Judges Chapter 21 Saturday, Feb 25 2017 

21.1-23 the preservation of Benjamin. Only the omnipotent God can maintain the balance of judgment and mercy. To judge this horrible sin yet maintain the mercy upon the tribe of Benjamin is truly a balancing act of God. We see here how He excels in it while guiding men through their own conscience to find a way to accomplish this balance. The bloodlust of Israel recedes quickly, and the result of the carnage is humbling. It appears even the women and children were massacred, for there are only 600 men left. It appears justice overshot the mark. One concubine-wife was killed in the beginning, and in return every married woman of Jabesh Gilead was slain. Only the virgins were spared. This provided wives for 400 men of Benjamin, but not all the men of this tribe. The solution they provided was to kidnap young women who danced at the celebration of the feast of Jehovah. This is probably the feast of tabernacles or the passover. These young maidens were paying tribute to Miriam and the dance of victory at the Red Sea.

21.24-25 conclusion. It is difficult to sum up 450 years in a short concise paragraph. These leaders performed feats never equaled in world history. They were military leaders as well as civil leaders. Their personalities and accomplishments are quite diverse. They preserved the way of life given them by the first generation of emigrant Israelis. The history here recorded covers every section of the promised land. The story of Judges is footnoted and amended in the short book that follows, the book of Ruth. Judges gives us the view into human hearts without the leadership of God. This theme is bridged into the Book of Samuel where Samuel, the last judge, transitions into the Monarchy. Judges does not end as per se. It transitions into the next phase of Biblical history, the 450 years of kings and one queen. Was this period of time a success or failure? It was both. The success is the nation survived the wars of seven other nations stronger than they were. The nation is preserved. The failure is the sinister actions of man without leadership. This era of every man doing that which was right in his own eyes stand as a sentinel of warning to every future generation. Mankind must have leadership. Without God, mankind sinks to austere levels of inhumanity.

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Judges Chapter 20 Friday, Feb 24 2017 

20.1-16 the evidence. This entire story is horrible beyond comprehension. There is the Levite who could have divorced the concubine under the law but chose to reconcile. There is the concubine who played the whore. Then the Levite surrenders her to the sons of Belial. These men were worthless and evil. This title of Belial is later given to Satan himself. The leaders of the tribes investigate the charge and the evidence. The decision is made this cannot go unchallenged. The tribe of Benjamin is asked to give up the offenders. Benjamin refuses for reasons we cannot fathom.

20.17-48 There is a very detailed account of this battle. When God places exact details in the scripture it behooves us to pay attention. We are privy to their attitude, to their plans, and to their prudence by having these details. Like an archaeological find this provides us with understanding of their time. This is easier to understand when we realize this occured at the beginning of the time of the Judges. This particular mobilization of the tribes was not long after they had done this numerous times to invade the land. Had this event happened at the end of the four hundred and fifty years the assembling of the tribes might not have happened. The men of Israel follow the same customs of war they used in the invasion and conquest of Palestine. They killed the inhabitants and burned the cities. Ten percent of the army of Israel fell in the first two days of combat. The tribe of Benjamin comes very close to being obliterated. In the providence of God, a remnant of Benjamin is preserved so the first King of Israel and the greatest Missionary of all time will arrive in due time. If Benjamin had been wiped out there would have been no King Saul and no Paul the Apostle. Much of the unseen future was riding on this battle in the beginning of the days of the Judges. 

