When you need Him, He’s there! – Judges 14

“At that moment the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him, and he ripped the lion’s jaw apart with his bare hands. He did it as easily as if it were a young goat. But he didn’t tell his father or mother about it.” (Judges 14:6)

In this chapter, Samson marries a Philistine woman, but she ended up his best man’s at the end of the seven day celebration. This was because he posed a riddle the men at the feast couldn’t work out, so they threatened to burn her and her family if she didn’t get the answer from him. When the men finally got the answer, they told Samson, who was furious they “plowed with his heifer,” so at this, the Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he killed thirty of their men and got the clothes for them, which was the deal if they worked out his riddle. The Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon Samson twice in this chapter. On the way to his wedding, a lion came up against him, and he tore it apart as if it were a young goat, then again after the solved riddle. As a Nazirite, Samson defiles himself by eating honey out of the dead lion later on, since he wasn’t allowed near a dead body!

“At that moment, the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him.” The very moment you need help, the Spirit of the Lord will come upon you! When you need Him, He is right there by your side to help you. He will cause you to overcome any situation you find yourself in. At the very moment of need, He is there! Notice the Spirit of the Lord came upon him when a lion attacked him. The Apostle Peter says we must be sober and vigilant, for our adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. So be ready, watch and pray, and when the enemy comes to attack you, the Spirit of the Lord will back you up. Remember, when the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will raise the standard against him! He’s on your side! Amen!

“Lord, thank You that whenever I need help, and whenever I am facing the attack of the enemy on my life, I can rely on the mighty Holy Spirit to come to my aid and deliver me! Thank You Lord for sending the Holy Spirit to be my Helper, as Jesus promised- amen.”

*Isaiah 59:19; 1 Peter 5:8

He is Wonderful – Judges 13

“And the Angel of the Lord said to him, ‘why do you ask My Name, seeing it is wonderful?’” (Judges 13:18)

In this chapter begins the story of Samson, how the Lord appeared to his parents. Although his mother was barren, the Angel of the Lord appeared to her and told her she would conceive a child who would be a Nazirite to God. He told her twice to be careful not to drink any wine or similar drink, and although Manoah asked what the boy’s work would be, He did not answer him- only that his mother was not to drink. When Manoah and his wife offered up a sacrifice to the Lord, the Angel of the Lord did a wonderous thing, ascending up in the flame of the altar! As soon as this happened, they knew it was the Angel of the Lord, and thought they were going to die, because they saw God.

The fact that Manoah and his wife thought they were going to die when they realized they saw the Angel of the Lord, clearly tells me that the Angel of the Lord is God. So who was the Angel of the Lord? God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, which one is He? I believe, as many others do also, that He indicates which part of the Trinity He is, by saying His Name is wonderful. In Isaiah 9:6, one of the names of the prophesied Messiah, is Wonderful. The Angel of the Lord, who not only appeared to this couple, but to others also (first appearing to Hagar, Sarai’s maid)- is Jesus Christ, the Son of God! He appears right through the Old and New Covenants – Jesus is what the whole Bible is all about! He is truly Wonderful!

Jesus, the Angel of the Lord appeared to:
Hagar – Gen 16; 21
Abraham – Gen 22
Jacob – Gen 31:11-13; 32:22-32
Moses – Ex 3:2
Balaam and his Donkey – Num 22:22-35
Joshua – Josh 5:13-15 (Commander of the Lord’s Army)
All Israel – Judges 2
Gideon – Judges 6
Samson’s Parents – Judges 13
Shadrach, Maeshach and Abed-nego – Dan 3 (Fourth Man in the fire)
Joshua the High Priest – Zechariah 3
NEW TESTAMENT – THE BIRTH OF JESUS CHRIST! He no longer appears as the Angel of the Lord, but as God in human form, Son of Man, and Son of God!

“Lord, we recognize You as the Beginning and the Ending, the Angel of the Lord in the Old Testament days, appearing to men and women, but now have revealed Yourself at the cross as the King of kings and Lord of lords- our risen Saviour and Messiah- the very Word of God, whom the Bible is centered all around! You are Wonderful in all Your ways, we want to know You more, and we exalt You and bow the knee before You- amen.”

*Isaiah 9 and look up scriptures above- makes a good study 🙂

Test the spirits – Judges 12

“They would tell him to say ‘Shibboleth.’ If he was from Ephraim, he would say ‘Sibboleth,’ because people from Ephraim cannot pronounce the word correctly.” (Judges 12:6a)

In this chapter, the Ephraimites got their nose out of joint because Jephthah didn’t invite them along to the battle against the Ammonites. Jephthah told them he did invite them, but when they didn’t respond, he went anyway. This was the second time Ephraim was offended at a judge. They complained against Gideon for the same reason! So in their warfare, 42,000 Ephraimites lost their lives. This was the first time that war broke out amongst fellow Israelites, and so there was disunity in the camp. (There was almost another one before in Joshua, when all Israel came out against the eastern tribes, thinking they were rebelling against the Lord, but that was settled.) After all this describes the next three judges; Ibzan from Bethlehem judged for seven years; Elon of Zebulun judged ten years and Abdon from Pirathon judged for eight years.

