Mar 31 Jdg 7:19-9:25; Psa 50:16-23

Many suggestions have been put forth as to why the Midianites feared so greatly and began to kill one another. I think the bottom line is what is greatly implied in the text, God did what He said He would do. He not only fought for the Israelites, He put fear in their enemies and caused them to kill one another (7:19-23).

Why, even in the midst of this great deliverance by God, did other Israelites find it necessary to be a thorn in Gideon’s side; I am referring to the men of Ephraim, and the people of Succoth and Penuel (8:1-9)?

In his first test by the people Gideon was victorious. He said that neither he nor his son would rule over them, but that God would (8:23). But he immediately sinned even more greatly by requesting gold and making an ephod which the people then worshiped (8:24-27). The amount of gold was forty-two and a half pounds–over $867,710 today.

Perhaps we are being told more than first meets the eye in English at 8:31. Not only did Gideon have many children by many wives, but he had a son by a concubine, and the son was Abimelech . . . The name means “my father is king.” Did you also catch that two names were used for the same person in 8:29?

After Abimelech killed all his brothers but one, that one went to Mt. Gerizim and pronounced a blessing if they were right and a curse that would come about for their folly if they were sinning. Remember the significance of Mt. Gerizim is that it was where Moses was ordered by God to pronounce the blessing upon Israel along with six tribes, and Mt. Ebal was where with the remaining six tribes the curse was to be pronounced (Deuteronomy 11:29; 27:12-13) and which Joshua did (Joshua 8:33-35).

In this portion of Psalm 50 Asaph speaks words of God to sinners, “Who are you to talk about My laws? Everything you do is wrong. There is hope, but only if you were turn and obey.

29th Annual Mendon Community Garage Sale

The 29th Annual Mendon Community Garage Sale will be sponsored by the WCSC of the Mendon First Church of God – Women’s Society – for a mission project.  The sale date is May 14, 2011.  A map will be made showing the location of all garage sales.  All of the advertising costs will be the responsibility of the WCSC.  Permits will be on sale from April 1 through April 25 at a cost of $10 each.  Permits may be purchased by contacting Kristina Boroff at 419-795-9102.

Mar 30 Jdg 6:1-7:18; Psa 50:7-15

The first portion of 6:1 is something that we see all too often in Scripture, and no less so in this particular book: “Then the sons of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD; and He punished them in one way or another.”

The narrative of Gideon has come to mean much more to me over the years. The first time I really paid attention to it was my first Sunday in Germany. One of the other guys in the unit had invited me to the chapel service and there was a Gideon speaker. I hope I’m not stepping on too many toes when I say that we’ve all heard at least one such who was boring . . . I’d heard a few. But Allen started fidgeting and exhaling his breath like he was upset. When I asked what was wrong I discovered that Allen was a Mennonite (they’re pacifists so why was he in the Army?) and that the speaker was saying Mennonites instead of Midianites. Due to Allen’s discomfort, the speaker’s continued misuse of terms, and my own sense of humor, I greatly enjoyed the sermon and probably got more out of it than anyone else there!

I’ve never figured out if God is making fun of Gideon in 6:12 or not. Gideon is hiding to separate the wheat from the chaff, a job normally done outdoors where there is a good breeze. He’s doing this because he is afraid of his enemies and that they will steal his grain and the angel of the LORD greets him saying, “How are you doing, O fearless one?!” Or is God seeking to give Him comfort? I suspect the latter. Gideon’s answer shows that his faith is less than adequate. Then the angel commands him to go and save Israel! When he tries to weasel out of it, God says “Go! I will be with you and you will be successful!” Don’t we hear that phrase elsewhere in Scripture? Do we believe it?

Gideon is first strengthened by the Lord’s acceptance of his sacrifice, but is then commanded to remove the altar to Baal (a word meaning lord or master, can also be used as husband), build at altar to God and sacrifice on it. After successful completion he is commanded to muster the troops to go to battle. He says, “God, if that is REALLY you, how about showing me by just putting dew on the piece of fleece I put out . . . OK, how about dew on everything but the fleece?” Gideon raised 32,000 men, but he was still going up against 135,000 enemies (8:10). And now God started putting the “test” back upon Gideon. First 22,000 men were released, leaving only 10,000, then all but 300 were released. But to show that He still intended to give the victory God sent Gideon down to listen to the enemy camp and discover that God was already spreading fear amongst their hosts. He delivered the 135,000 into the hands of the 300 (compare Leviticus 26:8; Deuteronomy 32:30; Joshua 23:10)!

God gives what is needed to accomplish that to which He calls us. Gideon learned that testing God may result in severe testing of oneself by God.

In this portion of the Psalm God addresses His people saying that everything is His, and what He really wants from His people is not really that which He has already given them, but for them to be thankful, and to love and obey Him with all their potential.

