Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 62/260: Joash

Read Judges 6:28-32

Don’t Defend the Indefensible

We read yesterday that God told Gideon to tear down his father’s altar to a false idol and erect an altar for Him instead, and Gideon obeyed at night “because he feared his father’s household and the men of the city too much” (Judges 6:27). Of course, when the morning light crept over the horizon, his deed was discovered and the men were angry. They said to Joash, Gideon’s father, “Bring out your son, that he may die, because he has torn down the altar of Baal, and because he has cut down the wooden image that was beside it” (Judges 6:30).

Does Joash’s reaction to the men surprise you? Rather than agree with the men of the city and defend his false religion, he challenges them. We know that Joash’s faith before this day was not perfect, as he had allowed himself to be swept up in the religion of Baal. But Gideon’s actions seem to have affected him.

He tells the men, “Would you plead for Baal? World you save him? Let the one who would plead for him be put to death by morning! If he is a god, let him plead for himself, because his altar has been torn down!” Joash finally recognizes the folly of giving allegiance to this false god, an idol that could not possibly defend itself.

Throughout the ages, God has consistently provided evidence of His existence and His power. Consider the strength displayed in the deliverance of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage, or the mastery He showed on Mount Carmel when Elijah challenged Baal’s prophets. Think of all the miracles performed during the first century, during Jesus’ personal ministry and the continued evangelization of the world by the apostles.

Even when one discounts the supernatural, ample evidence is present to show His existence. “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20).

Worldly idols are deaf, dumb, and blind; they are nothing more than “the work of men’s hands,” and those who worship them are deaf, dumb, and blind to the truth (Psalm 135:15-18). We must all wake up, and worship the Creator, rather than our own creations!

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 61/260: Gideon

Read Judges 6:11-27

Are You a Secret Disciple?

Gideon is among those names of the faithful listed in the Hebrews letter upon which the writer does not expound. However, the book of Judges gives us some insight into the faith of this man. He was called to lead the people of God and “save Israel from the hand of the Midianites” (Judges 6:16). Like many others who are called to greatness, Gideon resists at first, claiming, “Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house” (Judges 6:15). And yet, the Lord promises victory to Gideon. He says, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man” (Judges 6:16).

Gideon, still not convinced, asks for a sign. He prepares an offering for the Angel of the Lord, and God causes fire to rise out of the rock and consume the meat and bread which were placed upon it.

Later that night, God commanded Gideon to tear down the altar of Baal which was constructed by his father, and to use that wood to build a new altar to the Lord. Gideon obeyed, but the inspired writer gives us a peek into the imperfect faith of this judge. “So Gideon took ten men from among his servants and did as the Lord had said to him. But because he feared his father’s household and the men of the city too much to do it by day, he did it by night” (Judges 6:27).

God had given Gideon a sign that He would be with him, and He had given him a promise that He would be with him but fear still dictated Gideon’s actions. Sure, he obeyed, but he did it when no one could see him, question him, or oppose him. Do we ever do this?

When invited to participate in some activity on Sunday morning that conflicts with the time of worship services, do you tell the truth as to why you can’t participate? Or do you pacify them with an excuse, such as, “That’s too early in the morning?” Or do you decide to go with your friends rather than worship?

Gideon did what was right, but did it under a cloak of darkness. In so doing, he could not influence anyone towards the truth. We cannot be secretive disciples. We must be followers of Jesus all the time, no matter who is watching!

