Thinking on Scripture with Dr. Steven R. Cook

judges

Episodes

Friday Jan 08, 2021

     The Central Idea of the Text is that Israel grieved over the depleted condition of Benjamin, but then acted with a human solution that harmed innocent persons.      The eleven tribes of Israel had made a self-induced vow that none of their daughters should be given to the tribe of Benjamin (Judg. 21:1, 5, 7, 18); subsequently, the eleven tribes grieved the near-destruction of Benjamin (Judg. 21:2, 6), and sought to resolve the problem of how to restore them.  Though they offered sacrifice to God (Judg. 21:3-4), they did not consult Him concerning Benjamin’s restoration (Judg. 21:5-7).  The human solution was to attack Israelites from Jabesh-gilead—who had not participated in the battle—and to destroy all its inhabitants (men, women, and children), and then take the remaining 400 virgin girls and give them as wives to the Benjamites (Judg. 21:8-12), thus reconciling and restoring the tribe (Judg. 21:13-15).  The elders of Israel then considered how to provide wives for the remaining 200 Benjamites who had not been given a wife, while not violating their self-induced vow that they should not give them wives from their children (Judg. 21:16-18).  The human solution was that the Benjamites should kidnap wives for themselves during the time of the annual feast at Shiloh (Judg. 21:19-22), and so they did (Judg. 21:23-24).  The conclusion to the account, as well as the book as a whole, is that “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judg. 21:25).       Sin will always rise—personally and nationally—when God’s word is ignored and His will disobeyed.  The divine solution is always to fear God (Prov. 1:7; 8:13), and this means learning His word and obeying it (Ps. 34:11-14; 119:9-11).  To fear God also means seeking God’s will in every aspect of our lives and not compartmentalizing (Prov. 3:5-7).  The life of faith is often challenging, but the good choices bring stability and blessing. 

Tuesday Jan 05, 2021

     The Central Idea of the Text is that eleven tribes of Israel go to war against the tribe of Benjamin in order to exact justice for the Levite’s concubine who was raped and murdered in Gibeah.      The tribes of Israel—minus Benjamin—gathered to hear the Levite’s account of the rape and killing of his concubine (Judg. 20:1-7), and then decided to take action (Judg. 20:8-11), giving Benjamin the opportunity  give up the offenders, which they refused to do (Judg. 20:12-13).  The result was civil war between eleven tribes of Israel and the Benjamites.  Three times God directed the eleven tribes to fight against Benjamin (Judg. 20:18, 23, 26-28); however, He permitted the Israelites to taste defeat on the first two occasions (40,000 men died), perhaps to discipline them for their pride—because they had excluded God from their lives for many years—and to prompt them to look to Him alone for victory.  Each defeat led the tribes to seek God more humbly and earnestly, to know His will and to have His blessing.  God finally defeated Benjamin for the wickedness of the men they were defending (Judg. 20:35).  25,100 Benjamites were killed (Judg. 20:35), and their city was destroyed (Judg. 20:48).  600 Benjamites survived the battle and hid themselves in the wilderness of Rimmon (Judg. 20:47).      Sometimes God lets us experience defeat in order to break down our pride and to condition us to look to Him in all things and to cast ourselves upon His sustaining grace (Ps. 55:22; 2 Cor. 12:7-10).  Whatever the defeat, we must look to the Lord (Prov. 3:5-6) and accept that He is in sovereign control (Ps. 135:6; Dan. 4:35) and that He is working all things for our benefit (Rom. 8:28; cf. Gen. 50:20).

