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RUTH SERIES – FROM TRAGEDY TO TRIUMPH: CHAPTER 4

In keeping with his word, in the morning Boaz went to the gate of the city which was the place in ancient times where business transactions were handled, and waited for Elimelech’s next of kin to come by. When the man was passing Boaz invited him and ten elders of the city who would be his witnesses and represented the quorum needed for official actions to sit down with him while he shared pertinent information.

First, Boaz talked about the purchase of Elimelech’s property from Naomi which the next of kin was willing to do until Boaz told him he would also have to marry Ruth to maintain the name of Naomi’s family. Since he was already married and planning a family of his own, he feared this decision would endanger his own estate; therefore, he rejected the proposal and told Boaz as the next kin in line he could do it.

As their custom and law, with the ten elders as witnesses, because he rejected the proposal, the next of kin took off his sandal and gave it to Boaz giving him the right to purchase Elimelech’s property and marry Ruth. Additionally, the elders gave Boaz a traditional blessings wishing him, his future wife, his family, and offspring, well and citing the names of Boaz’s clanswomen who had birthed children, and Pharez, Boaz’s ancestor.

Boaz willingly became the kinsman redeemer and married Ruth who bore him a son that the women of the town named Obed and whom Naomi nursed as her own. Also, the women blessed and congratulated Naomi whom God honored with a grandchild who would in the future care for her, and Ruth her daughter-in-law whose love and devotion they considered to be more than seven sons.

The book of Ruth ends with the genealogy of the Boaz’s family starting with Pharez who was the founder of the family of Judah down to David his great-grandson who became the second king in Israel. It states, “Now these are the generations of Pharez: Pharez begat Hezron, And Hezron begat Ram, and Ram begat Amminadab, And Amminadab begat Nahshon, and Nahshon begat Salmon, And Salmon begat Boaz, and Boaz begat Obed, And Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David.”

FOOD FOR THOUGHT:

Time had allowed Naomi to transition from the weeping, depression, grief and bitterness in chapter one to joy, peace and satisfaction in chapter four. Obed the son of Boaz and Ruth became a “restorer of life” for Naomi. Her weeping endured for awhile but joy came. Don’t allow yourself to become forlorn, tomorrow may be your day of miraculous change.

Like in the life of Naomi and Ruth, during all of our challenges, God is present and remains faithful despite what we may feel or see.

You must be smart when negotiating for things that you truly want. Boaz in his conversation with Elimelech’s next-of-kin showed why he was a successful businessman.

Boaz symbolized Jesus Christ as our kinsman-redeemer who willingly redeemed us when others failed to do so. By marrying Ruth, Boaz displayed his willingness to perpetuate the family name that had ceased by the deaths of Elimelech and Mahlon. Also, his actions caused his name to become known and revered throughout history.

The love and devotion of Ruth to Naomi was equated to seven sons which represented the blessed perfect Hebrew family. If you experience deep love and devotion, it is to be valued and cherished for it is lacking in the lives of many.

Being in the right place opens the door for unexpected blessings to come your way.

God can move you from working in the field to become the owner of the field.

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RUTH SERIES – FROM TRAGEDY TO TRIUMPH: CHAPTER 3

With the help of God and kindness of Boaz Ruth had successfully gleaned the barley and wheat harvest providing substances for Naomi and herself, and now that the harvest was over, Naomi showed concern about Ruth’s future and procuring her a husband.

Knowing the winnowing process and the practice of the owner of the field presence at the threshing-floor during this time Naomi devised a plan for Ruth. Naomi instructed Ruth to make herself presentable, bathe, put on perfume and clean clothes and go and wait until Boaz completed overseeing the work, eating, drinking and laid down to sleep; then, Ruth was to silently go and lie at his feet covering herself with Boaz’s cloak.

Ruth followed Naomi’s instructions and after sleeping awhile Boaz woke up and was startled to find someone laying at his feet. When he questioned who it was, Ruth responded by telling him it was her and that she wanted him as her next-of-kin to marry her (spread his skirt over her). Boaz an older man was surprised and elated that Ruth a young woman would want to marry him. He expressed this, his gratitude and Ruth’s virtue which the town people had recognized and voiced. Additionally, he informed Ruth that there was a kinsman nearer than him; however, he would pursue the matter to see what that individual would want to do.

