JUDGES, RUTH study
http://wp.me/a4V5qQ-cG Parable of trees
http://wp.me/a4V5qQ-e1 Lightning crashes
http://wp.me/a4V5qQ-ez Judges conc.
I’ve been commenting on the book of Ruth- and talk about it on today’s video.
When I taught the book of judges- we saw how God raised up deliverers- who defeated the ‘wicked’ enemies.
One of those enemies was Moab.
Yet- in the Old testament- the book of Ruth comes right after Judges- why?
Ruth’s story took place at the time of the judges- and it gives us a ‘good’ thing that happened- a story of a righteous girl- who was from Moab.
We see redemption in the book.
Ruth was the daughter in law of Naomi.
Naomi and her husband moved to Moab during a time of famine.
They took 2 sons with them.
Naomi’s husband died- the 2 sons got married while there.
Then the sons died.
Naomi was devastated- and decided to go back home.
She tells her 2 daughters in law that she’s leaving- and says goodbye.
But Ruth desires to go back to Naomi’s home land- Judah/Israel.
Ruth is a young beautiful girl- and her mother in law says ‘why go back with me- even if I have another son- would you wait till he was old enough- so you could marry him’?
Yet Ruth insists- and makes Naomi’s God- hers.
When they return- Ruth goes to glean [get the leftovers] of the Barley/grain from the pickers.
The women did this at the time- they were permitted to get the grain that was left behind.
She works in a field owned by Boaz- who just happens to be a relative of Naomi- which means he can ‘redeem’ Ruth.
The Kinsman Redeemer was a man in the family who ‘took up’ for the weaker in the family.
And he had the right to marry the widow of another family member- to raise up children for the relative [brother] who died.
So- Ruth was a widow- from a relative of Boaz [Naomi’s dead son].
See redemption here?
She was ‘connected’ to the family- by the death of a ‘son’.
Moabites had not right to the God of Israel- they were pagans.
Yet- she is now in a position of ‘being redeemed’.
Boaz shows special favor towards Ruth- he tells the reapers- the pickers of the grain- to leave extra in the field- just for Ruth.
Ruth goes to lie down with Boaz- a sign that she’s willing to marry him.
Boaz is an older man- and he’s surprised that Ruth- a young beautiful girl- would even want him.
He says she shows nobility- because she could have any of the younger men- but she’s doing a right thing.
But there’s one Catch- Boaz tells Ruth that there is a closer near relative- and he has to go see if that man wants Ruth first- if not- Boaz will marry her.
Ok- that’s what I covered on the video- Ruth 1-3.
I’ll mention chapter 4- the last chapter- on a future video.
But- to not leave you hanging too much.
Boaz and Ruth will have a son- by the name of Obed.
Obed has a son- by the name of Jesse.
And Jesse has a son- King David.
Ruth is mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus in Matthews Gospel.
It’s quite a story of redemption- that this Moabite girl- had a son who was a great ancestor of Jesus himself.
Jesus is our ‘Boaz’ our redeemer-
Who ‘married’ people who were not worthy- yet we- his bride- have been ‘redeemed’.
And as Boaz loved Ruth- so Jesus loves us- his bride.
Yes- a true romance indeed.
Matthew 1:5 And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse;
Matthew 1:6 And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias;
(878)RUTH 1- During the time of the judges there was a famine in the land. A Jewish couple, Naomi and Elimelech, leave their home land and travel to Moab. They take their two boys. During their time in Moab the boys marry. The girl’s names are interesting. One has the same name as a famous TV talk show host, Oprha! [actually it’s Orpah] the other is Ruth. Elimelech dies and eventually the two boys die as well. You have to stop and think of this tragedy for a moment. Is it possible that relocating to Moab was rebellion against the Lord? They did leave the promised land because things got tough. How often do we relocate under these types of circumstances? Naomi is left with her two daughters in law and she decides to return to the homeland. The girls want to go with her, but Naomi tells them ‘why go with me? I am too old to give you any more husbands. Stay in your own land and culture’. Orpah stays and becomes a very popular woman talk show host [okay, that’s it. I won’t do this again] and Ruth says ‘I will return with you and your family and culture AND GOD will be mine’. She chooses the true God of Israel over the pagan gods of Moab. Now, Naomi has suffered tragedy, she refers to herself as bitter. By all outward appearances she has failed in life. But wait, one of the most coveted things to happen for a woman of Israel was to have a part in the role of the Messiah. Ever since the promise in Genesis ‘the woman’s seed shall bruise the serpents head’ [the earliest evangel in scripture] all women from Israel wanted to be the mother of ‘that seed’ [Messiah]. If you weren’t the mother, the next best thing was to play a role in the lineage. Naomi will be the matchmaker of a couple that the lineage of messiah will be traced thru. God often used barren women, women who were deemed ‘cursed’ to play a major role in his purposes. I do realize that in the natural it did not look good for poor Naomi. I am sure all her friends gave her the standard ‘Oh dear, we are so glad to see you’ but later on must have thought ‘what on earth happened to that family? She left with big dreams and came back a widow!’ Are you feeling barren right now? Do you feel humiliated because the vision and purpose you told everyone about has not come to pass? Now is the time to find your purpose and destiny in God. You might just be in line to fulfill a greater, less obvious destiny. It might not look so glorious now, but maybe one day when the history books are written, your role will outlive the naysayers of the present hour.
(879)RUTH 2- Ruth goes out during the Barley harvest and gleans in the field. Gleaning was engrained in the law of Israel. It allowed for the poor of the land to gather up the leftovers from the initial harvest. The land owners had to leave the corners of the field ‘un reaped’ as well. Ruth ‘happens’ [by chance] to glean in the field of Boaz, a next of kin. He is called the ‘kinsman redeemer’ this speaks of being a close relative [from the Hebrew word ‘go’el’] who had the right to redeem the goods of a relative who had died. Their stuff would go up for public auction and the redeemer had first shot at it. He also had the right to buy back a fellow relative from slavery, or even avenge the blood of a relative who was murdered. Ruth just happened to come into his portion of the field. He was a relative of her father in law Elimelech who had died in Moab. Boaz asks who she is, the men tell her she is the Moabite who came back with Naomi. Boaz tells his men ‘take it easy on her, let her get a good portion of barley. Even let some extra fall for her’. He favors Ruth. She even asks why he is treating her so well and he tells her it is because he heard how she did such a noble thing in staying with Naomi after no one was left. It kinda reminds me of the good works of Cornelius in Acts chapter 10. Scripture says his alms and prayers came up before God as a memorial. Boaz didn’t simply treat Ruth well for no good cause, she reaped what she sowed! Ruth goes home and tells Naomi about the situation and she says ‘great, he is a next of kin. Keep working with him’. Naomi realizes that if things work out that Boaz just might claim Ruth for himself. The Kinsman redeemer is a type of Christ. He needed to have the substance to ‘buy back’ the possessions. He needed to be related [by blood] and he needed to be willing. Unlike the mandate for a brother to marry a sister in law and raise up children to his dead brother, the Kinsman redeemer had free choice. He could pass up on the offer if he wanted. Jesus chose to go to the Cross for all humanity. He had the ‘substance’ [he had the perfect life to lay down] and the willingness to purchase us. In this chapter we see the sovereign hand of God at work. Though the scripture says ‘she happened’ by chance upon the field, yet we realize that in Gods plan nothing ‘just happens’. God was directing the course of Ruth to meet up with Boaz, God knew that he would use their eventual marriage as a tool to bring forth the Messiah.
