Judges 1-2 by Heather Marsten

aturday, January 16, 2010

Judges by Heather

Here are my notes for the Bible study I taught this week at Living Word Chapel on the book of Judges.  We managed to get the first two chapters covered.  When I can get my husband to take a picture of the diagram I did of the cycle of sin mentioned in Judges I will put it up for you.  Praying your Sunday is blessed!

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The Book of Judges

The people have begun to claim the Promised Land. Moses has died and the people have been following Joshua.

We want to take a bit of a look at Joshua 24 to lay some foundation work.

Joshua 24:13-15 I have given you a land for which you did not labor, and cities which you did not build, and you dwell in them; you eat of the vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant.’  “Now therefore, fear the LORD, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the LORD!  And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

God gave the people the land. He wanted them to worship Him, and not the idols of the land. God has given the people the 10 Commandments, has told them how to live and has promised to be with them if they follow His principles. Deuteronomy 30:19-20 I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.”

Joshua 24:16-17 So the people answered and said: “Far be it from us that we should forsake the LORD to serve other gods; for the LORD our God is He who brought us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, who did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way that we went and among all the people through whom we passed.

God was with the people and amazing miracles and conquests were made with the help of God. Having accompanied Moses in the wilderness, Joshua knew that the Israelites often forgot their vows, and disobeyed God. He gives the people a stern warning.

Joshua 24:18-20 And the LORD drove out from before us all the people, including the Amorites who dwelt in the land. We also will serve the LORD, for He is our God.” But Joshua said to the people, “You cannot serve the LORD, for He is a holy God. He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins.  If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, then He will turn and do you harm and consume you, after He has done you good.”

The people do what they do often, swear to obey God, but later as time goes by we will see that they do not keep their promises.

Joshua 24:21-28 And the people said to Joshua, “No, but we will serve the LORD!” So Joshua said to the people, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the LORD for yourselves, to serve Him.” And they said, “We are witnesses!”  “Now therefore,” he said, “put away the foreign gods which are among you, and incline your heart to the LORD God of Israel.” And the people said to Joshua, “The LORD our God we will serve, and His voice we will obey!” So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and made for them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem. Then Joshua wrote these words in the Book of the Law of God. And he took a large stone, and set it up there under the oak that was by the sanctuary of the LORD.  And Joshua said to all the people, “Behold, this stone shall be a witness to us, for it has heard all the words of the LORD which He spoke to us. It shall therefore be a witness to you, lest you deny your God.”  So Joshua let the people depart, each to his own inheritance.

This brings us to the book of Judges. The first two chapters review the situation at the time of the death of Joshua. The first two chapters of the book of Judges show a pattern of defeat that continues to repeat. God will come in and in His Grace deliver the people, but they will enter another cycle of defeat. This is repeated over and over in the book of Judges. It is believed that the book of Judges was written by Samuel around 1050-1000 BC. It contrasts greatly with the victorious time of Joshua.  

1 Corinthians 10:6-13 Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.”  Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell;  nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents;  nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer.  Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.  No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

I once asked Pastor Don about why the Israelites never seemed to learn from their mistakes, and he pointed out that these segments of the chapter lasted many years and during those years the people did good things as well. God just put into the Bible the things that He knew that we needed to know to live better lives.

I looked up the meaning of the word, “Judge”  8199 To pronounce sentence (for or against), vindicate or punish, govern, litigate, judge, deliver, rule, in some cases judging really means deliverance from injustice or oppression. It can also be used as a process whereby order and law are maintained within a group. The Judge had two rules: 1. To discern the will of God and 2. To lead an army or overthrow the oppressors.

The Israelites were to completely conquer the land of Canaan, but they did not do so. In essence we can think of Canaan as the Spirit-filled life, for the Israelites were saved from Egypt, crossed the Jordan (baptism) and now were going to learn to operate in freedom and truth in the land that God gave them. It is much like us, who have been saved from sin, and are now at the point of learning to live the life of freedom that Jesus provided for us with His shed blood.

