Pour Out Your Soul for the Spirit of the Son to Be Poured into You

TODAY’S READING: 1 SAMUEL 1-3

“But Hannah answered, ‘No, my lord, I am a woman of troubled spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord. Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for all along I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation.” – 1 Samuel 1:15-16

Hannah was barren. She had no children. But, she was married to a man who had another wife who bore him many children. Even though Hannah’s husband, Elkanah, gave her a double portion of his sacrifice, Hannah remained barren.

Every year Elkanah, Hannah, and the other wife, Peninnah went up to the Shiloh to worship and to sacrifice. Year after year, Elkanah gave Hannah a double portion. But, Hannah remained barren year after year.

And, Peninnah would provoked Hannah year after year. Peninnah would irritate Hannah because she had children but Hannah did not.

One year, Hannah did not take the double portion from Elkanah. Instead, she did not eat and she wept. Elkanah asked Hannah why she wept and would not eat Was her heart sad? Was Elkanah not more to her than ten sons could be?

After everyone else had eaten and drunk from the offering in Shiloh, Hannah rose. She was distressed and prayed bitterly to the Lord. She vowed that if God would see her affliction and remember her then she would give the son she was asking for to the Lord all the days of his life.

So, Hannah prayed before the Lord. She was speaking in heart, moving with her lips without her voice being heard.  Eli, the priest, thought she was drunk. He ask Hannah how long she would remain drunk and instructed her to put her drink.

Hannah answers the she was trouble in spirit and not drunk. Rather, she was pouring out her soul before the Lord. Hannah asked Eli not to see her as a worthless woman but as a woman who was speaking out of her great anxiety and vexation.

So, Eli told her to go in peace and that God would grant her prayer. Hannah responded, “Let you servant find favor in your eyes.” It would be easy to assume that she wanted to find favor in the eyes of Eli. But, it’s quite possible that Hannah asked to find favor in God’s eyes. For, later we find out that Eli’s eyes were dim, implying he was not close to God.

Therefore, Hannah went her away and ate. She was no longer sad. Hannah was trusting in the favor of the Lord that her prayer would be answered.

So, Elkanah, Hannah, and Peninnah got up early in the morning, worshiped, and went back to Ramah. Elkanah knew Hannah his wife and in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son. Hannah called him Samuel. After year and years of provoking, vexation, irritation due to her barrenness, Hannah’s prayer had been answered.

What a tremendous story of perseverance in prayer!

What are we to learn from this story?

We need to pour out our soul before the Lord so he can pour the Spirit of his son, Jesus, into our empty vessels.

Let’s read the story by the Spirit to see how this works.

THE SETUP

“There was a certain man of Ramathaim-zophim of the hill country of Ephraim who name was Elkanah the son Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, an Ephrahthite. He had two wives. The name of one was Hannah, and the name of the other, Peninnah. And Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.”

The meaning of everyone of these names helps to set up the spiritual understanding of this story. Let’s take them in order of their mention. Then, we will put them together.

Ramathaim-zophim means “the heights of the watchmen” or “the deceits of the honeycomb.”

Ephraim means fruitfulness.

Elkanah means “God has possessed,” “God has redeemed,” “God has created” (but is perhaps unlikely), or “God has taken possession.”

Jeroham means “he is pitied” or “he will obtain mercy”

Elihu means “he is my God” or “God the Lord”

Tohu means wilderness, wasteland, emptiness, nothing.

Zuph means honeycomb, honey, or sweet.

Ephrhath means fruitfulness or worthlessness. Worthlessness is a secondary meaning of Ephrhath, but there is a strong connotation.

Hannah means graciousness or gratuitous gift.

Peninnah coral or pearl.

The lineage of Elkanah starts with honey in the honeycomb. If we take Zuph to mean, then the lineage of Elkanah starts with something tasteless. In Matthew 5:13, Jesus says, “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored?” A tasteless thing is worthless, not good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled.

Psalm 34:8 says, “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!” But, if we have not tasted the Lord, then we are tasteless. If we are tasteless, then this produces a wilderness within us.