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Judges Chapter 19 Thursday, Feb 23 2017 

19.1-21 the concubine. The subject of concubines is a difficult one for the western mind to grasp. Why was this allowed? Is it ok today? Why a concubine and not a wife? The first consideration is there were no provisions for a woman if she was without support of father, family, or husband. She had no social assistance to turn to. Secondly, due to wars and their prevalence there was usually more women in the society than men. This left women without any means of support. She was left with the option of being a harlot or prostitute, or becoming a concubine. A concubine had no wedding dowry to give her husband. God did not institute this way of life any more than He did slavery. What God did in the Old Testament was regulate the social customs of that historical era to provide fairness and equity. This was why the social institution of concubines existed in that day and not today. Today we have provisions for women and children who are destitute. A concubine in some ways was not the equal of a wife for no dowry had been provided. In other ways a concubine was equal in being supported and provided for as we see in the 12 tribes of Israel. In this chapter the concubine of a Levite is abused and therefore falls under the same consideration as a wife because protection was provided for concubines. The ensuing battle and it’s consequences would not be different if she had been a wife of the Levite. 

19.22-30 This event transpires early in the book of Judges because Phinehas is the high priest (20.28), so this event occurred soon after the death of Joshua. This chapter records the crime, chapter 20 records the war that resulted, and chapter 21 is the preservation of the tribe of Benjamin from complete extinction. This is supported by the fact the entire nation goes to war and this is the only time in the entire book we know of this happening. Therefore, the sin was egregious and was offensive to every man in Israel. This crime touched a nerve so deep in every man that every tribe mobilized for war. Eventually 65,000 men will die over this issue. This totals more casualties than all the wars of the seven nations combined. The inner war of Israel between her own tribes killed more than the wars fought against the heathen nations. The enemy within is more dangerous than the enemy without.

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Judges Chapter 18 Wednesday, Feb 22 2017 

18.1 Dan. This interlude sets forth an important principal. It shows the consequences of not being satisfied with your inheritance. The tribe of Dan was not content with what had been given to them. They were in the west toward the south. They chose to abandon what God had allocated them and choose a new inheritance. The consequences of this is the removal of any legacy of Dan in the rest of the Bible. One descendant is mentioned as helping in the construction of the temple. In Revelation when the 12 tribes are listed, Dan has been eliminated. This concept was being highlighted by the anointing spirit upon the writer of Judges. The consequences of not being satisfied with your inheritance is you will be removed from the people of God.

18.2-12 It is at the house of Micah with his hired priest that Dan gets religious approval for his journey to destruction. The approval of a priest does not always signify the approval of God. Sadly, Dan and all his future posterity are cursed by trusting a religious voice that was not ordained by God. The result was Dan was removed from any inheritance because he disdained the inheritance God allocated him.

18.13-30 Having been given religious approval, the tribe of Dan now feels justified to proceed. As they make the move to oblivion, they stop long enough to force the hired priest to join their rebellion, for he has sanctioned it. Dan takes the gods of Micah and indentures the hired priest. The priest confiscates the gods and ephod that are not his, and joins Dan’s rebellion. When Micah pleads for restoration, he is scorned. The writer of Judges is showing all future generations what the heart of man is capable of when true religion is cast aside. Once Dan has relocated, he sets up his false image and puts his hired priests in place. Rebellion has birthed idolatry. Murder and mayhem have now been given religious sanction. This is the DNA of rebellion and idolatry. Every man doing what is right in his own eyes.

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Judges Chapter 17 Tuesday, Feb 21 2017 

17.1 The book of Judges is unique in this section of the remaining chapters. These five chapters are an appendix, a summation, and an overview of the times. They reveal the core of the people in this era, and reveal it’s subsequent consequences. Things start here that take a thousand years to eradicate. The events in this book are difficult to place on a timeline. Some postulate they are in sequence. Another view places them in geographical settings, beginning in the north with Deborah, moving to the center with Gideon, then the east with Jephthah, and finally the west with Samson. None of the judges ruled over the entire 12 tribes, all of them were regional at best. The major theme is there was no king in those days and every man did that which was right in his own eyes. Ultimately this was disastrous. In the mix of failure and idolatry there were those who never compromised. Boaz in the book of Ruth, is an example of a faithful man in the midst of wholesale departure from truth. Spiritual compromise always leads to moral corruption. 

