Go out into the Battlefield – Judges 5

“Why did you sit at home among the sheepfolds- to hear the shepherds whistle for their flocks? Yes, in the tribe of Reuben there was great indecision.” (Judges 5:16)

In this chapter, Deborah recounts the battle in a song of victory. Starts with how Israel’s leaders took charge, but how only Zebulun and Naphtali fought and the others didn’t join in the battle. It tells of how Jael deceived Sisera and killed him and ends with his mother wondering why he is taking so long to get home, comforting herself with hopes that he is taking long due to all the spoil being collected. So Judges 4 and 5 are the same- one the actual story, then done in song.

Just as the tribe of Reuben and the others who didn’t go out into battle but stayed home, there are so many Christians today just staying home to pray. They are content to let others go out into the battle field while they sip on their cups of tea and pray for the warriors in comfort. While prayer is important and has its place, so the battlefield is just as important and needs our attention. As Christians, we are in a battlefield and need to wage war against the enemy for the souls of man. We need to get out there on the field and win as many souls as we can before Jesus, our Chief in command returns. Will you put on your armour and head out to battle today, or will you stay home and pray?

“Lord, today I get dressed for battle, I put on my armour and forgive me for taking it off! Forgive me for not going out onto the field enough to save souls, help me to pray to prepare myself for war, not just pray and stay home. You said the harvest is ripe, but the labourers are few- send out more labourers, and I volunteer as one of them- in Jesus’ name, amen.”

*Matt 28:18-20; Eph 6:10-18

Spiritual Covering – Judges 4

“And Barak said to her, ‘If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go!’ So she said, ‘I will surely go with you; nevertheless there will be no glory for you in the journey you are taking, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.’ Then Deborah arose and went with Barak to Kedesh.” (Judges 4:8-9)

In this chapter, after Ehud died, the children of Israel did evil in the Lord’s sight again and were sold into the hand of Jabin, King of Hazor. His commanding officer was Sisera. He ruthlessly oppressed the children of Israel for twenty years. After this time, there was a prophetess named Deborah, who was judging the people of Israel at that time. One day she called for Barak son of Abinoam to lead the charge against Sisera. But Barak wouldn’t go unless Deborah went with them. At this, she told him she would go, but said that because he was letting a woman lead the battle with him, she said he would receive no glory for the victory. So they won the victory and Sisera was killed by a woman named Jael, a supposed ally with Jabin, King of Hazor. She hammered a tent peg through his temple while he was sleeping!

Who is most remembered for this battle? Barak or Deborah? Most will remember Deborah as the one who led the army of Israel into Battle and won the victory! But Deborah herself acknowledged that Barak was meant to receive the honour for it- but because he wanted Deborah to come along, she received the honour, not him. In that day and age, men were meant to go to war, not women. Deborah knew this. Paul the Apostle talked about women and their role in the church. Many, including myself can become confused at this subject, because in the book of Acts, it says that Philip the Evangelist had 4 daughters who were prophetesses. Now, how could they be prophetesses unless they were allowed to exercise their gifts and prophesy in their church? In 1 Cor 11:5, he says that women were not allowed to pray or prophesy unless her head was covered. Their covering was just like a muslim’s head covering you see today- it was cultural. So it seems here that Paul let women speak, but ONLY with a covering. But in 1 Cor 14:34-38, he does not permit women to speak at all, and points out that the word of God did not originate with Eve, but with Adam, and in verse 37 says the things he writes is a command from the Lord! In 1 Tim 2:8-15, again, he clearly says that no women can have authority over a man and are to learn in silence with all submission. Again, he mentions Adam and Eve. So why in one place say women can speak in public only with a covering on, and in other places says they can’t speak at all? Is it because women can have a relevant ministry, but must submit to the “covering” of a man’s spiritual authority? And unless one does, she cannot minister at all? But even I, as a man, cannot minister unless I go through submission to spiritual authority- so is the real issue about women then, or all about submission to spiritual authority? While it is true, of the principle that Paul brings out about the Word not originating with women, we must all submit to authority. I believe then, that it is biblical that women can have a place of ministry and leadership among the men, just like Phillip’s daughters, but not usurping the man’s spiritual authority. Something to ponder…

*Acts 21:8-9; 1 Cor 11:1-16; 14:34-38; 1 Tim 2:8-15

Will you pass the test? – Judges 3

“These people were left to test the Israelites- to see whether they would obey the commands the Lord had given to their ancestors through Moses.” (Judges 3:4)

In this chapter, the Lord left certain nations (Philistines, Canaanites etc) to test His people to see whether they would obey Him or not. They didn’t pass the test, but started to intermarry with the other nations and bow down to their gods. So the Lord handed them over to their enemies, and this chapter begins the story of the Judges who rescued His people as they cried out to the Lord for help. The first three Judges’ stories are told here, who are Othniel, Ehud and Shamgar. Othniel was Caleb’s nephew.

