Introduction to Book of Judges Tuesday, Jan 31 2017 

The book of Judges opens to us one of the darkest times of man’s history. The people of God should have been celebrating victories and conquering a new land. Judges opens the window into the heart of mankind, and the picture is not pretty.

Seven times in the book the statement is made “every man did that which was right in his own eyes”. The result of that environment was catastrophic. It further emphasis that there was no King in those days. So every man was left to follow his own decisions.

This period of time lasted 450 years. This period of time was as long as the entire duration of the monarchy. Because there is one book of Judges, and six books of the Kings (Samuel, Kings, Chronicles), it is natural to feel like the Kings were a longer period of time. Both of these time periods were 450 years. Why?

God gave man 450 years to reveal what happens when man does that which is right in his own eyes. The result of that time period is so abhorrent and tragic, we scarce can comprehend it. The last five chapters of Judges are as bad and ugly as any period of history, any place on the globe. From this experiment and experience we can truly agree with God that it is not in man to direct his steps.

It might help to think of these Judges as freedom fighters. These judges were not perfect people, in fact some of them were badly flawed. They used methods that seemed unfair and even dishonest. The word Judge to us today speaks of courtrooms and juries. These men, (and one woman), were liberators, fighters, leaders of armies. They are renowned for their military campaigns. The following is a list of Judges and their term of time.

 Judge and who their enemy was:

Othniel/40 years Mesopotamia

Ehud/80 years Moab, Amon, Amalek

Deborah, Barak/40 years Caanan

Gideon/40 years Midian

Abimelech/3 years  

Toah/23 years

Jair/22 years

Jeptha/6 years Ammon

Ibzaim/7 years

Elon/10 years

Samson/20 years Philistines

Eli/40 years Philistines

Samuel/20 years Philistines

There were 111 years of oppression and 339 years of peace for a total of 450 years of the reign of the Judges. This is the same amount of years for the Kings. There was 120 years of the United Kingdom, 200 years of a divided Kingdom with Israel and Judah side by side, and an additional 135 years of Judah.

The conclusion is this, God gave man 450 years of man doing what he thought was right on his own. Then he gave man 450 years where a king ruled over his life. Both time periods ended in failure. Opening the door for the prophets and God’s voice being the law of man and earth. The only successful government has proved to be when God himself rules over the affairs of men.

In the first 16 chapters of Judges, it is all about God’s people being attacked from without. The enemy is from the outside. Then the last five chapters are the result when Israel turns upon herself and begins to carnage herself. The result is one of the most terrible times in all of history. Before it is over Israel will have killed more of her own that any of her attackers from the outside. If fact, she will have killed more of her own that all of the outside attacks combined over the entire 450 year period.

 What a statement God leaves on the pages of the Bible about what happens when we forget who our real enemy is and begin to war on our brothers.

In the last five chapters, it begins with the introduction of Idolatry into Israel with the story of Micah and his graven images. The stage is set for idolatry and it takes a thousand years and a dispersion (Israel), and a captivity (Judah), to finally purge Israel of Idolatry.

The story moves on to the tribe of Dan. This tribe is not satisfied with their inheritance so they look for new territory. They journey east, then north, a total of about 144 miles to conquer Laish. They rename the city “Dan”(hence the term from Dan to Beersheba). This is not the inheritance God assigned to the tribe of Dan. This story lets us see the terrible result of what happens when you are not satisfied with your inheritance. The tribe of Dan is forever removed from the pages of the Bible. The only mention I find is one descendant worked on Solomon’s temple. Dan is never mentioned again, never included anymore in the list of the tribes all the way to the book of Revelation.  

What more would anyone need to illustrate the danger of not being satisfied with our inheritance?