Tuesday Dec 29, 2020

     The Central Idea of the Text is that a Levite—in order to save himself—sacrificed his concubine to worthless men who gang raped and killed her.      A Levite left Ephraim to persuade his runaway concubine to return home (Judg. 19:1-3).  His father-in-law was glad to see him and entertained him for three days (Judg. 19:4-7).  The Levite eventually left and traveled homeward with his wife, servant, and two donkeys (Judg. 19:8-10).  They could have stayed in Jebus, but traveled on to Gibeah in the tribe of Benjamin (Judg. 19:11-14).  The only display of hospitality in Gibeah was by an old man who brought them into his home and cared for them (Judg. 19:15-21).  Like the story of Sodom, several wicked men came searching for the visitor to sexually assault him, and the old man sought to protect his visitor (Judg. 19:22-23).  However, the old man was willing to throw his daughter and the concubine out to the attackers to save himself and the Levite (Judg. 19:24; cf. Gen. 19:4-8).  The wicked men refused, so the cowardly Levite forced his wife out of the house and into their hands to be raped and abused all night (Judg. 19:25-26).  The next morning the callous Levite gathered his concubine’s body and took her home, then cut her into twelve pieces and sent a portion to the twelve tribes of Israel (Judg. 19:27-29).  “Clearly he did not really love this woman or he would have defended her and even offered himself in her place. His actions speak volumes about his views of women, himself, and God’s will.”[1]  The final verse is a question posed by the Israelites concerning how they would respond to this evil act (Judg. 19:30).      A husband’s love is to be based on the character of God.  For the Christian, he is to love his wife as Christ loves the church and gave Himself for her (Eph. 5:23-29).  The husband is to provide for his wife physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  He is to protect her at all costs, even with his own life if necessary.  The husband is to build his wife up in the Lord, seeking her best at all times.  He is to make his wife feel safe so that she can love him without fear (1 John 4:18).  These values and actions do not guarantee the wife will respond positively.  However, there can be no healthy marital relationship if the husband is not leading with these values and actions.    [1] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible, Jdg 19:22.

Tuesday Dec 29, 2020

     The Central Idea of the Text is that a Levite—in order to save himself—sacrificed his concubine to worthless men who gang raped and killed her.      A Levite left Ephraim to persuade his runaway concubine to return home (Judg. 19:1-3).  His father-in-law was glad to see him and entertained him for three days (Judg. 19:4-7).  The Levite eventually left and traveled homeward with his wife, servant, and two donkeys (Judg. 19:8-10).  They could have stayed in Jebus, but traveled on to Gibeah in the tribe of Benjamin (Judg. 19:11-14).  The only display of hospitality in Gibeah was by an old man who brought them into his home and cared for them (Judg. 19:15-21).  Like the story of Sodom, several wicked men came searching for the visitor to sexually assault him, and the old man sought to protect his visitor (Judg. 19:22-23).  However, the old man was willing to throw his daughter and the concubine out to the attackers to save himself and the Levite (Judg. 19:24; cf. Gen. 19:4-8).  The wicked men refused, so the cowardly Levite forced his wife out of the house and into their hands to be raped and abused all night (Judg. 19:25-26).  The next morning the callous Levite gathered his concubine’s body and took her home, then cut her into twelve pieces and sent a portion to the twelve tribes of Israel (Judg. 19:27-29).  “Clearly he did not really love this woman or he would have defended her and even offered himself in her place. His actions speak volumes about his views of women, himself, and God’s will.”[1]  The final verse is a question posed by the Israelites concerning how they would respond to this evil act (Judg. 19:30).      A husband’s love is to be based on the character of God.  For the Christian, he is to love his wife as Christ loves the church and gave Himself for her (Eph. 5:23-29).  The husband is to provide for his wife physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  He is to protect her at all costs, even with his own life if necessary.  The husband is to build his wife up in the Lord, seeking her best at all times.  He is to make his wife feel safe so that she can love him without fear (1 John 4:18).  These values and actions do not guarantee the wife will respond positively.  However, there can be no healthy marital relationship if the husband is not leading with these values and actions.    [1] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible, Jdg 19:22.