Speaking of Israel in the wilderness, Psalm 106:14 says, “But they had a wanton craving in the wilderness, and put God to the test in the desert.” Led by tastelessness into the wilderness, we have a wanton craving, literally a craving for the grave. In this craving, we put God to the test. However, Isaiah 40:3 says, “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” While there is a wilderness, God is the Lord.

God is the Lord fathers a son who will obtain mercy. Isaiah 30:18 says, “Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.” God promised his mercy to Israel when he was exalted.

Jesus, God who exalted himself on the cross, shows mercy to you. Jesus is the fulfillment of the Father’s promise of mercy. Luke 1:68-69, 72 says, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David…to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant.”

Through the one who obtains mercy God takes possession of and redeems. This is Elkanah. But, by the Spirit we can see that Elkanah’s lineage prophetically speaks of Jesus.

Elkanah was of a place that could mean both “the heights of the watchmen” or “the deceits of the honeycomb.” Jesus is our refuge, a strong tower. Proverbs 18:10 says, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous man runs into it and is safe.”

But, how can this same place be “the deceits of the honeycomb?”

Proverbs 24:13 says, “My son, eat honey, for it is good, and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste.”

Psalm 119:103 says, “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth.”

How is sweet to our taste, but the words of Jesus are even sweeter. Honey comes from, drips from, the honey comb. But, if the honeycomb has no honey in it, then what we thought would be sweet is tasteless. So, Jesus’ words are sweeter than honey and give life because they are from God. But, if the word of Jesus, the voice of God, is not heard, then we are left with only the physical, natural, flesh and blood man Jesus. We are left with the honeycomb, which is deceitful because what we thought would be sweet, the man Jesus, is actually tasteless without the honey, the voice of God.

Ramathaim-zophim is in the land of fruitfulness. We can be so close to the heights of the watchmen, Jesus, the strong tower, yet at the same time be in the deceits of the honeycomb, the man Jesus with the voice that carries the true word God nowhere to be found.

Elkanah was an Ephrahthite. He was a man of fruitfulness or worthlessness, depending on the perspective.

Elkanah had two wives. One was graciousness, a gratuitous gift. But, Hannah was barren. She had no children. In other words, she produced no fruit. The other was a pearl, a precious thing produced through the affliction of a grain of sand in the flesh. Peninnah was very fruitful.

A DOUBLE PORTION FOR HANNAH

Every year that Elkanah would go to Shiloh to worship and sacrifice he would give portions to Peninnah, but he would give a double portion to Hannah because he loved her even though she was barren, or fruitless. Remember that as the product of his lineage, Elkanah represents that work that God is doing through Christ to reconcile. Therefore, the sacrifice that Elkanah and Peninnah are eating from is a picture of Jesus.

The phrase double portion is found five times in Bible – four in the Old Testament and one in the New Testament. The New Testament mention is related to Babylon, but the four Old Testament mentions are related to the unloved one getting a double portion of the inheritance or blessing.

However, the mention is 1 Samuel 1:5 is very interesting because the Hebrew word for double is appayim, which comes from two Hebrew root word meaning to be angry with and anger, face, nose, or (dual) nostrils.” The word translated double doesn’t actually mean double at all.

What is going on here?

The Hebrew word for nose or nostrils is associated with anger. So, I believe in this passage there is a bit of double meaning going on here. Hannah was perceiving that she was getting an angry portion from God’s nostrils because she was barren. But, because Elkanah loved her, we know that was not the case. In reality, Hannah was getting a “double” portion in the sense that she was getting what was breathed out from God’s two nostrils. If we see the sacrifice that we got a double portion of as Jesus, then we see that she was getting the Holy Spirit as he is what is breathed out by God into us (Genesis 2:7 and John 20:22).

What is so fascinating, and I believe confirms my double meaning hypothesis, is that year after year Hannah would weep and not eat the double portion of the sacrifice.

What does this show us?