Mar 29 Jdg 3:12-5:31; Psa 50:1-6

Mar 29 Jdg 3:12-5:31; Psa 50:1-6 Eglon was evil, but he was raised up by God to punish His own sinning children. Ehud is unique, and probably my favorite judge. There is an anomaly in the very first verse dealing with Ehud (3:15). He is left handed, and not only that, but he is from the tribe of Benjamin; a name which means, “son of my right hand!” Ehud uses his left-handedness to get a short sword past Eglon’s body guards (verse 16). Strange though it may seem, the guards did not suspect anyone would be a lefty and they only searched the left side where a right hander’s weapons would be. His speech to the king can mean: “I have a message for you from God,” or “I have something for you from God” (verses 19-20). Eglon probably understood the former while Ehud meant the latter. The something was an eighteen inch bladed assassin’s tool.

There is probably a double meaning at verse 26 as well. Not only did he physically “pass by” the idols, but he also passed them by in the sense of not serving them, of leading the people back to worship God! Note too that while some might judge for twenty years or even many for forty years, with Ehud the lefty, “the land was undisturbed for eighty years!” (3:30).

Dwayne used to like to quote verse 31: “And after him came Shamgar the son of Anath, who struck down six hundred Philistines with an ox goad; and he too saved Israel.”

Deborah is different in that she is the only female judge. The military commander seemed afraid on his own and wanted her to tag along. For this he received no honor and in fact yet another woman than Deborah received the honor for the day. It was actually a dishonor for a nation to be ruled by a woman–this word from God Himself through Isaiah the prophet ( Isaiah 3:12). Does it say anything to you that this “leader’s” name was Barak (3:8)?

The song of chapter five is in some ways Deborah bragging about her being leader, but it is also praise of God for giving victory to the inadequately armed troops of Israel (verse 8b). Verse 20 is probably (as elsewhere) a reference to angels, that is God’s hand in the battle. Verses 24-30 have sexual connotations (especially 27-30). The words in verse thirty translated as maiden and maidens actually means womb and wombs.

Psalm 50 is a Psalm of Asaph, who was presumably the musician (1 Chronicles 15:17, 19; 16:5, see also verse 7). Verse three shows the psalmist’s desire that God show His power (and deliverance) on behalf of His people. I find it interesting that verse 6, as we have been reading in the book of Judges, reminds us that “God Himself is judge!”

Mar 28 Jdg 1:1-3:11; Psa 49:10-20

Judges were individuals called by God to render decisions in cases between the people and to give some leadership. I don’t think we should understand that every judge was over the entire people of Israel. Some of the judges may have had a small area of influence, and many of their periods of judging most likely overlapped. The last judge was Samuel and his time frame was after the other judges and up into the period of the first two kings. The word Negev, often encountered in Scripture simply means “south” or “southern part of the land.”

The section dealing with Caleb is repetitive, but remember that although God is directing the writing of Scripture He allowed the vocabulary and the personality of His writers to come through. They did not know that all the books would someday be put together into one large volume and when they knew something was important, they recorded it.

In just the first chapter we learn that after the death of Joshua the people are not living as they ought to live. In the latter portions of the book of Joshua we read that they did not get rid of all the sinners. Here we read that those sinners are gaining strength and whipping up on those who are supposed to be God’s righteous people. IF they were so, the sinners would not overcome them (per Joshua 23:12-13, 16; see also Judges 2:20-23)!).

2:6-10 sounds too much like America today . . . The great leaders and those who knew God well have died off and the present generation is cocky and ignorant [in SO many senses of the latter word]. This does not mean that there were/are not any good people to serve God, just that the majority did not. The problem then is that just as the few evil amongst a good people receive blessing, so too the few good souls amongst a sinful people are subject to (some of) the punishment (2:11-23; compare Deuteronomy 28).

From 3:1-2 it sounds to me that God not only condones war (against the ungodly), but that He also wants His people to be good at it. What do you think?

Already in chapter 3 (verses 5-8) we see that the people have not learned from their first punishment for sinning against God and are even worse than the previous generations and are being punished yet again (also per Deuteronomy 28 and Leviticus 26).

Continuing the thought from the first portion of Psalm 49 the sons of Korah tell us that no matter how highly folks think of themselves, they will still die and have to face God. BUT I will love and serve Him and He, the only One who can, will redeem me from sin and hell!

Mar 27 Jos 22:21-24:33; Psa 49:1-9

Notice how in 22:22 those who are challenged for their orthodoxy immediately call on God TWICE as their witness to Truth and Faithfulness.

Be very FIRM to obey God and not deviate at all from all that He has commanded you (23:6). You are not even to MENTION the names of their false gods (verse 7). Instead, CLING to God (verse 8)!

23:14 again reminds the people that not one of God’s promises has failed, they have all come to pass! Therefore, trust Him!!

Your own eyes saw what I did to Egypt (24:7)! You are living here off the fruit of the labor of others, given you by God Himself (24:13).