(880)RUTH 3- Naomi advises Ruth to go to Boaz at night and lay down beside him. Boaz is at the threshing floor, a place where you went to thresh the wheat/barley. Threshing was simply the process of sticking a pitch fork type instrument into a bushel full of wheat and throwing it into the air. The wind would blow away the chaff [bad stuff] and the good stuff would fall onto the floor. Sort of like sifting for gold. In the New Testament Jesus is said to be coming with the pitchfork in his hand and he is going to thresh his wheat. This was a symbol to natural Israel that the time of judgment and cleansing had arrived. Jesus would spiritually shake things up and allow the wind of the Holy Spirit to cleanse away that which was useless. Ruth lays next to Boaz and Boaz wakes up startled. He realizes that Ruth is basically showing that she wants Boaz to redeem her. For him to function as the kinsman redeemer and marry her. Boaz informs Ruth that he will do it, but first he has to make sure the closer relative to Ruth doesn’t want to perform the task. Boaz was second in line as the redeemer. He asks Ruth for her veil and he fills it up with barley [like a sack] and she returns to Naomi. Let’s spiritualize a little bit. Often times the lord will take the ‘veil’ [darkness/depression] and turn it into a full harvest. The very thing that seemed to be a dark period in your life becomes the actual capacity for a full reward. Scripture commands us to come out from a place of mourning and darkness and to put on a new veil of rejoicing. Ruth’s experience was one of difficulty. She originally married into what seemed to be a stable family. After the death of her Father in law and husband [and brother in law!] things were not looking too good. Ruth persevered and transitioned into a new culture and environment. A very difficult thing to do during a time of upheaval and disappointment. The scripture says ‘if your strength fails in the day of adversity, it is small’. Don’t feel condemned, but if the truth be told it really isn’t our knowledge and natural ability that brings us into success, it is the maturity that God builds into you thru out your life. The ability to face difficult situations and to press ahead. Ruth prevailed thru some tuff stuff, she got a ‘veil full of barley’ in return.
(881)RUTH 4- Boaz tells Ruth that he must first ask the closer relative if he wants to inherit Ruth and her husband’s inheritance. The closer relative turns down the offer, he can not harm his own inheritance by building up the heritage of Ruth. Boaz goes thru the public act of calling ten elders of the city together to witness the passing of the title deed to him. He marries Ruth and they have a son named Obed. He will become the father of Jesse who is the father of King David. The Lord used the tragedy of Naomi to carry thru her a divine link to the Messiah. The women of the town praise Naomi and tell her how blessed she is to have obtained an inheritance for her son and lineage when all hope was gone. There was a time in Naomi’s life when all looked lost. The odds of her pagan daughter in law Ruth, to have actually returned with her to the land and to have married back into the family were next to zero. Naomi reminds me of the verse in Isaiah that says ‘when I was in oppression and unstable I had all these children. How could this have happened’ [my paraphrase!] This was speaking of Israel’s fruitfulness despite her own trials and difficulties. In Isaiah 53 it says of Jesus ‘thou wilt see of the travail of his soul and shall be satisfied. Thru his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many’. God often sees us in the midst of adversity and watches to see how we will respond. He is not looking for perfection, never stumbling. He is looking for a willingness to continue to trust in him thru it all. These are Divine tests. Naomi prevailed thru great difficulty, she will forever be named as someone who had a role in the history of the Messiah.
(770) JUDGES 1-2 This part of the story of Israel’s walk with God is a stage where God ‘raised them up judges’. When God initiates divine leadership, it works. Don’t confuse the act of God with the ideas of men. There will come a time where Israel tells God ‘we want a king like the other nations’ and God says by asking this they rejected his headship over them. Being we are coming off of our study in Acts, I want you to see these judges thru the lens of God ordained Elders [leaders]. In Acts, God used men. He even allowed Paul to tell the Christians ‘ordain [recognize] elders in every city’. So it is fine to have a recognized leader in the community [actually in Acts it’s ‘leaders’ plural!] Now the children of Israel ask the Lord ‘who should go up first?’ and the Lord says ‘Judah’. Remember, Jacob blessed Judah and said ‘the scepter shall not depart from Judah’ Judah [praise] is ordained for battle! They start inheriting the land and they leave a remnant of the old ‘ites’ in the land. They basically are so excited about the amount of ground they are covering, that they fail to maintain what God is giving them! ‘Strengthen the things that remain, that are ready to die’ REVELATION. An angel rebukes them in chapter 2 for failing to fully [with all their heart] follow the Lord. Caleb’s daughter asks Caleb ‘you have given me a southland, give me also springs of water’. Lets read this thru the eyes of ‘LECTIO DIVINA’ , an ancient way of reading scripture in a devotional sense. You basically try to hear God personally speak to you thru the text. This ‘way’ of reading is not in context, you shouldn’t develop doctrines from it, but it is useful for personal stuff. I just finished praying for ‘the southland’, all the regions in South Texas that we are reaching out to. I [we] need ‘springs of water to go along with the land’. Paul said we can plant and claim and confess all day long, but if Gods Spirit doesn’t fall [water] we will never see a harvest! Israel catches a king on the run and chops off his big toes and thumbs. The king says ‘God paid me back, I too have done this to other kings’. What’s up with this? Basically the guy without thumbs and toes is simply surviving. He can fetch you some water, hold the bucket and all. Or walk around and be your ‘go- for’ guy. But don’t dare try and wield one of those heavy swords, it will come out of your hand! Or don’t try any quick foot moves, you will fall in an instant. The enemy wants to ‘immobilize you’. Give you a retirement mentality ‘sit back and worry about whether or not you have enough resources to make it to 76 and die’. Geez, get up out of that Lazy boy and act like you got some big toes and thumbs! The Israelites also catch some guy fleeing one of the cities and they make him tell them how to get into the city. They then raid the city and take it. Work smarter, not harder! Sometimes we have the mindset of ‘If we just had more money we could change the world’ they could have beat on the walls of the city all day, hired guys to bang on it with hammers! But once God shows you the entrance [key to get in] it goes much smoother. God can knock the walls down [Jericho] but seek him for the process he wants to give to you. Don’t assume the pattern that so and so used will automatically work for you. Don’t confuse the goal [taking the city] with the procedures of the past. God just might want to give you a secret entrance into the city, and you are praying for ‘more wall breakers’ [didn’t me to be crude!].
JUDGES 3- The Lord allows the enemies to remain partly in the land to ‘prove [test] the children who saw not the wars of Canaan’. God allowed the younger generation to learn what it meant to overcome some stuff. We live in a day where many believers are used to sitting in ‘church’ and being passive listeners their whole lives. They are all good people, it’s just they have never really learned how to war. To go out on their own and experience the kingdom. God taught the younger generation how to war. They cried unto the Lord during their oppression and the lord raised up Othniel. [Just a note, the way I do all our teaching (radio/blog) is I read the stuff ahead of time and when I teach I do it from memory. So sometimes you will see a misspelled name!] He is the younger brother of Caleb and he delivers the people. They soon back slide after his death and Eglon, the ‘fat king’ of Moab oppresses them. The Lord raises up Ehud. Notice the Lord is raising these judges up from the community! [Like the elders in Acts]. These judges experienced the same oppression as all the people around them. They lived with the complaints and bitterness of a people oppressed ‘geez, what does Eglon want now!’ The deliverers also didn’t carry all the weight, they simply showed the people that it’s possible to stand up for yourself and fight! Ehud goes to Eglon with ‘a present’ [tribute, the payment for being under him. But Ehud’s present doesn’t end there!] Ehud enters the king’s chamber. He says ‘I have a secret message from God for you’ and Eglon thinks he is going to get a little something extra. He does. Ehud takes his dagger out and shoves it all the way into Eglons fat belly! The handle and all. He escapes thru the porch and locks the doors behind him. He runs back to Israel and blows a trumpet and all the people descend upon Moab and slaughter 10 thousand mighty warriors. God gave them peace for 80 years. The description is graphic. The reason why Eglon is described as ‘fat’ is to show how this rule of lethargy and gluttony was suffocating God’s people. It took a risky, radical act of one man to say ‘I have had enough of this guy, I don’t care if I get killed, I am going to take him down!’ Sometimes it takes radical action to overthrow the spirit of mammon off of Gods people [you fight covetousness, not people!] After the violent [prophetic] act of Ehud, the people gained enough courage to cast the entire ruling nation of Moab off of them. Sometimes God will raise up a singular voice [John the Baptist was a voice in the wilderness] to stir up the people to action. The individual can’t do it alone [he might take down an Eglon] but the people have to cast off the oppressors themselves [or at least finish the job].
