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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.

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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.

JUDGES SERIES – CHAPTER 9 (ABIMELECH)

In the closing verses of Judges chapter 8 readers are informed of the birth of Abimelech, the son of Gideon and a concubine, and the return of Israel to idolatry by worshipping the god of Baal and Baal-berith. So, chapter 9 is devoted to sharing the story of Abimelech who is not a judge but an ambitious, unprincipled, treacherous, conniving murderer.

Unlike his father Gideon, Abimelech wanted to be a king, therefore he went to his mother’s relatives who resided in Shechem and had them ask the other residents of the city, “Whether is better for you, either that all the sons of Jerubbaal, which are threescore and ten persons, reign over you, or that one reign over you? Remember also that I am your bone and your flesh.” The response that they received was that they preferred Abimelech and they gave him seventy pieces of silver out of the house of Baal-berith which Abimelech used to hire mercenaries who assisted him in killing his sixty-nine half-brothers, after which the Shechemites and all the house of Millo, made Abimelech their king.

Jotham, the youngest son of Gideon who managed to escape the slaughter, fled to the top of Mount Gerizim and shouted down a parable to the Shechemites. This parable depicted the rivalry between several trees and their response to an offer of a kingly position. All declined except the bramble tree which was the most worthless of the group. Plus, Jotham closed the parable with a malediction and prophetic declaration on Abimelech and the Shechemites for killing his brothers.

Abimelech experienced peace for the first three years of his reign, and then God decided it was time for retribution. God sent a spirit of animosity between Abimelech and the Shechemites and the Shechemites turned against Abimelech and caused embarrassment and economic problems for him by ambushing travelers on the trade route in their area.

Additionally, Gaal the son of Ebed came to Shechem: and the Shechemites put their trust in him. During a festival of the grape harvest, he wooed the people and publicly challenged the reign of Abimelech. When Abimelech was informed of the actions of Gaal by Zebul a ruler in Shechem they devised a plan of attack on Shechem which was successfully carried out. For several days Abimelech, his mercenaries, and Zebul fought against Gaal resulting in Gaal leaving Shechem, many men being wounded and killed, the city destroyed, and the tower of Shechem set on fire killing about a thousand men and women that was inside of it.

Abimelech last act was to go and capture Thebez; however, there was a strong tower within the city into which the men and women of the city fled, and when Abimelech came to the tower he attempted to set it on fire, but a woman cast a piece of a millstone upon his head which fractured his skull. Abimelech requested his armor bearer to kill him so that men would not say of him, “A women slew him.” Thus, the armor bearer complied and Abimelech died.

Conclusion: The men of Shechem placed family loyalty ahead of integrity.

Of all the trees in the parable (olive, fig, vine, and bramble) the bramble which is a thorn bush and known to cause fires was the least valuable. This thorn bush (Abimelech) was whom men chose to rule them.

A murderer does not mind who he kills.

People tend to forget the things people do for them.

Men hearts are easily turned. People will promote you and then demote you.

God will permit discord to punish men for their sinful acts.

Abimelech had killed his brothers on a stone, and at the end of his life, he was killed with a stone.

Spiritual Application: When choosing a leader look for one that has integrity.

The people with whom you associate speaks volumes of your character.

Standing in the way of a usurper can get you killed.

Beware of those who are swift to shed blood.

When you make boastful threats be ready to back-up your words.

When you want to be heard, speak from a vantage point that will carry your voice.

What you do to others, the same will be done to you.

JUDGES SERIES – CHAPTERS 6 – 8 (GIDEON)

The story of Gideon who judged Israel and delivered them from their 7 years of oppression by the Midianites along with the Amalekites and the children of the east is found in Judges chapters 6 to 8. This oppression by these nomadic tribes was a result of Israel’s sinning, and this caused Israel to be displaced in their land and relocated into dens, caves, and strongholds. These enemies destroyed their land, took their livestock and impoverished Israel.