God loves us and wants to us a double portion of his Holy Spirit to speak to us, but some of us refuse to partake of what God is offering. God asks those that refuse the double portion, “Why do you not eat? And why is your heart sad? Am I not more than ten sons to you?”

HANNAH PRAYED AND VOWED

Hannah’s barrenness is a picture of our fruitlessness, which is a result of not partaking of the double portion of the Holy Spirit that God is trying to give us. God wants to speak to us through his Spirit, but we won’t partake of the Spirit.

However, after years of barrenness, Hannah gave in to God and made a vow. She said that if God gave looked on her barrenness and gave her a son then she would give that son to Lord his whole life. I can imagine Hannah praying for years for a son but never receiving the son she wanted because it was all about her own desires, passions, and benefits.

What does this picture for us?

We may cry out to hear from God, to receive his Spirit. But, perhaps we are like Hannah, desiring the Spirit for our own benefit. James 4:2-3 says, “You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.”

But, in order to receive the Spirit, to truly hear from the Lord, we need to make a vow like Hannah. “Lord, I have not heard you. I am without your Spirit speaking to me. But, if you fill me with your Spirit and make me a son, that I will give you myself to the service of you the rest of my life.”

By the Spirit, I see Hannah asking for a son and vowing to give him to the Lord as a picture of us asking to be made sons of God so that our lives can be devoted to the Lord.

HANNAH POURS OUT HER SOUL

Hannah continued to pray and poured out her soul. It was only after she poured out her soul that in due time she bore the son she vowed to give to the Lord the rest of his days. His name was Samuel, which means name of God (a godly name), heard of God. The son she birthed had the name of God.

In order for us receive the double portion of Christ’s offering, the Holy Spirit, we need to pour out our soul. We need to empty ourselves of our natural reasoning, our carnal minds, our fleshly instincts. We have to empty ourselves of all earthly desire. This is taking on the mind of Christ.

Philippians 2:5-7 says, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.”

Christ had to empty himself of his deity to become like us. Of course, it works in reverse for us. We have to empty ourselves of all that is of the flesh, every carnal instinct, in order to become a son of God, to be filled with the Spirit, to hear God’s voice, to see and touch the supernatural.

God cannot do this for us. We must pour out our souls so that he can pour into us his Holy Spirit. For, it is the Spirit that God pours out.

Peter says the prophecy of Joel was fulfilled in Acts 2:17-19, which says, “And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and my female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below.”

We have to hope, expectantly waiting not wishing, for this. Romans 5:5 says, “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

Titus 3:4-6 says, “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, hesaved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.

If you want God to speak to and through you, if you want God to show you visions and dreams, if you want God to show spiritual signs and wonders, then you must completely pour out your soul, your natural man, your fleshly man. You must give up your natural reasoning and understanding. You must give up all your earthly philosophies and ways of seeing things.

This is why Paul says in Colossians 2:8-9, “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit [remember the honeycomb from above], according to human tradition, according to elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.”

But, in order that you may “be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19), “be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18), “be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Colossians 1:9), and “be filled with all joy” (2 Timothy 1:4), you must pour yourself out first. Everything of your natural, fleshly, carnal man must go.

When we do this will bear the son we have always wanted, just like Hannah. And, our name will be Samuel, the name of God.

Romans 8:13-16 says, “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.”

A FINAL WORD – DO NOT BE FULL OF THE NATURAL

Remember above what we saw about honey. We have to taste the honey, the words of Christ, and see that they are good. But, if we are full of the natural and the flesh, we will loathe the spiritual and the supernatural. We won’t hear from God.

Proverbs 27:7 – “One who is full loathes honey, but to one who is hungry everything bitter is sweet.”

Boaz: A Shadow of Jesus the Redeemer

TODAY’S READING: RUTH

Boaz redeemed the land, the inheritance, of Naomi to keep alive the name of her dead husband Elimelech. But, Boaz never interacted with Naomi. Instead, Boaz redeemed the land for Naomi through his relationship with and eventual marriage to Ruth.

