Trek Through Judges
Scripture reading for March 13th: Judges 18-21
Key Scriptures: Judges 18:18-20 “When these men went into Micah’s house and took the carved image, the ephod, the other household gods and the cast idol, the priest and said to them, “What are you doing?” The answered him, “Be Quiet! Don’t say a word. Come with us, and be our father and priest. Isn’t it better that you serve a tribe and clan in Israel as priest rather than just one man’s household?” Then the priest was glad. He took the ephod, the other household gods and the carved image and went along with the people.”
The tribe of Dan had turned to idolatry and a form of religion. They had no King or did not remember the Lord and His Word. This story tells of an idolatrous family and tribe whose priest served for dishonest gain!
Thankful for godly leadership: God commands leaders to live godly examples and not work for money but for Him! “Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you. You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed.” (1st Thessalonians 22:9-10)
Scripture reading for March 10th: Judges 13-17
Key Scriptures: Judges 13:3-5 “The angel of the Lord appeared to her and said, “You are sterile and childless, but you are going to conceive and have a son. Now see to it that you drink no wine or other fermented drink and that you do not eat anything unclean, because you will conceive and give birth to a son. No razor may be used on his head, because the boy is to be a Nazirite, set apart to God from birth, and He will begin the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Philistines.””
God sent an angelic messenger to an Israelite woman and her husband to prepare them to give birth to a son who would begin to deliver Israel. She was barren but God would bring this blessed son who would be set apart from conception to serve God’s purposes!
Rejoice in angelic messengers: God uses angels to deliver special announcements to His people. “But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. He will be a joy and a delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for He will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth.” (Luke 1:13-15)
Scripture reading for March 9th: Judges 9-12
Key Scriptures: Judges 9:22-24 “After Abimelech had governed Israel three years, God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the citizens of Shechem, who acted treacherously against Abimelech. God did this in order that the crime against Jerub-Baal’s (Gideon) seventy sons, the shedding of their blood, might be avenged on their brother Abimelech and on the citizens of Shechem who had helped him murder his brothers.”
God is just. A man will reap what he has sowed. Abimelech, the son of a Gideon and a prostitute from Shechem, wanted power and authority. He used intimidation to gain power and murdered all but one of his half-brothers. God allowed an evil spirit to bring about justice on these rebellious people.
Rejoice in God’s justice: Under the New Covenant, Christ offers forgiveness to repentant sinners and commands His people to allow Him to bring justice! “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.” (Romans 12:17-19)
Scripture reading for March 8th: Judges 4-8
Key Scriptures: Judges 6:14-16 “The Lord turned to him (Gideon) and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” “But Lord,” Gideon asked, “how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” The Lord Answered, “I will be with you and you will strike down all the Midianites together.”
Gideon was approached by the Lord to deliver His people from the oppression of the Midianites. He looked at his own strength and family resources and asked God how this could ever happen since he was so weak. But God promised His presence would make all the difference!
Rejoice in weakness: God chooses weak people to do supernatural things. He asks for faith and obedience! “But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” . . . “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2nd Corinthians 12:8-10)
Scripture reading for March 7th: Joshua 23-24, Judges 1-3
Key Scriptures: Joshua 23:11,14-15 “So be very careful to love the Lord your God. . . . Now I am about to go the way of all the earth. You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed. But just as every good promise of the Lord your God has come true, so the Lord will bring on you all the evil He has threatened, until He has destroyed you from this good land He has given you.”
Joshua was soon to depart from God’s people on earth. He called them again into a love relationship with God. This love was demonstrated by faith in God’s unchanging Word. All the promises of God are true–‘good’ ones and ‘bad’ ones! The choice would be up to them!
Rejoicing in God’s Promises: Through Christ Jesus, all God’s good promises are ours. Through loving God and obeying our Lord we escape the judgment promised His adversaries! “For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by me and Silas and Timothy, was not “Yes” and “No,” but in Him it has always been “Yes.” For no matter how many promises God has made, the are “Yes” in Christ.” 2nd Corinthians 1:19-20
Scripture Reading for March 14th: Judges 17-21
Religion is man’s attempt to do something that makes him feel good about himself and his own relationship with God. But there is nothing we can do to improve our relationship with God! God is holy and has set up a very narrow way for man to approach 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 self-directed religion.
Judges 17 records the story of Micah from the tribe of Ephraim who 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 had an idol made 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. (Deuteronomy 12:1-9)
One day, a Levite stopped by Micah’s house and he hired him to be his “father and priest”. (Judges 17:10) Later some spies from the tribe of Dan stopped by Micah’s house and they inquired of the Lord through Micah’s Levite. He told them what they wanted to hear. They 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’!
It is easy to slip away from a true relationship with the Lord. Micah and his mother were descendants of Ephraim, one of the sons of Joseph and they had a rich heritage of faith. But materialism and money took them away from faith. There was stolen money, money to buy an idol, money given to appease the rebellious son, money to hire the Levite, and more money to hire him away from Micah’s family! When you have no King, you can end up in contemporary religion doing what’s right in your own eyes! Watch out today!
