Tag Archives: sacrifice

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 13

Nazirite

I’ve heard this word most of my life, but today is the first time I actually looked to see what it means.

Naziyr – consecrated or devoted one, untrimmed vines. It comes from the root word, Nazar – to dedicate oneself, devote oneself , separate oneself from others.

With that in mind I read the following passage.

In those days, a man named Manoah from the tribe of Dan lived in the town of Zorah. His wife was unable to become pregnant, and they had no children. The angel of the LORD appeared to Manoah’s wife and said, “Even though you have been unable to have children, you will soon become pregnant and give birth to a son. You must not drink wine or any other alcoholic drink or eat any forbidden food. You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and his hair must never be cut. For he will be dedicated to God as a Nazirite from birth. He will rescue Israel from the Philistines.” – Judges 13:2-5

Ok, so he will be set apart. But then the angel gives specific “set apart” instructions. And in the following passage he adds a bit more for Mrs. Manoah, as if to say, “I know you guys have forgotten what it means to be set apart, you don’t read the law of Moses anymore. So let me remind you.”

“Be sure your wife follows the instructions I gave her. She must not eat grapes or raisins, drink wine or any other alcoholic drink, or eat any forbidden food.” – Judges 13:-13-14

What was he reminding them about? The following verses from the book of Numbers.

If some of the people, either men or women, take the special vow of a Nazirite, setting themselves apart to the LORD in a special way, they must give up wine and other alcoholic drinks. They must not use vinegar made from wine, they must not drink other fermented drinks or fresh grape juice, and they must not eat grapes or raisins. As long as they are bound by their Nazirite vow, they are not allowed to eat or drink anything that comes from a grapevine, not even the grape seeds or skins.

“They must never cut their hair throughout the time of their vow, for they are holy and set apart to the LORD. That is why they must let their hair grow long. And they may not go near a dead body during the entire period of their vow to the LORD, even if their own father, mother, brother, or sister has died. They must not defile the hair on their head, because it is the symbol of their separation to God. This applies as long as they are set apart to the LORD. – Numbers 6:2-8

There is a lot of stuff there; nothing from grapes – not even skin, no cutting of their hair, don’t go near dead bodies, and don’t mess with the hairdo. Add in the rest of Jewish dietary and custom restrictions on top of all that.

Being wise, the listened.

When her son was born, they named him Samson. And the LORD  blessed him as he grew up. РJudges 13:24

I love the last part of the verse, and the Lord blessed him as…

Father, thank you that you bless us because you choose to. We’ve done nothing to deserve it. You do it simply because you love us. May I love you back, no matter what. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Maybe I should let my beard keep growing… Hmm, but I do like raisins. Jan

Judges 11

Smooth Move Sherlock

The story of Jephthah could have been such a wonderful story of rising above the circumstances of your birth, of fulfilling a destiny set by God. Instead he was a short-lived flame that burned itself out. He was certainly useful, but sadly also lamentable.

Jephthah was the son of Gilead and an unnamed prostitute. As such, his father’s family wanted nothing to do with him. Can you imagine the chip on his shoulder? He was probably in a lot of fights as a boy. As soon as dad was dead and his brothers were old enough they chased him away.

So Jephthah fled from his brothers and lived in the land of Tob. Soon he had a large band of rebels following him. – Judges 11:3

Why would a large band of rebels follow anyone? Um, because their leader is one too.

Then opportunity knocks.

When the Ammonites attacked, the leaders of Gilead sent for Jephthah in the land of Tob. They said, “Come and be our commander! Help us fight the Ammonites! – Judges 11:5-6

Of course Jephthah is suspicious. But he sees and opportunity and takes it. He has a chance to be someone.

The Ammonites have a god by the name of Chemosh. This god likes human sacrifice. Note, there are only two gods. There is God who created the heavens and the Earth. And there is Satan, who was created by God and rebelled. Chemosh is just another manifestation of Satan on this earth.

Jephthah, in his reply to the king of Ammon said the following.

You keep whatever your god Chemosh gives you, and we will keep whatever the LORD our God gives us. – Judges 11:24

Sounds good. And it is true, in a sense. But, essentially he just challenged Satan – openly.

Now, if he had truly sought the Lord and relied upon Him for all decisions and actions things probably would have gone well. Sadly, Jephthah’s hot-headed nature takes over.

And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD. He said, “If you give me victory over the Ammonites, I will give to the LORD the first thing coming out of my house to greet me when I return in triumph. I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.” – Judges 11:30-31

What, do cows and sheep regularly come out of his house to greet him? What in the @#$% was he thinking? Maybe he wanted to get rid of Mrs. Jephthah. Smooth move Jephthah.

After Israel wins the battle, his only child, his daughter runs out to greet him, dancing for joy… Cue the regret music and chortling of Chemosh.

He does what any normal person would do in the situation, he burns her alive. Yes, he really did it. But no, he was not a normal person. His stupid rash vow clearly violated God’s word and will.

