The “Here Comes The Judge!” Series #1




TEXT:         Judges 2:10, 20-3:11


INTRO:       An old saying goes like this: "Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it."  So often this is thought of in terms of nations or historically important people who lived many years ago ... but it is also true with our own lives and our short history!


How many of you have trouble keeping up with maintenance around your home or job?  Why do we bother with maintenance?  BECAUSE, decay and destruction will set in without up-keep!


Spiritual passion cannot just be taken for granted, it needs constant maintenance or we will fall into spiritual decay and this will take a toll on our lives, our families, and our nation!


ILLUS:    When men stop worshipping God, they promptly start worshipping man, with disastrous results. -- George Orwell in the Observer (1945), Christianity Today, Vol. 33, no. 15.


(1.  Faith that is only historical lacks passion and perspective and results in cold dead orthodoxy!

(2.  Faith that is only focused on the present becomes nothing more than existentialism ... whatever feels good for the moment, do it!

(3.  Faith that is only future oriented can be fanciful and sensational!


Faith MUST BE ROOTED in all time elements to be healthy, alive, and productive!


One of the lessons of Othniel is that one person with the Spirit of God in his/her life can turn a nation around!


PROP. SENT:     The Scriptures teach us that spiritual decay sets in when we neglect an active pursuit of our faith ... faith that is rooted in history, experienced in the present and confident in the future!


I.   EXTREME FORGETFULNESS!    Judges 2:10, 20-3:6


A.   Blindness    Judges 2:10

1.   When Israel began settling in the Promise Land they became so busy with setting up house and careers they failed to teach their children about God!  When they passed from the scene they left behind a new generation that knew nothing about God or what God had done for them. “After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel.” Judges 2:10

a.   A whole new generation had grown up without any knowledge or history of God’s work in their lives.  They had no concept of God or His faithful work.

b.   How about us?  While it is important to establish a home, a job, good educational opportunities, etc. it is far more important to establish an eternal legacy; what are you leaving behind?  What about your children's faith and eternal soul?  What about this next generation?

c.   We must give the next generation more than temporary skills for this life ... they need eternal qualities of faith!

d.   It is tragic to think that a generation who experienced such powerful miracles from God failed to transmit all that experience and knowledge to the next generation.  YET … it is happening in our own day!

2.   The blind neglect of transferring God's touch from the previous generation was now unfolding in their children ... with no passion or perspective for the God of their fathers their passions were placed elsewhere ... in the pursuits of self and temporal matters!  This is our post-modern culture today also!

a.   The result was decay ... spiritual, moral, and national!  Our world today mocks what it doesn’t even know!


ILLUS:     A bold unbeliever was lecturing a group on the folly of religious faith in general and the Christian faith in particular.  At the close of the presentation the speaker invited people to propound any questions they might have.  In the audience was the town drunkard, who had been converted to Christ.  In response to the invitation the converted alcoholic came up front, took out an orange, peeled it, and ate it without comment.

   The speaker asked if he had a question for him.  After downing the last segment of orange the convert turned to the infidel and asked, "Was the orange I just ate sweet or sour?"  Angrily, the speaker replied, "You idiot, how can I know whether it was sweet or sour when I never tasted it?"  To this the converted drunkard retorted, "And how can you know anything about Christ if you have not tried Him?" -- James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 190.


b.   They adopted the ways and mentality of the world ... married into ungodly relationships and lived out an ungodly lifestyles!


B.   Burden    Judges 2:20-3:6

1.   Because of this God allowed them to experience life without His help!

a.   Freedom from God means this too!

b.   But even in this God was being a loving God ... for He knew this would create such a burden to them that they would seek Him again when the burden got too great!


ILLUS:     They say there are not atheists in foxholes.  It's amazing how religious and how spiritual we get under pressure in a moment of bargaining. -- John A Huffman, Jr., "Equipped to Face the Two Biggest Fears in the World," Preaching Today, Tape No. 72.


c.   God is patient with us out of His love, but we could save ourselves great pain if we could learn to obey up front rather than through the losses later!

2.   To Israel it must have seemed like God had forsaken them ... perhaps in a sense God was withholding Himself, but to a good end; to teach them to trust in Him and become warriors like their fathers!

3.   It would be a testing time for this new generation, to see whether they would return to God or go their own way.

a.   Each generation must face their own testing time ... you can't get to heaven because you were related to someone who might!

b.   Faith is not faith without tests ... it does not operate in a vacuum!

