1 Samuel 1-4

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Continuing in our reading through the Bible – we come to 1 & 2 Samuel. In the original Hebrew text these books were actually one large book aptly named “Samuel”. (They were later divided in the Greek translation and have remained that way ever since). These books chronicle the end of the Judges with Eli and Samuel – and the transition into the Israelite Monarchy under King Saul and then King David. The lives of both Samuel and David are outlined in detail within these pages.

As we have already witnessed, the nation of Isreal has struggled from her beginning to fully obey God and walk in His ways. Our bird’s-eye view provides insight into the revolving door their lack of obedience has led them on. We have the benefit of hindsight as we watch God’s people obey Him and enjoy the benefits of the obedience – as well as seeing them wander into all sorts of evil and abominations, only to reap the destruction that accompanies those choices. From corrupt priests to whole communities involved in unrepentant gross sin – God’s people have found themselves vacillating back and forth between two extremes since the days of Joshua.

As 1 Samuel opens – we see that things have not changed.

Eli is the current judge ruling over the tribes of Israel – and his son’s are corrupt in the worst way. Cheating the system – stealing from the sacrifices meant for God – oppressing God’s people with threats… the list goes on and on. Perhaps even more embarrassing is the fact that Eli seems unable (or unwilling) to intervene and discipline his sons. This will eventually lead to his downfall.

So what has God been doing during this period recorded in the end of Judges and into Ruth and 1 Samuel? The Bible tells us that “The word of the Lord was rare and precious in those days; there was no frequent or widely spread vision.” 1 Sam 3:1b AMP. God has been watching – waiting – keeping silent as His people reject His instructions and run into disaster at every turn. I believe God’s heart has been breaking at the sight of this nation (whom He had such big plans for) seemingly unable to learn from their past mistakes. Consistently falling into rebellious sin, foreign nation after foreign nation comes along and oppresses them – once delivered by their loving, watchful God – they soon forget and fall right back into the same situation.

Like so many of us these days.

This time God is raising up a new Judge. This Judge would not only rescue the people from their current calamity, but he will also begin to speak on behalf of the Lord to attempt to curb this cycle the Israelites have found themselves in. This Judge will be wise beyond this years – full of power and anointing from the Spirit of God – equipped with the words from the Almighty Himself.

Enter: The Prophet.

After a period of silence – God begins a new approach for His people… raising up a Prophet among them to speak – plead – warn the Israelites to turn from their own way and return back to His. Samuel is the first of that kind… the last of the Judges and the first of the Prophets. He is revered, honored, respected, feared… but also rejected.

One would think God’s people would hear the words of the Prophets and be cut to the quick, repent, cry out, and resume their relationship with their God anew. But, unfortunately, as we have seen so many times already, the people are stubborn, hard-hearted, thick-skulled, and determined to live their own way.

Aren’t you glad we have evolved so much today?

Be Fruitful & Multiply,

PK

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Ruth

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In the final chapters of the book of Judges – and into the tiny book of Ruth – we find a sampling of what life was like in early Israel during the time when the various “judges” led the fledgling nation. Each account provides us a glimpse into not only the everyday life of the Israelites – but also their declining spiritual state as well.

In Judges 17-21 we are given insight into two situations which happened sometime during the period described in chapters 1-16 of Judges. These times were aptly summarized as “In those days Israel had no king.” This is a way of saying that everyone pretty much did as they pleased and lawlessness was on the increase throughout the land. Israel was basically a tribal state, with groups of people ruling themselves. The two Levite stories – one Levite who sells his services to the highest bidder – and the second Levite who casts off his concubine to save his own skin – both describe the serious spiritual state of the nation. Israel had fallen so far from the days of Joshua and the elders that widespread sin had infected her to the core. One Levite had no qualms with serving foreign gods for a quick buck, (revealing how idols had become a “normal” way of life for God’s people – even mixing idol worship with the Law of Moses). The other Levite found himself in the midst of rampant sin that had infected an entire tribe. (Again – evidence of widespread sin). This Levite cared very little for anyone but himself – as proven by his treatment of his concubine.

After reading the ending of Judges – one could easily abandon hope for Israel. We all heard Moses and Joshua plead with the people to be diligent and prevent this exact thing from happening – yet here only a few generations later – things have gotten so bad that even the Levites are corrupt and an entire 1/12th of the nation was condoning filth and vile practices and calling them normal.

Sound familiar?

But then – just when all hope is lost – along comes the little book of Ruth. This book also is written of a time during the leadership of the judges. During the canonization process this book was almost left out of the Bible because it never mentions the Name of God in it – but as we have seen – it plays a vital role in our bird’s-eye view of the story of God and man.

The account of Ruth – daughter-in-law to Naomi – unveils a light in the midst of grave darkness. Naomi (along with Ruth) finds themselves in a dark situation. In the beginning Naomi wrongly attributes this situation to God – but by the end she will learn just who God really is!

This entire book is written around the Law of the Kinsmen Redeemer found in several places – but namely Deut 25:5-6.