I want you to be merciful; I don’t want your sacrifices. I want you to know God; that’s more important than burnt offerings. – Hosea 6:6

However, there was a god who was quite pleased on the day the sacrifice was made… Chemosh. Jephthah’s victory turned to ash.

In case you think that I’m being harsh on Jephthah by calling him a hot-head, look at his response to an insult by the leaders of the tribe of Ephraim.

The leaders of Ephraim responded, “The men of Gilead are nothing more than rejects from Ephraim and Manasseh.” So Jephthah called out his army and attacked the men of Ephraim and defeated them. – Judges 12:4

He slaughtered forty-two thousand of his fellow Israelites over that insult! No wonder God only left him around for six years.

Jephthah was Israel’s judge for six years. When he died, he was buried in one of the towns of Gilead. – Judges 12:7

Cue another judge.

Lord, how often do I do things without consulting you? Please forgive me. I need to learn to wait, to listen, to not move outside of your will. Thank you for your patience with me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Time for a cool drink in the shade. Jan

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 42

Focus

Focus changes things. If you focus the rays of the sun they transform from merely warmth and light to something quite powerful. When you concentrate and focus water-drops, they can cut through steel. When you focus eyes using corrective lenses (glasses), you see clearly. When Habitat For Humanity focuses dozens of construction professionals and willing amateurs in one location, a home can be built in as little as one day.

When my eyes focus on something far away, the things that are near lose their clarity – they lose focus. Conversely when I focus on something nearby, that which is far away loses clarity and becomes peripheral noise.

Today I noticed something about the book of Job I had not noticed before. I was focusing on the verses, individually, intently, trying to find hidden nuggets of truth in them. However, if I shift my focus to the entire book I see another picture. I see a macro view vs. a micro view.

The character of Job is introduced as follows.

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

That tells me two things, he had no unconfessed sin in his life, and he lived his life righteously. A little later there is another aspect of Job’s character revealed.

Job would purify his children. He would get up early in the morning and offer a burnt offering for each of them. For Job said to himself, “Perhaps my children have sinned and have cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular practice. – Job 1:4b

Job regularly prayed for others.

Then calamity came on him. He cries out to God, but where is the praying for others? It does not reappear until the last chapter.

Now take seven young bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and offer a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer on your behalf. I will not treat you as you deserve, for you have not been right in what you said about me, as my servant Job was.”

So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite did as the LORD commanded them, and the LORD accepted Job’s prayer. – Job 42:8-9

Notice that God essentially told the trio of discouragers to ask Job to pray for them. He didn’t want to hear from them. (Sorry, I started down a bunny-trail.)

Look at the result of Job’s prayer.

When Job prayed for his friends, the LORD restored his fortunes. In fact, the LORD gave him twice as much as before! – Job 42:10

It makes me wonder; what if Job had prayed for his friends earlier? What if he had continued his practice of doing good for others, instead of sitting and moaning? What if he had refocused? What if by doing as much as he could, with what he had left, on behalf of others, he would have altered what he saw around him? And what if he had prayed for…?

Lord, my I remember to pray for others. Please forgive me for focusing on myself and my issues as often as I do. May I live my life in a way that does not block the path of your blessing. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Re-Focus. Jan

p.s. Another interesting thing in this chapter, and the preceding few, was that God only reprimanded four out of the five. Elihu, Obviousman, was not addressed by God at all. Apparently, even though he was quite redundant, he was right.

Job 40

Critics

It is so easy to be a critic.

“If I was in charge…”

“No, you should do it this way.”

“Well, if you ask me…”

Yeah right. Walk a mile or two in my shoes, or the one’s of the person you are criticizing, and see how well you do.

Job has been busy criticizing God’s dealings with him. God responds and lets Job know that he is still indeed in charge. Then he challenges him.

Do you still want to argue with the Almighty? You are God’s critic, but do you have the answers? – Job 40:2

It reminds me of the movie Bruce Almighty. Bruce is critical of God. So God shows up, puts Bruce in charge and then goes on vacation.

In one scene Bruce decides to answer everyone’s prayers with a yes. The results are a hilarious disaster. There are hundreds of lottery winners all from one local area, people losing weight on the Krispe Kreme diet, people getting taller, and unlikely sports teams winning.

Yes to all, was not the answer. Some prayers needed a wait, and some needed a firm no.

It doesn’t take long for Bruce to realize that his answers are not going to work. The only thing that works is self sacrifice, continually giving of yourself.

If we could see perfectly into the future, and know all possible outcomes, and weigh every nuance, then, and only then could we even think about criticizing God about his dealings. But even then, only he knows what is best for us. He knows that sometimes, no, most-times, it is the suffering that produces the necessary changes in us; changes that make us like his son Jesus. Left to our own devices, we would never experience pain, hardship, or suffering. And as a result we’d never change.

Lord, thank you for all that you allow into my life. May I remember that when I am in the midst of the hard times. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Jan, not-so-mighty.