The children of Israel have conquered much of the Promised Land under Joshua’s leadership. After his death, a pattern of sin, judgment, repentance, and restoration emerges.
And the people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the Lord, that he did for Israel. And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died, being an hundred and ten years old. And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnathheres, in the mount of Ephraim, on the north side of the hill Gaash. And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the Lord, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel. And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served Baalim: And they forsook the Lord God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the Lord to anger. And they forsook the Lord, and served Baal and Ashtaroth. And the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and he delivered them into the hands of spoilers that spoiled them, and he sold them into the hands of their enemies round about, so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies. Whithersoever they went out, the hand of the Lord was against them for evil, as the Lord had said, and as the Lord had sworn unto them: and they were greatly distressed. Nevertheless the Lord raised up judges, which delivered them out of the hand of those that spoiled them. And yet they would not hearken unto their judges, but they went a whoring after other gods, and bowed themselves unto them: they turned quickly out of the way which their fathers walked in, obeying the commandments of the Lord; but they did not so. And when the Lord raised them up judges, then the Lord was with the judge, and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge: for it repented the Lord because of their groanings by reason of them that oppressed them and vexed them. And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they returned, and corrupted themselves more than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them, and to bow down unto them; they ceased not from their own doings, nor from their stubborn way. And the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel; and he said, Because that this people hath transgressed my covenant which I commanded their fathers, and have not hearkened unto my voice; I also will not henceforth drive out any from before them of the nations which Joshua left when he died: That through them I may prove Israel, whether they will keep the way of the Lord to walk therein, as their fathers did keep it, or not. Therefore the Lord left those nations, without driving them out hastily; neither delivered he them into the hand of Joshua.
The children of Israel would fall into sin and idolatry. Because of their sin, God would bring in a nation to oppress them. Because of this oppression and judgment, Israel would repent and cry out to God. God would hear their prayers and raise up a judge who would deliver them from their oppressor. The people would serve the Lord until the judge died, and then they would fall back into sin and start the cycle again. This pattern continues through many, many judges.
The book of Judges shows us that a full deliverance from sin cannot come through an earthly judge, government, or law. The weakness of the Old Covenant was the flesh. No man or woman can deliver us from our sins. We may have moments of reform, but ultimately our corrupt nature will drag us back into sin.
Judges also shows us that God disciplines us for our good. His judgment is always intended to bring us to repentance and restoration. Like a good Father, He disciplines us for our good. Also, no matter how far we stray, He is willing to forgive us and deliver us if we repent. The book of Judges also teaches us that we must pass on our faith to our children and grandchildren. Each time, the faith of Israel fades within a generation or two.
The main point of the book of Judges though is the failure of the judges to bring lasting deliverance. From the strength of Samson to the wisdom of Deborah, the judges accomplish much but it never lasts. We are looking for a greater Judge than Samson, Ehud, Othniel, Deborah, or Gideon. We are looking for a Judge that brings a lasting deliverance because He changes our very natures. Jesus Christ is the Judge and Deliverer that we are looking for.