Thursday, October 27, 2011

Judges 1-3 Obedience to God is the Key

Children have plenty of excuses for breaking the rules of the home or not doing homework.
  • ·        I forgot my science book at school.
  • ·        The teacher didn’t explain how to do this.
  • ·        I didn’t hear you say to be home by 6:00.
  • ·        You didn’t say I couldn’t juggle 2 liter bottles in the living room.
  • ·        Everybody else gets to stay out until midnight.
  • ·        Oh, were you taking that cake to CBS?
The Israelites probably had their list of excuses for breaking the covenant with God.
We forgot the laws of Moses.
We didn’t know we had to kill everybody.
These pagans will make great servants.
Just being Good Neighbors
Only looking
The book of Judges takes its name from the history of the 14 men and one woman who delivered Israel from servitude. God did not choose a national leader to take Joshua’s place in the way had with Moses. The Hebrew word “to judge” carries the idea of ruling, liberating, and delivering. The phrase, “In those days there was no king in Israel,” appears four times in the book. The judges were to acknowledge God as their supreme ruler and invisible King in what was called a theocracy. The period of Judges lasted 350 years until Samuel, the last judge, anointed Saul, Israel's first king.

Ladies you may turn in your Bibles to Judges 1
Obedience to God is the key.
Rich Israel relaxes (1:1 - 2:5).
• Rejection of God causes Israel’s ruin (2:6 - 3:8).
• Israel repents and God rescues her repeatedly (3:9-31).

·        Rich Israel relaxes (1:1 - 2:5).
1 After the death of Joshua, the Israelites asked the LORD, “Who will be the first to go up and fight for us against the Canaanites?”  2 The LORD answered, “Judah is to go; I have given the land into their hands.”
The first battle 4-Judah attacked, the LORD gave the Canaanites and Perizzites into their hands and they struck down ten thousand men at Bezek.  It was there that they fought against Adoni-Bezek and cut off his thumbs and big toes as he did to his enemies. Since he could no longer hold a sword or balance himself to lead in battle, he could no longer qualified as king. “Now God has paid me back for what I did to them.”

God keep his promised to fight for Israel as long as she was faithful. Verse 19 tells us the LORD was with the men of Judah and again in v.22 The house of Joseph attacked Bethel, and the LORD was with them.

However, verses 27-36 give a list of the remaining tribes and their failures to conquer the land God had given them. The Israelites had relaxed their standards and did not finish what they started.


Winston Churchill’s quote during World War II would have been a good one for Israel to remember. “We shall neither fail nor falter; we shall not weaken or tire...give us the tools and we will finish the job.”

“The Greeks had a race in their Olympic games that was unique. The winner was not the runner who finished first. It was the runner who finished with his torch still lit. I want to run all the way with the flame of my torch still lit for Him.” Joseph Stowell


Israel dropped her torch before she reached the finish line. Her people failed to realize that Obedience to God is the key to their success.

Rejection of God causes Israel’s ruin (2:6 - 3:8).

1 The angel of the LORD went up from Gilgal to Bokim and said, “I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land that I swore to give to your forefathers. I said, ‘I will never break my covenant with you, 2 and you shall not make a covenant with the people of this land, but you shall break down their altars.’ Yet you have disobeyed me. Why have you done this? 3 Now therefore I tell you that I will not drive them out before you; they will be thorns in your sides and their gods will be a snare to you.”

 Another incidence of Christophany-foreshadow of Christ. Wesley’s commentary 2:1 The angel - Christ the angel of the covenant, often called the angel of the Lord, to whom the conduct of Israel out of Egypt into Canaan, is frequently ascribed. He alone could speak the following words in his own name and person; whereas created angels and prophets universally usher in their message with, Thus saith the Lord, or some equivalent expression.

Bokim means weepers. The people wept not because of their convictions of sin but because of the consequences of their actions. It is a sad and temporary repentance that never leads to salvation. Doesn’t that happen to our children and even ourselves. Obedience to God is the key.

J V McGee suggests that Chapter 2 outlines the entire book and God’s philosophy of human history. The words for “judge,” “judgment,” and “judged” are used 22 times. The word “evil” occurs 14 times. The people did evil and God raised up judges (vv. 11, 16). The people did evil because they did not obey God (vv. 2, 17). They did not obey because they did not believe God (v. 20).

 The cycle of history that they followed is given in verses 11 through 16.
Israel disobeyed God by not completely destroying all the wicked and corrupt nations from the land. They did evil, forsook God and worshipped other gods. True to His promise in Joshua 23, God did not fight for them but sold them into slavery and servitude at the hands of the surrounding nations. They cried out to the LORD and repented. Seven times they did this and seven times the Lord God in His mercy and grace raised up judges to deliver them.
Verse 19 says But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their fathers, following other gods and serving and worshiping them. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways.

