The Book of Judges lists 12 people who served as rulers in Israel after the conquest of Canaan; Othniel, Ehud, Shamgar, Deborah, Gideon, Tola, Jair, Jephthah, Ibzan, Elon, Abdon, and Samson. Some would mention Abimelech in a list of judges, but I will leave him off the list since his role is questionable. Of the twelve judges listed, seven are mentioned in 3 or fewer verses each. That is more than half of the judges. These seven people are easy to look over. We know a name. Sometimes how many sons and how many donkeys they had. We know that Shamgar killed 600 men with an ox goad (a pointy stick). But beyond that, there is not much information about these people.
When I was about 17, I had a chance to visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. At the time I don’t think I had a good idea of what the wall stood for. It had only been open for about 5 years at the time. It was more or less just a list of names of the men who had given their lives in the service of their country during Vietnam. To tell the truth, it was stark and bare. No explanation given. No ranks listed. No recognition of which branch of service or what particular group the men and women fought with. Just a list of names. The sheer number was overwhelming and at the time I thought that was the point. To give a long list of people who had given their lives so that I could experience freedom. And I think that is important. But years later, thinking about that wall, I have more and more respect for what it stands for.
The rank of each person is unimportant. The number of people is staggering, but not what is most important. The branch of service might be nice, but it is, in the end, unimportant. Each name stands for someone who served, and died, or who was missing in action. They each served a principle. They each followed a standard. They gave all to insure the forward movement of freedom. Their names are enough to remember them. Their names give us enough information. They were people, like you and me, who showed us how to stand up for freedom and liberty.
That is what those seven judges in the Book of judges mean for me. Their story is not about great feats of strength or cunning, like Samson’s story. Their story is not about learning trust and reliance the way that we see Gideon learning. Their story is not about listening to the voice of God like Deborah taught Barak. No. Their story is the quiet but powerful story of everyday faith. These seven lived a life devoted to God and that was what was most important. That was what God decided to share with us in the Bible. It is the legacy that they leave behind. The legacy that says, “there people followed God, no matter the cost.”
Quiet, devoted faith makes a difference. Learning to trust and to follow, to lead and to serve, are all important. That kind of faith is formed in the everyday decisions of life. Faith is shaped in the “normal” part of how we live. The decisions we make about movies, television, and reading. The discussions we have with friends and family in the familiar surroundings of home. The prayers we utter during laundry or morning coffee. The habits of service we practice in the everyday moments of life. These are not big, flashy moments of growth. They are slow, deliberate growth that shapes our hearts.
Embedding the Bible is not about some bolt of lightning from heaven. Oh, God can do that when He wants, and sometimes there are big flashes of insight. But growth also comes through the steady study of God’s word. The decision to be faithful in every moment of the day. The deliberate embedding in our hearts that we do as we read our Bibles. Embedding is about steady, deliberate growth. Growth that quietly but persistently impacts those around us and builds a legacy of faith that follows us.
|August 14||Judges 8|
|August 15||Judges 9|
|August 16||Judges 10:1-11:3|
|August 17||Judges 11:4-40|
|August 18||Judges 12|
|August 19||Judges 13|
|August 20||Judges 14|
|August 21||Judges 15|