JUDGES 4- Deborah judges Israel. Let’s get into the role of women in the ‘church’. Wow, talk about being a glutton for punishment! First, the New Testament clearly teaches that in Christ there is neither male or female, Jew or Greek, bond or free. Paul also lays down some guidelines in Corinthians and his pastoral epistles [Timothy, Titus] on the role of women and leaders in the church. We taught the book of Acts and saw that Phillip had 4 ‘virgins’ who prophesied. Peter quotes the famous Joel prophecy and says ‘in the last days I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, your sons and DAUGHTERS will prophesy’. So we see two themes in the New Testament on women. One, they most certainly can be used in spiritual gifts, even ‘speaking ones’. While at the same time Paul tells the Corinthians to not allow the women to have authority over the men. He even says ‘let them keep silent in the ‘church’. [note- as you read all my teaching on this blog on what the church is, this will answer many questions on this subject. I also am aware of those who make a distinction here between ‘women’ and ‘married women’, the idea that the wives were asking their husbands questions during the meetings and how this could be seen as disorderly and out of custom for the time. The same idea on the subject of women and ‘hats’ in church. Were these instructions dealing with certain customs at Corinth that were peculiar to that city? Corinth was a wild place, the ‘women’ on the streets had customs that went along with ‘their trade’. Some think this played a role in Paul’s guidelines in this letter]. So obviously Paul did not see the reality of all being equal as meaning all have the same roles and responsibilities. Would it be wrong for God to not make everyone an Apostle or Prophet? Of course not. Does this mean that all cant prophesy? No. But God given roles and being equal [in value] in Gods eyes are different things. Would a father be fair if he let 2 of his boys join the football team [or boxing] and discouraged his daughter from doing the same? Just because people have different roles does not mean they do not share equal value. Now, we could go on forever with this. Some used arguments like this to justify slavery, I certainly disagree with that! But I also believe we have gone overboard [certain church ideas] in introducing Pastors as ‘Pastor Bob and Pastor Betty’ to the degree where we feel it would be bigoted to not see them as having the same role. Now, as you understand that the church is the corporate people of God, you will see that God is not ‘restricting’ the function of women as much as it might seem. The fact that the New testament did not have the singular role of ‘The Pastor’ as the primary functioning gift in the Local churches, would show you that even if women were not seen as Elders or Pastors [they were not by the way] would not mean they couldn’t function in spiritual gifts. But because we practice Local church in a way that has a few main leaders doing most of the functioning, this does seem to tell the women ‘you cant be one of us, you cant function’. While in reality this limited view of Local church not only restricts the function of women, but of most of the men as well! So here we see the Lord use Deborah in a leadership position, but even she seems to think that Barak is shrinking back from the role of leadership. She tells him ‘the Lord wants you to go up and defeat the Canaanites’. He is fearful and says ‘I will go if you go too!’ She agrees and also gives a prophetic statement ‘this journey will not be for your glory’. I think the present mindset of church and modern ministry needs to get back to this principle. Jesus told us we are to deny ourselves and take up our cross daily and follow him. We often approach Christianity with the mindset of ‘I will achieve great goals and dreams by using God and scripture to attain all that I want out of life’. While it is true that God loves us and has good plans for us, we also need to see the virtue of actually denying ourselves for Christ. There are [and should be] real things that you desired to do or be at one point in your life, that you consciously laid down for Christ. This is a very real practice that most believers in today’s church environment don’t hear about. What have you given up for Jesus? Even saying it like this sounds strange to our ears! So ‘this journey is not for our glory’. Deborah tells Barak to go and defeat Sisera, the leader of Jabins army [geez, I am quoting all these names as I write, double check the spelling for yourselves]. He goes and defeats the mighty 900 steel chariot army of Jabin. Sisera escapes and hides in Jaels tent [the wife of Heber, descendants of Moses in laws]. He asks her to hide him, she covers him with a blanket. She gives him some milk, as he is sleeping she drives a tent stake thru his head! [Ouch] She then shows Barak that he is dead. God used women to help with the cause. He always has and always will. Jesus broke the etiquette of his day by allowing women to be ‘on his team’. He spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well, a huge no no! He allowed Mary Magdalene to be part of the group. Prostitutes received mercy and wiped his feet with their hair! Jesus broke barriers and used women, but staying within the basic guidelines of ones calling [like women not being elders in the new testament churches] should not be seen as chauvinistic, but as simply submitting [both men and women!] to Gods basic order laid down in the new testament. NOTE- A few years back the southern baptist convention reaffirmed the basic truth that wives should submit to their husbands and husbands should love their wives as Christ loves the church. Boy did you have a firestorm in the liberal media over this. Both sides [even in the church] have a tendency to use the verses that seem to present their side the most. Paul actually referred to a woman [Junia- Romans 16:7] as a possible Apostle ‘who are of note among the Apostles’[depending on how you read the text]. So I believe the scriptures give us much leeway way in God using women in the church, but we should not think it ‘progressive thinking’ to simply by pass all the other portions of scripture that teach the different roles of men and women.
(774)JUDGES 5-6 Deborah sings a victors song in chapter 5. I only want to mention one verse, she says ‘the mountains melted before you, even Sinai’. In the beginning of Judges I skipped the part where Judah defeats Jerusalem. This wording sounds strange in a way! Jerusalem of course was inhabited by the Jebusites and Judah took it. Sinai represents the law and Moses, grace and truth come from Jesus. I simply felt these ideas to be prophetic, speaking of a time in the future [Now, the New Covenant] where these natural identities will bow before the King! ‘The law came thru Moses [Sinai] but grace and truth came from Jesus Christ’. In chapter 6 we see one of the famous stories of a judge, Gideon. At this time in Israel’s history the Midianites were coming up every year during the harvest and wiping them out. It’s not that Israel wasn’t sowing [planting] it’s just they weren’t enjoying the harvest! The enemy left them enough freedom to plant and work the fields, it was just at harvest time when he gave them a hard time. Now Gideon is threshing wheat at ‘the winepress’ which is basically a hole in the ground. You can’t really thresh wheat in a cave! You need a ‘thresingfloor’, an open area where you can throw the wheat in the air and let the wind blow the chaff away. But all the children of Israel were doing this in secret spots to hide from the Midianites. So once again the people call out to God and he does it a little different this time. He sends them a Prophet first who says to them ‘God delivered you from Egypt and bondage, yet you feared the enemy and served false gods’. They were living in fear and permitted idolatry to become part of their worship [covetousness is the New Testament equivalent to idolatry]. Then the Lord sends an angel to Gideon and he tells him ‘you mighty man of valor, God is calling you to lead the people’. Gideon says ‘I come from poverty, I am the least in my family. How can I be the one’? The Lord doesn’t say ‘don’t worry, I will make you rich’ he simply tells Gideon ‘I will go with you’. Jesus used a rag tag team of disciples to turn the world up side down. They would ask ‘how can we feed this multitude, we don’t have the cash’ Jesus was with them! Gideon does this prophetic act and destroys the altar of Baal that was in his city. At night [because he was afraid] he takes 10 guys and they tear it down and erect an altar to God right in the city square. In the morning the men of the city say ‘who in the heck did this’? They are infuriated that someone would disturb the system that they became comfortable with [ouch!] They find out it was Gideon and they go to his house and want to kill him. The dad says ‘hey, if Baal is so offended, then let him do something about it’. Gideon’s dad had a little bit of the Elijah thing going on. Elijah tells the false prophets of Baal ‘where’s Baal? How come he can’t come and consume all this wood? Maybe he’s busy with some other stuff?’ One translation actually says ‘maybe he is on the potty’ these idol destroyers seemed to have no respect for the scared cows of the day. So Baal leaves Gideon alone and Gideon blows the trumpet and sends word to the various tribes. God is raising up Gideon to ‘come upon the enemy as one man’. We will later see the enemy have a dream of Gideon and the people rolling into the enemy’s camp as a Barley loaf. These are prophetic images of the Body of Christ. We are ‘one bread’ so to speak. Notice how the people became accustomed to the altar of Baal in their midst. They were irate that someone came along and shook the apple cart. At first they wanted to kill the guy, but then they recognized [grudgingly!] that Gideon was right. Sometimes the Lord will speak a word into the church that at first seems unbelievable. ‘Who does so and so think he is?’ But if the word is from the Lord, the people will eventually get on board with it and even partake of the benefits from the word. Gideon didn’t turn the troops on the men from his city who wanted to kill him. He simply fulfilled his prophetic destiny and attacked the enemy, not his fellow citizens! He allowed them time to get on the bandwagon, they eventually did.
