March 23

Read Judges 3 -- 5

The Lord had left certain groups of Canaanite people in the land to prove Israel by them, to know whether they (His people) would harken to the commandments of the Lord, which He commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses (Judges 3:4).

The first major step in the downfall of the Israelites was their disregard for the commandments of the Lord. The next step could be expected in this downward course, as they dwelt among the Canaanites (3:5). The third step in the Israelites' decline soon followed: They took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons (3:6). The fourth step was inevitable, because the Israelites' heathen wives, who worshiped idols, would not teach their children to worship the One and Only True God. Instead, they served their (false) gods (3:6). The final step was sad: The children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and forgot the Lord their God, and served Baalim (Canaanite idols) (3:7). The outcome was certain; sin separates the sinner from the protective hand of God. Consequently, the Israelites great fame of former years declined and faded away. However, each time they cried to the Lord (3:9,15; 4:3), there was a ray of hope as the Lord again provided a deliverer. But the Israelites developed a pattern of recurring apostasy. They again did evil in the sight of the Lord. . . . and twenty years Jabin, a King in Canaan mightily oppressed the children of Israel who cried unto the Lord (4:1-3).

Deborah, a prophetess . . . judged Israel . . . and called Barak . . . and said to him . . . the Lord God of Israel commanded, saying, Go . . . toward Mount Tabor, and take with you ten thousand men. . . . Barak said to her, If you will go with me, then I will go: but if you will not go with me, then I will not go. And she said, I will surely go with you: notwithstanding the journey that you take shall not be for your honor; for the Lord shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman. . . . Sisera gathered together all his chariots, even nine hundred chariots of iron. . . . And Deborah said to Barak . . . this is the day in which the Lord has delivered Sisera into your hand. . . . So Barak went down from Mount Tabor with ten thousand men. . . . And the Lord confused Sisera . . . who fled away on foot. . . . and all the host of Sisera fell (4:4,6,8-9,13-16). Following this triumphant battle, we rejoice to read that Deborah was inspired by the Holy Spirit to sing praise to the Lord, giving Jael, a lesser-known woman who was not even an Israelite, great praise for the bravery and loyalty she showed to the Lord by executing Sisera, the commander of the Canaanite armies, who had hidden in her tent (4:21-23; 5:3,24).

We can learn from Deborah that success in accomplishing the will of God does not depend upon age or gender. And we learn from Israel's history that, regardless of how far we have backslidden and drifted away from the Lord, our merciful Father in Heaven always hears the prayers of those who confess their sins, and commit their lives to Him. However, the wasted years of opportunity cannot be relived.

Who is He that condemns? It is Christ that died, yes rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us (Romans 8:34).

Christ Portrayed: By Othniel, a deliverer upon whom the Spirit of the Lord rested (Judges 3:9-11). The Spirit of God was also upon Christ, our Deliverer (Matt. 3:16; Rom. 11:26).

Word Studies: 3:4 prove means test; 3:7 served Baalim and the groves means worshiped the idols of Baal and Ashtaroth; 3:22 haft means handle; 3:29 lusty means strong fighters; 3:30 fourscore means 80; 4:21 nail of the tent means a large tent peg for holding down the tent.

Prayer:

Government Official: Gov. Mike Easley (NC) · BPM Staff: Ken Sharp · Pray for Shirley Dobson, Chairman, 2000 National Day of Prayer · Country: Bolivia (8 million) in South America · Major languages: Spanish and Quechua · Religious freedom · 92% Roman Catholic; 3% Protestant; 3% Baha'i · Prayer Suggestion: Pray for our nation, that it would truly be a Christian nation (Psalms 67:1-7).

Optional Reading: John 14

Memory Verse for the Week: Colossians 2:10