Friday, March 19, 2010

Weekly Recap #11 - Judges 1 - 21

I've gotta be totally honest about everything that I've read so far.  A lot of it has really hurt my heart....and made me cringe....because of all the killing and violence.
As I read and pondered on why God would allow so much (yes, I think that way sometimes).....the thought came to mind....that during the Biblical period of was really no different than it is today.
You know why?
Because of mankind....and woman kind!!!
They were human just like we are today....they made choices, some good and some bad....and they all had the opportunity to serve the Lord.  So many chose not to do that....just like today!!!
One commentary that I read put it this way....

"although the Bible reports what happened, that does not imply approval.  The period of judges was a sad time for Israel.  The Biblical account shows what happens when people turn away from the Lord and do what is right in their own eyes."

One way to look at to compare it to reading the account of something terrible in the newspaper....or watching a TV news program. 
 It's not's just stating the facts!!!

So....with all that being said....let's get started....because we have 21 chapters to cover!!!

~~~The book of Judges reveals a cycle that was often repeated during the early years of Israel's history in Caanan.....the people would fall into  sin....God would send judgment on them....they would cry out for deliverance....and God would send a judge to deliver them and bring spiritual renewal....the judge would die....and the cycle would continue.

~~~As Israel served other gods....God withdrew His support.  He turned them over to their enemies who defeated them in battle.  The Lord would raise up a judge, but the people wouldn't listen and when the judge died, they would return to their wicked ways.  There was intermarriage between the Israelites and the people of the land which led Israel to worship the fertility gods....and they would do evil and forget about the Lord.  They....they would get tired of the conditions they were forced to live under by serving the evil kings of the land...and they would  cry out to the Lord for help and He would raise up a rescuer to save them. 
These "rescuers" were called....judges....and the Bible tells us about 12 of them.

He defeated the current king and there was peace in the land during Othniel's 40 years of leadership

He was left handed.  He went to King Eglon to deliver money to him and as he was returning home with the others he took with him, he went back to Eglon, telling him that he had a secret message for him.  The king sent all of his servants out of the room and as he was getting up, Ehud pulled out a dagger and plunged it into the king's belly....and the king was so big that the handle disappeared beneath the king's fat (I'm sorry, I don't like that word at all and would rather not use it)....and the king's bowels emptied (I know....TMI....and gross)!!!  Ehud closed and locked the doors and escaped.  After he was gone, the servants found the doors locked and thought that King Eglon was using the latrine (because of the smell), but after he didn't come out, they went in and found him dead. 
Ehud served as judge for 80 years.

He once killed 600 Philistines with an ox goad (a sharpened point on the end of a pole used by farmers to prod animals to keep them moving)
It's unknown how long he served.

The Israelites had been under the rule of King Jabin of Hazor for 20 year and they  cried out for the Lord's help.  Deborah was a prophet who would sit under the Palm of Deborah and the Israelites would go up to her for judgment.  One day she called for Barak and told him that the Lord commanded that he take 10,000 warriors to fight Jabin's army.  He told her he would only go if she went with him.  She agreed....but told him that he would receive no honor....that the Lord's victory would be at the hands of a woman.
(I love it when the Bible shows how the Lord can use us girls!!!)
Sisera was the commander of Jabin's army....and he escaped from battle and ran to the tent of Jael and asked for water....instead she gave him milk and covered him up.  He told her to stand at the door of the tent and to lie and say "no" if asked if he was there.  Sisera fell asleep and Jael took a hammer and tent peg and drove the peg thru his temple into the ground and he died (what a woman!!!).  Barak came looking for Sisera and Jael showed him lying dead in her tent.  After this, there was peace in the land for 40 years....during the time Deborah was a judge.

