april 23, 2021

Judges 1:1-2:9

The book of Judges covers approximately 350 years of Israel’s history, and gets its name from the different “Judges” (leaders) God raises up to rescue Israel when she gets herself in trouble. We will see seven cycles of – defeat, discipline, despair, and deliverance. The sad theme of the book is:

Judges 21:25 (NKJV) “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”

The book of Judges begins by rewinding a bit – going back to events covered in the book of Joshua, regarding land that was conquered, but also much land and people which Israel failed to conquer.

Not all is ugly though, it’s beautiful, what we see behind the scenes in Judges 1:1-2, how the people of Israel pray and ask God for marching orders, for Divine details. This is how our lives should roll. Then in Joshua 1:3 we see the brothers band together to fight the enemy – so far sooo good! We read of the victories of Judah, Caleb, and Othniel, we see the faith of Caleb’s daughter Achsah (things covered in Joshua 15).

Things were looking good for the nation, but then…they let their guard down, they fumbled in the fourth quarter, they fell before they hit the finish line, the conquest clearly was incomplete.

Judges 1:19 (NKJV) “So the LORD was with Judah. And they drove out the mountaineers, but they could not drive out the inhabitants of the lowland, because they had chariots of iron.”

Judges 1:27–28 (NKJV) “However, Manasseh did not drive out the inhabitants…and its villages; for the Canaanites were determined to dwell in that land. 28 And it came to pass, when Israel was strong, that they put the Canaanites under tribute, but did not completely drive them out.

Judges 1:30 (NKJV) “Nor did Zebulun drive out the inhabitants…so the Canaanites dwelt among them, and were put under tribute.”

Judges 1:31 (NKJV) “Nor did Asher drive out the inhabitants…”

Judges 1:33 (NKJV) “Nor did Naphtali drive out the inhabitants…but they dwelt among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land. Nevertheless the inhabitants of Beth Shemesh and Beth Anath were put under tribute to them.”

They did not drive out, they could not drive out, and even when Israel grew strong enough to do so, they would not drive out the enemies of God, they only used that strength to put bad influences under tribute – when God’s command was to drive them out. Of course the enemy is going to have iron chariots, and of course the enemy is determined to stay, but we must do all we can to eradicate the evil in our lives. May we never settle down with any sin.

Part of the reason Israel did not, could not, and would not have that victory over the enemy was simply because of the overall sin in their lives – the way that their hearts had turned to idols (Judges 2:1-4). When the Angel of the LORD (probably a reference to Jesus Himself – an appearance of God in the flesh) informed them of this – the people wept. Reminds me of Esau, weeping over his loss. There’s a big difference between tears for sin and turning from sin.

God repeats something He articulated earlier (for emphasis):

Judges 2:7 (NKJV) “So the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the LORD which He had done for Israel.”

We read here that the people who had seen the great works of the LORD – served the LORD.

We read in Joshua 24:31 that it was the people who had “known” the works of the LORD who served Him. It’s a great challenge, but I think the key for victory in successive generations is to do our best to share and show our children that they might “see” and truly “know” all the great things that God has done His people. It’s then and only then, they will serve the Lord.

Joshua finished his race – what a life he lived! He’s a picture of Jesus who also finished the work and leads His people into the Promised Land.

Luke 21:29-22:13

Many teachers see the parable of the Fig Tree as symbolic of Israel becoming a nation again, which took place in 1948 – what an amazing miracle we’re reminded of daily! Jesus seems to say that the generation which sees the Fig Tree budding, is the generation wherein He will return. We’re not certain on the day or the hour, but we are sure about His eventual return, in His perfect timing.

Luke 21:33 (NKJV) “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.”

Prophecy is intended to purify our lives. How easily we fall prey into living life obliviously, carelessly, foolishly forgetting that Jesus can come at any time. We can get “weighed down” with a life focused on the cares of THIS life, and completely forget the life to come. Am I really ready for Jesus’ return? Not just saved but sanctified, sold-out, and surrendered? Am I living in the temporary, or in eternity?