During this time of unrest between Gilead and Ephraim, Jephthah’s men captured the shallow crossings of the Jordan, and whenever an Ephraimite tried to cross, they would test him by asking him to say a word- Shibboleth. If he was an Ephraimite, he would naturally pronounce it as “Sibboleth,” and was killed. This was a simple test to know if it was their enemy or not. If one is from Germany, he stands out in Australia and would be easy to test him on words! It is the same in the kingdom of God. The Apostle John tells us to “test the spirits, whether they are of God.” Think about it, Ephraim and Gilead were both Jews and were very similar in their speech, but they knew certain differences in their dialects that gave them away. A person may say all the right things a christian would, but Jesus said “by their fruit you shall know them.” The test in 1 John is that if a person confesses that Jesus came in the flesh, he is of God, if not, he is not. Also, 1 Corinthian 12 states that no one can say by the Spirit of God that Jesus is accursed, nor can he say that Jesus is Lord, except by the Spirit of God. Out of the abundance of the heart one shall speak and reveal his true nature, and the fruit of one’s life will come out. An imposter can hide only so long before he is found out. So make sure you test the spirits by doing it the way the Word tells us to. Don’t just trust anyone, test them first, especially before using them in any sort of ministry.

“Father, thank You for giving us the Holy Spirit for discerning the wolves in sheep’s clothing when they come and the Word of God to test them and reveal what they really are. Thank You that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty in the pulling down of strongholds, in Jesus’ name, amen!”

*Matt 7:15-20; 1 Cor 12:3; 1 Jn 4:1-6

Jephthah’s Vow – Judges 11

“When he saw her, he tore his clothes in anguish. ‘Oh my daughter!’ he cried out. ‘You have completely destroyed me! You’ve brought disaster on me! For I have made a vow to the Lord, and I cannot take it back.’” (Judges 11:35)

In this chapter tells the story of Jephthah the Gileadite. His father’s name was Gilead and his mother was a prostitute. When he grew up, his brothers kicked him out of home because he was the son of a prostitute, and they didn’t want him to gain any inheritance from their father. (Isn’t the love of money the root of all evil?) Well, it ends up that the elders of Gilead asked Jephthah to lead their people against the Ammonites, although he was an outcast. He agreed, but before going to battle, he made a vow to the Lord- that whatever came out of his house greeting him after the victory, would be sacrificed to the Lord. Well, he won the victory, but his daughter came out dancing with joy, and he sacrificed her after she mourned her virginity for two months.

This is a tragic ending to a victorious defeat. What on earth made him make a vow like that? Sure, he didn’t know his daughter would come out greeting him, but what else would have come out? He said “whatever comes out of the door of my house-” house – not his shed or his barn- his house!!! Did he have a pet dog or cat he wanted dead? Sheep, goats and bulls don’t live in houses, not even in those days, right? So I really don’t understand it, but he made a vow nonetheless, and had to fulfill it. The law clearly states in Deaut 12:29-31; 18:9-10 that child sacrifice was prohibited, but Num 30:2 also says that a man must not break his vows! So which one do you obey? Well, he had to keep his word rather than his daughter. It was a truly foolish vow. Examples like this is probably why Jesus said don’t ever make a vow- not by heaven, for that is His throne- nor by the earth, for that is His footstool, nor even by your own head, for we cannot turn one hair black or white. Let your yes be yes, and your no be no, and that’s it. Anything more than that is from the evil one. (Matt 5:33-37) After this account, it makes sense that vows are from the evil one, for what else brings such destruction to a family than this foolish vow? Surely, he half expected that one of his family members would come out of his HOUSE greeting him (or a servant perhaps, but still human!), no one in their right mind would think otherwise. So don’t make any promises, and you won’t fall into the trap of the enemy.

“Lord, I know from Your word, making vows are from the enemy, because they trap us into making foolish decisions. I pray that my yes would be simply yes, or no, no, that I wouldn’t fall into the trap of the enemy. Give me wisdom with my words and my choices, I pray- in Jesus’ name, amen.”

*Matt 5:33-37

The Lord’s Compassion – Judges 10

“So they put away the foreign gods from among them and served the Lord. And His soul could no longer endure the misery of Israel.” (Judges 10:16)

In this chapter arises two judges after Abimelech. Tola from Ephraim judged 23 years, then Jair of Gilead judged 22 years. He had 30 sons who rode 30 donkeys who owned 30 towns! After these judges, Israel forsook the Lord again and were oppressed by the Philistines for 18 years before they cried out to the Lord again. When they cried out to Him this time, the Lord told them He would no longer rescue them for all their backsliding. But when He sees that they put away their idols and were serious, He could no longer endure their misery- and so the next chapter He raises up someone else.

