Moses and Joshua had led Israel out of Egypt and through the wilderness and she was now taking possession of her inheritance. Israel has successfully inhabited the entire land (as God had promised) but her heart was sick. She made alliances with the idolatrous nations within the land and compromised her promise to serve the Lord only.
There are series of cycles of sin: Israel repents, Israel becomes faithless, Israel embraces other gods and finds bondage – and God raises up a judge to deliver them. Othniel, Ehud, Shamgar, Deborah, Gideon, Abimelech, Tola, Jair, Jephthah, Ibzan, Elon, Abdon, Samson, Eli, and Samuel – were all used to both judge and deliver Israel in these years after the death of Joshua.
There is much to be learned from Judges about sin, the personal cost of sin, and the consequences these choices bring about.
“Where will you be stricken again, as you continue in your rebellion? The whole head is sick, and the whole heart is faint. From the sole of the foot even to the head there is nothing sound in it, only bruises, welts and raw wounds, not pressed out or bandaged, nor softened with oil. Your land is desolate, your cities are burned with fire, your fields — strangers are devouring them in your presence; it is desolation – overthrown by strangers. The daughter of Zion is left like a shelter in a vineyard, like a watchman’s hut in a cucumber field, like a besieged city. Unless the LORD of hosts had left us a few survivors, we would be like Sodom, we would be like Gomorrah.” – Isaiah 1.5-9