Saturday Dec 26, 2020

     The Central Idea of the Text is that the tribe of Dan desired land beyond what God had allotted to them, and by force stole Micah’s idols and priest, and violently attacked the people of Laish and renamed their city Dan.       The tribe of Dan sent five spies to search for new territory (Judg. 18:1-2) beyond the choice land allotted to them (Josh. 19:40-48) because they had failed to drive out the Amorites who lived there (Judg. 1:34).  The spies encountered Micah’s Levite-priest and asked for divine guidance and received a false blessing (Judg. 18:3-6).  The five men came to the peaceful town of Laish and saw they were ungoverned and unprotected (Judg. 8:7).  After returning home they informed their brethren about their findings and counseled them to attack the city and take possession of the land (Judg. 18:8-12).  Six hundred Danites marched toward Laish, stopping at Micah’s house along the way and stealing his idols (Judg. 18:13-18), and convincing his priest to serve the tribe of Dan (Judg. 18:19-21).  Micah pursued them in protest, but abandoned his efforts when they threatened his life (Judg. 18:22-26).  The six hundred Danite warriors killed the people of Laish and renamed the city Dan (Judg. 18:27-29).  The Danites then set up Micah’s idol and appointed Jonathan as their priest; and so the Danites continued in idolatry until the time of their captivity (Judg. 18:30-31).      Moses had led Israel into a covenant relationship with God which included promised blessing for obedience.  However, Moses’ grandson—Jonathan—led many away from God and into empty idolatry.  Idolatry is the sin of substitution in which we devote ourselves to something or someone in place of God.  Biblically, there is only one God, and He demands that His people worship Him (Ex. 20:3-4).  The exclusive worship of God is for His glory and our benefit.  A physical idol is merely the work of a craftsman (see Isa. 44:9-20).  There is no life in it (Ps. 115:1-8; Jer. 51:17; Hab. 2:18-20), nor can it deliver in times of trouble (Isa. 46:5-7).  From the human perspective, ancient people did not necessarily see the idol as the god itself, but rather as a representation of the god who might reside in, or become attached to the idol.  Micah’s gods were vulnerable to attack and could not protect him (Judg. 18:17-26); later, those same gods would fail the Danites (Judg. 18:30).  From the divine perspective, the worship of idols is the worship of demons (Deut. 32:17), and Israelites who led others into idolatry were to be stoned because they promoted spiritual rebellion among God’s people (Deut. 13:6-11).  “The Danites were the first tribe to establish idolatry publicly in Israel. Perhaps this is why their tribe does not appear in the list of 12 tribes that will each produce 12,000 godly Israelite witnesses during the tribulation period (Rev. 7:5–8).”[1]   [1] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Jdg 18:27.

Saturday Dec 26, 2020

     The Central Idea of the Text is that the tribe of Dan desired land beyond what God had allotted to them, and by force stole Micah’s idols and priest, and violently attacked the people of Laish and renamed their city Dan.       The tribe of Dan sent five spies to search for new territory (Judg. 18:1-2) beyond the choice land allotted to them (Josh. 19:40-48) because they had failed to drive out the Amorites who lived there (Judg. 1:34).  The spies encountered Micah’s Levite-priest and asked for divine guidance and received a false blessing (Judg. 18:3-6).  The five men came to the peaceful town of Laish and saw they were ungoverned and unprotected (Judg. 8:7).  After returning home they informed their brethren about their findings and counseled them to attack the city and take possession of the land (Judg. 18:8-12).  Six hundred Danites marched toward Laish, stopping at Micah’s house along the way and stealing his idols (Judg. 18:13-18), and convincing his priest to serve the tribe of Dan (Judg. 18:19-21).  Micah pursued them in protest, but abandoned his efforts when they threatened his life (Judg. 18:22-26).  The six hundred Danite warriors killed the people of Laish and renamed the city Dan (Judg. 18:27-29).  The Danites then set up Micah’s idol and appointed Jonathan as their priest; and so the Danites continued in idolatry until the time of their captivity (Judg. 18:30-31).      Moses had led Israel into a covenant relationship with God which included promised blessing for obedience.  However, Moses’ grandson—Jonathan—led many away from God and into empty idolatry.  Idolatry is the sin of substitution in which we devote ourselves to something or someone in place of God.  Biblically, there is only one God, and He demands that His people worship Him (Ex. 20:3-4).  The exclusive worship of God is for His glory and our benefit.  A physical idol is merely the work of a craftsman (see Isa. 44:9-20).  There is no life in it (Ps. 115:1-8; Jer. 51:17; Hab. 2:18-20), nor can it deliver in times of trouble (Isa. 46:5-7).  From the human perspective, ancient people did not necessarily see the idol as the god itself, but rather as a representation of the god who might reside in, or become attached to the idol.  Micah’s gods were vulnerable to attack and could not protect him (Judg. 18:17-26); later, those same gods would fail the Danites (Judg. 18:30).  From the divine perspective, the worship of idols is the worship of demons (Deut. 32:17), and Israelites who led others into idolatry were to be stoned because they promoted spiritual rebellion among God’s people (Deut. 13:6-11).  “The Danites were the first tribe to establish idolatry publicly in Israel. Perhaps this is why their tribe does not appear in the list of 12 tribes that will each produce 12,000 godly Israelite witnesses during the tribulation period (Rev. 7:5–8).”[1]   [1] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Jdg 18:27.

