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Judges shows how bad it gets when people turn away from fearing God. Even the man who gave his concubine to the worthless men, then rallies everyone to fight doesn't tell the whole story. Look at the way he just talks to her when she is dead on the doorstep. Everyone in this story is a depraved sinner.

Could the father of the concubine have been trying to get the Levite to spend 7days with his daughter so he could claim it was a wedding?Just a thought.The Levite lied to Israel,he didn't mention that he had sent his concubine to the benjamites,he just said they raped her.What a horrible time for women it was,to be raped to death to protect a guest.God allowed heavy casulaties on both side.It must have broken his heart to see depraved Israel fighting each other.
Without God man becomes really demonic.Only satan can cause the degradation of humanity today as we see it and we let it happen.What must have started out as falling in love with the wrong person became a sick stronghold of lust.How can a whole gathering of men take pleasure in torturing a woman...it all started with a single uncontrolled lusty thought.
Reading Ramona's post about the youth leader's in a lustful relationship,I again remember the need to fear God.How can you lead God's children while obviously giving tribute to the devil with your life.It's mocking God to His face!Sadly it happens often:pastors having adulterous relationships with their secretaries while going for out of town conferences,leaders preying on their followers all in the name of "I fell in love",worshippers supposedly worshiping God in public while worshipping the devil in private...Even non belivers see the earthquakes,pestilence,floods,wars and know the end is near.Will Christ find any faith left among his flock?
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him.
If you believe that arsenic is poison,you will not even taste something that looks really delicious when you it part of it's ingredient is arsenic.We all know what God says about the relationship between a man and a woman(just an example)can we really say we believe in Jesus when we stray from his teachings.We believe yet we act contrary to his teachings?May God open our eyes to the devices of the devil and may we constantly allow the Holy Spirit search our hearts lest we deceive ourselves.
God bless you all

Judges 19:1-20:48

Israel had moved the bar, the bar of righteousness, the bar that set boundaries, the bar that said, “This is sin.” You have a Levite that has a concubine and as the text states, was unfaithful to him. First question, “What is a Levite doing with a concubine that is a loose woman?” As per Moses’ directive, Levites were supposed to keep the Law so that they could teach the Law. The bar/standard was lowered. If Anka is correct and the pseudo father-in-law of this unofficial couple (By the way Anka, great insight and call on the seven day stay), then the woman’s father showed more spiritual understanding then the so-called priests.

When Israel masses itself to fight this “horrid” sin, the bar has been set so low that the “sin” they all are living in is not even a blip on their radar screen. The outrage is a culmination of outrages acts on the other side of that bar that has been lowered almost to the ground. I’ve heard people say, and I’ve said it myself at one time or another, “I wouldn’t do that,” or “Even I wouldn’t do that,” as if our or my personal behavior or standard was “IT.” I know that it is not. I think we do this, consciously or sub-consciously, to distance ourselves from our sin, the “white lie,” syndrome. God has stated that when we break one Law we have broken them all; but, we insist that we are not as bad as that guy or gal over there or across the street. Yes we are.

In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes. (Judges 17:6 KJV)

When we do what is right in our own eyes, we have set ourselves up as God which was and is the sin of Satan. There are only two kingdoms on the earth, The Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Satan; which one do we say we are in and which one are we really in? As Children of God, are we trespassing in the wrong Kingdom? Or, can we be citizens of the Kingdom of Satan trying to pass ourselves off as children of the Light? And worse yet, do we, like this Levite, play our sin off in such a way that we share the outrages consequences of our actions as if it just fell out of the sky into a innocent lifestyle getting everyone upset enough to call a prayer meeting to do “spiritual warfare?” Hmmmm!

Judges 17-18:31
[Some quick hits from yesterdays readings.]

Judges 18:31
"They continued to use the idols Micah had made, all the time the house of God was in Shiloh." NIV

SHILO IS IN EPHRAIM. Micah could have travelled a few miles and worshipped at the tabernacle. Instead he did as he wanted and had his own little house worship center.
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Judges 17:6
"In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit." NIV

"When we do what is right in our own eyes, we have set ourselves up as God which was and is the sin of Satan." - Ramona from above post

SPOT ON! Everyone in these two chapters is out to do what is right in their eyes. That returns their wealth (mother), that makes them prosper (Micah), that gives them a bigger responsibility and then larger following (Jonathan - the Levite Priest), that gives them an easier path to land (the tribe of Dan).

It is not what is right in God's eyes - God is never consulted in any of these shenanigans. He is given lip service. Talk about moral relativism - it only works for you until the next most persuasive or more powerful person comes along and changes the rules.

That is why God is so important for societies. He does not change. His values and ways are moral absolutes. We may not be able to follow them all the time, but they point to what is right and what is wrong.
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So what happens when this path is pursued?