If brothers live together and one of them dies and has no son, his wife shall not be married outside the family to a stranger [an excluded man]. Her husband’s brother shall go in to her and take her as his wife and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her. And the firstborn son shall succeed to the name of the dead brother, that his name may not be blotted out of Israel.”

Included in the Law of Moses to protect the innocent and those who find themselves in a desperate situation – the account of Ruth proves that not everyone has totally ignored the instructions left to them by Moses/Joshua!  Boaz – per his responsibility once the nearest kin declined – steps in and “redeems” Ruth – providing Naomi with a birthright to carry on the family name. That family lineage would trace from Obed to Jesse to King David (and eventually to the birth of Jesus).

A beautiful story… that means so much more…

According to Leviticus 25 – there were four basic requirements to become a Kinsmen Redeemer and have the right to purchase back the lost property:

      1. He must be nearest kin. (Lev. 25:25;48)

      2. He must be financially and physically able to redeem.

      3. He must be willing to redeem. (This wasn’t forced – just expected).

      4. He must pay the redemption price in full. (Lev 25:27)

As par the course – we see Jesus all within these pages. Like Naomi and Ruth – the Bible says that humanity (you and I) are without hope. Lost in darkness with no chance for a future – we need someone to help us – come and rescue us – redeem us – buy back our lost property and purchase us from slavery.

That One must meet the requirements of the Kinsman Redeemer. Jesus DID!

      1. He became fully man (and our nearest kin). – Heb 2:17

      2. He was without sin & financially blessed (therefore able to redeem us). – 2 Cor 8:9; Heb 4:15

      3. He was willing to redeem us. – Mark 10:45

      4. He paid the redemption price IN FULL on the cross! – John 3:16

You and I are invited to respond to this offering of redemption. We can choose to reject it – or choose to respond as Ruth did; “Cover me with Your garment…” (Ruth 3:9).

 

 

Be Fruitful & Multiply,

PK

Judges 11-14

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So with the renovation of our church sanctuary in full speed mode – I missed an opportunity to blog about an interesting phrase that is used throughout the accounts of the various judges over Israel. As we have discussed – after the death of Joshua and all of the leaders of his generation, the Israelites fell into a pattern of evil and disobedience of the Lord’s commands (Joshua 2:8-11). The cycle of disobedience – cry for deliverance – and raising up a judge is repeated over and over throughout this period. The main point is to show how quickly God’s people rebelled and strayed from what Moses & Joshua had instilled within them.

During a discussion with one of the men of our church – it was brought up how many times the judges were described as “the Spirit of the Lord coming upon them”. Not only in Judges – but elsewhere in the Old Testament do we see this happening… and usually with stunning results! Refer these few times in Judges alone:

  • Judges 3:10 – Spirit comes upon Othniel – result: victory in war.
  • Judges 6:34 – Spirit comes upon Gideon – result: blew trumpet, raised army, defeated Midionites. (Before this happened – remember that Gideon walked in fear – even toppling his fathers idols during the darkness of night!).
  • Judges 11:29 – Spirit comes upon Jepthah – result: defeated Ammonites.
  • Judges 14:6 & 14:19 – Spirit comes upon Samson – results: kills lion, slews men of Ashkelon.

In the Old Testamant – the Holy Spirit came upon men for specific purposes. This infusion of power was usually only for a moment and lasted through that certain situation. The result of this was an empowering of that person to do a mighty work which they would have been unable to do alone.

Fast forward to Jeremiah – where this Prophet speaks of a time coming when this was going to change. Unlike the OT – in the future the law would be “IN their minds” and “ON their hearts”. (Jeremiah 31:31-34).

Fast forward further in the story – to Jesus in Luke 3:22. When Jesus comes out of the baptismal waters, Scripture records that the Holy Spirit came UPON Him as a dove. Following the OT pattern we have already seen – what great task was this empowering Jesus to accomplish? Both the mighty miracles He would perform as well as the definitive work of the cross.

Next in Acts 2:1-4 we see the Day of Pentecost… when the Holy Spirit fell upon the 120 worshipers in the upper room. But this time it is different! Instead of the “Spirit coming upon them” as we saw over and over again… this time they were “filled with the Holy Spirit”.

Instead of the Spirit coming ON them – He came IN them!

The results are the same as when in the OT – the individual being infused with the Holy Spirit were empowered to accomplish something mighty beyond their own ability. But after Acts 2 – the Holy Spirit came IN people… and the result was they were empowered to do something mighty which was beyond their ability. And not just for a limited time – but this time it was permanently within them!).

One more thing… if we back up to the prophet Joel and see his words in Joel 2:28-29 we are told that this “pouring out of the Spirit” will be for everyone! (That means you and me as well!).

 

So what are we waiting for? Receive the promise of the Holy Spirit – stand in that power and might (just like Samson) – and do the mighty works of God that you are unable to do on your own!

 

Be Fruitful & Multiply,

PK

Judges 10

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Perhaps, like me, you get this frustrated feeling as you read through the first half of the book of Judges? Perhaps you see the repeated promises of obedience on the part of the Israelites as hollow and thin. Perhaps you start to question their truthfulness when they repent in times of trouble – only to fall right back into the same evil choices which led them into the trouble in the first place.

