ZADOK PUBLICATIONS MONTHLY NEWSLETTER
September 1, 2005
General Study of Judges
In light of current world affairs, the following study on the book of Judges was mandated for this month's newsletter. Initially, it was done upon the request of a brother in Kentucky who inquired about the office of Judge. Hopefully, its length will not deter your interest.
General Study of Judges
The Bible mentions 17 judges. Four are not cited in the book of Judges (Samuel, Eli, Joel and Abijah). There are also several classifications of Judges with the Warrior Judges being Othniel, Shamgar, Deborah & Barak, Gideon and Jephthah. Regardless of how man might classify them, Judges stood in a special office delegated by God. They received their mandate from heaven and were not swayed by the drama of politics. The office was an appointment by God and not one sought after. Judges did not pontificate; they postured according to the Spirit.
In Isaiah, God said He was going to restore the office of Judge upon the earth. Most assuredly, there are those being prepared for this office at the moment. Just as the Lord prepared forerunners who mirrored the Savior prior to His first coming, He is preparing forerunners of similar status prior to His second coming. Because the righteous will judge the earth during His reign, there are those in place now--declaring righteous determinations in advance of His appearing.
And I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counselors as at the beginning: afterward thou shalt be called, The city of righteousness, the faithful city. Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness. Isaiah 1:26-27
Fortunately, as the church age winds to a close and the offices connected to it begin to wane, there will be a return to the Old Testament prophet-judge. Samuel was both, as he was a transitional person reaching between the two offices in a time just prior to God's acquiescence to Israel's kingships. Indeed, it is appropriate to search out this new office of the old order even as the Day of the Lord approaches.
Unfortunately, there are those who define various offices like prophet or judge without the Spirit's dictionary. Their definition of a prophet today seeks to flavor Paul's construct of the New Testament prophetic office. They claim the office is vastly different to the office of the Old Testament prophet. Not so! Rabbi Paul was well versed in the Scriptures and knew the prophets who entered his life were of the old variety. Ananias was sent specifically to him with a special word and an ordered task to perform. Agabus also was sent to describe what Paul would experience in Rome down to the letter, even though Paul sloughed against it. Old Testament prophets didn't miss; they didn't speak in nebulous terms.
Just as the New Testament prophet was modeled after the Old Testament office, so the Judge of the future will ascend to a position similar to those of the Old Testament. He or she will be "judges," "rulers," "deliverers," or "saviors." (These are definitions of Shophetim, translated Judge.) Their duties will exceed the passing of "sentences" and issuing "verdicts." Their emphasis will be upon liberating and delivering. In the Last Days, a deliverance ministry will not mean casting out demons so much as liberating people from false doctrines and false teachers. It will entail stepping between the oppressors and the oppressed. The office of Judge will have a fierce demeanor turned toward those who preach false doctrine. The intent of these Judges will be that of a warrior as well as a discriminator. These Judges will be able to draw fine lines between good and good, be the "critiquer" of manifold words and the determiner of saliency within messages. They will attain to the highest form of higher criticism.
 Eckhardt, John, The Ministry Anointing of the Apostle, Crusaders Publications, Chicago, pp. 20, 23
Higher criticism in theological circles today is based on man's knowledge of languages, doctrine, depth of Scripture education and his/her ability to compare and contrast. Higher critical skills include the ability to define narrow differences in belief and practice and either praise or denounce or suggest change to the task at hand. The "Last Days Judge" will be proficient in higher critical skills, but based on the Spirit's input. He or she will be the essence of discernment, a resource missing in today's arenas. (For sometime it has been apparent that the Two Witnesses will be prophet-judges.)
Judges, The Book:
Several aspects of Judgeship can be ascertained from the general reading of Judges.
Utilizing some of these aspects, this study of Judges begins with Chapters 16-21, because these chapters were written first.
- Judges often assume leadership for a specific duty and for a specific period of time in a specific territory.
- Judges have deliverance ministries.