As usual, their suffering caused Israel to cry out to God, but before He sent Gideon to their rescue, God sends Israel a prophet with a word of rebuke, and then he sends an angel to Gideon who was hiding from the Midianites while threshing wheat by the winepress.

When the angel appears and speaks to Gideon, he is surprised and puzzled by the angel’s address, “The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valor.” After being told how God was going to use him, Gideon voiced what he felt was his inadequacies and requested a sign for reassurance. After receiving the sign, Gideon built an altar unto God and called it, “Jehovah Shalom.”

Following God’s instruction Gideon and 10 men threw down the altar of Baal and cut down the Asherah that was in their town during the night; however, in the morning the men of the town wanted to kill him for his actions but his father stood in his defense and Gideon was given the name Jerubbaal which means Baal’s antagonist.

With the next invasion of the 135,000 Midianites and their allies, the Spirit of the Lord came on Gideon, and he gathered together an army from the tribes of Manasseh, Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali. Additionally, wanting to be sure that God was sending him into battle Gideon fleeced the Lord two times before he and his 32,000 men proceeded into combat with the enemy.

Not wanting the men to take the credit for the impending victory God reduced Israel’s army number down to 300 by eliminating certain groups of men. To reassure Gideon of the victory he sent him into the enemy’s camp at night where he heard a soldier telling a dream to his comrade which revealed the favor of God on Gideon and his band of men and led Gideon to take time to worship God.

At the beginning of the middle watch, Gideon strategically separated his army into three groups around the enemy’s camp. When given the signal the men blew their trumpets and smashed the pitchers they were holding with a torch on the inside of it. Plus, they stood their ground and shouted, “The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon.” The sound, light, and stance of the men confused the Midianites, and panic-stricken the Midianites turned on each other and slew one another. For those that escaped the men of Israel from the tribes of Manasseh, Asher, and Naphtali pursued after them while the Ephraimites were able to capture and kill two princes of Midian Oreb and Zeeb.

While Gideon and his men pursued Kings Zebah and Zalmunna whom they caught and slew for their treatment of kinsmen, Gideon requested food from the men of Succoth and Penuel; however, they failed to comply with Gideon’s request, and for this, he executed vengeance on them by whipping the elders of Succoth with thorns and destroying the tower in Penuel and killing the men of the city.

When the men of Ephraimites met with Gideon after the battle they complained because they were not asked to participate in the initial battle; however, Gideon was able to pacify them by praising their capture of Oreb and Zeeb.

At the conclusion of the battle Israel wanted Gideon to be their ruler, however, he declined and reminded them that God was their ruler. Unfortunately, as a reward, he requested every man to give him an earring from their booty which he used to make an ephod and which eventually resulted in Israel committing idolatry and apostasy.

Israel had peace for the next forty years, and Gideon lived to be a good old age in Ophrah of the Abiezrites having birthed seventy sons with many wives. Also, despite being their deliver when Gideon died Israel was not kind to his children, and they forsook God and went a whoring after Baalim, and made Baalberith their god.

Conclusion: Sin produces consequences, and for Israel, it was confinement to dens, caves, and strongholds.

The enemy knew when to attack. They waited for Israel’s harvest to manifest than they came and stole it.

Sometimes those that deny you help and rob from you are your family members. The Midianites are the descendants of Abraham and Keturah, and the Amalekites are the descendant of Esau. Also, the inhabitants of Succoth and Penuel were family members who refused to share substance with their famished countrymen.

God’s presence is everywhere. He sees you when you are hiding. For example, He sent the angel to where Gideon was hiding.

Gideon presented all the reasons to the angel why he was not fit for the task; however, God was not concerned with his social status, He is concerned with his availability. God accentuated Gideon’s strength, not his weakness. Gideon’s limitations were God’s opportunity to show up and out.

When in difficulty men question God’s actions toward them but they fail to question their actions toward God. Men will cry over their problems but not over their sins.

