Tag Archives: evil

Judges 15

It’s not my fault

“Blame him, not me! I had no choice. They deserved it. Paybacks are fair game. Because!”

Do these words sound familiar?

They sure do to me… I’ve said them, many times. But as I look at them now, on the other side of whatever incident or event that prompted them, they somehow feel like sand in my throat. They are all rooted in self. I didn’t get something. Something didn’t happen in the way I expected. I got angry…

Samson said, “This time I cannot be blamed for everything I am going to do to you Philistines.” – Judges 15:3

Really Samson, you cannot be blamed? Um, you abandoned your “wife” on your wedding night! And you didn’t return for weeks, perhaps months. Then you have the gall to say that you cannot be blamed because her father later gave her in marriage to a man who would actually take his wife with him – like he was supposed to do?

What a pathetic excuse for an irrational temper, prone to fits of rage, and fueled by the supernatural power of God.

“Because you did this,” Samson vowed, “I will take my revenge on you, and I won’t stop until I’m satisfied!” – Judges 15:7

Notice that it is all about him. The “I” word is rather prominent in both “outrage” verses. Now, I do know that Samson accomplished God’s work in putting some fear into the Philistines. But imagine how much more could have been done if he had also lived a holy life, a life which sought after the heart of God instead of the fleshly wants of Samson? He was designed to lead, not merely destroy.

How much more could I accomplish for God if I lived a holy life, a life which sought after the heart of God instead of the fleshly wants of Jan? How different would life be if I didn’t cast blame, or if I looked a bit harder and prayed for alternatives rather than having knee-jerk reactions? What if I didn’t payback evil with evil? What if I truly sought God for any and all actions which I was unsure about?

I suspect that there would not be quite as much sand scratching my uvula.

Father, blame me. I had a choice. They deserve your mercy and mine. Paybacks are the devil’s tool. Because your son died so that I would live life as he did, for others, not for myself. Please forgive me for failing so often. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

It is my fault. That’s why Jesus came, to take it away. Jan

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

Job 36

Life Interrupted

When we think of a life being cut short we think of an untimely death, or perhaps some debilitating injury or disease. But I noticed a different form of life interruption today.

In the book of Job, Elihu says the following about those who do try to follow after God, those who are not engaged in open willful rebellion.

If troubles come upon them and they are enslaved and afflicted, he takes the trouble to show them the reason. He shows them their sins, for they have behaved proudly. He gets their attention and says they must turn away from evil. – Job 36:8-10

How does God show them the reason? How does he show them their sins? How does he get their attention?

But by means of their suffering, he rescues those who suffer. For he gets their attention through adversity… Be on guard! Turn back from evil, for it was to prevent you from getting into a life of evil that God sent this suffering. – Job 36:15,21

I’ve always known that God allows suffering in our lives so that we change, but I’ve never seen it spelled out so clearly before.

God allows, even sends, suffering to interrupt our lives to effect change. Having what could potentially be a life of sin interrupted by God is blessing, not punishment.

Are you suffering?

Examine your life. Is God trying to get your attention? If so, please listen – and change.

Then take Elihu’s advice, which is pretty good in this instance.

Instead, glorify his mighty works, singing songs of praise. – Job 36:24

This echoes a verse from the New Testament.

Always be joyful. Keep on praying. No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Other translations say to be thankful “in all things”. Note that we are not asked to be thankful for all things, but in them. Praise to the one who is truly worthy changes our perspective and has the ability to restart an interrupted life – in the right direction.

Father, may I be quick to examine the circumstances of adversity, of suffering and trouble, to determine if they are a gift from you, or an attack from our enemy. If it is the former, please give me the grace to change – quickly. If the latter, then please give me the grace to stand up under it and come out on the other side still praising you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Restart your life. Jan

Job 1

There was…

Six thousand years ago a guy named Job (pronounced Joe-wb) was imortalized with the following words.

There was a man named Job who lived in the land of Uz. He was blameless, a man of complete integrity. He feared God and stayed away from evil. – Job 1:1

I could stop right here. What an epitaph! It doesn’t get any better than that does it.

But it does!

Then the LORD asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and will have nothing to do with evil.” – Job 1:8

God himself said the exact same thing about Job and added that in all the earth he was the best. Wow!

I’m left wondering, would I like my name inserted into that sentence? And would I have enduring faith like Job’s when in the crucible as a result?

Lord, I truly want to please you. Please forgive me for my frequent lack of faith and occasional lapses in integrity. May I have the wisdom to foresee and to stay away from evil. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

… a man named Jan.

2 Samuel 20

Sons of Zeruiah

When I wrote about second Samuel chapter nineteen I noticed how the phrase “Sons of Zeruiah” seemed to be used by King David as an epithet. As I was reading a little while ago I noticed another example of why their moniker should be considered as something derogatory.

Absalom’s rebellion had been crushed. Due to Joab’s harsh treatment of David in regards to his grief over the death of Absalom (2 Samuel 19:5-7), David had appointed Amasa, Joab’s cousin, as head of the army instead of Joab (2 Samuel 19:13).

David then sent Amasa to mobilize the army to suppress a growing revolt led by a guy named Sheba. He gave him three days to do so and return to him. On the fourth day David got nervous and sent Joab, his brother Abishai, and some elite guards to hunt down Sheba and stop the rebellion before it got traction.

So Abishai and Joab set out after Sheba with an elite guard from Joab’s army and the king’s own bodyguard. As they arrived at the great stone in Gibeon, Amasa met them, coming from the opposite direction. Joab was wearing his uniform with a dagger strapped to his belt. As he stepped forward to greet Amasa, he secretly slipped the dagger from its sheath.

“How are you, my cousin?” Joab said and took him by the beard with his right hand as though to kiss him. Amasa didn’t notice the dagger in his left hand, and Joab stabbed him in the stomach with it so that his insides gushed out onto the ground.

