Strongholds and patterns of sin

In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” Judges 21:25 NKJV

This book concludes with a statement that summarizes the book nicely so I thought I would present it at the beginning. It reminds me of the world we live in right now. Israel has no king – actually it is having all sorts of issues with setting up and working its government. How many elections have they had in the last few years?! And those of us with a government are still running amuck, each government and each person, individually, doing what is right in their own eyes.

Dear Heavenly Father – As always, please open eye to see and our ears to hear what you are saying! Lord – open our understanding that we may know you. Please do not let us miss out on what you want and need from us today. And please keep us and bless us and shine your face upon us and pour out grace over us and give us peace! Thank you! – In Jesus name we pray, Amen

Today’s reading, we begin the book of Judges with chapters 1-2 (embedded below for your convenience).

Overview:  Judges has 21 chapters, 11 or 12 judges (because some people do not count Ehud), 618 verse, unknown author, and happened approximately 1380 to 1050 BC. The book begins with references to Joshua so we know it is a sequel and a reminder that Joshua did NOT completely drive out the Canaanites – so the stage is set for more conflict in the land.  And in chapter two (as we read today) the structure of the book is laid out for us. And the word Judge means a leader who can judge, rule, punish, and most importantly – rescue Israel from their enemies.  Sadly, no one could rescue them from themselves. The pattern laid out in chapter 2 is repeated 12 times (in whole or in part) throughout the book in the story of the rise of each judge.

In chapter 2 we see the pattern of the Israelites sins and why God raised up Judges – the people worship false gods, they get sold to another people, they cry out to God for help, God raises up a judge, the judge brings salvation, the land has rest, and then repeat. 

What we have is a sin struggle – a propensity to repeat the same sin – a sin, asked forgiveness of, so many times it is embarrassing! What we see is a Nation, a symbol of a child of God – while we are in fact a child of God by adoption and therefore we can see the consequences of a sin stronghold in our lives while reading about their struggle with idolatry and close association with influences that encourage us to compromise.

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NKJV

They battled physically – we do not. But in their battles we can see some principles of spiritual warfare – so keep an eye out for them while reading the book.  Sadly, this book only gets worse and worse and there is NO complete deliverer. There is only fallible human, flawed and sinful as well, unable to truly redeem the people yes, as the chapters progress the flaws of the Judges become more and more prevalent.  So if we are looking for our deliverance from sin patterns we will not find it in this book but in Jesus Christ Himself.  Which is kind of the point to this structure – we see man cannot save us. In this book we will find mirrored images of ourselves trying hard and failing, yet God rescuing us repeatedly. 

I know this sounds grim.  It isn’t a feel good book – towards the end are some of the most difficult passages I have ever read and references to other passages that we thought were rough when we read them like the description of the days of Noah and Sodom & Gomorrah.  This shows us that a pattern of sin not properly corrected will lead to the corruption and depravity of the days of Noah and Sodom & Gomorrah – it will lead to that last verse which I opened with today – it will lead to the state of the world we live in.  But on an individual level we can fight it in ourselves and in our family and in our churches and in our communities. There is still hope and even if God said it will only get worse – we must fight for ourselves and others so that we will not miss the mark and possibly bring more into the kingdom with us as we go!

RELATIONSHIP:
Do you already have a relationship with a powerful God who cares about your every need because He loves you? Did you know my God can communicate with you and protect you – He has a plan for you to prosper if you just submit to His will and let His plan play out in your life!!! God wants a relationship with you and has already made a plan for your life. He loves you so much He sent His son to this world, to die as a sacrifice for your sins and rise from death with victory over sin and the ability to have a personal relationship with you.
9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NIV
Here is a prayer for you to pray:
Jesus, I believe you are the way, the truth, the life, and the only way to the Father. I believe you are the son of God, you came to Earth and lived. That you died on the cross as a sacrifice for my sins, and rose again so that I may be saved from my sins and be able to get to know you. I declare: Jesus, you are Lord!
Therefore, I confess that I am a sinner and I ask that you forgive me of my sins and come into my life. Help me to turn away from my sins and transform me into what you have lovingly created me to be. Help me through a real personal relationship grow and accept your will for my life – that I may live in your blessings. Please walk with me, and talk with me – I accept a relationship with you and with our Father God, through you. In the name of Jesus I pray ~ Amen

MEMORY WORK: 2 Peter 1:3
NKJV – “as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue,”
NAS – “for His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.”
ESV – “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,”
NLT – “By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.”
NIV – “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”

Thank you for reading.
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!