As suggested by Boaz, Ruth stayed with him until early in the morning. Then, to prevent being sullied, Ruth left before other people woke-up and Boaz gave her about eighty-eight pounds of barley to take home in her veil. Upon seeing the barley and hearing what transpired between Boaz and Ruth, Naomi said, “Sit still, my daughter, until thou know how the matter will fall: for the man will not be in rest, until he have finished the thing this day.”

FOOD FOR THOUGHT:

The Goel Law (Levirate Law) found in Numbers 36:1-9 and Deuteronomy 25:5-10 required if a married man died childless his male next of kin was to marry his widow allowing the family name to continue and family property to remain in the family. God-fearing, honorable, virtuous Boaz understood that Ruth was requesting a marriage proposal of him and he was willing to be her kinsmen-redeemer if the closer relative did not do so. Apparently, Naomi’s plan worked.

In the Eastern culture spreading the skirt over someone is a symbol of protection and for a woman it is equivalent to a marriage contract. In requesting Boaz to marry her, Ruth was honoring the memory of her deceased husband. How many of us would marry someone to keep our family legacy intact?

Giving should be done in proportion to the means of the giver and needs of the receiver.

After doing what needs to be done, it is time to be still.

RUTH SERIES – FROM TRAGEDY TO TRIUMPH: CHAPTER 2

In chapter two, it was harvest time in Bethlehem and Naomi and Ruth had settled down in the town.

Aware of the provision made for widows in Bethlehem Ruth requested permission from Naomi to go to the field to glean, and unknowingly she was providentially led to the field of Boaz who was not only wealthy but a near kinsman of Naomi’s husband Elimelech.

On this her first day of gleaning Boaz also came to the field. At first he greeted his reapers and then he questioned his foreman about this new woman. Finding out it was Ruth, Boaz approached her and instructed her for her protection against assault to glean solely in his fields along with his handmaids, and she was allowed to refresh herself with the water provided for his servants when she felt thirsty.

Ruth in humble gratitude bowed down before Boaz and asked him about his generosity toward her. Boaz responded by telling her God whom she now trusts was rewarding her for her positive actions and devotion toward her deceased husband and Naomi.

Later in the day Boaz instructed her to feel free to eat some of the food provided for his workers and he gave her freshly roasted corn to eat. Additionally, Boaz instructed his workers to be respectful of Ruth and to purposely drop barley in Ruth’s path allowing her to have abundant provision to take home at the end of the day.

That evening Ruth brought home about thirty pounds of barley which she had gleaned for the day and for Naomi the portion of food that she had not eaten at mealtime. Plus, she told Naomi of her meeting with Boaz and the kindness he bestowed on her to which Naomi declared a blessing upon Boaz.

Following the words of Boaz and the encouragement of Naomi, Ruth gleaned both the barley and wheat harvest in Boaz’s fields.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT:
In the laws God gave to Moses provision was made for the poor, strangers and widows (Lev 19:9-10; Deut. 24:19-21). God was concerned about Ruth’s well-being, He guided her to the place of provision, and Ruth was able to get food and an added blessing was being granted the privilege to glean behind the reapers. God has a way of providing for us. He will direct us to the place where our provision is to be met. For believers, we must not doubt the instructions or leadings of God, but obey in a timely manner.

Though Boaz was a prominent, wealthy man, he exhibited a godly character in the manner in which he greeted his workers and Ruth, and in the kindness and compassion that he extended to her. No matter what your status might be, be kind to all the persons you meet.

Like Ruth, God is able to give you more than enough. So, don’t worry about tomorrow

RUTH SERIES – FROM TRAGEDY TO TRIUMPH: CHAPTER 1

The historical and geographical life of Ruth and Naomi occurred during the period of Judges in Bethlehem (1200-1020 BC) and it is believed the book of Ruth was possibly penned by Samuel or Hezekiah.

Chapter 1 of Ruth opens with an Ephrathite family from the tribe of Judah consisting of Elimelech (God is his king), his wife Naomi (my pleasantness), and two sons Mahlon (sickly), and Chilion (pining, wasting away) migrating approximately fifty miles from famine-stricken Bethlehem to the fertile well-watered highlands of the adjoining country Moab.

Though cautioned by God not to intermarry with the Moabites (Numbers 25:1-4; Deut. 7:1-11; 23:3-6;), Mahlon and Chilion each marry Moabitish women. Mahlon married Ruth and Chilion married Orpah. Sadly, during their ten-year stay in Moab Elimelech dies first followed by his sons, Mahlon, and Chilion leaving three destitute widows.

