Archive for : March, 2018

03/31/18 — Judges Chapters 3-5

In these chapters we see the actual introduction of several of the “judges.”  But, unfortunately, each judge arises at the failure of the Israelites to follow God’s will.

The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord; they forgot the Lord their God and served the Baals and the Asherahs. The anger of the Lord burned against Israel so that he sold them into the hands of Cushan-Rishathaim king of Aram Naharaim,[a] to whom the Israelites were subject for eight years.But when they cried out to the Lord, he raised up for them a deliverer, Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother, who saved them.

Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, now that Ehud was dead. So the Lord sold them into the hands of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. Sisera, the commander of his army, was based in Harosheth Haggoyim. Because he had nine hundred chariots fitted with iron and had cruelly oppressed the Israelites for twenty years, they cried to the Lord for help.  Now Deborah, a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading[ Israel at that time.

We will certainly continue to see judges arise in Israel & their success at the cycle of leading the nation back into following the Lord.  But it is a great sadness that the judges had to be raised because of the repeated failure of the people.

 

 

 

 

03/30/18 — Judges Chapters 1-2

In Judges we see the continued history of the Israelites claiming the land given to them by the Lord.  But as we move into the Book we quickly see the repeated pattern of the Nation “falling away” from the Lord.  Joshua 2 tells us:   10 After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel. 11 Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the Baals. 12 They forsook the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt.

And yet we continue to see the Lord’s dedication to His Story & we see the reason why the Book is Named “Judges:”  Judges 22:16 – 16 Then the Lord raised up judges, who saved them out of the hands of these raiders.

As we read we need to keep in mind that the word “judges” refers more to someone who is a military leader, inflicting “judgement” via their actions.

03/29/2018 — Joshua Chapters 22-24

There are no more encouraging words than what we read in Joshua 24:15 — 15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

Yet, there is another powerful example for us in Chapter 22.   1When they came to Geliloth near the Jordan in the land of Canaan, the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh built an imposing altar there by the Jordan. 11 And when the Israelites heard that they had built the altar on the border of Canaan at Geliloth near the Jordan on the Israelite side, 12 the whole assembly of Israel gathered at Shiloh to go to war against them.

However, scripture records that the alter was not built for idol worship, but, instead:

27 On the contrary, it is to be a witness between us and you and the generations that follow, that we will worship the Lord at his sanctuary with our burnt offerings, sacrifices and fellowship offerings. Then in the future your descendants will not be able to say to ours, ‘You have no share in the Lord.’  28 “And we said, ‘If they ever say this to us, or to our descendants, we will answer: Look at the replica of the Lord’s altar, which our ancestors built, not for burnt offerings and sacrifices, but as a witness between us and you.’  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.

Our lesson — “look before you leap” when making decisions regarding others.  It may take us a bit of time to really determine a person’s purpose in what they do.

03/28/3018 — Joshua Chapters 19-21

These chapters continue to show the Lord’s unique love in caring for all of His people.  We see establishment of the “cities of refuge” and the “towns for the Levites.”  Then at the very end of Chapter 21 we read verses that bring us reassurance:

43 So the Lord gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their ancestors, and they took possession of it and settled there. 44 The Lord gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their ancestors. Not one of their enemies withstood them; the Lord gave all their enemies into their hands. 45 Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.

The Lord does not change — the promise of an eternity in His presence is ours!   Amen

03/27/2018 — Joshua Chapters 16-18

As I read through these chapters one incident caught my eye — the discussion of the “people of Joseph” with Joshua over the lands they were given.

14 The people of Joseph said to Joshua, “Why have you given us only one allotment and one portion for an inheritance? We are a numerous people, and the Lord has blessed us abundantly.”  15 “If you are so numerous,” Joshua answered, “and if the hill country of Ephraim is too small for you, go up into the forest and clear land for yourselves there in the land of the Perizzites and Rephaites.”  16 The people of Joseph replied, “The hill country is not enough for us, and all the Canaanites who live in the plain have chariots fitted with iron, both those in Beth Shan and its settlements and those in the Valley of Jezreel.”