- Judges have the force of righteousness on their side.
- Judges have the final say; they speak and act as sole authority; they
need not confer with anyone.
- Judges referee as well as umpire.
- Judges examine, with depth, the merits and demerits of actions.
- Judges have the Lord WITH them, and their determinations will come to pass propelled by the force of God.
- Their office is not successive. They have no mantle to pass.
Chapter 16: Samson's defeat
Samson went to Gaza and saw a harlot there, and went in to her.
Samson's formal judgeship was in the land of the Philistines. It is not strange that much of the conflict in Israel today is over the Gaza area where Samson officiated. Samson's judgments still reign there, and the populace cannot tolerate it yet! He ultimately symbolized the downfall and continued downfall of the Gaza dwellers even in his last act of anointing. God granted him power for the ransom of his eyes and because he died as a Nazirite.
(Judges must be morally pure, and Samson's failed personal love life left him vulnerable to spiritual attack. His yielding to the harlot in Gaza allowed the tempter to bring him to the valley.)
Afterward it happened that he loved a woman in the Valley of Sorek.
It was to this woman whom he "told her all his heart (16:17)," which is a terrible mistake for a Judge. Prophets later urged a day when even the one lying in one's bosom should not be trusted with the things from a sealed heart. Judges are not to be transparent to those outside the seal of God; their connection to God is a sacred trust. Samson knew his trust was sacred, further evidenced by his taking the Gates of Gaza to the mount that looked toward Hebron.
 Micah 7:5 "Guard the doors of your mouth from her who lies in your bosom." NKJV
Samson, like all Judges, stood between the oppressors and the people of God. He faced agitators and acted in behalf of his people. Even though there are no clearly defined Scriptures as to the role of the Judge (as in the manner of priests), the role is intuitive, personal and subsists on a day to day reliance upon the will and power of God.
Chapter 17-21: The Road to Eli and Samuel
These chapters yield little information as to the qualifications and administration of Judges, but they do yield evidence of a need for the office of Judge. When Samson ended the composite judgeship of the Bible (Judges 1-15), the people went their own way and did what "was good in their own eyes."
Interestingly enough, these latter chapters do tell why the tribe of Dan is not mentioned among the 144,000 in the book of Revelation. Chapter 18:26-31 shows their folly. They took images into their lives and stole Micah's precious items; they pirated away a priest to minister according to their own worship desires; they conquered a quiet people who did them no harm, devastated their families and killed their women and children; they set up idolatry and worshipped apart from the tabernacle at Shiloh. They did their thing, with their stuff, their way. (Sounds like many ministries and peoples today.)
Their actions laid the groundwork for ending the old priesthood and necessitating the Zadok counterpart. Eli judged Israel (while being a priest) after the days of Samson and was ineffective even in his own household. He did, however, harbor and nurture Samuel. Though Eli's sons sought places of honor as priests, they never assumed the office of Judge. Neither did the sons of Samuel, even though they tried. Gideon's sons went astray as well, seeking to emulate the power of their father without the heart of their father. Judgeships are not successive. The anointing does not transfer.
With Samuel came the end of the Judges of Israel until the Latter Days. They will take up where Samuel left off and function as he did, but with greater revelation (Prophet-Judge). As time repeats itself, a Twenty-first Century people are guilty of Israel's sin, "every man did what was right in his own eyes." As moral and spiritual turpitude slides into oblivion, there is no place for the likes of Eli. His slack hand brought down his own house and many in the house of Israel as well. There is, right now, a need for the office of Judge upon the earth.
How different was Samuel, who heard and observed the travesties of justice first hand, while living under the roof of Eli. Samuel's duty to strictly follow the call of God and the will of God in his life removed the cloak of affability and caused the people to choose their own system of justice--a King.
In Chapter 18, one sees the slippery ease into national idolatry.
In Chapter 19, one reviews immorality gone to its farther reaches (in the death of the Ephraimite's concubine, which precipitated vengeance against Gibeah and Benjamin).