17.2-13 the genesis of idolatry. This introduces us to the DNA of idolatry. How did a people with such a magnificent beginning end up being entangled with idols for a thousand years? The introduction of image worship, and the final story of Israel warring against each other, are the two major points in these last five chapters. Woven into these are the tribe of Dan moving from it’s inheritance in the south to the north. Micah attempts to put a religious spin on his idolatrous image by inviting a Levite to be his priest. This proves to ultimately be the most damning part of Israel’s idolatry. Israel tried to blend her religion with other religions. This is always more reprehensible in the eyes of God. The wandering Levite gets hired as a personal priest to Micah. This is a complete reversal in every way of the purpose of the tribe of Levi. The tribe of Levi was to serve the entire nation as priests, and their inheritance of tithe and offering supported them. The spirit of God is writing for all future generations to see the result of man made religion. The new Testament speaks of pure religion in James 1.27. It uses the term undefiled. The universal failure of man is always manifested in his attempt to improve on what God has set in place. The result? Spoiled, defiled, religion. It reeks of a single drop of poison in a fresh clear glass of water. James says this kind of religion is vain, empty and profitless. This type of religion produces what occurs in the next chapters of Judges. Mayhem, murder and molestation rule the land.

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Judges Chapter 16 Monday, Feb 20 2017 

16.1-3 the harlot and the gates of Gaza. This is one of the moments of Samson’s life that perplexes us. We see his low moments and then quickly he turns and achieves an inhuman feat. He stays with the harlot until midnight, then rips the gates of the city which weigh an incredible weight right off the wall, and carries them 38 miles uphill to Hebron. Our minds struggle with this. How? Why? How can he go from such wrong to such right so quickly? The harlot is the second woman involving Samson, the third will be Delilah. We are left to wonder what the outcome might have been had Samson been connected to a godly woman like Deborah. Is the midnight hour significant here? Many momentous events happen at midnight in the Bible. Why did he awaken? Why did he rip the gates off? Why carry them so far away? All these bizarre connections cause us to wonder. One suggestion is the foreshadowing of the coming of Jesus Christ who would assail the very gates of hell and free the captives from Abraham’s bosom. Ps 24.7 “Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in”. Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory.

16.4-22 Delilah. History has offered us a few women who are infamous worldwide. Delilah joins the likes of Jezebel and Cleopatra for universal recognition. Her name is synonymous with treachery. We again muse what Samson saw in her. All three women he was connected with were Philistines, and all three showed no love for him. To Delilah, Samson was a cash cow who would fatten her purse by 5,500 pieces of silver. Delilah was a gold digger. It is a mystery to us that Samson could not ever see through his relationships and see the deceit. Was God trying to illustrate to Israel how they were treating Him? Israel, God’s chosen wife, was not promising to be much better than Samson’s choices. Israel was selling God out for grain. Israel also turned to the five lords of the Philistines for rewards, and sold their deliverer out as well by turning to idols. The life portrait here is being painted on a living canvas for Israel to see. Before we indict Delilah, we should always inventory our own heart to insure we are not guilty of the same actions. 

16.23-31 Samson’s death. Samson was now blind. Actually, he had been spiritually blind all along. The deliverer of Israel is out of sight for a while, but when he returns it is with great victory. The victory at Samson’s death is one of the great Old Testament moments. The shadow of this moment reaches all the way to the coming of our deliverer. Jesus is away for a while, but our deliverer will come again and when He does the whole house of the Philistines (the wicked) will fall. Samson, the lone wolf deliverer, brings his greatest victory at his death. Jesus Christ, our great deliverer, brought His greatest victory at His death on Calvary.