Tuesday Dec 22, 2020

     The Central Idea of the Text is that an Israelite named Micah engaged in religious syncretism by blending the worship of Yahweh with the religious cultic practices of the Canaanites.       Micah is introduced as a son who stole a great amount of wealth from his mother.  He returned the wealth fearing the curse she’d uttered on the thief, and was subsequently blessed in the name of Yahweh (Judg. 17:1-2).  Micah’s mother then—in the name of Yahweh—used some of the silver to create a molten image and graven image, which she gave to her son (Judg. 17:3-4).  Micah took the images from his mother and put them in his shrine and made an ephod (perhaps to worship; see Judg. 8:24-27) and more household idols and then ordained his son to be the family priest (Judg. 17:5).  Micah’s house was a type of Israel in his day, in which “every man did what was right in his own eyes” (Judg. 17:6), and all of this was contrary to God’s commands (Exodus 20:4-5; Deut. 27:15).  Micah then welcomed a wandering Levite (Judg. 17:7-10), whom he consecrated to serve as his family priest (Judg. 17:11-12).  This was contrary to Scripture, for only descendants of Aaron could serve as priests, whereas Levites were to serve as priestly assistants (Num. 8:19; 18:1-7).  Micah falsely believed he would have God’s blessing by having a Levitical priest as the leader of his new religion (Judg. 17:13).  This would later prove untrue (see Judg. 18).       Religious syncretism is the blending of the doctrines and practices of two or more religions in order to come up with something new.  In Judges 17 we have the record of a man named Micah who blended the idolatrous practices of the Canaanites with the worship of Yahweh and the end result was a monstrous self-serving religion that promoted spiritual anarchy among God’s people (see Judg. 18).  Under the Mosaic Covenant, the priests and Levites were to instruct and guide God’s people to walk with and serve Him at the tabernacle/temple (Lev. 10:8-11; Deut. 17:9-10; 33:8-10; 2 Chron. 17:7-9; 35:3; Mal. 2:1-7).  Under the New Covenant, pastors & teachers are to instruct and guide Christians to spiritual maturity (Eph. 4:11-16; 2 Tim. 3:16-17), that believers may walk with and serve God in the home (Eph. 5:22-6:9), the local church (Gal. 6:10; Heb. 10:23-25), and to behave godly toward outsiders (Col. 4:5-6; 1 Thess. 4:9-12).  God’s revelation in the Bible makes it clear that there is no room for religious syncretism (Exodus 20:4-5; Deut. 27:15; Matt. 7:13-14; John 14:6; Acts 4:12).  There will always be false teachers among God’s people, and only those who know and live God’s Word will find protection against their false teachings and practices (Deut. 13:1-4; 18:18-22; Acts 20:28-30; 2 Pet. 2:1-3; 1 John 4:1; Rev. 2:2).