Something was gained by this travesty, however, because Benjamin learned never to defend homosexuality again and never to leave the side of Judah. (Immediately afterward, Israel was more interested in resourcing an answer to Benjamin's dilemma than depending on God's ability to intervene and provide. They were concerned about wives; He was concerned about ways.)
It is in this confrontation with Benjamin that the Lord instructed Judah to take the lead and subsequently the first casualties of this civil war. Why would He select Judah? (Perhaps it was because of the later intimate connection between Judah and Benjamin.) Strangely enough, it was of the daughters of Shiloh that the remnant of Benjamin took their wives (This was where the tabernacle resided and their action set the stage for disregard of the sacredness of the place and the ark. Perhaps the denigration of Shiloh had already begun.).
Chapter One and Two:
The first chapter details a people who chose compromise over warfare. It is a sad chapter winding into chapter two with an edict from God.
I led you up from Egypt and brought you to the land of which
I swore to your fathers; and I said, 'I will never break My covenant
with you. And you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of
this land; you shall tear down their altars,' But you have not obeyed
My voice. Why have you done this? Therefore I also said, 'I will
not drive them out before you; but they shall be thorns in your side,
and their gods shall be a snare to you.'
The response was weeping followed by a sacrifice. Has this not been the traditional contrition of all established religious work?
So the people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all
the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the
great works of the Lord which He had done for Israel.
It was indeed a short trip between verse 7 and verse 12.
They forsook the Lord God of their fathers.
The anger of the Lord was hot against Israel. So He delivered
them into the hands of plunderers who despoiled them…so
they could no longer stand before their enemies.
THEN THE LORD RAISED UP JUDGES WHO DELIVERED
THEM OUT OF THE HAND OF THOSE WHO PLUNDERED
THEM. Yet, they would not listen to their judges…
Judges 2:12, 14, 16, 17
At this point is the first indication of the role of the Judge. Just as Othniel delivered Caleb the city of Debir and took Achsah as bride, the pattern of deliverance began.
Judges are deliverers from the "plunderers." (This could be a gigantic undertaking given today's religious economy.)
 Roper, John C., Big budget supports the higher calling, Houston Chronicle, Business Section, July, 24, 2005. (An interview with Joel Osteen.) "We obviously are a business because we're dealing with millions of dollars. And I say that because we don't take that lightly." (Revenues in 2004, $54 Million, including $3.4 million from bookstore sales.) The business owns Channel 55 "The Tube." It has $60 Million in debt. Osteen lives in "ritzy Tanglewood" in a $2.3 Million dollar home. This is a family owned business. Revenues will increase to $77 Million this fiscal year. Also in the article were several comments from researchers concerning the mega church movement. "It is common for a mega-church to have annual revenue in the millions of dollars, and for most if not all the money to be spent on construction, highly produced services, advertising, promotion and broadcasting," according to the Hartford institute for Religion Research. "This is a business that dwarfs all other businesses. This business dwarfs the car business. Nothing compares to it," James Twitchell, Univ. of Florida, said.
Othniel witnessed Israel's departure from God--the worship of baal and fertility gods. He witnessed their intermarriage with pagan women and disregard for God. He witnessed their captivity and their crying for deliverance. In this latter matter, Othniel and the Lord moved as One in Their judging of Israel. God and Othniel judged that the people were sincere and repentant.
The Judge is to make those quality judgments. They are to be WITH God.
The Lord raised Othniel as a deliverer and he warred with Cushan-Rishathaim, the King.
Forty years passed and "The children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord (Judges 3:12)." King Eglon of Moab rose and conquered Israel. Once more the Lord appointed a Judge, Ehud, to exercise wisdom and offer a plan for deliverance. Judges develop strategies against the enemies of God's people. Strategies of deliverance take many turns; in this case, it was the turn of a knife in Eglon's fat. "I have a message from God for you (3:20)."