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Judges Chapter 15 Saturday, Feb 18 2017 

15.1-5 the foxes. Time had passed and the anger of Samson had waned. To reconcile with his wife he takes a gift and goes to see her. This altercation is to be the launchpad of one of his most heroic feats. His father in law has given his wife to another so Samson seeks revenge. Whether he caught jackals (which run in groups) or foxes (which are solitary), it is an amazing feat. These animals are numerous in Palestine and are mentioned several places in the scriptures. Probably at nightfall Samson sends these animals with fire tied to their tails into the Shefala of Philistia. The Shefala is the plain of Philistia where their corn was grown and was on the border of Dan and Judah. This was a fertile plain where much corn was grown. The fire spread to the vineyards and olive groves. The Philistines were getting some of the same medicine they had doled out to Israel. It is apropos that Samson’s wife revealed the riddle to avoid being burned with fire, and she ultimately ends up suffering that exact judgment at the hands of her countrymen. So often the thing we give up to appease unrighteousness, comes back to be our defeat.

15.6-20 This event gave birth to an even greater heroic event. The angry Philistines seek to kill Samson and he has a running battle with them and defeats them. Samson is unique as a judge in that he is never a general or leads an army. The other judges mostly led armies. He could not lead men any more than he could control his own desires. Samson flees to a fortified place called the rock of Etam. It is here in the place of the falcon or hawk (etam), that Samson’s most famous victory occurs. Judah sends 3,000 men to seek the cause of the problem and they leave Samson to fight alone. Judah sells him out to save themselves. Judah binds him and delivers Samson to the Philistines. It is of note that Samson was not recognized by his own brethren as a deliverer. The refrain of Samson in verse 16 concerning heap upon heaps indicates a running battle of sorts. It appears the Philistines began to flee and Samson pursued and left more than one heap of dead enemies. It has been debated if it was a literal 1000 men or if this number represents a great multitude. The word is used over 500 times and almost universally means a literal number. The law of Hermeneutics would dictate if it can be literal, it is literal. This jawbone today would be enshrined in a museum somewhere, but Samson casts it away. The power was not in the bone but rather in the benevolence of the Lord. He names the place Enhakhore the fountain of one calling. He is still listed as judging Israel 20 years and is listed in Hebrews 11 as a hero of faith, even though he was a lone wolf judge.

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Judges Chapter 14 Friday, Feb 17 2017 

14.1-10 Samson’s bride. The ways of God sometimes befuddle us. The achieving of His purpose, and the means in which he does it, at times baffles us. One thing is for sure, God does nothing by reaction. He knows where every situation is headed. Howbeit, there are times he uses people’s choices to achieve an end he desires. Samson’s life is a lesson in how self will is a tragic way of life. God does not allow Samson’s defects and failures to abort His divine purpose. Timnath lay just across the frontier border, and the moment of Samson’s marriage is a lesson in not marrying someone who is a Philistine. This marriage was trouble from the start. An unholy marriage pulls you down to levels you would not go otherwise. This is illustrated in Samson violating two of his three Nazarite vows. He touched a dead animal and attended a drinking feast. The New Testament is clear in teaching marriage should only be in the Lord. 

14.11-20 the riddle. The riddles of life are always born of our failures. The why’s of our life never center on when we obeyed. It is the dark moments and our weak moments that cause us riddles. This riddle was drawn from Samson breaking his vow. His vow hid the riddle from the 30 men who were trying to figure it out. He did not touch dead things, so they never mentally went there. This principal is the fountain of guilt and shame on all men. The secret failures that no one observes provide the riddles of life we cannot solve.

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Judges Chapter 13 Thursday, Feb 16 2017 

13.1 Samson. Few Characters in or out of the Holy Scriptures are as polarizing as Samson. From the amazing events surrounding his birth, to his Nazarite vow, to his ill fated marriage, to his incredible superhuman feats, and finally to his death, he captures our imagination. We are as fascinated with him as the Philistines were. His deeds of incredible strength and his bouts of weakness mesmerize us. There is no one like him anywhere in the Bible. The secular world has heard of him and is one of the very few universal known personalities outside the Bible. His larger than life persona also carries those associated with him along with him. Who would have ever heard of Delilah? She would be just another unknown loose floosie except she met Samson. At the end Samson does not die quietly in old age as many famous people of the Bible. His death is like his life, explosive to the very last moment. Yet, he is enshrined in the hall of faith of Hebrews chapter 11. Samson is a quirk of great spiritual moments and the lowest lows a man can go. No life in the Bible better portrays the nation of Israel more aptly. Samson reflects his times. Incredible victories then paralyzing failures. He is the last judge presented. Possibly this is because he is the summation of this era more than any other individual. He was a product of this time when every man did that which was right in his own eyes. His life is laid bare for us to see the result of this 450 year period where God showed man that man cannot rule himself. The greatest revelation of life is we all have a little of Samson in us.