JUDGES 7- God calls Gideon to the battle. He rounds up the troops and is ready to storm the enemy. One thing, God says ‘you have too many resources’. What? I thought you were the God of abundance, don’t you want to multiply everything? Well he is the God of abundance, but that doesn’t always mean ‘more is better’. So God instructs Gideon to simply say ‘we have too many people, so whoever is afraid can go home’. 22 thousand walk out. Ouch! I think Gideon would have snuck out with the crowd too if he wasn’t the Pastor. So they have 10 thousand left. Gideon brings them to the water and God shrinks the group down to 300. So Gideon is supposed to defeat the Midianites and Amalekites and some others with 300 men. He feels ill. The Lord tells him to sneak into the enemy camp at night and listen to what they are saying. He sneaks in and hears one of the guys telling a dream how he saw a Barley loaf [a type of the Body of Christ- we are ‘one bread’ who partake of the bread of life] roll into the camp and flatten a tent. The other guy says ‘this is the sword of Gideon, God has delivered us into his hands’. Gideon hears this prophetic word [from the enemy! I guess Gideon didn’t have any prophets on his team?] and stirs the troops up and says ‘here’s the plan’. He lays out a strategy of splitting up into 3 groups of 100 each, and having them hold a lamp in a pot in one hand and a trumpet in the other hand. They go down into the enemy camp and surround the camp. Gideon’s group breaks the pots and blows the trumpets, the others follow. They all shout ‘the sword of the Lord and of Gideon’. This causes fear in the enemy camp. They panic and start turning on each other in order to escape. They pulled a ‘George’ from Seinfeld! George is at this kid’s birthday party and someone burns some food on the stove. They think it’s a fire and George panics and knocks the kids over in his attempt to save himself. He even pushes an old grandma out of the way in the process! So the Midianites pull a George and flee at the expense of their own people. Gideon calls the other tribes to join in on the route and they defeat the enemy. Notice that God didn’t use the 300 to do all the work, they simply were the brave ones who were willing to risk everything for the cause. Ultimately the rest of the nation had to get on board with the program. There are times in church history where God will raise up radical groups who are pursuing hard after God. Initially they will be the igniters of the fire. But for the full purpose of God to prevail others will have to join in. This dynamic has a tendency to cause jealousy in the church. We will see this in the next chapter. Note- The lamps [oil-Spirit] in the clay pots [we are called earthen vessels in Corinthians] represent the Body of Christ. It was in the breaking [repentance, brokenness] of the vessels that allowed the light to shine forth. God used an army of broken light bearers who trumpeted his word to take the enemy. The same idea of the ‘fiery tongues’ on the early church. The fire from their mouths [the preaching of the gospel- Revelation says ‘fire proceeds out of their mouths and devours the enemy’] went forth like a trumpet and took over the entire roman world!
JUDGES 8- As Gideon routes the enemy, the children of Ephraim got in on it. Were they thankful that Gideon gave them a shot? No. They were mad that he didn’t let them in on it from the start! Gideon appeases their jealousy and says ‘you guys have done more than me. I take no personal glory from this’. Gideon saw his calling as one that would benefit the other ‘tribes’ [denominations]. He knew his purpose was not to start his own tribe! Now as Gideon is pursuing the 2 kings of Midian [Zeba, Zalmunna? In keeping myself honest, I did not just check the spelling] he comes thru 2 cities [Succoth, Penuel?] and asks the men ‘can you help us out? We are pursuing the kings of Midian and the troops need some food’. The men of Succoth say ‘why should we help? We don’t see them in your hands yet’. In essence, they were not sure if Gideon and his personal little ‘vendetta’ was going to prevail. We need to be careful that we don’t judge a prophetic act of God and take things personal. These cities needed to get on board when it counted. Gideon is not going to need their help after the job is done! So he tells them ‘fine, but when I’m done with the job, I will come back and whip your Elders with thorn bushes’. Gideon is treading dangerous territory. He actually is setting his judgment up against the God ordained elders of this city [Romans]. But like the Apostle Paul, his unique calling was unstoppable. They would go against elders or whoever they needed to, in order to complete the mission. So Gideon catches the 2 kings and tells his son ‘fall upon them with the sword’. His son hesitates out of fear. The 2 kings actually rebuke Gideon’s boy and tell him to have courage. Gideon takes the sword and kills the kings. A few interesting notes. The people are so overjoyed with Gideon’s authority that they say ‘Be our king, rule over us as a dynasty’. Gideon refuses and says this would be a rejection of Gods authority. Eventually Saul will become the king that fills this role. Even though God raised up strong authority figures, yet there was a distinction between over doing mans rule and recognizing Gods authority. Paul will teach the concept of God recognized elders in the New Testament church. But will also warn of men wanting to draw away disciples after themselves. Some will fall into the snare of ‘becoming kings’. Also Gideon took all the gold jewelry from the Midianites and made an Ephod [a priestly object] and it became an idol to the people. They fell into the snare of covetousness/idolatry that would become a hallmark of Israel’s rebellion.
JUDGES 9- Gideon died in the last chapter and his 70 sons were to rule as a plurality of elders. The same picture we see from Moses and the 70 elders. In Judges we see the dynamic of a plurality of leadership, along with the input of strong Apostolic/Prophetic voices. The same idea we saw in the book of Acts. Now Gideon previously refused the role of singular kingship over the people. It took both courage and humility to say ‘I will not be a king over you’. In the struggle to return back to a more biblical example of Christian leadership functioning in the ‘local church’ you need both humility and courage to resist the impulse in man to want a ‘famous leader’ to ‘rule over them’. Now Abimelech, Gideon’s son, was born from one of Gideon’s mistresses from the town of Shechem. Do you remember when we studied this town in the past? It was the town where the son of the prince raped Dinah, the daughter of Jacob. Jacobs’s boys had the towns men circumcise themselves and they went in and slew the city. Well, the boy who raped Dinah was Shechem. The town is named after him. So the history of this city is one of humiliation. Like Germany after WW1, they felt humiliated as a people. The maniac Hitler used a false ethnic nationalism to mobilize the people under him. This is what Abimelech does. He tells the men of Shechem ‘do you want the 70 sons of Gideon to rule over you [plurality] or one king?’ Here you have the temptation of power and authority seen in Abimelech. He does contrary to his father’s rejection of singular headship and thru deception takes a position that was never originally intended [he falls into the trap of singular authority over the people. A trend that the Christian church will also develop over many centuries] so the men of Shechem agree and Abimelech goes and kills the 70 sons of Gideon. But the youngest one escapes. His name is Jotham. He gives this prophetic speech from a hill [God ordained forum] and tells a parable. The parable has these trees asking the olive tree ‘come and reign over us’ and the tree says ‘should I leave my God ordained place and be promoted over other trees’. The same thing happens with the fig tree and the vine. They recognize the futility of leaving their God ordained position and trying to become a ‘ruler of other trees’. Finally the bramble [weed] rules over them. Jotham sees the rule of Abimelech as a twisted distortion of Gods authority. For three years Abimelech rules Israel and a local guy says ‘why should we have him rule over us? I can do a better job’ notice, just because Abimelech is ruling outside of Gods order, does not mean that any ‘Tom, Dick or Harry’ can come along and mount a successful over throw! This local stirs up the men of Shechem and turns the city against Abimelech. Another local resents this and sends word secretly to Abimelech ‘Hey, some guy is telling everybody he can do a better job than you. Come and put him in his place’. Sure enough a few days go by and Abimelech descends the hill with his troops. The rebel who is trying to displace Abimelech says ‘what’s that? I see men coming down’ the other local says ‘you must be seeing things’. Finally the rebel says ‘no, I see an army’. The secret confidant of Abimelech says ‘It’s Abimelech. Where’s you big mouth now! You talk a tough talk, let’s see some action’. Sure enough he realizes that this guy set him up. So Abimelech, even though he is operating unlawfully [outside of Gods original purpose] mounts a strong attack. He has resources and ‘supporters’ who took pride in his ruthless rule. Much like the mafia guys who would help their neighborhoods and gain the support of others, even though they were ruthless murderers! Abimelech defeats this challenge to his rule, but chases the enemy into a city and this lady from a tower drops a stone on his head from the tower and kills him. God did avenge the ruthless slaughter of Gideon’s 70 sons [Gods relational/plural plan of ruler ship] but the immature challenge to Abimelechs rule from an inexperienced local was not going to cut it. I see a lot of pictures from this story. The parable of Jotham really has some spiritual meaning to it. The idea of the trees rejecting false promotion has elements of Jesus teaching in it ‘the gentiles exercise authority by being promoted over people, this shall not be so with you’. The power struggles between those who resent all authority! Some simply challenge the present authority structures in Christianity out of an immature spirit [like the local guy in Shechem]. Over all we see the rebellion in Abimelechs rule and taking a position that his father had previously rejected. Just because someone might be in a position of promotion that God doesn’t want, this does not mean that all challenges to this authority are God ordained. As the Body of Christ struggles to get back to a more biblical idea of Christian leadership, getting away from the strong ‘I am your Pastor’ mentality and returning to a respect and honoring of spiritual elders in your midst [the term pastor is fine by the way] we need to recognize both sides of the coin. Don’t simply follow anyone who says ‘why should so and so think he can tell us what to do’. Some of these voices speak out of immaturity and rebellion. But in Gods timing the mature ‘trees’ will be wise enough to say ‘why should I go and be promoted over other trees’. Leaders will learn to blossom and produce fruit while not taking positions of promotion contrary to their nature.