Friday Dec 18, 2020

     The Central Idea of the Text is that Samson fell into sin that ultimately led to divine discipline—defeat by the Philistines, gouging out of his eyes, public humiliation, and death—but God used Samson one last time to attack the Philistines, and so God’s will was accomplished through His servant.       It’s not clear why Samson went to Gaza; but once there, he fell into sin and slept with a prostitute.  It was there that the Philistines tried to capture him; but Samson supernaturally tore the gates from the city wall and transported them to an adjacent hill, showing that neither guards nor gates could restrain him (Judg. 16:2-3).  Samson then fell in love with Delilah, but it was a selfish relationship for both of them, born out of lust.  Samson loved games and being promiscuous, and Delilah loved money.  Biblical love is consistent with God and is born out of a virtuous relationship with Him (reflecting His loyalty, goodness, and grace).  Samson was defeated by the woman he loved and was betrayed by her to his enemies.  His spiritual blindness and slavery to immorality preceded his physical blindness and slavery to the Philistines.  Though it was Samson’s failures that resulted in divine discipline (his loss of strength, eyesight, capture and humiliation), it was his turning back to God and crying out to Him that resulted in one final heroic act.  In the end, Samson wanted to die, and God enabled him to end his life while also giving him one last opportunity to serve as a judge and defeat Israel’s enemy.      Samson is a complex character who simultaneously displays the characteristics of a righteous person (in judging Israel) as well as a sinner (pursuing fleshly desires).  However, God sovereignly worked through Samson’s strengths and weaknesses to accomplish His will.  Samson served the Lord and did His will (Heb. 11:32), but his poor choices of worldly companions and lifestyle (1 Cor. 15:33) led to divine discipline and eventual death (Heb. 12:5-11).  Throughout his life Samson appears to be a type of Israel in that he had a special calling from God (Judg. 13:7; Deut. 7:6-8), was blessed by God (Judg. 13:24; Deut. 2:7), had godly supervision (Judg. 14:3; Deut. 6:1-2), and was led by the Lord to defeat the enemy (Judg. 13:25; 14:6, 19; Deut. 20:3-4), yet he squandered his calling by following his sinful passions and turning away from God (Judg. 14:3; 16:1, 4; cf. Judg. 2:11; 3:12; 4:1; 6:1; 10:6; 13:1).       God uses us, even with all our imperfections and failings, and should we fail terribly and suffer divine discipline, there is still hope for ministry if we’ll humble ourselves and seek the Lord (Judg. 16:26-30; cf. Ps. 51:6-13).  Christian ministry is always hindered to the degree we choose to operate by fleshly desires and worldly values.  God is very gracious and tolerant, but does not leave unpunished those who repeatedly defy Him (Heb. 12:5-11).  Effective Christians are those who learn God’s Word (2 Tim. 2:15; 1 Pet. 2:2), live God’s will (Jam. 1:22), and advance to spiritual maturity (2 Tim. 3:16-17). 

Tuesday Dec 15, 2020

     The Central Idea of the Text is that God continued to work through Samson to cause disruption between the Philistines and Israelites.       After the conflict with the Philistines during the wedding feast (Judg. 14:12-20), Samson returned to claim his wife, only to find her father had given her to another man (Judg. 15:1-2).  Samson was so outraged that he felt revenge was justified (Judg. 15:3), so he burned the crops of the Philistines (Judg. 15:4-5).  The Philistines then killed Samson’s wife and her father, perhaps because they were easier targets (Judg. 15:6).  Samson retaliated again and killed an untold number (Judg. 15:7-8).  The Philistines prepared for war and camped in Judah, and this caused great alarm among the Israelites (Judg. 15:9-10).  3000 Judahites came to Samson upset that he had caused disruption between them and the Philistines and sought to deliver him over to death (Judg. 15:11-13).  When the Philistines saw Samson bound, they shouted a victory cry over him, but the Spirit of the Lord empowered Samson, and with a fresh jawbone of a donkey he killed a thousand men (Judg. 15:14-16).  Afterward he named the battlefield Jawbone Hill (Judg. 15:17).  God then provided Samson with the natural resources he needed to restore his physical and mental health (Judg. 15:18-19).      God had originally called the Israelites to take the land by force (Deut. 7:1-6), yet the Israelites in Samson’s day had disobeyed the Lord and turned to idols, so God was punishing them for forty years (Judg. 13:1).  The Lord brought about Samson’s birth to begin Israel’s deliverance (Judg. 13:5), but the task would later be completed by Samuel and David (1 Sam. 7:10-14; 2 Sam. 5:17-25).  The sinful state of the Israelites kept them from seeing Samson as God’s deliverer, and their spiritual darkness produced in them a misplaced anger at Samson for upsetting the Philistines.  They sided with the enemy rather than God’s judge, preferring wrong-slavery to freedom.       Christians should strive for peace with everyone (Rom. 12:18; 14:19; Heb. 12:14), but never when it means forfeiting God’s will (Dan. 3:16-18; 6:1-10; Acts 5:27-29; 1 Pet. 4:14-16).  The believer with spiritual integrity will stand with God, even when other believers choose friendship with the world.  Having spiritual integrity means being consistent with God; it means knowing and choosing His will above self-interest, and calling wayward believers to do the same.  We need Christians with integrity.

