Tag Archives: father

Judges 19

The Concubine

What is a concubine? I’d never really thought much about that word until I saw a movie version of the Dune book series. In it, one of the characters talked about how wives inherited the name and created alliances by being married amongst the royal houses, but concubines were the woman that the man chose to bear his children and receive his love.

Dictionary.com defined the word concubine as – a female conjugally united to a man, but in a relation inferior to that of a wife. Among the early Jews, from various causes, the difference between a wife and a concubine was less marked than it would be amongst us. The concubine was a wife of secondary rank. There are various laws recorded providing for their protection (Ex. 21:7; Deut. 21:10-14), and setting limits to the relation they sustained to the household to which they belonged (Gen. 21:14; 25:6). They had no authority in the family, nor could they share in the household government.

Now in those days Israel had no king. There was a man from the tribe of Levi living in a remote area of the hill country of Ephraim. One day he brought home a woman from Bethlehem in Judah to be his concubine. – Judges 19:1

For whatever reason, the Levite man described in the verse above chose to add a woman to his life.  But he did not bestow the right of “wife” on her. Maybe he was just horny. Maybe his parents had already picked out a different woman to create a strategic alliance between two households. Whatever the reason, she knew she was viewed as lesser rank.

But she was unfaithful to him and returned to her father’s home in Bethlehem. – Judges 19:2

Say what? Unfaithful to him and returned to her father’s home? No, I don’t think so. “Unfaithful to him” would have resulted in the death-penalty for her. Something is amiss here.

The New Living Translation Second Edition words verse two a bit differently.

But she became angry with him and returned to her father’s home in Bethlehem. – Judges 19:2 (NLTse)

This makes a lot more sense, especially in light of what the man did in response – nothing at first. He stewed for quite some time, and then, four months later, he went to win her back.

After about four months, her husband took a servant and an extra donkey to Bethlehem to persuade her to come back. When he arrived at her father’s house, she took him inside, and her father welcomed him. – Judges 19:2b-3

If she had been unfaithful to him he would have had her executed. He would have never spoken kindly to her (as some translations read), she would not have willingly took him into her father’s home, and her father would not have welcomed him. He even brought along an extra donkey for her to ride on.

And after this things turn tragic. She eventually leaves with him. We then learn why the woman became angry with him and left in the first place. He did not deserve her love or respect. He was all about himself. He did not defend her when it was his duty to do so. He treated her as disposable, as mere property. He allowed her to be brutalized and to die of the injuries; all to save his own skin. (Judges 19:25-27)

Pathetic excuse for a man.

It is so easy to judge him from this side of the keyboard. But as my wife says on occasion, “Our insecurities reduce us to lunatics.” I wonder how deep my depravity, my self-preserving cowardly flesh would take me if I was truly tested? How pathetic would I be?

Oh, I pray that I would listen for and obey the voice of the Holy Spirit. Would I, in the words of William Wallace from the movie Braveheart, have the courage to die well?

Father, please give me the strength live well. May I listen to your Holy Spirit and follow your commands. May I live my life sacrificially for those you’ve placed in my charge. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Freedom is being Christ’s slave. Jan

Advertisements

Judges 9

Legacy

What kind of legacy am I leaving behind? Am I leaving a good example to follow? Will my children be Godly men who wholeheartedly follow after Christ? What do my words, actions, inactions, and mannerisms reveal to them about my daily walk?

I hope and pray that I do a better job than Jerubbaal, or Gideon. This man, who God physically appeared to in the form of an angel, who subsequently delivered Israel from the Moabites, apparently decided to sit back on his haunches and not do much afterward. In fact his actions caused Israel to sin, and he did not stop it.

Gideon made a sacred ephod from the gold and put it in Ophrah, his hometown. But soon all the Israelites prostituted themselves by worshiping it, and it became a trap for Gideon and his family. – Judges 8:27

The obvious thing would have been to immediately destroy the ephod, melt it down. But instead it became a trap for Gideon and his family.

If that was the creation of the trap, it was set as a result of Gideon’s pride and indiscretion. He had a child with his concubine, another word for that is slave-girl.

He also had a concubine in Shechem, who bore him a son named Abimelech. – Judges 8:31

He had seventy other sons with assorted wives. Um, can you say profligate? He apparently had a slight issue with the ladies. In that culture, no problem, marry them. You can have as many wives as you want.

