Monthly Archives: March 2010

Judges 3

Rescue Them

I have a pretty good overview of the Old Testament history of the Hebrews. Frankly if I was God I would have abandoned them and started over with a people a bit more receptive to obeying his commands. He certainly had plenty of nations to choose from. But no, he remained faithful even if they didn’t. However, he did discipline them.

Since they wanted to live for themselves, God withdrew his protection and allowed natural consequences to take effect. Soon they were conquered by their enemies and enslaved.

No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it is painful! But afterward there will be a quiet harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. – Hebrews 12:11

Once they experienced the discipline, the consequences of their actions, they cried out for relief. Funny how we always seem to remember God once we are in trouble, but never when we are getting into it.

But when Israel cried out to the LORD for help, the LORD raised up a man to rescue them… – Judges 3:9

And again.

But when Israel cried out to the LORD for help, the LORD raised up a man to rescue them… – Judges 3:15

And again.

After Ehud, Shamgar son of Anath rescued Israel… – Judges 3:31

And the same sad story continues through the entire book. They do evil. God lets them have their way. They are overcome, they are enslaved. They cry for help. God sends rescue.

Isn’t that our story? It is my story.

If I was God, I would have abandoned me long ago and left me to rot. But he didn’t and he doesn’t.

He considers me infinitely valuable.

How do I know that? His Son Jesus created infinity and God allowed him to die to pay the penalty for all of my sins: past, present and future. He rescued me.

Heavenly Father, please continue to create in me the desire to be holy. I want to love the things you love, hate the things you hate. Help me to see everyone through your eyes. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

I’m Rescued

Advertisements

Judges 2

Resistance

What does it mean to resist?

re-sist
–verb (used with object)
1. to withstand, strive against, or oppose: to resist infection; to resist temptation.
2. to withstand the action or effect of: to resist spoilage.
3. to refrain or abstain from, esp. with difficulty or reluctance: They couldn’t resist the chocolates.

I really like the third one where it adds, with difficulty or reluctance.

If you are one of the 1% of men who have no struggle with visual purity, or are female, go ahead and stop reading. You just don’t understand. But, if I am speaking to you, those of us who have difficulty or reluctance, then read on.

As I was reading in the second chapter of Judges I encountered something I’d seen many times in scripture, but never investigated before. It was the relation of Baal and Ashtoreth. Both of these pagan deities are well documented. And both of them, among other functions, are fertility symbols. One reference wrote of “the orgiastic nature of Baal worship.” Part of the worship of Ashtoreth involved “Ashtoreth Poles”. You don’t need too much imagination to conjure up a mental image of their probable appearance. “Archeological excavations in Canaanite locations have uncovered temples with chambers where sexual activity took place. Also, many iconographic representations of the fertility goddess, Asthoreth, with exaggerated sexual features have been discovered.” So, suffice it to say, worship of these gods was at least partially sexual in nature.

As I read this today I noticed some words that connected some interesting dots for me.

They abandoned the LORD to serve Baal and the images of Ashtoreth. – Judges 2:13

Men are such visual creatures, we see something, we want it. We are hard-wired for visual stimuli. So, the men abandoned the Lord to serve Baal and the images of Ashtoreth.

Images!

How many of us have abandoned our principles, our morals, our purity, because of an image, a picture – be it moving or still? Thank you very little Mr. Hefner.

When we do, what happens?

This made the LORD burn with anger against Israel, so he handed them over to marauders who stole their possessions. He sold them to their enemies all around, and they were no longer able to resist them. – Judges 2:14

Have you had your purity stolen? How about your finances, job, or even family? Have they been given over to the marauders because you were no longer able to resist?

re-sist
3. to refrain or abstain from, esp. with difficulty or reluctance:
They couldn’t resist the images.

What have we allowed the marauders to steal because of reluctance?

Every time Israel went out to battle, the LORD fought against them, bringing them defeat, just as he promised. And the people were very distressed. – Judges 2:15

Distressed yet?

Every time (insert your name here) went out to battle, the LORD fought against him…

Don’t be misled. Remember that you can’t ignore God and get away with it. You will always reap what you sow! Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful desires will harvest the consequences of decay and death. – Galatians 6:7-8a

OK, I get it, I’ll buck up. I’ll resist. I’ll never let the Ashtoreth images into my life again.

Fool.

You can’t do it alone. As the old expression states. “The man who has himself for a lawyer has a fool for a client.”

Two people can accomplish more than twice as much as one; they get a better return for their labor. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But people who are alone when they fall are in real trouble. – Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

In this battle there are but two courses of action. The first is to be open and honest with at least one other man who can help you if you should start to stumble. The other is RUN.

Run from anything that stimulates youthful lust. – 2 Timothy 2:22a

There is another part to the verses about reaping and sowing.

But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So don’t get tired of doing what is good. Don’t get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time. – Galatians 6:8b-9

One name for the Holy Spirit is Counselor. That word translates as Lawyer. If the Holy Spirit is your lawyer, you are definitely not a fool. He will never lose in court against the devil.

If we are truly living in a way where we desire to please the Holy Spirit, it is he who gives us everlasting life! We are told not to become discouraged, not to give up the fight. If we resist spoilage of our purity, we will reap a harvest of blessing. It isn’t easy. We refrain, we abstain with difficulty. But it is worth the harvest.

Lord, this battle is one where our enemy knows our weaknesses much better than we ever could. Please give me the desire and ability to surround myself with men who will both hold me up, and hold me accountable – as they have been doing. Give me fleet feet. Please bless the men in my life and give them the same. Thank you for your Holy Spirit who brings the harvest. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Resistance is not futile!