Category: Judges-BibleTrekToday

Trek Through Judges

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Scripture Reading for March 13: Judges 17-21

Religion is man’s attempt to do something that makes him feel good about himself and his own relationship with God.  There is nothing we can do to improve our relationship with God because we are sinners.  God is holy and has set up a very narrow way of man coming to Him.  In the time of the judges, the nation of Israel had slipped away from the Word of God and each person was doing what was right in his own eyes.  (Judges 17:6; 21:25)  The nation had forgotten God and gotten lost in a self-directed religion of idolatry.

Micah, from the tribe of Ephraim had stolen money from his own mother.  He heard a curse pronounced by his mother and confessed his crime.  The mother forgave him and then took some of the silver he returned and made an idol for her son!  Micah built a shrine, made an ephod, and installed one of his sons as a priest.  (Judges 17:1-6) This violated everything that God had established for His people in Israel.  Only the Levites could be priests and there were to be no idols.  God’s people were to go to the place God set to worship, not to any place they chose!  (Deuteronomy 12:1-9)

A Levite stopped in and Micah hired him to be his “father and priest”. (Judges 17:10)  Everything seemed good until some spies from the tribe of Dan stopped by Micah’s house.  They inquired of the Lord through Micah’s Levite and  he gave them what they wanted to hear.  They returned and made this Levite a better deal.  Why not be a priest for a whole tribe, rather than a household?  The Levite accepted happily because the price was right!  This almost sounds like a soap opera!

We must be aware that we can easily slip away from a true relationship with the Lord.  Micah and his mother were descendants of Ephraim, one of the sons of Joseph.  They had a rich heritage of faith and knew of the miraculous working of God.  But religion became just ritual and form, fashioned to please men. Money was used to buy and manipulate behavior and religious favor.

How is money being used to manipulate and buy favor in our culture today? How can we maintain a true relationship with God and the church? How do you identify a true man or woman of God?

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Eyes gouged out?

Scripture reading for March 12: Judges 13-16

The story of Samson is a mix of the supernatural power and anointing of God and the lowest of our carnal nature.  Samson was born by supernatural intervention to a couple who was childless.  His parents carefully listened to the instructions of an angel and raised this boy as a Nazarite, one set apart to God.  (Numbers 6:1-21) God’s Spirit began to stir Samson early in his life.  God was going to use him to deliver the Israelites from forty years of bondage to the Philistines.  This bondage was a result of Israel breaking her covenant relationship with God through idolatry and immorality. (Judges 13:1)

As Samson grew, he was attracted to a Philistine woman in the town of Timnah.  He asked his parents to get her for him.  The Bible states that this was from the Lord, although his parents did not understand and sought to direct him to get a bride from his own people. (Judges 14:3-4)   This is difficult to understand because God specifically warns us not to intermarry with those outside the faith. (2 Corinthians 6:14) In this instance, God used Samson’s carnal tendencies to accomplish His purposes in defeating the enemies of His people.  It is not meant to be an example to follow!

Samson’s marriage to this woman never happened.  She was given to one of his friends in the bridal company!  His anger and impulsiveness moved him to get even.  God used this, but how much better to follow the Lord by prayer and listening to His instructions!  Samson impulsively ate honey out of a lion’s carcass, a violation of the Nazarite vow.  I believe this was a metaphor of his attraction to prostitutes and carnal women.  How like Israel was Sampson in his unfaithfulness to covenant and God’s Word! Through yielding to temptation, he had his eyes gouged out!  

Samson was in captivity, both of his eyes gouged out and mocked at a gathering of Philistine officials.  Sampson regained his spiritual sight and his first recorded prayer asks for God’s help. “O Sovereign Lord, remember me.  O God, please strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.” (Judges 16:28) God faithfully answered the cry of this man and used him to do His will. Even though sin had blinded him physically, God restored his life-purpose and answered!

Why did Samson, under a Nazarite vow, desire to have a pagan for his wife? Why did God tell the Israelites (and believers) not to marry unbelievers? What do we learn about God’s grace through Sampson?

