JUDGES 1:1 – 3:31 and LUKE 7:36–50
A new generation is now arising after the death of Joshua. The children of Israel did the right thing in seeking the Lord as to who should go up first against the Canaanites. The Lord designates Judah, the tribe through whom the King of Kings would later come forth from. Here is another old charismatic song that was often sung in our church and fellowship. “Send Judah first and the battle will be won, send Judah first and the foe is overcome, singing praise to the father and glory to the Son, send Judah first.”
There are examples that will be seen in future where Judah goes forth before the armies when going into battle. This speaks to the significance of praise. There is a power when the high praises of God’s people ascend before the throne (Psa 149:6). We see an alliance between Judah and Simeon in their willingness to assist in each other’s battles (vs 2, 17). One of the strengths of the body of Christ is to help and look after the interest of others. We saw this earlier with Reuben, Gad and the half of Manasseh as they fought battles on behalf of their brethren before settling into their own land. As the days draw closer to the end the enemies of God will gather their forces against God’s people. It will take the body of Christ, functioning together in unity to effectively fend off his advances while taking the battle forward. This is why the “Jebusite” in the land is so dangerous. They work within the fabric of the church in seeking to divide leadership and members against one another. As Simeon joined hands with Judah may we learn to join hands with brethren to stand strong in these challenging days.
Heb 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
We will see a rehearsing of several events that were covered in the Book of Joshua. In verses 12-15 we have the account of Caleb offering his daughter in marriage to the one who could take Kirjath–Sepher in Hebron. Othneil rose up and took it and as a result was given Achsah to be his wife. This account was seen in Josh 15:13-19. The Lord was with Judah and Simeon as they drove out the enemies in the mountains but they were unsuccessful in driving them out of the valleys due to their having chariots of iron (vs 19). This was no reason in not being able to drive them out it was only an excuse. Why now is there reluctance in finishing the battle? Were they afraid even after all that the Lord had done in fighting on their behalf? Whatever the reason it soon became contagious due to Benjamin and others not driving out the inhabitants of the land. How is it that after experiencing the arm of the Lord’s deliverance that suddenly there now appears to be co-existence with the very enemies they were to drive out? There are so many examples of this through the scriptures. Nehemiah was a great leader and restorer who was used of God to turn back, discern and overthrow the tactics of the enemy. He can be likened to a Joshua or Moses of his day. All was well and under control while Nehemiah was with the people. What happened after he left for a short season?
Neh 13:4 And before this, Eliashib the priest, having the oversight of the chamber of the house of our God, was allied unto Tobiah:
Tobiah was one of the chief antagonists against the ministry of Nehemiah. Somehow he found a way to weave himself into the work of the restorers during Nehemiah’s absence. What did Nehemiah do upon returning to the city and discovering that Tobiah was given a place of ministry amongst the priests? He immediately put Tobiah and all of household goods out of the inner chamber.
Going back to our account in Judges we see that are now enemies in about 6 of the camps of the tribes that were not removed. This will prove costly to Israel in the days to come. This is instructive in understanding Spiritual warfare. The enemy does not go down without a fight. He may first oppose by way of blatant opposition. He can intimidate and seek to instil fear into the hearts of the valiant ones. The spirit of fear is one of his most potent weapons. If unable to succeed he will resort to more subtle tactics; anything that will enable him to gain and maintain a foothold. As end time warriors we must be discerning and vigilant. He will oppose anyone who seeks to go into the land of their inheritance. Now, more than ever, we must not let down our guard.
An angel of the Lord came up from Gilgal and spoke a rebuke to the children of Israel due to their not obeying the voice of the Lord (vs 1). It could well be the angel as seen in Exo 23:20-23 who was to go before Israel. The children of Israel were warned not to provoke him by turning aside to the right hand of the left. The angel then declares that these enemies will be thorns in your sides due to not dispossessing them. God, through Moses and Joshua emphatically stated that he would go before them and totally destroy the inhabitants of the land. They witnessed God fighting on their behalf on numerous occasions. One of the roots in not destroying the enemy is unbelief. God was there and able to fight on their behalf but they did not obey. This would be the sin that Saul would later be guilty of (1 Sam 15:22). This is one of the reasons why God takes time in preparing people for such a time. In these last days when Christ comes it will not be for a partial victory; it will be total. The saints that will be alongside Him will be those who have been called, chosen and faithful.
Rev 17:14 These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.
This is a repeated thought from previous commentaries. The more I write on this taking of the land in Canaan the more I see the parallels to the 2nd return of Christ. There are many similarities in Israel as to what was seen in King Saul. There would be victories and evidence of blessing but not obedience to the Lord in the destroying of an enemy. After the rebuke from this angel the children of Israel wept and called the place Bochim. This city name’s means (weepers) and it was located near to Shiloh.
