I listened to the audio of these books and was struck by the repeated contrast between obedience and disobedience and their results. The Israelites must have thought Joshua’s instructions were insane at Jericho, yet they obeyed and experienced victory; then one seemingly small instance of disobedience by one man brought the entire community to defeat at Ai. In Judges, Israel went through repeated cycles of idolatry resulting in defeat and foreign oppression, followed by repentance bringing victory and freedom. The disgusting behavior of the Levite giving his concubine to the rapists resulted in a war that practically annihilated one of the tribes; in contrast, the kindness, loyalty and love shown by Ruth (a Moabitess, no less!) resulted in her receiving the same from Boaz and ultimately becoming an ancestor of both David and Christ. These all show me that both sin and godliness have a snowball effect; if I lose a small battle with sin, I will open myself up to “foreign oppression” from Satan resulting in further defeat, but if I faithfully follow God He will bring blessing and provision beyond my expectation.
(This was a seminary class assignment originally dated September 27, 2006. For an introduction and table of contents for this series, see New Series: Old Testament Reading Journal).