Judge Shamgar followed Judge Ehud and killed 600 men of the Philistines with an ox goad, which was miniscule compared to the wrath and power of Samson. It is to be noted that not all Judges were equal in notoriety, but they did their appointed work as deliverers. Judges are fearless!
Women can be Judges. Deborah was a wife and a prophetess. She heard from God in civil matters ("She would sit under 'the palm tree of Deborah' between Ramah and Bethel in the mountains of Ephraim. And the children of Israel came up to her for judgment [4:5].").
She heard from God and called for the commander of the armies of Israel, Barak.
'Has not the Lord God of Israel commanded, saying, "Go and deploy at Mt. Tabor; take with you ten thousand men of the sons of Naphtali and the sons of Zebulun."' Judges 4:6
God promised, "I will deliver him (Sisera) into your hand (4:7)."
Weak Barak wanted strong Deborah to accompany him, which she did. Deborah rose to the prophetic and proclaimed, "I will surely go with you; nevertheless there will be no glory for you." It is the prophetic office, not the apostolic office, which blends with Judgeship!
Judges are powerful in the fray of battle. Deborah's prophecy came true. Jael, a woman, brought Sisera's death. She literally nailed him.
Deborah's Song is most revealing. Judge Deborah poured truth into her music.
'When leaders lead in Israel, When the people willingly offer
themselves, Bless the Lord!'
This mother of Israel nailed truth as firmly as Jael did Sisera. A Judge discerns when leaders are leading and the people are yielding to the hand of God. The Judge's heart is always WITH Godly rulers (5:9). She chided the judges who rode white donkeys and stayed out of the battle lines. (Could this be the same as flashy limousines and distant residences?) Not so with Deborah, she stood by her troops. Her testimony was like a general's.
The Lord came down for me against the mighty.
She stayed with the job and saw the deliverance. Judges remain on the job until it is accomplished. "Great resolve and great searchings of heart (5:15, 16)" come to those who heed God's Judges.
One of the most important teachings in Judges came in Deborah's song:
"They fought from the heavens; the stars from their courses fought
When the Lord promised to be "with" His judges, He meant it literally. Judges battle with spiritual power from on high. They deliver with the help of the heavens. They conquer not through their own strength, but through the control room of God. (Who could have imagined a Jael?)
Judges pronounce spiritual curses.
'Curse Meroz,' said the angel of the Lord, 'Curse its inhabitants
bitterly, because they did not come to the help of the Lord, to the
help of the Lord against the mighty.'
'Let all Your enemies perish, O Lord!'
Judges pronounce blessings as well:
'Let those who love Him be like the sun when it comes out in full
Under her leadership, the people had peace for forty years.
A prophet now enters the mix of Judges. Israel was back to sinning again, not just one or two, but the whole nation. It was corporate sin. God gave a prophet a word for the nation, thereby separating logistically the offices of prophet and Judge.
"The Lord sent a prophet to the children of Israel, who said to them,
'Thus says the Lord God of Israel: "I brought you up from Egypt and
and brought you out of the house of bondage; and I delivered you out of
the hand of the Egyptians and out of the hand of all who oppressed you,
and drove them out before you and gave you their land. Also I said to
you, 'I am the Lord your God; do not fear the gods of the Amorites, in
whose land you dwell. But you have not obeyed my voice".'"
Judges 6: 8-10
Immediately, a Judge was brought in, Jerubbabaal. Masses responded to Gideon's call to arms. Gideon thinned the army by the methods of the Lord and the account was beautiful as God selected those to be sealed to victory. Firm evidence showed that the three hundred who remained were a remnant of those who had not entered the sin of the nation. Prophecy brought them out and God revealed them. It works like that!
"But the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon; THEN he blew the
Judges are to be subject to the Spirit in all things.
"Look at me and do likewise; watch and when I come to the edge
of the camp you shall do as I do":
Like Deborah, Gideon was in the battle. Like Deborah, Gideon knew the Lord was with him. He could ably say, "Do as I do." That is the kind of men or women God will use in the Latter Days!
