The Book of Judges records the three-hundred-year period extending from the death of Joshua to the beginning of Samuel’s life and leadership in Israel.
After the death of Joshua, “another generation rose up who did not know the Lord or the works he had done for Israel. The Israelites did what was evil in the Lord’s sight. They worshiped the Baals and abandoned the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed other gods from the surrounding peoples and bowed down to them. They angered the Lord, for they abandoned him and worshiped Baal” (Judges 2:10–13, CSB). “The Israelites did what was evil in the Lord’s sight; they forgot the Lordtheir God and worshiped the Baals and the Asherahs” (Judges 3:7, CSB).
God’s grace was clearly demonstrated when “the Israelites cried out to the Lord” ... and “the Lord raised up Othniel (the first of the Judges) ... as a deliverer to save the Israelites... Then the land had peace for forty years” (Judges 3:9–11, CSB). But sadly, after the death of the Othniel, the “Israelites again did what was evil in the Lord’s sight” (Judges 3:12, CSB).
Enslaved to the Moabites, “the Israelites cried out to the Lord, and he raised up Ehud”(Judges 3:15, CSB). “The Israelites again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord after Ehud had died” (Judges 4:1, CSB). Again!
Do you feel like you’re reading about a yo-yo? ... a roller-coaster?
It continues. When “the Israelites cried out to the Lord,” because they were “harshly oppressed,” God commissioned Deborah as judge (Judges 4:3–4, CSB). Then “the Israelites did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. So the Lord handed them over to Midian seven years” (Judges 6:1, CSB). Next, God called Gideon to serve Him as Israel’s judge or governor. Then came Jephthah, and later Samson.
Lastly, Eli served in Israel for forty-years as both the high priest and as judge (1 Samuel 1:9, 4:18). When Eli grew old, he appointed his two sons to serve as priests. “Now the sons of Eli were worthless men. They did not know the Lord” (1 Samuel 2:12, ESV). “The sin of the young men was very great in the sight of the Lord, for the men treated the offering of the Lord with contempt” (1 Samuel 2:17, ESV) and they had sexual relations with “the women who were serving at the entrance to the tent of meeting” (1 Samuel 2:22, ESV).
God promised to severely punish Eli and his family. “None in your family will reach old age” (1 Samuel 2:31, CSB). God promised, “This will be the sign that will come to you concerning your two sons Hophni and Phinehas: both of them will die on the same day” (1 Samuel 2:34, CSB). They did.
Into this dark world, God called Samuel, a young child. God said, “I will raise up a faithful priest for myself. He will do whatever is in my heart and mind. I will establish a lasting dynasty for him, and he will walk before my anointed one for all time” (1 Samuel 2:35, CSB)
“The boy Samuel served the Lord in Eli’s presence. In those days the word of the Lord was rare and prophetic visions were not widespread... Then the Lord called Samuel, and he answered, ‘Here I am’ ” (1 Samuel 3:1-3, CSB).
We are living in dark days. But listen, God has not abandoned His people. He hasn’t thrown in the towel. He’s hasn’t blown the whistle yet. Nope! Just as the Lord called Samuel, He’s calling me and you to reflect His light in the darkness. Are you ready to respond, “Here I am!”