Glimpses of grace seen in the everyday

Posts tagged ‘Judges’

Unconventional weapons

Who ever heard of defeating a whole army with a stone shot from a sling?  Well, if you’ve heard Bible stories, you’ve probably heard of that one, hurled by young David at the giant Goliath, resulting in a rout of the whole Philistine army.

Here are some other unconventional weapons God used in the hands of his people in the Old Testament:

–An oxgoad in the hands of Shamgar that killed 600 Philistines who had been oppressing Israel.  (Judges 3:31)

–A tent peg driven by Jael, a woman, into the temple of an enemy general as he slept.  (Judges 4:21)

Ram’s horns, clay jars and torches in the hands of Gideon and his 300 men.  The cacophany in the middle of the night threw the huge Midianite army into panic so that many killed one another and the others fled.  (Judges 7:16ff)

–A donkey’s jawbone in the hands of Samson that killed 1000 Philistines. (Judges 15:15)

Songs of praise to God from the mouths of the choir marching in front of Jehoshaphat’s army.  When they reached the enemy, they found that God had already responded to their song by causing them to slaughter one another.             (2 Chronicles 20:21)

God doesn’t require the latest modern weapons to win the victory.  In each of these cases, it was not the strength of the weapons themselves but the faith of God’s people in His infinite power.  Yes, that power is still available today.  It’s a wonderful thing to wield the weapon of prayer and watch God do amazing things in response.

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Just doing our thing…

The ancient book of Judges in the Bible is so contemporary–everyone “doing what they considered right.”  Does this sound familiar? 

Moses, who had given the people God’s commands for a godly and orderly life, was dead and gone. 

Joshua, who had victoriously led them into the Promised Land and urged them to continue to follow the Lord, was dead and gone.

The generation who had lived under the leadership of these men and experienced God’s amazing miracles was dead and gone.

“After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the LORD or remember the mighty things he had done for Israel.” (Judges 2:10 NLT)

And that’s when society broke down.  With no personal commitment to God and his standards, everyone decided what was “right for them” and lived accordingly.  This meant…

…failure to push ahead with their occupation of the land God had given them

…”forgetting” God who had done everything for them, doing what He considered evil

…intermarrying with the pagan peoples around them, producing children who no longer knew right and wrong

…worshiping and serving false gods, participating in their violent and obscene rituals

…infighting and treachery, sexual abuse and butchery

What was the result?  Were they happy and fulfilled? 

God allowed them to experience the natural consequences of their choice.  They were oppressed, ravaged, and impoverished by wave after wave of neighboring nations, for over 300 years.  At the height of each wave of misery, they would appeal to God, who would mercifully rescue them through a powerful figure such as Gideon.  But as soon as things settled down again, they went right back to their rebellious ways and the cycle repeated itself.  What a horrible existence! 

And for us today–
–Are we who know the Lord effectively passing our faith to the next generation? 

–Are we who follow godly generations also genuine in our faith, making it our own—               or just taking the easy way down the mainstream of society?

–What can we expect if we continue down the same path of defining and                   doing what we think is “right for me” instead of what God says is right?

When People Decide What Is Right

Speaking of sordid stories—the current headlines have nothing on the final chapters of the book of Judges which I read recently with growing loathing.  The “disclaimer” says, “In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.” (17:6 & 21:25)  Since they had already turned away from God in favor of pagan gods, these are the sorts of things that seemed “right” to them:

Abimelech killed 69 of his half-brothers and convinced the people of Shechem to make him their king solely on the grounds that he was their relative.  The whistle-blower went unheeded.  After three years, the citizens finally caught on that they’d made a poor choice.  Abimelech cared only for himself and for power, not for them.  But when they resisted, Abimelech slaughtered them all and demolished their city. (He met his end when a woman dropped a big stone on his head.)  (Judges chapter 9)

Micah stole 1100 pieces of silver from his mom.  When she found out, she blessed him (!) and dedicated that silver to be made into an idol for him to worship!  He made other religious trapping to go with it and even hired his own priest to serve his manmade religion—concluding that the Lord would bless him for it. (Chapter 17)

An unnamed man went to retrieve his runaway concubine.  On the way back home, they overnighted in the territory of Benjamin.  That night they were thronged by a gang of perverts who gang-raped the woman and left her dead.  The man rounded up an army from all over Israel to take revenge on the Benjaminites, who refused to hand over the culprits.  After three bloody battles, 40,000 of the Israelites were dead and 25,100 of the Benjaminites—all but 600 of them. Then, feeling sorry for their “cousins” whom they had almost wiped out, the Israelites sat down and wept and then took more drastic measures to procure wives for them.  (Chapters 19-21)

That’s enough!  Enough to make one sick!  These are the kinds of things that happen when people do what they think is right.  Are we any different today?  Should we be surprised at how low society stoops when they have turned their backs on God?

One more story, though.  After all the sordid stories of Judges, I turned the page and breathed a sigh of relief!  There is Ruth, a bright spot of faithfulness and hope in the midst of all that darkness.  God was still at work, preparing the way for the Savior who would be Ruth’s descendant. Interestingly, it was a foreigner (she was a Moabite) who showed this unfaithful nation the faithfulness of God.

A Real Hero

Antoinette Tuff is my heroine today.  And she gives all the glory to God, who gave her wisdom and courage to talk a gunman out of carrying out his plans to shoot up a school full of elementary kids.  One tool she used was her own story of weakness, loss and need.

Another hero is Gideon whose story I’ve been reading again (Judges chapters 6-8).  These same two things stand out in his experience:  his doubts and fears, and then his obedience and effectiveness in saving his people. 

His fear: 
–Threshing wheat in a wine vat to hide it from the marauding enemy. 
–Waiting for the cover of night to carry out God’s order to demolish idols worshipped by his townspeople.

His doubt: 
–When God appeared to him to commission him (addressing him as “mighty warrior”!), Gideon asked for a sign of confirmation, which God graciously provided by burning up his meal and then vanishing! (6:20-21)

–But that wasn’t enough.  He still needed confirmation.  So God arranged for a wet fleece on dry ground and then vice versa (6:36-40). 

Then God threw in one extra confirmation for good measure.  He sent Gideon to eavesdrop on a couple of enemy soldiers discussing a strange dream which they concluded  meant that Gideon was going to defeat their whole army!  (I wonder how they knew about him by name?!?)

God is so patient with those who really want to please and obey Him!

The tools:
–Personnel:  Just 300 people, whittled down from an original 32,000! (7:1-8)
–Weapons:  Trumpets, torches in clay jars, and their voices! (7:15-22) 

God’s strategy:

–As the noise and light show by Gideon’s men commenced (with the weapons listed above), God caused the enemy army to panic and kill one another!

What power!  What irony!  I love God’s battle strategies!  (For more, read the books of Exodus through 2 Chronicles.)

I also love the fact that God uses imperfect people who have doubts and fears and yet are committed to obey God to be used for His purposes, and to be sure He gets the glory!  I’m one of those.  So is Antoinette Tuff.

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