The Israelites were chosen by God to perform three tasks,

  1. By their heart attitudes and actions to live out being a Child of God, sons and daughters of God, sons and daughters of the King, and their lives were to demonstrate character and action that is above reproach.
  2. They were to live their lives in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation filled with moral decay, and still be Children of God, living above reproach and not distant from others who were in pain, but not drawn into the lifestyle of the common people around them. Their lives were to be sanctified.
  3. They were to be a light in the world against the darkness of their generation, and the darkness would be attracted to the light.

The book of Judges takes place in a climate that is very much like our day and age, with moral decline both among the people of God and in the world. The book begins with a picture of Joshua (who is a representation of Jesus) who lived a life in obedience to God and tried to live out what God instructed him. When compared to Joshua’s life the others pale in comparison.

The book of Judges takes place before Israel demands a king like those nations around them. God had provided Judges, but God was the KING OF ISRAEL, the Israelites rejected Him in favor of an earthly King, and it is this that begins to lead to the problems Israel would continue to face.

The book of Judges ends this way: Judges 21:25 In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

This is the problem that we will see over and over in the book of Judges. The Israelites were not trying to do wrong, they were trying to do right, but the problem is they wanted to do right in THEIR OWN EYES, and that will lead to anarchy. Our understanding is deceptive and what we think is right, may not be what is God’s best, and many times is the wrong thing. Only God has a clear picture and we end up hurting ourselves when we lean on our own understanding.

Judges 1:1 Now after the death of Joshua it came to pass that the children of Israel asked the LORD, saying, “Who shall be first to go up for us against the Canaanites to fight against them?”

The people ASKED THE LORD. We always do well when we go to God first before we act on our own.

Judges 1:2 And the LORD said, “Judah shall go up. Indeed I have delivered the land into his hand.”

This is appropriate – Judah means praise.  Praise should always go up first. Notice that God promised to deliver the land into Judah’s hand.

Judges 1:3 So Judah said to Simeon his brother, “Come up with me to my allotted territory, that we may fight against the Canaanites; and I will likewise go with you to your allotted territory.” And Simeon went with him.

Is this a good idea?  Joining forces with Simeon?  It sure seems that way in the natural – larger numbers to conquer the land. But did God say Judah & Simeon?  No, He only said Judah, so they are disobeying God’s instructions after asking Him for them. God had promised that Judah would overthrow the land, so by asking for Simeon’s help they are saying that God isn’t powerful enough to do what He said.

How often have we asked God for advice and then added to what He has told us? The end result is never as good as pure obedience to God. So here we see a sign of DISOBEDIENCE. To not fully comply with God’s directives is disobedience.

Judges 1:5-7  And they found Adoni-Bezek in Bezek, and fought against him; and they defeated the Canaanites and the Perizzites.  Then Adoni-Bezek fled, and they pursued him and caught him and cut off his thumbs and big toes. And Adoni-Bezek said, “Seventy kings with their thumbs and big toes cut off used to gather scraps under my table; as I have done, so God has repaid me.” Then they brought him to Jerusalem, and there he died.

Adoni-bezek (lord of lightning or fragments) was a Canaanite king – and the Canaanites were wicked, depraved and diseased. They were opposite of the truth and righteousness of God and what God stood for. Adoni-bezek had conquered seventy men and mutilated them – thumbs and toes being cut off meant that they would never fight again, and it was humiliating. The people of God came in and did the same thing to Adoni-bezek, instead of just occupying the territory and exterminating the opposition, they were not to humiliate the enemy. This is a precursor of the people of God beginning to act like the enemies around them, instead of being sanctified and separate. If we read further, we see that Jerusalem is sacked and burned, not occupied – in verse 8, and we will see later – verse 21 that the Jebusites retake Jerusalem. Judah and Benjamin had Jerusalem at their border and neither one would occupy Jerusalem so we will find the Jebusites as one of the enemies of the people who diluted the worship of God.

Caleb in Verse 10 went up against the Anak, the Nephilim – remember when the 10 spies went into the land Caleb told the people that with God’s help those that appeared to be giants could be defeated. Caleb went and defeated these giants, and it reminds us that there can be people who want what God wants.

