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Showing posts from June, 2014

One Way Or The Other

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The story of Samson is one of the most mysterious, inexplicable tales of God’s actions in the lives of men found in the Scriptures.

It doesn’t take long before we understand that none of those in and through whom God chose to work, was perfect. And oftentimes we forget that the stories we ready of His actions are as much about those upon whom God’s judgment was to fall as they are about the instruments God used to deliver that judgment.

Samson, who had been dedicated to the service of the Lord before his birth (Judges 13:7, 14), was God’s man to punish the Philistines for their acts of oppression against Israel: “The woman gave birth to a boy and named him Samson. He grew and the Lord blessed him, and the Spirit of the Lord began to stir him while he was in Mahaneh Dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol” (13:24, 25).

We are hard put to understand some of the seemingly wrong things that Samson did. He was arrogant and disobedient. But the Lord did not leave him until the vow made to God from hi…

Beware the Barley Bread

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Most people who are familiar with the stories of the Bible know about Gideon and his three hundred (Judges 7).

In yesterday’s post I revisited Gideon’s call to lead God’s army against the Midianites (Judges 6). The reluctant warrior might have been encouraged by the thirty-two thousand men he had command of—though the Midianites are described in the chapter as “thick as locusts. Their camels could no more be counted than the sand on the seashore" (7:12). After Gideon got finished counting to, say, sixty-three thousand four hundred and fifty-two, he may have had second thoughts about just how big his army really was!

And then God said: “You have too many men for me to deliver Midian into their hands. In order that Israel may not boast against me that her own strength had saved her, announce to the people…” (7:2, 3). Anyone who was afraid got to go home and Gideon was left with 10,000 men.

Logically we would have thought that ten thousand men beating a much superior force would sti…

YOU Fix it!

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I love the exchange between the angel of the Lord and a young man named Gideon in Judges 6. Gideon is so typical of us. So here we go.

The place is a secret field of grain that Gideon is trying to keep hidden from the marauding Midianites. The Midianites had become Israel’s oppressors—the Hebrews were on one of their “down” cycles and being disciplined by God. Judges 6:7 tells us that they finally cried out to God for help. And so the angel of the Lord appears to Gideon.

When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, ‘The Lord is with you, mighty warrior” (6:12).

Take a little breather here for a second. Non-Christians blame God for just about everything bad that happens. Christians blame the devil (not understanding that Satan can only do what God gives him permission to do), and sometimes we are even bold enough to ask God why He doesn’t fix the evil in the world. Gideon was no exception.

“‘But sir,’ Gideon replied, ‘if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us…

It's Never Over Until God Says So

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Joshua knew that the Israelites would not keep the promises they so easily made before his passing (Joshua 24:14-27). By the time we get to the book of Judges his prophetic words have come true. Israel failed to completely to remove those who would drag her down into idol-worship and disobedience. Judges recounts for us those dark days of Israel as she continually repeated the cycle of sin, suffering, repentance, renewal, sin, suffering, repentance, renewal. During these years God sent judges to bring His Word to His people and to rescue them from their oppressors. Judges 4 and 5 tells us the story of one of these judges, a woman by the name of Deborah.

Yes, a woman. And no, she wasn’t out of the Lord’s will when she led the nation and told the men what they needed to do.

Deborah seems to be a woman capable of multitasking. She was a judge, meeting regularly with the citizens to settle disputes (Judges 4:5). She was a prophet, receiving messages from God which she delivered to thos…

Drop It and Move Forward

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There is still a lot of work to be done, but Joshua and the Hebrews have entered Canaan. The land has been divided among the tribes, cities of refuge have been designated and the Levites have been assigned their towns. At the end of Joshua 21 comes this wonderful summary statement:

So the Lord gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their forefathers, and they took possession of it and settled there. The Lord gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their forefathers. Not one of their enemies withstood them; the Lord handed all their enemies over to them. Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled” (Joshua 21:43-45).

It’s the end. God has kept His word and brought them to the place He had promised to bring them.

It’s the beginning. A new page. A fresh start.

Certainly they brought some “baggage” with them. Some things can’t be parked at the door of opportunity. They are who they are—at times rebellious, with unreso…

Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

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Ezra Levant, columnist for Sun Media, took potshots at US President Barak Obama and Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, this morning in our local paper. The gist of the article was a scathing rebuke directed at these two leaders who, having been able to exert considerable influence on the advance of evil in the world, are too busy playing golf (Barak) and doing a book tour (Hilary) to care to stop evil in its tracks. According to Levant, they never did care much and now care less. Consequently, according to Levant, terrorist bands like ISIS have effectively taken back in days what Americans and others died for during the years since Desert Storm.

Wherever you fall on the political landscape there is something to be said for the events of Joshua 10 when we look at what is happening in Iraq today, and I am not saying that one situation is equal to the other. But though this will not sit well with some people, it’s what God told Joshua to do. So if there is an issue, take it up with Him…

Seeing Shouldn't Be Believing

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“When I see it. I’ll believe it!”

Ever heard that one before?

“He told me…!”

We know that our emotions are not always reliable, but surely we can trust our eyes and ears.

