SEPARATION FROM GOD THROUGH FREEDOM OF LIVING TO THEMSELVES
Let’s look at Romans 8:35, 37, which is about separation after we have come to Christ.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us”
However, we see the question isn’t about separation overall but separation from someone else’s love! Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
The 2nd questions should be, “Who can separate Christ from our love? This challenge poses an entirely different proposition.
You see, nothing can separate us from Christ’s love, but, until we have that same love for him that he has for us, we are always under the threat of walking away from him after the imaginations of our own hearts.
This dilemma arose in the period of the Judges, where, at the removal of the oversight of a spiritual leader, we also see the shedding of the personal discipline to follow God.
As Christians, we don’t appreciate the importance of the rigours of attending a church and submitting to a spiritual leader until we look objectively at our lives sometime after we have left, and realise we are not as spiritually diligent as we once were, after all. Our freedom became bondage. ———————————————————— Thurs 22.2.18 When God looks upon the myriad of churches we have nowadays, he sighs. His design was never to have such a splintered congregation of believers. Even while Christ was teaching, splinter groups were arising whom the disciples at that stage new not. Christ told the disciples not to worry about them, and said, “whoever is not against us is for us”. But, I am confident that Christ would have preferred not to have the splintering.
In the time of the judges, tribes splintered and lost their family unity, which was so precious to God and necessary to them.
Aside from that, the tribes began losing their faith in God and left off their biblical sacrificial practices.
We might also see that in our own families the more distant some of them become.
Families can fall into the trap of growing distant as time goes by, focussing more on their own families than those of their relatives. Then, a generation further on they only see those relatives at wedding and funerals; then one generation after that, they don’t even invite them to weddings, so irrelevant they have become to their lives.
Under strong leadership, Israel held holy convocations throughout the year so that family and spiritual distancing wouldn’t arise. You might remember when your own family held special family get-togethers on Boxing Day or sometime around then, to ensure relatives stayed relevant to one another over time.
God doesn’t want a forgetful spirit. —————————————— Sunday 25.2.18
When we do an overview of the tribes at this time, we see the link between their lives and our New Testament lives. That link is Fatherhood; that is, growing into the fathership or elder-statesperson of the Lord.
Most heads (husbands) of the families at that time remained spiritually infantile. As this occurred, there was little spiritual growth across the whole family and, unlike now, the wife was not allowed to ‘take the kids to church’ or offer sacrifices.
When that happened, the next obvious step was that their human bodies took over the reins and subliminally forced them to follow the temptations of the Canaanites, and it was all downhill from there.
At that time, the precious Law of the living God was their protection, if they fell in love with it and its Author. That law warned them and provided clear boundaries, which they forgot or neglected. When we ignore the warnings that God has made evident in his Word, we also end up in trouble.
We often see this today, as the church as a whole is taking on numerous sins of the Canaanites, such as marrying spouses who are not Christians and expecting them to change later; or drinking alcohol en masse, or hoping God will turn a blind eye to fornication and adultery. Some ‘Christians’ even have abortions, which is simply today’s version of the Canaanite child sacrifice.
——————————————————————– Thurs …Continued from Sunday 25.2.18
Further to those sins, and why God was so incensed, was more to do with the depth of their wickedness. For instance, our holy days of Easter and Christmas were celebrated by the children of Israel long before the birth of Christ.
We think those dates commemorate the birth and death of Jesus Christ. However, they observe sex and fertility instead of Jesus’s death, and the birth of Nimrod, the builder of the Tower of Babel instead of the birth of Christ.
Easter is a pseudonym for Ashtoreth, also known as the queen of heaven, whom the Israelites worshipped when they went astray. Ashtoreth is another name for Semiramis, mother and wife of Nimrod. Why is she adored as the queen of heaven hundreds of years before Mary was born? Jeremiah 7:18, “The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger.”
Ashtoreth was also known as the moon goddess; also known as Ishtar or Easter.
Why do we have an Easter bunny and eggs? Certainly not to observe the death and resurrection of Jesus, but to commemorate sex and fertility! This type of worship encouraged the porn of yesteryear, and most of Israel worshipped it during this period. They kept returning to it era after era.
Why is December 25 approximately nine months after Easter, the same time as pregnancy?
How is a Christmas tree mentioned in the book of Jeremiah, written 600 years before Christ? Jeremiah 10:3-4, “… For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not…”
Furthermore and just as bizarre, they worshipped Baal, the sun god. This distortion had also transferred to us, as churches now meet on Sunday, when Saturday was, in fact, the Sabbath.
Additionally, the European Union, in worshipping Sunday, now has a European Sunday Alliance, trying to legislate a ‘Sunday’ day of rest for the working community. They sued the City of Frankfurt for allowing Sunday sales, and won!
So, we see why God was angry with the tribes of Israel, as they have mixed the pure worship of the Lord God with the pagan worship of the deities of the tribes around them.
Today, don’t we inadvertently do the same thing? ———————————————— Sun 4.3.18
So, when was Jesus’ birthday?