They do conquer some land and then we come to this scene:

Judges 1:12-15 Then Caleb said, “Whoever attacks Kirjath Sepher and takes it, to him I will give my daughter Achsah as wife.” And Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother, took it; so he gave him his daughter Achsah as wife. Now it happened, when she came to him, that she urged him to ask her father for a field. And she dismounted from her donkey, and Caleb said to her, “What do you wish?”  So she said to him, “Give me a blessing; since you have given me land in the South, give me also springs of water.” And Caleb gave her the upper springs and the lower springs.

OTHNIEL- GOD IS POWERFUL
ACHSAH – BANGLE, ANKLE, ORNAMENT
KIRJATH SEPHER – CITY OF BOOKS
DEBIR –SANCTUARY

Caleb’s daughter asked for springs of water – upper and lower (former & latter rain). Lands without water are not useful, and springs are fresh, flowing water. Springs also imply the Holy Spirit, springs of flowing water.

Quotes from Charles Spurgeon’s sermon, “A Pattern of Prayer”

She was newly-married, and she had an estate to go with her to her husband. She naturally wished that her husband should find in that estate all that was convenient and all that might be profitable, and looking it all over, she saw what was wanted. Before you pray, know what you are needing. That man, who blunders down on his knees, with nothing in his mind, will blunder up again, and get nothing for his pains. When this young woman goes to her father to ask for something, she knows what she is going to ask. She will not open her mouth till first her heart has been filled with knowledge as to what she requires. She saw that the land her father gave her would be of very little use to her husband and herself because it wanted water-springs. So she therefore goes to her father with a very definite request, “Give me also springs of water.” … Next, as you ought to know what you want, you are to ask for it. God’s way of giving is through our asking. I suppose that he does that in order that he may give twice over, for a prayer is itself a blessing as well as the answer to prayer. Perhaps it sometimes does us as much good to pray for a blessing as to get the blessing. At any rate, this is God’s way, “Ask, and ye, shall receive.” He puts even his own Son, our blessed Savior, under this rule, for he says even to him, “Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.” It is a rule, then, without exception, that you are to know what you want, and you are to ask for it. Will you do this, dear friend, while the Lord says to you, “What wilt thou?”… “Lord, thou hast given me so much, and it will all be good for nothing if thou dost not give me more. If thou dost not finish, it is a pity that thou didst ever begin; thou hast given me very many mercies, but if I do not have many more, all thy generosity will be lost. Thou dost not begin to build unless thou meanest to finish; and so I come to thee to say, ’Thou hast given me a south land, but it is dry; give me also springs of water to make it of real value to me.’“ In this prayer of Aclisah’s there is a particularity and a speciality: “Give me also springs of water.” She knew what she was praying for; and that is the way to pray. When you ask of God, ask distinctly: “Give me springs of water.” You may say, “Give me my daily bread.” You may cry, “Give me a sense of pardoned sin.” You may distinctly ask for anything which God has promised to give; but mind that, like this woman, you are distinct and plain in what you ask of God: “Give me springs of water.”…. Observe, her father gave her what she asked. She asked for springs, and he gave her springs. “If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?” God gives us what we ask for when it is wise to do so. Sometimes we make mistakes, and ask for the wrong thing; and then he is kind enough to put the pen through the petition, and write another word into the prayer, and answer the amended prayer rather than the first foolish edition of it. Caleb gave Achsah what she asked…Next, he gave her in large measure. She asked for springs of water, and he gave her the upper springs and the nether springs. The Lord “is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask, or think.” Some use that passage in prayer, and misquote it, “above what we can ask or even think.” That is not in the Bible, because you can ask or even think anything you like; but it is “above all that we ask, or think.” Our asking or our thinking falls short; but God’s giving never does….And her father gave her this without a word of upbraiding. He did not say, Ah, you Achsab, you are always begging of me!” He did not say, Now that I have given you to your husband, it is too bad of him to let you come and ask for more from me, when I have given you plenty already.”

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Judges 1:19-20 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. And they gave Hebron to Caleb, as Moses had said. Then he expelled from there the three sons of Anak.

Successful in the mountains but not in the valley.  Yet they also expelled Anak.  In the valley they must have taken their eyes off of God and focused on the chariots of iron rather than the might of God.