The book of Judges then moves on to the story of the concubine. The woman was abused and finally dies. Her master cuts her into twelve pieces and sends a piece of the evidence to each tribe. The nation goes to war and the result is horrific. Israel loses 65,000 men in the final chapters of Judges, all because they had a piece of the evidence. The tribe of Benjamin is reduced to 400 men and almost obliterated. I believe they would have been wiped out if not for a future son of Benjamin that would literally change the world, Saul of Tarsus. God preserved the tribe for Israel’s first king, and Christianity’s first missionary.

The moral of the story is again so stark. It is so dangerous to go to war over a piece of the evidence.  

Was all lost for humanity? Not at all. God in his infinite wisdom was letting man work through the slow process of human government to help man self discover for himself his need of God.

All was not lost, for even in this morass, at the bulls eye center of the greatest carnage were faithful people who held on to God. That is why Boaz steps onto the stage in the book of Ruth. There was in the days of the Judges, Ruth 1.1

Boaz’s home was a short distance from the epicenter of the great battle and carnage of the final chapters of Judges. Boaz’s life in the book of Ruth proves there are always people who remain true to God, even in the times of apostasy. 

Thanks for reading today….

Amos Chapter 9 Monday, Jan 30 2017 

9.1-10 the destruction of Israel. This is the final vision of Amos’ prophecy recorded. It is assumed he returns to the south and lives out his life having delivered the coup de grace to a proud, defiant, unrepentant nation. Who can know his inner thoughts? Was he empty? Did he feel he accomplished his task? As with so many of the servants of God we have no insight to their inner feelings. We cannot know if he felt fulfilled or frustrated. Was he delighted or defeated? We cannot know. He sees the final vision here. He sees the Lord standing upon the altar.This is God’s altar and He has come to claim ownership. God himself steps up on the altar and begins to dismantle the ugly pseudo-religion the nation has created. God announces there is no place to hide. From the depth of hell to the top of Carmel the searching eye of God will find them. Neither the depth of the sea or captivity in a foreign nation will provide sanctuary from God. Standing on the altar God proclaims his power and authority in heaven, in earth and in the seas. God sternly tells this backslid nation they are like Ethiopians to Him.God himself brought them into existence and He will take them out of existence as well. The heavenly sifting has begun. It is time for Amos to put down his writing instrument and go back to picking sycamore fruit. As the words die from Amos’ lips, the sinners die from Samaria.

9.11-15 the restoration. The rising of the sun every day mirrors God’s mercy and grace. The sunset of God’s mercy is yet to be viewed again in the sunrise of a future remnant. From these very ruins God will build the Tabernacle of David. James confirms this is the New Testament church, in the book of Acts when the counsel gathers to discuss the inclusion of Gentiles into the church. James has the spiritual sight to see through the smoke and haze of Israel’s failure and see the Lord standing on that altar centuries before. At that momentous event in Acts chapter 15, James proclaims God has built again the Tabernacle of David. As dying leaves and humus give the earth the nutrients for new growth, so the death of the Northern Kingdom gave birth to the church. The church possesses the remnant of Edom and all the heathen which are called by the name of the Lord. The plowman over takes the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed. The captivity of Israel is restored, cities are rebuilt, vineyards are planted, and gardens flourish. God closes this prophetical refrain by proclaiming He will plant them upon their land and they shall no more be pulled up. As the fading sunlight descends and Amos sees its final rays, with one final backward glance, he knows the sun will yet rise again. It shall rise in the glorious light of the Gospel and the whole earth shall be filled with it’s glory.

Thanks for reading today….

