After him was Shamgar the son of Anath, who killed 600 of the Philistines with an oxgoad, and he also saved Israel. (Judges 3:31)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The judges who we find in the book of Judges are saviors. That is literally their job description, as laid out in Judges 2:16. Judges are mini-Jesuses, saving God’s people from their enemies and pointing forward to the bigger Jesus to come. It’s kind of amazing when you take the time to think about it this way, but then again, Jesus is all over the Old Testament. He is foreshadowed and promised and sometimes He even shows up in His pre-incarnate ways. That’s why it’s no coincidence that the book of Judges, chock full of mini-Jesuses, begins with the death of Joshua, the man who led God’s people into the Promised Land, whose name literally means ” YHWH (God) saves,” and is the Hebrew equivalent of the name “Jesus.”
In today’s text we get to hear about the first three mini-Jesuses who began the 400-year trek to Samuel, the final judge, and to the coronation of the kings. (Again, a foreshadowing of Jesus, but we will leave that for another day.) Throughout these four centuries there is a never-ending cycle that happens: The people fall away from YHWH and run after false gods. YHWH hands them over to their enemies. YHWH has compassion on His people and sends them a judge to save them. The people live under YHWH all the days of the judge’s life. And then it begins all over again.
The odd thing is, almost all of the judges come with sword and shield (or in Shamgar’s case, an oxgoad) in order to save God’s people. They go out to fight, violently, in order to save, bringing death to their enemies. All of this points forward to Jesus, except in an opposite way, like in a mirror. For even though Jesus is the fulfillment of all the judges and saves God’s people from their enemies, and even though that salvation will come in violent ways, the violence is done to Him. He defeats the enemies of God’s people, sin, death, and the devil, by death. But because He is risen from the dead, there is no need for another judge to follow. Even as we fall daily into sin, He is and always will be the saving Judge who saves us. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Preach you the Word and plant it home To men who like or like it not, The Word that shall endure and stand When flow’rs and men shall be forgot. (“Preach You the Word” LSB 586, st.1)
-Rev. Eli Lietzau is pastor of Wheat Ridge Evangelical Lutheran Church in Wheat Ridge, CO.
Audio Reflections speaker: Rev. Duane Bamsch
Come on an adventure with author Eric Eichinger as he unpacks the saga of Jesus’ Hero Journey. You’ll see how aspects of this journey are seen in popular stories, and how God used Jesus to create the most action-packed one with a real Savior for all. Now available from Concordia Publishing House.