February 12, 2019

JUDGES 7-11    


Focus Verses For Today: Judges 10:10-16


Take a few minutes to pray for God’s guidance and for His wisdom to be granted to you as our journey for today takes us through Judges 7-11.  Now take some time and read Judges 7-11.  The journey begins!  


Judges 7 picks up where chapter 6 left off.  Gideon is preparing to engage the Midianites in war.  The story begins with God sending all but 300 of Gideon’s 25,000 soldiers home.  Only the 300 soldiers God had chosen were go to battle with the Midianites.  Why?  Because God wanted to make it perfectly clear to the Israelites, and His enemies the Midianites, the enemies of His people Israel, that He waged the war against and defeated the Midianites and not 300 Jewish soldiers.  


Judges 8 begins with the Ephraimites upset at Gideon for not asking them to join the battle sooner.  Gideon chose not to tell the Ephraimites he was following God’s instructions.  Why?  He told the Ephraimites that they would receive the credit for winning the battle because they captured killed Kings Oreb and Zeeb.  Gideon and his soldiers chased down and killed Kings Zebah and Zalmunna ending this war.  Take a closer look at verse 24, especially the parenthesized part: And he said, “I do have one request, that each of you give me an earring from your share of the plunder.” (It was the custom of the Ishmaelites to wear gold earrings.)  The people whom Gideon battled were descendant’s of Ishmael, the son of Abraham, by Hagar.  


Judges 9 tells of how Abimelek plotted and killed his 70 brothers, son’s of Gideon, to take control of Jerub-Baal’s (Gideon)  possessions.  Jothan was the only son of Gideon to survive the massacre.  The brothers were all killed the same day, on the same rock.  Please notice, God does not allow Abimelek to go unpunished for his sin.  Isn’t it interesting that a woman atop a tower, dropping a millstone atop Abimelek’s head brought his demise.  After being struck by the stone - fearing he would be known for dying at the hands of a woman - Abimelek asked his armor bearer to kill him.  The armor bearer complied.  Upon Abimelek’s death, the warring ceased and everyone went home.  


Chapter 10 begins stating that Israel was blessed with two Judges faithful to God, Tola and Jair, after Abimelek’s demise.  Combined both Judges governed Israel for a period of 45 peace-filled years.  After the death of Jair, the Israelites turned to false gods, which leads to our focus verses of the day:


Then the Israelites cried out to the Lord, “We have sinned against you, forsaking our God and serving the Baals.” 11The Lord replied, “When the Egyptians, the Amorites, the Ammonites, the Philistines, 12the Sidonians, the Amalekites and the Maonites oppressed you and you cried to me for help, did I not save you from their hands?  13But you have forsaken me and served other gods, so I will no longer save you.  14Go and cry out to the gods you have chosen.  Let them save you when you are in trouble!” 15But the Israelites said to the Lord, “We have sinned.  Do with us whatever you think best, but please rescue us now.” 16Then they got rid of the foreign gods among them and served the Lord.  And he could bear Israel’s misery no longer.  (Judges 10:10-16, NIV)


Even though God’s chosen people repeatedly forsake Him; He cannot forsake them.  


Judges 11 is a story of restoration amidst tragedy.  Jephthah a man rejected even though his father was Gilead.  All his brothers were born by the same mother, Gilead’s wife.  Jephthah was born of a prostitute.  Apparently he was a tough: capable of serious violence against his enemies.  The people of Gilead need someone like him to lead them against the Amorites and other descendants of Ishmael.  Jephthah agrees, providing he will be made ruler of Gilead if he is successful.  Jephthah makes a vow to God that if the Lord allows him to be victorious, that the first thing he sees coming through his door when he returns home, he will sacrifice as a burnt offering to the Lord.  The Lord allowed Jephthah to be victorious.  The first thing Jephthah saw coming from his door was his daughter: his only child.  Can you imagine how he felt?  The Bible says he honored his vow to the Lord.  In fact she seemed to understand and accept the consequences of her father’s vow.  We will revisit this.


It is time to meditate and reflect on what we covered today.  Notice the Ishmaelite's have become Israel’s enemy.  This is the sad result of Sarah trying to accomplish God’s promise in a manner and time frame that she understood.  “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Genesis 18:14a, NIV)  Jephthah is rejected and ostracized by his brothers and the people of Gilead because he was the son of a prostitute who serviced Gilead.  Gilead was respected in his community.  Jephthah, Gilead’s son, had no respect in his father’s community.  When trouble came to Gilead, the Gileadites sought out Jephthah for his military skills to protect them.  Was Jephthah thinking when he made the vow to God?  


There are two principle theories posed by Bible scholars as to what happened with Jephthah’s daughter.  One is that she was offered as a burnt offering .  The other is that she was to remain a virgin for her entire life.  Take out your journals if you are journaling!  If you are contemplating, warm up your brain!  Write, or contemplate, what you think happened, by the text.  Think to the characteristics of God.  Write what you think.  Leaving you with a difficult assignment today!  Godspeace!


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