We get to meet two more judges that God raised up for Israel. They ruled successively for 45 years. He wants His people near Him and will do whatever it takes to accomplish that.
Abimelech is dead. He ruled as ‘king’ for three years. He followed on the heels of his father, Gideon, who ruled for 40 years. But the people were not following God during Abimelech’s rule. Why should they; he certainly wasn’t. “As soon as Gideon died, the people of Israel turned again and whored after the Baals and made Baal-berith their god” (Judges 8:33).
God hasn’t forgotten about His people; even if they have forgotten Him. He still wants to bring them back to Himself. God’s purpose in raising up judges is “to save Israel” (verse 1b). Earlier we learned that each time God raised up a judge Israel would behave for a time, then when the judge died they would be in a worse place than they were before. I’m assuming the first judge, Tola, in our reading brought the hearts of the people back to God but we aren’t given that direct information. We are told that Tola “judged Israel twenty-three years” (verse 2a). This isn’t the longest time but it’s not the shortest either.
We don’t see any major battles for this judge. We don’t even see if Israel was being oppressed during this time. All we hear about is a quiet rule by Tola in the city of “Shamir in the hill country of Ephraim” (verse 1c). Interesting though is that Tola was a descendant of Issachar but he lived in the territory of Ephraim. I wonder why that is.
After Tola died and was buried in the territory of Ephraim, God raised up another judge; Jair. Jair didn’t rule on his own. He had 30 sons who ruled over 30 cities. It was probably a LOT easier for him to keep up with Israel’s needs this way. This let him have an ear to the ground in many places. Jair “judged Israel twenty-two years” (verse 3b). We don’t see any major battles under Jair nor do we see if there was oppression in the land.
What we can judge from both these accounts is that Israel was once again on the wrong path. Israel was famous for their on again and off again relationship with God. They set up Baals everywhere. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that there were some set up even in God’s own house! We don’t know how bad it was at the time of each judge but, as I mentioned earlier, they were on the path to more and more depravity. They were only remembering God during the lives of each judge. THANK GOD for that at least! I’m wondering how faithful they were during the judges lives. Were they minimally better or were they faithful?
One thing I want to take from our reading today is that God NEVER gives up! He keeps reaching out to us. Sometimes it is a quiet reaching and sometimes it shakes the rafters. He won’t give up until we take our last breath. After that, our decision is final. He can do no more. He doesn’t only reach out to “save us” but to lead us into the life He prepared for us. He wants us to walk with Him in a personal way. In a relationship that is built upon faith and experience. The closer we walk with Him the more we will want to walk with Him.
Father God, thank You for calling me back to You. Thank You for NEVER giving up on me no matter how far I wander! There have been so many times I would not have faulted You for throwing in the towel but You continued to reach out to me anyway. Thank You for the still small voice and for the BOOMING rafter shaking voice. You know exactly which one to employ to get my attention. Keep me on Your path Lord. Lead me to what and where You have prepared for me.