4.   God would use this process to teach them the skills they had missed from the failure of their fathers to teach them God's ways!  IF their earthly fathers had failed to teach them – their Heavenly father would have to do it.

a.   There is hope in this, if your earthly father fails to teach you God's ways your heavenly Father will take over.

b.   Much agony and pain however could have been avoided had the previous generation succeeded in teaching them these truths!

c.   God's love for His people would supersede the failure of the previous generation ... even if it involved a greater burden for the new!

d.   The end product of the burden when it produced righteousness would be worth it all!


II.  EXTREME FREEDOM    Judges 3:7-8


A.   Boredom    Judges 3:7

1.   This generation had never known the desert, hardships, lack of homes ... they only knew the Promise Land and homes they inherited ... they didn't know God either!

a.   Their passions therefore were misdirected to other places ... false gods and idols!

b.   Misguided passions often yield rotten fruit!

2.   They slowly but surely decayed as a society ... and as individuals!

a.   Having no historical perspective on God ... they felt free to do whatever they had the passion to do!  “The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD; they forgot the LORD their God and served the Baals and the Asherahs.”  (Underline for emphasis – mine)


ILLUS:    The puzzle is why so many people live so badly.  Not so wickedly but so inanely. Not so cruelly but so stupidly.  There's little to admire and less to imitate in the people who are prominent in our culture.  We have celebrities but not saints.  Famous entertainers amuse a nation of bored insomniacs.  Infamous criminals act out the aggressions of timid conformists.  Petulant and spoiled athletes play games vicariously for lazy and apathetic spectators.  Aimless and bored, people amuse themselves with trivia and trash.  Neither the adventure of goodness nor the pursuit of righteousness gets headlines. -- Eugene Peterson, "Run With the Horses," quoted by Howard Hendricks, "Beyond the Bottom Line," Preaching Today, Tape No. 101.


b.   Nothing was steering them ... this extreme form of freedom plus boredom became a prescription for wanton sin!


B.   Bondage    Judges 3:8

1.   The irony of “extreme freedom” is that it produces the opposite of freedom ... instead of freedom it creates bondage!

a.   Imagine if we had extreme freedom in our country ... you could do anything you want, there would be no laws!

b.   Anarchy would set in ... decay and destruction would run wild and everyone would find a life of bondage, driven to fear and thus a loss of freedom.

c.   We are free in America because of laws, not because of the lack of them!

d.   We cannot be free spiritually or morally by ignoring God's spiritual and moral laws ... if we do we will find ourselves in bondage!  Playing around with God’s laws and constantly ignoring God’s warnings will only prove a disaster in time!


ILLUS:     The Winter 1991 issue of the University of Pacific Review offers a chilling description of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster:

   There were two electrical engineers in the control room that night, and the best thing that could be said for what they were doing is they were "playing around" with the machine.  They were performing what the Soviets later described as an unauthorized experiment.  They were trying to see how long a turbine would "free wheel" when they took the power off it.

   Now, taking the power off that kind of a nuclear reactor is a difficult, dangerous thing to do, because these reactors are very unstable in their lower ranges.  In order to get the reactor down to that kind of power, where they could perform the test they were interested in performing, they had to override manually six separate computer-driven alarm systems.

   One by one the computers would come up and say, "Stop! Dangerous!  Go no further!"  And one by one, rather than shutting off the experiment, they shut off the alarms and kept going.  You know the results: nuclear fallout that was recorded all around the world, from the largest industrial accident ever to occur in the world.

   The instructions and warnings in Scripture are just as clear.  We ignore them at our own peril, and tragically, at the peril of innocent others. -- Tom Tripp in Fresh Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching (Baker), from the editors of Leadership.


2.   We should learn from this principle for every issue of our day ... like freedom of the press:

a.   Some would have us believe that we should allow all expressions of pornography and violence as “freedom of speech.”

b.   This is not freedom however; this form of extreme freedom will produce a generation of morally undisciplined and angry corrupt adults!  They will be in bondage and so will the society created from this extreme form of freedom!

c.   Perhaps the very decay of marriages today is the evidence!

3.   God's love was His solution ... He let them experience their bondage until they cried out for His help once again!

a.   This was not abandonment ... it was patient LOVE!

b.   Sometimes love must be tough to produce healthy fruit!

c.   Removing all consequences from acts are not always a loving thing to do!

d.   God's ear would be ready to hear the moment they turned to Him.  He was ready to help them but they had to want it!


