Outsider

Re:Verse reading–Judges 17:1-6; 18:1; 19:1; 20:1-7; 21:25 (day three)

“I’m a Levite from Bethlehem in Judah.”  What does a priest of Yahweh bring to the mix?  Power, baby.  This is the new economy–bringing together an individual who wants to protect what’s his, and a holy man looking for the highest bidder.  What could go wrong?  Apparently nothing–and that’s the problem.  Such an arrangement works because it conforms to fallen human desire.  And religion that works for us–that’s certainly attractive.  It’s spirituality as personal protection.  But if all you’ve got is a security system, pretty soon everybody’s an intruder.  Including the Lord.  Now, seriously, what do you suppose would happen if God had access to your life?

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It Doesn’t Make Sense

Re:Verse reading–Judges 17:1-6; 18:1; 19:1; 20:1-7; 21:25 (day two) …and his mother said, “I wholly dedicate the silver from my hand to the Lord for my son to make a graven image and a molten image”…vs. 17:3

No matter how many times you reread that verse it still sounds ridiculous. How could anyone think that the best way to dedicate something to the Lord would be to make an idol? You’re right it just doesn’t make sense. How could anyone ever get to that point in their discernment to allow such an incongruity to happen?

It seems like a blatant affront to the ten commandments, but are we so far removed from Micah? We may not be making graven images, but I am sure there are things that we are consciously putting in front of God. How often do we decide to take a Sunday off? What about our time alone with the Lord. Do we value our sleep our personal time, more than what he has asked from us?

If someone were to write our story would they react the way we do when we read about Micah?

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No king in Israel

Re:Verse reading–Judges 17:1-6; 18:1; 19:1; 20:1-7; 21:25 (day one)

“In those days there was no King in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes.”–17:6

Sad and instructive chapters.  We watch as Israeli society disintegrates.

Every decision seems worse than the preceding.  A Israeli man has an idol (17).  The tribe of Dan steals it and sets the idol up for their whole tribe (18)  (Dan eventually became a center for idolatry in Israel).  The gang rape of an concubine (19). Inter-tribal war to vindicate her death (20)  A rash decision, followed by a worse one. (21)

Amazed and helpless we watch this tragedy unfold and fear that we are living in a similar moment. Over and over the diagnostic sentence is repeated.  NO King in Israel (not God, no governor). Unrestricted and unchallenged personal choice.  Chaos results.

It isn’t inevitable.  The book of Ruth tells of people in the same period who lived with faith and humility under the Government of God.  Very different outcomes.

May the Lord give us ears.

 

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Best day

Re:Verse reading–Judges 13:1-5, 14:1-9, 16:1-30 (day seven) 

“The dead that he killed at his death were more than those whom he killed in his life”–16:30

It was the best day of his entire life.  Like the thief of the cross, clarity came to Samson with just minutes left on the clock.  Maybe physical blindness helped him realize that he had been spiritually so.  Maybe iron chains helped him know that he had long been chained to himself and his desires.

If so, he is not alone.  God often meets us in adversity.  “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word” says Psalm 119:67.

At the end of his life, Samson returned to God and found grace.  He was never better or wiser or more useful.

Same with us on the day we die to self.  The end of the old man is often the beginning of the new man.  It will be our best day too!

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Spoken

Re:Verse reading–Judges 13:1-5, 14:1-9, 16:1-30 (day six) 

But his wife said to him, “If the Lord wanted to kill us, he would not have accepted the burnt offering and the grain offering from us. He would not have shown us all these things, or have spoken to us like this just now.” Judges 13:23

A very astute argument from Monoah’s wife, “If God wanted us dead, He wouldn’t have accepted our offering or SPOKEN to us at all.” This truth is clothed in glory! Consider the ways that God speaks to us. He speaks to us through His creation (Psalm 19:2), He speaks historically and presently to us through the Word, Jesus (John 1:1-4), and He speaks through his written Word, the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16). As of 2014 the Bible has been translated into 531 languages and counting, with over 2000 other languages having a portion translated. This is in stark contrast to any other “holy” book; the Qur’an, for example, is technically forbidden to be translated from the Arabic, although translations exist. Not only has God spoken, but he is sovereignly making His revelation known to all peoples and nations. He is casting a wide net; He desires that every tribe and tongue hear His voice. Why?

