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When I was in high school and college our family would often spend July 4th weekend boating on the Kinzua Reservoir near the Pennsylvania border. From my parents house we would travel Route 219 to Ellicottville toward Salamanca, NY and Alleghany State Park. This is a well-traveled road, year-round, by tourists from Canada and the States. There are many NYS Troopers working radar along the way.
I was a junior in college and driving my Grandmother’s car with her in the back seat to meet up with my parents for the weekend. Traveling on 219, I saw a State Trooper and was promptly pulled over for speeding. I was embarrassed as my Grandmother was in the back seat (insert face palm and laughing emoji here). My Grandmother was embarrassed and upset because she saw the Trooper and didn’t instruct me to slow down. We immediately made a pact to not tell my parents about the incident. For weeks I rushed to the mailbox to beat my parents so I could intercept the tell-tale signs of a “Town of Concord” envelope with the guilty plea and fine. For this particular incident, I chose to just pay the fine and not go before a judge.
If we live, all of us have had to come face-to-face with an authority and own up to what we’ve done wrong. Palms sweat, stomach twists and turns. It can feel like you’re going before a judge and it doesn’t feel good.
Judges elicit a sense of fear, don’t they? Rarely are we before a judge because of something we have done right. We think of them as someone who harshly tells us what we did wrong and institutes the appropriate consequence.
There is a little known and little talked about book in the Bible named Judges. These judges appeared on the scene to help the children of Israel sort out right and wrong. They also helped people get out of trouble.
God’s people kept putting themselves into a never-ending cycle of disobedience, discipline, declaration of wrong, and deliverance. Judges like Deborah and Gideon and Samson helped them find their way back to God.
What did the people do that was so bad they needed judges? Two things. First, they failed to put God first in their lives (Judges 1:28). And secondly, they did not teach their children to know God (Judges 2:10). These two “sins” led to their downfall and ruin.
There is more to the story of the speeding ticket with Grandma. Although my parents did eventually find out about the ticket, I avoided the Town of Concord judge. My Grandma insisted that she pay half the ticket because she saw the Trooper and felt guilty that she didn’t tell me. I thought this was ridiculous, even then. But, what a gift that was to me and a gift I cherish to this day.
As you read this week, look for ways the Judges of the Old Testament help to point us to Jesus Christ, the Savior. No matter the mistakes we make Jesus will welcome you and pay the whole ticket.