Last week we spoke about the book of Joshua. A wonderfully encouraging book filled with stories of victory and courage. There are times when we can relate to Joshua but often we find ourselves more closely connected with the book of Judges. Judges tells us the story of life. A life filled with ups and downs, victories and defeats. An honest and humbling picture of life as we know it.

Judges picks up the story of Joshua, years after the death of Joshua. God’s people were doing well with a great leader like Joshua. He helped them focus on God and protected them from their tendencies toward bad choices. But as soon as Joshua and the leaders he personally trained passed away, the people were left to do it for themselves. Without clear leadership and guidance from someone focused on God; the people quickly deserted God’s will.

The people of God, still true today, went through cycles in life. There would be times when they were strong and times when they were weak. There would be times of great faithfulness but soon they would fall away into sin. When they would fall away from God, he would allow hardships and difficulties to arise, to humble them, and bringing them back to Him.

Sometimes it was foreign powers who ruled over them and sometimes it was their own bad choices. The oft-repeated phrase, “each man did what was right in his own eyes” brings the problem into clear focus. They were abandoning God’s wisdom and will to do what they thought was right. Eventually, they would hit rock bottom, turn back to God, and he would send them a deliverer (called judges) who would redeem them from whatever problem was plaguing them.

Judges teaches us about a God who loves us, walks with us through the hard times, and is always waiting close by to forgive us and restore us to a place of victory. A God who is faithful, despite our unfaithfulness, always willing to forgive our humanity with its tendency toward sin.

Without God and his wisdom in this life, there are no depths of depravity that we will not explore, and he loves us anyway. What a wonderful and gloriously gracious God we serve. Life is lived in instability of life’s up’s and down’s, in the ebb and flow of our choices and faithfulness. Take the time to read the book of Judges and I promise you will learn about a God is loving, gracious, always merciful and kind to people just like us.