Well, Gideon dies and his son Abimelech decides that he needs to be the one in charge. Why? Why Abimelech? Why not one of the other seventy sons?

Words have power, words have meaning. Abimelech, means something. It means “father is king”.

Who knows how often he actually saw Gideon, he lived in another town. But he did know that his name meant that he is the king’s son. Upon his father’s death he decided to claim his legacy, and these so-called brothers whom he hardly ever saw. Well, there was no love-loss or relationship there. They even called him son of the slave.

And you have chosen his slave woman’s son, Abimelech, to be your king just because he is your relative. – Judges 9:18b

He’d show them what the slave woman’s son could do. And he did.

He hired some “worthless human beings” – that is literally what the text says – and made a blood sacrifice to Baal.

He went to his father’s home in Ophrah and on one stone murdered his seventy brothers, the sons of Jerub-Baal. But Jotham, the youngest son of Jerub-Baal, escaped by hiding. – Judges 9:5

Killing them all in a ritualistic manner, on one stone, can only be viewed as a sacrifice to his god Baal.

Pain, sorrow and eventually justice came to those who helped and made possible Abimelech’s abomination.

Gideon had other plans. He did want a bright future for his people and family. He had good intentions. Unfortunately the trap that he had set years earlier was never dealt with, and it sprung.

The son who escaped being killed, his name was Jotham. It means Jehovah is perfect.

Oh Lord, so many plans, so many mistakes. Please help me to be a man who truly follows after you. I want to leave a Godly legacy. May my children all grow up to love and serve you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Walk with God. Jan

Judges 6

Least to Greatest

An interesting thing happened in the sixth chapter of Judges, God took a nobody and made him famous.

The Israelites were under the cruel oppression of several surrounding countries. In fact “Israel was reduced to starvation” according to the text. When we first encounter Gideon he is a nobody who is hiding down in a hole, threshing wheat, so that no one will know what he is doing. While there an Angel visits him and he receives an instruction that mystifies him.

Then the LORD turned to him and said, “Go with the strength you have and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!” – Judges 6:14

It must have seemed like a cruel joke, “Go with the strength you have…” What strength? He’s hiding.

“But Lord,” Gideon replied, “how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least in my entire family!” – Judges 6:15

Gideon essentially says, “I’m a nobody from a clan of nobodies.”

The angel tells him that the Lord will be with him, gives Gideon a demonstration of his power, then he disappears.

Silence… until night-fall, when Gideon hears the Lord tell him to destroy the town’s altar to the false god Baal, and use the altar-remains to build an altar to God, and to sacrifice his father’s 2nd best bull on it.

Incredibly, Gideon does it! I wonder if I would have responded the same?

The towns people wake up, and they are ticked. They demand that Gideon be killed.

But Joash (Gideon’s father) shouted to the mob, “Why are you defending Baal? Will you argue his case? Whoever pleads his case will be put to death by morning! If Baal truly is a god, let him defend himself and destroy the one who knocked down his altar!” – Judges 4:31

Sounds reasonable to me. If I was a god and someone messed with my property, they’d be toast. But, I digress. Back to Gideon. An amazing thing happened at that moment. He lived. And he continued to live. In fact, as a result of not dying, he was renamed by the people.

From then on Gideon was called Jerubbaal, which means “Let Baal defend himself,” because he knocked down Baal’s altar. – Judges 6:32

Gideon took on a god and lived! He was no longer a nobody. He was famous – about as famous as you can get.

That is why when this former nobody called for warriors to join him in battle a little while later, they all came.

Then the Spirit of the LORD took possession of Gideon. He blew a ram’s horn as a call to arms, and the men of the clan of Abiezer came to him. He also sent messengers throughout Manasseh, Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali, summoning their warriors, and all of them responded. – Judges 4:34-35

The Lord knows how to promote those who are called and chosen. They only need to be obedient.

Father, thank you for lessons from Gideon. May I be willing to do whatever you ask. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Got any altars you need destroyed? Jan

Job 38

Then the Lord…

What an amazing three words, “Then the Lord”. Literally anything could come afterward. There is no limit within this or any other realm of existence or thought which constrain his activity or intentions. Then the Lord…

This particular “Then the Lord” comes from the following verse.

