Judges

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“But the children of Benjamin would not listen to the voice of their brethren, the children of Israel” (Judges 20:13 NKJV).

May 4, 2017

One of the most tragic stories in the book of Judges is about the rape and murder of a woman by the men of Gibeah and how their tribe, the tribe of Benjamin, chose to defend them, rather than turn them over for justice. The tribe of Benjamin was nearly wiped out by the other Israelite tribes as a result, but not before Benjamin killed 40,000 of them in defense.

The sin of a few “perverted men” in Gibeah ended up costing all of Israel, and especially the tribe of Benjamin. Why? Because Benjamin put their tribal identity above their national identity, and more than that, above their spiritual identity under God. Identity politics causes division and war. Unity under God brings peace.

What is needed? We must put God first in our priorities and loyalties. Tribal identity must take a back seat to our identity in Christ.

“In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6 NKJV).

May 3, 2017

This verse contains the theme of the book of Judges. In this book we see illustrated, in vivid and violent detail, the ugly chaos of a rudderless and relativistic culture. Western culture is already on its way to such an end, as it has increasingly embraced the same mantra. Without a mutually agreed upon and absolute moral standard of right and wrong, human society slides further and further down the slippery slope of sin.

The stories in the book of Judges, and the news reports in our world today, make us long for a true king. It makes us long for a king like Jesus.

“Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah” (Judges 11:29 NKJV).

April 30, 2017

The Lord strengthened Jephthah, the Gileadite, to defeat the people of Ammon who made war against Israel. Jephthah, the son of a harlot, rejected by his brethren, and leader of a worthless band of raiders, seemed an unlikely choice for a judge, yet the Lord empowered him to overcome Israel’s enemies.

Such men are not the focus of Scripture, but the Lord God is. For He works with sinful man to accomplish His purposes. O what joy, that the Lord would bend down to take note of us, and not only that, but that He would give us His Spirit!

“So they put away the foreign gods from among them and served the Lord. And His soul could no longer endure the misery of Israel” (Judges 10:16 NKJV).

April 29, 2017

When the Israelites finally “put away” their idolatry, so that their deeds matched their words of repentance, God was moved to answer their cry. The description of the Lord’s response to Israel’s true repentance is revealing. For it described Him as being “no longer” able to “endure” their “misery.” Literally, God was grieved about Israel’s misery.

What does this mean? Does the Lord feel the suffering that our own sin inflicts on us? Does it pain Him to see our misery? Is there a limit to His patience? Does God grieve? Certainly, we must be careful not to ascribe human weakness to the omnipotent, unchanging God. Yet, there is something paradoxical of His character revealed here. God’s joy is unconquerable and His will enduring. yet God no longer wanted to endure the misery of Israel.

The clearest picture that we can get of God and the fullest revelation of His character are found in Christ. In Christ, God’s holiness and mercy were revealed in the cross. He sent Jesus to die in our place, because in His love, He could no longer endure our misery.

‘But Gideon said to them, “I will not rule over you, nor shall my son rule over you; the Lord shall rule over you.”’ (Judges 8:23 NKJV).

April 28, 2017

Gideon, the hesitant judge, would not be coaxed into being king. He recognized that it was the Lord, and not the people, who had called him to be a judge and lead Israel against the Midianites. Therefore, he did not recognize the people’s authority to name him king and rightly refused. He overcame the temptation to accept power that did not belong to him.

However, in this moment of victory over the Midianites and victory over temptation to power, he made the mistake of allowing the spoils of victory to become a snare to him. For the golden earrings that he requested from each of his warrior’s share of the spoils became like the golden calf to him and all of Israel. Gideon stepped over one snare only to become entangled in another.

And so we pray as the Lord Jesus taught us, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” For even in our best moments we are still vulnerable to sin. As the apostle Paul wrote, “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor. 10:12).

‘Then Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me, but let me speak just once more: Let me test, I pray, just once more with the fleece; let it now be dry only on the fleece, but on all the ground let there be dew.”’ (Judges 6:39 NKJV).

April 26, 2017

Gideon’s fleece test –– Was it narrative or normative? I believe it must be considered narrative, a true story described, yet not prescribed. It is not to be taken as normative, meaning that it does not teach a norm, or a timeless method, on how to discover God’s will. “Put out your fleece” is not the best advice to be taken from this Scripture for those seeking God’s will.