Then we see in Verse 21: But the children of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites who inhabited Jerusalem; so the Jebusites dwell with the children of Benjamin in Jerusalem to this day.

THEY DID NOT DRIVE OUT THE JEBUSITES.  And these Jebusites will continue to be a thorn in the people’s land.

Notice the NOR DID’S  verse 27 to end of the chapter, God had told the people to completely eradicate the inhabitants of the land – yet they did not do a complete job.

They had the power from God and the ability to do it, but they chose to not obey God’s rules.  One of the reasons that they said was that they put the people under tribute – taxes – so instead of obeying God, they chose to gain profit from the enemy.

God has a reason for eliminating the enemy, he knew that the enemy would ultimately rise up and hurt the people. We will see as Bible history goes on that there was intermarrying, the idol worship came in, and ideas that were not godly began to pollute the people. The enemy in the land would grow and gain power and ultimately cause more and more trouble for the people.

The people would come to the villages and investigate them. The villages did not seem so dangerous and they permitted the people to remain, settling for less than total victory. I know I have done that in my life with certain habits and things, and find myself sucked back into those habits. Words like, that’s just the way I am, that’s just the way we have always done that, this is too much to ask, etc. are all statements of less than total victory. We are made for more than defeat. The descent into lawlessness and anarchy begins with compromise, and the people are compromising.

JUDGES CHAPTER 2

Judges 2:1 Then the Angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said: “I led you up from Egypt and brought you to the land of which I swore to your fathers; and I said, ‘I will never break My covenant with you.

The Angel of the LORD appeared to the people to remind them of the covenant and their history. This is a wonderful act of the Grace of God. Each time that The Angel of the LORD appeared it was to protect the people. Genesis 16:7-14 Hagar meets with the Angel of the LORD after Sari had abused her and she ran away. The Angel instructs Hagar to return to her mistress. And informs Hagar of the son she will birth called Ishmael. Genesis 22:11-18 Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac, where God substitutes a ram. Exodus 3:2 Moses and the burning bush. Numbers 22:22-35 Balaam & the donkey.

I think it is no accident that the Angel of the LORD appeared at Gilgal (rolling). This was where Joshua and the Israelites camped before crossing the Jordan – and it was where they began to eat the fruit of the land and the manna stopped. The time of the conquest was to begin. Then Joshua 5:9 Then the LORD said to Joshua, “This day I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” Therefore the name of the place is called Gilgal to this day. Now the people are at a new point of rolling (our growth is sort of like a spiral, and we often come full circle to move up to another level of growth.) Bochim means weeping, and we will find the Israelites doing that as the Angel of the Lord continues talking.

Notice, GOD NEVER BREAKS COVENANT, but the people break covenant with Him. The people have not fully driven out the enemy, have taken tribute from them, let them remain among the people and let the enemy keep their idols and pagan gods – some of which are equated with sexual perversion and child sacrifice. In many cases we will see the Israelites adopt the pagan gods. They also enslaved some of the locals, and did not fully obey God.

Sometimes I think that we believe that if we partially obey God that that is good enough, it isn’t. God wants us to fully obey Him. Partial obedience is disobedience. We need to be ever seeking to obey Him fully. It took me a long time to realize that God’s plans for me are the best.

Judges 2:2 And you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall tear down their altars. But you have not obeyed my voice. Why have you done this?

They did not tear down the altars. Genesis 3:13 And the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” God often asks us rhetorical questions to get us to think over what we are doing and why. He wants us to change course. If God is questioning what you are doing there may be reason to change. Do we ever learn? We have what we think are good reasons for our disobedience, reasons that seem logical to our senses, bur are not good in God’s estimation.

Judges 2:3 Therefore I also said, “I will not drive them out before you; but they shall be thorns in your side, and their gods shall be a snare to you.”

There are repercussions for disobedience. In this case, the fact that the people did not remove the enemy will completely backfire, for the enemy will be a thorn in the side of the people and a snare to the Israelites. God will now withhold His assistance because of their disobedience. Canaan did become a thorn in their side and kept siding with other enemies to attack Israel. Yet God is good at multitasking. The thorns in the Israelite’s side will also serve as goads to push the people toward obedience.