Micah lost everything he had created to replace God. The tribe of Dan would be one of the first tribes to be wiped out in God's future judgment.

When you have God - that can never be taken from you!

[Note: Dan had an inheritance but did not possess the land. It was too hard and difficult to take over (probably because they were not in tune with God - they compromised). So they were looking and found easier land to possess in the north.]
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Judges 18:30

"There the Danites set up for themselves the idols, and Jonathan son of Gershom, the son of Moses, and his sons were priests for the tribe of Dan until the time of the captivity of the land." NIV

Some translations do not have "the son of Moses" but rather "Manasseh".

"We're told that the leader in the worship of the idol that would stay in Dan and be a source of problems in generations to come was a descendant of Moses. The ancient scribes were so embarrassed by this that they actually stuck in a little letter at one point to make it look like the name was Manasseh, but it's clear to every scholar who has ever looked at it that the name is really Moses. Our narrator doesn't give us that until the very end. This Levite is Jonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Moses. He is a direct descendent of Moses himself, and he is the one who is leading this people in the godless use of religion for self-benefit." - Ray Stedman

How sad and how disappointed Moses would have been in this descendant.

John 3:26

"They came to John and said to him, "Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan—the one you testified about—well, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him."

Reminds me of John 12:19
"So the Pharisees said to one another, "See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!"

Not quite bookends but similar reactions to Jesus. John's disciples were ones that stayed with John - Why? John had already made clear that Jesus was the Messiah. Did they not believe????

Was their a comfort level in their preaching, their approach to the Jews, their ability to argue and persuade that they enjoyed. Perhaps John's disciples felt that if they followed Jesus their roles would be diminished, they would not be in the forefront, they would not have as much individual power????? How often is this seen today in those that vary from the preaching of the Gospel to a message THEY feel has their stamp on it?????

We know the Pharisees in general did not believe. Perhaps for the same kind of reasons as John's disciples. They might have to give up something to join Jesus. It is one of the hardest things to do when "Coming to Christ" - giving up yourself, swallowing your pride, submitting your will to Gods. Yet it is essential.

So from this perspective, the two groups of men are like little children.

They cannot even say Jesus's name. And "EVERYONE is going to him" and the "WHOLE WORLD has gone after him". Pure Hyperbole. Typical of a child's argument for explaining why they acted the way they did in a situation. I can almost see the two groups of men standing there "stomping their feet" and throwing a mini-tantrum.

Sad, because they both should have known better. The Disciples because the man they followed revealed Jesus as the Messiah. The Pharisees because they were the learned men of Scripture and they could not even see that the Scripture they knew pointed to Christ.

Judges 20

Judges 17-18 Religious apostasy
Judges 19 Moral decline
Judges 20 Political anarchy

A familiar pattern????? Is it anywhere today????

vs. 18-28

Why did it take three attempts to defeat tribe of Benjamin?

When Benjaminites would not listen and formed an army. Israel formed 400,000 men. Made a decision to go to war, and then - Oh yeah - in what seems almost an afterthought - ask God - 'who goes first?'

Perhaps if they had gone about it the right way (more on that later) God would have pared down their force like Gideon and delivered the Benjaminites to Israel.

Israel suffered defeat, and wept and asked the Lord - should we do this?. Is weeping a sign of true repentance? Maybe they are sorry they lost so many men, maybe they are mourning, but there is more to this from God's point of view.

Israel saw this as a "they sinned" idea, and God wanted them to know that it is a "we sinned" concept. It is the whole country of Israel that is sinning and turning from the Lord. Even if the sin on Israel's part is just about "national pride" and their thinking they can take care of the situation. Perhaps God wanted to humble the whole nation.

Like Jesus said, 'until they take the beam out of their eye, their is no way they can deal with the speck in Benjamin's eye.'

So God sent them out again and they got "whooped".

This time they came back fasted, made burnt and peace offerings, and consulted God through the High Priest. This is what they should have done from the git-go.

Now Israel was right with God, and He sent them out and delivered the Benjaminites into Israel's hands. However the Israelites went far and beyond just defeating the army of Benjamin. they destroyed the city and all the women and children, and then all the towns of Benjamin. They were playing God and administering judgment and annihilation on all of Benjamin. A response much greater than required for the loss of one life.
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Judges is a book screaming about the underlying problem of Israel. Everyone did what they thought was right.

However, man in his sinful nature cannot possibly know these things - what is right - and God is seldom if ever consulted unless things take a bad turn for the nation.

Everything in these readings today is done to excess, and done by man. Is that happenning today????? One wonders how long it will be before God says - "Enough", and brings His judgment and punishment to the world. How long will He endure mankind playing at being God.