The Equipment We Wear (Ephesians 6:13-17)

The Equipment We Wear Ephesians 6

Ephesians 6:13-17

I. Questions about wearing the whole armor of God

    A. Why? (Ephesians 6:13)
    B. Stand against what or whom? (Acts 20:29, 30, 38; Ephesians 2:1-5; 4:17-24; 4:1-3)

II. Defensive weapons

    A. Gird your waist with truth (Ephesians 6:14a; John 8:32)
    B. Breastplate of righteousness (Ephesians 6:14b; 1 Timothy 6:11; Romans 3:10, 23; 1 Corinthians 1:30)
    C. Feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace (Ephesians 6:15; Matthew 28:19-20; 1 Peter 3:15; Acts 8:4)
    D. Shield of faith (Ephesians 6:16; Hebrews 11:1, 6; Romans 10:17)
    E. Helmet of salvation (Ephesians 6:17a)

III. The offensive weapon

    A. The sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17b)
    B. Use it properly (2 Timothy 2:15; Hebrews 4:12)

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 60/260: Deborah and Barak

Read Judges 4:6-24

“Has Not the Lord Gone Out Before You?”

There is a contrast between the wisdom of Deborah and the hesitancy of Barak in Judges 4. Remember Deborah was a “prophetess” (Judges 4:4), indicating that she received revelations from the Lord. But more than just receiving those revelations, she trusted in them!

She told Barak to go up against Sisera, the commander of the army of Jabin, the king of Canaan. Did Barak jump at the opportunity to obey the will of the Lord? No! Instead, he said, “If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go” (Judges 4:8). Perhaps he wanted the mouthpiece of God with him, but even if Deborah had refused to go, God had already promised deliverance.

Deborah agrees to accompany Barak on the mission, while continuing to give God the credit for the eventual victory, telling him that “the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman” (Judges 4:9). When the arrived at Mount Tabor, Deborah again reminded Barak, “Up! For this is the day in which the Lord has delivered Sisera into your hand. Has not the Lord gone out before you?” (Judges 4:14). At no point did Deborah take any credit for herself, nor give Barak any credit for what was about to transpire. The victory belonged to the Lord!

The inspired author of Judges then recounts the defeat of Jabin’s army, and reveals the woman through whom Sisera himself would be defeated. Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, took the commander into her tent. She gave him milk rather than water, helping him slumber. When he was asleep, she drove a tent peg through his temple with a hammer, killing him. Just as Deborah had prophesied, Sisera was defeated by “the hand of a woman” (Judges 4:9).

Barak hesitated, and God gave the opportunity to another. Do you ever hesitate at the Lord’s commands and promises? He commands belief, repentance, confession of faith, and immersion in water. Have you obeyed? If not, what is holding you back? He promises eternal life to those who submit to Him. Why are you reluctant to take hold of that precious promise?

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 59/260: Deborah

Read Judges 4:1-5; 5:7-9

A Worthy Woman with Wisdom

Throughout the Scriptures, we see a great value in wisdom, and Deborah displayed great wisdom in her leadership as a judge in Israel. We are told in her song that the people “chose new gods” (Judges 5:8). What a sad state of affairs for a nation that had been so blessed by God, delivered through the prior judges. Time and time again the people turned away from the God who saved them.

Deborah was God’s chosen servant to again rescue His people after struggling under the oppression of Jabin, the king of Canaan, and the commander of his army, Sisera, for twenty years. The text identifies her as “a prophetess” and the one who “was judging Israel at that time” (Judges 4:4).

What was involved in “judging Israel”? In the accounts of the judges who served prior to Deborah, the focus was on military exploits. Yet here, before the battle begins, we see that “The children of Israel came up to her for judgment” (Judges 4:5). Evidently, the judges were not only military heroes, but also advised on civil matters.

Who better to rule over such matters than the wise woman Deborah. What does the book of Proverbs say about the “virtuous wife” (Proverbs 31:10)? “She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness” (Proverbs 31:26). “Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised” (Proverbs 31:30).

Inspiration clearly shows that Deborah was wise and feared the Lord. She says in her song that she “arose a mother in Israel” (Judges 5:7). She cared for the people as a mother cares for her own children. Deborah serves as a wonderful example for all today.

