How’s everyone doing? I know that I’ve been joking around that there are only 3 people reading these posts, but I actually do know that more than 3 are at least clicking through and looking at the blog. There may even by 1 or 2 people who subscribe to my RSS feed.
The people of Israel are in a pretty bad place at the moment. Even though they have seen amazing miracles performed by God for them, they consistently do evil and disobey God’s commands. God punishes them. They eventually cry out to God to save them. He raises up a deliverer. They come back to God. As soon as the deliverer/Judge dies, they fall away again. It is a vicious cycle that continues over and over.
Where are you right now on that cycle? Are you close to God, or far away from Him? The good thing is that God has risen up a deliverer that isn’t dead nor is ever gonna die. He reigns and rules. He protects and he leads. He confronts wrong and teaches what is right. Jesus is that deliverer and he is the ultimate judge because He is God Himself who defined for all of us what sin is.
That being said, when I read the old testament, I try to see where Jesus is in it. Where is God in the story. In these stories we see examples of patience, forgiveness and salvation.
I’m reading the Bible through in 90 days. Join me. Click here for more information on the ESV Bible in 90 day plan that I am doing.
Israel has abandoned God. They are doing evil in His sight. They are sold into the hand of King Jabin who has a commander named Sisera who wars with and dominates Israel.
Barak asks Deborah who is a judge of israel to come up and help the fight. With her (and God with her) they can defeat Sisera. She tells Barak that she will come, but because she is being asked in the first place that Barak will not get the ultimate glory for the victory. In fact, a woman will defeat Sisera.
As I was reading this today, I wondered why it mattered. In our day, would we care? In today’s time, Barak would probably be praised for asking the woman, Deborah for help. She’d probably go right a blog and then a book about it and he’d receive recognition for helping her “ministry.” Yet here, Deborah scolds him for not having the faith that God would use him.
Ultimately what happens is that Sisera is tricked into getting under a rug in a woman’s tent named Jael. Jael proceeds to drive a tent stake through him killing him. (Flannelgraph anyone?)
Chapter 5 actually is just a recount of Deborah and Barak put to song. Sometimes I wish someone would try to put a tune to these “songs” that are found throughout the Bible.
Judges 6 – 8
The Israelites fall away, Midian oppresses them. The people cry for help. God calls Gideon to strike down the Midianites. After an amusing exchange where Gideon finally “perceives” that he’d been talking to God all this time, Gideon does go up and destroy altars of Baal. Many are angry at him for doing this, but he says “Will you contend for Baal?” meaning if he is a god, let him stand up for himself and deal with me.
Gideon tests God again to make certain that he is 100% sure of the task before him. He receives confirmation and takes some men up to defeat Midian, but only takes 300 men (so that Israel can’t boast over the win by brute force numbers… the battle belongs to the Lord.) God confuses Midian and its soldiers turn on each other. Gideon drives the Midianites out. He defeats Zebah and Zalmunna.
The people try to get him to rule over them, but he refuses (probably knowing that God did not call him to that.) BUT they create this Ephod that gets “whored” after by israel. It was an awkward end to a good story. Israel ends up whoring after other Gods. They forgot their God.
Abimelech kills a bunch of his brothers so that he can rule. One brother, Jotham, escapes. Eventually Abimelech is killed when “a certain” woman drops a millstone on his head. Have you ever seen how some Monty Python sketches end abruptly… yep, this story seems like that.
After Abimelech, God raises up Tola and Jair. There is brief peace, then there is more evil and sin.
Judges 11 – 12
Jephthah is next to deliver Israel. Although at first he is outcast by his people because he is son of a prostitute. They end up coming to him, asking him to save them from oppressors. He agrees to if they will allow him to be their head if he is successful.
He is the one who makes a stupid vow to give to God (sacrifice) whatever comes out of his house when he returns from victory. I wrote in the margin after reading this today “What did he expect to come out?” Seriously, did he think that a chicken would come running out? This is a tragic story. His daughter is the one who comes out. He is forced to sacrifice her because of his unwise vow to God.
Jephthah ends up judged 6 years. He knew his Israel history. He confronted the outside nations and defeated them.
After Jephthah, there are a few other judges that come before we learn about Samson.
Judges 13 – 16
He was complex to say the least. From birth (actually before birth) he was set up to be used by God. He was to be a Nazarite (see Numbers 6) The way he told his dad to “get her for me as my wife.” He tore up a goat in half. He ate honey out of dead lions. He liked to tell riddles. He had this crazy matrix like fight with the Philistines with a jaw bone of a donkey. He tied foxes tails in two. He broke out of rope bindings.
Then we have Delilah. The hair. Tragically, he doesn’t realize that at some point the Spirit and Power of the Lord left him.
Samson in the end gains his strength back and ultimately defeats the philistines (while killing himself in the process.)
What I like about Samson, is that later in the book of Hebrews it mentions him. He was screwed up, but he was still mentioned as one who had faith and through that faith, God was able to use him.
As I mentioned, we need to look for God in these stories. We also need to look for ourselves in these stories. If God can use a crazy redneck guy like Samson, he can use you and me.