As we’ve moved through Judges, I can’t help but notice an obvious trend from the early victories that were achieved in the context of community to the later defeats that were marked by isolation. The book of Joshua shows Israel achieving victory through obedience to the covenant but they did so in context of community not in isolation. In Judges that all gets destroyed. Judges starts off with good judges, like Ehud, who lead Israel’s troops in victory over the Moabites. Note: victory came through community.
Then there was Barak who called out 10,000 men who followed him into battle against the Canaanite (ch. 4-5). Again, victory came through community.
The pinnacle of community in Judges is found in Gideon’s story (ch. 6-8). Everything Gideon did was based on community or teamwork. He took 10 of his men to topple his father’s idol to Baal and Asherah. Then he leads his 22,000 men which God reduced down to 300 to fight the Midianites (ch. 7). Yup, you guessed it – victory came through obeying God and following Him in community.
Moving on from Gideon we trend towards isolation and independence. Leaders of Shechem paid Abimelech 70 pieces of silver to kill 70 of his own brothers (who were Israelites) so he could become a hero (ch. 9). It is noteworthy that he hired “worthless and reckless fellows” who followed him. Now we have depraved community led by a leader that is not following God’s covenant and who has turned on Israel.
And that leads us to Jephthah (ch. 11-12). He was the son of a prostitute who had no chance of social significance in Israel. When he was kicked out of Israel, he surrounded himself with “worthless fellows” who followed him. He so desperately desired social acceptance that he made his foolish vow in which he promised to sacrifice his daughter if the Lord would assist him in victory. Like Gideon, Jephthah surrounds himself with his depraved community of “worthless fellows.”
Judges ends with the sad and lonely story of Samson (ch. 13-16). Samson is an isolated judge. He never recruited or lead others. Everything he did was motivated by revenge and executed in isolation. The message: Defeat comes from isolation and independence.
Now, a number of observations.
The Judges that experienced success followed the LORD and worked in community, not in isolation.
The Judges that blessed Israel with deliverance worked in community, not in isolation.
This makes me appreciate our Life Groups. Are you in a community? If you are not in a Life Group – are you on the path of independence and Isolation? We are wired for community. We work best in community. We find grace and forgiveness and encouragement and joy in community. When we are part of a community God uses us in the lives of others.
I’d encourage you to reach out and connect with us through this link to join one – it might make a good 2022 resolution: https://www.gracelifeomaha.org/about-us
Defeat comes from isolation and independence – victory comes through community and interdependence.