After receiving word that the famine had ended in Bethlehem Naomi decided to return home. While traveling home with her two daughters-in-law Naomi had an earnest conversation with them about her age, and her ability to birth more sons for them to marry. Consequently, she urged them to return to their homeland where they possibly could remarry.

After much tears between the women, Orpha with the blessing of Naomi decided to return home; however, Ruth enduring the three entreaties of Naomi clung to her and said, “Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me” (Ruth 1:16-17).

By time Naomi and Ruth reached Bethlehem it was the start of the barley harvest. With the announcement of her arrival the village women were excited, surprised and bewildered to see her to which Naomi responded, “Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full and the Lord hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the Lord hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me? (Ruth 20-21)

FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Names carry meaning, therefore I would like to restate the beginning verses of this book as follows, “God is king, My Pleasantness, Sickly, and Wasting Away left their promised land of the House of Bread to go into Moab.” Thus, Elimelech walking by sight took his family to a place where hereditary enemies of Israel resided because it appeared to be prospering. God did not direct him to go there, he went on his own, and Elimelech and his son died there leaving three widows without a male to protect or care for them. Plus, living in a patriarchal society Naomi and her daughters-in-law lost their identity and security without men in their lives

Ruth’s till death pledge of allegiance to Naomi and Naomi’s God revealed her commitment, resolve, fortitude, and willingness to give up her ancestral religion.

With the turn of events, life changed for Naomi. She no longer wanted to be called “My Pleasantness” but rather “Bitterness” for when they left the House of Bread she had a husband and two sons and now she returns home bereft.

The barley harvest took place in Bethlehem in the spring of the year, and it represented new beginnings as things spring forth. Naomi did not realize it, but God whom she thought dealt her a horrible blow was about to bless her in an unexpected way. New things would be coming into her life through Ruth who pledged to be with her always.

WHEN YOU HAVE THE TOOLS

I started blogging on January 2, 2012, and I have been reasonably consistent with this endeavor. From that date to the present I have completed 271 blogs covering various topics and series. Up to April 2018, my blogs were done without outside editorial help; however, in April 2018 I had the Grammarly program put on my computer, and since then I have been utilizing it with my blogs.
For those of you that don’t know about Grammarly, it is an English-language writing-enhancement platform software which was first released in late 2009. Grammarly’s proofreading and plagiarism-detection resources check against more than 250 grammar rules. After installing and opening it on your device Grammarly will automatically detect potential grammar error, word choice, punctuation, spelling and style mistakes in writing, and it will suggest context-specific corrections for grammar, punctuation, wordiness, style, spelling, and plagiarism.
Knowing I wrote over 250 of my blogs without the Grammarly, the possibility of future publication of some of my blog series into books, and my dislike of reading other people’s works that are grammatically incorrect caused me to embark on the task of editing all of these unedited blogs with the Grammarly. I must honestly say as I am doing this task I laughed to myself and thought people that read my blogs must have said, “God, help her.” Well, God sent the help, and I am doing the work. I have set aside all projects except this one to get it completed, and as I am doing it, I feel exhilarated in knowing people will now read my past and present edited blogs.
I am blogging about this task to say, “As it is on the natural, so it is in the spiritual,” and as the saying goes, “When you know better, you do better.” For some of us, we have to go back and correct errors of the past, for others we have to find the tools that will help us do better and for others rejecting laziness, and substandard performance will be necessary. I encourage you to do like I am doing, take the time to make improvements and utilize the spiritual tools and acknowledge available to enhance and make your Christian walk successful.
Additionally, since I am focusing and working on this task, after this blog, I will not post a blog again for several weeks. I do have a couple of series I plan to blog when I return, so, I solicit your prayers for this present task and future blogs. The work is timely but worthwhile.

JUDGES SERIES – CHAPTERS 20 & 21 (THE DESOLATION OF THE BENJAMINITES)

Judges chapters 20 – 21 shared the continued horrendous story of the slain concubine and the consequences of civil war that befell the tribe of Benjamin for their acceptance of this tragic event.

All of the tribes of Israel except the tribe of Benjamin responded to the Levite by gathering at Mizpeh, and when questioned the Levite lied and told half-truths. He told them the men of Gibeah attempted to kill him, and he did not admit his act of spousal abuse by forcing the concubine to go outside to be sexually abused.