JUDGES 10- The children of Israel forsake the Lord and he delivers them into the hand of the enemy. They do the usual ‘Lord, help us!’ But this time they get a different response. The Lord says ‘I am tired of helping you guys time and again. Every time I come thru for you, you eventually go back to your former ways. Go and cry unto the gods you are serving, see if they can help you!’ Wow, they never got a response like this before. They decide to clean up their act anyway, they put away their false gods and ask the Lord ‘How about helping us one last time?’ The King James Bible says ‘Just this day’. You can take it as ‘one more time’ or ‘help us in this immediate situation’. Jesus taught us in the Lords prayer to pray ‘deliver us from evil, give us this day our daily bread’. Sometimes the view gets so dark that even if you have lost faith for the ‘long term vision’ you can at least ask the Lord ‘what about intervening for the simple fact that we can’t make it today unless you move’. The daily Manna was Gods help and sustenance on a daily basis. He purposely set it up like this so they would learn to depend daily upon him. We all have a tendency to develop systems and ideas about God. The whole concept of ‘ministry’ entails a system of function that we expect God to bless. It’s easy to lose sight of the sovereignty of God and come to depend on the system. Some teach that God has done all he can do to save you, or help you in this present life. That the answer to your problem is to learn the ‘system’ he uses from the bible and implement it. In essence ‘God is continually transmitting what you need, the trick is getting your spiritual antenna in the right direction’ [I just heard it preached on radio a few days ago]. While there are some applications of truth to this idea, it can also lead to a legalistic road of thinking that the answer to your problem is found in you DOING SOMETHING. Ultimately the answer to our problem is WE NEED GOD TO ACT ON OUR BEHALF! So the children of Israel say ‘Lord, how about helping for just this day’. Well we already know the answer. He will raise up another judge in the next chapter. But he wants us to learn the lesson. He does want us to get to a stage where we don’t keep falling into the same rut [iniquity- patterns ‘ruts’ of sin]. God will come thru for you today, Jesus ‘ever lives to make intercession for us’ he will help you if you ask.
JUDGES 11- The children of Gilead [Israelites] live in an area named after their father. They have a brother who was born from ‘a harlot’. The brothers kick him out of town and tell him ‘you will have no inheritance with us’. He is seen as illegitimate. He gathers a ragtag team of ‘vain’ men around him. He is despised and rejected of men. He is a type of Jesus. He reminds me of King David and his disgruntled men. This mans name is Jephthah. In process of time the children of Ammon harass the sons of Gilead. They posses the ancient land of Ammon. The king of Ammon lets Gilead know that he is re-staking his claim on his forefather’s territory. Gilead is scared and feeling threatened by Ammon. The king of Ammon knows it, he is like the bully in school who makes his first threat and realizes that he can get away with it. Now, the Elders of Gilead have a little council meeting. They discuss the situation. Sure enough a motion is made ‘I move that we hire our brother Jephthah to become our leader’. What! We kicked him out, we judged him illegitimate. Don’t you remember his bad upbringing? They bite the bullet and send word to Jephthah. Now Jephthah will take the job, but first he makes them eat a little crow [very unkosher!]. He says ‘now you guys need me, what happened to all the talk of me being a trouble maker and some unordained rebel?’ They swallow the crow. Jephthah agrees and signs a contract [of course I am ad libbing here]. Now the king of Ammon has been getting away with his bravado for a while. Jephthah takes the job and immediately sends a response to Ammon. ‘Why are you messing with me? I am giving you fair warning to back off’ Huh? The king of Ammon thinks ‘who in the heck is this guy? Oh well, I guess someone from Gilead finally got some courage’ [I’ll be nice!]. Ammon responds and sends word back ‘I am reclaiming the land of my forefathers; you are dwelling illegally in my territory’. Now an interesting thing happens, though Jephthah is deemed ‘uneducated’ he responds with a strong historic apologetic for their right to the land. He knows the history well! He says ‘a few hundred years ago our forefathers were leaving Egypt and as they came to your father’s territory they simply asked for safe passage. They were denied. Eventually you fathers started a fight [they had the bully blood of Ammon!] and our fathers got into it with them and ‘beat the dung’ out of them. Therefore we rightfully own this land. Who in the heck do you think you are anyway buddy, are you better than the kings before you? You need to back off now!’ Well, Ammon is not used to getting a response like this. The brothers of Jephthah knew all along that he was a hothead, that’s why they hired him. So Ammon gets word from Jephthah and has a meeting on what to do next. I am sure Ammon is a little scared by now ‘who in the heck is this new comer? Who does he think he is to challenge me like this?’ Before he gets a chance to find out, someone says ‘hey look, here he comes now’. The Spirit of God came upon Jephthah and he stormed in and kicked Ammon's butt. He did a repeat of years gone by. Don’t you just hate getting beat up by the kid who beat you up before? Jephthah repeated history. Ammon got whupped. The men of Gilead renewed the 2 year contract with their brother, even though he was the black sheep of the family.