2:10 After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel.

Can we lay the blame totally on this new generation? Who is at fault for this generation who did not know the LORD or His commandments?  In Deuteronomy 31 The priests were commanded to read aloud to the nation the book of the law every sabbatical year.
12 Assemble the people—men, women and children, and the aliens living in your towns—so they can listen and learn to fear the LORD your God and follow carefully all the words of this law. 13 Their children, who do not know this law, must hear it and learn to fear the LORD your God as long as you live in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess.”
Not only the priests and elders, but the parents too had failed to pass on the faith.
What are some things our children may have never seen that we cherish from the past? Eight track tapes, manual typewriters, roller skates with a key,  vinyl records, push mowers, and hand crank ice cream churns. I can remember taking turns sitting and turning.  When I became a teacher, I became a collector (maybe some would say a pack rat.) I still have a small vinyl record that I had as a child that played at 78 rpm. Today with MP3s and iPods, my children throw out anything that is not new. I call them the “disposable generation.” While my daughter may not share my love of the old and collectible, she does share my love of the LORD. She sings His praises and makes sure my grandsons are in church to learn God’s Word. We are commanded in Joel 1:3 (NIV1984)
3 Tell it to your children,
   and let your children tell it to their children,
   and their children to the next generation.
Obedience to God is the key. Are you being obedient to the LORD and telling your children the mercy and love of the LORD and all the blessing He has bestowed upon you?
Israel repents and God rescues her repeatedly (3:9-31).
Caleb’s legacy of faithfulness lives on in Judges.  In chapter 1 Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother, conquered the city of Debir and Caleb gave his daughter Ax-suh to him in marriage. The key to Othniel’s success was his obedience to God. Caleb’s daughter also had boldness enough to ask her father for springs of water in addition to the south land.
7 The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD; they forgot the LORD their God and served the Baals and the Asherahs. 8 The anger of the LORD burned against Israel so that he sold them into the hands of Kushan Rishathaim king of Aram v. 9 After eight years of bondage, the people cried out and God raised up for them a deliverer Othniel, Caleb’s nephew and son-in-law. 10 The Spirit of the LORD came upon him, so that he became Israel’s judge and the LORD gave king of Aram into his hands. 11 So the land had peace for forty years, until Othniel died.
As Sindy would say these Israelites remind me of shampoo. Wash, Rinse, Repeat.
v.15-28 Ehud was chosen from the tribe of Benjamin to deliver the Israelites. Some commentaries claim he was not only left-handed but perhaps handicapped. He used this to his advantage as he bravely sought a private audience with Eglon the king of Moab. Ehud probably was not searched for weapons on the right thigh. His ploy, “I have a secret message for you, O king.” Gave him the time he needed. Verse 29-30 tells the rest of the story. 29 At that time they struck down about ten thousand Moabites, all vigorous and strong; not a man escaped. 30 That day Moab was made subject to Israel, and the land had peace for eighty years.
 31 After Ehud came Shamgar son of Anath, who struck down six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad. He too saved Israel.
 God can use any person or method to fulfill his plan.
Each day a lamb walked with his mother to the pasture. As he watched the pigs wallow in the mud it seemed like fun.  On an really hot day the lamb asked his mother if he could jump the fence and wallow in the cool mud. She replied, "No, Sheep don't wallow." This didn't satisfy the lamb. As soon as his mother was out of sight, he ran to the pig pen and jumped the fence. He was soon feeling the cool mud on his feet, legs, and stomach, as he wallowed deeper and deeper in the mud. After a while, he decided he had better go find his mother, but he couldn't move. He was stuck from the weight of the mud which had gotten into his wool. His pleasure had now become his prison. He cried out and was rescued by the kindly shepherd. When cleaned and returned to the fold, the mother rebuked him, "Remember, sheep don't wallow."
Sin is like that. It looks so nice, and we think we can escape whenever we wish, but it just isn't so. Our pleasures soon become our prisons. We must remember, "Christians don't wallow."
I have heard  my pastor repeat, “Sin will take you further than you ever wanted to go.., Sin will keep you longer than you ever wanted to stay..., and sin will cost you more than you can ever pay”
 The last verse in this book states: “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.” While most Israelites wallowed in wickedness, God continued to delivered His people and preserved a remnant. (LaHaye study bible)
The message is clear: Obedience to God is the key. If that’s the message, then what’s the application? There’s a message here for individuals and nations. As a believer, you have an obligation to God and your nation. You have an obligation to let other people know that obedience to God is the key.

