Today we begin the book of Judges. The Judges are the leaders of Israel between the time of Moses and Joshua, when they come into and capture the Holy Land, and the beginning of Jewish Monarchy. They are not judges in the way we in the modern west would think of them. Rather they are sort of hybrid between prophets and military rulers. Yet they are not kings because they do pass on their position by heredity.
There are six major and six minor judges. The basic difference is that the lives and events of the major judges are described in detail, whereas the events of the lives of the minor judges are briefly summarized.
A pattern repeats throughout the book of Judges. 1) the people abandoned the Lord; 2) God punished them by raising up a foreign power to oppress them; 3) the people cried out to God for deliverance; and 4) God raised up a deliverer, or judge, for them; 4) they are restored and remain faithful to God during the life of the Judge; 5) they fall again. The author of the book is unknown, although some Jewish tradition ascribes it to Samuel.
Today we read the last chapter of Paul’s letter to the Galatians. Having told them every way possible why returning to the oppression of the Mosaic Law is a mistake; Paul takes the last part of his letter to remind them of what faithful Christians should do.
Paul tells them to with gentleness correct the brothers that transgress. Of interest he says, “Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches.” This suggests that those who are the teachers of faith should be supported by the community so that they may devote themselves full time to the spreading of the word.
It is also from this section that the famous phrase, “you reap what you so” is derived. Paul says,
Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
Notice, Paul has no problem tying what we are to reap with our efforts as doing good.
Finally, Paul says one last time that through the cross the old divisions (between circumcision and uncircumcision) have passed away. What exists now is a “new creation”. Peace comes to those who walk by this rule who are “the Israel of God”. This is an important insight to the mind of Paul and we will see him elaborate on these themes later.