Oh no Judges!
I have to admit that I have never been that excited about the book of Judges. It's all a bit bloodthirsty for me but as I finished Joshua and Judges is on the next page I decided to tackle it again.
And rather than skim quickly over them I am taking a bit of time to look at some characters I had never given much attention to before. And the first one is Othniel.
He is overlooked in the list of famous leaders of Israel. Maybe that was because his brother was the great man of faith, Caleb and he lived in his shadow. He could have resented this but instead Othniel seemed to value the heritage of faith in the promises and power of God that he had witnessed in his famous relative. Other people of his generation, sat back and didn't go on claiming the inheritance of the Promised Land but Othniel responded readily to that challenge and in faith took Kiriath Sepher on his own.
Other people of his generation compromised but Othniel stayed focussed on God's commands and didn't intermarry. He reminds of the need to stay true to our God given inheritance of faith, even if it seems we are going against the tide.
Thus it was when at last the people of God realised their desperate need for deliverance God used Othniel to save the day. I like the fact that when he could have just manned the defences and made Israel secure again, we are told that the Spirit of God came upon Othniel so that he became Israel's judge and he went to war. The role of the Judge meant that he rescued the people from their enemies and he also addressed the domestic affairs of the people. But Othniel did not just settle for keeping Israel's enemies at bay or sorting out the people's problems we are told he also "went to war" In other words he went on the offensive in order to fulfill God's command to claim the Promised Land. He never lost his pioneering spirit.
We need God to raise an Othniel in our day. Someone who will not say, all we can do is hold on. Someone who won't be so caught up in dealing with the saints that they cave in under the weight of their problems and concerns. We need the Spirit of God to come upon an "Othniel" who will go to war!
Warren Wiersbe says that in Judges the key to new leadership being raised up is that the people cried out to the Lord and the key to that leaderships effectiveness was none other than the Spirit of God.