As God’s living object lesson to the people groups around them, the Israelites lived under a theocracy—a government with God as its highest authority, with delegated authority to His human representatives. Taking the land that God had given to the Israelites was likewise an object lesson. Each battleground required a unique battle strategy.
Unfortunately, after Joshua’s death, instead of exhibiting God’s ways to the people groups around them, the Israelites compromised with them. They ignored God’s laws, allowing their sons to take foreign daughters as wives and giving their daughters to foreign husbands. The problem was that these people groups primarily worshiped the false god Baal. Baal was considered the most powerful of all gods—the sun god and the storm god who defeated enemies and produced crops. He was also the god of fertility. As such, Baal worship was sensual, involving ritualistic prostitution and child sacrifice.
Of course, choices have consequences. So God removes His hand of protection, allowing the Mesopotamian king to oppress the Israelites for eight years. Ironically, the number eight in Scripture speaks of new beginnings. The Israelites were not off to a good start. Still, in His mercy, God raises up the first Judge to rule over His people. His name is Othniel, and he is Caleb’s nephew. You may remember Caleb as one of the two men of faith who had encouraged the Israelites to enter the Promised Land despite the giants.
Othniel, whose name means lion, is of the tribe of Judah. Can you guess who he foreshadows? Othniel’s first task is to go to war against the oppressors and defeat the Mesopotamian king. Then he restores the people back to God. They live in peace for the rest of his reign.
The Chronos Lesson: Acts 17:31 tells us that God “has appointed a Day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” The Man here is the Bridegroom (Jesus the Head) and His Bride (His Body) united together as One at the rapture. Notice that the Man is appointed to judge by virtue of having been raised from the dead: Christ on the 3rd day after the crucifixion and His Body on the 3rd Day, the dawn of the Day of the Lord.
The Greek word for judge here is krino (kree’-no). It means to distinguish, determine, decree and resolve. To resolve implies there is an issue at hand—in Israel’s case, it was their enemy’s oppression. When we are seated with Christ as the immortal heavenly court, our first task shall be to defeat the oppressor. That is, the Antichrist and his coalition of armies who have invaded Israel. This counterfeit leader seeks to establish his own kingdom and one-world order. Spoiler alert: he and his armies are crushed.
We like to call the campaign Operation Consume & Destroy, based on Daniel 7:26. You may recognize it as the seven trumpet and bowl judgments. Scripture calls it the Battle of that Great Day of God Almighty (Rev. 16:14). It lasts for 3½ years, which fulfills the last half of Daniel’s 70th week prophecy.
The fact that our first act is to go to battle may surprise many believers. It is because they don’t understand the nature of the last 1,000-year Day of Christ, often referred to as His millennial reign. It dawns with the rapture and the seating of the immortal court in Heaven. It begins with the Antichrist and his coalition of armies being crushed and Satan incarcerated in the Pit.
We reign for the rest of the 1,000 years from above, with the earthly kingdom restored to Israel. They rule the nations as God’s earthly representatives. At the end of the Day, Satan is released one final time to give the people still on the earth one last chance to choose whom they will serve. Satan’s final rebellion is instantly crushed with a heavenly fireball, and he is banished to the Lake of Fire. Then comes the final white throne judgment, when Jesus delivers the kingdom of God to the Father, “when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power, and all His enemies are under His feet”—even Death (1 Cor. 15:25-26).