After his recounting, Israel pledged to avenge the slain women. First they gave the Benjaminites the opportunity to turn over the rapists to be put to death; however, they refused to do so. Instead, they gathered thirty-three thousand warriors from their tribe with seven hundred men being left-handed sling throwing, never missing target individuals.

Prior to the battle, Israel consulted God at Bethel concerning the battle formation, and they received instructions for Judah to take the lead. The battle ensued, and Israel was defeated. Israel again inquired of God what to do and was told, “Go up against him.” This ended in Israel’s defeat with the accumulation of forty thousand of their four hundred thousand warriors being slain during the two consecutive days of fighting.

Consequently, after the second day of defeat, all the Israelites went up to the House of God, wept, fasted, offered burnt and peace offerings and inquired of God what they were to do. God said, “Go up; for tomorrow I will deliver them into thine hand.”

Once again Israel entered into the battle dividing its army into three divisions with two ambushes set in place. They tricked the Benjaminite warriors and won the battle with twenty-five thousand Benjaminite warriors being slain, cities burnt to the ground, animals and possessions destroyed, and all of their woman and children massacred. Six hundred Benjaminite men remained alive and were able to escape into the wilderness to the rock Rimmon where they stayed for four months.

Prior to the battle, Israel had sworn not to give their daughters in marriage to a Benjaminite; hence, with the conclusion of the battle Israel came to House of God and lamented over the devastating fate and near extermination of the Benjaminites. Thus, a plan was instituted to rebuild this tribe. Since the men of Jabesh-Gilead had not participated in the battle, Israel staged war with them, massacred the inhabitants except four hundred virgins who were given to the surviving Benjaminites. Plus, the Benjaminites with the suggestion and approval of Israel, captured two hundred virgins at the festival of Shiloh to become the wives of those men who did not have a wife.

Unfortunately, the book of Judges ended with this statement, “In those days (there was) no king in Israel: every man did (that which was) right in his own eyes.” This statement highlighted the moral and social anarchy of the time.

Conclusion: In keeping with God’s instruction given to Moses in Deuteronomy, “To put away the evil person from among you” (Deuteronomy 22:25-26). The leaders of Israel only wanted the rapists of the concubine to be answerable for their action but the Benjaminites refused to comply, and a civil war occurred.

When left unchecked sin will pollute the land.

Having experienced defeat for two consecutive days, all of Israel humbled themselves, wept, fasted, offered sacrifices and sought God. Prior to this, only a selected number went to inquire of God and Israel thought because they were attempting to purge the land of the rapist that God would be pleased with them and cause them to be victorious. They overlooked their sins, but God did not. When all the people sought God then He had mercy on them and favored them in the next battle.

Seven hundred Benjaminites warriors were ambidextrous and had incredible accuracy with the sling.

The result of sin was carnage and destruction for the Benjaminites and the inhabitants of Jabesh-Gilead for after making a rash vow about not marrying their daughters to a Benjaminites, to prevent the possible extinction of the tribe of Benjamin, Israel secured four hundred virgins of Jabesh-Gilead by slaughtering the citizens of a city.

Some battles will leave your defeated and bloody. Plus, sometimes in battle, the enemy will beat you more than once.

Despite all of their negative experiences, Israel continued in their rebellion.

Spiritual application: Acknowledge sin.

Report the truth.

Refuse to align yourself with the workers of iniquity.

Think carefully and slowly. Don’t make rash and hurried decisions.

Validate information prior to making a judgment.

Give men the opportunity to do the right thing before you pass judgment on them.

Know when to fight and when to surrender.

Seek counsel from God prior to making moves.

Though you suffer defeat, don’t give up for some battles are not won in a day.

Be watchful; somethings are meant to be misleading.

JUDGES SERIES – CHAPTER 19 (THE LEVITE)

Similar to Judges chapter 17 this chapter is believed to have taken place during the time of the earlier judges when there was no king in Israel, thus sin and moral laxity prevailed.

This chapter tells the story of a Levite and his concubine who resided in Mount Ephraim. Accordingly, there was some type of disagreement, and the concubine returned to her father’s home in Bethlehem-judah for four months. Missing her the Levite journeyed to Bethlehem-judah in hopes of getting his concubine to return home with him, and when he arrived her father was happy that the Levite came with plans of reconciliation. After three days of family fellowship, the father was able to persuade the Levite to spend an additional two days prior to their return home.

