Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Tuesday, 16 April 19:
Note: Here is a short video overview of the Book of Judges: https://youtu.be/kOYy8iCfIJ4
Judges 1:1 — “After the death of Joshua, the people of Israel inquired of the Lord, ‘Who shall go up first for us against the Canaanites, to fight against them?’”
The Israelites begin the book of Judges well by inquiring of the Lord before making important decisions. After verse 1 in Judges, the Israelites do not “inquire of the Lord” again until the end of the book: “The people of Israel arose and went up to Bethel and inquired of God, ‘Who shall go up first for us to fight against the people of Benjamin (Judges 20:18)?’”
The Book of Judges reveals what happens when God’s people disobey God and compromise their holiness. It also reveals what happens when a nation rejects God’s commands. Judges is highly relevant to us today – consider carefully what you read. At the beginning of the book, God’s people, from a position of great national strength, are inquiring of the Lord as to how to have dominion for His glory. By the end of the book, in a state of complete lawlessness, they are asking God how to massacre each other! Spoiler alert: The Book of Judges does not end on a high note.
Today we read how, after a long period of triumph under the leadership of Joshua (because the Lord was with them), the Israelites disobey God by allowing the Jebusites, Canaanites, and Amorites to live among them rather than driving them out completely as the Lord had commanded. They chose the easy path of compromise rather than the harder but blessed path of disciplined, wholehearted obedience to God. As soon as God’s people chose to be led by their own desires and self-proclaimed ‘wisdom’ rather than the “voice of God,” God no longer supported their efforts (Judges 2:3). At that point, all of their religious activities were more than meaningless, they were deceptive and offensive to God (Judges 2:5).
After just one generation, the people “did not know the Lord.” The national decline was shockingly fast – “And the people… did what was evil in the sight of the Lord… and they abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers…. And they provoked the Lord to anger…, and he gave them over to plunderers, who plundered them. And He sold them into the hand of their surrounding enemies, so that they could no longer withstand their enemies. Whenever they marched out, the hand of the Lord was against them for harm, as the Lord had warned, and as the Lord had sworn to them. And they were in terrible distress (Judges 2:11-15).” God in His mercy and grace raised up leaders (Judges) to steer the people back on the course of obedience to God, but “they did not listen to their judges…; they did not drop any of their practices or their stubborn ways.” Therefore, the nation remained under God’s judgment.
Of the Old Testament, the New Testament says, “Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did…. these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come (1 Corinthians 10:6, 11).” What will we learn from Judges? How will we apply what we learn?
Commit yourself to the road less travelled, which makes all the difference, the path of Christ –
– “Agree with God, and be at peace; thereby good will come to you. Receive instruction from His mouth, and lay up his words in your heart. If you return to the Almighty you will be built up; if you remove injustice far from your tents, if you lay gold in the dust, and gold of Ophir among the stones of the torrent-bed, then the Almighty will be your gold and your precious silver. For then you will delight yourself in the Almighty and lift up your face to God. You will make your prayer to him, and he will hear you, and you will pay your vows. You will decide on a matter, and it will be established for you, and light will shine on your ways. For when they are humbled you say, ‘It is because of pride’; but he saves the lowly. He delivers even the one who is not innocent, who will be delivered through the cleanness of your hands.” (Job 22:21-30)
– “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple (Luke 14:27-33).”
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 16 Apr 19: Today, memorize Romans 5:3-5. Say it to yourself whenever you face challenging circumstances or challenging people.
– “We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”