Amos Chapter 8 Sunday, Jan 29 2017 

8.1-14 the summerfruit. In no other vision is the transparency of Amos seen like in this vision. This is purely the mind of a country boy frustrated by not being able to make these socialites see what is coming down the pike. Flailing desperately to make them understand, he grabs what should be the most simple illustration anyone could ask for. He shows them a basket of summer fruit. The fruit is over ripe. To his simple rustic mind even the most stubborn prejudiced mind could easily see the analogy. The basket of fruit represents this nation who is well past judgment. Decay is so obvious it smells. The fruit is soft and rotting. Amos patiently begins to explain. The temple will be filled with howling. There will be no deliverance there. Their crops will not buy them deliverance. Their injustice to the poor has finally rotted their mercy from God. Judgment will come as a flood. Their feasts will be turned into mourning, their songs into sad laments, poverty will overcome them, famine and drought are coming. The populace will be turned out to wander the world and never find God again. The funeral dirge of Samaria is being written and is about to be sung. The nation began by Jeroboam 200 years ago is now reduced to a basket of rotting fruit. No one in the world will ever desire to partake of this fruit again. 

Thanks for reading today…

Amos Chapter 6 repost Saturday, Jan 28 2017 

I posted the wrong chapter :). 

6.1-6 Ease is always the desire of man. The use of the Hebrew word (shaanan) here has to do with being secure. Amos let them know they think they are secure and have life lined up perfectly. These people had put the evil day far into the future and out of their mind. They were laying upon beds of ivory and eating rich food without a care in the world. Everything was perfectly in order. They chanted to the sound of the viol like David, meaning their music was the best. David’s music was inspired by God and brought people into fellowship with God, whereas this music was excellent and flawless, but was sensual and carnal. God was not a part of their music. They were in their bathes and using their oils while unconcerned about the world around them. This attitude is similar to the well known refrain “Nero fiddled while Rome burned”. They were so sated by opulence they were unaware their world was crashing down around them. The reason? The affliction of Joseph (can also mean adding). These socialites had continued to add more and more selfish misuse on the poor. The result? The result was to be captivity.

6.7-14 the captivity. The Lord continues to present His case against these pseudo-religious socialites. God documents His case completely. God abhors the excellency (arrogancy), of Jacob. Pride is always a stink in the nostrils of God, and never more so than at this moment. God delivers the entire city to destruction. A man’s uncle (hebrew~dod), lover, friend, family member, will betray them to the captors. Every house will fall, the great houses and also the small houses. God’s anger is all consuming. Amos the country preacher illustrates with metaphors from his rural life. Shall horses run upon the rock? He illustrates the judgment, or verdict, has been turned into poison. The promise from God is a nation is coming that will afflict you from Syria to Egypt. These wealthy patrons of ease had trusted in their own resources and now their resources will not suffice to deliver them. Riches never deliver in the day of death and judgment
Thanks for reading today….

Amos Chapter 7 Friday, Jan 27 2017 

7.1-3 grasshoppers. God allowed them to plant the crop, water the crop, even cut the mowing so their hopes were strong for a good harvest, then sent the locusts to devour their labor and profit. The question arises; was God deliberately letting them hope before destroying their hopes? Was God delaying the judgment in hopes they would come to their senses? Acts 15.18 lets us know, known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world. It would seem God foreknew they would not change and repent so He allowed them to go through all the planning, all the labor, and all the expectation before dashing their hopes. God wants to imprint the lesson firmly into their minds that He alone controls all of nature and by extension all their lives. Locusts seem to be a particular choice of judgment from God. This may date all the way back to the creation of Adam and his creation from the soil. Locusts lie dormant in the soil until such a time God summons them to His purpose. From the soil God can summon life, man or judgment.

7.4-6 fire. Fire is a major symbol of judgment. In 1.4 God had said He would send fire as judgment on the house of Hazael. We know in the final chapters of life on earth, fire is a major factor. Hell and the lake of fire are reserved for the Devil and the beast and the false prophet. Fire is reserved for all who do not obey the gospel of Jesus Christ. The fire summoned here is not a small blaze for it devours the great deep. A fire powerful enough to destroy the oceans of the world seems inconceivable to our mind. Yet this is what Amos announces will happen.