The story is a beautiful picture of Jesus redeeming the kingdom of his Father. God’s kingdom is all the whole earth, all the land is his. Jesus comes to redeem the whole earth to keep the name of God alive. He does this by marrying a Gentile bride. Ruth is a Gentile and is a picture of the bride of Christ, the church. Note that Ruth is from Moab, which means something like “who is your father?” or “what is your father?” So, as Jesus redeems the kingdom of the earth for his Father, he reveals who the Father is to his bride.

We could spend quite a bit of time digging through the rich details of the story, but let’s just look at some highlights of Boaz to see him as a shadow of Jesus, our redeemer.

BOAZ WAS A WORTHY MAN

Ruth 2:1 says, “Now Naomi had a relative of her husband’s, a worthy man of the clan of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz.”

The Hebrew word translated worthy is gibbor, which generally means strong or mighty and is typically associated with a warrior. Clearly, the word is difficult to translate in the context of the verse and almost every version of the Bible has a different translation. Here are some of the different translations:

  • a man of great wealth
  • a man of standing
  • a prominent rich man
  • a mighty man of wealth
  • a wealthy and influential man
  • a wealthy, prominent man
  • a man mighty in wealth

While each translator has a slightly different spin on gibbor, most of them identify Boaz as a man of wealth.

Jesus was born to poor parents. But, at one time he was a man of wealth. In John 17:5, Jesus says, “And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.” From before the foundation of the world, Jesus was a man of great wealth because of the glory he shared with the Father.

BOAZ LET RUTH GLEAN IN HIS FIELD

In Ruth 2:8, Boaz says to Ruth, “Now, listen, my daughter, do not glean in another field or leave this one, but keep close to my young women. Let your eyes be on the field that they are reaping, and go after them.”

In verse 10, Ruth answered, “Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?”

Boaz answered in verses 11 and 12, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before. The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!”

The law of Israel was that a poor person was allowed to glean the grain of fruit of the field. This didn’t mean that the poor person could take whatever they wanted, some great haul of fruit. That would have been reaping the field. Gleaning was the process of picking up that which had fallen out of the reapers’ hands. To glean was to get the grain that was dropped or from the corners of the field that could not be effectively reaped.

Boaz allowed Ruth to get the leftovers or the scraps of his field. And, Ruth was grateful for it. Boaz acknowledged that he let her glean because of the faith Ruth showed to her mother-in-law in leaving her native land.

Jesus beautifully fulfills this shadow of Boaz in Matthew 15:22-28. Notice all the similarities between Jesus and a foreign woman with Boaz and Ruth.

“And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, ‘Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.’ But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, ‘Send her away, for she is crying out after us.’ He answered, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’ But she came and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, help me.’ And he answered, ‘It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.’ She said, ‘Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.’ Then Jesus answered her, ‘O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.’ And her daughter was healed instantly.”

This foreign woman left her land and came to Jesus. She asked for his help.  She even knelt down before him. The woman didn’t ask for the bread, the full fruit of the field, but the crumb’s, the gleanings. Jesus recognized her faith and gave her a full reward, the healing of her daughter.

BOAZ GAVE RUTH BREAD, WINE, AND ROASTED GRAIN

Ruth 2:14 says, “And at mealtime Boaz said to her, ‘Come here and eat some bread and dip your morsel in the wine.’ So she sat beside the reapers, and he passed to her roasted grain. And she ate until she was satisfied, and she had some left over.”

Here we see Boaz as picture of Jesus giving a new covenant that extends even to the Gentiles.

Jesus gave the bread and wine to his disciples at a meal. “Luke 22:19-20 says, “And he took the bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying ‘This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.'”

The new covenant was a promise that Jesus would dwell in his people through the Holy Spirit. This is what Hebrews 8 is all about. Hebrews 8:10 gives the essence of this new covenant, “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”

Through the revelation of Jesus, Paul includes the Gentiles in this new covenant promised by Jesus. Ephesians 3:4-6 says, “When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.”