Many writers suggest it was at the time of the Feast of Tabernacles (Sept-Oct). Hence, it is written in Zechariah 14:16, “And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles.” This passage refers to the 1000 reign of Christ, which is to come, and may refer to Christ’s birthday.
let’s look at our present world. We have Sunday instead of Saturday, December 25 instead of Sept-Oct, seven days of the week all dedicated to gods (Moons day, Zeus day, Woden’s Day, Thors Day Frigga’s Day Saturn’s Day, Sun Day), European Sunday Alliance prosecuting people for working on their worship day, and Mary/child worship long before Mary was born,
We also have daylight (Sun) saving to add to the mix, where we ‘appreciate’ a little more sunshine.
We don’t realise that some people, somewhere, at some time, removed the real world from our midst, and changed reality into their deity worship for the world to unknowingly follow.
This extreme and bizarre adoration of multiple gods was the reason why the living God gave explicit instructions to the Israelites not to mingle, to save them from this nonsensical satanic worship. They ignored their original spiritual convictions and lived like the unsaved.
Today, we can find ourselves in the same situation if we ignore or try to gloss over what God had told us in the Bible. There isn’t much we can do about changing back the days of the week or altering Christmas day or Easter, however, there are many things we should do to ensure we stay on the path of righteousness until the end, and not end up like the Israelites in Judges. They were indeed prodigal sons who never remained with their father once back to safety. ——————————————- Thurs 8.3.17 In the New Testament, there was a brave brother in Christ by the name of Stephen, who was called ‘home’ early. Pharisees and other religious leaders trapped Stephen and designed a quasi-courtroom to try him for telling the truth. He assumed the judgement was always going to be ‘guilty’, and he, therefore, spoke in his defence, not having a legal representative. He gave one of the greatest oratories found in written form.
As we read Acts 6-7, we can imagine him commencing his defence in a moderate tone to provide an understanding for the Pharisees. Considering they were the ‘fathers’ of religion, once he explained things they would have a lightbulb moment and see Christ for the first time. In fact, Acts 6: 10 illustrates, “And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.”
In countering Stephen’s defence of the gospel, like a wicked prosecution team, they subpoenaed liars who would state Stephen was blasphemous and a troublemaker, in the image of Christ. As he proceeded, now knowing it was falling on deaf ears, he became bolder and told them of their correct lineage. In his oratory, Stephen spoke of the Fathers of Israel and their penchant for disobeying God. He said they ‘thrust’ God from them, and in their hearts turned back to Egypt.
True ‘fathers’ do not turn back to Egypt. These ‘fathers’ were named in a historical sense only. Legitimate fathers are known for spiritual wisdom and understanding. They have grown through the stages of childhood milk drinkers, to become young warriors and then to the degree of wise old sage.
The term ‘father’ should never be mentioned in the same sentence as Egypt or falling away. Our role is to keep moving forward through the Strait Gate, with a purpose driven life underpinned by holiness and righteousness, to the high level of Fatherhood, so that our obituary and legacy resemble who we are called to be. ———————————————- Sunday 11.3.18
Stephen went on to say to the Pharisees, “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, you do always resist the Holy Ghost. As your fathers did, so do ye.”
Some of those fathers are these people in the book of Judges. It is a dishonour to be referred to as a father in this way.
It doesn’t take much to resist the Holy Ghost.
We merely ignore a few warnings which come from the Word. We know they are for us, but we forge on with our lives without change or acknowledgement of that Word, imagining we will be fine. Sometimes on this journey, we take one step back and two forward, or two back and one forward, but we still must march on to the kingdom and glory to which we are called. We are meant to step up by degrees, from children to young men then fathers.
I John 2:14, “I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.”
Following Christ is for life, and our major overcoming’s are achieved through the young man stage.
The apostle Paul, on his journey to fatherhood, said, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” He had not attained it but was ambitious to fulfill this calling. He may have been in the young man stage at the time of writing.
The fathers are the big trees where people can come and get shade in the heat of the day and shelter from the rains of life. If there are no fathers, where does the shelter come from? Where do we get the gentle wisdom of experience? How do we know the way in which we are to walk if those who are meant to walk before us are non-existent?
1 Corinthians 4:15, states, “For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.”
Paul mentioned here that many leaders had head-knowledge, but very few took steps to walk the upward pathway of obedience and experience into fatherhood. ———————————————-
God appears to have left the Israelites to themselves because they kept whining about their leaders and their minds kept returning to sin whenever the opportunity arose. So, he said, I will remove the leaders and see how well you survive without them.
Businesses are often in a similar situation with some employees, in that they do not have the capabilities nor do they seek for Supervision or Management positions, and yet they don’t stop whining about the people who are in those positions. It is childish behaviour and almost a spiritual issue.
The correctly termed ‘children’ of Israel, were always whining about their leader, Moses, as they were going through the desert experience, and the new generation probably complained about Joshua when fighting in the promised land, because that was the habit of their fathers. Therefore they were left to themselves.
