Monday, November 19, 2012
JUDGES, FOLLOWING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF FAITH, Today’s Hymn, This Is My Prayer, Mon, 11/19/2012
LOSERS, LAYMEN AND LEADERS, Lesson 2b
Lessons From The Lives Of The Judges Of Israel
OTHNIEL: THE LION OF GOD
Because Israel refused to walk with the Lord like He commanded them to, He refused to drive out all their enemies in the land of Canaan. Thus, Israel was forced to live alongside the very people they had been sent to destroy.
We are told in verses 1-4 exactly why God left the people in the land. Look at His reasons.
v. 1 He left them there to prove Israel – The word “prove” means “to put to the test”. God allowed the pagans to live around His people to test Israel.
His people were tested to see how they would live when surrounded by the wicked. His people were tested to see if they would keep His commandments or not, v. 4. They failed this test!
v. 2 He left them there to teach new generations about spiritual warfare. God wanted them to learn the lessons of battle their fathers had known. God wanted them to be strong and to know how to fight the enemy when he came around. They failed this test too!
It wasn’t long until this caused some serious problems among the people of Israel. Israel proved that they could not be trusted to stand up against the enemy. They proved that they would rather join the enemy than fight them.
Let’s notice how God delivered Israel from a time of cruel bondage by raising up Othniel: The Lion Of God.
v. 5-7 ISRAEL’S COMPROMISE
These verses give us the ugly details of Israel’s first great failure. What Israel did then is what we see people doing all around us today. Notice how they compromised the Word of God and the will of God to do the things they wanted to do.
v. 5 Interaction With The Canaanites – The Bible says that the children of Israel “dwelt among” the various tribes of Canaan. The word “dwelt” has the idea “of settling down; of setting up housekeeping”.
When Israel arrived in Canaan. They were commanded to destroy these people without mercy, and not to live among them. It took a very short time for their former enemies to become their new neighbors.
Here’s the problem, Israel was to be separate from the world around them. They were unique among all the peoples of the world. They had been chosen, redeemed and set apart to serve the Lord God Almighty, and He expected them to remain separate, (Deut. 7:6-11). Because they didn’t, they opened a floodgate of sin that would end with them facing the terrible chastisement of God.
Do I need to remind you that God’s redeemed ones are to be a separate people as well,( 2 Cor. 6:17)? Need I remind you that we are a “peculiar people”, (Titus 2:14)? That does not mean we are weird, it means that we are “His special possession”. He loved us, He chose us, He send His Son to die for us; He redeemed us and bought us, (1 Cor. 6:19-20).
When we refuse to walk in His will and honor His Word in our lives, we also open the floodgates of sin that eventually overwhelm us and drown us in its turbulent currents. It is a dangerous thing for a child of God to live like the world around him!
v. 6a Intermarriage With The Canaanites – After a while, the people of Israel got so used to living among the Canaanites that they began to intermarry with them. This was expressly forbidden by the Lord. It was pure disobedience on their part.
Maybe they said, “These Canaanites are not as bad as we were told. They are actually very nice people. They’re not monsters at all. Their girls make good devoted wives. There is no reason why we can’t marry them. After all, we might just be able to change them.” Israel soon found out that it was them and not the Canaanites that changed.
As they married into the tribes around them, the Israelites began to lose their national identity. The very integrity of their families began to break down. They soon lost the very thing that made them unique.
The same danger confronts us today. When we get too close to the world around us, we will soon find ourselves entangled with them in their sins. The company you keep will determine how close you walk to the Lord, (1 Cor. 15:33). That is why God has ever commanded His people to keep their distance from the lost world around them ( Cor. 2:14).
We must interact with the world so that we can be a light to them and give them the Gospel, ( Matt. 5;16; Acts 1:8). But, we must keep our spiritual distance. It is but a short step from walking with the world to living like the world.
v. 6b, 7b Idolatry With The Canaanites – it was a very short step from living among them, to marrying them to worshiping with them. You can imagine how they rationalized this. Perhaps they said, “Well, you marry a Canaanite girl and you just have to understand how they are. They were brought up differently than we were. You have to allow them to bring their gods. After all, it’s just part of her culture.” This sounds more like politics than religion.