7.7 plumbline. The wall was the nation and people of Israel. When the righteous line of God was held against this wall, the wall showed how far the nation was off course. Their vision of them self could not see the drift. By holding the plumbline against the wall, the drift was stark and the nation was without excuse. The drift was undeniable. The nation was far from where they once were. Spiritual drift is difficult to measure. The gradual nature of drift is so subtle it is hard to perceive. God wanted the nation to see how far they had moved from their beginnings. The house of Jeroboam was to be removed forever. This happened when Assyria invaded in 721 BC and carried away 200,000 captives. The northern country, here called the house of Jeroboam, exits the stage forever. 

7.10-13 Amaziah’s treachery. Now comes a shift in the line of Amos’ visions of judgment to describe a parenthetical moment. Amaziah, the high priest of this self sufficient religious people, resented the ministry of Amos. Amos was dismantling the High Priest’s playhouse of insincere religion. The high priest strikes back by accusing Amos of treason and demands the prophet go home and leave them alone. This is a false accusation and draws an immediate reaction from Amos, and an immediate judgment form God.

7.14-17 Amaziah’s judgment. This judgment is a minuscule view of the larger picture of Israel rejecting the voice of the prophets all the way back to Samuel. Amos declares he did not ask for this job. He was a lowly shepherd doing the most menial job in the country (gathering sycamore fruit). He was not the son of a prophet, and therefore an unlikely candidate to pronounce judgment upon an entire nation. God called this uneducated, rough hewn prophet to show His power and glory and veracity are not always found in the esteemed of men. God chose the basest of men to pronounce judgment on the nation, when the nation was at the zenith of power and wealth and influence. Like a lash, the words of Amos flick out and sting the high priest. The high priest is informed his wife will be a harlot and his children will die by the sword. Amaziah will perish, as all will, who resist the word of a God called man. This moment, frozen in time, illustrates God’s principal of vengeance. God declares in Rom 12.19, vengeance is mine, I will repay. The message was loud and clear. Raise your voice against this prophecy, resist this prophecy, and there will be swift and harsh judgment.

Thanks for reading today….

Amos Chapter 5 Wednesday, Jan 25 2017 

5.1-3 The verdict is in, the sentence is passed, the virgin of Israel is fallen. Israel is decimated. The spiritual forecast is, one tenth shall survive. Thus Amos laments the moment.

5.4-6 Even at this precipitous moment, still the strain of mercy bleeds through. Three times the invitation is given seek ye me and ye shall live. Judgment can be postponed or avoided. The only hope at this point is to seek the Lord. God jettisons their religious places like Bethel, Gilgal or Beersheba. These places had rich pasts but had ceased to point the people to God. The admonition is to seek God, not their past moments of religion. This is the trap of all religious experiences of God. The quest to keep our devotions as fresh manna every day is our daily challenge. This is mirrored in the Lord’s prayer, give us this day our daily bread.

5.7-10 These people were religious. The judgment from God came because their religion was self serving. Judgment and righteousness were not offered to God, but rather used as a medium to reach their own selfish ends. Religion of itself is not always pleasing to God. Religion must exalt God and point men to God to be efficacious. Those who practice self serving religion hate those who speak uprightly.

5.11-17 Many people associate religion with a church or synagogue. God never intended anyone to have “church house” religion. One man said if your religion does not work at home it does not work, so do not export it. This passage shows how Israel’s self serving religion did not accomplish the purpose of true religion. This is what brought God to the end of His patience and invoked judgment. God will not share His glory with another. Mistreatment of the poor, the manifold transgressions of their mighty sins, afflicting the just, was no longer to be tolerated. The call from God was to choose between good and evil, and establish judgment in the gate. As a result of their selfish, self centered, religion, they would wail and mourn in the same streets where they had ravaged and mistreated the poor. This travail would spill out of the city and into the countryside and vineyards.