We must come to the same joyous conclusion, as did Monoah’s wife, God speaks because he wants us to have life and purpose. He wants us to live! Jesus said it like this in John 17:13, “I am saying these things in the world, so they may experience my joy completed in themselves.” By knowing that God speaks, we can also know that He desires for us life, purpose, and eternal joy! What glorious news!

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God’s Presence

Re:Verse reading–Judges 13:1-5, 14:1-9, 16:1-30 (day five) 

Judges 16:20- “But he did not know that the Lord had departed from him”.

Questions that come to mind are: 1) I thought God was omnipresent, How can He leave someone? 2) Hasn’t God promised He would never leave us?

We must distinguish between is the Omnipresence of God, the Covenant Presence of God, and the Manifest Presence of God.

The omnipresence of God never changes. He is present and therefore near to everyone and everything for all of time.

The covenant presence of God never changes, for those who have a covenant relationship with Him through Jesus Christ. God is faithful to His Covenant promises to never leave or abandon His children.

God does withdraw is His sweet fellowship (Manifest Presence), which is accompanied by a conscious sense of His power and nearness. Often (as is the case with Samson, Israel, and us), the cause is sin and rebellion against God.

So maybe the Prayer of David in Psalm 51 helps us understand, “Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.”

 

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Grace

Re:Verse reading–Judges 13:1-5, 14:1-9, 16:1-30 (day four)

Verse 13:1 – “Now the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord…”  It was a vicious and constant cycle…Israel would do evil, they would be oppressed, they would cry out to God, and He would send a deliverer.  They would serve God for a short while and then they would again do evil…and the cycle repeated.  Over and over, God demonstrated His grace and longsuffering.  Israel did not deserve forgiveness, but God gave it.

Often, our lives are the same.  We make promises to God for righteousness, we sin and fail to keep those promises, our circumstances of life go sour, and we cry out to God.  Again, we make promises if He will only deliver us, and our cycle continues.  How can we have victory over this cycle of sin?  It can only come by surrender…we must surrender control of our life and draw on the power of the Holy Spirit to deliver us.  Work from obedience rather than circumstance!

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Confrontation

Re:Verse reading–Judges 13:1-5, 14:1-9, 16:1-30 (day three)

“[The Lord] was seeking an occasion to confront the Philistines.”  What is this “seeking an occasion” business?  He’s the Lord.  Why doesn’t he just blow things up to get done what he wants to get done?  A pagan deity–one that springs from the mind and desires of man–will crush the world when he doesn’t get his way.  The actual God–the God who is–will seek, woo, stir, call to account, punish, confront, give generously, wait patiently.  He’s at work in history and through people in order that he might redeem all who will believe him.  God has nothing to prove to men, but he knows what it takes to save them.  When he confronts you, it is that you might turn from evil.

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Blinded

Re:Verse reading–Judges 13:1-5, 14:1-9, 16:1-30 (day two)  Then she said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when your heart is not with me? You have deceived me these three times and have not told me where your great strength is.” 

Who was more deceived in this story Samson or Delilah? Samson had been toying with her by not revealing the source of his strength, but where was his gaze fixed. He was a man who certainly followed his eyes. If he saw a thing of beauty, particularly women, he pursued her. He knew that he was consecrated to the Lord, but he was focused on satisfying his own desire. Three times a trap was set for him. Surely he understood that this woman that he was being seduced by was not on his side, but he was blinded. It is fitting then, isn’t it, that they gouged his eyes out. Those things that led him astray would not deceive him again. It was then that he saw most clearly God’s purpose for him.

Don’t be so seduced by your own lusts that you completely miss the trap you are falling into. Be consumed with what the Lord wants for you, not what pleases you at the moment.

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Needing a Nazirite

Re:Verse reading–Judges 13:1-5, 14:1-9, 16:1-30 (day one)  

“The boy shall be a Nazirite to God”–v 13:7

The Nazirite vow was given to Israel by God in Numbers 6.  It was a voluntary offering of self to God.  No alcohol meant that the Nazirite would seek God over the pleasures of the world.  Not cutting the hair symbolized that he would seek God over appearance and acceptance in polite society.  Not touching dead bodies meant that he would keep himself ceremonially pure at all times.  Taken together, they symbolized a life totally devoted to God.

Samson was a Nazirite from birth.  Like Israel, he had power only so long as he guarded this single devotion.  Drifting from it, he had no power.

Jesus was also a Nazirite from birth.  Not the outward code (the Lord drank wine for an example) but the inward reality.  Wholly dedicated to God, He became the Savior of world and called us to a life like His.

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