The roasted grain that Boaz gave to Naomi is a picture of the body of Christ burnt on the cross. We know love because Christ was crucified on the cross yet forgave us for our sin of murdering him. It is this act of Jesus that most fully reveals the divine nature.

It was by his forgiveness from the Christ of which we partake that Christ showed us how to escape the corruption of the world. Peter says in 2 Peter 1:3-4, “His divine power has granted us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.”

Like Ruth who ate of the roasted grain until she was satisfied and had some left over to give, we partake of the divine nature of Christ, the crucifixion and death of Christ that revealed the God’s love through his forgiveness that brought life, and share it with others.

2 Corinthians 4:10-12 says that we are “always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.”

By eating to the full of the roasted grain that Jesus gives us life, we will have some leftover to share the life of Christ with others.

BOAZ GIVES UP HIS REPUTATION AND RICHES FOR RUTH

Ruth 4:5-6 says, “Then Boaz said, ‘The day you buy the field from the hand of Naomi, you shall also acquire Ruth the Moabite, the widow of the dead, in order to perpetuate the name of the dead in his inheritance.’ Then the redeemer said, ‘I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I impair my own inheritance. Take my right of redemption yourself, for I cannot redeem it.'”

While we don’t who it was, there was a redeemer closer to Naomi than Boaz. But, in order to redeem the land for Naomi, the redeemer would have to marry Ruth, a Moabite. Israelites were forbidden from marrying Moabites, and their children were banned from the assembly of the Lord for ten generations (Deuteronomy 23:3). The closer redeemer was unwilling to redeem the land for Naomi because he would have to marry Ruth and risk his whole inheritance. He was unwilling to give up what his reputation and his inheritance, his wealth.

We saw earlier that Boaz, a rich man, was a picture of Jesus who had glory, riches, with the Father before the foundation of the world. Like Boaz, Jesus gave up his reputation and riches to marry a Gentile bride.

Philippians 2:5-8 says, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, event death on a cross.”

2 Corinthians 8:9 says, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for our sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.”

Like Ruth who became rich through Boaz who risked his reputation an inheritance for her, we become rich through Jesus Christ who gave up all he had with the Father for  us.

BOAZ TOOK RUTH AS HIS WIFE AND BORE HER A SON

Ruth 4:13 says, “So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife. And he went in to her, and the Lord gave her conception, and she bore a son.”

The name Boaz means by strength, in strength, or God establishes in strength.

The name Ruth means female companion or beauty.

Boaz took Ruth as his wife and went into her is a picture of Jesus taking us as his bride and coming into us. God establishes in strength his female companion.

Ruth had face many trials – the death of her husband, the loss of her family and the leaving of her native land, famine, and the fear over who would provide her in a foreign land. But, she trusted in Boaz, her redeemer.

Paul says in Philippians 4:12-13, “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

Boaz entered Ruth and she bore a son that would be an heir of all that Elimelech had. So too, Jesus enters us through his Holy Spirit, who makes us son and heirs.

Romans 8:14-17 says, “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”

There’s so much more than could be written about Boaz, Ruth, and the whole book of Ruth. But, even this short look at Boaz as a shadow of Jesus as our redeemer causes the heart to burn to know Christ more.

A King Is Needed on the Throne of Our Hearts

TODAY’S READING: JUDGES 20-21

The last verse of the book of Judges says, “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” While this is the close of the book, it is not a summary statement for the entire book.

The first 16 chapters of Judges recount the 12 judges that God sent to judge Israel and the periods of time between these judges when
“Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord.” Each time one of the twelve judges was sent Israel was saved from doing what was evil in the sight of the Lord and the land had rest.

The number 12 symbolizes several things throughout the Bible. First, it is a symbol of the foundation and rule of government or power. Second, it is a symbol of the totality of a people, in particular God’s people. Third, it is a symbol of God’s power and authority.

Twelve as a symbol of God’s power and authority is revealed in Jesus. Luke tells us that Jesus and his parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of the passover when he was 12 years old. When the feast was over, his parents left to return home, but Jesus stayed behind. Once Mary and Joseph realized Jesus was not with them, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him.