Friday Dec 11, 2020

     The Central Idea of the Text is that God used Samson’s fleshly desires as an occasion to provoke the Philistines.       Samson appears as one who desires to satisfy his flesh with women (Judg. 14:1-4; cf. 16:1, 4), food (vss. 14:8-9), games (vs. 14:12), and clothing (vs. 14:13).  He sought to marry an unbelieving Philistine woman (Judg. 14:3), and this was contrary to Scripture (Deut. 7:1-4; cf. 2 Cor. 6:14-16).  Samson was a strong-willed child who pushed to get his way, little did he know his new Philistine wife would prove pushy too (Judg. 14:16-17).  God used Samson’s strong will and sinful choices as an occasion to cause disruption between the Philistines and Israelites (Judg. 13:4-5; 14:6, 19).  Samson probably felt emboldened when the Spirit of God gave him superhuman strength to kill a lion that attacked him at a vineyard (Judg. 14:5-6).  It is possible Samson broke two parts of his Nazarite vow by touching a dead carcass and drinking wine (Judg. 14:8-10).  Scripture reveals it was the cutting his hair that caused the Spirit of the Lord to depart from him (Judg. 16:17-20; cf. 13:5).  At the wedding feast Samson gave a riddle and promised a payment of clothes to thirty of his wedding guests (Judg. 14:12-14).  When the guests could not answer the riddle, they threatened Samson’s wife and family (Judg. 14:15).  Rather than go to her new husband about the problem, she sought to handle it herself, believing the threat of her countrymen was greater than Samson’s ability to protect.  Samson’s wife wore him down through repeated weeping and accusations of hating her (Judg. 14:16-17).  Samson broke and gave her the answer to his riddle, which she then revealed to her people, who demanded payment (Judg. 14:18).  Samson—in anger—killed thirty Philistines in the city of Ashkelon in order to pay his debt (Judg. 14:19).  Samson lost his wife when he left Timnah and returned home to his family (Judg. 14:20).       God desires we walk with Him and obey His will (Prov. 3:5-6); however, His sovereign plans are never threatened or defeated by human failures, as He can providentially include sinful actions to accomplish His plans (see Acts 2:22-24; 4:27-28).  Human desires are not wrong, as long as we don’t become like beasts which live only by their desires (Ps. 32:8-9; 73:21-22).

Tuesday Dec 08, 2020

     The Central Idea of the Text is that God revealed to Manoah and his wife that they would have a son who would help to begin the defeat the Philistines (Judg. 13:5).      Manoah’s wife was barren and could not have children (like Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Hannah, and Elizabeth).  God intervened to provide a son—Samson—that He would use to accomplish His will among His people.  Samson had a divine calling from birth (Judg. 13:2-25), as did Jeremiah (Jer. 1:5), John the Baptist (Luke 1:13-17), and the apostle Paul (Gal. 1:15-16).  Samson fought against the Philistines, who were later defeated by Samuel (1 Sam. 7:10-14), and David (2 Sam. 5:17-25).  Samson was a contemporary with Jephthah and Samuel.      Samson was called to be a Nazarite from birth until death (Judg. 13:7).  The Nazarite vow was normally a voluntary consecration to God which required abstaining from wine, cutting one’s hair, and not touching a dead body (Num. 6:2-6).  Abstaining from wine would have cleared the mind for biblical thinking, leaving the hair uncut was a public declaration that one had taken the Nazarite vow, and not touching a corpse would have kept one ceremonially clean for worship.       Manoah requested to know his son’s future vocation, perhaps to prepare Samson for his future work (Judg. 13:12).  God refused Manoah’s request, but restated the original instruction concerning his wife’s diet during her time of pregnancy (Judg. 13:4, 7, 13-14).  Manoah and his wife both came to realize they’d had a personal encounter with God (Judg. 13:20-21); however, their responses were different.  Manoah responded with irrational fear, believing they would die (Judg. 13:22), but his wife corrected his thinking with a biblical-rational response in order to allay his fears (Judg. 13:23).       Though much of Samson’s life is marked by carnality, he also obeyed God, and this resulted in his being recorded among God’s faithful (Heb. 11:32).  We learn from Scripture that God often calls the weak to accomplish His will in the world (1 Cor. 1:26-29); however, a divine call does not guarantee spiritual success (Jam. 4:17), as each believer must choose to walk with God (Gal. 5:16-17), and to obey His will (Rom. 6:11-13).  Spiritual success depends on biblical obedience.