Hebrew 12:10-11 Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
Closing Sentence: Will you choose to obey God? Will you share the message with others?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Joshua 22-24 October 20, 2011

The boiling frog fable suggests that if you place a frog in hot water he will jump out. However if you slowly increase the temperature of the water the frog will not notice the subtle changes. The moral is that people should be aware of gradual changes in their lifestyles for fear that they eventually suffer undesirable consequences.
 Joshua no doubt is worried about leaving the Israelites, warning them against the slippery slope into idolatry and sin.
Joshua 22-24 Going Home
Have you experienced sending a child out into the World; college, marriage, or the working world? My daughter is still near; in fact she purchased the Belmont house. My mother had stroke over 6 years ago, so I built my retirement home in Cramerton to be close enough to help my dad care for her.
Now my son is another matter, Kurt left to pursue a career. He went all the way to Seattle, Washington. I visited him there and in Albuquerque, NM. He never stayed in any other place long enough to visit. FL, TN, AK, TX, CA, and now Michigan. I rarely get to see him and he doesn’t call very often. I try to avoid preaching to him because he was raised to love the LORD. But some words of wisdom seemed appropriate since he is in the World.  
Be careful to obey the Law, Do not associate with the wrong people; do not swear. Hold fast to the LORD your God, as you have been taught. Beware of the enemy.
 We all know who the enemy is! I still pray for my son that he will hold fast to the LORD and stay in God’s WORD before the World gets into him.
Ladies, Satan is alive and well in the United States and he wants your children.
 Can you believe we are finishing the Book of Joshua? I have really enjoyed this study. In the last 3 chapters Joshua delivers two important messages, 20 years apart.
I have titled my Lecture Going Home.
Please open your bibles to Chapter 22
Ø Eastern Tribes Go Home
Joshua gives the eastern tribe praise for a job well done.
22:  1 Then Joshua summoned the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh 2 and said to them, “You have done all that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded, and you have obeyed me in everything I commanded. 3 For a long time now—to this very day—you have not deserted your brothers but have carried out the mission the LORD your God gave you. (Remember the command in Joshua chapter 1). 4 Now that the LORD your God has given your brothers rest as he promised, return to your homes in the land that Moses the servant of the LORD gave you on the other side of the Jordan.
Joshua gave these 2 ½ tribes some words of wisdom and a caution.
5 But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the LORD gave you: to love the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to obey his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and all your soul.”
This is a scripture I could put on the walls of my home.
Deuteronomy 6:9  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.  
It doesn’t take long for a misunderstanding to cause a rift between the tribes.
 10 And when they came unto the region about the Jordan, that is in the land of Canaan, the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh built there an altar by the Jordan, a great altar to look upon.
This altar was massive and could be seen afar off.
 12 And when the children of Israel heard of it, the whole congregation of the children of Israel gathered themselves together at Shiloh, to go up against them to war.
Phineas, son of Eleazer the priest, along with a leader from each of the 9 ½ tribes accuse…
The Eastern Tribes 16 How could you break faith with the God of Israel, turn away from the LORD and build an altar?
18 If you rebel against the LORD today, tomorrow he will be angry with the whole community of Israel.
19 They reminded their brothers of the sin of ACHAN and the punishment served on his entire family. The Eastern Tribes insistently answer…
22“The Mighty One, God, the LORD! The Mighty One, God, the LORD! He knows! And let Israel know! If this has been in rebellion or disobedience, may the LORD himself call us to account.
No, we just wanted to build a witness and memorial for our children’s sake. Unless in later years they might be accused of not having a part in the LORD’s inheritance.  
 29 “Far be it from us to rebel against the LORD and turn away from him today by building an altar for burnt offerings, grain offerings and sacrifices, other than the altar of the LORD our God that stands before his tabernacle.”  (Remember the golden calf)
Phineas and the other leaders were pleased with the reply, verse 31says “you have not acted unfaithfully toward the LORD in this matter.”

Christian sisters, sometimes misunderstandings happen between members of God’s family. Prejudging another person’s actions, jumping to conclusions and acting in haste; can destroy a friendship, split a church, or cause a war.
Proverbs 18:13  (AMP)He who answers a matter before he hears the facts--
                                                it is folly and shame to him.
John 7:14 Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.”
Remember before you say it: THINK…
T--Is it true?
H--Is it helpful?
I--Is it inspiring?
N--Is it necessary?
K--Is it kind?
Ø Chapter 23  Before you go…