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Beware of self-appointed leaders

Scripture reading for March 11: Judges 9-12

Gideon was a man placed by God in a position of leadership.  Gideon interacted with God to be certain of what to do and how to do it.  He certainly was not perfect and made some glaring mistakes, but brought peace to the land for a period of time.  He had 71 sons and a large family.  When Gideon passed away, a leadership crisis arose.  The Israelites went back to idol worship and one of Gideon’s sons, Abimelech, sought to take over.

Abimelech was the son of a slave girl.  He had 70 brothers who were produced through his father by other mothers.  He went to his mother’s town of Shechem and schemed to take over leadership through violence and murder.  They paid him some money from an idol temple and he hired mercenary soldiers. He then killed 69 of his seventy brothers.  Only Jotham, the youngest, escaped.  Jotham spoke prophetically at Abimelech’s coronation ceremony pronouncing God’s judgment on Abimelech’s leadership and those who followed. He then ran away. (Judges 9:7-21)

After three years, Scriptures state that God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the citizens of Shechem.  God did this to avenge the shedding of innocent blood of the seventy brothers.  Abimelech and the citizens of Shechem had conspired to commit murder and now they would bring murder on themselves!  (Judges 9:22-24)  This evil spirit was God’s judgment on a self-appointed leader and those who joined with him in rebellion! It took three years for the Word of God to come true, but it did!

When someone tries to place themselves in leadership by his own power, craftiness, or manipulation, then the leader and those who scheme with him come under God’s judgment!  We must be vigilant today in our country.  Would be leaders in politics and media are often trying to manipulate people. In the workplace and even the church, people seek to appoint themselves.  Beware–God’s judgment will come on those who appoint themselves! Do you desire to be used in leadership? From these examples, what are some things you should do? What bad examples warn you?

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“Mighty Warrior!”

Scripture reading for March 9: Judges 6-8

Poor self-image and discouraging self-talk are common symptoms of a life out of touch with the Lord.  It is easy to focus on our lack or blame the way we are made.  We magnify our weaknesses, see only the flaws, and are quick to blame them on someone else.  Sometimes, we simply rehearse them over and over and stew in negativity.  Gideon was such a man during the days of the Judges.  But the God we serve loves to use the weak and flawed and make them into mighty warriors!

For seven years the Israelites had been under attack by the Midianites.  They cried out to God for help and He sent them a prophet.  The prophet reminded them of God’s mighty power in delivering them from Egypt and His warning not to worship the gods of the Amorites.  Their hearts were cold!

God then sent His angel to Gideon.  We find Gideon hiding in a wine press, threshing grain.  The angel’s first words to Gideon: “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior!”  (Judges 6:12)  Gideon’s first response was not one of faith.  He believed that the Lord had abandoned them.  This messenger sent Gideon on a mission to deliver Israel–in the strength he had.  (Judges 6:14)  Gideon again protested that his clan was the weakest in Manasseh and that he was the weakest of all! 

The angel had told him to use the strength he had–little or great!  God would be with him and that would make all the difference in the world.  God sees each person as special and has a job that they can do.  He specializes in taking weak people and infusing them with His strength.  When they choose to believe His Word, nothing shall be impossible to them!  (1st Corinthians 1:25-29)

As Gideon prepared to deliver Israel, he gathered an army together.  God reduced it from 32,000 to 300!  God took away their weapons and gave them torches and pitchers!  He told them to break the pitchers, wave the torches, and shout!   He obeyed and in the strength he had, delivered Israel from the Midianites!  (Judges 7:13-20)

Are you or have you suffered from a negative self-image? How did that affect you life and ability to live joyfully? Declare a promise from God over your life today. “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior!”

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Stoking our heart’s fire!

Scripture Reading for March 8: Judges 1-5

When I was younger, we heated our home on the farm with wood.  When it was extremely cold, we had a small bin of coal to help with the heat through the long winter nights in Iowa.  One of the jobs right before bed was to go down and stoke the fire.  More wood would be added and ashes removed so a good flow of air would cause the fire to heat up and blaze.  A scoop of coal would be tossed in too.  A short time later the damper was shut so all the coals and logs would glow with a steady fire all night.  If no one stoked the fire, it would go out and the house would quickly cool down.