Luke 2:46-47 says, “They found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.” Why where they amazed at his teaching? Mark 1:22 says, “And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.”

NO KING ON THE THRONE IN ISRAEL

In Judges 16, when Samson, the 12th and final judge of Israel, dies, it symbolizes the complete expulsion of God’s power and authority in Israel. Once God’s power and authority gets expelled from Israel, the events recounted in Judges 17-21 get really weird and really violent.

Just after the God’s power and authority is expelled from Israel, Judges 17:6 says, “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” This verse along with the close of the book serve as bookends for all the weird and violent stuff in between. In between, we are twice reminded that in these days there was no king in Israel.

Not only do the events become really weird and violent, but the violence gets turned inward so that Israel is destroying itself. The tribes are fighting against each other. Brother is brutally murdering brother. This is what happens when there is no king on the throne. Everyone does what is right in his own eyes.

GOD EXPELLED AS KING OF HIS CREATION

When Israel had no king they did what was right in their own eyes. The book of Judges that this was equivalent to doing evil in the sight of the Lord. This is the dynamic that places out in Genesis 2 and 3.

In the garden, God caused to grow every tree that was God for food and pleasant to the sight. There were two other trees in the garden – the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But, note carefully that the text does not say that God caused either one of these trees to grow. We are told that tree of life was in the midst of the garden. Presumably, God placed it there.

However, we are told nothing about how the tree of the knowledge of good and evil came to be in the garden. We are simply told that it was there. God does tell man that he should not eat from it though. For, in the day that man eats from this tree, he will die.

What is God saying?

God is showing that he provided everything that was good for us. He made every tree that was good for food, or everything that is good for our body. God made every tree that was pleasant to the sight, or everything that is good for our mind. And, he gave us the tree of life to continually renew our spirits.

But, to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was to do evil in God’s sight. To eat from this tree was to reject God’s goodness.

So, the serpent comes to Eve and asks her if God really said, “You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?” The intent of the question was to get Eve to doubt God’s good provision for her body, mind, and spirit. But, not only was the serpent tempting Eve to doubt God’s good provision, he was trying to get Eve to doubt God’s nature as always and only good.

Eventually the serpent succeeded in getting Eve to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

How did he do it?

Genesis 3:6 says, “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took its fruit and ate.” It was when Eve saw, when she was convinced by what her own eyes saw, that she believed the lie that God was not always and only good. When believed the lie about God’s goodness, it was then that she was spiritually murdered.

When we do what is right in our own eyes, we internally destroy ourselves. This is the lesson of Israel’s internal infighting and destruction in Judges 17-21.

The serpent lied to Eve and spiritually murdered her. But, it was only possible because Eve did what was right in her own eyes. By doing what was right in her own eyes, Eve expelled God’s power and authority in her life. Eve took God off the throne of his kingdom, his creation. (I have focused on Eve in a typological sense as she represents mankind while Adam is a type of Jesus, the second or last Adam.)

Therefore, when we remove God from his throne, the result is lies and murder.

THE KINGDOM IS HERE, REPENT

In Mark 1:15, Jesus says, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

After Jesus was baptized and he rejected the same temptation of Satan that Eve succumbed to, the very first words of Jesus’ ministry were the kingdom of God is here. Therefore, he says to repent and believe the gospel.

Repent means to change your mind, to change your thinking. Most Christians know this. But, we tend to think of repentance as an emotional event, a deep feeling of sorrow or remorse. However, this is not what repentance is. Repentance really and truly means to change your thinking.

But, what about are we thinking are we to change?

It’s wrong to cut people off in traffic? Lord, I repent.

It’s wrong to hold a grudge and be angry with someone? Lord, I repent.

It’s wrong to covet what others have? Lord, I repent.

Yes, all of these are wrong and we shouldn’t do them. But, I don’t believe this is what Jesus’ call for repentance was about.

In John 8, Jesus says that Satan is the father of lies and was a murderer from the beginning. But, Jesus, the truth, came to free us from this – lies and murder.