Then the LORD answered Job from the whirlwind – Job 38:1

I know that God is the one doing the speaking, but now there are three additional pieces of information given.

1 – It was an answer or response to something.
2 – Job was the questioner.
3 – The Lord spoke from a whirlwind, or violent storm.

The third item sort of jumped out at me. A violent storm? Where did that come from? Did it just pop up the moment God’s voice was heard?

If I go back in the book of Job a chapter I see the following verses when Elihu is pontificating.

My heart pounds as I think of this. It leaps within me. Listen carefully to the thunder of God’s voice as it rolls from his mouth. It rolls across the heavens, and his lightning flashes out in every direction. Then comes the roaring of the thunder—the tremendous voice of his majesty. He does not restrain the thunder when he speaks. God’s voice is glorious in the thunder. We cannot comprehend the greatness of his power… Do you know how God controls the storm and causes the lightning to flash forth from his clouds? Do you understand how he balances the clouds with wonderful perfection and skill? – Job 37:1-5,15-16

I’ve always assumed that these verses were mere poetic language by Elihu, more of him rattling off his knowledge of God’s attributes.

However, now I think that Elihu was borrowing from the current atmospheric condition outside of Job’s home.

Imagine the five of them sitting there on the floor in Job’s home. Elihu is speaking. His back is to the open window and he feels the breeze begin to kick up. He thinks to himself, “That’s right, God controls all of the weather too.” Elihu is so focused on being heard that he doesn’t notice that Zophar, and Bildad, who are facing the window, are now staring wide-eyed straight ahead. They are seeing a storm like they’ve never seen before materializing right in front of them. The storm resembles the shape of a man – legs, torso, and arms. They can’t see above mid-chest as that is above their line of sight. Suddenly lightning flashes from above. Terror grips the duo, Eliphaz now glances toward the window and his blood runs cold. Job is just staring at the ground wishing Elihu would shut up already. Elihu makes some comment about God controlling lightning. The storm engulfs the house, darkness descends like a blanket. Elihu continues to speak. Then the Lord…

Everything changes. Nothing is the same. Then the Lord…

Lord, give us patience to wait on you. Sometimes you speak from and through the storm, sometimes from the stillness. But you are speaking, you don’t withhold your voice or presence from your children. You never abandon your children. Lord, please give us spiritual ears to hear. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Answered! Jan

Job 18

Broken Chain

Just a few days ago I was speaking with a man who longs for children. He and his wife have been trying to get pregnant for many years with no success. Having spent considerable amounts of money in an attempt to determine the cause, there still is no clear diagnosis.

Describing his angst John told me, “It is like there is this chain with links stretching back for generations, so many of them that I can’t even recall that far back. It just feels wrong to not continue that chain.”

This is more than some biological imperative to spread one’s seed. This mythic, spiritual, sacred. It comes from God himself in his very first instruction to mankind.

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it…” – Genesis 1:28a

This directive from God was so profound that Jewish law required a divorce if after ten years of marriage children were not produced.

To have someone carry on your family name, to be remembered long after your passing was a form of immortality. It was a high honor.

In reading through through Job there is an ultimate curse described.

They are torn from the security of their tent, and they are brought down to the king of terrors. The home of the wicked will disappear beneath a fiery barrage of burning sulfur. Their roots will dry up, and their branches will wither. All memory of their existence will perish from the earth. No one will remember them. They will be thrust from light into darkness, driven from the world. They will have neither children nor grandchildren, nor any survivor in their home country. – Job 18:14-19

This curse or judgment removes; the person, any trace of their dwelling or physical accomplishments, ability to procreate, all memory of them – their name, and no progeny. Their chain will be broken and forgotten.

However, John and his wife are Christ followers. His chain will never be broken because he is procreating into the eternal realm by investing his time, treasure and talent to ensure that others come to know Christ as Lord and Savior too. And doing such he has a glorious promise and blessing, rather than a curse, upon his eternity.

For I say this to the eunuchs (unable to have children) who keep my Sabbath days holy, who choose to do what pleases me and commit their lives to me: I will give them—in my house, within my walls—a memorial and a name far greater than the honor they would have received by having sons and daughters. For the name I give them is an everlasting one. It will never disappear! – Isaiah 56:4-5

Not only is John’s chain unbroken, new links are being solidly welded into place daily.

