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The Judges

First Baptist Church https://fbcbartow.org

“The Judges”

Series: A Journey through the Old Testament [on screen]

Rev. Matthew C. McCraw, EdD

First Baptist Church, Bartow, Florida

July 11, 2021

Introductory Comments:

Have you ever noticed how styles change over time? They’re popular at one moment, and then all of a sudden, they’re not. Here are some pictures of styles from previous decades. [show pictures on screen] The reason that these styles change is because the preferences and opinions of people change.

Now, we’re not going to talk about fashion this morning. I’m completely unqualified to talk about that. However, we are going to talk about changing opinions. It’s one thing for that to happen with clothing, but it’s an entirely different reality for that to happen with the way that we live. We’re seeing shifting opinions with how we live in our day and time, where morality and values change nearly every day. Well, the people of Israel also experienced this moral instability during the time of the Judges. 

Today, we’re continuing our journey in the Old Testament and we’ll be talking about the period of the Judges of Israel. We’re going to see that this was a tremendously unstable time for the people of Israel. 

Let’s pray together as we get started. 


In our journey through the Old Testament we have learned how God created all things, set apart a people as His own, the people of Israel, and then led those people to their own land, the Promised Land. Now, their leader, Joshua, has passed away and they need new leaders. That takes us to the Judges. 

So, let’s look at some major elements as we begin this part of our journey:

I. Major elements [on screen]

1. After Joshua came a new generation of Israelites who did not follow God. (Judges 2:8-13) [on screen]

Read Judges 2:8-13. (Read in paper Bible)

At first thought, it may seem striking to see how quickly the people could turn away from the Lord. However, remember that Joshua’s generation came after a generation of people who were not allowed to enter the Promised Land because they were complainers and doubters. Then, even during Joshua’s generation, you had some who disobeyed the Lord. 

Then, the generation that came after Joshua also turned away from God. These people not only forgot about God, they actively worshiped false gods. They were totally unfaithful to the Lord. 

We must catch this, church: when we are not careful—when the people of God are not careful—we can quickly forget about the name of God and the ways of God. We must take heed lest we also fall. We must pay attention and learn from God’s Word or the same thing will happen to us. We must stay focused on and faithful to God!

Second, . . .

2. Judges were raised up to lead the people. (Judges 2:14-23) [on screen]

Before the Judges of Israel, the Israelites were led by monumental figures like Moses and Joshua. Then, the Judges came. 

The Judges were like spiritual, civil, and military governors to lead the people as a nation and as the people of God. 

God knew that they needed leaders, so God gave them the Judges. 

The Judges were Othniel, Ehud, Shamgar, Deborah, Gideon, Abimelech, Tola, Jair, Jephthah, Ibzan, Elon, Abdon, and Samson. [on screen]

Some of these judges were more famous than others. 

Ehud, for instance, is famous for stabbing evil King Eglon of Moab in the stomach with a double-edged dagger. Eglon was so fat that the dagger was swallowed up inside his belly and Ehud escaped undetected. You can read about Ehud in Judges 3. 

Deborah is famous for being the only judge who was a woman and she had to encourage a man to be brave and go out to battle on behalf of Israel. He said that he would only go if she went with him. You can read about Deborah in Judges 4 and 5. 

Gideon is famous for putting out a fleece to confirm what the Lord is saying to him.

Samson is famous for being super strong, yet having a weak spot for women. 

So, God raised up these leaders to lead His people, although, the leadership and deliverance that they brought to Israel was always temporary. In fact, some of them were not very godly themselves. Several of them were downright evil, yet God was working out His plan for His people in the midst of their sin, and He was doing so through the Judges. 

That takes us to our third major element:

3. Israel went through cycles of sin, judgment, repentance, and deliverance. [on screen]

During the time of the Judges, the Israelites had some good moments but they also had some really bad moments, including false worship and heinous sin. 

Specifically, the cycle would play out like this: 

Israel would have peace, Israel would slip into idolatry, Israel would be enslaved, Israel would cry out to God, God would raise up a Judge, God would deliver the people, Israel would have peace. [on screen]

This would happen over and over again. The people were super forgetful and super unfaithful. God was super gracious and super faithful. 

As we go through the book of Judges, two phrases stick out as summary statements about what is happening:

“The Israelites again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord.” [on screen]


“In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did whatever seemed right to him.” [on screen]

The book of Judges is a sad story of how God’s people continued to fail to be faithful to Him and they were led by leaders who at best only offered temporary leadership and who at worst led the people further into evil. 

In many ways, the book of Judges is one of the saddest books in the Bible and one of the saddest periods in the life of the people of Israel. 

Next, let’s discover some major truths from the book. 

II. Major truths [on screen]

1. We don’t drift into godliness; we drift into sin. [on screen]

If we are not intentionally godly, we will become ungodly without even realizing it. 

Listen, church: living the Christian life requires intentionality and effort! 

The apostle Paul pointed this out in Philippians 3:12-14. He said, “12 Not that I have already reached the goal or am already perfect, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, 14 I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.” [on screen]

We must make an intentional decision and give intentional effort to receive the promises of God and become the people who God created and called us to be!

