Tag Archives: sin

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

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Judges 10

Here comes ‘da Judge

In reading the book of Judges I was reminded of a 1995 movie starring Sylvester Stallone. The movie was Judge Dredd. Below is an excerpt from a Wikipedia article about the movie.

In 2139, people live in a single city, Mega City, ruled by The Council. Crime is dealt with by a special police force, Street Judges, who may act as judge, jury and executioner of criminals.

The power of the Judges in this sci-fi tale sounds very similar to that of the biblical judges in the book of the same name. The following Wikipedia excerpt really was interesting to me.

Dredd’s commander and mentor, Chief Judge Fargo, assigns him to teach a class in ethics at the academy where he tells the recruits they must be prepared to live in isolation until they take the Long Walk, a time when a retired Judge leaves the city and goes into the “cursed earth” to take the “law to the lawless”, those who live outside the city.

Now paint this portrait biblically. Judges, typically quite alone, are assigned by God to go into the cursed earth to take the law to the lawless, those who live outside of heaven.

Again the Israelites did evil in the LORD’s sight. They worshiped images of Baal and Ashtoreth, and the gods of Aram, Sidon, Moab, Ammon, and Philistia. Not only this, but they abandoned the LORD and no longer served him at all. – Judges 10:6

Why did they need judges? Why did they sin so much? Why did they abandon God so easily and chase after other things and other Gods?

For the answer I go to a New Testament book of the bible.

What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Isn’t it the whole army of evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous for what others have, and you can’t possess it, so you fight and quarrel to take it away from them. And yet the reason you don’t have what you want is that you don’t ask God for it. And even when you do ask, you don’t get it because your whole motive is wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.

You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with this world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again, that if your aim is to enjoy this world, you can’t be a friend of God. – James 4:1-4

The whole army of evil desires at war within them… Within us.

So was there hope for the Israelites? Of course there was!

But the Israelites pleaded with the LORD and said, “We have sinned. Punish us as you see fit, only rescue us today from our enemies.” Then the Israelites put aside their foreign gods and served the LORD. And he was grieved by their misery. – Judges 10:15-16

So is there hope for us? Of course there is!

So humble yourselves before God. Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you. Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, you hypocrites. Let there be tears for the wrong things you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. When you bow down before the Lord and admit your dependence on him, he will lift you up and give you honor. – James 4:7-10

The greatest honor we could ever be afforded is a place at our Lord’s table. And if we are his children, then we know that we have that place guaranteed.

Father, may I humble myself daily before you. May I resist the Devil, May I draw close to you in prayer, reading, and in waiting. May I truly grieve and turn from any and all wicked ways. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

He is the Law. 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 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 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 35

Sin’s Effect

What is the price of sin? What effect or effects are there as a result of choices we make or don’t make?

In the passage below, Elihu, one of Job’s friends, commented about sin’s lack of effect on God.

If you sin, what do you accomplish against him? Even if you sin again and again, what effect will it have on him? If you are good, is this some great gift to him? What could you possibly give him? No, your sins affect only people like yourself, and your good deeds affect only other people. – Job 35:6-8

But is that really true?

In 1961 a scientist by the name of Edward Lorenz was working on some weather prediction models. Instead of entering the number .506127 into his computer, thinking that it would make little difference, he entered .506 and walked away for a short time. When he returned he was astounded at the result; the resulting computer weather simulation was completely different than what he expected. Later, while writing and speaking about this discovery he said, “One flap of a butterfly’s wings could alter the weather forever.” In a 1972 conference the scenario was posed as the question, “Does the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas?” The conclusion is that a minute alteration in wind-pattern could have radical results.

Therefore I disagree with Elihu, for two reasons. The first being as a result of Edward Lorenz’ work. Sin can and does alter God’s perfect will for our world. One tiny act that is outside of God’s desire for us affects the course of our lives and that of others. If even one person doesn’t make it to Heaven, then God’s perfect plan is disrupted – we’ve affected him.

The second reason I disagree is because of the following words from Jesus.

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16

The world spoken about is not the globe, it is the inhabitants of it. If you love someone, and they make choices that are contrary to what you know is best for them, it pains you. Lest you think that I’m making it up that it pains God to see us sin, look at the following verses.

Now the LORD observed the extent of the people’s wickedness, and he saw that all their thoughts were consistently and totally evil. So the LORD was sorry he had ever made them. It broke his heart. – Genesis 6:5-6

God’s heart was broken over man’s sinful condition and depravity.

So, sorry Elihu. Sin affects both people and God.

Father, please help me to not flap my wings in ways that would disrupt your perfect plans. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Ride the current of God’s will. Jan

Job 31

He was blameless, a man of complete integrity

As I read Job’s final defense, I couldn’t help but compare his righteousness against my own…

He didn’t: lust, lie, cheat others, treat others unfairly, ignore people no matter who they were – friend or foe, withhold his attention and material possessions to those in need, treat others unkindly, trust his wealth, worship other gods, gloat over others misfortune, curse anyone – even enemies, steal, or hide his sins.

Man do I fall short.

Job was truly perplexed, and with good reason. Even God himself had declared him “a man of complete integrity”. He could not understand why calamity was upon him. He thought he was being unfairly punished and wanted an opportunity to plead his case.

Job is thinking, “Surely there must be a clerical error Lord.”

I would face the accusation proudly. I would treasure it like a crown. For I would tell him exactly what I have done. I would come before him like a prince. – Job 31:36-37

What about me? There certainly would not need to be clerical error to convict me.

Thank God for Jesus!

But our High Priest offered himself to God as one sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then he sat down at the place of highest honor at God’s right hand… For by that one offering he perfected forever all those whom he is making holy… Then he adds, “I will never again remember their sins and lawless deeds.” – Hebrews 10:12, 14, 17

In and of myself I definitely fall short of the mark set by God, even the one set by Job. But, because of Jesus, I am perfected forever. And he is not done with me yet, “he is making” me “holy.”

Lord, may I continue to let your Holy Spirit work in my life and make me holy, like your Son Jesus. In His name, Amen.

How do you measure up? Jan