TODAY’S READING: JUDGES 1-4
Early victories and incomplete possession of the land by Israel; the forsaking of God to serve Baal and Ashtaroth; God raises up Othniel, Ehud, Shamgar, Deborah and Barak as judges to deliver Israel from the oppression of their enemies four different times.
HIGHLIGHTS & INSIGHTS:
To understand the Book of Judges, you must understand the last sentence in the entire Book: “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” Mark those words! They are the key, not only to this Book, but to human nature as well. Notice that every man did that which was RIGHT in his own eyes, not that which was wrong. The tragedy is that man’s idea of what is right is often the exact opposite of what God says is right (Prov. 14:12). This will become evident as we read the Book of Judges and find the following recurring expression: “And the children of Israel did EVIL in the sight of the Lord.”
We find that when Israel was strong, they put their enemies to tribute and did not utterly drive them out as the Lord had commanded (Jud. 1:28). First, they became COMPLACENT, which led to INCOMPLETE OBEDIENCE (chapters 1-3). Then, they COMPROMISED, which led to DISOBEDIENCE (chapters 3-16). Then finally, they fell to complete CORRUPTION, which led to REBELLION and DEPRAVITY (chapters 17-21). Keep in mind, that the nation of Israel is a picture of an individual N.T. believer. We must avoid this deadly cycle that spirals downward, away from God and His Word! It is interesting to note that the Book of Joshua starts with an exhortation to meditate in God’s Book day and night (Josh. 1:8). While in the Book of Judges, the words “book”, “law”, or “commandments” do not appear even once. This downward spiral of complacency, compromise, and corruption is clearly linked to neglecting God’s Word, and the refusal of His people to obey it.
In chapter 1, the house of Joseph makes a deal with the enemy (Jud. 1:24). “Deals” were not in God’s plan for “dealing” with the enemy! They were to utterly drive them out of the land. This enemy eventually became a snare to them (Jud. 2:3). We, too, have a tendency to make deals with the enemy of our flesh. Instead of destroying it (I Cor. 15:31), we keep the so called, “good flesh” alive. We attempt to spiritualize it, instead of killing it. For instance, what the Bible calls “self-will,” we now call “determination.” What the Bible calls being a “busy-body,” we now call “ministering.” What the Bible calls “pride,” we now call “self-confidence.” Those who used to be referred to as “workaholics,” we now call “dedicated.” If we don’t choose to die daily (II Cor. 15:31), our “good flesh” will ultimately lead to our own personal corruption.
In chapter 3, we find a great picture of what happens when we come to church for the sole purpose of being fed. Eglon is a very fat man who was the King of Moab. He oppressed Israel for 18 years. We, too, become very fat spiritually when we come to church to be fed and never feed others through the personal investment of the Word of God through discipleship. Philippians 3:18-19 teaches us that one of the ways to identify thsoe who are enemies of the cross of Christ is the fact that their God is their BELLY! God sent Ehud to deliver Israel from Eglon and the Moabites. The way he overcame this very fat man was with a dagger that had two edges (Jud. 3:16-17). He thrust it into Eglon’s belly and the passage says that the dirt came out (Jud. 3:21-22). In dealing with the self-consumption of our flesh, we must hide the two-edged sword (the Word of God) on our right side, and thrust it into the belly of the problem to get the dirt out! This is how we become clean vessels t!
hat God can use to teach others His truth (II Tim. 2:2).
In chapter 4 God used a woman named Jael to defeat a man named Sisera who was an oppressor of Israel. Jael was initially aligned with Sisera against Israel. But God changed her heart. She got some milk (I Pet. 2:2), took a hammer (Jer. 23:29), and killed Sisera while he was sleeping by putting a nail through his temple. If we let the milk and hammer of the Word of God change our heart, we, too, can defeat our enemies and live changed lives!
CHRIST IS REVEALED:
The ANGEL OF THE LORD – Judges 2:1-4
Through OTHNIEL – Judges 3:1-11; His name means “Lion from the Tribe of Judah”. He delivered Israel from an oppressive enemy.
Through EHUD – Judges 3:15-16 – The Judge with a two-edged sword. (Heb. 4:12; Rev. 2:12)