The religious leaders wanted Jesus dead. Judas went sour, south, and eventually to Satan. Imagine how horrible it was – that Satan “entered” Judas (Luke 22:2). God help us to never, ever make deals with the Devil. Judas and the religious leaders agreed to have Jesus arrested “in the absence of the multitude.”

The Feast of Unleavened Bread was rooted in the Passover. And not only was it time to celebrate this feast, it was time to fulfill this feast, Jesus is our Passover Lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7). Jesus gave the instructions to secure a room for what we often refer to as the “Last Supper.”

Psalm 90:1-91:16

Psalm 90 is identified as a Psalm of Moses – and  I love the way it refers to him as, “the man of God.”

Moses may have written this when the brunt of the judgment of Kadesh Barnea was being felt the worst. Although the LORD was their dwelling place in all generations, the nation was now feeling the sentence for their sins. Israel’s wandering in the wilderness was a four-decade funeral march. Moses described these years as “evil” in Psalm 90:15.

Moses prayed for God to reestablish Israel – the work of God’s hands.

Moses asked God to teach them something critical in life:

Psalm 90:12 (NKJV) “So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

Have we grasped this teaching? We tend to number our years, but it would be better to number our days, to enjoy each day, appreciate each day, and live each day for the glory of God. No one has tomorrow guaranteed.

Psalm 91 is a “classic” Psalm depicting God’s Divine protection as we abide (rest) under the shadow of His wings. 

Warren Wiersbe wrote this about Psalm 91, “The theme is security: God preserves those who abide in Him and love Him. These promises are not for people who run to the Lord only in times of danger but for those who dwell in His presence (v. 1) and make the Holy of Holies their habitation (v. 9).”

We have nothing to fear – we are reminded of the “invincible principal,” that no evil can even touch us unless God allows it, and if He does, He will use it for our good (Genesis 50:20).

A while back I taught this Psalm at a different church, and after a service a dear sister came up and told me that Psalm 91:1 is her 911. If you’re ever afraid or in danger, remember, you’re in God’s hands and He has set His love on you (Psalm 91:14) – just call and claim Psalm 91:1.

Proverbs 13:24-25

V. 24 –  How important to realize that if we love our children, we will discipline them early in life, when they’re pliable.

Charles Bridges wrote, “Among the many modern theories of education, how often is God’s system overlooked! Yet this should be our pattern and standard. The rod of discipline is its main character—not harsh severity, but a wise, considerate, faithful application. Man often spares the rod because he loves the child. This at least he calls love. But is not our Father’s love to his children inconceivably more than that of an earthy parent, yet He does not spare the rod. Whoever the Lord loves, He chastens (Hebrews 12:6). No, he who spares his rod hates his child. Does he not act at least as if he hated him; omitting a duty so necessary for his welfare; winking the indulgence of vicious habits and a wayward will, so surely issuing in bitter sorrow? Is not his delivering him up to his worst enemy? The discipline of our children must therefore commence with self-discipline.”

We need to love wisely and in that, we need to remember that all our children are children of Adam. Fallen. Bent on evil. Depraved. “Foolishness is bound up in their hearts.” (Proverbs 22:15)

Prompt discipline is early discipline, for all children embark on evil, born with that sin-nature, I heard one preacher recently refer to infants as “vipers in diapers.” Can we bear the thought as parents, that they should remain on that road?

V. 25 – In reference to food, this can happen literally: “Elijah was fed, first by ravens, afterwards by a widow, while the wicked country of Israel went hungry.” – Charles Bridges (1 Kings 17-18)

But here we see the word “soul” – that God is speaking spiritually, it’s the satisfying of the SOUL. The book of Ecclesiastes speaks frequently of the fact that all the world has to offer can never bring satisfaction to our soul. 

Ecclesiastes 6:7 (NKJV) “All the labor of man is for his mouth, and yet the soul is not satisfied.”

Even Socrates said, “He who is not content with what he has, would not be content with what he would like to have.”

For the Christian, that Satisfaction is the Salvation we have in our Savior.

Matthew 5:6 (NKJV) “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” (satisfied)

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

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