“He could no longer endure the misery of Israel.” You know, it didn’t matter how many times Israel backslid, the Lord always rescued them, even after threatening to abandon them completely. This was because of one thing God has- compassion. He could no longer endure their misery, so raised up another judge to rescue them. His love is everlasting, His mercy is new every morning and His compassions never fail. He will never leave us nor forsake us, because He cannot stand to see His children suffering. As long as we put away our idols and are serious about turning back to the Lord, He will always come to our aid to relieve our suffering. We can also, as God’s people, learn to walk in the same compassion He has- to see the world as He sees it, and help relieve the suffering of those around us. Rom 5:5 says the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. Because He lives in us, we have the same love and compassion He does- the same kind that cannot endure the misery of His people. Let’s allow the Lord to live through us- amen.

“Lord, thank You for Your never ending compassion and mercy toward us. I thank You that You live in me and have shed Your love abroad in my heart by Your Spirit- so I may live like You in this world, not standing the misery of the world any longer, and bringing hope to this hopeless world- in Jesus’ name, amen.”

*Jer 31:3; Lam 3:22-24; Rom 5:5; Heb 13:5

The Greatest among you… Judges 9

“And all of the men of Shechem gathered together, all of Beth Millo, and they went and made Abimelech king beside the terebinth tree at the pillar that was in Shechem.” (Judges 9:6)

In this chapter, Abimelech, who was a son of Gideon from a slave woman, conspired against his seventy brothers with the men of Shechem and killed them. So the men of Shechem made Abimelech king. But one son, Jotham, escaped because he hid himself from Abimelech. He went up Mount Gerizim, the mountain reserved in the law for pronouncing curses, and pronounced a curse on Abimelech and Shechem for how he became king, in killing the sons of Gideon. So after three years of his reign, God sent a spirit of ill will between Abimelech and Shechem, and in short, they killed eachother!

I thought about what this chapter was really about- do I talk about the power of blessing and cursing, as Jotham’s curse against them came to pass? As I thought about it, how did Abimelech gain power, and why didn’t it last? He didn’t do it God’s way! Jesus said the greatest among you shall be your servant, and Paul says it is a good thing to desire to be a bishop or an elder- but there is a way to go about it. That way is taking up your cross and becoming a servant. That way is death to self, NOT to others. Abimelech thought that was the best way for power- he was wrong! He was actually the first king of Israel, but not chosen by God, and he made the biggest blunder by promoting himself above his brothers. Pride comes before a fall, and his fall was great. So if any of you want to be great in the kingdom, go the way of the cross and die to self, becoming a servant. Amen.

“Lord, I pray that I would daily take up my cross, follow You by becoming a servant, for that is the way to greatness in Your Kingdom. The world says you have to pull everyone down to get up, but You say we need to kneel down and be the lowest to go up. Help me to deny myself and become a servant, like Christ- in Jesus‘ name, amen.”

*Jn 13:1-17; Phil 2:5-11

Showing Hospitality – Judges 8

“Then Gideon took the elders of the town and taught them a lesson, punishing them with thorns and briers from the wilderness. He also tore down the tower of Peniel and killed all the men in the town.” (Judges 8:16-17)

In this chapter, Gideon and his 300 men were chasing Zebah and Zalmunna, the two Midianite kings who only had 15,000 warriors out of 135,000 left. On their way, they stopped to ask for food from the elders at Succoth and Peniel, because they were exhausted. But both towns refused to give them food until they had captured the two kings. For this, Gideon said he would punish Succoth by thorns and briers and pull down Peniel’s tower, which both things he did after the victory. But he also killed all the men in the town of Peniel. After he did this, he killed the two Midianite kings. Once Midian was defeated, the people of Israel asked Gideon to be their ruler, but he refused, as he said the Lord is their ruler. This was Samuel’s response to the people too, but eventually the people had their way and got a king for themselves. Israel was never meant to have a king, because the Lord is their King.

Because Succoth and Peniel didn’t show hospitality to Gideon and his men, he punished them severely. Paul, in the New Testament, talks about showing hospitality. In fact, he says that it is a requirement of an elder, that he must enjoy having people in his home, being hospitable. As believers in Christ, we are a family, and as a family we are to show hospitality to eachother. I preached a series once on “the especially’s of God,” which there are 5 of them. One of them is that we would do good, especially to the family of believers. Jesus said that the world would know that He is real because of our love for one another. Part of showing love to eachother is showing hospitality and really caring for eachother’s needs, as a family would. If we can’t show love to eachother, how will we ever show love to the world?

“Lord, I pray You would help me love like You do, and walk as You did in this world. Forgive me for not showing hospitality to the family of believers, help Your church to love one another as You have loved us, that the world may know that You are real, and that they need You most of all in their lives- in Jesus’ name, amen.”

*Rom 12:9-13; Gal 6:10; 1 Tim 3:1-2