Gideon then encountered Succoth and Penuel, two places that did not accommodate him in his hour of need. He cursed them and promised them retribution at his own hand. He boldly and by faith declared his enemies would be defeated and he would have power over them and would turn his power against Succoth and Penuel.
He whipped the men of Succoth with thorn and brier switches. (What a sight that must have been.)
"He taught the men of Succoth".
Then he proceeded to tear down the tower at Penuel (a tower raised in righteousness for a monument to God is worthless in the hands of a people who refuse Him.). Churches are the same!
Gideon killed the men of the city just like he killed Zebah and Zalmunna. He took their crescent ornaments (the sign of those against Israel currently and for past centuries).
Judges must not be afraid to mete out justice and stand to correct those who have been rebellious to God's commands. Rulers they are not, however.
"I will not rule over you, nor shall my son rule over you: the Lord
shall rule over you".
Judges are not rulers; they are not potentates and position holders. Rank means nothing, for no one parallels them. Judges often have the epitaph of Gideon.
"Nor did they show kindness to the house of Gideon in accordance
with the good he had done for Israel".
Abimelech, a son of Gideon, killed his other brothers with the exception of Jotham. Abimelech wanted the offer to "rule over the people." Therefore, he was made King "beside the terebinth tree at the pillar that was Shechem." Only one impediment besides God stood in his way--Jotham.
Jotham went to the mount of blessing (Gerizim) and poured out a curse on Abimelech. Judgeships are not inheritable! Jotham judged well, though not formally.
"And all the evil of the men of Shechem God returned on their
own heads, and on them came 'the curse of Jotham' the son of
Not much is recorded about Judge Tola and the twenty-three years he judged Israel, except he followed Abimelech. That was enough said. The very fact that out of all the turmoil of Abimelech, he ruled with peace and safety spoke worlds about him. The people followed his wisdom and there was peace where there had been uproar. He was from Isaachar and that tribe did not enter into Gideon's war or the affairs of Abimelech.
 Judges 10:1-5 After Abimelech had debauched Israel by his wickedness, disquieted and disturbed them by his restless ambition, and, by the mischief's he brought on them, exposed them to enemies from abroad, God animated this good man to appear for the reforming of abuses, the putting down of idolatry, the appeasing of tumults, and the healing of the wounds given to the state by Abimelech's usurpation. Thus he saved them from themselves, and guarded them against their enemies. He was of the tribe of Issachar, a tribe disposed to serve, for he bowed his shoulder to bear. (from Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible: New Modern Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1991 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)
 Judges 10:1 The son of Puah. He was uncle to Abimelech by the father's side, and consequently brother of Gideon; yet the former was of the tribe of Issachar, while the latter was of Manasseh. They were most probably uterine brothers. (from Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)
Similarly, Jair, a Gileadite, was obscure as well. The fact he had thirty cities, each governed by one of his sons, made them all people of rank. Judges do not have a poverty oath! As a matter of fact, God has made Judges from all echelons of society.
Again the people turned to sin and elicited a strong rebuke from the mouth of God:
'There I will deliver you no more. Go and cry out to the gods which
you have chosen.'
Judges 10:13, 14
(This passage in Judges could be pronounced today among the churches, but where would be the repentance and the turning? O for a Jephthah. O for a Judge from God.)
The people repented. They turned to Jephthah, an outcast son of a harlot.
Jephthah faced the same cry as is heard from the Palestinians today.
'Because Israel took away my land when they came up out
of Egypt, from the Arnon as far as the Jabbok, and to the
Jordan. Now therefore, restore those lands peaceably.'
Jephthah's answer as Judge is the same answer which should be given today.
'So now the Lord God of Israel has dispossessed the Amorites
from before His people Israel; should you then possess it?
Will you not possess whatever Chemosh your god gives you
to possess? So whatever the Lord our God takes possession
of before us, we will possess!