Within this new regime of self-management, they intermarried with unbelievers, something God specifically asked them not to do. This ignoring of God made their married lives difficult, as they also married their partner’s manner of life and families, which took them away from the Lord. They lost their spiritual way and, for this, God gave them over to Satan for their correction, which is precisely what the Apostle Paul instructed the elders of the Corinthian Church to do many years later in 1 Corinthians chapter 5.
This case involved a man who felt unashamed to have his father’s ‘ex’ while still sitting in the pew attending church and feeling righteous before God, despite his commandment breach. He was neither condemned by himself or his spiritual leaders until Paul wrote his accusatory letter to them.
He was given over to Satan, as were the Israelites. What this meant for the Israelites was that God allowed other nations to penetrate the Godly protection He placed around their country and turned them into servants of Satan, to show them the actual result of their current desires.
These were God’s chosen people, who had been ‘born again’ into the Promised Land, and overcame many challenges just to arrive at this pathetic predicament.
They were brought into the Promised Land by God to be conquerors of evil and spiritual leaders of the other nations.
They were raised up to be a light for all to see, shining with the glory of the living God, but, they got that light and put it out, thinking they could now live without it. ——————————– Sunday 18.3.18
Then, when they had fallen on their faces, and become servile to another despotic regime, they cried out to God for the help they could have always enjoyed, had they stayed within the boundaries of Godly behaviour.
Thankfully, not everybody in the book of Judges was a spiritual child, as, the leaders would then bring them out of bondage while following the commands of the Lord. There were some fathers and mothers, godly elder states-people, of the tribes that were drawn along into slavery with the Israeli wicked. It often happens.
This growth to maturity in some people, is what God was hoping would occur in every family in each of the 12 tribes, but they preferred the taste of sin running down their chins instead of the sacrificial flavour of a godly offering in righteousness.
When the ‘saviour’ — the judge — for that era had died, they quickly returned to their folly. Sometimes we can liken that to church in our day. When people leave churches and think they can walk the strait and narrow pathway on their own, often not realising that the discipline of attending church and having fellowship holds a lot of their spiritual life together. Upon leaving, they find their spiritual life and control unravelling very quickly.
Moses, as we know, wasn’t allowed to enter the Promised Land, because he had smitten the rock instead of speaking to it. That rock was Christ, and believers don’t strike Christ. Moses, therefore, passed the baton to his apprentice, Joshua, and told him to be brave, as the command post and responsibility to conquer the promised land was now his.
Joshua, who was wholehearted a believer, now had the task of commanding the takeover of the promised land to the glory of God. He was instructed to kill all the inhabitants of that new territory. This takeover sounds quite brutal, and some modern theologians have called it genocide. It is in a way, but it needed to be done for a purpose because the current inhabitants were wicked to the core. There is also a reason for that wickedness, as it was the inheritance they received from their forefathers; a succession of perpetual sin.
We, like Joshua, are also asked to kill the old inhabitants of our hearts and to mortify the deeds we commit against God. These deeds, every time we allow them to regrow in us, drag us down into the mire of life, and we find ourselves time after time crying out to God, “help me, I am in this mess again.” We find we haven’t killed them off, as commanded, but just trimmed them.
At some stage, the Lord wants to see growth and maturity and an ongoing dependence upon him, in place of our subliminal reliance upon the natural desires and pamperings of life.
You see, the Lord isn’t some pocket God we pull out when times are tough, nor is he there to further our personal goals. Leave that in the history of the Judges. God has exclusive right to our lives once we have become Born Again, and it is we who need to follow his goals.
The young men of Israel were the warriors, which is the same in every nation’s armed forces on earth. They weren’t to leave anybody alive in Canaan with those old memories and habits of sin because that would then manifest itself later. It would grow as they grew, and reproduce as they reproduced, and eventually, sin would re-enter society with its cloak of respectability and become normal, again!
Spiritually speaking, young men can be of any age, as the term relates to a person’s spiritual growth, not their age. They were to go through the intro-phase of pilgrims, then to warriors, later to become fathers. The called, chosen and faithful.
We think the world is becoming more delinquent as we see all of the wickedness in society today; yet, it was present in the days of the Judges and earlier — all of it. It is simply repeated.
So profound was the wickedness of Canaan, sin was normalized.
Spiritually speaking, each tribe represents a negative aspect of our make up, as we see here.
Canaanite: Deceivers or deceit Hitittes: Fear or broken promises Perizzites: Lawlessness and out of bounds Hivites: Wickedness Jebusites: Pride Amorites: Bitterness or rebellion Girgashites (offshoot)
Looking at the sins we are meant to mortify or put off, such as uncleanness, fornication inordinate affections, idolatry, etc, and issues like those, we see them as the fruit of our doings. If we look at our life as if it were a tree, we have fruit, and deep down we have the roots or causes.
We are known by our fruits. So, if we are into adultery, drugs or drinking excessively, fornication, and the like, then that is what we are. These are our fruits. What we have in our hearts is what comes out in our lives and mouths. As the saying goes, if we look like a duck and quack like a duck, we are probably a duck.