There is also something noble about the men who followed her leadership. “My heart is with the rulers of Israel who offered themselves willingly with the people. Bless the Lord!” (Judges 5:9). When one considers how women were viewed by the people of the ancient world, it would not have been strange if the men had rejected her. Yet, they recognized her wisdom and followed, not by compulsion, but “willingly.” Are we prepared to follow those who demonstrate such wisdom today?

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 58/260: Shamgar

Read Judges 3:31; 5:6

A Simple, Yet Effective Tool

We know less about Shamgar than any of the other judges who delivered Israel from oppressors. There are many theories about this man, his background, and his role in the book of Judges. Was he even an Israelite? Was he an ally or did he start out as an enemy? Why is there so little recorded?

Inspiration tells us that he was “the son of Anath,” he “killed six hundred men of the Philistines with an ox goad,” and “he also delivered Israel” (Judges 3:31). Later, in the song of Deborah, it is revealed that during his rule, “The highways were deserted, and the travelers walked along the byways” (Judges 5:6). That’s it. The name Shamgar appears nowhere else in the Biblical record.

What can we learn from Shamgar and this brief account of his life? First, God used him, and God can use us. No matter who we are or where we came from, God can use us. Search the Scriptures, learn His will, and look for opportunities to please the Father.

Second, Shamgar used what he had: an ox goad. This tool was a long pole, sometimes up to ten feet long, used to prod the livestock along, with a spike on one end and a knife on the other. Coffman writes, “The knife was used to clean the plowshares, and the spike was for the purpose of urging the oxen to greater efforts or for controlling their movements.” With this simple tool, Shamgar slaughtered six hundred Philistines.

We still have a simple tool to defeat the foes of God: “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17). We need to be trained to use it properly, and we need to practice wielding it often, but it is a simple yet effective tool to eradicate sin and error.

With the ox goad, Shamgar “delivered Israel.” With the Word of God, we can deliver those who are closest to us from the bondage of sin. “Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:21-22). May we ever use the Spirit’s sword in our battles against Satan and his allies.

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 57/260: Ehud

Read Judges 3:12-30

God Can Use Your Weaknesses

We can come up with excuses all day long. “I’m too this” or “I’m too that.” “I can’t do this.” “I don’t have the ability to do that.” Certainly, we should know our limitations so we don’t get ourselves in over our heads, but at the same time we must recognize the power of God to use even our weaknesses to His glory!

The writer of Judges points out a weakness of Ehud, the judge whom God raised up to deliver His people from Eglon king of Moab. Ehud was “a left-handed man” (Judges 3:15). Now, before I get a dozen hateful emails from able-bodied left-handed men, let me explain. The original Hebrew language means more than just “left-handed.” In some way, Ehud was hindered from using his right hand. Strong’s explains that the word means, “shut up, i.e. impeded (as to the use of the right hand).” Coffman explains that “Ehud’s right hand might have been crippled or inured. At any rate, it was ‘tied up’ or ‘bound.’”

Occasionally we hear the boast of a person who says, “I can beat you with one hand tied behind my back!” That’s exactly what Ehud did. Despite the inability to use his right hand at all, or perhaps because of it, he was able to defeat Israel’s enemy and deliver the people.

If Ehud had the use of both of his hands, would the king’s servants have left him alone with Eglon? Certainly, a man with “one hand tied behind his back” could do no harm to the king. Ehud used that misconception to his advantage, assassinating the king in private.

After some time, Eglon’s servants came to look for him and found the doors of the chamber locked. They assumed he was relieving himself, and Ehud used the extra time to escape. The servants waited and waited “till they were embarrassed” before finally making entry to check on the king, whom they found dead.

Ehud had accomplished his mission, and God had used the judge’s weakness to his advantage. Not only was the mission successful, Ehud gave the proper credit to God: “Follow me, for the Lord has delivered your enemies the Moabites into your hand” (Judges 3:28). Don’t doubt the power of God, and don’t forget to give Him the glory!

