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 22 It has been seven long years since the tribes who had received land on the east of the Jordan. These tribes made a promise, and they kept it to.the.letter.! Joshua reminded them that their faithfulness is worthy of reward. As they neared the crossing of the Jordan, they stopped and built an impressive altar. God didn’t require it; Joshua didn’t require it. It was something they decided to do on their own. It wasn’t wrong to do it, but soon rumors flew ‘back home,’ and it became a stumbling block. How often do others misunderstand our motives and emotions lead rather than the head?
They jumped to the only conclusion before them; they were apostatizing! They needed discipline! That happens to us as well, and it is then that a level headed person is necessary to quell the outcry. Phinehas wisely said wait a minute; let’s go to find out about this altar.
While rumors are flying, the two and a half tribes were rejoicing! So Phinehas and ten leaders presented their conclusion while the altar builder’s hearts fell into the pit of their stomachs. But in quietness and humility, they began to explain that they built a memorial not an altar of sacrifice.
How do you respond when you are right before God but others see it differently? Matthew 18 tells us to go one on one to determine what the truth is. Before you are gearing for war, hear the other side out.
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.
Numbers 6: The word blessing has the idea of pronouncing a wish of happiness given by one to another for the divine favor upon them from God. Dr. Constable notes that it is a benediction to the priests to offer for the sanctification for the people. It is often used in our liturgical blessings for people as they prepare to leave a religious service. Within it, the word “you” is noted six times, making it personal and applicable.
God desires to bless His people for their provision but also their protection. God knew they would need this as they traveled on towards the Promised Land. God also desires that His countenance would reflect His care in their lives, as well as His grace. Lastly, God desired that His peace would be upon them as they faced foes within and without. God desired all of this for His people then and now.
As you listen to it this blessing, stop and ponder the words. What is the meaning for me personally? Is there a part of that blessing I can appropriate for me now? How can I share this with another?
May the Lord Bless you and keep you as you read and meditate upon it.
Exodus 14-17 Have you ever wondered what others think about your path in life? In some ways, God’s revelation to Moses about Pharaoh’s thoughts should be encouraging to us that we have a God that cares and shares with us what is going on “behind the scene.” God knew his inner thoughts even if he hadn’t openly shared his questions. How often do we listen to that inner voice asking the “what if questions.” What if Pharaoh would have a change of mind? If that happened how I should respond?
Yet, God in His marvelous gracious and loving way went ahead of Moses and shared with him what was on Pharaoh’s mind. Wouldn’t that be great if God would do that for us; but wait, He has! All we need to do is immerse ourselves into the Word and we find God speaking to us about how unbelievers will react and better yet the reason why.
Paul and the Apostle John tell us that the enemy of our souls, Satan, blinds the minds of those who will reject the Lord. He does this lest they see the glorious gospel of Christ who is the very image of God. He does it so that the ones who may see may become blind just as Jesus told the Pharisees in John 9: If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin, but now because you claim that you can see, your guilt remains.
Maybe you are wondering what is ahead. Maybe your thoughts are what about and what about and what about. Beloved, God has it all covered and the answers are in His Word. Open the Word and dig in to find the answers to your questions.
Exodus 11 to 13 As we have watched, there were two camps of people in Egypt; those who believed and obeyed. In the hail plague, those who believed took their animals and families in and were spared while those who did not lost animals and people alike. God was merciful nine times but this tenth time was God’s last and final call to Pharaoh.
God desired that Pharaoh and the Egyptians soften their hearts and turn to Him because He does not delight in the death of the wicked. Instead, He is long-suffering giving them many opportunities to turn to Him and not perish. [Ez 18 &33; 2Peter 3] The principle is given in Is 55; let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts. God will have compassion on him and abundantly pardon. God offers the way to salvation but if men continually reject His mercy His plan will be executed.
The Israelites were led away from the hardened Pharaoh. God did not lead them by the way to the land of the Philistines, although that was nearby, for God said, “Lest the people change their minds and return to Egypt when they experience war.” [Ex 13] He covered them with a cloud from the searing heat of the sun by day and the pillar of fire by night to keep them warm. As we look at each step we see God’s faithfulness to His people, His grace and mercy.
Where have you seen that in your own life?
Gen 48 The psalmist wrote that we are to prepare the next generation to praise Him and then, in turn, tell the next generation about the Lord’s praiseworthy acts, his strength and the amazing things he has done. The reason is so that they will place their confidence in God and not forget the works of Him and obey His commands. [Psalm 78 paraphrase] How often do we fail to do just that and our children wonder what God did in our lives? We prepare our wills and leave it to lawyers to share our meager wealth but what about our testimony of what God has done in our lives?