Due to the suffering of Israel, Gideon questioned God’s concern for them and His wisdom of the solution.

The need for reassurance comes from self-doubt; hence, throughout this assignment, God kept giving Gideon reassurances (fire from the rock, the dry and wet fleece, and the enemy’s dream).

When the enemy comes, he comes with reinforcements.

Fear will cause you to forget who God is, what He has done and what He can do. Fear will make you think the enemy is more powerful than God. Fear will make you tremble when facing your enemy; so, this was one of the groups of men that God had Gideon send home before the battle.

Jealousy over the accomplishments of others will make you minimize your accomplishments.

Spiritual Application: Though you may feel incapable of fulfilling God’s plan for your life with Him on your side you can do it.

Before going to battle, Gideon was told to throw down the altar of Baal and cut down the groove that his father had in their town and then offer a sacrifice to God of two bullocks on a newly erected altar. Follow Gideon’s example, before casting out the enemy in your world, cast it out of your home. Before evangelizing the world, evangelize your home.

After you tear down false idols, erect a holy altar for God.

With our sacrifices God makes miracles.

While the world sleeps, be busy doing God’s work.

When you go where God sends you, go in His strength.

When seeking conciliation with your fellowmen respond tactfully.

All of our victories come from God, don’t forget to praise and thank Him for them all.

Don’t be like the men of Succoth and Penuel who doubted Gideon’s ability to capture their enemy. Just because you cannot visualize victory in someone else’s life does not mean they will not obtain it.

When you have the power to do so, help those in need.

JUDGES SERIES – CHAPTERS 4 & 5 (DEBORAH & BARAK)

Judges chapters 4 and 5 gives the narrative of Deborah a prophetess and judge in Israel and Barak a military leader in Israel’ s battle and victory over the Canaanites. Chapter 4 is written as prose while chapter 5 is written as an epic poem and together they give a complete understanding of the battle and victory.

Chapter 4 starts with Israel returning to their sinning ways after the death of Ehud and God allowing King Jabin of Canaan to oppress them with the assistance of Sisera the captain of his army for twenty years. Eventually, Israel cries out to God, and He responds by giving Deborah who was functioning as a prophetess and judge a Word to give to Barak. Deborah summons Barak and gives him this Word from the Lord, “Go and draw toward mount Tabor, and take with thee ten thousand men of the children of Naphtali and of the children of Zebulun? And I will draw unto thee to the river Kishon Sisera, the captain of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his multitude; and I will deliver him into thine hand.” Having received the Word Barak tells Deborah he will only go if she accompanies him to which she agrees to do, and she tells Barak that God was going to give the victory of their enemy to a woman.

Barak gathered the troops from the six tribes of Naphtali, Zebulun, Issachar, Benjamin Ephraim and Manasseh west who willingly volunteered for battle and these six tribes in the chapter 5 poem were praised while the four tribes of Rueben, Manasseh east, Dan and Asher who did not respond to the call were rebuked.

As the two opposing armies met by the Kishon River, God sent a torrential storm causing Sisera with his nine hundred iron chariots to get stuck in the mud which resulted in mass confusion and slaughtering of all of the Sisera’s army. In the midst of this Sisera escaped and fled to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite.

Sisera asked Jael to protect him and not to expose his whereabouts. Jael covered him with a cloth and gave him some milk to drink after which Sisera fell asleep. Quietly, Jael took a hammer and nail of the tent in her hand and hammered the nail through Sisera’s temples and into the ground causing him to die.

When Barak who was pursuing Sisera came by Jael’s tent, she stopped him and brought him into her tent where he saw dead Sisera with the nail in his temples.

After the death of Sisera and the slaughter of his army as God declared Deborah and Barak sang a song of triumphant which is recorded in chapter 5 and God gave the land rest for forty years.

Conclusion: God delivers His people.

Israel required strong leadership to keep them doing what was right in God’s eyes.