Perhaps a better timeless principle to see is God’s patience with us and His willingness to reveal His will to us. He met Gideon where he was, based on his level of spiritual maturity. Gideon had some faith, but still needed more encouragement. He had already taken action to obey God’s call, yet along the way he needed reassurance that he was in fact called of God. He didn’t doubt God. He doubted himself. And God answered his “fleece test” to help him overcome his self-doubt.

Jesus warned that, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign” (Matt. 16:4). So, we must be careful in how we apply Gideon’s story. It is better to believe God’s word and obey it without question. But it is good to know that God is patient with us when we struggle with self-doubt along the way.

“When leaders lead in Israel, When the people willingly offer themselves, Bless the Lord!” (Judges 5:2 NKJV).

April 25, 2017

This is the first verse of the duet sung by Deborah and Barak after the defeat of the Canaanite army. Deborah was a judge and a prophetess in Israel and Barak was the leader of the troops from the tribes of Naphtali and Zebulun. This first verse seems to have been sung by Deborah, blessing the Lord for Barak’s willingness to lead and the people’s willingness to follow him into battle.

Deborah described three important ingredients for their success in this verse that are worthy of consideration:
1) The Lord’s willingness to bless.
2) The leader’s willingness to lead.
3) The people’s willingness to serve and follow.

These three important ingredients for success are still true today for a family, a church or a nation. The Lord blesses when leaders are willing to lead and people are willing to serve according to the Lord’s instruction.

“Therefore I also said, ‘I will not drive them out before you; but they shall be thorns in your side, and their gods shall be a snare to you.’” (Judges 2:3 NKJV).

April 23, 2017

The Israelites did not completely obey the Lord’s command to make no covenants with, nor allow any altars to the pagans of the Promised Land. Since they allowed them to stay in the land, the Lord said they would become “thorns” in their side and that their false gods would be a “snare” to them. Their failure to obey the Lord completely set the stage for the painful cycle of five recurring themes in the book of Judges: Rebellion, Rebuke, Repentance, Rescue, and Rest.

As you read the book of Judges, watch for these five themes. The Israelites will rebel, God rebukes them, they finally repent, God sends a judge to rescue them and they find rest (usually for 40 years or a generation). It’s exhausting to read because the Israelites are so unfaithful. Yet, God’s faithfulness remains consistent throughout!

“And the woman bore a son and called his name Samson. And the young man grew, and the Lord blessed him” (Judges 13:24 ESV)

May 1, 2016

As one preacher described it, Samson was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. As chapter 13 concludes, we have great hope in Samson’s future. Announced by an angel, the only child of faithful and doting parents, and blessed by God, the writer of the Book of Judges has more to say about Samson than any other judge. Yet, Samson disappoints. While his beginning sounds similar to other promised child stories in the Bible (i.e. “Isaac, Samuel, John the Baptist, Jesus”), his life only serves to intensify our longing for a true savior. The life of Samson reminds us that no human judge or deliverer can truly save. The life of Samson, intensifies our longing for a true hero, a real champion. His life points us to Christ. And Christ does not disappoint.

“When the children of Israel cried out to the Lord, the Lord raised up a deliverer for the children of Israel” (Judges 3:9 NKJV)

April 24, 2015

The book of Judges is marked by a repetitive cycle that is hard to read. It is not hard in the sense that it’s difficult to observe the pattern. No, the pattern is evident. It’s hard because it is painful to see generation after generation forget the lessons of their forebears and repeat the same mistakes. The pattern is:
1) Sin (Rebellion) – “And the children of Israel again did evil (3:12).
2) Servitude (Retribution) – “So the children of Israel served Eglon king of Moab” (3:14).
3) Supplication (Repentance) – “But when the children of Israel cried out” (3:15).
4) Salvation (Rest) – “And the land had rest” (3:30).
Someone once said, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Certainly, that was true for Israel in the days following Joshua’s death. This is a picture of the fallenness of humanity. This pattern repeats itself until someone prays and repents. Only God can rescue us from this cycle of death. Thank God, we have the victory in Christ Jesus!