However, the fruits are not the causal factors but merely the product of the cause. So, we look deeper and find one or more of the above tribal traits is directing our life and producing these negative fruits.
Then we go more in-depth again to identify what we are feeding on most of the time, and we start getting somewhere in figuring out what makes us tick.
Then we find we are not mortifying the deeds at all. For, to mortify the actions, we need to understand the roots and extract those. Does that make sense?
Nobody can remove fruit from a tree or vine and expect the entire tree or vine to be uprooted or destroyed. Even the thought of that is foolish. To ensure fruit does not come from a tree, the tree itself must perish.
For instance, if we are adulterers, which is a big ticket sin, the Lord asks us to mortify that behaviour.
To ensure it stays mortified, we look at causes such as the deception of the Canaanites; the broken promises of the Hittites (as in breaking our commitment to our partner); the lawlessness of the Perizzites (as in not expecting to come under any law of God); the straight out wickedness of the Hivites (by this time our heart is soaking in evil); the pride of the Jebusites (as we will now be justifying our behaviour); and both the rebellion and bitterness of the Amorites ( 1. Rebellion, because we will not listen to any reasoning from close friends, and, 2. Bitterness because you will now be resenting that wisdom or will hate the fact that you have been discovered)
Today, there is lawlessness within the broader church such as has not been seen for many years, which is an incubator for sin. Psalm 19 says the Law of the Lord is perfect converting the soul, and yet today we have an absolute torrent of Christians trying to eliminate it at every opportunity.
The disobedient Israelites were identical, in that they wanted God’s blessing but not His rules that cause the blessing.
When we look at our laws these days, we see that children, by government approval, are allowed and in fact instructed to grow without the rules which can keep them under God’s grace. They grow up to be theological bastards, without spiritual fathers or mothers to guide them in the beauties of Christian living. Thus, they grow wild like an untended vineyard.
Unless the Word of God pierces their hearts, they are bound to live out their lives ‘doing that which is right in their own eyes.’
In an environment like that pride grows tall, which blocks out God from all angles.
The Jebusites were from Jebus, which is the old name of Jerusalem prior to the takeover. They were known for their pride. We see that same pride was still evident many years later when the Pharisees of that city nailed Jesus Christ to the cross to get rid of him and his guilt trips.
Make no mistake, the Scribes and Pharisees were not Jews. Real jews would have been looking for Christ, like those disciples, Andrew and Peter, for the sake of salvation and not to slay him.
It does not make sense to eliminate the owner along with the principles while still expecting to enjoy the prosperity they both bring. Killing off the testator of the will and his wishes so you can then spend the booty, is simply theft. They rejected God and His will in the Old Testament, and the New Testament was similar. However, they wanted the peace and benefits. Interestingly, they desired to worship something, so long as it wasn’t God.
When Ham brought the secrets of the previous devilish society with him through the flood on the Ark, he caused his descendants for many generations to follow those exact rules and principles. The flow-on effect was that they angered God year after year and went to hell.
Conversely, Shem followed Noah and brought the blessings and gospel down through specific believing members of the family.
These two lineages of right and wrong, good and evil, have been at war ever since the landing of the Ark.
Canaan, the land taken over by Joshua, was the name of a person in history who was the progeny of Ham. This lineage is how we arrive at the wars leading up to and beyond the Book of Judges.
When Noah landed the Ark, he built a vineyard. He then drank too much of the produce and got drunk; something he would have been ashamed of the next morning.
He was naked in his own tent. Ham saw him and mocked him, while the other two sons respected him and covered him. One of the oldest commandments, much older than the writings of the ten commandments, was the proclamation to honour your father and mother. It came all the way down from the time of Adam and Eve, like many other key laws and principles.
It appears that Noah cursed Ham for that reason, separating him from the other two sons, which we might think was a bit harsh and irrational. However, I suspect that Noah had problems with Ham over a very long time. Like most parents, I think he knew Ham and his behaviours very well, and the mocking was just another typical behaviour of Ham. I believe Ham, during his time with Noah, mocked everything Godly, either to Noah’s face or behind his back.
A parent can usually tell what behaviours are within their children, and the final judgement held by Noah, after the mocking, was well overdue. Noah held Court, and the gavel came down on Ham, who had been treated like a youth until that final time; until Noah’s gentle parenting and coaching had come to an end, and Ham received the final judgment he deserved. Grace was over for Ham. 22.30 —————————————————————
Not long before this breach of trust by Ham, the entire living world had been flushed away to remove the stain and stench of sin and doings of depravity. God needed to clean the world in which they lived, to recommence the beginning, resembling the time when Adam and Eve began their life out of Eden.
He created a flood to cleanse this marvellous environment thoroughly, and let eight souls through. The idea was to only allow righteousness through the flood, as only then could there be a new start.
Imagine restoring the world with only righteousness in it? How wonderful that would have been! However, with Noah’s children, righteousness only penetrated two sets of ears instead of three.