Israel had difficulty learning from the mistakes of their forefathers.

God used unconventional means (two women, a torrential storm, a bottle of milk, a hammer, and a nail) to win a war.

In the Bible, Deborah was the first women mentioned in government, and God used her in several capacities.

Deborah’s faith and Barak’s obedience made the difference between defeat and victory.

Spiritual Application: Your faith and obedience can make a difference in our future

Align yourself with people that hear from God.

Warren Wiersbe states, “Reformation temporarily changes outward conduct while revival permanently alters inward character.” We need to seriously pray for revival in our lives lest we like Israel fail to change.

When God gives you instructions your response should not be based on someone else’s actions, always obey God.

God used Jael who was not an Israelite to kill an enemy of Israel. Don’t limit or question God on who He will use to fight your battles and deliver you from bondage.

To God, your gender does not matter.

Similar, to some of the tribes of Israel who chose not to assist in the battle, there will be people that you feel should be supportive of you, but they are not. Don’t despair God will bring you out without them.

Our victory is not contingent on what we see or feel; it is contingent on our trust in God.

The example of Deborah in chapter 5 reminds readers that praise and thanksgiving to God for past and present victories are always in order.

JUDGES SERIES – CHAPTER 3 (THE CYCLE BEGINS)

In Judges 2, two reasons are given why God did not drive out the Canaanites out of the land, and Judges 3 starts by giving another reason. It states, “Now these are the nations which the Lord left, to prove Israel by them, even as many of Israel as had not known all the wars of Canaan; Only that the generations of the children of Israel might know, to teach them war, at the least such as before knew nothing thereof” (Judges 3:1-2). Thus, God used these nations to teach this new generation the art of warfare.

As informed in the previous chapters Israel sinned by committing idolatry and disobeying God’s instruction to not form matrimonial alliances with the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. These grievous actions caused God to be extremely angry with them, and He allowed their enemies to enslave them.

In the remainder of chapter 3 the three enslavements and deliverances of Israel with the cycle of disobedience, defeat, lamenting, deliverance, and rest until the judge dies is recorded.

First Israel was enslaved by King Chushanrishathaim of Mesopotamia, and after eight years the Lord raised up Othniel the son of Kenaz to deliver and judge them resulting in the land having rest for forty years.

Next when Israel backslid and returned to their evil ways God allowed Eglon the king of Moab with the help of the children of Ammon and Amalek to smote Israel, and they took and possessed the city of palm trees for eighteen years until the Lord raised up Ehud, the son of Gera, a left-handed Benjamite to trick and assassinate Eglon with a two-edged dagger under the pretense of giving Eglon a private and secret message. After killing the king, Ehud safely escaped to Seirath and was able to rally the children of Israel in the mountain of Ephraim to follow him and fight their enemy. They were able to slew about ten thousand valiant Moabite men, resulting in eighty years of rest in the land.

The final encounter in this chapter does not share many details; however, God uses Shamgar the son of Anath, to slew six hundred men of the Philistines with an ox goad.

Conclusion: Othniel was from the mightiest tribe of Israel and Ehud was from the smallest tribe of Israel, and God used them both to deliver and judge His children.

The Moabites, Ammonites, and Amalekites were all distant relatives of Israel.

After experiencing rest and peace for eighty years, you would think the people would want it to continue by following God’s instructions; however, this was people of another generation who like their forefathers probably did not know God.

Spiritual Application: Your family origin does not matter to God. He uses whom He pleases.

God is the originator of deliverance and men are His catalyst.

God grants us opportunities for teaching, trusting and testing.

Understand, failure to cast the enemy out has permitted him to gain a stronghold which he does not easily give up.

Sometimes your enemy and problems are allowed to exist in your life so you can learn warfare strategies.

Sincerity should be coupled with repentance.

Just because a person is related to you does not mean they have your best interest at heart.

God can use strange weapons to destroy your enemy.