Some people think God doesn’t test His people today, that if they are saved and God’s child, that they are somehow free of trials. When they come along, however, they quickly lose their faith in God, thinking bad things shouldn’t happen to them as Christians. But that is a lie of the enemy. There comes a time in a believers walk, where God takes off the nappy and wants them to go to the toilet instead- usually there is a mess in this process of change! He takes off the training wheels and lets them ride on two wheels, risking falling off the bike, getting hurt. God tested Job by taking away His hedge of protection, allowing Satan to attack him, seeing whether or not Job would keep his faith in God. He even tested His own Son, Jesus, by allowing Satan to tempt Him in the wilderness. The Spirit of the Lord led Jesus out there to be tempted! Job and Jesus passed the test- Adam and Eve failed, and this generation of Israelites in this book failed. But God had mercy on them and raised up Judges to deliver them. God will help you when you cry out to Him, but why not just pass the test and move on to the good things He has for you, instead of going ‘round the mountain again?’ Will you pass the test?

“Lord, Your Word says that blessed is the man who endures trials and temptation, so there can only be a curse for those who don’t. I want to live in Your blessing and pass the tests You allow me to go through, for I know they are only for my growth in Christ- in Jesus’ name, amen.”

*Job 1-2; Luke 4:1-13; Jas 1:12-15

Raising up the next generation – Judges 2

“When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel.” (Judges 2:10)

After their obvious failure to drive out the inhabitants of the land, the Angel of the Lord appears to Israel, telling them they have broken the Covenant He made with them. They disobeyed God because they did not drive them out like He commanded. So the Lord declared that He was no longer going to drive out the enemy, but that they will remain as thorns in their sides and be a constant temptation to serve their gods. Also, Joshua’s death is told again in this chapter and that when his generation died, the next generation knew nothing of the Lord and what He did for Israel. So they began to sin and to serve Baal and the Ashtoreths, the gods of the nations they were meant to drive out. Because of this, the Lord caused them to become defeated by their enemies, but when they cried out to the Lord, He had pity on them and raised up Judges to defeat their enemies again. As long as there was a Judge in Israel, the people stayed on track, but as soon as he died, they fell back into sin.

I find it amazing that the next generation after Joshua knew nothing of the Lord and what He did for Israel! You would think they would be raving mad to their kids about what God did for them, in rescuing them from Egypt and taking possession of the land! You would think that they would tell their kids all about it- Joshua said “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord-” so surely he told his kids! Joshua and his generation may have done all that God wanted them to do and conquered the land, but they failed in raising up the next generation to continue on with the work of the Lord. Actually, if you notice, Moses failed in his own generation, but raised up the next; Joshua succeeded in his own but failed to raise up the next. I believe we can succeed for both! Joshua’s success came by meditating on the Book of the Law, but he failed in teaching his children to do the same. A lesson we can all learn: teach well your children about the Lord- and they will not depart from His ways, but follow Him all of their days. Amen.

“Lord, thank You for my own walk with You- but now I pray for my children after me, that You will teach me to teach them Your ways, that they truly may never depart from You ever. Give me Your wisdom to do this, and also teach any young person about you that comes along my path, raising up the next generation- in Jesus’ name, amen.”

*Prov 22:6

Have another go! – Judges 1

“The Lord was with the people of Judah, and they took possession of the hill country. But they failed to drive out the people living in the plains, who had iron chariots.” (Judges 1:19)

After the death of Moses, the Israelites asked the Lord which tribe should go first to possess their land. The Lord told them Judah, so Judah went and got help from the tribe of Simeon and went to war. The Lord gave them victory over the land, conquering the hill country, yet they still failed to drive out the people in the plains. The rest of the chapter describes failure after failure of all the other tribes driving out the Canaanites, Perrizites and Amorites. They did take control of them and forced them as slaves, but they didn’t drive them out.