1-Joshua allotted all the land, but there were survivors remaining in the land.
The LORD gave very specific orders: Joshua give the tribe a stern warning. 
·        7 Do not associate with these nations that remain among you;
·        do not invoke the names of their gods or swear by them.
·        You must not serve them or bow down to them.
8 But you are to hold fast (cleave, cling) to the LORD your God, as you have until now. 
The KJV used cleave is used 50 times.  Strong’s dictionary defines the word as hold fast, abide, follow close, be joined, keep pursue hard, stick, take, cling.
The LORD God of Israel was a promise maker and a promise keeper. 14 Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed.
Critical thinking skills uses the IF…THEN statements.  If your play with fire; your will get burned.
Who knew God had taught this lesson years ago in His WORD specifically in Joshua 23:12-13
·        12 “But if you turn away
·        ally yourselves with the survivors that remain among you
·        if you intermarry with them and associate with them,
·        13 Then the LORD your God will no longer drive out these nations before you.
 Instead, they will become snares and traps  for you, whips on your backs and thorns in your eyes,
15 But just as every good promise of the LORD your God has come true, so the LORD will bring on you all the evil he has threatened.
Ladies, do we have to worry about the influence of friends, neighbors and coworkers?
Share an off-colored joke.  Join a friend for a drink. Visit a place of questionable reputation. I confess that after my divorce that I joined friends in such places. I remember feeling so dejected, unloved, and unattractive. I rationalized it: After all I was with the preacher’s daughter. Of course I only drank water with lemon and cherries. Ladies those places are dark for a reason.
Corinthians 6 14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15 What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?
Psalm 141:9 Keep me from the snares they have laid for me, from the traps set by evildoers.
1 Timothy 4:1 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.
1 Peter 5:8 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. John 10:10

Ø Joshua 24 Remembering our Past: We are Witnesses

 1 Then Joshua assembled all the tribes of Israel at Shechem. He summoned the elders, leaders, judges and officials of Israel, and they presented themselves before God.
Joshua recalled their history and list their forefathers from Terah, father of Abram, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph in Egypt, through Moses and Aaron,
 “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says:  Notice at all the verbs in this chapter!
Verse 3 I took your father Abraham and led him throughout Canaan and gave him many descendants.
6-  I brought your fathers out
7-  You saw with your own eyes what I did to the Egyptians.
8-  I gave Amorites into your hands
9- I destroyed them from before you, and you took possession of their land.
10- I delivered you from Balak, the king of Moab
11- I gave all the nations of Canaan into your hands.
12…You did not do it with your own sword and bow. 13 So I gave you a land on which you did not toil and cities you did not build; and you live in them and eat from vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant. 

Do you remember the little cars for children at the beach that run on rail? My children would sit in those electric cars, push the “gas” pedals and turn that steering wheel pretending that they are actually driving the car. All the time the rail beneath the car would keep them from going off track. Ah, those were that day!
I’m sure the children of Israel felt pretty secure after conquering the Promise Land, but through it all God had been in control.  
Have you even been puffed up with pride feeling you had accomplished some massive feat in your own strength? When I finished my National Board Certification, I was pretty cocky. Strutting around thinking I did it all by myself. True I didn’t get help from my county supervisors or teammate. But I didn’t get a perfect score in science on my own. God provided NCAA tutors, the natural resources and the inspiration for my subject. God continues to provide what I need!
 14 “Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond and serve the LORD. 15 then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”
 19… He is a holy God; he is a jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins. 20 If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, he will turn and bring disaster on you and make an end of you,
 22 Then Joshua said, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen to serve the LORD.”  Verses 14 and 23 indicate that there are still idols among the people Israel.
 25 On that day Joshua made a covenant for the people, at Shechem he drew up for them decrees and laws. 26 recorded these things in the Book of the Law of God. Then he took a large stone and set it up there under the oak near the holy place of the LORD.
 27 “See!” he said to all the people. “This stone will be a witness against us. It has heard all the words the LORD has said to us. It will be a witness against you if you are untrue to your God.”
Ø Joshua Going “Home” 3 Burials in the Promised Land
 28 Joshua 29 died at the age of 110 30 And they buried him in the land of his inheritance, at Timnath Serah.33 And Eleazar son of Aaron died and was buried at Gibeah

31 Israel served the LORD throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had experienced everything the LORD had done for Israel.

 32 And Joseph’s bones, brought up from Egypt, were buried at Shechem- became the inheritance of Joseph’s descendants.
This is significant because Joseph believed the LORD and asked that his bones be taken to the Promise Land.

What would you say to your children if you knew you time was short? Would you tell them how God is your provider, He is the mighty God and you trust him to care for you to the end?
In order to share with our children not only do we have to know the Word of God but we also have to know the God of the Word and grow in our fellowship with Him.
Will you hold fast to the LORD so that your home going will be a celebration?
Closing PRAYER