If you are feeling that way as you read – it is clear that God is beginning to feel that way as well. For once again we see the Israelites in need of a rescue. Fresh off the heals of the failure of Abimelech – we see new leadership under Tola and Jair. While under this leadership, we have no record of Israel straying… yet how quickly they resort back to their old ways once the current judge has died? (Judges 10:6). This time it is the Philistines to the south and the Ammorites to the east who come and bring oppression to God’s people.

But – did you notice how God reacted when the Israelites cried out to Him? In Judges 10:10 we see the people react as they had many times before.

And the Isrealites cried out to the Lord…”

Many times this same plot had played out – with Israel turning away from the Lord – they are oppressed by the enemy – they cry out to God – He hears and has compassion on them – He raises up a judge to rescue them. Over and over and over again this scene plays… until now… This time God does not seem to receive their empty words so easily as before. After reminding them of the numerous times He has come to their rescue – he astonishes them by making the stunning statement, “I will deliver you no more” (10:13).

The Israelites quickly figure out what we have the ease of seeing in hindsight. God is interested in REAL repentance from His people… not mere lip-service. Thus far His people have shown an ill-regard for Him and His Covenant. They have broken it more times then can be counted – and have grown accustomed to simply saying ‘We are sorry’ – then sitting back while God rescues them from their enemies.

But this time God seems to have had enough with that game… and is requiring something more.

As the gravity of their situation falls upon the Israelites (after God shocks them with His refusal) – they take 5 important steps which proves their genuine repentance. These five steps can be a lesson for us today as well.

  1. They own up to their sin (vs 15). By admitting “we have sinned”, the people make a confession and acknowledge their sin… thus one of the first steps to true repentance.
  2. They surrender to God (vs 15). The people give themselves over to the Lord; “do what you will with us”. Like David would do in the future – it has become abundantly clear that being in the hands of the Lord is much better then being in the hands of evil men.
  3. They ask for deliverance now (vs 15). This is a sure sign of desperation – which reveals their hearts are primed for the change they so desperately need.
  4. They remove the sin (vs 16). By “putting away the strange gods from among them”, God’s people take another step towards true repentance. It is one thing to mouth words… but another to take action to correct the injustice done.
  5. They served the Lord (vs 16). The final act of true repentance… making a concisive decision to return to the Lord and serve Him alone.

Whjen confronted with disaster, God’s people were being taught a valuable lesson. True repentance is not simply apologizing – but taking the necessary steps to correct the discretion and moving back into the right direction. In fact – the word ‘repentance’ means to “turn and move in the opposite way”.

The real question is… was this lesson learned?

Be Fruitful & Multiply,

PK

Judges 3-5

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Do you notice a pattern?

Four seasons of rebellion and sin.

Four seasons of slavery.

Four judges raised up by God to rescue His people and return them to peace.

Do you notice a pattern?

 

“And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord” (3:7). The result of those evil choices was 8 years of servitude to the King of Mesopotamia (Babylon). Then God hears their cries for help, and in His mercy He raises up the 1st Judge – Othniel – to rescue them and restore them (3:11).

“And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the Lord” (3:12). The result of those repeated evil choices was 18 years of slavery to Moab. Then the Lord again responds to His people’s cries for help by raising up the 2nd Judge – Ehud – to rescue them and restore them to peace for 80 years (3:30).

Then again the pattern is repeated – with God raising up the 3rd judge – Shamgar – to rescue His people and restore them to peace (3:31).

“And the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord” (4:1). The result of those evil choices was 20 years of slavery to the Canaanites (whom they should have exterminated years earlier). This time God raises up Barak and Deborah to rescue His people and restore them to 40 years of peace (5:31).

Do you notice a pattern?

 

Then Judges 5 records a song, which (to me) reflects the life of the believer living under the Blessing. After the war has bee fought – and the smoke clears – the lights go down and the subtle sounds of a song fill the air. Deborah and Barak come out on stage and sing a beautiful duet about what the Lord has done.

Before the victory – life was difficult. Bandits and robbers held the citizens in captivity in their own homes (5:6-7). The people (thinking God had abandoned them) chose new gods to ask for help… which only led to more trouble (5:8). They couldn’t even go to draw water (a normal part of daily life) because the bandits would ambush them (5:11). But – after the victory – there was such peace that even the rich folks would talk about it in the streets (5:10).

Do you notice a pattern?

 

The message here should be clear – we all have a choice in our lives. We can either follow the Lord’s direction and reap the spoils of peace and a good life – or we can choose other ways and reap those spoils of war and slavery. Our God is merciful and He will hear our cries and come to our rescue every time – yet wouldn’t it be easier to simply obey Him from the start?

It was the same God who raised up the final Judge in His Son, Jesus. At the sound of our desperate cries for help – He came and delivered us from our slavery to sin (Rom 6:16) and restored us to peace and a good life. What Good News that is!

Can you hear the music coming?

 

Be Fruitful & Multiply,

PK