So, these people, the children of Israel, who had been redeemed by the blood of the lamb, and who had been delivered from Egypt by God’s mighty power, who has been the beneficiaries of God’s power and work time and again, find themselves bowing before the idol God’s of the Canaanites. Verse 7b says they “served Baalim and the groves”. This refers to the various gods and goddesses of the Canaanites.
Many of their gods were associated with fertility rituals and their worship involved disgusting sexual acts and the actual prostitution of their daughters in the groves. The groves were tall poles set up on hills. People would have intercourse between these poles in an effort to convince their gods to bless the crops and the ground with a good harvest.
What you have here is a group of people who have gone, in one generation, from worshiping God and fighting evil, to abandoning God while they sleep with the enemy! Worst of all, they took their precious sons and their precious daughters and handed them over to the very people they had been commanded to utterly destroy. Are we guilty of doing the same?
The same danger confronts wayward saints in our day! When we refuse to maintain our spiritual distance from the world around us; when we continually yoke ourselves to the people and things of the world; when we bow down at their altars, we are sacrificing a generation to the gods of this world. We are teaching our children that they are free to treat God and His Word as they please. We are telling them that it is alright to disregard God, His Word, His House, His worship and His will. We are telling that they are free to chart their own course through this world. Are we guilty of teaching our children the wrong teachings?
v. 7a Indifference With The Canaanites – Each step they took led them farther away from God. Each step they took away from Him led them down a pathway toward totally abandoning Him and His ways. Verse 7a tells us that they “forgat the Lord their God.” The word “forgat” means “to ignore, or to cease to care”. The people of Israel reached a place where they simply ignored God and ceased to care about Him or what He had to say about anything. They reached a place of total indifference toward the Lord.
That is where many in our day have come to! Most folk know the Lord is there. They know that His Word has something to say to them about their lives and how they live them. They know God as a claim on their lives, but they choose to ignore Him. He is there, but they aren’t listening. He calls, but they don’t come. They harden their hearts against God, His Word and the call of the Spirit of God. They turn a deaf ear to Him and His call on their lives. As far as they are concerned, God doesn’t matter, and He might as well not even exist! That is a dangerous place to be!
“Each Step I Take” By: Elmo Mercer (1953)
EACH STEP I TAKE MY SAVIOUR GOES BEFORE ME
AND WITH HIS LOVING HAND HE LEADS THE WAY
AND WITH EACH BREATH I WHISPER: "I ADORE THEE"
OH WHAT JOY TO WALK WITH HIM EACH DAY
EACH STEP I TAKE I KNOW THAT HE WILL GUIDE ME
TO HIGHER GROUND HE EVER LEADS ME ON
UNTIL SOMEDAY THE LAST STEP WILL BE TAKEN
EACH STEP I TAKE JUST LEADS ME CLOSER HOME
AT TIME I FEEL MY FAITH BEGIN TO WAVER
WHEN UP AHEAD I SEE A CHASM WIDE
IT'S THEN I TURN AND LOOK UP TO MY SAVIOUR
I AM STRONG WHEN HE IS BY MY SIDE
I TRUST IN GOD NO MATTER COME WHAT MAY
FOR LIFE ETERNAL IS IN HIS HAND
HE HOLDS THE KEY THAT OPENS UP THE WAY
THAT WILL LEAD ME TO THE PROMISED LAND
THIS IS MY PRAYER!
Most Holy and Loving Father, Creator and God Almighty! We live by every word that comes from Your mouth; otherwise, we put our soul at risk of being lost. When the sword-thrust of temptation from the devil threatens our soul, help us to counter every attack with Your Word in scripture. Enable us to be prepared and ready to defend ourselves and Your Life-Giving Word. Fill us with the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. Thank You, Lord, for feeding us so abundantly and generously with Your Word and Spirit. Forgive us when we neglect the life-giving food you have provided for our souls. These things we pray in the blessed name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen!
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