In verses 6-9 we have a brief review of what was seen in Joshua 24 at the close of Joshua’s life. The children of Israel served Joshua and the elders all the days of their lives but started turning from God with the arising of a new generation. We find that they served Balaam which in fact was an assortment of many different gods. This could well be one of the fruits of not driving out their enemies when they had the chance. A good illustration of what happens to a people when they do not totally drive out an enemy when given the chance can be understood from a bushel of apples. The entire bushel can have the choicest best apples but put one rotten or spoiled apple into the mix and the result will be a bushel of corrupted fruit. One little bit of leaven can lumpeth the whole loaf. One bad apple can spoil a bushel and one corrupted person(s) not driven out can affect an entire nation. The children of Israel even began to bow before some of these gods. How can it be? Is there any way that this example could serve as a warning to us? God’s anger was against Israel and they soon found that they were in no position to stand before their foes (vs 14). It was in this environment where God began to raise up Judges to lead Israel in battle against those that were spoiling them. Still, they would not hearken to these judges but went after other gods in absolute defiance against God. They turned “quickly” out of the way. The fathers who taught them to walk in the ways of God’s commandments and laws are now but a memory. This new generation was serving God on their terms because they now knew a better way, a more convenient way. This was a cycle that was about to repeat itself over and over through the reign of the Judges. In today’s Christianity we need to be very careful to not commit the same offense. The contemporary culture has an appeal that is slowly finding greater expression in the church. We must never lose that sense of awe and reverence for God and His presence. He is a holy God and we must approach Him with due respect. We must have a willingness to hear and obey his voice and commands.
There are certain enemies yet left in the land that Israel had to learn to do battle with. This is something seen throughout the life of a believer. God allows enemies to exist to often prove us and see where our true loyalties lie. It allows us to rely upon God and see His strength and faithfulness at work. The bottom line which is seen over and over is that God wants a people who will uphold and keep His commandments. We must come into that place where we see God’s laws and commandments as a blessing and treasure as opposed to keeping them in grudging obedience.
Sadly, Israel reverted back to the ways of Balaam in taking the daughters of Canaan to be wives while giving their daughters to their sons. This is the fallout from the counsel of Balaam (Num 31:16). This is not a particularly good way to begin one’s occupation of their inheritance. The mixture that resulted drew the anger and ire of God. The problem that is seen here is a perpetual one that exists to this day where the people of God are found mixing in the ways of the world. We need to pause and reflect upon the consistent warnings and exhortations that God spoke to Israel through both Moses and Joshua.
When you go into the land you are to drive out the enemies and make no peace with them. These enemies served idols and had pagan practices and God did not want His people to be tainted by them. The same principle applies today but in a more spiritual context. The spirit that governs the world is at constant variance with the kingdom of God. We have to co-exist in a world with unbelievers but it does not mean that we adopt the world’s practices and ways. The counsel of Balaam allowed for Israel to mingle and co-exist with heathen nations. This weakened them and opened the door for mixture and idolatry to enter into the camp. This is why the church today must guard against this spiritual Balaam. These early chapters in Judges should awaken us to modern day parallels. This is why Balaam is mentioned in one of the Lord’s addresses to the 7 churches (Rev 2:14). In the Old Testament it was the seeds of Balaam’s counsel that eventually gave rise to the ultimate Baal worshipper whom we know as Jezebel. Her daughter (Athaliah) married into the godly royal line and was nearly successful in extinguishing the royal lineage (2 Kings 11:1). It was a godly priestly marriage consisting of Jehoiada and Jehosheba that preserved the baby Joash from this treachery. This is what can happen when the godly line becomes intermingled with the world’s system. The church of the last days is also warned against Jezebel (Rev 2:20). May the Lord help us to pay good heed to this example from the Book of Judges. History does repeat itself!
In verses 9-11 we are introduced to the first Judge of Israel. This resulted from Israel coming under the judgement of God for their disobedience. There was a period of 8 years where Israel was subject to the king of Mesopotamia. After all that God had done for Israel and how He went before them in battles they now find themselves once again under bondage. Israel realized their wrong and began crying out to God. A deliverer came forth by the name of Othneil, the son of law to Caleb. He brought deliverance to Israel resulting in a period of rest for 40 years. Othneil was a faithful judge for we see that during his reign there was peace and rest from foreign invaders. The cycle of disobedience is evident once again as Israel reverts back into idolatry. This time the Lord raises up a king in Moab (Eglon) to be their master. Eglon secured help from Ammon and Amalek to further secure his kingdom. It can be assumed that they first attacked the lands of the 2 1/2 tribes on the eastern side of Jordan and then crossed over Jordan and attacked the city of Palm Trees which would be Jericho (Deu 34:3). What a sad testimony in light of all that took place in these same areas years earlier. How quick and how soon a people can forget the goodness of God. I feel it is important to post a portion of scripture that Moses gave to Israel as they were preparing to enter the land. It serves as a warning to us as well.
Deu 11:16 Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them;
Deu 11:17 And then the LORD’S wrath be kindled against you, and he shut up the heaven, that there be no rain, and that the land yield not her fruit; and lest ye perish quickly from off the good land which the LORD giveth you.
Deu 11:18 Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes.
Deu 11:19 And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
Deu 11:20 And thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates:
Deu 11:21 That your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, in the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers to give them, as the days of heaven upon the earth.
Deu 11:22 For if ye shall diligently keep all these commandments which I command you, to do them, to love the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, and to cleave unto him;
Deu 11:23 Then will the LORD drive out all these nations from before you, and ye shall possess greater nations and mightier than yourselves.
Deu 11:24 Every place whereon the soles of your feet shall tread shall be yours: from the wilderness and Lebanon, from the river, the river Euphrates, even unto the uttermost sea shall your coast be.
Deu 11:25 There shall no man be able to stand before you: for the LORD your God shall lay the fear of you and the dread of you upon all the land that ye shall tread upon, as he hath said unto you.
Deu 11:26 Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse;
Deu 11:27 A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day:
Deu 11:28 And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known.
Luke 7 – Read day 84 commentary