13.2- (the western region). This section deals with the last region mentioned. The north, central, and east areas have all been documented and now we learn of the western region. The judge raised up for this is Samson. As with the other regions, the judge himself is detailed in their life qualities. This information is about the region as well as the person. The gentle faith and overall spiritual tone of the north is embodied in Deborah. The timid, fearful faith of the central is reflected in Gideon. The reckless brash faith of the east is seen clearly in Jephthah and his vow. And now the insipid faith of the west will be made clear by this unique judge.

13.3-5 the parents of Samson. This woman is barren. Just like the western region is barren. She needs a divine miracle as does this region. A special vow is needed to jump start this area of banal faith. So God provides. Samson is an announced son. The answer to her barrenness is to live a dedicated separated life and to guide her child in the same direction. This is also what this region needed. This region had succumbed to the deities of the Philistines. This region needed inner consecration and it needed to pass that on to the next generation.

13.6-11 Manoah. This is an example that there were people all around that had held on to their faith. Another example was Boaz. Manoah seems to be a Godly man who is ready to follow a spiritual leader, even his own son. These two people present the value of godly parents and how their children can affect nations for God.

13.12-20 the angel. This sequence of events is captivating. Manoah having conversation with an angel, and not knowing it was an angel. The angel patiently waiting for them. The refused food, then the ascension in the flame. This would nail down any future doubts about Samson when his life became erratic. God was giving this couple the absolute assurance Samson was a called deliverer for all the coming moments when his actions might cause them to wonder.

13.21-25 Samson grows. The economy of words in the Bible frustrates us at times. We would love to be privy to some of the things Samson was doing in those early years when the spirit of the Lord moved upon him. We are left to wonder at the marvel of the moment when his parents first saw this phenomenon. The exchanged glances between them, the arched eyebrows. They at times must have stood slack jawed at what they saw. It is very possible this is why they did not object more strenuously when he asked for a Philistine bride. We are reminded, the angel of the Lord did no more appear to them. Every life reaction on their part had to be based on that initial angelic visit. We are left to wonder how many times did they wish for one more visit. 

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Judges Chapter 12 Wednesday, Feb 15 2017 

12.1-7 Jephthah and Ephraim. As is so often, the question arises, why? Why is this interlude placed in the scriptures? We know all scripture is given by inspiration and is profitable. What is the lesson here for the next 35 centuries? First there is the attitude of Ephraim that surfaces more than once in their history. They seemed to be easily offended and always seeking issue if they were not promoted. This proclivity is not indigent to Ephraim. It is common among many people. It is born of a deep insecurity. It fosters jealousy and strife. In this case, it ultimately cost Ephraim 42,000 men. Jephthah tried to appease with words as he had with the King of Ammon. These same Ephraimites had also fussed with Gideon in the same manner. Ephraim wanted preeminence without sacrifice. This is the second lesson from this interlude. If you want the glory then do not sit and wait for the battle to come to you. Leadership is won, not inherited.

12.8-15 Ibizan, Elon, and Abdon. These judges are similar to Tola and Jair. There are no deeds mentioned. It appears from the arrangement of the text, these were the successors of Jephthah. This would mean their leadership was in the east as was Jephthah’s. These judges ruled for about 25 years. There appears to be no notable events in this period of time, or none that the Holy Spirit feels provides a life lesson for the following generations.

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