The Levite, concubine and his servant who accompanied the Levite on this trip started their journey home in the afternoon of the fifth day which caused them to travel into the evening while passing towns inhabited by pagans. When they arrived in Gibeah which belong to the tribe of Benjamin, they found no place to lodge or hospitable welcome from its’ residence until an elderly man from Mount Ephraim who lived in Gibeah cordially invited them to stay with him for the night.

While they were eating and exchanging pleasantries the wicked men of the town gathered around the elderly man’s home and said, “Bring forth the man that came into thine house, that we may know him,” but the man protested and said, “Nay, my brethren, nay, I pray you, do not so wickedly; seeing that this man is come into mine house, do not this folly. Behold, here is my daughter a maiden, and his concubine; them I will bring out now, and humble ye them, and do with them what seemeth good unto you: but unto this man do not so vile a thing.”

When the men of the town rejected the offer of the elderly man, the Levite forced his concubine to go outside and be subject to the sexual abuse of the wicked men. Finally, after having their way with the concubine all night, they let her go, and she was able to make it back to the elderly man’s home where she died outside the door with her hands stretched out upon the threshold.

The next morning when the Levite got up and was leaving he saw the concubine lying on the ground, and he said to her, “Up, and let us be going,” but when she did not respond he perceived she was dead. Thus, he put her corpse on an ass and carried her home, and upon arrival, he took a knife and divided her into twelve pieces, and sent the pieces into all the coasts of Israel for the people to consider, take advice, and speak their minds. Consequently, when the Israel tribesmen received the dismembered pieces of the concubine in horror, they proclaimed, “There was no such deed done nor seen from the day that the children of Israel came up out of the land of Egypt unto this day.”

Conclusion: In the time of the judges, concubines were considered a secondary wife; however, this chapter does not speak of a union between the Levite and another woman (primary wife). The reason why he took a concubine is not recorded.

Commentators believe the expression, “played the whore” means the concubine had a disagreement with the Levite and not committed adultery because he would not seek reconciliation with her if she had committed this act.

Reminiscent of days of Lot where the inhabitants of Sodom practiced sodomy, the wicked Benjamite men have resorted to this act which God instructed the Israelites was an abomination (Lev. 18:22; 20:13)

Hospitality was highly regarded and known to be one of the sacred laws in the East; however, the offering of virgin daughters and another man’s woman to be sexually assaulted to protect a visiting male displayed the low esteem that was prevalent during that time for women

This text implied that the Levite lacked chivalry, was a coward and gave no thought for the welfare of his concubine. It showed he apparently slept while she was being abused, got up in the morning expecting to go home without her, and when he saw her he did not inquire about her state of being but callously addressed her.

Spiritual Application: Don’t enter into a relationship where you have all the responsibilities but no rights.

Being around relatives does not mean you are in a safe environment.

A Rhema word can be found in the mouth of a servant.

Be hospitable.

Understand the enemy is after the head and he seeks to pervert headship.

Men are to be protectors of their family and not cowards.

When traveling know where you are going and lodge in safe environments.

Accept responsibility for your actions.

JUDGES SERIES – CHAPTERS 17 & 18 (MICAH)

From Judges chapter 1 through chapter 16, the Bible shared the life of twelve of Israel’s judges, and it also shared the spiritual disobedience of the Israelites and the political destruction in the land. Beginning with the story of Micah the Ephraimite, the remaining five chapters of this book shared the moral depravity of the people, the perversion of social norms, and the religious apostasy that occurred during the period of the early Judges and is considered by some to be an “appendix” to the book.

The chapter begins by introducing Micah who stole 1,100 pieces of silver from his mother, and after he heard the curse that his mother proclaimed on the thief, he admitted that it was him and he returned the stolen silver to her. Micah’s mom used a portion of the returned silver to make a graven image and a molten image which was placed in Micah’s home. Also, Micah made his own private shrine in his home with the idols, and an ephod and teraphim.

At first, Micah had his son installed as his priest until he met and replaced him with a Levite from Bethlehem-judah who was traveling the land seeking employment. Micah consecrated this Levite, and he received wages, shelter, food, and clothing as his compensation for service.

It is in the household of Micah that five Danites spies discovered the Levite while they were searching for new territory for their tribesmen. They questioned him about his presence in Micah’s home, and they requested the Levite to inquire of God whether they would be successful in their venture. After receiving a favorable oracle, the spies went on and found the quiet, secure, prosperous Canaanite city of Laish.

