“Thus the children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. And they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons; and they served their gods.” Judges 3:5-6
In the book of Judges we find the Israelites once again straying. They abandoned their deliverer, embraced the lifestyle of the pagan culture around them, and began serving the buffet of Canaanite gods available to them. God, yet again, reached out to a rebellious group by sending to them “The Judges.”
Almost like it sounds, these comic book style heroes held the responsibility of judge, jury, and executioner of their rulings. The Hebrew word for judge, shaphat, literally means “to deliver and to rule”. They were often military leaders, and even at one time, Israel’s king. They were to call Israel to holiness, to bring her back into relationship to the law, and to ultimately protect the destiny of Israel in God’s plan for the redemption of the world. And like most Old Testament fixes for Israel’s rebellion, they were a type of band-aid to a situation God had already developed a permanent fix for.
Flash forward to today. We find ourselves in a land full of Canaanite ways, a culture that tends to distract us, seduce us, and desires to take our daughters and our sons as its own, a culture that calls us to turn our back on a God who has paid the price for our deliverance. Yet, we are called to rule and reign with Christ… we are the modern day judges.
We are called to call the world to holiness. We are also called to bring the world into a relationship with Grace and Forgiveness. We are called, not to protect destiny, but to declare and proclaim it in the form of the Kingdom of God, and we are not a temporary fix, but God’s ultimate plan. We are empowered by the Holy Spirit, and full of the love of Christ.
While the Old Testament judge could ultimately declare that the punishment for a crime meant death, we have the ability to declare that that death is no more, and no matter the sin, we pronounce life and freedom to the accused.
When Jesus sent out the disciples, he was giving us a picture of the role change of the modern day judge… “Preach the Kingdom of God is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give…” This is the normal lifestyle each and every Spirit filled believer is called to. Now go out today and judge the world! The verdict… Not guilty! The sentence… freedom and eternal life!