Godly leaders stoke the fires with the wood of prayer and pour on the coals of God’s Word to keep zeal burning through the long night.  But when the leader is gone and the fire is not being stoked with fresh wood and coal, complacency sets in and our hearts cool. After the death of Joshua, the elders that knew him, kept the fire burning until they passed away. The next generation arose without a personal experience of God’s mighty miracles and deliverance.  Their hearts turned towards idols.

There are seven cycles of judges reflecting this pattern of broken covenant when no godly leader was present.  When the people cried out to the Lord, He would raise up another leader who would deliver them.  There would be a time of peace during the life of that leader (judge).  After the leader’s death, the cycle would begin again.  (Judges 2:10-19)  I see this same cycle also present in our culture today. 

Who was a godly leader or family member that stoked the fire of God’s love and presence in your life? How is God using you to stoke the fires of faith in your family, church or workplace? How would your rate your heart temperature? What can you do today to keep the fire burning during the long night?

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The promised Holy Spirit

Scripture reading for April 15th: Judges 19-21, Acts 2

Acts 2: 37-41 “Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the Name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to Himself.” And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.”

Jesus had told His disciples before He ascended to heaven to wait in Jerusalem until they were clothed with power from on high. (Acts 1:8) After the visitation of wind and tongues of fire resting on the 120 disciples in the Upper Room, Peter began to preach to the crowd that had gathered for the celebration of the Jewish Feast of Pentecost. They fell under conviction of the Holy Spirit at the preaching of the Gospel and asked Peter what to do. He gave them the simple command to repent and then to be baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ. He encouraged them to receive the gift of the Father, the Holy Spirit, Who was available to everyone! About three thousand responded in faith!

Acts 2:46-47 “And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their home, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”

Prayer: Father God, thank You for the gift of the Holy Spirit and adoption into Your forever family. I thank You that this promise is all-inclusive and for all nations and peoples. Thank You that it is by grace through faith as we repent and believe. I am full of gratitude and want to give away Your gift to all You send me to. Day by day, add to Your Church those who are being saved! Not my will, but Yours be done!

Judges 21:25 “In those days thee was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”

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Witnesses of Jesus equipped with power!

Scripture reading for April 14th: Judges 17-18, Psalm 21, Acts 1

Acts 1: 7-11 “He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by His own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And when He had said these things, as they were looking on, He was lifted up, and a cloud took Him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as He went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, Who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw Him go into heaven.”

Jesus, the Risen King, had a last Word for His disciples before leaving them through supernatural ascension into heaven on a cloud of glory! This Word was an encouragement to these disciples not to fret about the times and seasons of God’s world-wide agenda. Their main focus was to witness to all the world the Good News of God’s love and grace through Jesus Christ. As Jesus reiterated His instructions, He was taken up to heaven in a cloud and two men in white robes confirmed that Jesus would be returning at some time in the future in the same way as He left them. Jesus was their King and they now must live in loving obedience to His commands.

Psalm 21:4-6 “He asked life of You; You gave it to him, length of days forever and ever. His glory is great through your salvation; splendor and majesty you bestow on him. For you make him most blessed forever; you make him glad with the joy of Your presence.”

Prayer: Father God, I am grateful to have a King Who is so loving and kind and caring for all the people of the world. I receive His command to be filled with power to be His witness in my home town and this region and to the ends of the earth. You have given me life eternal through salvation and given me the Holy Spirit, Your presence within me as I journey through this wilderness to my eternal home.

Judges 17:5-6 “And the man Micah had a shrine, and he made an ephod and household gods, and ordained one of his sons, who became his priest. In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”

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Clothed with power and compassion!

Scripture reading for April 13th: Judges 12-16, Psalm 146, Luke 24

Luke 24: 45-51 “Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His Name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold I am sending the promise of My Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

Although the disciples had walked with Jesus for three years, they still needed Jesus to open their minds to understand the Scriptures. The fact of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection for the sins of the world was the call for men everywhere to repent had been hidden from them. The would also need God’s clothing to accomplish this mission of preaching and being a witnesses to all nations. The Holy Spirit, the Promise of the Father would be sent at the appointed time. The Father’s heart of love and compassion would cover them like clothing and empower them to defeat spiritual foes and set captives free!