17 But Joshua said to the tribes of Joseph—to Ephraim and Manasseh—“You are numerous and very powerful. You will have not only one allotment 18 but the forested hill country as well. Clear it, and its farthest limits will be yours; though the Canaanites have chariots fitted with iron and though they are strong, you can drive them out.”

I was taken by yet another example of a people of the nation of Israel not being content  and thrilled with what they were given the the Lord. A little research shows that their territory, which measured about 55 miles by 70 miles, was at least as large in proportion to their numbers as that of any other tribe, and moreover comprehended some of the most fertile of the whole promised land.

Interestingly, Joshua was also of the same tribe and, yet, he did not back down to the challenge of the Josephites.  Instead, he challenged their faith!  We will also find later that Ephraim continually had this belligerent attitude in view of what they saw as the importance of their tribe (e.g. Judges 8:1; Judges 12:1).

03/26/2018 — Joshua Chapters 12-15

These chapters contain another fulfillment  of a promise of the Lord as the conquered lands are distributed to the tribes, except to the Levites who were prohibited from owning land by the Lord.

We see that 1/2 of Manasseh, the Reubenites, and the Gadites were granted the land east of the Jordan just as Moses had promised.  I go back to a question Liz asked in Numbers reading, “Why did these tribes want to stay east of the Jordan, separated from the other tribes?’

Several commentators quote Numbers 32:1 which states that “The Reubenites and Gadites, who had very large herds and flocks, saw that the lands of Jazer and Gilead were suitable for livestock.” So, the land east of the Jordan River was seen as a prime area for raising livestock.

03/25/2018 — Joshua Chapters 9-11

All miracles recorded in scripture are awe-inspiring.  On a personal note Chapter 10 of Joshua contains a miracle that never fails to marvel me.

13 So the sun stood still,
    and the moon stopped,
    till the nation avenged itself on its enemies,                                                                        as it is written in the Book of Jashar. The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day. 14 There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the Lord listened to a human being. Surely the Lord was fighting for Israel

From a technical point of view — what happened to the tides, the weather, and the gravitational impact our plant has on other heavenly bodies?  Also, did this miracle make this a “leap year” in Israel?

In my mind this episode just reinforces a truth we see throughout scripture.  To fulfill His plan and compete His story there is nothing that the Lord our God will not do.

03/24/2018 — Joshua Chapter 5-8

Have you even considered the Lord a “military strategist?”  In Chapter 8:1-3 we see Joshua exercise a basic military movement instructed by the inspiration of the Lord:

Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Take the whole army with you, and go up and attack Ai. For I have delivered into your hands the king of Ai, his people, his city and his land. You shall do to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho and its king, except that you may carry off their plunder and livestock for yourselves. Set an ambush behind the city.

Verses 11-23 describe the military victory over the city of Ai.  Speaking to me in these verses is that the Lord will take whatever steps necessary to fulfill His promise to His people.

03/23/2018 — Joshua Chapters 1-4

Well, if you are like me you learn something new about God’s will every time you read the inspired word.  I certainly did as we read through the books of the law — Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.  But I am pleased to be heading back into some of the books of history.  Joshua is one of my favorites and I have used he and Moses in some business training — as an example of “transition planning.”  After the death of Moses  the Lord did not just turn to Joshua and say “you got it now.”  Instead we see in Chapter 1:5-9 that the Lord first reassured Joshua and to not fear the future:

No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.  Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Then, in Chapter 3 we see the Lord give the people a sign that Joshua is his chosen leader with the drying of the Jordan:

And the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to exalt you in the eyes of all Israel, so they may know that I am with you as I was with Moses. Tell the priests who carry the ark of the covenant: ‘When you reach the edge of the Jordan’s waters, go and stand in the river.’”