Returning home and reporting their findings to their brethren they rallied up six hundred armed warriors and their families and proceed to Laish, but along the way, the five men shared the information about Micah’s Levite, the ephod, teraphim, graven and molten images. So, in route to Laish, they stopped at Micah’s home, and these men offered the Levite a position in their tribe which he readily accepted, and they stole Micah’s ephod, teraphim, graven and molten images.

When Micah who was not at home when the robbery took place found out what had occurred, he gathered the men of his town and pursued after the warriors. When he met up with them, they dissuaded him from entering into a fight which he would surely lose, so he and his men returned home without his stolen property.

The Danite warriors continued on to Laish where they captured and burnt the city and
killed its’ inhabitant. Eventually, they rebuilt the city and called it Dan. Additionally, they set up Micah’s graven image with Jonathan, the son of Gershom and his sons as priests to the tribe of Dan.

Conclusion: Israel’s denial of God as their king resulted in spiritual and political chaos. God meant for Israel’s government to be a Theocracy; however, Israel preferred a government with a man as their king similar to the nations that surrounded them. This was stated in both chapters 17 and 18, “In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6; 18:1). Israel pleased themselves and continually ignored God’s Laws. Hence, Israel’s failures were exhibited in their homes, in their worship, and in their society.

Though Micah and his mother included the name of God in their speech, they did not apply the laws and instructions of God in their actions. Both they and the Danites acted contrary to the instructions given to Moses by God for them. The Israelites were not to have idols or shrines in their homes (Exod. 20:4; Lev. 26:1; Deut. 4:14 – 19; 5:7- 9; 27:15). God specified where the Tabernacle and worship were to take place (Deut. 12:1 – 14) and the priest in Israel was to be from the tribe of Levi and the descendants of Aaron and not a family member or person from other tribes (Num. 3:9 -10). Plus, the Levites were assigned specific cities in which to live and serve (Num. 35:1- 8; Josh. 21:1- 41) and they were to supported by the tithes of the nation and not by individuals (Num.18:21 – 32; Deut.14: 28 – 29; 26:12 – 15).

The Danites were the first tribe to initiate an idolatrous system of worship, and history revealed years later, it was in Dan, Jeroboam erected a golden calf for the Northern tribes to worship.

Spiritual Application: Violations of God’s law will not draw you closer to Him or cause Him to bless you.

Disobedience to one of God’s commandment opens the door for other acts of disobedience.

When you acknowledge God as your king, you are obligated to follow His laws.

When you have stolen, restitution is the right thing to do.

Remember, thou shalt not commit idolatry.

Stay in your assigned place.

Don’t allow money or comfort to compromise your principles

Understand the difference between a hireling and a true priest. An opportunist is always looking for opportunities.

Be aware, seduction and deception are key weapons of the adversary.

When your life is in danger, be careful what you say.

People are often indifferent to the injustices that they inflict upon you.

Isolation can be dangerous for your well-being. It is good to have people around you to come to your rescue as needed.

 

JUDGES SERIES – CHAPTERS 11 &12 (JEPHTHAH, IBZAN, ELON, & ABDON)

In chapter 11 Jephthah the eighth judge of Israel was described as a mighty man of valor and the son of a harlot. This last description caused his paternal relatives to reject and disinherit him; therefore, Jephthah left his home and went to Tob where a discontented band of desperadoes joined him.

When the Ammonites attacked Israel, the elders of Gilead found and approached Jephthah about being their leader causing him to remind them of their previous mistreatment of him. After a bit of negotiating Jephthah accepted the position and the agreement was sealed with a religious oath by the elders and reaffirmed by Jephthah before God in Mizpeh.

Prior to entering into battle with the Ammonites Jephthah attempted to investigate why they invaded the land of Israel. His finding revealed the Ammonites accused Israel of taking their land; however, since he knew the history, he was able to share with them how Israel came to possess the land. This information was not readily received by the king of Ammon and consequently conflict continued.

At the appointed time the Spirit of the Lord empowered Jephthah, and he prepared for battle by mustering up his troops. Also, he made this unadvisable vow to God, “If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands, then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the Lord’s, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering” (Judges 11:30-31). Jephthah was victorious, and he captured twenty of the Ammonites’ strongholds. Regrettably, when he arrived home, his only child who was a daughter came through the door. Jephthah was saddened, but he felt obligated to keep his vow, and this he did after granting her a two-month delay so that she could go up and down the mountain with her friends bewailing her virginity.