Like Noah, our job, as best we can do, is to pass on the gospel of righteousness to our children. Some grab hold of it, but sometimes some do not. It doesn’t always seem to work out that way.
Children often think their parents are quite stupid. I think we’ve all gone through that as kids growing up. It doesn’t dawn on us that our parents look at us and think, ‘don’t you understand that I did the same thing when I was young? Don’t you realise that I know you that well, that I could map out your next week, foretelling what you would probably do?
I think Noah and his wife knew where Ham was going of an evening or when out getting timber or animals. They were running a busy construction company and the world’s largest Zoo, so it was hands-on for all. Like busy parents of today, I think Noah and his wife relied quite a bit on hope, prayer and instruction. Rearing children is difficult, and when using hindsight, we all could have done more and done it differently, but, as parents, we are often learning at the same time as instructing. So it would have been with Noah and his wife.
When Noah sent Ham to bring back some Zebra’s, for instance, it appears Ham may have digressed into places where the wrong gospel was preached, and was seduced. He would return after each expedition with a growing number of secrets in his heart.
Years later, we arrive at the sons of Ham and see the devastation on society. Two of the worst sons were Cush and Canaan. Cush was the father of Nimrod, the antichrist at that time who built the tower of Babel, with the aim that if God flooded the world a second time, it would not reach the top of the tower, and those who mattered would be safe. The New World Order for that time!
The entire Ham family said, ‘we don’t need God’. They pushed wickedness down through the family. The Israelites at the time of the Judges were taking on this wickedness, despite being children from another spiritual line, because their elders stopped saying, DON’T LOOK, DON’T TOUCH, DON’T TASTE.
Hebrews 5:12-13 says, “For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.”
When we look at this scripture about a lack of skill, we might assume it is about when we converse with other people regarding the Word, where we may not be able to adequately use scripture to convince them of the way of the gospel. However, I feel it also means they did not know how to apply scripture to themselves. Scripture must be used on us as well as others. We are to get the beam out of our own eye before we try and remove the splinter from someone else.
Scripture did not have its way with the hearts of those people, and they become lame!
These ‘children’ in the Book of Judges were milk drinkers — spiritually underdeveloped people — which kept returning to the vomit of their own choices. Proverbs 26:11 ” As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly.”
When we go through troubles in life, and we see some Christians don’t seem to go through as much, we look closer and find they have rituals and practices in God that we do not have. They continually develop themselves, working on knowledge and understanding, and development of the fruit of the spirit in their hearts. They ride the waves with fewer wipeouts because of their determination to grow in Christ.
Fools rush in where angels fear to tread, and if the Holy Spirit isn’t running our lives, this impetuous nature is bound to us all by the bands of habit.
————————————————– Sunday 1.4.18
Judge 1 Othniel: “Legacy of Courage”
The lead-up to Othniel is thuswise:
Judges 3:6-8 “And they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons, and served their gods. And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and forgat the Lord their God, and served Baalim and the groves. Therefore the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and he sold them into the hand of Chushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia: and the children of Israel served Chushan-rishathaim eight years.”
So, we view them as little children who got themselves into trouble and are now crying out to the parents to help them.
It is hard to imagine a God of love stating that he ‘sold’ his children, yet, there is disobedience that cannot be abided. It is a big step for the God of mercy, and entirely against his original intentions for humankind, however, the human heart can become so arrogant and forthright that it defies all boundaries, leaving God no other options.
We can try and sugar-coat our disobedience, as did Aaron when he made the golden calf and tried to blame others for his wrong decision (Ex 32), but in the end, it is just another way of throwing off our guilt and not wanting the accountability of our actions.
Scripture states they ‘forgot’ God. This means, he rarely entered their thoughts in their day-to-day decisions, or in their dreams for the future, or was never asked for counsel on issues of life, nor was his ‘Word’ acknowledged in the raising of their children. It was indeed a sad time for our Lord, as he watched his chosen people, his precious children, ignoring the warnings and walking in ways in which they were instructed not to venture. I think we’re a lot like that sometimes.
This time, the children of Israel served Chushan-rishathaim eight years, which doesn’t seem like a long time. However, if our Government doubled taxes for eight years, forcing everybody to struggle to survive, then it would seem a long time. Again, there is coming a time of three and a half years where the Antichrist will reign and, for believers, it will be the severest the world has seen (Daniel 7 & Rev 13). That will seem like a long time, although, it is less than half of the eight years.
When the Lord said that rebellion is born in the heart of a child, and the rod of correction shall drive it out, he was deliberate in his meaning. There is a rebellion that rises in children which, if unchecked, can remain within them throughout adulthood. One by-product of a rebellious nature is immaturity as we find ourselves looking for all sorts of excuses for our rebellion, trying to justify all or part of it.
The lifeline of the moment, for the Israelites, was Othniel.
