Judges 13 This chapter reveals a God who cares for His people even if they don’t seem to care for Him. God loves all His people, especially barren women and wants to bless these them. For four chapters, we read about Samson, the son of Manoah and “Mrs. Manoah.” It is the “Mrs.” that has the initial contact with the angel of God. It is she that quoted verbatim his words to her husband, Manoah. But, like Zechariah, when Manoah heard that his wife would bear a child, he needed more confirmation. And, both sons, John the Baptist and Samson would be a Nazarite.
Mr. Manoah may not have understood all the details about Samson’s birth, but he is commended for his obedience and faith as he entreated the Lord. And like Jacob, he wanted to know the name of the “man of God.” He needs confirmation on all accounts. After seeing the miracle of the flame and the rising of the angel to heaven, he then has a crisis of belief: “surely we will die for we have seen God.” Not so, Mrs. Manoah! She was perceptive: look at the evidence, God answered our prayer, he accepted our offering, he wouldn’t have shown us these things or let us hear things like this! How great was her faith! And God blessed her with a son.
When God speaks, do we believe Him 100 %! Or do we need more confirmation like Manoah and Zechariah did?
There is a pattern that becomes very evident in this book and it is what we read in Judges 10:1 “The Israelites cried out for help to the Lord: “We have sinned against you. We abandoned our God and worshiped the Baals.” How many times does a nation have to walk around the wilderness to get the message that God is God and He will not share His glory with another? The patience of God is mind-boggling! And here we are in the 21st century viewing this same pattern and God is still patient with us today.
Judges 9-12 reveals that once again the nation started out correctly but soon diminished into chaos and idolatry. It is then that they come back to God in tears and repentance only to remain that way until the judge died and the people are left without a godly leader. Yet the patience of God is remarkable. He allows us to wallow in the mire but is ready to forgive and reinstate us to a higher state. How often are we like Thomas Jefferson when we come to chapters like these? When Jefferson found a passage he didn’t like he took scissors to it. But, we are not to be like that because God has placed these chapters in here for a reason that we might learn and apply biblical principles to our lives.
What lessons is God teaching you as you read this book?
Joshua 16 The wonder girls of Zelophehad find their way into the council again to remind Joshua that Moses made them a promise of land, and to that day it had not been kept. These are wise women whose outward appearance is sheer beauty, and they have the brains to go with it. Notice their plan of action; go before the Eleazar, the priest, Joshua, and the leaders. These girls have insight and wit, and three times is a winner. Joshua assigned them land among their uncles, just as Moses had commanded.
What can we learn from these five gals? First, if you want something bad enough, you have to be willing to place your stake in the ground, and they were. Secondly, unlike some today, these gals were bold and yet humble, and the leaders listened. There is a principle here for us to glean about seeking God the Father’s gifts, which come down from heaven. His gifts do not change; just the timing. James reminds us that if we are deficient in wisdom, go and be bold before the Father just as they did. The author of Hebrews tells us that we can confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace whenever we need help.
So what are you waiting for? God is in the business of granting wisdom, gifts, and a spirit of tenacity. Remember, a promise made is only as good as a promise kept.
Joshua 1-3 “Be Strong and Courageous”
As Moses concluded his address to the nation and in particular to Joshua, he noted the same words that God would speak to Joshua in the first chapter: “Be strong and courageous.” Joshua had seen the Red Sea opening and now would see the Jordan open as well. God wanted Joshua to know that He can be trusted but also that Joshua needed, in turn, to trust Him.
God knows us inside and out, and He knew that Joshua faced an intimidating job. Up until this time, he had been a servant’s servant to Moses. But, like any man or woman facing what seems an impossible task, there lurks the fear of the unknown. Joshua recalled the land he had seen 40+ years before, but would it look the same now? Would there be those same giants he had seen before? Would the people follow his leadership?
God encouraged Joshua to know that no matter where his foot would fall, God would be with him and never forsake him. God told him to remain steadfast immovable, just as Paul wrote. To a day, Joshua remained faithful. He reminded the Israelites; “be strong!” He never took credit for all of the blessings but reminded the people that it was the Lord who drove out the great and mighty nations.
Joshua is God’s hero. I hope he is yours too. Remember Isaiah’s words “when you pass through the waters, I am with you; when you pass through the streams, they will not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not harm you. For I am the Lord your God; your deliverer…” [Is 43]
Deut 23 “Be Creative as you Love Your Neighbor.”
Both Moses and Jesus taught us that we are to love God with all your heart, soul, and strength, and secondly, love your neighbor as yourself. Paul taught the Thessalonians that same principle; meet the needs of those who are your brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ. God’s provision for ancient Israel was that if one became hungry while walking to the next destination, you were allowed to enter a neighbor’s grain field and pluck some kernels to eat, but not to collect the grain for another time. Jesus and the disciples followed that principle, but the Pharisees had added to that principle by saying even if hungry, you cannot do that for it is work on the Sabbath.
Today in our fast food society we drive from place to place. We wait in drive-up lanes, not walk through a grain field. So how can we apply the principle today? We continue to have open hearts and eyes to the needs around us remembering the words of Jesus: “And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple, I tell you the truth, he will never lose his reward.” [Mat 10:42 ] After we have filled our plates, why not purchase an extra dinner for someone behind you in the drive-up lane? Or a cup of coffee?