Judges 11:23, 24
'May the Lord, the Judge, render judgment this day between
the children of Israel and the people of Ammon.'
Judges make clear the lines of demarcation. They determine times and places and decide which battles are to be fought. They glorify the Lord, the righteous Judge, and honor Him for being above them.
Judges declare war, both spiritual and physical.
Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah.
In the heat of that indwelling of the Spirit, and out of the humbleness of his heart, Jephthah made a vow that cost him his only child. He kept the vow. Judges keep their vows before God.
Judges make judgments between brethren. The famous "shibboleth" vs. "sibboleth" incident is evidence. What precipitated this confrontation? Ephraim slandered their kinsmen, calling the "Gileadites" fugitives (outlaws, ragtags). They sought to disenfranchise Gilead.
Judges step into situations and do not flinch to enter disputes. No other offices are as bold as those of Prophet and Judge.
The Ephraimites threatened to burn the house of Jephthah. Sometimes the way of a Judge is rough and not well received (12:1). Forty-two thousand (42,000) Ephraimites lost their lives over their affront to the man of God. Heavy penalties are extracted for folly. Serious spiritual issues were at play in these moves.
Not much is said about the Judgeship of Ibzan who followed Jephthah. One thing is sure, no Ephraimite challenged him. He lived in peace and the territory was peaceful because the joy of weddings and marrying and giving in marriage is a sign of prosperity and peace.
Judge Elon continued the peace and though his biography is as short as was Judge Abdon, they both fulfilled their roles and were honored among those of legend.
It is in Chapter 13, with the birth of Samson, that Judges focuses the heaviest.
A Danite couple had no children until the Angel of the Lord appeared and spoke over the woman. Manoah was described as "a certain man from Zorah," a city given to the tribe of Dan, but originally part of Judah. Manoah's wife heard news from God about the appointment of Samson to Judgeship. Judges often are appointed by God before birth.
'Indeed now, you are barren and have borne no children, but
you shall conceive and bear a son. Now therefore, please be
careful not to drink wine or similar drink and not to eat any
Judges 13:3, 4
Special instructions were given her about the boy to be born. He "shall be a Nazirite to God.",. (Note: Numbers 6:2ff for the law of the Nazirite.) Evidence that Samson lived such a life is even seen in his downfall.
 Amos 2:11-13 "I also raised up prophets from among your sons and Nazirites from among your young men. Is this not true, people of Israel?" declares the LORD. 12 "But you made the Nazirites drink wine
and commanded the prophets not to prophesy. 13 "Now then, I will crush you as a cart crushes when loaded with grain."
 Judges 13:1-7 Samuel, who carried on Israel's deliverance from the Philistines, was a Nazirite by his mother's vow (1 Sam 1:11), as Samson by the divine appointment. (from Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible: New Modern Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1991 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)
The angel of the Lord returned, talked with Manoah, accepted his sacrifice and, as it was burning, returned to heaven. All things about Judges are supernatural. Their calling, their power to deliver and their lives combine to prove it.
The Lord blessed him and the Spirit of the Lord began to move
Judges 13:24, 25
And the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him.
Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon him mightily…
Then the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him…
(One of the great differences between Samson and Samuel was in Samson, the Spirit came upon him, while in the case of Samuel, the Spirit dwelled in him.)
After the third anointing, Samson cried to the Lord and the Lord answered him directly.
God split the hollow place that is in Lehi, and water came out.
The Lord summarized his life in the next verse: "He judged Israel twenty years in the days of the Philistines," thus addressing compassion to the ugly and tragic end of his days.
And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again. And others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented-- of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.
Hebrews 11:32-40 NKJV
Of such are Judges upon the earth and the likes of those who will reign with Him and return to Judge the earth with Him for they are like Him. It is an office not sought but succored. It is a position of honor not bestowed according to any man's works. It is an office that sets precedence rather than following it. Soon, O Lord, establish their ranks!
Until Next month,
Dr. Cosby R. Oliver, PhD.
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