JUDGES 12- Jephthah has a great victory over Ammon. Ephraim confronts him and says ‘why didn’t you tell us you were going to battle? Who do you guys think you are, hogging up all the glory’? Jephthah responds ‘I did ask you guys to help! You guys are always talking a big game, but you never show up when we need you!’ Ephraim does have a history of doing this. They said the same thing in an earlier chapter, I think to Gideon? There is a Psalm that says ‘Ephraim turned back in the day of battle, even though they were fully armed’. They truly were a legitimate tribe, who had the goods to war, but they seemed to be more concerned about ‘their image’ and what so and so was doing down the road, than in actually going out and winning some wars! Jephthah is the type of brother you don’t want to mess with. He is mentioned in Hebrews 11 among the great heroes of the faith. Why would he be in there? He led a tribe that was insignificant, yet he rose to the occasion and displayed great courage, at the risk of his own life, and was a true warrior. Jephthah responds to Ephraim’s big words by ‘beating the hell out of them’. He strapped it on! Ephraim was one of the big 12, a legitimate warring tribe from Israel. Jephthah made a name for himself and his people. He was like the Arturo Gatti’s [Jersey City] who were simple hometown boxers who rose to fame and put his town on the map [even though Gatti was out of his class against De Lahoya]. Or a Bret Favre from Green Bay [Packers] who in the heck ever heard of ‘Green Bay’? Jephthah put Gilead on the map of history. I just recently studied some stuff on the Jesus movement of the 60’s -70’s. One of the interesting characters was a brother by the name of Lonnie Frisbee. Someone just made a documentary on him [Life and times of a Hippie preacher] and tried to show how he had a lot of influence in the beginnings of the Calvary Chapel and Vineyard movements [2 of the most successful Church movements that came out of this time]. The brother who made the documentary felt like the leaders of the movement did not give him due credit because he died of Aid’s. Lonnie struggled with homosexuality for most of his life. Many of the people who were interviewed gave strong testimonies of Lonnie’s influence in their lives. While looking up some stuff on U Tube I found a few videos of him sharing his testimony, there seems to be no doubt that he was a child of God. Some apologists [Hank Hannegraff] attribute Lonnie’s ‘anointing’ to the demonic realm. They brought out the fact that Lonnie’s initial conversion took place while he was high. They showed how some of the Shamans shared the same types of things that Lonnie operated in [Jim Morrison of the doors is thought to have been a Shaman, the name ‘Lizard King’ spoke to this]. I for the most part accept Lonnie’s own testimony of believing in Jesus. I know it’s difficult to understand how the Lord could have used someone who struggled like this, but some of these judges [Like the next one we will discuss- Samson] had many struggles along with their victories. I dont want to give people excuses for sinning, but I want to encourage you to allow God to use you right where you are at. With all the faults of Lonnie Frisbee, the Lord still used him to play a key role in the early Jesus movement.
JUDGES 13- We begin the story of Samson. While all the judges are called by God, Samson has this prophetic type calling from birth. An angel appears to his mother and foretells of his birth. She is barren and it is one of those Divine pronouncements like the birth of Jesus or John the Baptist. These types of callings have special meaning to them. You can study the callings of contemporary prophets and see many of these same characteristics. Though the critics have found faults with many of these men, yet they have had supernatural occurrences surrounding their births and destinies that cannot be explained away. When these children are growing they are surrounded by the stories of these supernatural events. They often do not realize the special signs that accompanied them. When John the Baptist was asked ‘are you the prophet that was spoken about, the ‘Elijah type prophet’ that appears before the Messiah’? John says no. But later the disciples say to Jesus ‘before the Messiah comes, the Elijah type prophet is to come first’ and Jesus says it was John. I think the Lord will allow certain prophetic people to not realize the impact of their destinies during their lives, they will see some day, but not now. So Samson’s mom has this special angelic visitation and the husband hears about it from his wife. They pray and ask the Lord to come again and give them more instructions about the boy. The Lord sends the angel back and they receive instructions about the boy. His calling is special, he will be dedicated to God from birth to death. The parents are to raise him in a way that will simply facilitate the gift. This is important to see. Often times we see ministry as ‘look what God is doing with Corpus Christi outreach ministries’ [or any other name!]. Or ‘God, please use this ministry for this purpose’ God gifts people with special callings and giftings. ‘Ministry’ is simply the parameters, the borders that help facilitate the gift. We too often confuse Gods sovereign gift with the ‘procedures’. God uses people [individuals and groups] to carry out his purposes, all ministry structures should be seen as simple instructions to properly ‘harness the gift’. Samson’s parents receive the instructions and raise him according to the angel’s directives. The Spirit of God will come on him at set times and he will begin to display the anointing at a young age. We will learn from Samson that the gifts and callings of God are without repentance. God will continue to use him thru out his life even though he will stray from the guidelines of his parents. Of course there will come a day where he loses the special ability that God gave him, but his willingness to lay it all down at the end will gain him a place in the great faith hall of fame! [Hebrews 11]
JUDGES 14- Samson goes to the Philistine area and sees a woman who he likes. He tells his parents ‘get her for me’! He does seem spoiled. Now his parents have good reason to be a little intimidated by him, after all they know the miraculous events surrounding his birth. They tell him ‘look at all the great women from our own ‘ethnic background’ why do you want this stranger’? The scripture says they did not realize that this thing in Samson was FROM THE LORD. The scripture says the Lord did this so Israel could have an occasion/situation to go to war. Paul says in the New Testament ‘there must be heresies among you’. Some see this as meaning God allowed certain things to go wrong so he could create a situation where ‘war’ would occur. Then out of chaos and violence truth would be more clearly defined. Romans does say ‘all things eventually work out for the good to those who love God’. In Samson’s case his family didn’t understand why he was so adamant about this girl, but God was seeking ‘an occasion’. Now Samson and his family make a visit to the area [Timnath] and he hooks up with the woman. During one of Samson’s trips he comes upon a lion and the Spirit of God comes upon Samson and he tears it to pieces with his bare hands. I’m sure even Samson was a little surprised about this supernatural anointing. On his way back thru the area he finds that a bee hive formed in the dead lion and made a bunch of honey, he takes a scoop of the honey and gives some to his family but never reveals the source. He keeps the story to himself. At the wedding party he tells the guests ‘I have a riddle, if you figure it out I will give you the garments of 30 men. If you don’t guess it in 7 days you pay me’! He tells the riddle ‘out of the eater came forth food, out of the strong came forth sweetness’. The riddle speaks of the honey that Samson found in the dead lion. After a few days the locals can’t figure it out. They beg the wife for her to tell them the secret. She gives in and the men tell Samson the answer. He tells them ‘if you didn’t plow with my heifer, you would have never found out the answer’. This is the beginning of an area of weakness that will dog Samson thru out his life. He will experience defeat in the future on these grounds. Well Samson is furious, he goes and kills 30 men from some nearby town and pays off the bet. I see Jesus ‘the Lion from the tribe of Judah’ in the riddle. Jesus will eventually come and die on a Cross, from his ‘dead Body’ sweet honey and meat will flow to the nations. It was the death of the lion that created an environment for honey and food to come forth. Gods Word is described as honey and meat. Jesus death created ‘an environment’ for life to flow to the nations.
JUDGES 15- Samson cools down and goes back to see his wife. As he tries to make things right her father reveals to him that she is now married to his best friend! What? Yup, the dad said they thought he was so mad that he gave up on her. Well Samson goes and ties the fox’s tails together and sets these torches on fire between their tails. He lets them run thru the fields of the Philistines and burn up the crops. The Philistines say ‘who did this’? They find out Samson did it because of the wife thing. So they blame it on the wife and her father and go ‘burn them’ [ouch!]. Samson doesn’t stop! He gets into it with a few more guys and whips them good. He escapes to this stronghold in Judah’s territory and the Philistines are looking for him. Judah finds Samson and says ‘why are you hiding among us? Don’t you realize the Philistines rule over us?’ Samson says ‘I’ll let you tie me up if you promise not to kill me yourselves’ so they promise. When the Philistines get him, the Spirit comes on Samson and he breaks the cords and ‘beats the hell out of them’. He finds this jawbone from a donkey and kills a thousand of them with the jawbone. He then gets thirsty and says ‘I need something to drink, why would you let me have such a great victory and feel like I am going to die of thirst’? God breaks a hole in the jawbone and Samson finds water from the instrument he used to defeat the enemy. Now, notice the unbelievable amount of war, division and devastation that is coming from one man! He is actually negotiating like he is an army! God knew what he was doing when he raised Samson up ‘because he wanted an occasion to deal with the Philistines’. John the Baptist was like this. A single prophetic voice who had the gall to tell Herod ‘you can’t have your brother’s wife!’ How do these guys do stuff like this? In Samson’s case he got away with it because he had the goods to back it up! He was like the other judges who knew how to strap it on. But this guy seems to be a one man steamroller. Notice that the Lord refreshed him from the same tool he used to war with. Paul tells Timothy ‘preach the word, in doing this you will save yourself and those who hear thee’. Paul says ‘woe to me if I preach not the gospel’. Over the years I will listen to our radio messages one time before I broadcast them. I am so far ahead of schedule that I will preview the message about a year or more after I make them. Yet I actually will get ‘a prophetic word’ that I never even knew I spoke! God will allow you to be refreshed from the refreshing you give others. Don’t be too self absorbed, but recognize that ‘he who waters will himself be watered’ [somewhere in the bible].
