A judge was in his office with the lawyers from the prosecution and defence standing in front of him.

“This is totally unacceptable”, he glared at them. “You, lawyer Jones have sent me a bribe of £10,000 And you, Lawyer Stevens, have sent me a bribe of £15,000.” Reaching for his cheque book he continued… “Now, I’m going to write you out a cheque for £5000, Stevens, and we are going to decide this case entirely in its merits”.

Even back to ancient times, judges have not always been squeaky clean. The Bible has a whole book full of judges with interesting lives. Most definitely broken pots. I can’t help thinking that the writer of Judges was having a bit of a laugh about these heroes who God sent to rescue His people from various tyrants.

It starts with Gideon who is threshing wheat inside a wine press. You know, beating the wheat so that the husks get blown away on the wind and you’re just left with the grain … but he’s doing it in the sheltered area. Not too effective. And as he’s hiding, doing this in secret to avoid the bad guys, an angel appears and says ‘Greetings mighty warrior!’ This Gideon, the puniest teenager from the least important family, from the most insignificant tribe, is just about the furthest you can get from a mighty warrior.

Or take mighty Samson who is duped by his girlfriend Delilah not once but three times. You know how the saying goes. ‘Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.’ I’ve no idea what to say about being fooled three times!

Even the more gruesome stories are not tales of derring do, like something out of Homer’s Ilyad. There are no breathtaking feats of incredible courage by super-saints. Take Ehud who is left handed and pulls a short sword out from under his cloak, plunging it into the belly of a king so fat that the sword disappears inside the man. He did this in secret and scarpered our if a window, leaving the guards to think the king was on the loo.

Or there’s Deborah who declares that the men of Israel are so cowardly that the commander of the opposing army will be defeated by a woman armed with a tent peg. And her prophecy is fulfilled days later as Jael drives a tent peg through the skull of a sleeping General Sisera.

My point is that these folk are all broken pots. The men are inept. Ehud is sneaky. Samson is a bit thick. Gideon is cowardly. And yet God uses each one, at the right time, to help the people of Israel cone out from under the oppression of tyrants. The book of Judges tells us that each person did as they saw fit in their own eyes and so God let them suffer oppression. When they turned back to Him for help, he sent them heroes.

But it’s God himself who is the real hero. Again and again he answers when the people call. And for us today it is no, different. He sends Jesus as Saviour as the answer to our heart cry for help. His forgiveness, his love and peace and hope are what we need when life seems unbearable. He is what I need.

As I write this blog my health is poor and I’ve been an inpatient in hospital four times this year. You’ve got to laugh. And maybe that’s the point of the book of Judges. You’ve got to laugh. When life throws you a curve ball, when your heroes are not very heroic, there is still lots to laugh about. And there is still God, who hears his people’s cry and sometimes sends salvation in the most unexpected ways.

It’s God himself who is the real hero. Again and again he answers when the people call.

You can read the story of the Judges here.

This is a part of the Broken Pots series of blogs.