Joab did not need to strike again, and Amasa soon died. Joab and his brother Abishai left him lying there and continued after Sheba. – 2 Samuel 20:7-10

Amasa was on his way back to King David with the troops, as ordered. Joab murdered his own cousin so that he would regain control of the army, and his brother Abishai did nothing to stop him.

Sons of Zeruiah indeed!

Several times King David expressed that these “sons of Zeruiah” were too powerful for him to deal with. However, that does not mean that they got away with their crimes. No, God’s justice may be slow (he gives us time to repent), but it is sure.

Many years later, after David’s rule came to an end, he set his son Solomon up as king in his stead. Solomon dealt with Joab’s treachery and meted out justice.

Benaiah went into the sacred tent of the LORD and said to Joab, “The king orders you to come out!” But Joab answered, “No, I will die here.” So Benaiah returned to the king and told him what Joab had said.

“Do as he said,” the king replied. “Kill him there beside the altar and bury him. This will remove the guilt of his senseless murders from me and from my father’s family. Then the LORD will repay him for the murders of two men who were more righteous and better than he. For my father was no party to the deaths of Abner son of Ner, commander of the army of Israel, and Amasa son of Jether, commander of the army of Judah. May Joab and his descendants be forever guilty of these murders, and may the LORD grant peace to David and his descendants and to his throne forever.

So Benaiah son of Jehoiada returned to the sacred tent and killed Joab, and Joab was buried at his home in the wilderness.” – 1 Kings 2:30-34

There is a definitely a difference in being a son of Zeruiah and being a son of David. The one exhibits grasping, jealous, self-serving behavior. The other exhibits wisdom in service to his subjects.

Father, may we too live our lives as sons of David. Thank you for adopting us into his royal lineage through the death and resurrection of your son Jesus. In his name, Amen.

Be a son of God. Jan

2 Samuel 13

Unfavorable Light

There are many narratives in the Bible which prove by their very nature that it is a reliable account of ancient history. The story of Amnon and Tamar is one such tragic example. It invovled several persons taking matters into their own hands. And it ended badly for all parties involved.

The quick summary is; Amnon was hot for his half-sister Tamar. He tricked her, raped her, and then threw her out. Absalom, Tamar’s full-brother, learned about it and eventually murdered Amnon in revenge.

And David mourned many days for his son Amnon. Absalom fled to his grandfather, Talmai son of Ammihud, the king of Geshur. – 2 Samuel 13:37

If you were writing history about yourself and your family, would you include such an account in your journal? Perhaps you would, and perhaps you wouldn’t. But then, when some of your descendants are compiling a history of all that has gone before them, would they include this particular tale? I suspect not.

It is part of our nature to downplay the bad and to focus on the good. As someone once said, the writers of the Bible had no issue including “warts and all”. This is incontrovertible evidence that the authors of the Bible were much more concerned with accuracy than they were with being politically correct. They were willing to cast even heroes of the faith in an unfavorable light.

Father, thank you for not leaving things out of your word. You gave us examples of good to follow, and bad to avoid. May we learn from the lessons that others went through so that we don’t have to. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

The Bible is fully trustworthy. Jan

2 Samuel 12

Who caused the sin?

I have grown up in and around the church, so I have a pretty good grasp of theology and the nances of God and his character. But there are times that my paradigm is challenged. I have always understood that God does not do evil, that he only does that which is good.

No one, when tempted, should say, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one. – James 1:13

The verse seems pretty clear. God is not tempted by evil, and conversely he does not tempt anyone with evil. So how do a verses like the following fit in with that belief?

‘From this time on, the sword will be a constant threat to your family, because you have despised me by taking Uriah’s wife to be your own.

Because of what you have done, I, the LORD, will cause your own household to rebel against you. I will give your wives to another man, and he will go to bed with them in public view. You did it secretly, but I will do this to you openly in the sight of all Israel.’ – 2 Samuel 12:10-12

Do you see who is going to cause this to come on David’s household? It is God! And, a son sleeping with his father’s wife is something God explicitly commanded against, something he calls evil worthy of death.

If a man has intercourse with his father’s wife, both the man and the woman must die, for they are guilty of a capital offense. – Leviticus 20:11

‘Cursed is anyone who has sexual intercourse with his father’s wife, for he has violated his father.’ And all the people will reply, ‘Amen.’ – Deuteronomy 27:20

 
It would definitely seem to me that God is the one causing this, it is inescapable.
Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it? – Amos 3:6
Notice again who did the evil…
God sent an angel to Jerusalem to destroy it, and as he was destroying, the Lord beheld, and He regretted and relented of the evil and said to the destroying angel, It is enough; now stay your hand. And the angel of the Lord stood by the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. – 1 Chronicles 21:15
I am not in any way implying that God is evil. But it seems clear that God does use it for his own purposes and certainly can direct and cause it to come upon those he is punishing.
 
To be fair, I do need to point out that many of the instances of the word ‘evil’ are alternatively translated as ‘disaster’ or ‘calamity’. But the incident below is crystal clear. 
But an evil spirit from the LORD came upon Saul as he was sitting in his house with his spear in his hand. While David was playing the harp… – 1 Samuel 19:9 
There is no mistaking that the Lord sent the evil spirit.
 
I don’t pretend to know what all this means. But, I do know this; I don’t want to anger God. I don’t want his judgment. I much rather prefer his mercy. Thank God for his son Jesus. 

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. – Romans 8:1-4

It isn’t that I never sin. However, that is no longer my nature. Christ living in me cleanses me from all unrighteousness.

Father, thank you for Jesus. Without him I would deserve all the evil that exists. May I bring honor to your name. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Don’t cause evil. Jan