BIBLE READING: Judges 1-2 NKJV

The Continuing Conquest of Canaan

Now after the death of Joshua it came to pass that the children of Israel asked the Lord, saying, “Who shall be first to go up for us against the Canaanites to fight against them?”

And the Lord said, “Judah shall go up. Indeed I have delivered the land into his hand.”

So Judah said to Simeon his brother, “Come up with me to my allotted territory, that we may fight against the Canaanites; and I will likewise go with you to your allotted territory.” And Simeon went with him. Then Judah went up, and the Lord delivered the Canaanites and the Perizzites into their hand; and they killed ten thousand men at Bezek. And they found Adoni-Bezek in Bezek, and fought against him; and they defeated the Canaanites and the Perizzites. Then Adoni-Bezek fled, and they pursued him and caught him and cut off his thumbs and big toes. And Adoni-Bezek said, “Seventy kings with their thumbs and big toes cut off used to gather scraps under my table; as I have done, so God has repaid me.” Then they brought him to Jerusalem, and there he died.

Now the children of Judah fought against Jerusalem and took it; they struck it with the edge of the sword and set the city on fire. And afterward the children of Judah went down to fight against the Canaanites who dwelt in the mountains, in the [a]South, and in the lowland. 10 Then Judah [b]went against the Canaanites who dwelt in Hebron. (Now the name of Hebron was formerly Kirjath Arba.) And they killed Sheshai, Ahiman, and Talmai.

11 From there they went against the inhabitants of Debir. (The name of Debir was formerly Kirjath Sepher.)

12 Then Caleb said, “Whoever attacks Kirjath Sepher and takes it, to him I will give my daughter Achsah as wife.” 13 And Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother, took it; so he gave him his daughter Achsah as wife. 14 Now it happened, when she came to him, that [c]she urged him to ask her father for a field. And she dismounted from her donkey, and Caleb said to her, “What do you wish?” 15 So she said to him, “Give me a blessing; since you have given me land in the South, give me also springs of water.”

And Caleb gave her the upper springs and the lower springs.

16 Now the children of the Kenite, Moses’ father-in-law, went up from the City of Palms with the children of Judah into the Wilderness of Judah, which lies in the South near Arad; and they went and dwelt among the people. 17 And Judah went with his brother Simeon, and they attacked the Canaanites who inhabited Zephath, and utterly destroyed it. So the name of the city was called Hormah. 18 Also Judah took Gaza with its territory, Ashkelon with its territory, and Ekron with its territory. 19 So the Lord was with Judah. And they drove out the mountaineers, but they could not drive out the inhabitants of the lowland, because they had chariots of iron. 20 And they gave Hebron to Caleb, as Moses had said. Then he [d]expelled from there the three sons of Anak. 21 But the children of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites who inhabited Jerusalem; so the Jebusites dwell with the children of Benjamin in Jerusalem to this day.

22 And the [e]house of Joseph also went up against Bethel, and the Lord was with them. 23 So the [f]house of Joseph sent men to spy out Bethel. (The name of the city was formerly Luz.) 24 And when the spies saw a man coming out of the city, they said to him, “Please show us the entrance to the city, and we will show you mercy.” 25 So he showed them the entrance to the city, and they struck the city with the edge of the sword; but they let the man and all his family go. 26 And the man went to the land of the Hittites, built a city, and called its name Luz, which is its name to this day.

Incomplete Conquest of the Land

27 However, Manasseh did not drive out the inhabitants of Beth Shean and its villages, or Taanach and its villages, or the inhabitants of Dor and its villages, or the inhabitants of Ibleam and its villages, or the inhabitants of Megiddo and its villages; for the Canaanites were determined to dwell in that land. 28 And it came to pass, when Israel was strong, that they put the Canaanites [g]under tribute, but did not completely drive them out.

29 Nor did Ephraim drive out the Canaanites who dwelt in Gezer; so the Canaanites dwelt in Gezer among them.

30 Nor did Zebulun drive out the inhabitants of Kitron or the inhabitants of Nahalol; so the Canaanites dwelt among them, and [h]were put under tribute.