When Joseph was told Jacob was on his deathbed he made it a point for Jacob to bless his sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. There had been 17 yrs. since Jacob came to Egypt and now it was Joseph’s opportunity to have his boys receive the blessing of their grandfather. Jacob prayed that these would be blessed by the God of Abraham and Isaac and grow into a multitude on the earth.
There are some lessons here for us. We need to first take time for our children and grandchildren to know their grandparents. Are you adrift from them? Take time to introduce them so they have a lasting legacy. Notice that Jacob told them that God had been his shepherd all his life. He told them how the angel of God protected him from all harm. What wisdom have you prepared to share with your children and grandchildren? Take time to sit down with your children and grandchildren and testify to God’s faithfulness. Consider practical ways to share what God has done.
Time is short—eternity is long. What will they remember?
Genesis 44 God has used the separation of several years to soften the heart of Judah. Judah brought great grief to his father Jacob and no amount of consoling brought him relief. Jacob gave up all hope so when Judah wanted to take Benjamin to get more grain in Egypt it was the last straw. While that scenario was happening back in Canaan Joseph had sat in the dark of the dungeon until one day God intervened and now he sat second in command.
In each case, we can see by reading these stories that God is the one who orchestrates our days and our times so that He will get the glory. He will move heaven and earth to get Judah to repent and to use the dreams He gave Joseph to show Himself true. As bystanders in all of this, we listen with the brothers as Judah now stands before Joseph unaware that he is fulfilling Joseph’s dreams. His repentance is forthcoming and we weep with Joseph as our hearts are broken for Judah. But we also see how Joseph’s faith has not only strengthened him but gave him hope all these years. Truly we see the graciousness of God and the kindness in his heart. Years may have separated them but God has been at work in both of their hearts.
Judah stands perplexed as Joseph honors God: God sent me ahead to preserve you. Imagine Judah listening to all of this! The tears flow through the mind-boggling conversation. How could this be? Like Judah and Joseph, you may wonder how your present trial will turn out. Hangest thou in there; Romans 8:28 is true! “all things work together for good to them that love God.” God is patient and He will be honored in His time and place and through our circumstances.
ps Sometimes we see the end but sometimes only in eternity will see it. Give God praise for what He does reveal and do not hold bitterness in your heart for what He has not revealed.
Gen 6 to 9 The story of Noah presents some serious challenges to the thinking of today that our planet is doomed and will self-destruct in six years. Enter into our story righteous and blameless Noah. God chose to save him and his family from the destruction he had planned because the wickedness of man was very great on the earth. In fact, every inclination of the thoughts of their minds was evil—ALL THE TIME! While Noah was blameless, God was patient. He delayed the destruction for some time and in that time righteous Noah built an Ark for the preservation of animal life along with himself and family.
God did indeed flood the earth and when Noah emerged the earth had been restored. God established a covenant with Noah that promised that He would never again curse and destroy the earth because of man’s sin—even though men are evil from childhood on. We are the recipients of that promise.
“While the earth remains, Seedtime and harvest, And cold and heat, And summer and winter, And day and night Shall not cease.” [Gen. 8:22]
Why does God remain so patient? “The Lord is not slow concerning his promise, as some regard slowness, but is being patient toward you, because he does not wish for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” [2Pet 3]
So while God has promised to do His part what about us? God has left the earth in our care. Are we taking care of the earth? Are we repentant when we sin? Are we blameless as Noah? These are questions we need to be asking.
Looking into Heaven: Rev 4 to 8
A special friend just passed away and although we mourn her loss we can’t but think that she is now able to see. Her blindness has been removed and before her she sees what she had only heard each day as she listened to scripture. Just as John was called up to heaven so our dear friend was “called up” as well. What did John see and hear and what does our precious friend now see and hear?
Enter the throne room and seeing the God the Lord Almighty surrounded by 24 elders dressed in white robes and their heads adorned with golden crowns. And now listen: “Holy, Holy, is the Lord God, the All-Powerful, who was and who is and who is still to come!” And further: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, since you created all things, and because of your will they existed and were created! And “You are worthy to take the scroll and open it seals because you were killed and at the cost of your own blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe, language, people and nation.”
Just imagine hearing those words and although her loved ones still inhabit this earthly realm they have been appointed as king and priests to serve God and one day they will reign on the earth with the Savior. “To the one seated on the throne and to the Lamb be praise, honor, glory and ruling power forever and ever.”
Beloved, if you have recently experienced the loss of a loved one think on these words. One day you too will face this heavenly throne room and the Lord God Almighty.