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Bible Pathways 03/23/2004

March 23

Read Judges 3 -- 5

In Today's Reading:

Israelites intermarry with Canaanites, worships false gods, are 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. They then 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, the final step was that the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and forgot the LORD their God, and served Baalim and the groves (idol worship) (3:7). The outcome was certain. Sin separated the sinner from the protective love of God, and they were soon under the control of an enemy nation. After years of suffering, when the children of Israel cried to the LORD, the LORD raised up a deliverer to the children of Israel, who delivered them (3:9,15).

Israel's history confirms that, regardless of how far we have backslidden and sinned, our merciful God 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 children (Psalm 103:13). So don't give up. We need to recognize that God loves to forgive even seventy times seven (Matthew 18:22). But, the sad fact is that wasted years of opportunity can never 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).

Word Studies:

3:7 served Baalim and the groves = worshiped the 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.

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 (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).

Prayer Needs:

Government Official: Gov. Mike Easley (NC) · Country: Switzerland (7 million) in central Europe · Major languages: German and French · Religious freedom · 53% Roman Catholic; 41% Protestant · Prayer Suggestion: Diligently seek the guidance of the Lord (Proverbs 8:17).

Optional Reading: John 14

Memory Verse for the Week: John 3:17

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