Bible Pathways Daily Bible Reading Devotional

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Bible Pathways 03/23/2003

March 23

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, there were still Canaanite people in the promised land. They were left to test Israel, to see if they would keep the commandments of the LORD, which He had 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 they became friendly neighbors and lived among the Canaanites (3:5). The third step in their decline soon followed: They took their daughters to themselves for wives, gave their own 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, the final step: The sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD . . . and served the Baals and the Asheroth (3:7). The outcome was certain; sin separates the sinner from the protective love of God. However, the sons of Israel eventually cried out to the LORD. So the LORD raised up a deliverer for the sons of Israel and delivered them (3:9, see also 15). It is comforting to know that the God of love will always provide when we repent of our sins. This was true of Abraham when he disobeyed, left the promised land, went to Egypt, and then lied about Sarah being his wife and gave her to the king of Egypt to save himself. When his deception was discovered he had to return to the promised land, but he was first used of God to pray for the king and the people of Egypt. God wonderfully blessed him on his return to Canaan. When Isaac lied about his wife, he was rebuked and repented. Then the next three verses say that Isaac planted a field and God blessed him with a hundred fold return.

Lot committed much greater sin and moved to Sodom and later became drunk. But, we learn from the New Testament that Lot was distressed by the unrestrained behavior of the immoral . . . lawless deeds he saw and heard . . . and the Lord knows how to rescue the godly out of temptation(II Peter 2:7-9). We learn from Israel's history that, regardless of how far we have backslidden and sinned, our merciful God in heaven always hears the prayers of those who confess their sins and commit their lives to Him. Often we are so taken up with condemning ourselves and others when we fall short of being what our heart tells us is right that we forget that God does love us ?as a Father pities his son.? God sees the heart's desire even though we slip and fall. So don't give up. We need to recognize that God loves to forgive even ?70 times seven? (Matthew 18:22). But, the sad fact is that wasted years of opportunity cannot be relived.

Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is the One who died, but even more, has been raised; He also is at the right hand of God and intercedes 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. The Liberator will come from Zion; He will turn away godlessness from Jacob (Romans 11:26). The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me . . . to proclaim freedom to the captives (Luke 4:18).

Prayer Needs:

Government Official: Gov. Mike Easley (NC) · Country: Tajikistan (6 million) southeast central Asia · Major languages: Tajik and Russian · Almost entirely Muslim · 82% Muslim; 4% Russian Orthodox · Prayer Suggestion: Ask for understanding as you read the word of God (Psalms 119:73).

Optional Reading: John 14

Memory Verse for the Week: Matthew 5:16

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