Friday, January 29, 2016

The Structure of Judges, the 7th Book of the Bible


"Zayin" is the 7th Hebrew letter and means weapon or sword. In Modern Hebrew it means to be armed and that is the primary theme of the 7th book, Judges.
Judges, (Shof’tim in the Hebrew) takes its name from the 13 men raised up to deliver Israel in the falling away and division following the death of Joshua. It was probably written by Samuel. Judges, the 7th book, records 7 apostasies, 7 servitudes to 7 heathen nations and 7 deliverances. Key verses are 2:16-19, 17:6 and 21:25 and I’ve bolded some important parts:
 16 Then the LORD raised up judges, who saved them out of the hands of these raiders. 17 Yet they would not listen to their judges but prostituted themselves to other gods and worshiped them. They quickly turned from the ways of their ancestors, who had been obedient to the LORD’s commands. 18 Whenever the LORD raised up a judge for them, he was with the judge and saved them out of the hands of their enemies as long as the judge lived; for the LORD relented because of their groaning under those who oppressed and afflicted them. 19 But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their ancestors, following other gods and serving and worshiping them. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways.
6 In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.
 25 In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.
That’s right, chapters 17 and 21 reiterate the same thing. I think this helps us a lot to understand why the Bible has so much of what those who criticize the Bible call senseless violence and bloodshed. After the death of
Joshua and his contemporaries, the Israelites returned to serving Baal and Ashtaroth. God allowed the Israelites to suffer the consequences of worshiping false gods. It was then that the people of God would cry out to Yahweh for help. God sent judges to His children to lead them in righteous living. But time after time they would turn their backs on God and return to their lives of wickedness. However, keeping His part of the covenant with Abraham, God would save His people from their oppressors throughout this time. 
Probably the most notable judge was the 12th judge, Samson, who came to lead the Israelites after a 40-year captivity under the rule of the ruthless Philistines. Samson led God’s people to victory over the Philistines where he lost his own life after 20 years as judge of Israel. The announcement to Samson’s mother that she would bear a son to lead Israel is a foreshadowing of the announcement to Mary of the birth of the Messiah. God sent His Angel to both women and told them they would “conceive and bear a son” (Judges 13:7) who would lead God’s people.
Let’s compare Samson to Jesus. Most of us have heard the incredible story of Samson, the judge, who killed a thousand Philistines with a jawbone. We know that he died by pushing apart two pillars of a temple. And who doesn’t know how he was tempted by Delilah? If we read the story carefully we find out that he was married once, visited a prostitute, and loved another woman, Delilah, who betrayed him.
Forget about the Hollywood production movies and let’s look at Samson strictly as God describes him to us: all we know are the facts about his birth, relationships with three women, and his death. And one more thing: He is listed in the New Testament book of Hebrews, chapter 11, as being a man who lived by faith!
Samson's story is also a set of parallels depicting Jesus' birth, Jesus’ relationships with the three groups of mankind, and His death.
The meanings of Hebrew names can almost tell the whole story by themselves. They show how the allegory is assembled. Here are three examples: Samson means "the light." The reference is of course to Jesus who is "the Light of men." Samson's father's name is Manoah which means "peace or rest." In this case the reference is to our heavenly Father who provided peace between Himself and man. He reconciled us through the death of His Son. Delilah means "one who is heavily burdened." She depicts the bride of Christ – those He told "Come to me all you who are weary and burdened".
There are three women in the story of Samson. All were Philistines (Philistine means “to roll in the dust”) – the Philistines were Israel's enemy who had been ruling over them for some time. Each of the women portrays one of the three divisions of mankind – all initially enemies of God – and how they relate to God. Based on the symbolism, the time frame begins with Jesus’ introduction to the respective people and ends with Judgment Day.
The first is a woman that Samson has chosen to marry (Judges 14); she is from Timnah which means the allotted (or chosen) place. The name of the place foreshadows the fact that Jesus was predestined to come to live in His humanity to bring reconciliation between God and man. She represents the relationship between mankind and God. Her story begins with Jesus desiring and pursuing her – that's equivalent to His pursuing mankind since the fall in the Garden of Eden. It ends with a description of what she became –the great city of Babylon– and her final destruction.
The second woman's story is contained in just three verses (Judges 15: 1-3). She is a prostitute from the town of Gaza (which means “fierce enemy”). She is indicative of the hostility that Jesus encountered when He came to His own people and they rejected Him. Her story ends with the city gates –the only thing that separated it from the rest of the world– taken up onto a nearby hill. It is a picture of the law being taken away from the Jews (the law made the Jews separate from the world.) Jesus carried the law (in the form of the cross) up on the hill and was crucified on it.
The third woman is Delilah (Judges 16: 4 - 22). She is from the Valley of Sorek which means the valley of the true (or choice) vine. Even with all of her betrayals, she is Samson's true love –representing the Bride of Christ. She is the ultimate cause of His death. He was displayed and mocked in a religious forum and died a crushing death for the sins of the people.

Isn’t this amazing? I love how Christ appears throughout the Old Testament.