Wednesday Dec 02, 2020

     The Central Idea of the Text is that Jephthah and the Gileadites fought against the Ephraimites and killed 42,000 men.  Subsequent to Jephthah, God raised Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon as judges in Israel.        The Ephraimites possessed a strange jealousy that influenced them to quarrel with others.  They had previously argued with Gideon after he had defeated the Midianites (Judg. 8:1-2), and now they contended with Jephthah after he had defeated the Ammonites (Judg. 11:32-33), claiming they had not been called to help fight in the battle and threatening to destroy Jephthah’s home (Judg. 12:1).  Jephthah reports he had called them for help, but they refused (Judg. 12:2-3).  The Ephraimites then spoke condescendingly to the Gileadites, accusing them of being fugitives from the tribe of Ephraim (Judg. 12:4).  Jephthah could have overlooked the personal insults hurled at him by the Ephraimites (Prov. 19:11), but the threat of attack against his family necessitated self-defense.  The jealous and hostile Ephraimites picked a fight with Jephthah and the Gileadites and the conflict cost Ephraim 42,000 lives (Judg. 12:4-6).  Arrogant people often refuse to recognize their faults and will resort to violence—either physical or verbal—rather than admit their failings.      After the death of Jephthah, three minor judges are listed: Ibzan (Judg. 12:8-10), Elon (Judg. 12:11-12), and Abdon (Judg. 12:13-15).  These are classified as minor judges because we know so little about them.  The other minor judges listed in the book of Judges are Tola (10:1-2), Jair (10:3-5), and Shamgar (3:31).       The judges were successful in many ways because they were obedient to the task that the Lord assigned to them.  Though the judges were successful and worthy of praise (see Heb. 11:32-34), they were also sinful men who were susceptible to the pagan values and lifestyles promoted by their surrounding culture (i.e. idolatry, polygamy, dynastic ambitions, etc.).       Among God’s people we observe both righteous and sinful behavior.  This is because we have two natures that simultaneously pull us in antithetical directions (Rom. 7:15-21; Rom. 13:14; Gal. 5:16-17; Eph. 4:22-24; Col. 3:8-10).  We are born with a sinful nature which has a natural affinity for Satan’s values and world-system and which is never eradicated during our time on earth (Prov. 20:9; Jer. 17:9; Ps. 130:3; 1 John 1:8).  All believers sin (1 Ki. 8:46; Eccl. 7:20; Isa. 53:6; Jam. 3:2; 1 John 1:10).  However, as born-again believers (John 3:3; 1 Pet. 1:3, 23), we also have a new nature that desires to serve God and to walk with Him (Ps. 1:2; 40:8; Rom. 7:21-23; 2 Cor. 4:16; 1 John 2:29; 3:9).  Walking with God means He is regularly in our thoughts (Rom. 12:1-2; Col. 3:16-17), that His Word saturates our thinking (2 Tim. 2:15; 3:16-17; 1 Pet. 2:2; 2 Pet. 3:18), that we apply His Word (Matt. 7:24-27; Jam. 1:22; 4:17), that we are open and honest with Him (1 Jo. 1:5-7), and that we make every effort to please Him through a life of faith (2 Cor. 5:9; Heb. 11:6).  Over time, His qualities become our qualities, and the fruit of the Spirit is manifest in us (Gal. 5:22-23).

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