Category Archives: Judges

Judges 19-21; Mark 16

Now in those days Israel had no king (Judges 19:1a, NLT).

These are the opening words to a tragedy. A story that ends with this:

25 In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes (Judges 21:25, NLT).


The tragic story in Judges 19-21 didn’t begin when the troublemakers of Gibeah beat on an old man’s door.

22 While they were enjoying themselves, a crowd of troublemakers from the town surrounded the house. They began beating at the door and shouting to the old man, “Bring out the man who is staying with you so we can have sex with him” (Judges 19:22, NLT).

It began here:

There was a man from the tribe of Levi living in a remote area of the hill country of Ephraim. One day he brought home a woman from Bethlehem in Judah to be his concubine. 2 But she became angry with him and returned to her father’s home in Bethlehem (Judges 19:1b-2, NLT).

Whatever happened between them, I don’t know. But something happened, and she reacted. Likely, he didn’t count the cost of his actions. Surely, she didn’t count the cost of her actions. Catastrophe starts small, with an unchecked thought, word or action.

I sit with words, watching a scene unfold, grimacing at the abandonment (a host abandoning his daughter; a husband abandoning his wife; troublemakers abandoning all decency and mercy), eyes widening in shock as deaths mount by the thousands in a warfare of tribe against tribe.

I can look all over these scriptures and point out places where there’s fault. And maybe there’s something to their opening and end:

Now in those days Israel had no king (Judges 19:1a, NLT) … 25 In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes (Judges 21:25, NLT).

Father God, you are Lord over all. Be Lord over my life. Be Lord over my heart. Be Lord over my words. Be Lord over my actions. I don’t want to be right in my own eyes. I want to live right by your standards. I only want your approval.

Courtney (66books365)

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Judges 9-11; Mark 13; Psalm 49

22 Abimelech ruled over Israel three years. 23 . . . the leaders of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech, 24 that the violence done to the seventy sons of Jerubbaal might come, and their blood be laid on Abimelech their brother, who killed them, and on the men of Shechem, who strengthened his hands to kill his brothers. (from Judges 9 – ESV)

Abimelech ruled for three bloody years. He had his 70 brothers killed to secure the throne, destroyed families, ambushed groups of people, killed another 1,000 hiding in a tower, and captured and killed until a woman dropped a millstone on his head. And, as much as he wanted to avoid the disgrace, it is still recognized that a woman ended his reign of terror even though his armor bearer officially ended his life.

All that wickedness, and he was afraid that he would have the reputation of dying at the hand of a female. The least of his worries.

Sadly, the leaders bear some blame as well. Instead of standing up to Abimelech, they strengthened his hands. (Lord, give me the wisdom to recognize evil and the boldness to speak out against it!)

We assume that Israel had at least a bit of a change of heart as the next two judges fill a brief five verses at the beginning of chapter ten with their length of reign and a note about their death and burial.

Before long though, Israel goes her own way. How often do I also find myself repeating the same sins? How often do pride and self-righteousness and bad habits and laziness poke their noses into my choices? My issue might not be foreign gods, but I have plenty of issues.

I find a bit of comfort in Jephthah’s story, despite the tragic ending. God used him. Someone rejected by society because of his out-of-wedlock birth, still had a place in God’s plan. (reminds me of Ruth, Rahab, Mary, and Tamar) I love that God forgives and looks at us from His unique perspective as our Creator. If we repent and surrender, and even sometimes when we don’t, he shows a love for us that goes beyond comprehension.

Lord, speak gently to my heart and help me to learn my lesson before I need to cry out to you from a place of punishment. Help me remember Your saving hand in times of peace and blessing as well as times of challenge. Thank you for using the broken, even me. ~Amen

Erin (6intow)

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Judges 12-16; Psalm 146; Luke 24

Whenever I start feeling that God no longer sees me and from time to time, hears me, I love the stories of the Old Testament that show God has a long-term plan in place.  Samson is such a story.

“A prophet who looked like an angel of God came and talked to me. I was so frightened, that I didn’t even ask where he was from. He didn’t tell me his name,  but he did say that I’m going to have a baby boy. I’m not supposed to drink any wine or beer or eat any food forbidden by God’s laws. Our son will belong to God for as long as he lives.” – Judges 13:6-7  CEV

I know that God has an agenda – He wants to love people and bring them to Him – I know that because He loved me right into His Kingdom.