JUDGES 16- This is the famous ‘Samson and Delilah’ story. Samson once again falls for some strange woman. The philistines ask her to find out the secret to Samson’s strength. She goes thru this procedure of ‘bugging him to death’ until he spills the beans. Scripture says ‘she pressed him until his soul was vexed unto the point of death’ double ouch! Well she finds out the strength is in his dedication unto God, shown thru the act of not cutting his hair. She shaves his head and he is taken captive. Scripture says he woke up and thought ‘I will fight the enemy as usual and win’ and he didn’t realize the Lord wasn’t with him anymore. Now Samson becomes a source of entertainment for the lost world. They bring him out every now and then and parade him around as a ‘jack ass’. Do you remember how the media and late night comics just couldn’t get over the fact that Christian celeb’s have fallen? Re running the crying videos of Brother Swaggart and Bakker. Parading the ‘lover’ of Ted Haggard on all the shows. The Philistines loved using the ‘big buffoon’ as sport. So one day they take him out of his cell and have him stumble around at some party. Samson has some kid place his hands on the 2 main pillars that are holding up the building. He asks the Lord ‘Lord, please return my strength this one last time’ and he pushes on the pillars and the whole corrupt society around him comes down and they all die as one big happy family! Samson killed more of the enemy in his death than thru out his life. Just a few thoughts; right now in the present ‘media church’ there is another tragic situation of a famous celebrity couple who have divorced. Sad story, God will forgive people for their mistakes. But the problem is the wife feels like she should maintain the whole public persona. Now I like these people. I am not a fan of their teachings at all, but the wife has come a long way from a difficult life. When I first read about these things I always pray for the people. But we [the people of God] need to seriously re evaluate the whole ‘celebrity persona’ that allows good people, who seemingly represent the church to society at large, to do stuff like this. Its like the world tunes us in every now and then ‘for sport’. Also Samson used wisdom in avoiding a direct shot at a few Philistines, and placed himself in a position where he could bring down the whole corrupt group at one time. We need to avoid individual skirmishes with people. God is working in our day like he has in every other generation. There are some serious things that the previous generation wrongfully built into the church. The younger generation sees the absolute absurdity of some of these things. Prophetic voices need to ‘position themselves strategically’ and take out some of these pillars [doctrines, not people!] so we can give the next generation a fresh start.
(790)JUDGES 17- This is quite an interesting chapter. Micah steals money from his ‘mother’. He tells her ‘I took it’ [managed to gain precious riches from you] and she commends him. He then says he took it from her to give it back to her. Let’s spiritualize a little. The ‘sons of the church’ [the New Jerusalem is the corporate church, the ‘mother of us all’] some times take by violence the hidden riches that were contained ‘in the church’ [which possesses the mind of Christ!] so they can ‘give the riches back to the mother’ [feed my sheep!] and receive commendation from her. Now, all analogies eventually break down. Micah’s mom says she was going to build an idol [institution?] with the money. Micah becomes the overseer of this ‘false system of worship’. He actually ‘hires’ [hireling mentality- seeing ministry as a profession] a legitimate priest from the tribe of Levi to call ‘father- priest’ [ouch!] Micah pays him a salary [double ouch!] and says ‘now I know the Lord [God of the Christians] will bless me seeing I have a priest under my authority’. [Rome and her emperors?] Lots of imagery here. First, Micah felt like he would gain Gods blessing if he ‘hired’ and institutionalized the real priesthood. We must see that what happened during the first 4 centuries of Christianity was a type of ‘hiring’ and legitimizing the ‘priests of God’ for the purpose of favor and unity within the Roman Empire. It is no secret that the emperor Constantine looked for unity in his empire by embracing and professionalizing the ‘priest hood’. They will actually be called ‘fathers, priests’. Also, this priest that Micah hired was a real representative of God! He did come from a true tribe. It is difficult for Protestants to see that although the institutional church ‘married’ Rome, yet she still contained part of the real people of God. This is not to say all that happened in the first millennium [thousand years of Christianity] was of God, but it also means we need to understand that there are some ‘precious riches’ [1100 pieces of silver!] that are hidden within her for the purpose of ‘true sons’ to go and take these riches and re distribute them back to her for her own benefit. You would be surprised by the amount of spiritual truths contained in the writings of the Catholic [Orthodox] fathers. Many of these truths are being ‘re found’ by protestants! And some of these Protestants have given them back to the church and shown her ‘look, even your own church fathers saw such and such’. I see the whole concept of Micah hiring the Priest as a type of ‘hired clergy’ mentality that all the people of God wrongfully took hold of. We need to recognize that just because this Levite went down this road, this does not mean he was not a true Levite [person of God]. It just meant he allowed his gift/office to be used in a wrong way to bring legitimacy to a form of worship that had vestiges of idolatry contained within.
(791)JUDGES 18- The tribe of Dan sends 5 spies to check out the land of Laish, it was supposed to be part of their inheritance. On the way they pass Mount Ephraim, where Micah and the ‘hired priest’ live. They enquire in the house of Micah about their journey. They are assured God is with them. They see Laish and return with the good report. Laish is a land where the people are ‘isolated’ they do no business with any other tribes. Too sectarian in their little community [ouch!]. So the tribe of Dan hears the report and arms 600 men for battle. As they go to get their land, they once again stop at the idolatrous house of Micah. They make a ‘job offer’ to the ‘hired priest’ and appeal to success and status among clergy ‘do you want to come and be our hired priest? Wouldn’t you rather be priest of a whole tribe instead of one household’? He takes the job promotion and on their way out Micah tries to stop them from taking his priest but doesn’t have the manpower to do it. Dan introduces this false priesthood on a large scale to the people of God. Scripture says while they were involving themselves in this false worship, the House of God was still in Shiloh. Now we have covered a lot of ground here. I want to be careful but truthful about wrong worship in the church. First, I do find it amazing that the Lord did not cut Micah off originally when he got into his stuff! The history of Israel includes a time period where they thought the high places in their land were a sign of true religion. When some of the kings institute a return to the Lord, they leave the high places alone. Although these high places were idolatrous, yet in their ignorance they really thought they were honoring God. I see a degree of this here. Now the hired priest continues to represent the mentality of the hired offices of the clergy. All good people, but often operating in systems that lend themselves to the co dependency of Gods people. It is easy to see the idea of false worship and simply use this to bash Catholics. I prefer to see the false worship of Dan as a mark of all wrong tradition and teaching that come to us from the mind of man. Jesus rebuked the traditions that made void the Word of God, but Paul will tell his spiritual sons ‘hold to the traditions you have been taught by me’. Some traditions are needful. Things that our spiritual fathers have passed down to us. Don’t despise all tradition! Don’t see ‘the ministry’ as a way to gain status and climb the ladder in the corporate world. This priest of Micah took a position based on gentile authority. Something Jesus forbid for the leaders of his church. This priest saw self advancement in moving ‘his ministry’ to oversee the tribe of Dan. This root of pride will cause the limited idolatry at Micah’s house to leaven an entire tribe. Often times well meaning people become part of ‘extending wrong ideas’ thru out the church as they seek fame and recognition. Jesus taught us that true servants will not make decisions based on ‘how will this move promote me, how will I gain a name for myself’ these motivations blind us to the idolatry that exists in the church in our day. The New Testament equivalent of idolatry is covetousness. Leadership often overlooks the blatant abuse in this area as they pursue a name and advancement for ‘their ministries’. It’s easy to not want to hear Paul’s strong words in 1st Timothy 6 concerning leaders. We want to be able to ‘seek fame and fortune’ because it does feel good to be famous! Hebrews says ‘sin does have pleasure for a season’. So I see the whole scenario of Micah’s hired priest in all of us. I see the idolatry of Dan and false worship as leaven that affects all of Gods people [Protestants and Catholics alike]. I see the fact that God still used Micah to be a voice and instrument to the people of God even though he thru ignorance allowed idolatry to be entrenched in Israel. God is merciful and he will put up with our ignorance for a season, but I think that season has already passed. [Though his mercy endures forever!]