Lies and murder.

This is what Jesus’ call to repentance is about. Jesus is taking us right back to the garden. He is saying that we have believed a lie about God – he’s not always and only good. And, Jesus is saying because we have believed that lie, we murder.

Go through the entire Old Testament and you fill a very close connection between lies and murder. Scripture after scripture after scripture links these two ideas:

  • Lies, lying lips, deceit, deceitfulness

with

  • Murder, bloodshed, violence, corruption, wickedness, evil

Jesus is calling us to repent of these lies and murder. We believed the lie that God was not always and only good. Because we believed that lie, we removed God from his throne. Then we tried to provide good for ourselves and we go so far as to murder our brothers to do it.

But, Jesus says the kingdom of God is here. It’s back. So, repent of your lies and murder.

So we are to repent and change our thinking about lies and murder. But, what we do change out thinking to?

The gospel. The good news.

What is this good news?

That God is always and only good.

Repenting of our lies and murder and believing that God is always and only God puts God back on his throne. Repenting and believing the gospel puts Jesus on his throne.

Where is his throne?

JESUS IS THE KING ON THE THRONE OF OUR HEARTS

In Luke 17:20-21, Jesus says, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”

The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be seen. It is in the midst of each one of us. The kingdom of God is in our hearts. When we repent of the lie that God is not always and only good and we stop murdering to have what is good in our own eyes, then we put Jesus on the throne of our hearts.

This is the fulfillment of Proverbs 3:1-8.

“My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you.

“Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.”

Repent and believe the gospel.

Stop believing the lie that God is not good – always and only.

Believe that God is good.

Not just with your words. “God is good all the time. All the time God is good.” It’s not a platitude to be thrown around cavalierly.

God IS good.

Believe it and put Jesus, the king, back on the throne of your heart.

Are You Seeking an Inheritance for Yourself or the Kingdom of God?

TODAY’S READING: JUDGES 17-19

In Matthew 6:31-33, Jesus says, “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’  or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and these things will be added to you.”

Do not worry about food, drink, or clothing. God will give you these things. Instead “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.”

The Greek first in this passage doesn’t mean do this first and then seek food, drink, and clothing second, and then other things third. No, the word first here means the thing of highest importance, the thing superior to everything else, the principle thing.

Therefore, our lives should wholly consist of seeking the kingdom of God and its righteousness. To seek the kingdom, we must seek its king, Jesus. When seek Jesus and his righteousness, God will give us everything else. In other words, we will receive an inheritance from God.

How interesting that immediately after this, In Matthew 7:1, Jesus says, “Judge not, that you be not judged.” The natural way of man is to be anxious about what he’s going to eat, drink, and wear. When we are under this manner of living, not seeking the kingdom of God, we judge. We judge who is deemed worthy to have this and that, thereby satisfying our anxiousness about the earthly things we have or don’t have.

When we live in this anxiousness, this judging, we seek an inheritance for ourselves. This is where strife, fighting, and wars come from.

James 4:1-3 says, “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so your murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.”

When we are not seeking the kingdom of God and its righteousness, when we are not seeking the king Jesus, when we do not pledge are allegiance solely to him, then we begin to seek an inheritance for ourselves, then we judge others and go to war with them.

This is just what we see in Judges 18. It is an apt description of us when we don’t make seeking the kingdom of God and Jesus the principle thing in our lives.

SEEKING AN INHERITANCE FOR ITSELF

Judges 18:1 says, “In those days there was no king in Israel. And in those days the tribe of the people of Dan was seeking for itself an inheritance to dwell in.”

That there was no king in Israel sets the stage for the entire chapter. Israel did not see God as on the throne. Therefore, the tribe of Dan was seeking for itself an inheritance. So, instead of seeking the kingdom and its king, Dan was seeking the things of the earth – food, drink, clothing. Dan was seeking its own inheritance, the benefits of the king, without seeking the king himself.

The name Dan means judge or judging. Therefore, just like Jesus said, Dan symbolizes how we are willing to judge others’ worthiness when we are anxious over earthly things so that we satisfy our lusts and passions.

