Read Judges 3 - 5
In Today's Reading:
Israel intermarries with Canaanites, worships false gods, is defeated; the Lord raises up judges to deliver Israel; Deborah and Barak
Although Joshua had executed all the Canaanite kings, the Canaanite people still occupied the promised land. They were to prove (test) Israel by them, to know whether they would hearken to the Commandments of the LORD, which He commanded their fathers (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 was that they became friendly neighbors and dwelled among the Canaanites (3:5). The third step in their decline soon followed: They took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons, and served their gods (3:6). The fourth step was inevitable because the Israelites' heathen wives who worshiped idols could not teach their children to worship the One True God. Sadly, we read the final step: The children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD . . . and served Baalim and the groves (false gods) (3:7). The outcome was certain because sin separates the sinner from the protective love of God. Consequently, they were soon under the control of an enemy nation. After years of suffering, the children of Israel cried to the LORD, and the LORD raised up a deliverer to the children of Israel, who delivered them (3:9). Failing to learn from their sinful past, the Israelites continued the same cycle of sin, repentance, and deliverance for about 450 years (see Acts 13:20).
We learn from Israel's history that, regardless of how far we have backslidden into sin, our merciful God in heaven
always hears the prayers of those who confess their sins and commit their lives to Him (see I John 1:9). Often we are so taken up with condemning ourselves and others that, when we fall short of being what we know is right, we forget that God does love us and, as a father pities his children, so the LORD pities
(loves, has compassion for) them that fear
(unconditional trust and submission) Him
(Psalm 103:13). So don't give up. We need to recognize that God loves to forgive even beyond seventy times seven
(Matthew 18:22). But, the sad fact is that wasted years of opportunity and the results of sin cannot be relived.
Who is he that condemns? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us (Romans 8:34).
3:7 served Baalim and the groves = worshiped idols; 3:22 haft = handle; 3:29 lusty = strong fighters; 3:30 fourscore = 80; 4:21 nail of the tent = a large tent peg for holding down the tent.
By Othniel, a deliverer upon whom the Spirit of the Lord rested (Judges 3:9-11). The Spirit of God was also upon Jesus Christ, our Deliverer (see Matthew 3:16). There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob (Romans 11:26). Jesus declared: The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me . . . to preach deliverance to the captives (Luke 4:18).
Pray for Government Official: Gov. Mike Easley (NC) · Country: Rwanda (8 million) in central Africa · Major languages: Kinyarwanda and French · Religious freedom · 40% Roman Catholic; 21% Protestant; 14% belief in false gods, ancestor worship, and spirit-possession cults; 9% Muslim · Prayer Suggestion: Seek the Lord in prayer, turn from your sinful ways, and God will have mercy and pardon for you (Isaiah 55:6-7).
Optional Reading: John 14
Memory Verse for the Week: Colossians 2:10