(794)JUDGES 19- We have another strange story. There is this Levite who has a concubine [servant-wife]. She plays ‘the harlot’ on him and goes back home to Judah. The Levite goes to get her. He shows up at her dad’s house and the father welcomes him [Judah- Israel loved the law- Levite]. The Levite informs him that he came to take back his wife and the dad won’t let him go! He keeps holding on and for a few days convinces him to ‘just stay for one more night’ [Israel’s mindset in the first century. They tried to hold on to the law past it’s time]. The Levite leaves and on his way back to Ephraim they need a place to spend the night. They show up at Gibeah, where the Benjamites dwell. As they are on the street all day, no one offers to take them in. This younger generation forgot all the ‘elementary’ teachings of the Law of Moses [Hebrews 5]. An old man who was from Ephraim was living there. He sees the Levite and his wife and servants on the street. He asks what’s up and the old man offers to take the Levite in. He says ‘don’t worry about the cost, I will cover it’ [The Good Samaritan]. At night the men of the city knock on the old mans door and want the Levite to come out ‘and play’ [The sin of Sodom!] the old man offers the men the women instead of the man. They take the wife of the Levite and abuse her all night long. She shows up at the door in the morning and is dead. The Levite takes her dead body home and cuts it into 12 pieces and sends them to Israel as a witness. This drastic symbol shocks the nation. There are lots of spiritual points that could be made. The law [Levite] was welcomed for a time [Galatians 4] but when it’s time t let it go don’t keep holding on. The old man in Gibeah practiced the art of hospitality to strangers/aliens that was contained in the original precepts from Moses. The younger generation forgot the true principles of their law. Paul will argue over and over again from the law to persuade Israel to come to Messiah. They forgot the basic truths of their own law and this made it harder to show them that Jesus was the fulfillment of their law. Of course the old man taking in the Levite is like the story of the Good Samaritan who took care of his neighbor at his own expense. Paul told the Corinthians that he would ‘spend and be spent’ for them. And the drastic act of the Levite cutting up the wife and sending her body parts to Israel shows the utter terror of the law. The law ultimately demands justice, it shows no mercy. Israel might have had an affinity for the law, but if you keep it around too long it can really ruin the party! [The New Covenant is one of joy and peace in the Spirit. We are at Jesus ‘wedding party’ if you will].
(795)JUDGES 20- The nation of Israel gather together as ‘one man’ to figure out what is going on. They all received the body pieces of the concubine as a sign of judgment. Remember, the law [Levite] can not give life to that which is ‘dead in trespasses and sin’ [the dead wife!] but the law can only reveal sin and call for justice. So the tribes are gathered to meet out judgment! They decide to get an army together, 400,000 men. They go to the town of Gibeah, where Benjamin [the tribe] lives. They tell the people ‘you have done wickedly, give to us the men who have infected this whole tribe [denomination/whole groups of believers who have been affected in a wrong way by certain teachers who have ‘crept in unawares’]. Benjamin says no! There is a strange dynamic that takes place in the Body of Christ. Whenever the Lord moves in a big way to correct or reform wrong doctrine, very rarely do the victims of the wrong doctrine want to admit that they were wrongly influenced. The sin of pride says ‘are you telling me that I was duped’? Benjamin actually goes into this protection mode and defends the wicked doers in their midst! So Israel encamps against Benjamin and they fight. Sure enough Benjamin wins! Wow, they must have thought ‘see, we were correct in refusing to deal with the wrong stuff in our community’ [whole groups of believers who harbor false things]. Israel is distraught, were they wrong in going against Benjamin? You honestly have to ask yourself this question at times. God might really have raised you up to deal with some stuff. You might actually lose a battle or two! The Lord tells them ‘No, you weren’t wrong in dealing with the false stuff in the tribe of Benjamin, go back and give it another shot’. The next day Israel attacks again, and again they lose! They ask the Lord about it and he says keep trying. On day three they adjust their procedure; they set an ambush and eventually overthrow Benjamin. Now, this is no great victory, God actually called the rest of the people of God to deal with an aberrant tribe. The church goes thru reformation seasons where she needs to deal with wrong stuff on a global scale. The history of Christianity shows us the great ecumenical councils of the church. Times where the whole Body of Christ had to agree that certain things were right or wrong. It is only natural for those being rebuked to fight back and not admit their fault. This process is very difficult. Paul wrote the Galatians and told them if a brother is in a fault, that the more mature [spiritual] ones should correct it in love. Over the years I have been involved with trying to explain to sincere believers, some of them who hold positions of leadership, how we can’t keep teaching things that have been shown to be blatantly wrong. Often times the ‘tribes’ [groups] will fight back, and win a war or two! Understand, Benjamin was running their tribe as an efficient unit to a degree. Even though they had ‘bad seed’ in their group, yet the fact that they did exist as a functioning unit allowed them to successfully resist a few previous challenges to their tribe [belief system]. But ultimately there came a challenge that was too hard to resist, the rest of the nation joined as ‘one man’ to say ‘enough is enough, we love you as a brother tribe, but this stuff has gone on way too long’. It was the radical act of the Levite that brought the attention to the rest of the tribes of what was going on. It was the responsibility of the nation as a whole to deal with the ‘lost tribe’.
(798)JUDGES 21- We end the book of Judges with the nation of Israel mourning over the fact that they had to deal with one of their own tribes who left the true path of God. They vowed ‘not to give their daughters any more to them’. They made a determination ‘no matter how much we personally like them, the many good memories of days gone by. The good old stories of our past heritage together. The actual good things that we all shared over the years’. Yet they decided this was the generation that would make the break. By not giving their daughters unto them they were in essence saying ‘we will no longer allow your tribe to effect the whole nation’. Tough stuff, Paul does this with the Corinthians; he says ‘remove the wicked from among you’. Now, Israel does not want the total destruction of the erring tribe! [nor Paul, read 2nd Corinthians]. They work out a deal where the ‘virgins’ of the tribe that did not show up for the initial battle [Jabesh Gilead] would become the wives of the surviving Benjamites. They allowed the tribe to survive, post judgment day! I see lots of spiritual meaning to this stuff. Often times we as believers do not want to deal with ‘errant tribes’. We prefer to think ‘well, we all believe in Jesus. Lets just love each other’. Hey, I am all for love. I have come to realize many well meaning Christians really don’t like dealing with stuff because it gets rough. Jesus said ‘do you think I have come to bring peace? No, I tell you I have come to bring division. Homes will be divided. Brother against brother and family member against family member’. Now, we know Jesus is the prince of Peace. The angels would say ‘peace on earth and good will towards men’. But Jesus was speaking of the reality of having to take sides at certain times. The inevitable conflict that comes with saying ‘this is true, this is false’. Israel dealt severely with a brother tribe, it would not have been ‘love’ for them to have ignored the problem! Lets end Judges with a brief overview. Why did we see all the problems in this book? Time after time God would deliver them and time after time they would fall back into sin. God knew all along that this would happen. The intent of the law was to reveal to man his inability to ‘self reform’. The season of judges was simply a foreshadowing of a future day [now] where there would be a ‘judge’ [Jesus] who would be able to continually save the people because he would have a rule that would not end. Israel did fine as long as the judge was alive, after his death they would fall. So today we have Jesus, the Great High Priest who is able ‘to save to the uttermost, those who come to God by him. For he ever liveth to make intercession for them’ [Hebrews].