The contrast between the books of Joshua and Judges is immense. Joshua, a striking type of the spirit of Christ in power*, leads Israel on to conquer and dwell in peace in the land of promise. The book of Judges gives us quite another order of things. Starting from the blessings conferred by Jehovah in Canaan, and confided to the responsibility of the people, it shews us what use Israel made of them. Did they justify the confidence God had placed in them? Did they live up to their privileges? The answer will be found in the book of Judges.
Israel's history is repeated in that of the church. The Epistle to the Ephesians answers, in the New Testament, to Joshua; for in it we see the assembly seated in heavenly places, enjoying all spiritual blessings in Christ, and wrestling no longer, like Israel, "against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against wicked spirits in heavenly places." (Eph. 6: 12-margin).
Judges corresponds with 2 Timothy. The church, not having kept its first estate, there are, as for Israel, divine documents which prove its unfaithfulness, and which shew the people of God abandoning their first love and following a path of declension which ends in utter and irremediable ruin.
The history of man - blessed of God, but responsible - is ever the same. Adam, Noah, Israel, the nations, the church - the sad picture never varies. Ah! how the Word of God depicts to us what we are, but blessed be His name, we also learn to know God. He exhorts and entreats us without ceasing. Beware, says He, not to let slip from your hands the blessings with which I have filled them! Return to me when you have turned aside! Neither does He limit Himself to warnings, but unfolding before us the riches of His grace, He shows us that He has resources, when we have lost everything; that His voice can awaken those who sleep among the dead (Eph. 5: 14); that His arm can deliver those whom unbelief has replaced under bondage; that there is a fight of faith for perilous times; that in the midst of the rubbish accumulated by man, there is a path which the vultures' eye hath not seen, well known to faith, accessible to the simplest believer; in a word He shews us, that in a day of ruin, God can be as fully glorified as in the church's brightest days.
*See "Meditations on the Book of Joshua," by same writer.