach from any of the Old Testament (OT) books at all? Isn't the OT just about the nation of Israel and a bunch of outdated laws that don't apply to us anymore? Shouldn't we be focusing instead on Jesus and his work through the gospel, and how New Testament (NT) churches lived out their faith and walked with Jesus? Wouldn't that be more relevant for us today?
Such questions are not uncommon, and their prevalence can be clearly seen simply by looking at how often churches teach and/or preach from OT books compared to how often they teach and/or preach from NT books.
More importantly, Jesus himself said that the OT all pointed to him and to God's purpose in the cross (Luke 24:27). The apostle Paul reminds us that events in Old Testament history were “written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come” (1 Cor 10:11). All Old Testament narrative, including the book of Judges, was meant to be interpreted and applied in light of Jesus Christ, the One who, in His very person, brought the glory of the age to come into this present evil age. Jesus is our hermeneutical key for preaching the book of Judges and the entire Scripture. Because the book of Judges is about Him we can know that its message applies to all who are in Him.
Even in the blood-stained pages of the book of Judges we can see the theme of the gospel running throughout. We see the depth of our sin and the terrible consequences it engenders, and we see our desperate need for a Savior from the sin that entangles us. We see a God of grace who, time after time, comes to the aid of his people even though they have done nothing to earn his favor. We see a covenant God of faithfulness who will not abandon his people; no matter how far they fall from him, he will always draw them back to himself. We see broken, imperfect people who humble themselves before a holy God and are used for his purposes. All of these things are part of God's story, God's message, and God's invitation to all people to be a part of his kingdom.
It is right for us to consider how these patterns in Judges prepare us for Jesus, the final King and Judge to end all judges and all kings. He will destroy the darkness of sin and restore and enable the people of God to fulfill their original role as a kingdom of priests (Ex. 19:5–6; 1 Pet. 2:9–10). The people of God are never beyond the reach of his grace. Israel in Judges is in bad shape, but a new day is dawning when God will provide, from the line of David, King Jesus, the king of his choosing.
No sin, no failure, no corruption, no despair, no brokenness is beyond the reach of his compassion. In light of God’s faithfulness to Israel in Judges, what can we do but worship him and live for his glory?
I'm looking forward to finding Jesus in the book of Judges over the next few months at New Life Church, and I invite you to join us.