Beginning in Chapter 1 we learned that these ENEMY nations were in the PROMISED LAND because the Israelites allowed them to be. God SPECIFICALLY told the Israelites to DESTROY their enemies ….. or basically…..their enemies would lead to their own destruction.
Chapter 3 – The first thing we learn is that God used these enemy nations to TEST the Israelites. Many of these Israelites had never been in war. This would be all of HIS people’s opportunity to exercise FAITH and OBEDIENCE. We are about to witness TESTS of faith.
In verse 5 we learn that the Israelites are doing EVERY thing the LORD asked them NOT to do. Take a look at Exodus 34:15-17 and Deuteronomy 7:1-4 if you need a refresher of what God warned them NOT to do (for their OWN protection). However we see …. They LIVED among the enemies. They TOOK their daughters in marriage and GAVE their own daughters to the sons of their enemies. AND they SERVED their gods. WHEEEE DOGGIES… WHAT a mess!!
The Israelites did EVIL in the eyes of the LORD. They forgot the LORD and SERVED the Baals and Asherahs!!!! The Lord SOLD them into the hands of the king of Aram and the Israelites were his subjects for 8 years. They cried out to God and He sent a deliverer by the name of Othaniel. This pattern is repeated after a Judge is sent to them, delivers them, and they enjoy a period of peace.
- OTHNIEL (means “lion of God”). He became the first Judge of Israel. He was the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother making him Caleb’s nephew. He married Caleb’s daughter because he captured Kiriath Sepher.
What was Israelites SIN: Idolatry. Baals and Asherah were the most worshiped gods in Canaan. So God oppressed them for only 8 years to discipline them. Othniel was a faithful and obedient man that the Lord could depend on.
The “SPIRIT OF THE LORD CAME UPON HIM” so that he became Israel’s Judge and went to war. THE LORD gave the king of Aram into his hands. The land had peace for 40 years!!
Othniel died. The people returned to their evil ways (SHOCK FACE!!!) so they became subjects to the king of Moab for 18 years (did you notice the time more than doubled from the first time???) The people cry out to God again and in HIS awesome grace and mercy God sends them another deliverer.
(means “I will give thanks; I will be praised”) Ehud (pronounced “E-who’d” …. my phonetic spelling 🙂 …. the left handed dude from the tribe of Benjamin (Benjamin means “son of the right hand.” My Pastor gave “E-who’d” this catchy title.. one I will remember!!
(I apologize for the large letters here…. having some technical difficulties… and can’t fix it … so it will stay large for whatever reason)
Do you remember who the Moabites, Ammonites and Amalekites are/were?
Moabites and the Ammonites were both descendants of Lot…. Ummmm.. he didn’t really want to leave Sodom and Gomorrah.. his wife looked back turned to a pillar of salt.. and then Moab and Ammon were sons he had with his daughters (ick!)!! OH yep.. coming back to ya now right?
The Amalekites were descendants of Esau (Arab). They were nomadic and disgusting people. They worshipped other gods, using male and female prostitution as a religious device and they thought throwing their first-born babies into a fire would satisfy Molech, another false god (we got millions of ‘em)!!!
“E-who’d” the left handed dude from the tribe of the son of the right hand was actually seen in his era to have a severe handicap. However, his handicap is EXACTLY what God used to save HIS people!! Think about it…. most of the people were right handed so when he asked to see the king of MOAB “E who’d” would have been checked for any swords on the right side of his body… not his left. So… he would have gotten through their “security points” with NO problems!! “E who’d” catches the “very fat man” off guard using his “handicap” to stab him and kill him. The king was so large that the sword he was stabbed with was like sucked in by his fat and came out his back. Ummmm….sounds like a Jabba the hut (Star Wars) kind of moment!!
“E who’d” escapes and locks the doors behind him. The kings guards don’t want to enter the locked doors for fear the king may be relieving himself. The waited to the “point of embarrassment” before entering …. And finding him dead!!
Once “E who’d” was safe he blew a trumpet in the hill country of Ephraim. Moab was conquered. The land lived in peace for eighty years.
- Shamgar (means “sword”)
This Judge gets one line in the bible. He is quite important because he kills 600 with a tool to guide ox. God will use whoever is willing to be used of HIM in amazing ways!!
Chapter 4 – “E-who’d” died….. and you got it… the people turned to evil AGAIN. This time they are in oppression 20 years. They cried out an God sent them another deliverer. This time the Judge is Deborah.
- Deborah (means “bee”)
I do love this story, God can (and does) use anyone to accomplish His job. Men, donkeys, prostitutes, women, judges, me, you. But this story has 2 leading ladies. Deborah sent for Barak and told him that THE LORD COMMANDED him to go TAKE Mount Tabor. She would lure, Sisera, the commander and give him into Barak’s hands. BUT… that was not enough for Barak. He wanted Deborah to go with him. Barak trusted human strength more than God’s promise!! Deborah explained to him she would go … BUT he would not get the honor and the Lord would hand the honor over to a woman!!
The Lord destroyed all the men Sisera was in command of, Sisera fled the scene. Now… Enter.. Jael (stage left or maybe stage right)!! Jael … whoa baby….. she finished Sisera off with a tent stake through his temple. Interesting that Jael’s husband was Heber from the Kenite tribe who had been long time allies of Israel. However, for some reason he decided to side with Jabin’s army of which Sisera was the commander. Jael received the honor for this battle and not Barak, just as Deborah prophesied.
Deborah had the respect of the Israelites. She influenced them to live for God after the battle was over. Her personality drew people together and commanded respect from even Barak… the military commander. She was also a prophetess and her main role was to encourage the people to obey the Lord.
Chapter 5 – We end out reading today with a celebration. The song of Deborah was a victory song of celebration. There have been several times God has done something totally miraculous and the Israelites STOP, and celebrate by PRAISING HIM. What a powerful lesson for each of us… whether we are in the midst of massive challenges or witnessing miracles ONLY God can do in our lives …. Taking time to PRAISE HIM is vital to our life!! We are told in the scripture that God inhabits the praises of HIS people. When we STOP and PRAISE HIM with our whole hearts a bad situation can “seem” to melt away and a good situation can “seem” even better.
“The joy of the Lord is my strength”!! Nehemiah 8:10 Listen to the song by Twila Paris called “The Joy of the Lord”
Then the land had peace forty years.
In these three chapters we see the people serving other kings for a total of 46 years (8 years in 3:8; 18 years in 3:14; and 20 years in 4:3)!! Each time.. they cry out to the Lord and he answers with a Judge (a deliver). In these same three chapters we see that land is at peace for a total of 160 years (40 years 3:11; 80 years 3:30; 40 years 5:31). 206 years have passed in these 3 chapters!!
In each of these situations, we see that God has kept HIS promises. He has said to HIS people many times in our readings … “IF my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 I am sure you can find more examples of this from the books we have already read.
As always I would love to hear your comments, insights, what the Lord is showing you, any questions you may have, etc.
Sharing HIS love,