The Lord sets prisoners free
    and heals blind eyes.
    He gives a helping hand
    to everyone who falls.
The Lord loves good people
    and looks after strangers.
He defends the rights
of orphans and widows,
    but destroys the wicked. – Psalm 146:7-9  CEV

Why else would He send Jesus, His Son, to die for me?  And so when those doubts cross my mind, like they find a way to do and I feel that I am not seen or heard, I remember Jesus and what He did for me. More importantly, I remember that He rose from the dead and that His Spirit is in me and I am never left alone.

But Jesus said, “Why are you so frightened? Why do you doubt?  Look at my hands and my feet and see who I am! Touch me and find out for yourselves. Ghosts don’t have flesh and bones as you see I have.” – Luke 24:38-39

Lord, I know You see me and hear me – always.  I have no idea why such doubt crosses my mind from time to time but I am thankful they do not take complete control over me.  Thank you for Your Word – it always changes me and brings me to a place of healing and holds me safe.  I love You for loving me so much. 

evanlaar

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Judges 9-11; Psalms 17; Luke 23

“The Israelites were in great distress. Finally, they cried out to the Lord for help, saying, “We have sinned against you because we have abandoned you as our God and have served the images of Baal.” The Lord replied, “Did I not rescue you from the Egyptians, the Amorites, the Ammonites, the Philistines, the Sidonians, the Amalekites, and the Maonites? When they oppressed you, you cried out to me for help, and I rescued you. Yet you have abandoned me and served other gods. So I will not rescue you anymore. Go and cry out to the gods you have chosen! Let them rescue you in your hour of distress!” But the Israelites pleaded with the Lord and said,”We have sinned. Punish us as you see fit, only rescue us today from our enemies.” Then the Israelites put aside their foreign gods and served the Lord. And he was grieved by their misery.” Judges 10:9-16 NLT

What other gods am I following? Sometimes good things can turn into idols if I am not careful.  Before I know it my focus is on them and off of the one who graciously gives them to me.

“As they led Jesus away, a man named Simon, who was from Cyrene, happened to be coming in from the countryside. The soldiers seized him and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. A large crowd trailed behind, including many grief-stricken women.” Luke 23:26-27 NLT

I reflect on the things in my life that have over-shadowed the cross.

“But Jesus’ friends, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance watching.” Luke 23:49 NLT

The women followed Jesus all the way to the cross.  “The more we follow Jesus, the more we fall in love with Him, want to obey Him, experience life with Him, and become a beacon of light to others through Him.  Will following Him be inconvenient? Maybe.  Will it cost us in ways that stretch us? Sometimes.  Does it force us to live life with a less self-centered outlook? Yes.  Does living to follow Jesus at every turn bring joy that we can’t get any other way? Absolutely.  Following Him is the very thing our souls were created to do.  And it is the most daily way to discover our purpose in life.” (Embraced Devotional, Lysa TerKeurst)

“As his body was taken away, the women from Galilee followed and saw the tomb where his body was placed.” Luke 23:55 NLT

They wanted to be near him.

“I have followed your commands, which keep me from following cruel and evil people. My steps have stayed on your path; I have not wavered from following you. I am praying to you because I know you will answer, O God. Bend down and listen as I pray. Show me your unfailing love in wonderful ways. By your mighty power you rescue those who seek refuge from their enemies. Guard me as you would guard your own eyes. Hide me in the shadow of your wings.” Psalms 17:4-8 NLT

Dear Father, please forgive me for putting other things before you. Thank you for your grace and mercy. For your presence.  To you be the glory. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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Judges 7-8; Luke 22

We find the story of Gideon in our passage in Judges this morning. Many if not all of us have read this many times. There is one small bit of the story I have overlooked before:

Now the camp of Midian lay below him in the valley. 9 During that night the Lord said to Gideon, “Get up, go down against the camp, because I am going to give it into your hands. 10 If you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah 11 and listen to what they are saying. Afterward, you will be encouraged to attack the camp.” So he and Purah his servant went down to the outposts of the camp. 12 The Midianites, the Amalekites and all the other eastern peoples had settled in the valley, thick as locusts. Their camels could no more be counted than the sand on the seashore.
13 Gideon arrived just as a man was telling a friend his dream. “I had a dream,” he was saying. “A round loaf of barley bread came tumbling into the Midianite camp. It struck the tent with such force that the tent overturned and collapsed.”
14 His friend responded, “This can be nothing other than the sword of Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite. God has given the Midianites and the whole camp into his hands.” (Judges 7:8b-14 [NIV])

So the whole story as we know is a one of a test of faith for Gideon. God sees Gideon as a might warrior even though he was hiding in a grain bin. God whittles his men down past the bare minimum. No way would I have gone into battle with only 300 men. Then God gives Gideon something to hang on to. After he has obeyed God — probably thinking he’s going to die — he is given a reassurance that he will be victorious. It’s obvious he’s afraid — thus Purah going with him and then he hears good news. A prediction of victory from the enemy’s lips. What more could he ask for.

