Moses warned Israel that if they cast aside His law in rebellion against God (who was their King), He would bring judgment upon the nation. The list of judgments is seen clearly in Deuteronomy 28, wherein we are given the laws of tribulation. Such judgment was to be progressive in nature, for if they persisted in their rebellion, the tribulation would increase. In the end, they would be placed under an “iron yoke” (Deut. 28:48), which meant that they would be exiled to foreign lands where they would serve other gods (Deut. 28:64).
The lesser judgments, as we learn later through Jeremiah, were pictured as a “wooden yoke,” that is, a lighter sentence. A wooden yoke assumed that the people would accept God’s judgment and submit to the rule of foreigners that God raised up to enslave them for a season. We are given many examples of this wooden yoke captivity in the book of Judges and 1 Samuel. These were Israel’s captivities during the three centuries between the death of Joshua and the death of King Saul.
Moses’ warning was based on his prophetic knowledge that Israel would indeed rebel, violate their covenant with God, and ultimately be exiled to foreign lands. So he told them plainly in Deut. 31:29,
29 For I know that after my death you will act corruptly and turn from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you in the latter days, for you will do that which is evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking Him to anger with the work of your hands.
Moses’ words proved to be true. Just 42 years after their Jordan crossing, they experienced their first captivity. This was just 14 years after the death of Joshua. It is hard to believe that they could fall so quickly into rebellion. During the next three centuries, they spent more than a third of their history in captivity to a variety of foreign nations.
Yet the Israelites were allowed to remain in their land as they paid tribute to their foreign masters. Such is the nature of a wooden yoke. But these wooden yokes ended later, first when Israel was deported to Assyria and a century later when Judah was deported to Babylon. The era of the iron yoke brought both Israel and Judah into a long-term captivity of “seven times” (i.e., 7 x 360 years), which did not end until 2017. Babylon is now being brought into divine judgment for refusing to relinquish dominion over the world, as prophesied in Jer. 50:33, 34.
The Deliverers, or Saviors
The book of Judges gives us the history of the captivities and the manner in which God raised up judges to deliver the Israelites after they repented. Each of these are types of Christ in the sense that they delivered the people from bondage. They “saved” the nation from captivity, which made them “saviors,” foreshadowing a greater salvation that was to come through Jesus. His Hebrew name, Yeshua, literally means “Salvation.”
Later, the ninth chapter of Nehemiah recounts those days wherein Israel was delivered from captivities. Nehemiah 9:27 reads,
27 Therefore Thou didst deliver them into the hand of their oppressors who oppressed them. But when they cried to Thee in the time of their distress, Thou didst hear from heaven, and according to Thy great compassion Thou didst give them deliverers [yasha] who delivered them from the hand of their oppressors.
Yasha is the root of the name Yeshua. It can also be translated “savior.” In fact, the KJV translates this word as “saviours.” Though Yeshua-Jesus is the ultimate Savior, there are many types of Christ who are also saviors that play an essential role in the history of the Kingdom.
Obadiah 21 prophesies about the deliverance in the latter days from the descendants of Esau,
21 The deliverers [yasha] will ascend Mount Zion to judge the mountain [kingdom] of Esau, and the kingdom will be the Lord’s.
The NASB again renders yasha as “deliverers,” but again, the KJV translates yasha as “saviours.” Both are correct, but I prefer saviours, because it suggests that these Judges are types of Christ.
Obadiah shows that Esau-Edom was to hold dominion in the latter days. The implication is that when Edom is brought into judgment, then “the kingdom will be the Lord’s.” Thus, one must know the history of Esau-Edom and how he would come to hold dominion in the latter days if one hopes to understand what is going on today in the latter days.
Though it is Mystery Babylon that gets the most attention, we must also understand that Esau’s descendants have taken the top positions in Babylon. Hence, Esau too is slated for divine judgment for refusing to release the people and to implement the law of Jubilee.
I gave that history in my book, The Struggle for the Birthright.
Obadiah also shows that there is more than one deliverer in the latter days, for his term is plural. In other words, in the latter days God will raise up Judges once again who will act in some way as deliverers and saviors in the overthrow of both Babylon and Esau.
The Early Judges
There are twelve judges in the first few centuries of Israel’s history in the Promised Land. Taken together as a group, they represent a body of saviors whose collective feats more closely resemble the final Savior, Yeshua the Messiah. Their names are prophetic as well, and when we study those names, a hidden message emerges to reward our efforts with greater understanding.