Judges 3:9-11, “And when the children of Israel cried unto the Lord, the Lord raised up a deliverer to the children of Israel, who delivered them, even Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother. And the Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he judged Israel, and went out to war: and the Lord delivered Chushanrishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand; and his hand prevailed against Chushanrishathaim. And the land had rest forty years. And Othniel the son of Kenaz died.”
The Lord raised up a deliverer for the children if Israel, and this speaks volumes of his compassion for his people. As parents, we know that that is also our compassion to our children, and it is something we should never lose. The Lord’s mercy seemed to underpin everything he did, and we should be likewise.
However, sometimes our mercy falls short, as we hear ourselves make arrogant statements like, “No. I’m not talking to him anymore; I’ve given him enough chances” as if we obeyed the Lord the first time he spoke to us!
Othniel was Caleb’s nephew, and three things happened to him.
1. The Spirit of the Lord came upon him 2. He went out to war 3. The Lord delivered the enemy into his hands
Result: The land had rest forty years.
What a blessed time that forty years must have been?
These are the three things that can be in our lives if we stand and fight instead of capitulating to the spirits of the six tribes: 1. the spirit of deceit 2. the spirit of fear or broken promises 3. the spirit of lawlessness or out of bounds 4. the spirit if wickedness 5. the spirit of pride 6. the spirit of bitterness and rebellion
Firstly, we can only go up to battle in the Spirit of the Lord, which will take planning. Going up to fight a deep-seated foe within is not a small thing, and poor planning is the reason why so many Christians fail. They are not sufficiently prayed up, and many do not believe they can defeat the enemy within — there is little resolve win. They do not understand war, and most of them do not even understand themselves.
It is the same reason why Israel was unable to overcome the enemy tribes within Canaan. They were human beings who fell short of the mark.
Spiritual warfare is a daily battle…….
…Continued from Thursday 5.4.18
From where did Othniel arise? How did he become so brave?
To find the answers, we need to go back into the Joshua 15:16-17, “And Caleb said, He that smiteth Kirjathsepher, and taketh it, to him will I give Achsah my daughter to wife. And Othniel the son of Kenaz, the brother of Caleb, took it: and he gave him Achsah his daughter to wife.”
So, we see a bit of the history of Othniel right here. However, this does not inform us as to the heritage of his bravery. For that, we need to look at his family history; specifically, his uncle, Caleb.
Num 13:30 “And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.”
Num 14:24 “But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land whereinto he went; and his seed shall possess it.”
Caleb was one of two leaders, the other being Moses’ apprentice, Joshua, who were chosen by their tribes, along with another ten leaders selected by their tribes, to spy out the promised land at the beginning of Israel’s desert journey. This new land was to be the home on this earth for both the Israelites and God. Of those twelve spies, only Caleb and Joshua went up in the spirit of the Lord and returned with the truth. The other ten responded with a lie, saying that God could not overcome the current inhabitants of the land and therefore end up owning it.
That is like asking the Holy Spirit into our lives, but saying He is not powerful enough to stop us from sinning, thus scheming an attempt to excuse our wayward life. After all, the heart of a saved person is meant to be the home for the Holy Spirit, as Canaan was for God. We can see why we need to believe with ALL our heart and not just two-twelfths of it, of our need to welcome the Holy Spirit in and the power He will bring. We see the need to be utterly faithful to the belief that he will change us into a clean vessel useful for His purposes, as Canaan was meant to be.
Our belief cannot stop at two-twelfths, as it is insufficient. It means we have ten-twelfths that do NOT believe God can rid us of our ungodly desires. Blind Freddy can see that any team which has a vast majority of the side thinking it cannot win, will not be standing on the victor’s dais.
Caleb, like Joshua, stood firm in the power of the living God, and his victorious testimony flowed down to his nephew, Othniel.
When God divided Canaan between the Israelites, Caleb requested Hebron, which was the burial place for his faithful ancestor, the originator of promise, Abraham, and his wife, Sarah.
Joshua 14:13-15 “And Joshua blessed him, and gave unto Caleb the son of Jephunneh Hebron for an inheritance. Hebron therefore became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite unto this day, because that he wholly followed the Lord God of Israel. And the name of Hebron before was Kirjatharba; which Arba was a great man among the Anakims. And the land had rest from war.”
One thing was standing in the way of Caleb’s inheritance, and that was the tribe of giants, the Anakims. Caleb’s faith was so intense that, at eighty years old he went into battle the Anakims for the inheritance of his forefather. This desire was a historic takeover of one of the most precious areas in the new land. Caleb had that desire from a child and never let it die.
All through the years, Caleb let the Lord grow up inside him to maturity and was found to be (1) Called, (2) Chosen, and (3) Faithful.
Revelation 17:14 “These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.”
Continued Thursday 12.4.18…
..Continued from Sunday 8.4.18
Joshua 15:16-17 “And Caleb said, He that smiteth Kirjathsepher, and taketh it, to him will I give Achsah my daughter to wife. And Othniel the son of Kenaz, the brother of Caleb, took it: and he gave him Achsah his daughter to wife.”
