I am currently preaching through Judges and have entered the final section (the last 5 bizarre chapters). I also just completed reading Joel Green’s, Practicing Theological Interpretation (geared more towards the scholar than practitioner, but still helpful).
I was looking for insight into how to read Scripture in a way that it functions for the Church (building faith). What follows adds to our recent discussion about whether you preach to your congregants about the Bible or about them from the Bible.
Green writes, “The question, then, is how to hear in the words of Scripture the word of God speaking in the present tense” (p. 5).
That’s not always easy in OT narrative sections like Judges 1:27–2:5. Seven times we read, “…did not drive out…” as in, “Manasseh did not drive out the inhabitants of Beth-shean and its villages…” (1:27).
God speaks to us through what happen to them, in this case, what God’s people repeatedly didn’t do. The key is to figure out how the repeated failure to drive out the inhabitants addresses us.
Green states, “…if this letter is to serve as Scripture for us, then we will allow it to tell us who we are” (p. 18).
This is a helpful angle when thinking about sermon application. So, what does it look like to allow Judges to tell us who we are? In this section of Judges it looks like a “go and do otherwise” lesson. God’s people didn’t drive out the deadly sinful influences. This is who we are apart from faith and obedience.
So, we say to ourselves and our folks: there is a wrong way to deal with temptation (vv. 1:27-36), God is not happy with that way (vv. 2:1-3), and we must change our ways (vv. 2:4-5).
And, if you’re wondering about a Christo-centric angle on this text, one is found in the Lord’s statement: “I will never break my covenant with you, and you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land…” (vv. 2:1-2). God’s people broke their end of the deal; God did not. However, He did break His covenant with His Son on the cross. That’s why He never breaks His covenant with us.
So, let Judges tell us who we are and allow Christ-crucified to change us into His faithful people.
Preach well so God receives glory in the church and in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 3:21).