I don’t believe for a second that if the people of Israel could force their enemies to be their slaves, that they couldn’t kill them, driving them from the land and fulfilling the commands of the Lord. It says in verse 19 that the Lord was with them- but they still failed! That is an oxymoron- if God be for us, who can be against us? You can’t have God with you and fail- the truth of the matter is, they gave up trying and chose not to drive them out, but became satisfied to have them as slaves. I mean, it makes sense, they’re more useful as slaves, right? But that wasn’t the Lord’s orders. He told them to drive them completely off the land, otherwise they would be thorns in their sides and a constant temptation to them. Remember then, that if you fail, it’s not because God wasn’t with you to help you, you gave up the fight. We have all done that, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Remember the phrase that says, “failure is not falling down, but not getting up and trying again.” Sure, the Israelites would have had battles they lost, we all have- but they didn’t get back up- what will you do? Have another go! And remember- if God be for us, who can be against us?

“Lord, thank You that You have made me an overcomer- more than a conqueror in Christ! Help me to always get up and try again, knowing that You are with me, to help me defeat the enemies all around me, in Jesus’ name, amen.”

*Rom 8:31-39

As for me and my house – Joshua 24

“But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphraites? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.” (Josh 24:15)

In this final chapter, Joshua summons all the tribes of Israel and renews the covenant of the Lord with them. He tells them how Abraham was called, right through to the present day, reminding them of what the Lord has done for them, to bring them into the promised land. So he gives them a clear choice, either serve their pagan gods or serve the Lord. They agree to serve the Lord, so he renews the covenant with them. After this, Joshua dies at the age of 110, and Eleazar the son of Aaron also dies. The land being possessed, finally Joseph’s bones were buried at Shechem, in the promised land.

Everyone else may be following after the things of the world, but what will you do? Joshua declares, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” It doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing, the important thing is that you and your family are serving the Lord. Why let others stop you from fulfilling the call of God and spending eternity with Jesus? Nothing else is worth your time- His Kingdom, His righteousness, His presence and His Word is what life is all about. You can have anything else, but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!

“Lord, help me to stay focussed throughout my whole life on You and Your Kingdom- because that’s what’s really important. When I go astray on other paths, lead me back to the straight and narrow and follow You all the days of my life, in Jesus’ name, amen.”

*Matt 7:13-14; Col 3:1-7; 1 Peter 1:24-25

No Joke! – Joshua 23

“Make sure you do not associate with the other people still remaining in the land. Do not even mention the names of their gods, much less swear by them or serve them or worship them. Rather, cling tightly to the Lord your God as you have done until now.” (Josh 23:7-8)

In this chapter, Joshua reminds the people of Israel of all His fulfilled promises and encourages them to keep away from the people in the land yet to be conquered and to serve only the Lord. He warns them that if they turn away from following the Lord, then just as He gave them the land, He will bring disaster on them just as quick and remove them from it. He also tells them it is soon he will die, so this is his last address to them.

Do you notice Joshua says not even to mention the names of their gods, let alone swear by them or worship them? Have you ever heard your parents warn you that when you get married, don’t even use the “D” word? They say don’t even joke about it! I asked my dad why not once, and you know what he said? Even saying it as a joke can sow it into your spouse’s heart and one day, when things do get tough, the word just may get used seriously, and followed through. You know, sin starts off as a joke. You start joking around, saying you’re gonna go to the pub and get “smashed,” beat ya mrs, or even joke around about having an affair! Then they turn from jokes to pondering thoughts, “well, I wonder what that would be like?” And you know the saying, “curiosity killed the cat-” curiosity got the better of Eve and the rest is history. Then, what you think of comes out of your mouth and leads to action. These jokes are seeds, for truly out of the abundance of the heart the mouth will speak, and as a man thinks in his heart, so is he. A man will eventually do what he thinks and says! So we must truly be careful as to how we think and say- even as a joke!

“Lord, I pray You would help me listen to what is really coming out of my mouth, even as a joke- and help me to change it. For You said in Your Word that every idle word that comes out of our mouths will be judged. Help me to speak life and not death, in Jesus’ name, amen.”

*Gen 3:6-7; Prov 18:20-21; 26:18-19; Matt 12:33-37