III.  EXTREME FAITH   Judges 3: 9-11


A.   Biography   Judges 3:9

1.   God's answer to their cry for help – He sends them A DELIVERER!

a.   Jesus is the ultimate deliverer, and He is the final answer to anyone who sees their need and calls upon God for help!

b.   God raises up a man, a judge named OTHNIEL.  (His name means “Lion of God” or "God is Force")

2.   Can one person with extreme faith make a difference?  YES!

a.   Othniel comes from a godly family ... does that make a difference?

b.   Consider this; he is the nephew of godly Caleb who was one of the 2 spies out of 12 that came back with a good report!

c.   He is from one of the only two families that didn't die in the wilderness ... his uncle could tell him about the real adventures of faith in the desert!  Joshua and his family was the only other one that could do this!

d.   It is really not surprising that Othniel becomes the first judge of Israel!

3.   Don't underestimate the value of his being a relative of godly Caleb ... it seems to have stayed in the family!

a.   Nothing prepares your children more for life than you as parents!

b.   Godly relatives can have a significant impact on our lives!

4.   No doubt some of the leadership capabilities of this young man were promoted by Caleb's influence and the other members of Caleb's family, even his own father!


ILLUS:     The Scriptures often exhort us to be filled with various godly virtues -- which means what?  How do we know if we are "full of goodness" (Rom. 15:14), for example?  Think a moment about a water-saturated sponge.  If we push down with our finger even slightly, water runs out onto the table.  We immediately know what fills the interior pockets of the sponge.  The same is true of ourselves.  We can tell what fills us on the inside by what comes out under pressure. -- James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988), p. 320.


a.   Unlike many of his fellow Israelites who married unbelieving wives he married someone related to Caleb and so established another godly home!

b.   In fact we know from 1 Chron. 27:1,15 (“Heldai the Netophathite, from the family of Othniel…” 1 Chron. 27:15) that one of his descendants served as a captain in King David's court many years later ... the practice of a godly line continued!


B.   Battle!   Judges 3:10

1.   How does one fight the evil of this world ... Zechariah said it best: "NOT BY MIGHT, NOR BY POWER, BUT BY MY SPIRIT SAYS THE LORD OF HOSTS."

a.   Indeed, before going to war or to judge, it clearly states, “THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD CAME UPON HIM!”

b.   The best preparation for battle is the Spirit of God!


ILLUS:     Resolved: that all men should live for the glory of God.  Resolved second: That whether others do or not, I will. -- Jonathan Edwards, Leadership, Vol. 6, no. 1.


2.   The term "CUSHAN-RISHATHAIM" can be translated; "DOUBLY WICKED CUSHAN"... indicating the kind of enemy he would fight!  Notice however that Othniel overpowers this “doubly wicked Cushan” leader!

a.   We are also in a battle today; the enemy is not people but the corruption that sin brings to people.  Even if you think things are “twice” as bad as the previous generation, like the “doubly wicked Cushan” of Othniel’s day … being Spirit filled can beat this challenge!

b.   Othniel was victorious in battle against the enemy ... fighting was not fun or necessarily quick, but it was necessary!

3.   Righteousness overpowered "doubly wicked Cushan!"  It still will today!

4.   8 years of captivity and bondage were coming to an end because of one man willing to stand for God!

a.   The only way out of the bondage of sin is through a deliverer sent from God ... the ultimate judge and victor is Jesus Christ, He is our deliverer!

b.   All God needs today is one person willing to stand up for Christ and we too can overpower the enemy!


C.   Benefits   Judges 3:11

1.   Look at the results of obedience and faith … the "land of Israel enjoyed peace for 40 years!"

a.   What a testimony of "GRACE ABOUNDING MUCH MORE OVER SIN."

b.   Throughout the lifetime of Othniel God granted a great peace for Israel because they were willing to turn back to God!

2.   Now because of righteousness and obedience on Israel's part God could release many of the covenant blessings promised.


ILLUS:    Our office is a ministry of grace and salvation.  It subjects us to great burdens and labors, dangers and temptations, with little reward or gratitude from the world.  But Christ himself will be our reward if we labor faithfully. -- Martin Luther,  Leadership, Vol. 9, no. 1.


3.   God give us Othniels in this day and age ... don't be afraid to stand up for God in a society that loves its false idols.



CONCLUSION:    Anything neglected decays including our faith!  We are called by God to have a faith rooted in the past, present, and future!  Can one person with a vibrant faith make a difference ... YES!  Othniel did and so can you!