Day 18: Judges 4-15

Derek Ouellette —  January 25, 2011 — Leave a comment

Today’s reading covers many popular stories beginning with the story of Deborah when she leads the people to military victory at a time when it seems that God’s people (and thus his plan) was in jeopardy of being destroyed by their oppressors. The story quickly moves through the liberating efforts of Gideon and other lesser known figures with many scandals mixed in, and concludes in Judges 15 midway through the story of Samson.

I believe the theme in Judges is found in Judges 10:6-16, paying special attention to how the Israelites worshiped all of the gods of the inhabitants of the land. But today I want to do something special.

As many of you know, I have a partially completed manuscript. A book in process which I am waiting to have full access to my library (in storage) before I can devote myself to completing the manuscript. A portion of my manuscript references the story of Deborah as it relates the big picture which the scriptures tell and I’d like to give you the first peek at what might one day be in print. Let me know what you think!

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When Deborah the prophetess celebrated a military victory which the Lord granted her and Israel, she equated it with the Exodus event: “The mountains quaked before the Lord, the One of Sinai, before the Lord, the God of Israel” (Judges 5:5, italics added); that the Lord showed himself to be Israel’s God by delivering them from Egypt and calling them to Sinai – a gracious calling to be sure – and it is for this reason that Israel can trust that God, their God who bound himself by a covenant, he will deliver them again. And so her joyful lyrics continue: “[the people] recite the righteous acts of the Lord”; what righteous acts? Well the Divine acts of putting things to right, of sticking up for his people, of delivering them from their oppressors. “If they are God’s people” – says Krister Stendahl commenting on this very passage in Judges – “then when righteousness comes, it must mean salvation, triumph, victory, blessing, and the destruction of the enemy. This is plain and simple, because God’s righteous acts means that God is putting things right – that is… the righteousness of God.”[1]

So when the ancient Israelites thought of God’s righteousness, his ‘righteous acts’, to them it was a reference to Gods setting things right; and the means of setting things right was through his unconditional covenant made with Abraham as we established earlier; the purpose for his covenant with Abraham was so that through his family all the people of the earth would be ‘blessed’ – as opposed to the curse which all the earth is now subject to. But God’s righteous acts, the ‘righteousness of God’, his faithfulness to the covenant with Abraham, meant that God would – as he explicitly promised in Genesis 15 – deliver Abrahams children from Egypt and bring them to the promise land! And so God’s righteousness was seen in the Exodus event; God was righteous by keeping his promise to Abraham.[2]

I do believe that the phrase, the “Righteousness of God” in the context of redemption is in reference to Gods faithfulness to the covenant (or “Covenant Faithfulness” as it is sometimes said). And that is certainly what Deborah has in mind when she refers to God’s victorious acts as “the righteous acts of the Lord”.


[1] Krister Stendahl, Paul Among Jews and Gentiles; p.31

[2] See also N.T. Wright’s Justification; p.63

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Derek Ouellette

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a husband, new dad, speaker, writer, christian. see my profile here.