I often wonder how things would have been different had I obeyed God in certain circumstances. Pastor Don speaks about detors – show “d” with hands. What have we missed by the detors we have taken from God’s perfect plan for our lives?

Judges 2:4 So it was, when the Angel of the LORD spoke these words to all the children of Israel, that the people lifted up their voices and wept.

Why are the people weeping? Partly because they now have repercussions to face and partly out of sorrow for their disobedience. I know that sometimes when my children were little and they got caught in an infraction they cried — hoping to get pity, but their sorrow was more that they got caught and would get grounded. They did not always feel sincere repentance. Here the people have a mix of feelings, and we can see that by the pattern of sin and disobedience that will be displayed throughout the rest of the Old Testament. We will look at the cycle in a few more verses.

Judges 2:5 Then they called the name of that place Bochim; and they sacrificed there to the LORD.

Bochim means weepers. The sacrifice to the LORD was to atone for their sins, but their atonement was not permanent. In fact we never find the name Bochim any other place in the Old Testament, so was this a temporary name? When Israel looks back on their past, when their world is crashing down around them, they will not e able to say that they were not warned by God. They will know the reason for their troubles.

Pastor Don often reminds us that God will always warn us if we choose to listen to Him. For Israel, God never did anything that He did not tell the people through His prophets, but often the people chose to ignore the prophesies or feel that they did not matter to them.

Judges 2:6-9 And when Joshua had dismissed the people, the children of Israel went each to his own inheritance to possess the land. 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. Now Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died when he was one hundred and ten years old. And they buried him within the border of his inheritance at Timnath Heres, in the mountains of Ephraim, on the north side of Mount Gaash.

Timnath Heres means portion of the sun, remaining portion, and we will see that the remaining portion causes a problem for the Israelites. Mount Gaash means rising and falling noisily.

Joshua sent the people to their inheritance and they went anticipating victory that God had given them their inheritance, and that nothing could hinder them. Yet they will have a Mount Gaash experience with the remaining portion – for the nation will rise and fall repeatedly. They had to empty the land of the Canaanites (those things that ensnared, the nets laid by the fowlers). But doubt and fear and trouble came at them and we will see the reason why in the next verse. Their knowledge of the LORD was fading, and they did not know Him. The parents of Joshua’s generation did not instruct their children in the ways of the LORD. For faith to be strong it has to be renewed. Our thinking has to be constantly renewed with the Word of the LORD.

Romans 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Judges 2:10 When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the LORD nor the work which He had done for Israel.

The elders and the previous generation died without passing on information to the next generation. We can’t depend on the past; we need to be sure that TODAY we are filled with His Spirit and following His path. The rest of the book of Judges will show us the failure of the people, God’s attempt to woo them by deliverance, and their continual backsliding. But we do not judge them to condemn them, but rather to learn from them so that we do not fall into the same cycle of coming to God, backsliding, coming to God, backsliding….

Judges 2:11-13  Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served the Baals; and they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt; and they followed other gods from among the gods of the people who were all around them, and they bowed down to them; and they provoked the LORD to anger. They forsook the LORD and served Baal and the Ashtoreths.

Baal was like a statue of a bull, some just used baals as good luck charms, others went more fully into their “worship” by visiting prostitutes and having wild sex orgies. Even those who only minutely worshipped baal were doing sin in the eyes of God, for anything that distracts from full obedience to God is sin. They did not love God with all their heart and soul and might.

Deuteronomy 6:4-19 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. So it shall be, when the LORD your God brings you into the land of which He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give you large and beautiful cities which you did not build,  houses full of all good things, which you did not fill, hewn-out wells which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant—when you have eaten and are full— then beware, lest you forget the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.  You shall fear the LORD your God and serve Him, and shall take oaths in His name. You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are all around you (for the LORD your God is a jealous God among you), lest the anger of the LORD your God be aroused against you and destroy you from the face of the earth. You shall not tempt the LORD your God as you tempted Him in Massah. You shall diligently keep the commandments of the LORD your God, His testimonies, and His statutes which He has commanded you. And you shall do what is right and good in the sight of the LORD, that it may be well with you, and that you may go in and possess the good land of which the LORD swore to your fathers, to cast out all your enemies from before you, as the LORD has spoken.”