That’s what Joshua and the leaders of Israel thought when they met the men from Gibeon. The Gibeonites heard that the invaders were on their way and that everywhere they went nothing was left behind but destruction and death. Deciding that negotiation might not work they settled for a “ruse” (Joshua 9:4). They sent a delegation to Joshua but made themselves look like they had come a very long distance. The idea was to pose as representatives of a nation that was far enough away to not pose a threat to Israel.

The clothes were tattered and dusty, the bread was moldy, the wine sour and in cracked wineskins, and the sandals were worn. The story was plausible. Joshua and his leaders believed the Gibeonites.

The men of Israel sampled the provisions but did not inquire of the Lord” (9:14). I suppose they thought that if sigh…

Memorial Stones

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Sometimes I feel like a broken record! As I read Joshua 4 this morning, I was reminded of something I have said quite a few times over the last few years—probably to the annoyance of several people. However, here I go again.

Joshua and the tribes of Israel pass over the Jordan in Joshua 4. God does yet another enormous miracle by parting the waters of the river in front of the them, allowing everyone to pass over safely.

But before the water returns to its natural place, Joshua asks one man from each tribe to pick up a stone from the river. “And Joshua set up at Gilgal on the eastern border of Jericho the twelve stones they had taken out of the Jordan. He said to the Israelites, ‘In the future when your descendants ask their fathers, “What do these stones mean?” tell them, “Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.” For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over…” (4:20-23).

We often don’t think our spiritual journeys matter to anyone else but us. But I …

Ready for Amazing Things?

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The excitement builds. The moment has arrived when the Israelites will cross the Jordan River and enter the land that God had promised their ancestor, Abraham, so many years earlier. Strict orders were given. The tribes were to follow the ark, carried by the priests. Only by following the ark would they know where to go (Joshua 3:4). That in itself is heavy with meaning. The ark carried the Word of the Lord to His people—the Ten Commandments.

But it is the next statement, so easily passed over, that grabbed my attention this morning. Joshua 3:5 says: “Joshua told the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.’” The King James Version of the Scriptures uses the word “sanctify” in place of “consecrate.” The nation was to set apart, to dedicate, to treat as holy, to honour, to treat as sacred, both themselves and the occasion. They were to prepare themselves for God’s blessing.

Back in the early days of their journey, the children of Israel ha…

Divine Appointments

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The experts are still not quite sure what the woman did for a living. But whoever she was and however she put food on the table, Rahab was no fool. Everyone in Jericho had heard about the children of Yahweh camped on the other side of the river. They had also heard of the exploits of these nomadic tribespeople. And they were afraid (Joshua 2:9). It's bad enough when you are being stared down by a few million eyes, but even worse when the God who governs the manpower represented by those eyes has displayed His might and right and decimated every nation that has threatened His people.

Rahab didn’t have to be a prophet to figure out who was going to win whatever battle was on the horizon. She picked the winning side before the battle even began and before Joshua’s spies (2:1) arrived on her doorstep. When they came, obviously divinely directed to her house rather than to the house of someone less astute, she negotiated with them for the lives of her family (2:8-13) and she protected …

It's Really No Choice At All

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Logically there should be no break between Deuteronomy 29 and 30 (or any other chapter for that matter). In what is designated for us as chapter 29, Moses has laid out the instructions that the nation-about-to-be must follow if it expects to enjoy God’s blessing. But God also knows that this people will not follow those instructions. As chapter 30 begins, Moses reassures the people that after God has punished them for their disobedience, He will restore them and bring them back to the land that He once promised their ancestor, Abraham. The beautiful forward look: “The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul and live” (30:6), is a reminder of what would one day be the result of Christ's coming.

This issue of life becomes the theme a little later in the chapter as well. Basically Israel had options: life or death. From verse 11 to the end of the chapter, it is as though Moses h…

Acting on the Information

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I guess it’s just human nature to want to be a “know-it-all.” I’m not talking about the person who thinks he has the answers to every question, the solution to every problem and the opinion that is better than anyone else’s. I mean the person who needs to know what’s going on and is driven crazy when we think information is being withheld. Eve fell into the trap being laid by Satan when she thought that God was holding out on her and Adam by forbidding them to eat of the fruit from one single tree (Genesis 3:4, 5).

I’m not sure why the Israelites would have thought that God was withholding information from them. By the time we get to Deuteronomy 29, Moses has unloaded (or uploaded) a pile of information that God considers essential for His people as they look forward to their new homeland—and he isn’t finished yet!

He has just delivered a stinging warning about the consequences of disobedience when he adds this interesting statement: “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but t…

The More You Know

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I’m taking a bird’s eye view of several chapters from Deuteronomy that I have read over the past few days. I was interested to note several verses that often get skipped over by the Bible’s critics. And, just as often, those of us who trust the Scriptures are left floundering for answers to those criticisms. Mind you, many questions and complaints are deliberately left unanswered—we have to leave something to faith! We also have to acknowledge that God doesn’t owe us an explanation for everything He says and does.

But here are a couple of items that stand out.

We know Solomon had many wives and even more concubines and critics enjoy waving his example around. If God didn’t stop Solomon from enjoying the pleasures of much female company then why should anyone make a fuss when others enjoy the same? In Deuteronomy 17, God speaks through Moses to give instructions to the people on the eve of their entrance into Canaan. He knows that one day His leadership will be rejected and Israel will…