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Suggested Readings To Read Through The Bible In A Year

Friday   April 23, 2010   Judges 3-4 and Psalm 70

Judges 3:1-2

These are the nations the Lord left to test all those Israelites who had not experienced any of the wars in Canaan [2] (he did this only to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites who had not had previous battle experience):

  God wanted to teach his people to fight war! I don’t know about you, but that sentence got my attention. We like to think of ourselves as Christians as being peace loving and peace making people. But God’s chosen people were being set up by God to learn about warfare. I am sure glad that the writer also included verse 4, which for me gives a little more insight as to the why and wherefore of war . . .

Judges 3:4

They were left to test the Israelites to see whether they would obey the Lord's commands, which he had given their forefathers through Moses.

  The war was about spiritual matters. Oh, they indeed fought real physical battles and people lost their lives – but at the heart of the matter it was about spiritual things. The test was about their love for God. Did they love God more than they loved themselves and pleasure? As we read the story of the Judges we see a cycle repeated over and over. The Israelites choose to cohabitate the territory with the Canaanite nations . . . soon they start marrying some of the Canaanite people . . . which leads them to allow their Canaanite spouses to bring with them their idols that they have worshiped in their pagan culture . . . and before long they are not only tolerating the fact that they have idols to man-made gods in their homes, they are worshiping those idols instead of the LORD.

  Loving God calls for war. Paul tells us in Ephesians 6 that we live in a war zone! And this war is not with flesh and blood – though the enemy will use flesh and blood to propagate his strategy – we are in a spiritual war with the powers of Satan. And he is still using the same tactics that he used in the times of the Judges . . . get the people of God to compromise their beliefs – get them to tolerate, then compromise and finally embrace thoughts and actions that are all about self rather than loving God and obeying his Word. (see Ephesians 6!)

  There is another phrase in Judges 3 that really grabbed my attention this morning - to the point that I looked it up in several translations to make sure I was reading what was intended by the original language . . . It is a phrase found back in chapter 2, and again in Judges 10 and 1 Samuel 12 . . .

Judges 3:8

The anger of the Lord burned against Israel so that he sold them into the hands of Cushan-Rishathaim king of Aram Naharaim, to whom the Israelites were subject for eight years.

  God sold them! He put an ad out – or someone came along and offered him something he chose not to refuse – God sold them! The thought that came to my mind when I read that this morning was along the lines of someone who had a dog that they could not control. Every attempt they made to train that dog had failed (I remember having one of those dogs once!) Finally, in desperation and frustration the owner of that dog says I am done trying . . . I have done all I can but this dog is not going to cooperate with me, so I will give it a change of scenery and a change of owners. Maybe then this dog will realize how good it could have had here! Dog for sale . . . cheap!

There is good news in this sad story. Verse 9 says the people cried out to the LORD. They repented and cried out for deliverance, and God answered their prayer.

  The stories of people of Israel taking possession of the promised land is a picture of the Christian life. We are living in war zone that God wants us to possess – he wants us to overcome the temptations that are all around us to love something or someone more than Him . . . he wants us to win the battle of the mind by keeping our focus on Him and making him number one in everything that we do. It all comes down to the words of Jesus, John 14:15

"If you love me, you will obey what I command.

  I wonder, does God still put disobedient children up for sale? (I don’t want to find out!)

Suggested Readings To Read Through The Bible In A Year

Saturday      April 24, 2010   Judges 5-6 and Psalm 71

Sunday        April 25, 2010   Judges 7-8 and Psalm 72

Monday       April 26, 2010   Judges 9-10 and Psalm 73

Tuesday      April 27, 2010   Judges 11-12 and Psalm 74

Wednesday April 28, 2010   Judges 13-14 and Psalm 75


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