God knew that this was what the people were going to do. Sure enough they are in the Promised Land and already they are forgetting God, and beginning to worship idols and bowed down before them. Remember God told the people He was a jealous God. This is not jealousy as man knows jealousy, not jealousy against someone, but rather jealousy FOR His people – God cares and He knows that these idols are not potent, that worshipping them will not help the people, but rather hinder them. God wants the best for His people and it angers Him to see the people choose the lesser when they could have so much more.

Isaiah 44 & Jeremiah 10 speak of the foolishness of idols, how man fashions them, uses scraps to cook his food, then bows down and worships the useless idols that can neither speak nor move.

They were forsaking their covenant made through Abraham, Isaac, and Moses. They were forsaking the very one who made their conquest of the land possible. ONLY ONE was able to deliver them, and they chose the wrong one to worship when they chose idols instead of God. Just like only ONE can save us, will we choose the wrong one? God wanted the Israelites to remain separate from the people around them, but they ignored Him and thus they got trapped in their circumstances for they took their eyes off of God. When we get pulled into the world around us it is easy to be led astray. We are to be IN the WORLD, not OF it. John 17:15-19 I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.  They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.

Ashtoreth was a goddess of fertility, love, and war (ishtar, astarte), depraved sex was the mode of worship and she was considered to be the goddess of reproduction. At times when there were bad farming years, the Israelites would turn to her instead of turning to God, compromising their faithfulness to the LORD. They kept a nominal obedience to God, but built sanctuaries and altars in the high places. We cannot, as Jesus tells us serve God and mammon – we have to choose, just like Joshua told the people in the book of Joshua. Whom will you serve?

Judges 2:14-19  And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel. So He delivered them into the hands of plunderers who despoiled them; and He sold them into the hands of their enemies all around, so that they could no longer stand before their enemies. Wherever they went out, the hand of the LORD was against them for calamity, as the LORD had said, and as the LORD had sworn to them. And they were greatly distressed. Nevertheless, the LORD raised up judges who delivered them out of the hand of those who plundered them. Yet they would not listen to their judges, but they played the harlot with other gods, and bowed down to them. They turned quickly from the way in which their fathers walked, in obeying the commandments of the LORD; they did not do so.  And when the LORD raised up judges for them, the LORD was with the judge and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge; for the LORD was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who oppressed them and harassed them.  And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they reverted and behaved more corruptly than their fathers, by following other gods, to serve them and bow down to them. They did not cease from their own doings nor from their stubborn way.

Here is the cycle of sin that is so evident in Judges, and if we look honestly at our lives, we see the same thing in areas of our lives. The sin of the Israelites caused God’s hand of protection to be removed, and God withholds His mercy. The first indication that God was withholding His mercy was that the enemy would begin to attack the people and their nation would be troubled. Strong kings would come in to take booty and tribute, then others would come in to steal the people’s wealth, in a similar way that the Israelites did to the Canaanites. This was not God’s plan. The people would repent, cry out to God, and then God would raise up a judge to save the people. God did not totally desert the people because God is the one who made Covenant with Abraham. The judges were charismatic leaders who led the people out from under the enemy. These men were filled with the SPIRIT OF THE LORD and that is why they were successful. The people would be restored and free, prospering and recognizing that it was GO who delivered them. As time goes by, they again forget the Lord, fall into sin and the cycle begins over again. Again and again God would raise up judges to save various tribes. Sometimes God would raise up a judge for one tribe, other times it was a group of tribes. Sometimes judges overlapped. When it says that God relents because of the people’s groaning, it is not that He changed His mind, it was that the people came to a place of repentance where God could again raise a hand of protection against them.

Judges 2:20-23 Then the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel; and He said, “Because this nation has transgressed My covenant which I commanded their fathers, and has not heeded My voice, I also will no longer drive out before them any of the nations which Joshua left when he died, so that through them I may test Israel, whether they will keep the ways of the LORD, to walk in them as their fathers kept them, or not.” Therefore the LORD left those nations, without driving them out immediately; nor did He deliver them into the hand of Joshua.