That happened to Moses too. It wasn’t till he started back to Egypt from the wilderness did God tell him the people that would have killed him for going back were gone.

How often does God do that for us? But it takes our obedience first before he reassures. Are you reading to do the next thing God wants you to do? If so don’t wait for the assurances, they will come after your first steps in His direction. 

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Judges 16; Acts 20; Jeremiah 29; Mark 15

Looking at examples in the Bible, I think God is trying to say that it’s okay to go through pain – only He wants to walk through it with us.

Samson is a fine example.  Even though he had failed, God did not leave him.

Then Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines.” He strained with all his might; and the house fell on the lords and all the people who were in it. So those he killed at his death were more than those he had killed during his life. – Judges 16:30 NRSV

For Paul pain was a way of life and he prophesied the same to us. Only way through it and its the staple of my walk with Jesus is to place my hope in God, counting on His grace as my foundation and my fountain of joy.

 Keep watch over yourselves and over all the flock, of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God[d]that he obtained with the blood of his own Son.[e]  I know that after I have gone, savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.  Some even from your own group will come distorting the truth in order to entice the disciples to follow them. – Acts 20:28-30

That is why I struggle with this promise that I still quote from time to time —

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you.  When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart,  I will let you find me, says the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes – Jeremiah 29:11-14

I struggle with it not because it is not true, but because if it is taken out of context it misses the fact that there was 70 years of pain before this promise was realized.

So Jesus’s life has to be the accumulation of all my thoughts.  The cross and Skull Hill represented death, mockery and pain but for me I found there a place of redemption, forgiveness and hope because of Jesus.  What begins in horror and inhumanity, ends in victory and grace.

 Then they brought Jesus[d] to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull).  And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh; but he did not take it.  And they crucified him – Mark 15:22-24

Lord, thank you for your promises, they are true, every last one of them.  While I  journey with You and we might be joined by hurt, may I take comfort that You and others that You have called have already gone before me.  

evanlaar

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Judges 15; Acts 19; Jeremiah 28; Mark 14

But the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon Samson, and he snapped the ropes in his arms as if they were burnt strands of flax, and they fell from his wrists. Then Samson said, “With the jawbone of a donkey, I’ve piled them in heaps! With the jawbone of a donkey, I’ve killed a thousand men!” When he finished his boasting, he threw away the jawbone; and the place was named Jawbone Hill. Samson was now very thirsty, and he cried out to the Lord, “You have accomplished this great victory by the strength of your servant. Must I now die of thirst and fall into the hands of these pagans?” So God caused water to gush out of a hollow in the ground of Lehi, and Samson was revived as he drank. Then he named the place “The Spring of the One Who Cried Out,” and it is still in Lehi to this day.” Judges 15:14-19 NLT

Samson was relying on his own strength. But once he cried out, the Lord gave him more than enough water to fulfill his thirst. God doesn’t withhold his Spirit from me. All I have to do is ask. Just like the woman pouring the jar of perfume. He pours out his spirit on me.  There can never be too much.

While he was eating, a woman came in with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume made from the essence of nard. She broke open the jar and pursed the perfume over his head. Some of those at the table were indignant. “Why waste such expensive perfume?” they asked …But Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. Why criticize her for doing such a good thing to me? You will always have the poor among you, and you can help them whenever you want to. But you will not always have me.” Mark 14:3-7 NLT

Than, why do I sometimes wait till I am depleted, to ask for something he so readily gives?

Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” he asked them. “No,” they replied, “we haven’t even heard that there is a Holy Spirit. God gave Paul the power to perform unusual miracles…So the message about the Lord spread widely and had a powerful effect.” Acts 19:2-20 NLT

The Lord’s spirit gives me freedom. He frees me from a yoke of bondage.

This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘I will remove the yoke of the king of Babylon from your necks…Then Hannaniah the prophet took the yoke off Jeremiah’s neck and broke it in pieces.” Jeremiah 28:2&10 NLT

Thank you Father for giving me the power of your Holy Spirit. That you generously lavish your spirit on me when I ask. Forgive me for when I try to do things on my own. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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