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A Commentary on Judges (16th-17th Century Facsimile Editions)

av Richard Rogers

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Richard Rogers was a 'Preacher of God's Word' in the village of Wethersfield and his folio on Judges was one of the richest fruits of these labours. This is a facsimile reprint of the original 1615 edition.

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Richard Rogers was a contemporary of William Perkins (1558-1602).

"This for the Puritan period is THE work upon Judges. It is thoroughly plain and eminently practical. . . ." -- C.H. Spurgeon

"It [The Book of Judges] provides a dramatic illustration of the effect of apostasy upon every aspect of life. The root cause of Israel's decline was that the covenant relationship with the Lord, with its requirement of absolute and loyal obedience to His commands, was broken. This led to disintegration in the political, religious, social, and family spheres and to a sharp increase in immorality. The Book of Judges serves as a reminder that a nation cannot live on its past glories. The author of Judges was, of course, a preacher to his own generation, but his message has a permanent and universal application, and may be summed up in the words of Proverbs 14:34:

Righteousness exalts a nation,

but sin in a reproach to any people.

"Israel's chronic inability to profit by its own bitter history is a solemn exhortation to profit from the lessons of experience, whether observed or experienced." -- A.E. Cundall

"Gideon asks the question that is central to Judges: 'if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us?' (6:13). There was warning in Deuteronomy that the result of turning away from God and serving idols would be the sort of suffering that took place during the period of the judges. God would seem to be absent and the land would be filled with sorrows (Deut. 31:16,17). Israel needed a king who could teach them how to keep their covenant with the Lord. . . .

"The central section of Judges (3:7-16:31), the bulk of the book, makes an extensive use of repetition. The author describes a repeating sequence of events. The Israelites do evil in the eyes of the Lord, turning to serve other gods. God becomes angry and delivers them up to oppressors. They cry out for help, and God raises up a judge to deliver them. The judge brings peace, but the nation returns to sin as soon as the judge dies. The repeated phrasing describing this pattern reinforces the point that the Israelites were unrepentant. While each judge and the details of the deliverance he brought varies, the end was inevitable: the people again did evil in the eyes of the Lord.

"Six major judges are described, interspersed with the mention of six lesser judges. The opening and closing sections of the book are like bookends, enclosing the cyclical narratives about the judges. The introduction (1:1-2:5) points out Israel's general failure to conquer the land according to the provisions of the covenant God had made with them. The cycles of the twelve judges show that the judges could not lead the people into faithfulness to the covenant. There was a downward spiral of increasing disobedience. The conclusion (chs. 17-21) recounts two especially grievous examples of covenant disobedience. The writer repeats the brief, tragic observation, 'There was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.'

"The writer of Judges, like the authors of the other historical books, calls the community of faith to obey the covenant, applying to their lives the teaching of Deuteronomy. He points to the successes and failures of previous generations, and challenges the people of David's time to be faithful to the covenant. He warns them prophetically about the dangers of the wrong kind of leadership.

"According to Judges, Israel was falling away from the covenant and worshiping false gods as they forgot the Lord's acts of salvation in the past (2:10; 6:13). As in Deuteronomy, the sin of seeking other gods is the continuing pattern of covenant disobedience (Judg. 2:11, 12; 3:7, 12; 8:33; 10:6, 10; Deut. 4:23). The repeated cycles with the constant refrains, 'the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord' (2:11; 3:7, 12; 4:1; 6:1; 10:6; 13:1) and 'everyone did what was right in his own eyes' (17:6; 21:25; cf. Deut. 12:8; 31:16, 17), were a sharp warning to Israel in David's early kingship that they absolutely needed a king who could enable the nation to keep the terms of their covenant with God.

"Beyond these immediate applications for the original audience of Judges, we should observe that later readers doubtless saw in the book the hope for a new David who would teach them to keep their covenant with the Lord. This would be especially true of those who read the book in the days of the divided monarchy or during and after the exile to Babylon. In New Testament days, the gospel of Jesus, the son of David (Matt. 1:1), answers the longing of the readers of Judges for the presence of a godly king, and heightens the church's expectation of His return in glory." -- THE REFORMATION STUDY BIBLE: THE WORD THAT CHANGES LIVES -- THE FAITH THAT CHANGED THE WORLD, NEW KING JAMES VERSION, pp. 331, 332.

A study of the books of Judges and Micah (we recommend Calvin's Commentary on Micah) reveals that Bible Magistracy, executed by leaders of Church and by leaders of State, turns back the wrath of God. It could be argued this is an underlying theme throughout the Bible. Terrorism against the United States, abroad and at home, can be seen as the wrath of God punishing a wayward people. Practicing Bible Magistracy in society, then, is central to stopping terrorism. When men enforce the Law of God, then they turn back the wrath of God. The conclusion of David's life in 2 Samuel 23:3: "The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God."
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Richard Rogers was a 'Preacher of God's Word' in the village of Wethersfield and his folio on Judges was one of the richest fruits of these labours. This is a facsimile reprint of the original 1615 edition.

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