When God repeats Himself it means that He is serious about what is happening, and the people’s disobedience is rebelion. God decides to leave the nations and not drive them out immediately. The people are receiving the fruits of their rebelion. Notice that God leaves the nations to TEST Israel to see if they will walk in the ways of the LORD and keep God’s commandments. In our lives God permits situations to test us for the same purpose. The truth is that God wants us to pass the test and will keep giving it to us until we ace it. If we pass the test, then God moves us to the next level, if not we keep getting tested in the area that troubles us. Sometimes God even tests us in areas that we think we have successfully mastered. God’s purpose for testing is not so He knows if we have learned our lesson – God also knows the results of our tests before we take them. It is rather a measuring stick for our lives so that we know what we need to work on in our lives, and to keep us humble. Only Jesus successfully passed the tests God gave Him, for only Jesus is perfect. God is burnishing us to perfection in His kingdom, and testing helps us to grow stronger. As Pastor Don says, you will not grow strong if you go to a weight room and lift a feather; it is the resistance of the weight that builds muscles. Every test and trial that we face, while uncomfortable for us, helps us grow stronger. As we grow stronger the tests change and we are not facing the same old, same old tests. If we find our lives caught in a cycle of a certain test, it may be beneficial to ask the Holy Spirit what it is that we need to learn from this trial. I get tired of reruns of tests.

Romans 1:18-25  For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,  because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves,  who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

This is the cycle of sin that God is showing us in Judges, and God is not obligated to protect us when we are in disobedience to Him. If we learn anything from this book it is; WE MUST TAKE GOD SERIOUSLY ABOUT THE ENEMY. Jesus came to save us from our sins, not to let us slip back into them. We need to realize that there are no trivial sins, and even a tiny toe over the line in the sand that God has drawn is disobedience and the ultimate end is to pull us further and further into sin and idolatry. As we make these minuscule movements toward disobedience, one day we will look back in shock and ask ourselves, what happened? Sometimes people in that position blame God, but the ultimate blame is in man not listening and obeying God.

Praying your day is blessed!

Heather

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About Heather Marsten

Welcome to Heather's Blog. I'm looking forward to meeting you and checking out your sites. I just moved about nine years of material over from another blog site, Xanga, who may close down mid-July. At first I was disappointed to make the move because I had a lifetime membership at Xanga and had to spend weeks transferring posts. But now I'm thrilled. Already I've met new bloggers and read many new websites. Blogging is a wonderful way to expand my horizons and garner new ideas. I'm a happily married mom of three young adults. My husband and I are proud to watch our children grow and venture out into the world. My daughter is still in college but my two sons have graduated. One has a job and the other just graduated and is in the process of finding a job in his field, physics. Anyone know of any jobs out there? I'm proud of our children and love watching them grow and mature. They've become fine, compassionate, and loving people. Empty nest? Nah, I'm too busy to let an empty nest bother me. Not enough hours in the day. My husband and I enjoy quiet time together and I have many interests to pursue - one of which is blogging :D I am a born-again believer and love God. As you read this blog, you will discover that Bible studies thrill me. There is so much wisdom contained between the covers of the Bible and I am fortunate to sit under the teachings of a remarkable pastor, Pastor Don Moore. Members of our church (Living Word Chapel in West Hurley, New York) are encouraged to teach and there are visiting pastors who stop by our church, I also study the Bible on my own and love sharing what I learn. One other passion is writing. My current work in process is a memoir. A scene from my memoir was published in a book called: Heavenly Company: Entertaining Angels Unaware - an anthology of angelic encounters compiled by Cecil Murphy. I'm hoping my memoir will encourage other survivors of abuse. I grew up in a home filled with abuse, including incest. For most of my life I was searching for something that would fill the void of not being loved by my parents. I tried many ways to find that love -- therapy, relationships, occult studies, and keeping my life so filled I had no way to think about my past. It was only when I discovered God that I was able to put the pieces of my life back together and walk forward in a joyous life. My nickname - wondering has changed from wondering where the heck God was in my life, to wondering what incredible adventure is going to happen next. I hope you enjoy my site. Please say hi, share some thoughts, and ask questions. I look forward to meeting you and checking out your sites. Have a blessed day. Heather
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