Psalm 146:8-9 “The Lord sets the prisoners free; the Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the sojourners; He upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked He brings to ruin.”

Prayer: Father God, thank You for opening my mind to understand the Scriptures. It is an ongoing revelation of Your grace and glory that empowers me to share the Good News in Word and deed to the lost, widow, orphan, and sojourners. Fill me afresh with Your Holy Spirit and love to do spiritual exploits and bring Good News to the lost.

Judges 15:14-15 “When he came to Lehi, the Philistines came shouting to meet him. Then the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon him, and the ropes that were on his arms became as flax that has caught fire, and his bonds melted off of his hands. And he found a fresh jawbone of a donkey, and put out his hand and took it and with it he struck 1,000 men.”

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Extravagant mercy for the asking!

Scripture reading for April 12th: Judges 9-11, Psalm 17, Luke 23

Luke 23:39-43 “One of the criminals who were hanged railed at Him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?” And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” And He said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.””

Jesus was crucified, an innocent man, to pay for the sins of all mankind. On His right and left, were two guilty criminals receiving what was due them under Roman law. As they hung there knowing death was immanent, one of the criminals mocked Jesus, ridiculing His claim to be Christ. The other criminal simply called out to Jesus to remember him when He came into His kingdom, indicating that he believed Jesus was a king and would be receiving a kingdom. Jesus gave an amazing response: “Today you will be with Me in Paradise.” This response gives hope to all lost sinners. If we will come in faith believing in Jesus, He will give mercy in abundance, just for the asking!

Psalm 17:1-2 “Hear a just cause, O Lord; attend to my cry! Give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit! From Your presence let my vindication come! Let Your eyes behold the right.”

Prayer: Father God, thank You for Your abundant mercy. We can trust You to forgive, heal, and deliver if we simply ask. You have done everything necessary for our salvation. Help me to simply ask and rest in Your provision and trust You to do whatever seems good to You. Open doors to share this simple truth and good news with those under the sentence of death.

Judges 10:13-16 “Yet you have forsaken Me and served other gods; therefore I will save you no more. Go and cry out to the gods whom you have chosen; let them save you in the time of your distress.” And the people of Israel said to the Lord, “We have sinned; do to us whatever seems good to You. Only please deliver us this day.” So they put away the foreign gods from among them and served the Lord, and He became impatient over the misery of Israel.”

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You will lack nothing!

Scripture reading for April 11th: Judges 7-8, Luke 22

Luke 22: 35-38 “And He said to them, “When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “Nothing.” He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And He was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about Me has its fulfilment.” And they said, “Look, Lord, here are two swords.” And He said to them, “It is enough.””

Jesus was always aware of Scripture that must be fulfilled. He knew the concerns of His disciples about their own welfare and how they might care for themselves. He challenged them to remember being sent out without any visible support to minister and how they had lacked nothing! God had cared for them! It would be no different now. However, Jesus allowed them to take a moneybag and knapsack this time. But why does Jesus tell them to sell their cloak to buy a sword? I believe Jesus was thinking of the Scripture being fulfilled concerning being ‘numbered with the transgressors.’ It was not that they would have to use the sword, but that they would look the part of ‘transgressors.’ Later, at the arrest in the Garden, Jesus rebuked Peter for using the sword and healed the man whose ear had been cut off!

Luke 22:48-51 “. .but Jesus said to him, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” And when those who were around Him saw what would follow, they said, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said, ‘No more of this!” And He touched his ear and healed him.””

Prayer: Father God, I thank You that Your Presence with us is sufficient for every need we will face as we walk through the trials and tests of this journey. Thank You for Your amazing provision and empowerment by the Holy Spirit, the ‘torch in our jar!’ Empower me to ‘blow the trumpet’ of the Gospel to announce Your victory over death, hell, sin and the grave! The only ‘sword’ I need is Your Word!

Judges 7:16-18 “And he divided the 300 men into three companies and put trumpets into the hands of all of them and empty jars, with torches inside the jars. And he said to them, “Look at me, and do likewise. When I come to the outskirts of the camp, do as I do. When I blow the trumpet, I and all who are with me, then blow the trumpets also on every side of all the camp and shout, ‘For the Lord and for Gideon.'”

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