So, church, learn this from the people of Israel during the time of the Judges: we don’t drift into godliness; we drift into sin. Seek to be godly on purpose!

2. Human leaders are not what we need. [on screen]

Ultimately, human leaders, in and of themselves, are not what we need. What we need is God! We need His blessings, His guidance, His love, His ways, His sovereign hand of control over us. 

Human leaders will let us down time and time again. Human leaders can become selfish, foolish, childish, and evil-ish.

Who we need is God, and if a human leader is being led by God, then God can work through that leader as well. 

Again, there were some good Judges, but ultimately, the Judges would let the people down by allowing the people to forsake the ways of God and do what was right in their own eyes. 

Human leaders are, ultimately, not what we need. 

3. We need to do what is right in God’s eyes. [on screen]

Let me be clear, church: when it comes to the main issues, we don’t need any more human opinions about how to operate the church, how to live as families, how to operate our society, and how to live in this world. God has already given us a design and instructions. Let’s look to Him! Let’s seek His opinion! Let’s follow His ways!

The final verse of Judges, Judges 21:25, says this: “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did whatever seemed right to him.” [on screen]

May this never be said of us, church. May it never be said that First Baptist Church Bartow did whatever seemed right to them. May it never be said of me, “Matt McCraw did whatever seemed right to him.” May it never be said of you that you did what seemed right to you! May it be said of us, “They did what God wanted them to do! They weren’t perfect, but they loved the Lord, they pursued the Lord, and they sought to be obedient to the Lord!”

We need to do what is right in God’s eyes!

Finally, let us see how . . .

III. The Gospel speaks [on screen]

Two simple truths for us this morning; the Gospel speaks in these two ways:

1. Sin leads to brokenness. [on screen]

The people of Israel suffered again and again because of their own sin. Listen: they were God’s chosen people! If their sin caused brokenness in their lives, don’t you think that sin in our lives will cause brokenness also?

The apostle Paul spoke to this idea in Galatians 6:7-8. He said, “7 Don’t be deceived: God is not mocked. For whatever a person sows he will also reap, 8 because the one who sows to his flesh will reap destruction from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit.”  [on screen]

God created us to thrive in this world, but sin will mess up everything! Sin leads to brokenness. 

2. Jesus fixes brokenness. [on screen]

Aren’t you thankful for Jesus? Aren’t you thankful for the Gospel? Jesus fixes brokenness! 

Jesus fixes more broken things than duct tape and gorilla glue combined. Jesus fixes broken hearts, He fixes broken lives, He fixes broken churches, He fixes broken pastors, He fixes broken families, He fixes broken societies, He fixes broken finances, He fixes broken minds, and much more! He can heal any marriage. He can cure any addiction. He can turn a mediocre portrait into something better than a Picasso. He could turn a car that’s a lemon into something better than a Lamborghini. Jesus could even put Humpty-Dumpty together again. Jesus can fix anything!

Listen to what the apostle Paul said about the power of Jesus in Colossians 2:13-14, “13 And when you were dead in trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, he made you alive with him and forgave us all our trespasses. 14 He erased the certificate of debt, with its obligations, that was against us and opposed to us, and has taken it away by nailing it to the cross. [on screen]

The brokenness brought by sin has been nailed to the cross by the power of Jesus Christ! He fixes brokenness!

If you have brokenness in your life, be encouraged: Jesus fixes brokenness. 

Concluding Thoughts:

We need God and His ways. Our ways will lead us to brokenness and confusion. 

That takes us to our bottom line:

Bottom Line: The time of the Judges shows us what happens when God’s people forget God’s ways. [on screen]


Church, may we never forget God’s ways. May we never be a people who start doing things our own way. It will not end well for us. 

Let’s all do our part. Our church is made up of individuals who pursue Jesus and His ways, together. Let’s do it, as individuals working together as a family. 

Challenge yourself this week in the following ways:

Weekly Challenge: [on screen]

1. Name the cycles of sin that you need to break. [on screen]

Remember, during the time of the Judges, the people of Israel were stuck in cycles of sin that happened over and over. Is there sin in your life that is happening over and over? Perhaps it’s anger. Perhaps it’s gossip. Perhaps it’s disrespect of your father and mother. Perhaps it’s an addiction to something such as junk food, alcohol, pornography, or something else. Perhaps it’s lack of forgiveness. 

Identify those cycles of sin in your life so that you can take them to Jesus and He can break them by the power of His work on the cross. 

2. Develop a tool to help you remember God. [on screen]

The problem with the people during the time of the Judges is that they continued to forget God. Well, church, we need to remember God!

Take some time this week and think about a tool that will help you remember God and His work in your life. Obviously, all of us should pray and read the Bible. However, think of something to add to your regular spiritual practices. 

Perhaps you can sing a certain song every day. Perhaps you can write a Bible verse on a note and tape it to the dashboard of your car or on your bathroom mirror. Perhaps you can carry a small object in your pocket that reminds you of the work of Jesus. 

Take some this week and think about how you can develop a tool to help you remember God. 


Sometimes, we may not see God and remember God, but listen, God sees you and He remembers you.

God created you to know Him, love Him, and serve Him. He can set you free from brokenness and He can show you His ways. 

(Gospel presentation)

(closing prayer)

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