“The books of Judges and Ruth are treated together because the events of the book of Ruth took place during the time of the judges. Controversy surrounds the books of Judges and Ruth. Even a cursory reading of these books causes many to question the validity of their inclusion in the Scripture, the content being deemed by some as unworthy of God or of little or no value to twenty-first century readers. These books include: (1) graphic depictions of violence (such as the slaughter of seemingly innocent people by the command of God, maiming, human sacrifice, and gloating over the deaths of one’s enemies); (2) heroes who are anything but role models (while seemingly under the control of the Holy Spirit, they engage in deceit, lies, mockery, and self-centered behavior); (3) illicit sex and sexual innuendo; (4) a degrading depiction of women; and (5) a writing style that seemingly includes exaggeration or fabrication. The stories may not make us feel comfortable, but these books were not designed to comfort. These two books together present hard-hitting truth designed to disturb, to inform, and to challenge. How could a loving and merciful God condone, encourage, and even participate in war? God is not only loving, but also a holy and just God who brings wise judgment upon the guilty. Although Canaanites had been increasing in wickedness for more than 400 years, God exhibited by His grace to them during that time. The time for judgment, however, had now come. God used this war both to punish the guilty and to protect His people from the corrupting influences of idolatry and moral depravity as practiced by the people of the land. That God tested the Israelites ‘to see whether they would keep the LORD’s way’ did not mean He did not know the future. The test was for Israel’s benefit, not God’s, because their obedience would strengthen their faith. Although God allowed His people to suffer severely for long periods of time, He was not unaware of their need, uncaring about their suffering, or incapable of helping them. Scripture teaches that God knows all things, that He is all-powerful, and that He is compassionate. He allowed His people to suffer because He desired them to repent of their evil ways and to turn back to Him.” (HCSB)

2:16,18-19, “The LORD raised up judges, who saved them from the power of their marauders, but they did not listen to their judges…Whenever the LORD raised up a judge for the Israelites, the LORD was with him and saved the people from the power of their enemies while the judge was still alive. The LORD was moved to pity whenever they groaned because of those who were oppressing and afflicting them…They did not turn from their evil practices or their obstinate ways.” It is amazing that time and time again, God shows his power and compassion to the Israelites and all the people throughout the Bible, even throughout history to this very day, people still choose to ignore Him and depend either on themselves or some created god. It is a depressing fact that until Jesus Christ comes back for the final time, there will always be people living their own lives doing whatever they feel is right. There is always hope and encouragement for Christians, because we know that we will never be alone. People could care less of what is written or said. Everyone looks at what is actually being done.

God called Gideon a “mighty warrior” not because of his experience, but because of his potential—and, undoubtedly, because of what God planned to accomplish through him. In 6:15-16, Gideon questions God, “He said to Him, “Please, Lord, how can I deliver Israel? Look, my family is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father’s house.” “But I will be with you,” the LORD said to him. “You will strike Midian down as if it were one man.” 7:2,7, “The LORD said to Gideon, “You have too many people for Me to hand the Midianites over to you, or else Israel might brag: ‘I did it myself.’…The LORD said to Gideon, “I will deliver you with the 300 men…” The victory would be perceived as the Lord’s doing alone. God’s statement that He had given the camp of the Midianites into Gideon’s hand was a declaration both of what God had done and of what He expected of Gideon. While God had guaranteed victory, Gideon still had to trust Him for what had not yet happened. He needed to demonstrate his faith in God by actually going to war and securing the outcome God had promised. 8:22-23, “Then the Israelites said to Gideon, “Rule over us, you as well as your sons and your grandsons, for you delivered us from the power of Midian.” But Gideon said to them, “I will not rule over you, and my son will not rule over you; the LORD will rule over you.”

In regards to10:10-16, Scripture declares that God does not change. Here the Lord declares that He will not deliver His people again. Yet, in Judges 10:16, He is moved by the suffering of His people, and 11:32 records that He delivered them once again. God has established general principles by which He operates, one being that He judges those who sin but reconciles sinners to Himself upon their sincere repentance. God had graciously delivered Israel, but Israel turned away from the Lord to serve other gods, incurring His judgment. When they then cried out to the Lord, expecting Him to deliver them on the basis of their acknowledgment of disloyalty, He declined. In this He appears to have violated His principle of reconciliation in response to repentance, but vv. 14-16 reveals that the Israelites’ repentance was not sincere, for idols remained in their midst. When they finally removed their foreign “gods” to worship the Lord alone, He responded by reconciling them to Himself and delivering them from their enemies. God changed neither His mind nor His forgiving character, but operated in accordance with His character. (HCSB)

In regards to 16:17-20, “Samson’s strength came from the Lord, not from his hair. He was in a covenant relationship with the Lord based on his Nazirite vow. Despite his sins he, up to this point, had apparently not broken the requirements of that vow. By allowing his hair to be cut Samson disregarded his vow and thus severed his covenant with God. As a consequence, God finally withdrew his superhuman strength.” (HCSB)

17:6, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did whatever he wanted.” This statement, repeated at the end of the book, is the “motto” of the book of Judges. The absence of recognized spiritual authority leads to social chaos; the narrative of Judges lays out the consequences when a people ignores its responsibility to honor, and observe, the Lord’s directives for the conduct of human life. Everyone knows God’s directives because they have been written on their hearts. Every individual has a conscience; every Christian has the Holy Spirit as guides for living life.

“Ruth, brief enough to read in 15 minutes, is a delight. The German poet Goethe called it “the loveliest complete work on a small scale.” But because Ruth’s author didn’t hammer his points home, it is possible to overlook his deeper meaning. As you read, concentrate on the loving bond between Ruth and Naomi. This love, which thrived in suffering, is the root of the book. It offers hope for other people in hard circumstances. The author of Ruth assumed that readers understood the cultural and historical background of Ruth’s time. You may wish to read about it for deeper understanding. Deuteronomy 25:5-10 describes the background on marriage for a widow with a member of her husband’s family, the “kinsman-redeemer.” Leviticus 25:23-28 gives background on a poor person’s property. Judges offers historical perspective since it is an overview of the brutal times Ruth lived in.” (The Student Bible NIV 1986, 1992) “In Ruth 1:20-21, “Naomi correctly recognized that God did not necessarily bring only good situations into one’s life but that He, at times, brought difficulties. Elsewhere in Scripture such difficulties are understood to be for the purpose of testing or discipline.” (HCSB)

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