5.18-27 These quasi-religious people had loudly proclaimed their desire for the Day of the Lord. Now it was coming and God proclaims it will not be to your liking. They are informed they will not escape. It will be darkness, and liken to fleeing from wild beasts. Why? Because God came to despise their feast days. This was because their religion was all about “them”. God was not part of the true purpose of what they did under the guise of religion. They offered their burnt offerings and meat offerings and God said no thanks. God sadly declares he does not want to hear their songs. God is looking for righteousness, not hypocrisy. The years of accumulated offerings that these people thought were pleasing to God, are rejected by God wholesale. The indictment includes their inclusion of Moloch and Chiun (Hebrew kiyun~idol), in their worship. The cup of God’s anger and disgust is full. The gavel in the hand of God falls and the words hang in the air pregnant with fear, “Therefore will I cause you to go into captivity”. From beautiful homes, ivory furniture, wealth and opulence, body oils and luxury, and comfortable well organized religion, to captivity in one fell swoop. How are the mighty brought low.

Thanks for reading today…

Amos Chapter 4 Tuesday, Jan 24 2017 

4.1-5 the indictment. Amos begins to list the travesties of Israel. Amos uses strong language by calling them Kine (cows). The cows of Bashan were well fed and strong because of the lush vegetation of the area. This is much more than an insult in itself. The illustration is a full grown cow leading her calves. This is not just about the Israel of now, but for many years the offspring will be led into captivity. These cows have oppressed the poor and gotten fat off the reward of their mistreatment of the poor. So the prophet mocks them with his words; come to Bethel and transgress, to Gilgal and multiply transgression. He continues to mock them by saying offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving with leaven. This is an apt reference to all their sacrifices being polluted.

4.6-13 God’s defense. God is always fair. Here Amos presents his defense of God and God’s long suffering. God tried. God sent cleanness of teeth (famine), want of bread (poor crops), drought (no rain), God even selected cities to rain on and not to rain on another, but Israel just did not get the message. The voice from God the jilted lover said, yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord. God then went further in trying to get through to his beloved people. God sent blasting and mildew, the worms destroyed their crops, pestilence and war, until life literally stunk in their nostrils, and still Israel never made the turn to her God. God gave a sample of the judgment to come by overthrowing some of them like Sodom and then plucking them out of danger just in the nick of time. Nothing in all of this impacted this people that God loved so much. A frustrated God now announces: prepare to meet thy God. He that formed mountains and creates the wind, the all powerful God who has loved such fallen mankind, has reached the end of His patience with a disobedient nation. With a formal declaration of His name He steps back and allows judgment to descend on Israel.

Thanks for reading today…

Amos Chapter 3 Monday, Jan 23 2017 

3.1-3 you only have I known. This is one of the most endearing statements God ever made to Israel. The Hebrew word yada is a broad term. It has the connotation of knowing in many ways. It speaks of God taking time and care to truly “know” the nation of Israel above all nations of the earth (Ez 20.5). God revealed himself and extended himself to Israel and Israel’s response was indifference, and now the great God of heaven feels all the feelings of a jilted lover. God cannot walk with Israel unless they both reciprocate. God chose Israel out of all the peoples of the earth, and her response was to be unfaithful.

3.4-8 the yearnings of God. God is speaking like a lion roars or a bird caught in a snare. There is cause for His complaint. The voice of Amos is God crying out to the nation, please listen to me. Israel did not see the future of the next three decades but God did, and the future was bleak for this backslid nation.

3.9-15. The mind of the country preacher presents a vivid unforgettable image in this passage. The image of a nation torn in pieces by powerful nations around them. As a lover, God had held off these nations from invading Israel, but now He announces these nations will be free to plunder and ravage Israel. When these nations have satiated their unholy lust on God’s people the final result will be like a shepherd who finds only pieces of an attacked and torn animal. There will only be two legs or a piece of an ear, so shall the children of Israel be taken. God as a jilted lover responds with lifting His protection and Egypt and Damascus are loosed on weak defenseless Israel. Israel never got the revelation that God was their refuge and strength. As a final coup de grace, God announces their houses of Ivory shall perish. All of their pride and accumulated possessions will be plundered by Philistia and Egypt.