The latter half of 24:15 is pretty well known, but most are not as familiar with the rest of the verse. Joshua commands the people to follow God, but reminds them that it is all their choice: Choose whether or not you want to serve the worthless images of the people of the land, you’ll face the consequences. But as for me and my house, WE will serve the Lord! Then he says, “It’s not easy to serve God. In fact, it is difficult, especially since you’re such an obstinate bunch.” But they said that they would serve Him (24:19-21).

A number of years ago there was an article in the newspaper quoting these men who believed that they had found the embalmed body of Joseph in Egypt . . . Read 24:32 and you’ll know that they were wrong!

“No man can at all redeem his brother (verse 7); there is no way one can keep from dying [physically], it’s all in God’s hands” (verses 8-9).

Mar 26 Jos 20:1-22:20; Psa 48:1-14

Do we have anything today at all like the city of refuge (20:1-6)? If not, is there a need for them?

In Chapter 21 we learn that the various branches of Levites received sections of various cities “by lot.” Presumably this means that they drew names out of a hat, or something like that. This is something we’ve seen a number of times already in Scripture. Do you this this was fair? Is it something that we should practice today? Why/why not?

Do you know anyone from the last listed town in 21:21?! Have you heard of a modern day area in Israel with the name of the town listed in 21:27?

“Not one of the promises which the LORD had made to the house of Israel failed; all came to pass” (21:45). That verse is underlined in the Bible I use the most. The One who was, who is, and who shall be (Revelation 1:4, 8, has promised and the God does not change His mind (Malachi 3:6) nor can He lie (Numbers 23:19)! Learn His law, live it, and love it (Joshua 22:5-6)!

The end of today’s reading on into the end of tomorrow’s first chapter (22:10-34) should give us pause to think: Things are not always as they seem. We must carefully examine the facts AND the testimony of others to best understand those facts. Had the rest of Israel acted on what they first thought there would have been a needless slaughter of brothers.

Another theme of the sons of Korah is of God as King, even as David was king, in Jerusalem (Zion). In the first half of this psalm God is spoken of in the third person (he). In all but the last verse of the second half He is addressed in the second person (you/thou). You are wonderful, God; our king, our savior!

Mar 25 Jos 17:7-19:51; Psa 47:1-9

What does the long telling of long gone borders of the tribes tell us today? I think that for one thing it tells us that God cares. He doesn’t just care about Sundays, he doesn’t just care about the big things in our lives. He cares about us and the intricate and seemingly infinite details of our lives. How much do we in return care about Him (and show it by serving Him–faithfully)?

In 17:14-18 the descendants of Joseph told Joshua that they hadn’t received enough land since there were so many of them. He replied that they had plenty of land, just go in and conquer it all. They complained that the enemy had too many new-fangled weapons and armament. He told them to suck it up and go whoop on them and they’d have plenty of land. Good advice to whiners and slackers . . . But none of US are in that category!! Eh?

Notice at 19:9 that we are told that the portion of land for Simeon was within that of Judah. Not only did Judah come to represent the entire southern kingdom after the split at the time of David’s grandson, but Simeon eventually “disappeared” into Judah and was no longer distinct therefrom.

Even though there are similarities, do you see differences between theses Psalms by the sons of Korah and those of David? I think the sons use the third person more often and David the second. That is to say that the sons speak OF God and David speaks TO God personally. The former sing songs about God, whereas David is more apt to pray poetically to God.

Mar 24 Jos 14:1-17:6; Psa 46:1-11

How many eighty-five year old men have you known who really wanted a challenge? Caleb said he was as strong at that age as he’d been at forty, still able to fight in war. And he asked for land for which he would have to fight and was counting on God to help him whip the present inhabitants (14:10-12)!

One topic that sticks out for me in today’s reading is “springs of water.” One is mentioned as part of the border of the weaving border of the tribe of Judah, and the others were asked of Caleb by his daughter (15:9, 19). Water is very important. Most of us do not realize how important because we have so much water so readily available.

Do you suppose the Arabs trace their ancestry back to the village mentioned in 15:52? 15:63 mentions the failure of one group of people to drive out the former inhabitants, and 16:10 another.

Remember the five daughters of Zelophehad and their desire to inherit? Here they are again (17:3-6; Numbers 26:33; 27:1-11; 36:1-11; 1 Chronicles 7:15).

This time the sons of Korah have set their Psalm to “Alamoth” and it is merely a song. Would you fear during a storm or earthquake? “Cease striving and know that I am God!” (verse 10a).

Mar 23 Jos 11:1-13:33; Psa 45:10-17

A comparison of today’s reading with those from Judges later on show different pictures. The land did indeed have rest from war (11:23c), but not all the former residents were killed, as God had commanded, and they caused problems just as God said they would if they were not decimated.

I find it interesting that Joshua “was old and advanced in years” (13:1) but Caleb says that he’s as spry and strong as he was at 40 (Joshua 14:10-11).

13:22 – remember him?

The Levites received no land, God is their inheritance (13:33), is that true of us today? Why/why not?

In this portion of Psalm 45 the son of Korah addresses a young woman in whom he says the king will delight. After all, the title says that it is a song of love.