Now....Gideon was a man that I can totally relate to....because he asked the Lord for "signs"!!!  The angel of the Lord appeared to him and sent him to rescue Israel from the Midianites.  He answered,
"But Lord"....then started giving reasons why he couldn't do the job (sound familiar?!?!?)'s where he asked for a sign.  He went home and brought back his offering.  The angel of the Lord told him to place the offering on the rock and the angel touched the meat and bread with the tip of the staff in his hand and fire flamed up from the rock and consumed it all.  Gideon was told to tear down his father's altar to Baal and the Asherah pole (did you know that Asherah was Baal's wife in Caanite mythology?).  Gideon summoned warriors to fight against their enemies.  He asked of the Lord...if you are truly going to use me to rescue Israel as You promised...then, give me a sign (oh, yes he did....asked for yet another sign).  Gideon asked the Lord to let the fleece be wet with dew in the morning, but the ground be dry....and that's just what happened.  Then...Gideon asked God to not be angry with him...but to give him ONE MORE letting the ground be wet and the fleece dry...and God gave Gideon both signs!!!
Gideon's army was reduced to 0nly 300 men so that the Israelites would not be able to brag that they had saved themselves.   These men were chosen because they drank from their hands from the stream (another sign as to the ones God wanted Gideon to choose). 
Gideon was judge for 40 years....but as soon as he died, the Israelites again worshiped images of Baal and forgot the Lord their God.

Tola was the first of 5 minor judges, and he judged for 23 years.  There was nothing told about him, or what he did.

Jair judged for 22 years.   He had 30 sons who rode around on 30 donkeys and owned 30 towns of Gilead.  It was a sign of royalty to ride on a donkey.  Remember who else rode on a donkey....Jesus!!!

Jephthah of Gilead was a great warrior.  He was the son of Gilead but his mother was a prostitute.  His half brothers, sons of Gilead's wife, told him he would never get a part of Gilead's inheritance and chased him away.  At about this time, the Ammonites went to war with Israel and Jephthah was called to be the commander of the Israelite army.   The Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah and he gathered and led an army against the Ammonites.  He made a vow to the Lord that if He would give him victory, he would sacrifice as a burnt offering whatever came out of his house to meet him when he returned home.  The Israelites defeated the Ammonites and when Jephthah returned home....his daughter came out to meet him....playing a tambourine and dancing for joy.  She was his one and only child.  She told her father that since he had made a vow, that she had to keep it, but asked to go into the hill country and be with her friends for 2 months to mourn that she would die a virgin and never have children.  He let her go...and kept his vow to the Lord when she returned.
Now....this really bothered me....but I realize this was a foreshadow of God doing the very same thing....sacrificing His Only Son!!
Jephthah judged Israel for 6 years.

He had 30 sons and 30 daughters and he sent his daughters to marry men outside his clan and brought 30 young women from outside his clan to marry his sons.  He judged Israel for 7 years.

After the death of Ibzan, Elon judged Israel for 10 years. 

After Elon died, Abdon was judge for 8 years.  He had 40 sons and 30 grandson who rode on 70 donkeys.

Some highlights of Sampson's life....
***He was to never cut his hair because he was dedicated to the Lord at birth as a Nazarite.
***He killed a lion by ripping its jaws apart with his bare hands.
***He ate honey out of the lion's carcass....which was considered unclean to touch a dead animal.
***The Philistine woman he fell in love with deceived him by telling the answer to a riddle to his companions.
***He caught 300 foxes and tied their tails together in pairs and set their tails on fire, letting them run thru the grain fields of the Philistines, burning them to the ground. 
***He used the jawbone of a donkey to kill 1,000 Philistines.
***He got tired of Delilah's nagging and finally told her that he would loose his strength if his hair was cut off.
***He was captured by the Philistines and his eyes were gouged out.  He was forced to grind grain in the prison and before long his hair began to grow back.

The plot thickens.......

***The Philistines had a great festival to their god, Dagon, thanking him for their victory over Sampson (isn't that hilarious!!!).  As the people were all half drunk, they asked for Sampson to be brought out so they could make fun of him.  They stood him between the pillars supporting the roof.  All the Philistine rulers were there and the temple was full of people, including about 3,000 people on the rooftop.  Sampson prayed to the Lord to strengthen him just one more time.  He placed his hands on the 2 pillars and pushed until the temple  crashed down....killing all the Philistines.

***Sampson judged Israel for 20 years.

We conclude the book of Judges with the account of a civil war between Israel and the tribe of Benjamin.  This happened because of the rape and death of a Levite's concubine.  The Israelites won the battle, but they just couldn't understand why this strife was happening in Israel....that one of their tribes was now missing from amongst them.

The final verse in the book of Judges sums up exactly what caused all the strife and problems and bloodshed:

"In those days Israel had no king;  all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes".

Blessings to you!!!

In His Most Precious Love....and with mine!!!

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