After Joshua leads the Hebrews into the land promised to Israel and Moses, the people live as a confederacy, loosely connected. Their neighbors, including the Philistines are often a military rival, as well as a religious competitor. The confederacy swings back and forth on how to integrate and/or stay a set-apart people. These are not easy when you do not have a primary governing leader, clear capital, and unifying religious temple. The people continue to wrestle with God in their life all through the Old Testament. They question whether they need a leader, whether they need a political leader, whether they need a homeland, and whether or not they need a single Temple to regularly visit.
In some ways these are very pertinent questions for our life today. Do we need a president, a pastor, a sanctuary and a piece of property? What helps us follow the life God is calling us too?
Judges specifically, outlines the cycle of listening for God, forgetting God, crying out to God during oppression, being saved, and then repeating. Maybe life is not linear nor grounded, but a zigging and zagging journey that feels more like a cycle and a spiral than a trajectory. May the cycles spiral us deeper, and may the magnetic force of God draw us near when life pulls us away.