Be creative today as you go about your busyness. Stop and look where God might be working, and you can be His servant.
Deut 10 to 12 Five Things God Requires
I am reading the book, Hearts Afire about women who sacrificed all to serve God. They willingly chose to surrender their lives to God — no matter the cost!
That challenges me to ask: am I?
Being set apart for God and His work took on a whole new meaning when they realized the cost. Jesus reminded the disciples to count the cost before you embark on a project, such as building a tower. He used that metaphor to help them realize that before you say you are willing to serve God full time, you must do as the builder does before he orders materials and hires workers. Moses told the Israelites that before they could follow God, they must count the cost, and it included five things.
10:12 Moses said God requires that you reverently fear Him. Secondly, you must choose to walk in all His ways. Thirdly, you must love Him totally and completely reminding us that He is a jealous God and will not share His glory with another. Fourthly, you must endeavor to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul. And lastly, you must keep His commandments which the Apostle John said are not burdensome.
10:20 reiterates those same details with one added point; you must swear by His Name. Why would God add that? In vs. 21, the answer is that He is our praise, and He is our God. He alone has done these great and awesome things for you!
Are you willing to be set apart for His service?
Numbers 26 & 27 Louis May Alcott wrote a classic called Little Women, which captivated audiences and still does today. But here in an obscure passage, we read about, not four, but five little women and the problem they faced. As Moses recorded the male inheritances of the children of Israel, he listed the names of men—not women–from 20 yrs. old and up. In the middle, we read: Zelophehad had no sons, only five daughters. He had stood firm against those who had tested the Lord and was found faithful. But, male hierarchy and the law said only males could inherit the land. So these five daughters wondered what happens to our father’s inheritance. What about us? They wanted their faithful father’s legacy to continue.
Bravely, but graciously, these five women entered the men’s arena to seek a change in the rules. They entered a patriarchal society to claim their father’s inheritance rights, and all eyes rolled! Moses was in a quandary! What do I do? Wisely Moses went straight to God and heard they were right teaching us that God honors courage and humility. These five little women gained the rights to inheritance and preservation of their father’s legacy! Women of today take heart! You, too, can be wise, tenacious, brave, and courageous.
Zelophehad raised five courageous women, and fathers can do the same today. These five little women sought to honor their deceased father, and God honored their request. These five little women are excellent role models for women today don’t you think?
What are your takeaways from this post?
Numbers 22 Many preachers and SS teachers use the story of Balaam and the speaking donkey to enthrall audiences, but there is more to this story than just the donkey. God used Balaam in an unlikely manner to reveal his heart and the way Satan uses unbelievers in our lives.
God questioned Balaam about his visitors. “Who are these men? Balaam kept up a dialog with God about them, and on the surface, it seems that he was obeying. However, step by step, Balaam fell headlong into the temptation of earthly riches, which was stronger than obeying God. Like many today, Balaam tried to appear righteous by his answer that he could not curse Israel, but his actions prove the opposite. Balaam sought ways to obey God and yet get the riches the King offered. The last test came when God explicitly tested Balaam when he said: “if” these men have come to call you, get up and go with them. But, Balaam didn’t wait for the “if” clause and instead got up and went.
There are several lessons for us to glean. One is that if you say you must ask God for his wise counsel, you must take a stand and stand firm. A second lesson is God gives us tests to discern if we will obey His voice or our own.
Leviticus 16 “Nobody is to be in the Meeting Tent when he enters to make atonement in the Holy Place until he goes out, and he has made atonement on his behalf, on behalf of his household, and on behalf of the whole assembly of Israel.” Lev 16
Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement reminds us of the work of our Savior. He came, he lived, he died; was buried and rose again, just as 1Corinthians 15 tells us. The picture of that series of steps is seen in the Atonement when Aaron or the High Priest would alone perform each step. Alone, Aaron understood, more than any other time, the price paid for his sin and the sins of the people.
Alone he would enter and adjust the light from the Menorah and change the Shewbread on the Table. Alone he offered the incense on the altar as he prayed for himself and the people. Alone he would slaughter the animal and drain the blood. Alone he would take the blood behind the curtain and sprinkle it on the Mercy Seat. All of these steps were a picture of what Christ would do for us.
With each step, the High Priest was to be alone as a reminder that we must seek the face of God alone as we meet with God about our sin just as Jesus was alone as He paid for our sin.
When was the last time it was just you and God?
Exodus 35-37 When I am tested, I will come forth as gold”
In Egypt, God tested his people in a severe trial of slavery. It was there that the Israelites were trained in skills such as jewelry, woodworking, and weaving. God now would call upon those skills to build His Tabernacle or dwelling place. While the people groaned under the pressure, God was forging His people to excel. He does the same for us today. We may not see or understand but know this truth: God is preparing all of us to do His kingdom work. God blessed these workers and they left Egypt with gifts of gold, silver and precious jewels in abundance, enough to pay their wages of 400+ years. As the people looked at their abundance they may have wondered why and for what purpose they had gleaned these treasures. When the perfect time came the people’s hearts were overflowing and they willingly gave so much that Moses had to tell them to stop giving!
Fast forward to the NT and we find the admonition to set aside some income for the service of the church. Imagine if today people gave and gave and gave and then had to be told to stop giving! How many missionaries could we send? How many children’s programs could we provide? How blessed our churches would be if this were true.