We will study each of these names in turn, but here is a short version of the revelation in the main judges, which we will expand later as we add the names of the lesser-known judges:
“The voice of God united in His sons (in an orderly manner that is subject to God’s Word) will fell the enemy and open the Ark to show forth the light of the Sun.”
The list of Judges are as follows:
3, 4. Barak (with Deborah)
10. Abdon (Bedan)
There are twelve Judges listed, because twelve is the biblical number for governmental perfection and authority. (See The Biblical Meaning of Numbers from One to Forty.) We will describe each of their ministries in their turn.
The Theme of the Book of Judges
It is believed traditionally that Samuel wrote the Book of Judges. His main lesson, or theme, was given in the last section of the book (chapters 17-21). In Judges 17 we see that Levitical priests could be employed by wealthy men to help them worship false gods. Lacking good spiritual leadership, the people quickly forgot the law of God and adopted the gods and practices of other nations. In that context, Judges 17:6 says,
6 In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes.
In Judges 18 we read how the tribe of Dan could not inherit a large portion of the territory assigned to them by Joshua. So they conquered the city of Laish north of Israel and established a colony there, renaming the city Dan (Judges 18:29). Judges 18:1 says,
1 In those days there was no king of Israel; and in those days the tribe of the Danites was seeking an inheritance for themselves to live in, for until that day an inheritance had not been allotted to them as a possession among the tribes of Israel.
Being located on the outer fringe of Israel in the vicinity of Tyre and Sidon, they were the first to degenerate into apostasy. Some centuries later, King Jeroboam of Israel set up one of the golden calves there (1 Kings 12:29).
In Judges 19 we read how the concubine of a Levite became a harlot, left her husband, and returned to her father’s house far to the north. The Levite took the long journey to ask her to return. She did so, but on the way home, they stopped in Gibeah, a town in Benjamin just north of Jebus (Jerusalem). That same night she was raped and killed by a local gang of young men.
Many years later this was the hometown of King Saul (1 Sam. 10:26). No doubt Samuel made some sort of spiritual connection between the corruption in Gibeah and the rebellion of Saul.
The Levite demanded justice from the other Israelite tribes, and a civil war erupted, which nearly destroyed the tribe of Benjamin. The Book of Judges ends with that story, concluding in Judges 21:25,
25 In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
It is a rather pessimistic theme, given from the perspective of one who lived at the end of the period of the Judges. Samuel himself was the last Judge before the era of the kings of Israel. He shows the failure of the people to govern themselves in accordance with the laws of God. The same failure would be seen in later years under the rule of kings, especially in the days of King Saul.
Contrasting the Story of Ruth
The Book of Judges ends in pessimism, but Samuel also took note that there were righteous people in Israel during those days. His Book of Ruth is very optimistic, standing in stark contrast to the previous book. Likewise, Samuel portrays Elimelech and Boaz as righteous men in the lineage of King David, who was a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam. 13:14). The obvious contrast is between the men of Gibeah and men from Bethlehem (Boaz).
Samuel saw the roots of Saul’s rebellion in the actions of the corrupt men of Gibeah, and he saw the righteous character of David as being rooted in Boaz of Bethlehem. Hence, whereas Judges 17:6 says, “every man did what was right in his own eyes,” Ruth 1:1 speaks of “a certain man of Bethlehem,” referring to Elimelech and ultimately including Boaz.
Hence, Judges and Ruth were written to give us the contrast between Gibeah and Bethlehem and, more broadly, to contrast two types of kings. These also prophetically tie into different feast days, for Saul was crowned on Pentecost (i.e., “wheat harvest,” 1 Sam. 12:17), while David was crowned in 1004-1003 B.C., which was the 59th Jubilee from Adam. (See Secrets of Time.) Pentecost was a leavened feast (Lev. 23:17); the Jubilee (also the Day of Atonement) was the preparation day for the feast of Tabernacles.
The era of the Judges, despite its spiritual degeneration, sets forth twelve leaders. When their names are strung together, they prophesy of Christ and the way into the Holiest, wherein we may ultimately open the Ark and see God face to face. In other words, their names show us the path to becoming sons of God through the revelation of the feasts.
Our present study of the Judges aims to set forth this revelation and thereby assist all readers in finding and understanding that path, as well as in knowing the greater divine plan for the manifestation of the sons of God (Rom. 8:19-21).