Scripture reading for March 13th: Judges 13-16
The story of Samson revealed a mix of the supernatural power, the anointing of God and his 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 40 years of bondage to the Philistines. (Judges 13:1)
As Samson grew, he was attracted to a Philistine woman in the town of Timnah. 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) God specifically warned His people not to intermarry with those outside the faith. (2nd Corinthians 6:14) In this instance, God used Samson’s carnal tendencies to accomplish His purposes in attacking the enemies of His people.
Samson’s marriage to this woman never happened. She was given to one of his friends in the bridal company! This filled Samson with the desire for revenge and he lost his connection with God. Samson impulsively ate honey out of a lion’s carcass, a violation of the Nazerite vow. He was attracted to prostitutes and carnal women. How often men of God are distracted by their flesh!
Samson ended up in captivity with both of his eyes gouged out. He was mocked in the presence of Philistine officials. For the first time Samson asked God to help. (Judges 16:28) God answered and he was again given supernatural strength. God used him to destroy more of the Philistines in his death than in his life!
God can use us in spite of our sinfulness and carnal nature. But we can be deceived by it! We must guard against the carnal nature because it has the potential to blind us and take us to our death! How much better to walk in the Spirit and humbly follow Jesus each day!
Samson’s only recorded prayer: “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)
Scripture reading for March 12th: Judges 9-12
All authority comes from God and the Bible declares that God alone places people in authority. (Psalm 75:6-7) When God places someone in authority, His anointing and counsel guide that person. The person must stay under God’s anointing and follow His directions.
Gideon was such a man! He brought peace to the land for a period of time as he followed God. When Gideon passed away, a leadership crisis arose. The Israelites went back to idol worship and Abimelech, the son of a slave girl, arose to take over his father’s place. He went to his mother’s town and relatives and proposed to take over leadership. They paid him some money from an idol temple and he hired mercenary soldiers. They killed 69 of his seventy brothers. Jotham, the youngest, escaped. (Judges 9:7-21)
The 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 brothers. Abimelech and the citizens of Schechem had conspired to commit murder and now they would fall under judgment! (Judges 9:22-24) This evil spirit was God’s judgment on a self-appointed leader and those who joined with him in rebellion!
God places leaders for our good, protection, and blessing. When a leader follows the Lord, the people are blessed. When someone places themselves in leadership by his own power, craftiness, or manipulation, then both the leader and those who scheme with him come under God’s judgment! We must be vigilant today in our country. Politics and media are always at work trying to manipulate people. Even the church may have these leaders! Beware– God’s judgment will come on those who appoint themselves!
Shechem’s punishment: “So all the men cut branches and followed Abimelech. They piled them against the stronghold and set it on fire over the people inside. So all the people in the tower of Shechem, about a thousand men and women, also died.” (Judges 9:49)
Abimelech’s punishment: “Abimelech went to the tower and stormed it. But as he approached the entrance to the tower to set it on fire, a woman dropped an upper millstone on his head and cracked his skull. Abimelech had his armor-bearer kill him so he did not die at the hands of a woman.
Scripture reading for March 11th: Judges 6-8
Poor self-image and discouraging self-talk are common symptoms of a life out of touch with the Lord. It is so easy to focus on our lack and inabilities. We always seem to 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 the negativity.
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 told them about God’s mighty power in delivering them from Egypt and His warning not to worship the gods of the Amorites. They had not listened to the Lord!
God then sent his Angel to Gideon and he found him 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. (Judges 6:14) Gideon protested that his clan is the weakest in Manasseh and that he is 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, but God reduced it from 32,000 to 300! He took away their weapons and gave them torches and pitchers! He told them to break the pitchers and wave the torches and shout! (Judges 7:13-20) Gideon won a great victory with 300 men and a healthy trust in God!
With God on your side, there are more for you than against you! “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior!”
Scripture Reading for March 10th: 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 heat all night. If no one stoked the fire, it would go out and the house would quickly cool down.
Godly leaders stoke spiritual fire with the wood of prayer and pour on coals of God’s Word to keep zeal burning. But when the godly leader is gone the house cools down. After Joshua passed, some elders stoked the fire for a time. They passed without stoking the fire for the next generation!
After the death of Joshua and the elders, Israel drifted into sin and idolatry. God got angry and sold them into slavery to an oppressing nation. The people cried out to the Lord and He raised up another leader who would deliver them. Then there was 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) This was repeated seven times in the Book of Judges!
There is a great need for godly leaders in the church who will stoke the fire again and connect the next generation to God! A godly leader teaches and lives out God’s Word and sparks revival in a home or church. That leader can be a father or mother, pastor or Sunday School teacher, or a janitor who is passionate for the Lord. Will you stoke the fires of the Spirit today by praying and reading God’s Holy Word? May God anoint you afresh with the Holy Spirit and fire from on high and bring new connections for the next generation! (Matthew 3:11)