Excerpt from “The 14 Eras” booklet by Iva May
The Judges Era
Judges; Ruth (Approximately 300 years)
Following the death of Joshua a new generation rose up who did not honor God nor follow His ways. Because the Israelites kept turning away from God to worship the idols of the people of the land, they spent the next 275 years in a series of sin cycles. They would worship idols (sin) and God would give them into the hands of their enemies (slavery and oppression). They would
live under oppression until they finally humbled themselves and cried out to God for help (supplication). In response to their humility, God would raise up a judge to deliver them from their enemies (salvation). As long as the judge was alive, the people followed God and lived in safety (peace), but when the judge died, the people turned back to idols, and God gave them into their enemies’ hands again until they called on Him.
Seven times, over this 275-year period, the Israelites turned away from God, and God raised up fourteen judges (notable judges include a woman named Deborah, Gideon, Jephthah, Samson, Eli, and Samuel) to deliver them when they cried out for mercy. Their times of oppression lasted from seven to forty years. The people also asked several of the judges to reign over them as king, fulfilling the word that God had promised Moses (when they would ask for a king-Deuteronomy 17:14ff). Ruth and Naomi’s story occurs during one of the sin cycles. Naomi flees Israel during famine and returns when she hears that bread again is in the land. This coincides with the provisions in the Blessings and Curses listed in Deut. 28. Ruth has a son by Boaz (descendant of Judah). Their great-grandson will become Israel’s second king.
Horrible sexual sin and crimes occur during this period of Israel’s history, as well as a corrupt priesthood (even Moses’ own grandson—Judges 18:30).
What does the Judges Era reveal about God?
• God uses oppression and oppressors to get the attention of His people and to turn them to Him.
• God raises up enemies to oppress His people in hopes that they will turn to Him.
• God raises men and women as prophets, judges, and military leaders. God not only gives leadership roles to women but He brings unlikely women (and men) into His story.
• Spiritual declension occurs among God’s people in the absence of a godly priesthood and the proclamation of God’s Word.
• Man in his pride will live under oppression for many years before he humbles himself and cries out to God.
• Man would rather live under oppression than to have God reign over him as King.
• God responds to the humble cries of His people.