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 56/260: Othniel

Read Judges 1:12-15; 2:11-3:11

The Deliverer

We are first introduced to Othniel in Joshua 15, in a series of events that are repeated in Judges 1. He defeated Kirjath Sepher for his uncle Caleb, and was granted Caleb’s daughter in marriage as well as land and springs of water. Thus, Othniel had proven himself to be a man of valor and might, the type of man God might use to deliver the people from the bondage they found themselves in when they departed from faithfulness.

Throughout the book of Judges, we see a vicious cycle. The nation lives in peace, and in time forgets God. The late brother Guy N. Woods wrote, “When men abandon God theoretically, it is not long until they have forsaken eh practical way of God. Moral decay soon follows the decay of faith.” Thus, when the people lose their faith, they lose their way. “Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served the Baals” (Judges 2:11). God allows an enemy to enslave the people until they cry out for deliverance, then God raises up a judge to deliver the people. After they are delivered, the cycle repeats itself.

The first such judge was Othniel, the son of Caleb’s younger brother Kenaz. With God’s power, Othniel judged Israel, went to war and delivered the nation from Cushan-Rishathaim king of Mesopotamia.

Do you ever find yourself in a cycle similar to the Israelites of old? Have you ever been in a place of peace and prosperity and forgotten your dependence upon God, slipping away into an ungodly lifestyle? We have a deliverer much like Othniel available to us in Jesus Christ. He will deliver us from the bondage of sin, but only if we call upon His name.

How does one call upon the name of the Lord? It is not simply saying a prayer! If that is how you were taught one could be saved, you were misled. Nowhere in the Bible can you find an example of a non-Christian one being saved through prayer. In fact, Saul of Tarsus was told to stop praying! He believed in Jesus and had been praying and fasting for three days, but Ananias told him, “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16).

The definition of “calling on the name of the Lord,” according to the Bible, is the act of immersion in which God washes away your sins. Have you done what Saul of Tarsus did?

The Gospel Spreads Beyond Jerusalem (Acts 8:4-24)

The Gospel Spreads Beyond Jerusalem Acts 8

Acts 8:4-24

I. The responsibility of every Christian to evangelize

    A. It wasn’t the apostles who scattered and preached outside Jerusalem (Acts 8:1, 4; Colossians 1:23)
    B. A perpetual commission (Hebrews 5:12-14; Matthew 28:19-20; 2 Timothy 2:2)

II. The gospel is for all mankind

    A. Not just those who look and act like us (Acts 8:5; John 4:9, 20, 25)
    B. The reaction (Acts 8:6-7, 12) was joyous (Acts 8:8, 39; 16:34; 15:3)
    C. It is even for those that we don’t think will obey (Acts 8:9-13)

III. The possibility of apostasy…and restoration!

    A. Simon shows immaturity (Acts 8:14-19)
    B. Peter’s rebuke (Acts 8:20-23)
    C. Simon’s opportunity to repent (Acts 8:22, 24)

“I Am The Light Of The World” (John 8:12)

I am the Light of the World John 8:12

John 8:12

I. Jesus is a progressive light

    A. We must follow, not stand still (John 1:43; Matthew 4:18-19; 9:9; Luke 9:23-25; John 6:68)
    B. He provided guidance in the Old Testament (Exodus 13:21)
    C. He still provides guidance today (1 John 1:7; 2 John 9)

II. Jesus is a light of safety

    A. Darkness represents spiritual danger (John 12:35)
    B. Jesus’ light guides each step of the way (Psalm 119:105)

III. Jesus is a life-giving light

    A. If you take man away from the Son’s light, man will stop growing! (John 1:4; 10:10b)
    B. Jesus’ effect on spiritual health (James 1:14-15; Malachi 4:2)

IV. Jesus is a light of hope

    A. Old Testament view on immortality (Hebrews 11:13; 2 Samuel 12:23; Job 14:14)
    B. He has “brought life and immortality to light” (2 Timothy 1:10; Ephesians 2:12-13; 5:8-14)

But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. (Acts 8:12)