03/22/18 — Deuteronomy Chapters 32-34 & Psalms 91

In these verses there are elegant, inspired words of praise as Moses, even though his death is imminent, recognizes the glory of the Lord.  Deuteronomy 32:3-4

I will proclaim the name of the Lord.
    Oh, praise the greatness of our God!
He is the Rock, his works are perfect,
    and all his ways are just.
A faithful God who does no wrong,
    upright and just is he.

Many scholars also feel that Psalm 91 was penned by Moses:

If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
    and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
    no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
    you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

Word of praise and words of assurance for God’s Nation and for each of us.

03/21/2018 — Deuteronomy Chapters 30-31

As I read through these chapters even though we only read “words” I was taken by the emotions of  Moses that these words expressed.  We all know what it is like to leave friends behind & the emotions involved.  This is what I feel in these words.

But Moses not only expresses his sentiment towards the Nation — he leaves them with advice that we will see repeated throughout the inspired word of God:

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”  Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the Lord swore to their ancestors to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance.  The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

 

03/20/2018 — Deuteronomy Chapters 28-29

I see a New Testament parallel when I read Deuteronomy 29:2-6:

Moses summoned all the Israelites and said to them: Your eyes have seen all that the Lord did in Egypt to Pharaoh, to all his officials and to all his land. With your own eyes you saw those great trials, those signs and great wonders. But to this day the Lord has not given you a mind that understands or eyes that see or ears that hear. Yet the Lord says, “During the forty years that I led you through the wilderness, your clothes did not wear out, nor did the sandals on your feet. You ate no bread and drank no wine or other fermented drink. I did this so that you might know that I am the Lord your God.”

The Israelites had seen all of the miracles the Lord had bestowed them.  Yet, Moses refers to them as not having spiritual understanding of what had occurred.

Well — take a look at Mark 8:17-19    17 Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? 18 Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember? 19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?” “Twelve,” they replied.

The Nation of Israel and Christ’s disciples saw miracles surrounding them and, yet, did not fully understand who God and His Son are.  But reflect — do we look around us each day and fail to see the hand of God involved in our daily lives?

 

 

 

 

 

03/19/2018 — Deuteronomy Chapters 24-27

The historical significance of the area close to the two mountains named in Deuteronomy 27, Mt. Ebal and Mt. Gerizim, is immense.  For lying between these two mountains is the city of Schechem.

Genesis  12:6 tells us that Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him.

The Israelites were now there and I have to wonder – did Abraham ever climb these mountains and look out over what was the “Promised Land?”

So, while we may be tempted to read through these verses quickly and without focus we need to always recognize  that each letter, each word in the inspired Word of God is placed their to help us learn more about the fulfillment if His plan for mankind.

 

 

3/18/2018 — Deuteronomy Chapters 21-23

As we have seen with many others of God’s laws Chapter 21 contains instructions for caring for “your brother.”

If you see your fellow Israelite’s ox or sheep straying, do not ignore it but be sure to take it back to its owner. If they do not live near you or if you do not know who owns it, take it home with you and keep it until they come looking for it. Then give it back. Do the same if you find their donkey or cloak or anything else they have lost. Do not ignore it. If you see your fellow Israelite’s donkey or ox fallen on the road, do not ignore it. Help the owner get it to its feet.

A commentator wrote that these verses contain specific “action words:”

a. You shall not see . . . and then hide yourself: God here condemned the sin of doing nothing. To see your brother in need, and to do nothing, is to do evil.

b. Until your brother seeks it; then you shall restore it to him: Simply put, when something is lost, a finder cannot claim it as theirs without taking all due diligence to restore it to the owner.

c. You shall surely help him left them up again: Also, if someone’s donkey falls down, and you can help them, then you must. To pass by your brother in need and to hide yourself from them is to sin against your brother and against God.