Thanks for reading today…

Amos Chapter 2 Sunday, Jan 22 2017 

2.1-3 Moab. The genesis of Moab was the same as Ammon (Lot’s daughters), and the result was much the same also. Interesting the view of God; the burning of bones of the King of Edom. God’s judgment is reserved usually for actions toward His people. If this holds true, this would refer to the time Edom was a vassal of Israel after the war involving Joram and Jehoshaphat against Moab. The Moabites dug up the bones of the King of Edom and burned them to add insult to injury. If this is indeed the reference of the prophet, then it clearly shows God is also concerned about the peripheral issues of His people also.

2.4-5 Judah. This is one of the sermons that ingratiated Amos to the socialites of the Northern Kingdom. The long simmering issues with the Southern Nation of Judah were ongoing. To hear a judgment against Judah made these Israelites rejoice and feel smug. Little did they know their sermon was coming soon. Both Israel and Judah had violated the law of God and were equally on God’s radar. Both nations were on a countdown to destruction.

2.6-16 Israel. The joy of judgment on Judah was short lived, for in the next breath, Amos prophecies about Israel. The list of grievous issues is long and detailed. As Amos lists the flagrant violations of God’s law, the heart of the people sank lower and lower. God had reached His breaking point with this Northern Kingdom. The sins of selling out the righteous for money, ignoring the meek (God’s choice in people), sexual impurity, drinking the wine of the condemned, all in juxtaposition to God destroying their enemies, bringing them out of Egypt, raising their sons to be prophets, finally caused God to feel like He was pressed under a cart full of sheaves. The clock had ticked down to the final moment and judgment had arrived. Amos was the voice announcing that moment. There was to be no escape nor deliverance. Omnibus rebus bonis finis est, for all good things there is an end.

Thanks for reading today…

Amos Chapter 1 Saturday, Jan 21 2017 

1.1-2 Amos begins by documenting the moment of his prophecy according to a well known earthquake. This earthquake was also mentioned by Joel and Zechariah. It is a reminder of God’s great power in nature.

1.3-5 Damascus. This capital city of Syria had a long history of cruelty toward Jerusalem. This judgment brought great satisfaction to the Jewish populace of the Northern Kingdom. The phrase for three transgressions and for four is a rhetorical way of saying the offender is guilty of many offenses. The plain of Aven is an area where idolatry was deeply entrenched. The house of Eden (pleasure), probably has reference to the King of Syria’s palace.

1.6-8 Gaza. This prophecy was a prophecy against Philistia as a whole, as it names several cities of that country. Philistia took the whole populace of Israel captive and delivered it to Edom. This is mentioned in Joel 3.3-8. The prophecy that Philistia will be cut off and perish has been fulfilled.

1.9-10 Tyrus. Tyre did not remember the covenant that King Hiram made with David and Solomon. This agreement had been in place for many years and no King of Israel or Judah had ever warred on Phoenicia. Judah honored her side of the treaty but Phoenicia sold the people of Israel to others (Joel 3.4-8). God expects promises to be honored and kept.

1.11-12 Edom. The judgment of Edom is enunciated clearly in the book of Obadiah. Edom pursued his brother Israel with the sword. One of David’s most admired qualities was he never lifted a sword against another Israeli. To fight and betray a brother is a cause of great angst in the heart of God.

1.13-15 Ammon. Long an enemy of Israel and Judah, Amos asserts this evil and wicked nation will meet it’s demise for it’s unspeakable atrocities against God’s people. Beginning in the time of the Judges, through the wars of Hazael the King of Syria, and Sihon the King of the Amorites, the nation of Ammon had ripped up women with child and committed unspeakable cruelties. As punishment their capital was to be burned, the nation put in exile, and their kingdom destroyed. The message of this chapter is clear: God keeps records and will bring every work into judgment.

Thanks for reading today…

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