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 19-21 The Israelites still had not conquered all the land, so Joshua sent teams out to scout out the land, and to bring him their findings at the camp at Shiloh. The men journeyed through the land and mapped it and its cities out into seven regions on a scroll. Without maps, we would be spatially blind because they are an abstract image of locations. Thus the chapters in Joshua give us spatial relevance as to where the tribes were to claim land ownership as part of their inheritance.
Joshua parcels out their inheritance based on those maps. In this chapter, we find that Simeon was given land within the boundaries of Judah, thus fulfilling Jacob’s prediction that Simeon would experience dispersion because of his sin with Levi in the city of Shechem after their sister’s rape. Which brings us to the lesson we need to learn: your sin will find you out. God remembers and looks for us to admit our sin, but if we do not, He allows for sin to come to fruition before punishing. Jacob reminded both that their knives were weapons of violence, and thus both sons would be scattered. The Levites were foolish slaughtering foreigners but were zealous in defending God’s honor at the Golden Calf incident. Simeon is the only tribe not blessed by Moses and is later is placed in “protective custody” in the land of his brother Judah. Levi was later exalted not because of who he was or what he had done but only by God’s grace. Simeon’s curse remained because he did not seek God’s mercy.
God hates sin and its fruit. Let us learn from Simeon!
Grace and Mercy are free at the throne of God. Seek it!
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 9 – 10 Have you ever been duped? To be duped means another has taken advantage of you in some clever way. Take a lesson from Joshua who was deceived or duped by the Gibeonites.
One of the lessons Moses sought to impress upon his servant was to always check with God before stepping out. Joshua is learning this lesson fast and furiously. First, he failed to check with God about Ai, and now he fails to check with God about the Gibeonites. In both circumstances, Joshua failed, but God still used him in His service, and that is something we need to remember. Just because you failed once doesn’t mean God can’t and won’t use you. God uses imperfect people to complete His perfect plan.
God allows tests into our life to check our understanding of His Word. He also allows them to test our faith and obedience to Him. The city of Ai and the tribe of the Gibeonites was Joshua’s test. What is yours?
The Gibeonites were cunning and deceitful, and we will meet those people as we traverse the world. Joshua assumed they had a good motive from all appearances, but they were lying. We can only see through the lies and facades with God’s eyes. Joshua is an example of allowing his own eyes and the pity he felt for the Gibeonites to lead him rather than God’s eyes.
We must be discerning, and the only way we can be is through prayer and scripture and yes, sometimes seeking wise counsel. Joshua failed on all points; how about you?
Joshua 7 Joshua fell flat on his face seeking answers as to the reason they had victory in Jericho but defeat in Ai. Surely this small city could be taken with a small force. Joshua failed to consult God first, and behind the scenes, we find that our archenemy had been busy. The result was that 36 men died in that battle, and the residents of Ai had a victory party.
Joshua and the leaders fell on their faces before God and asked: “why?” The Lord responded to his prayer: “Get up! Why are you lying there face down?” Like us, Joshua failed to consider that behind every failed circumstance, Satan is busy blinding us. We begin by asking “why” instead of seeking the wise counsel of the Holy Spirit. Why did Joshua not consider sin? We do the same. We want to blame God when God is not responsible. It takes a listening heart to hear God when we are wailing and asking why.
Even though the Israelites had heard of God’s directive of the ban on all things in Jericho, Achan had casually dismissed it. Like us, we know what God desires but fail to consider the consequences of disobedience. Do you dismiss sin? Do you think, “God will understand?” Unlike us, God does not dismiss sin but demands purity and righteousness. We foolishly believe our sin only affects us. Be forewarned; “be sure your sin will find you out.” [Num 32:23]
Keep short accounts with God. Go to Him as Joshua did; locate the sin, and seek cleansing.
Joshua, ch 4 Every scripture is inspired by God. He wrote it for four reasons: to be used in teaching, to reprove us when we are “out of line,” to correct us, so we walk aright, and to train us in righteousness. The Israelites did not have a Bible, but they had the word of God through Moses to the priests. Instead of a written word, they had stones as a reminder of what things were important.
The Ten Commandments and the pot of manna were placed in the Ark as spiritual markers. As the Israelites prepared to cross the Jordan, Joshua had the priests go ahead with the Ark, and then they were to pick up twelve stones to be used as a spiritual maker of what God had done on this day. They were to walk behind the Ark in reverence. The Ark was their physical marker to follow; we have the scriptures. They stepped into the flowing river, and just like us; they had to get their feet wet to see the power of the Lord unleashed; this is how we trust God, stepping out in faith. There are situations ahead that God is asking us to trust Him and to fix our eyes upon Him, as the author of Hebrews said, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the pioneer, and perfecter of our faith. Heb 12:2
Where are your eyes fixed? What is your spiritual marker to follow?
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 20 There is a catchy commercial that asks that question thinking that money is always the answer but not always. How do you fight battles of both kinds: physical and spiritual? For both, we need special armor.
Moses addresses the first as he prepares the Israelites to enter the Promised Land. They would face enemies with horses, chariots, and numerous men. The fear was real, but Moses took the fighting men aside and told them a powerful truth: Some trust in chariots, some in horses and some in the numerous men. In that time, “do not be fainthearted. Do not fear and tremble or be terrified of them” because the Lord your God goes with you to fight on your behalf to give you victory.
Our battle is spiritual, but the principles are the same: do not be fainthearted. We struggle not against flesh and blood but the spiritual forces of the evil one. We may experience fear of the enemies around us and wish we could have wings of a dove to fly away to safety, yet God has provided us with the spiritual armor; the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the sandals of the gospel which is the good news. Our shield is that of faith by which we can extinguish the flaming arrows of our adversary. Our helmet is that of salvation, and we have the Word of God! Don’t forget the most important piece of armor: the powerful forces of prayer and petition.
Whether a physical or spiritual battle, know and cling to this truth: Our God goes before us, and He will not allow his righteous ones to fall. Take up your armor and stand firm.
So what’s in your wallet…’er’ your armor?