Othniel already had a benchmark of faith in Caleb and Joshua, who, despite being from different tribes, knew each other well, and had immense trust and respect for each other.
It is so satisfying to know people in whom we can place our trust. Whether at work, play or Church, there are people we know who give us specific assurances. We sort of understand what they will think and do regarding particular matters.
When we stand firm for God and his purposes, we can never underestimate who we inspire to stand firm themselves. The strength of our resolve can galvanise others, giving them living benchmarks for their Christian walk.
Othniel rose up to the standard and became an inspiration for others. We might think to smite Kirjathsepher was a simple challenge. However, he also was a giant, and the average person shrinks away from tackling giants. Look at your own life for a minute. How many times have you shied away from the more significant challenges in your own life? Things within you that the Lord has demanded the removal of, and yet they are still there many years later. Giants!
We should not judge others and their giants, as we might have a couple of battles of our own ahead. Keep pulling the armour on each day and drawing the sword, and plan your fight, then fight!
Othniel had a heart that challenged the biggest guy in the room, and we can have the same courageous spirit.
One specific reason was that the talk around Othniel’s household when conversations came around to God and his power, was the confident way they spoke about God. Never would you find in their camp talk of how God let them down or what he couldn’t achieve or how distant he was. No, they lifted up their Saviour and reaped the benefits of maintaining the right attitude throughout all trials.
We all need to hear stories of faith and overcoming. We need to listen to stories of the mighty legacy of what Jesus Christ did in us, and the power that can come from that if we would only hold up the faith of how he builds us up to be fathers and elder-statespeople in Him. Not afraid or crippled, but warriors.
Continued Sunday 15.4.18…
15 Judge 2 Ehud. “The left handed plan”
There is a lot we do no understand about fatherhood and men standing up and being real men in societies and families. We would have a fraction of the issues of our current society if husbands and other men would stand up for righteousness in their homes, in their political persuasions, their work and social lives. Much would change if men said, NO to the ever-increasing corruption which has taken the godly shine off all things.
The land has rest when we stand for righteousness and battle the iniquitous standards portrayed as normal, either within ourselves, our homes or communities. All of us have to go out to war against these elements at some time, but men in particularly, for the sake of our children, and our children’s children. Sometimes, I think we are a bit like the Thessalonians, who assumed the Lord was coming back soon, so they gave up their fighting and retired to the waiting room for Christ’s return. This cannot be us. God said, “Occupy till I come” Luke 19:13.
There is not much difference between the book of Judges and our lives today. We still battle Satan’s evil presence who is trying every way to get us to serve him. Whoever we serve, owns us!
We still rely on the Lord to get us through each day, to keep us from spiritual harm, to help us worship him in spirit and in truth, and not carnally. We still call upon his name, and he answers. He is still the Father of the prodigal sons and daughters who return unto him. He loved Israel in the book of Judges and loves us today. What he doesn’t love is the wanderings of his people.
He is the same, yesterday , today and tomorrow.
He raises people up to remove oppression. In the Judges, we read about various people raised up to deliver Israel. Today, we hear and read of marvellous stories all over the world, where Christ has removed the spiritual oppression from people and raised them back up again to worship him. Nothing has changed. If you are under oppression, Christ will come to your aid, just like he does others’, if you are sincere.
Continued Sunday June 3 2018
There was a bold plan at play in releasing the Israelites from King Eglon. Let’s consider it and see if we would have the same resolve and fortitude as Ehud.
I have selected verses to give us a taste of what transpired in this plan and the guts needed to execute it.
Judges 3:15-16, “But when the children of Israel cried unto the Lord, the Lord raised them up a deliverer, Ehud the son of Gera, a Benjamite, a man lefthanded: and by him the children of Israel sent a present unto Eglon the king of Moab. But Ehud made him a dagger which had two edges, of a cubit length; and he did gird it under his raiment upon his right thigh.
Now, being left-handed is interesting when it comes to the men of Benjamin. You see, the word, Benjamin, means ‘son of my right hand’, named by Jacob as the youngest son from his desired wife, Rachel. Benjamin was born under great and tragic circumstances. As Rachel was giving birth to him, Rachel died during the very hard labour. Jacob’s precious bride, whom he fell in love with and for whom he served an extra seven years as a servant after being deceived by her father. They were love-birds, and Benjamin was special to him.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Benjamin was also a left-hander, as so many in that tribe were. Judges 20:16, “Among all this people there were seven hundred chosen men lefthanded; every one could sling stones at an hair breadth, and not miss.”
Ehud had the dagger attached to his right thigh, so when it came to the pat-down to see if Ehud had a weapon (more, a visual look), they focussed on the left thigh looking for a scabbard there, as few are left handed. Ehud’s was concealed on the opposite side, well-hidden under his garment.