Our last Sundaymorning Biblestudies have been about overcropping (premature exhaustion?). It was the first thing I thought about while I was reading todays verse from Proverbs. 1.) We have to give God the chance to make the changes in our hearts 2.) We have to plan well. If we TRY to do good in our lives, if we TRY to love others well, if we TRY to suprise others with grace, in the long run we will get exhausted if we do it all on our own energy. We have to let God work on our hearts, so we don't have to TRY so hard ourselves. Okay ... do I make sense here? I'm really trying to translate the notes I made in the Biblestudy. The thing is that we want to do the right thing everywhere: for God, in church, at work, in our relationships (marriage, the children, friendships etc). So in order to see everything clear, we have to plan well. So in the first place give things in God hands and in the second place, plan well ourselves. So yes, I really love todays Proverb "If you plan good, you will be granted unfailing love and faithfulness." Indeed: so true!!

God was Israel's King, but they did not acknowledge Him as King so....
In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.(Judges 17:6 KJV)

THIS VERSE REALLY STOOD OUT TO ME TODAY. John 3:35 The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him."[d]

THIS SAYS IT ALL
ALSO IN PSALM 104:33 I will sing to the LORD all my life;I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.

DON'T YOU JUST FILL LIKE SINGING WHEN YOU READ THESE WORDS? I KNOW I DO.
HAVE A BLESSED DAY!

Judges 20 (NKJV)
12
Then the tribes of Israel sent men through all the tribe of Benjamin, saying, “What is this wickedness that has occurred among you?
13
Now therefore, deliver up the men, the perverted men [Literally sons of Belial] who are in Gibeah, that we may put them to death and remove the evil from Israel!”

26
Then all the children of Israel, that is, all the people, went up and came to the house of God [Bethel] and wept. They sat there before the LORD and fasted that day until evening; and they offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the LORD.
27
So the children of Israel inquired of the LORD (the ark of the covenant of God was there in those days,
28
and Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, stood before it in those days), saying, “Shall I yet again go out to battle against the children of my brother Benjamin, or shall I cease?” And the LORD said, “Go up, for tomorrow I will deliver them into your hand.”

44
And eighteen thousand men of Benjamin fell; all these were men of valor.

NOTE:
This past Thursday, May 1st was the National Day of Prayer.

In honor of this day, note this small quote from George Washington’s prayer journal which is taken from William J. Johnson George Washington, the Christian(New York: The Abingdon Press, New York & Cincinnati, 1919), pp. 24-35.

“Almighty God, and most merciful father, who didst command the children of Israel to offer a daily sacrifice to thee, that thereby they might glorify and praise thee for thy protection both night and day, receive, O Lord, my morning sacrifice which I now offer up to thee; I yield thee humble and hearty thanks that thou has preserved me from the danger of the night past, and brought me to the light of the day, and the comforts thereof, a day which is consecrated to thine own service and for thine own honor.”
As I ponder the deep prayer, repentance, and faith of the father of our county, I am ashamed to say that I have been influenced too much by modern America. I find it a challenge to pray as I ought.

Thank God that God has made provision for us, even in this. The Holy Spirit came to teach me, and us, how to pray as we yield to Him.

Romans 8 (Amplified Bible)
26
So too the [Holy] Spirit comes to our aid and bears us up in our weakness; for we do not know what prayer to offer nor how to offer it worthily as we ought, but the Spirit Himself goes to meet our supplication and pleads in our behalf with unspeakable yearnings and groanings too deep for utterance.

NOTE for Judges 20:

Verses 12 and 13 show that this life really is about spiritual warfare. Note that these perverted men were also known as “sons of Belial”, which means “sons of Satan.” If sin is not repented of, the people of God can be oppressed and controlled by the evil one.

Can a Christian be demon possessed? No way – see the verse below:
I Corinthians 6 (NKJV)
17
But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.

But if sin is entertained, allowed to find a place and rule, that will allow a place for the enemy so he can rule in our minds and bodies.

Verses 26 – 28: Thank God for godly leaders. Note the compassion of the Lord guiding the wrath of God. The people, lead by the godly leader Phineas, weep before the Lord trying to find a way to spare their brothers. Yet, God tells them that there is no more room for repentance for the sons of the devil and for those who join them.

Psalm 103 (Amplified)
10
He has not dealt with us after our sins nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
11
For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great are His mercy and loving-kindness toward those who reverently and worshipfully fear Him.

Verse 44: Note still how the Israelites honored their brothers.

Thank God for God’s justice—which is sorely needed to protect us from ourselves from sin, and from the devil. Thank God that His justice is always guided by looking for every opportunity to pour His love on us.

May we receive the “mercy of the truth” so that Jesus be demonstrated in our lives—so others may see that Jesus truly is Lord and not just seen as fiction or as a historical man.

Vance

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