Chapter 12 reveals the Ephraimites as they did with Gideon complained and threatened Jephthah’s life over their noninvolvement in the battle; thus, he reminded them when he summoned them to come and participate in the battle they did not come. Unfortunately, this dispute ended with an intertribal war. Jephthah and his army fought, captured those who attempted to escape with a pronunciation test and killed forty-two thousand Ephraimites.

Chapter 12 closes with the names of three judges who served after the six-year judgeship and death of Jephthah. Ibzan of Bethlehem judged Israel for seven years, Elon, a Zebulonite, judged for ten years and Abdon a Pirathonite judged Israel for eight years.

Conclusion: Jephthah’s maternal birth lineage bothered his paternal family and tribesmen, but they were impressed with his valor and was willing to overlook his parentage when they need his help and military skills.

History reveals the Edomites, and Moabites did not allow Israel to pass through their land because they thought Israel wanted their territory and they did not trust them to pass through their land peacefully.

Jephthah was wise in acknowledging his success came from God, and with God’s empowerment, Jephthah was victorious.

The commentaries give various opinions on whether Jephthah offered his daughter up as a burnt sacrifice which was not approved by God. Some believed the text inferred he did offer her as a burnt offering while others felt he consecrated her to God and she remained a single virgin for the remainder of her life in the service of the sanctuary. I believe he was ignorant of the Law, did not realize it was unacceptable to God, made this rash vow and offered his daughter as a burnt sacrifice.

Also worth noting, Jephthah’s daughter loved her father so much she was willing to give up her life for him.

True friends rejoice when you rejoice and grieve when you grieve.

Some Ephraimites thought they could escape capture, but their speech gave them away for they were unable to pronounce the word “shibboleth” when asked by their captors and this led to their demise.

Spiritual Application: Your parentage does not determine your capabilities neither hinders your advancements.

When you are in a vulnerable state beware of those who attach themselves to you.

Be kind to everyone; you never know when you might need their assistance.

When in need people will overlook the past differences they had with you.

Know your history.

Before entering into a fight try to negotiate a peaceful settlement.

Use diplomacy when interacting with your adversary.

Distrust can cause unnecessary disagreements.

Make war your last option.

Take possession of all that God has for you.

When you make a vow be sure it is in line with God’s word.

Vows not only affect you but those around you.

Don’t offer God unacceptable sacrifices.

Men can recognize you from your speech.

FYI: for those of you that are following this Judges Series, in the past, I blogged on the life of Samson in a “Samson Series – Judges 13-16” and if you are interested in reading it you will be able to find it in the archives. So, my next blog in this Judges Series will pick up next week with chapter 17.

JUDGES SERIES – CHAPTER 10 (TOLA & JAIR)

After the death of Abimelech who ruled as king in Shechem and the surrounding cities, the Israelites experienced forty-five years of peace and security, first, under the judgeship of Tola the son of Puah from the tribe of Issachar and then Jair the Gileadite.

This time of peace did not last because Israel failed to learn from its sinful mistakes. The Israelites were known to be a stiff neck rebellious people, and this is evident throughout the book of judges as they repeatedly indulged in idolatry. Verse 6 reveals they forsook God for Baalim, Ashtaroth, and the gods of Zidon, Moab, Ammon, and the Philistines; therefore, God allowed the Philistines from the southwest and Ammonites from the southeast to oppress them for eighteen years.

In their usual fashion, Israel cried, but God upbraided them with a description of their deviant behavior and His decision not to help them by telling them, “Go and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your tribulation.” Their continued severe suffering and God’s rejection of them caused the Israelites to sincerely repent, put away their false gods, and serve the Lord. Thus, God’s heart was touched, and He had pity on Israel.

The chapter ends with the formation of a battle between Israel and the Ammonites, leaving Israel to wonder who will lead them in this battle.

Conclusion: When Israel served God they experienced peace and His protection against enemy invasion and oppression. When Israel forsook God, He allowed the enemy to overtake them.

It appears over the years Israel’s idolatrous practices increased rather than decreased.

God was loving and merciful to His people; however, their continual act of disobedience caused Him to reject their plea for help in their time of trouble.

God requires true repentance.

Spiritual Application: Pray that God will not leave you to your own devices.

For success, and peace wholly serve God.

Failure to learn from your past can prove to be disastrous.

For believers when entering into battle make sure God is your leader.