Now, this can be a lesson for us when we look at the ‘disciple’ Judas, and anyone else who comes into the midst of our churches with ill intentions. He carried the treasury bag for the disciples, and concealed his ‘dagger’ on the left side. Not a real dagger, mind you, but his dagger of betrayal, the scabbard of which was hidden on his right side. He had fooled the disciples into giving him the job of looking after the money. He stole from that bag often, and fooled them all the way through his walk with them. He did not fool Christ. At the time of the betrayal, he led the Roman guards to Jesus by walking up and kissing him on the cheek, thereby thrusting his theoretical left-handed dagger, still hidden from his fellow disciples, into the heart of the saviour.
People like Judas are so often found in churches, and seek position of importance or power. Check the right side for the scabbard. What that means is, do a very thorough background check on all you put in places of elevation. If you look closely enough, you will find the deception.
When we are concocting a plan, like Ehud did, and we are in the planning stage, we believe anything is possible and the execution of it will all go to plan.
However, when we are up to the actual execution stage, it is a different matter. Particularly, if we haven’t done before what we are about to do now.
Ehud, for example: was he a killer prior to killing Eglon? What was his background?
Often, we see that sort of dramatic change in people when they are caught with drugs at airports. Days or week before, they thought the plan was good enough to fool security personnel and the scanning machines they use. They would have revved themselves up until they believed they could get away with it, and then commenced the execution of the plan.
However, every one of us knows that there are elements in the body that give us away when we are unprofessional at something. We stammer, sweat, show signs of being unsure, run on adrenaline (which can be detected immediately by security in our actions and looks), and then the game is up! We stand out like a poppy in a field, and not in a good way.
The difference was that Ehud went in the name and power of the Lord. He did not try and do it under his own power. Over the time leading up to the plan, he probably thought about various ways the Israelites could rid themselves of these Edomites who had infested their land and set themselves up as Lord’s over the people.
When we allow Satan access to our lives, he comes in and sets up over us like he is our king and commander, and we fall so many times that we become afraid that he is too powerful to get out of our lives. It is then, that we need to power of the Lord, like Ehud, to dispense God’s judgement upon the intruder and move him back out of our lives, where he should never have been in the first place.
20 Judge 3 SHAMGAR. “Killed 600 with an ox goad”
This Judge, like the others, relied heavily on the power of the living God. However, neighbours around him did not, any more. They got comfortable and gave up God.
Today, like then, many of our neighbours have other gods; god’s of money and comfort. Today, as in no other time in history, we have financial & social safety nets in abundance.
Are you short of money? get a quick loan, over the phone. Out of a job? Go to Centrelink and add your name to the list. Injured yourself at home? too old to work? do you have a mental deficiency? Drug affected? Have you come from overseas? You will find our tax money at work. These safety nets are a righteous part of society, in looking after the less fortunate.
Yet, the downside is that we become heavily reliant upon this money and social assistance and the things they bring; far more than we realise.
Society then believes less about the bible and its stories, less about the power of God, makes fun of those who do, looks skeptically at righteous people, and doesn’t trust goody-two-shoes. All we have to do is throw in a few modern movies and, slowly but certainly, society’s world-view changes.
When that happens, a subliminal fearfulness also quietly grows in the background of what we would do if all of our safety nets went. We begin to think how we would exist as a society? in fact, we become quite fearful and angry at anybody who would take them away. At this stage we have completely ceased relying on God.
But, what do we do when trouble comes, when our new gods don’t protect and comfort us in the way we expect, we cry out to the real God.
If someone kept rejecting you, would you keep offering help? You know, you help them, then they get comfortable and on their feet again, then they dump you. How many times would you let them come back and do it to you all again?
In the times of Shamgar, evil reigned. The main roads were full of thieves who would go unpenalised if caught, putting every traveller in fear. In fact, there was that much fear that people travelled using old back roads to try and dodge being seen. Gangs would attack people without fear of reprisal. Houses were being robbed, and there was nobody to turn to, as the overlords were corrupt and did not care.
How did an area in Israel ever get to that stage? Most of the inhabitants slowly but surely walked away from God and his reliability as they got comfortable. God resigned from his post following their vote of no confidence, and others took over the region. Simple equation?
Then, one day, the Lord said to Shamgar, “Enough!”
As a marauding gang of Philistines came across the paddocks to steal the farmers’ food once again at harvest time, as so many spaghetti western movies depict, the power of the living God came upon Shamgar, and he began swinging his ox-goad at the gang. No less than 600 of those lazy, scavenging philistines died that day at that time in that field, such was the fierceness and brutality of Shamgar’s reprisal. Job done! No more wicked overlords!
The Lord want us to swing the ox-goad at influences that seek to take over our lives: lives that God has nurtured and developed and spent much time loving and caring for. He wants us to enjoy success in him. It is called, “overcoming”. Sometimes we don’t need to go to the extent of using an ox-goad to get our lives right, but sometimes we just do.
20 Judge 4 DEBORAH. “Who is on the Lord’s side?”
The question of who is on the Lord’s side arose when Moses came down from the mount and saw the wickedness among the Lord’s people.
I have used it in the message of the fourth Judge, Deborah, for this was the main theme I want to leave in your minds.