Lord, thank you for welding links into my chain. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Linked to eternity. Jan

Job 11

Expectant

I found it hard to find something to wrap my brain around in the eleventh chapter of Job. Just like Bildad, Zophar accuses Job of being a windbag. But then Zophar adds as much hot air as the previous three. At least Job was honestly expressing his anguish. This friend’s diatribe was about prodding Job to confess sin. There was one thing that Zophar said that stood out to me because of a parallel I see in the New Testament.

If only you would prepare your heart and lift up your hands to him in prayer! – Job 11:13

The word prepare is the Hebrew word, kuwm, which connotes something as being firmly established, or securely determined.

It reminded me of the following passage.

Peter and John looked at him intently, and Peter said, “Look at us!” The lame man looked at them eagerly, expecting a gift. But Peter said, “I don’t have any money for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, get up and walk!” – Acts 9:4-6

The crippled man’s gaze was firmly established on Peter and John. I don’t think it would be twisting, or reading into, scripture to assume that he held out an outstretched hand, palm open and uplifted toward the duo. His heart was in the right place – unquestioning expectation of receiving something that he could not provide for himself. And then he received more than he could ever have hoped for – not money, but complete healing!

If as Zophar said, we would prepare our hearts and lift up our hands to him in prayer, we would receive more than we could have ever hoped for.

If you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him. – Matthew 7:11

But when you ask him, be sure that you really expect him to answer, for a doubtful mind is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. – James 1:6

He wants us to ask, and then to firmly believe that we will receive.

Lord, please help my unbelief. May I firmly believe. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Palm up and open. Jan

 

Job 6

Occluded Vision

When I was younger, nearly every summer our family went on vacation. We could not afford fancy theme parks and hotels, so we would venture into nature. We drove the family van, camped at state parks, and explored the beauty of God’s creation up and down the Eastern Seaboard of the United States. By today’s standards we would have been considered poor. But my brother and I were certainly not aware of it. We saw and did things that many of our wealthier contemporaries only wished they had.

My father often spoke of places he’d seen and places he still wanted to visit. One dream of his was to visit the Western half of the United States; the Redwood forest, the Grand Canyon, Mount Ranier, and Yellowstone were among the places he mentioned.

Sadly, as he began to age his hearing and his vision both began to fail. Where once he could see like an eagle, he had trouble reading without magnification, items in the distance were fuzzballs. Cataracts had occluded his vision. Conversations, in which he could best anyone, became a distant memory as he chose not to engage rather than struggle to make out words. His world, once vast, started to shrink.

Where there is no vision [no redemptive revelation of God], the people perish; but he who keeps the law [of God, which includes that of man]–blessed (happy, fortunate, and enviable) is he. – Proverbs 29:18 amp

When your dreams and hopes for the future start to slip away, what is left?

Job found himself in a similar place. Nearly everything he once knew and held dear was gone and he did not have the strength or health to change a thing. His vision was occluded by grief and pain. David wrote about this form of blindness.

My vision is blurred by grief; my eyes are worn out because of all my enemies. – Psalm 6:7

Job’s world was gone and only grief filled the void. Where once he had hope for a future, dreams for himself and his children, there was only desolation.

But I do not have the strength to endure. I do not have a goal that encourages me to carry on. Do I have strength as hard as stone? Is my body made of bronze? No, I am utterly helpless, without any chance of success. – Job 6:11-13

In order to rise above the circumstances of life, hope for something better must remain. Those who have found themselves in extraordinarily harsh circumstances, such as prisoners of war, earthquake survivors, and extreme injury victims all point to hope, a vision for something in the future, a goal, as being the thing that sustained them. But Job had lost all hope, his vision was so occluded that he could not see any goal other than to plead for death. However, if we read to the end of the book we know that everything changed.

Job lived 140 years after that, living to see four generations of his children and grandchildren. Then he died, an old man who had lived a long, good life. – Job 42:16-17

And like Job, my father had family and friends to surround him in his sunset years. While he never did get to go West, he did experience the joy of seeing his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He got to hold them, to laugh with them, and to share in the joy of the life he had made possible for his posterity. He lived a long, good life.

Lord, thank you for my father. I just hope that I can be even half the man that he was. Please help me to invest in my posterity as he did in his. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Go West young man… Jan