31 Nor did Asher drive out the inhabitants of Acco or the inhabitants of Sidon, or of Ahlab, Achzib, Helbah, Aphik, or Rehob. 32 So the Asherites dwelt among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land; for they did not drive them out.

33 Nor did Naphtali drive out the inhabitants of Beth Shemesh or the inhabitants of Beth Anath; but they dwelt among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land. Nevertheless the inhabitants of Beth Shemesh and Beth Anath were put under tribute to them.

34 And the Amorites forced the children of Dan into the mountains, for they would not allow them to come down to the valley; 35 and the Amorites were determined to dwell in Mount Heres, in Aijalon, and in [i]Shaalbim; yet when the strength of the house of Joseph became greater, they [j]were put under tribute.

36 Now the boundary of the Amorites was from the Ascent of Akrabbim, from Sela, and upward.

Israel’s Disobedience

Then the Angel of the Lord came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said: “I led you up from Egypt and brought you to the land of which I swore to your fathers; and I said, ‘I will never break My covenant with you. And you shall make no [k]covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall tear down their altars.’ But you have not obeyed My voice. Why have you done this? Therefore I also said, ‘I will not drive them out before you; but they shall be thorns[l] in your side, and their gods shall [m]be a snare to you.’ ” So it was, when the Angel of the Lord spoke these words to all the children of Israel, that the people lifted up their voices and wept.

Then they called the name of that place [n]Bochim; and they sacrificed there to the Lord. And when Joshua had dismissed the people, the children of Israel went each to his own inheritance to possess the land.

Death of Joshua

So the people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the Lord which He had done for Israel. Now Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died when he was one hundred and ten years old. And they buried him within the border of his inheritance at Timnath Heres, in the mountains of Ephraim, on the north side of Mount Gaash. 10 When all that generation had [o]been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel.

Israel’s Unfaithfulness

11 Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served the Baals; 12 and they forsook the Lord God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt; and they followed other gods from among the gods of the people who were all around them, and they bowed down to them; and they provoked the Lord to anger. 13 They forsook the Lord and served [p]Baal and the [q]Ashtoreths. 14 And the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel. So He delivered them into the hands of plunderers who despoiled them; and He sold them into the hands of their enemies all around, so that they could no longer stand before their enemies. 15 Wherever they went out, the hand of the Lord was against them for calamity, as the Lord had said, and as the Lord had sworn to them. And they were greatly distressed.

16 Nevertheless, the Lord raised up judges who delivered them out of the hand of those who plundered them. 17 Yet they would not listen to their judges, but they played the harlot with other gods, and bowed down to them. They turned quickly from the way in which their fathers walked, in obeying the commandments of the Lord; they did not do so. 18 And when the Lord raised up judges for them, the Lord was with the judge and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge; for the Lord was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who oppressed them and harassed them. 19 And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they reverted and behaved more corruptly than their fathers, by following other gods, to serve them and bow down to them. They did not cease from their own doings nor from their stubborn way.

20 Then the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel; and He said, “Because this nation has transgressed My covenant which I commanded their fathers, and has not heeded My voice, 21 I also will no longer drive out before them any of the nations which Joshua left when he died, 22 so that through them I may test Israel, whether they will keep the ways of the Lord, to walk in them as their fathers kept them, or not.” 23 Therefore the Lord left those nations, without driving them out immediately; nor did He deliver them into the hand of Joshua.

Footnotes

  1. Judges 1:9 Heb. Negev, and so throughout the book
  2. Judges 1:10 attacked
  3. Judges 1:14 LXX, Vg. he urged her
  4. Judges 1:20 drove out from there
  5. Judges 1:22 family
  6. Judges 1:23 family
  7. Judges 1:28 to forced labor
  8. Judges 1:30 became forced laborers
  9. Judges 1:35 Shaalabbin, Josh. 19:42
  10. Judges 1:35 became forced laborers
  11. Judges 2:2 treaty
  12. Judges 2:3 LXX, Tg., Vg. enemies to you
  13. Judges 2:3 entrap you
  14. Judges 2:5 Lit. Weeping
  15. Judges 2:10 Died and joined their ancestors
  16. Judges 2:13 A Canaanite god
  17. Judges 2:13 Canaanite goddesses

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