My friend is teaching on the book of Judges this fall. She called me and told me how excited she was about it. I had been asking God what book was next. I definitely didn’t have Judges on my mind.
I don’t really like the word, “judge,” if I’m being completely honest. It conjures up images in my mind of a sour faced man with a gavel pronouncing condemnation. Perhaps this is why I haven’t been so keen to dig deep into this book of the Bible. However, when my friend told me how she's finding this book point to Jesus I thought I might give it another look, a deeper look and invite the Holy Spirit to open my eyes afresh to it’s Words.
Now, only a few short chapters in and sentences are jumping off the pages, illuminated and speaking a fresh word to this weary and prone to wander soul. My friend’s excitement has spread and I can’t keep quiet about it. I have to share.
First, let’s talk about this word: judge. You know, it’s the one leaving a bad taste in my mouth. Although this may be the case for those of us who speak the English language, there is far greater meaning and beauty when it is spoken in the Hebrew.
In Hebrew this word, “judge,” denotes balance, wisdom, ethics, integrity, all with which, if present, will enable a ruler to rid injustice and bring about the right things.
We often hear God referred to as a Judge and again, if I’m telling you the truth, that image scares me. In the fearful and small places of my brain, it makes me think he is waiting for me to make a wrong move and hand over my sentence. And if I keep telling the truth, I can say that is exactly what I deserve. I deserve a heavy sentence for all my wrong. I have sinned greatly and brought hurt and pain upon many people I love. That judge I see with the gavel and the grim expression has every right to condemn me.
But that is not a true reflection of the heart of God.
If we look closely at Judges 2:16 we see a very different image of the Judge of the Whole Earth.
In the first few chapters of this book the cycle is apparent. Israel sins, they suffer because of their actions, they can’t take it anymore so they cry out to God, He hears their cries, He delivers them. Over and over, this is the pattern. Over and over we see a God who’s people turn their backs on him and “Nevertheless” He always comes through.
He is a Never-the-less God.
No matter how far away we find ourselves from Him, He is never any less than who is…the same, yesterday, today and forever.
He is never less kind.
He is never less gracious.
He is never less merciful.
He is never less loving.
He is never less faithful.
He is never less good.
In our outright toddler-like tantrums and direct disobedience He still answers our cries like a Father. He brings us back to Him. He delivers because He is the Deliverer.
I don’t know about you but there have been days when I have been reminded of what I’ve been saved from. There are moments when I think about where I would be if God did not answer my pleas for help from a pit. He saved me. He can save you.
He is a Nevertheless God.