3/17/2018 — Deuteronomy Chapters 17-20

I was not very far into this reading when I came across a passage that helps explain so many of the laws the Lord gave the Israelites through Moses.  Reading from Chapter 17:7 — The hands of the witnesses must be the first in putting that person to death, and then the hands of all the people. You must purge the evil from among you.

Coffman writes:  “Capital punishment of idolaters was not a desirable thing per se, but it was enjoined out of regard to the welfare of the whole nation. God was the King of Israel, and the worship of another God was simply high treason, thus deserving the most severe penalty.

Several times in the Law we see the penalty of death imposed.   While certainly the results are humanly tragic we must remember that the Lord had chosen Israel as His nation — and His law was to help them remain pure by “purging the evil” in their midst.

3/16/2018 — Deuteronomy Chapters 14-16

As we have seen in other chapters of Deuteronomy there is much repetition of what we have read in earlier books. And as we read Chapter 14:28-29 we see the Lord’s continued care for who we may consider “forgotten” people of that time:

At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year’s produce and store it in your towns, 29 so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.

In particular note the the Lord’s instructions includes the “foreigners.”  This is significant because foreignness could not own land and care for themselves.  Yet, the Lord provided …

3/15/2018 – Deuteronomy Chapters 11-13

Do the verses in Deut. 11: 18-20 sound familiar:   18 Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 20 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates,

Go back a few Chapters to Deut. 6:7-8  These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

Now, if you are like me and someone repeats an instruction it is usually because it is very important!  In his commentary I think Matthew Henry does a marvelous job of summarizing the importance of these verses for the Israelites and for us:

1. Let our hearts be filled with the word of God: Lay up these words in your heart and in your soul. The heart must be the treasury or store-house in which the word of God must be laid up, to be used upon all occasions. 

2. Let our eyes be fixed upon the word of God. “Bind these words for a sign upon your hand, which is always in view (Isa. 49:16 ), and as front-lets between your eyes, which you cannot avoid the sight of; let them be as ready and familiar to you, and have your eye as constantly upon them, 

3. Let our tongues be employed about the word of God. Let it be the subject of our familiar discourse, wherever we are; especially with our children, who must be taught the service of God

03/14/2018 — Deuteronomy Chapters 8-10

Chapter 8:17-18 records:  17 You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” 18 But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.

These passages remind me of a very familiar New Testament passage — Matthew 6:11  11 Give us today our daily bread.

In the model prayer we recognize that all that we have comes from the Lord — the same message that Moses conveys around 1500 years earlier.  The Lord’s message is consistent — we are but stewards.

 

 

03/13/2018 — Deuteronomy Chapters 5-7

In these verses we, again, see Moses repeat a teaching from Exodus — the ten commandments.  But the words are slightly different.  Does this mean that scripture conflicts with itself?  I am sure this is not the case and the following quote from a commentator summarizes my own thoughts.  We must keep in mind that the people Moses is now addressing were not present during the firstreading.

First, it must be remembered that Moses’ purpose in reviewing the Law is not to provide an exact word-for-word recitation of the statements in Exodus. Moses is not only reviewing the Law, but he is expounding and explaining the Law and its implications and applications for entrance into and life in the Promised Land.

Second, Moses was also under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit as he spoke and wrote the words in these passages in Deuteronomy. Consequently, it is under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that Moses altered, omitted, or added a word or phrase in his presentation of the Decalogue.

 

03/12/2018 — Deuteronomy Chapters 3-4

Do the following verses from Deuteronomy 4:1-2 sound familiar?:  1 Now, Israel, hear the decrees and laws I am about to teach you. Follow them so that you may live and may go in and take possession of the land the Lord, the God of your ancestors, is giving you. Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the Lord your God that I give you.

How about Revelation 22:18-19? —   18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. 19 And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll

One major reason I believe in the inspiration of the Holy Scriptures is their consistency and that they do not contradict each other.  As we see here – from one of the earliest patriarchs, Moses, until some of the final words recorded by the Holy Spirit the message is consistent.