NO INHERITANCE HAD FALLEN TO DAN

Judges 18:2 says, “For until then no inheritance among the tribes had fallen to them.”

Throughout the Old Testament, God speaks of giving an inheritance to Israel. God would give the land to Israel. Israel would not have to take it. They would just have to possess it.

God had given Dan an inheritance. This is recorded in Joshua 19:40-46. But, verse 47 says that Dan lost the inheritance that was given to them. So, Dan fought for it. They tried to take it.

Therefore, it is quite interesting that Judges 18:2 says that an inheritance had not fallen to Dan. The Hebrew word for fallen is napal. Napal means to fall, collapse; to be inferior to, fall behind; to raid, fall upon; to drop; to bring to ruin. The word is quite often used in the context of falling down dead as a result of violence.

So, Dan lost the inheritance God had given them. But, now Dan was going to take an inheritance for itself. How? As a judge. By judging others inferior to them, raiding them, bringing them to ruin so as to fulfill their passions, their lusts, and their desires.

This shows that when we are judging others as worthy or unworthy of anything we are acting in a self-serving way. But, love “does not insist on its own way.” (1 Corinthians 13:5) Therefore, since God is love, judging others is not the way of love and not the way we are to live. In fact, Jesus pronounces his true judgement from the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” There is love truly not insisting on its way.

SEEKING WITH THE NATURAL SENSES

When we are judging others because we are anxious for the things of the earth, we start seeking to fulfill our needs through our natural senses.

Judges 18:2 says, “So the people of Dan sent five able men from the whole number of their tribe, from Zorah and from Eshtaol, to spy out the land and to explore it.”

Why did Dan send “five able men?”

The word able in the Hebrew is actually a phrase made up of several words. The root words of the phrase mean:

  • to grow profusely
  • to be intimate?
  • army; faculty, power, strength; wealth, property

While five can symbolize grace, it can also symbolize man. We have five fingers on each hand, five toes on each foot, and five natural senses.

Therefore, I believe the idea being conveyed here is that these were men who relied on the power and strength of their five senses, their natural reasoning, to grow in an attempt to be intimate with God.

These men were from Zorah and from Eshtaol. Zorah means hornets or nest of hornets with the subtext of a place of troublesome men. Eshtaol means a strong woman. I believe Zorah speaks to those operating by the flesh and Eshtaol speaks to those operating by the Spirit. The men of Dan were trying to live by both the flesh and the Spirit.

The Hebrew word for “to spy out” means to teach; to slander; to move away from, to spy out.

Figuratively, Dan sent out five able men, men strong in their natural senses to find their own land, their own dwelling place that would be moving them away from God as they further explored the things of the earth.

So, Dan was seeking a land for themselves, an inheritance in the flesh, instead of seeking the kingdom of God. But, in Matthew 6:24, Jesus says, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

Instead of asking and waiting in faith for an inheritance, Dan was seeking its own inheritance. James 1:6-8 says, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”

We are told to seek first the kingdom. This is a spiritual endeavor. So, when we get anxious over the things of the earth, we begin seeking to fulfill our needs with our natural senses, with the flesh. Then, we are double-minded and cannot receive anything from God.

SEEKING COUNSEL FROM THE UNENLIGHTENED

So the five able men set out to explore the land to find an inheritance for themselves. They came to the house of Micah in Ephraim and stayed there.

While at the house, they recognized the voice of a young Levite. The five able men asked the Levite what he was doing there. “And he said to them, ‘This is how Micah dealt with me: he has hired me, and I have become his priest.'”

The five able men said, “Inquire of God, please, that we may know whether the journey on which we are setting out will succeed.”

The Levite responded, “Go in peace. The journey on which you go is under the eye of the Lord.”

Ephraim means fruitful. Micah means “who’s getting dim?” So, the five  able men, men relying on their natural senses to find an inheritance in the earth for those that judge, lodged in the house of one who was getting dim in the land of fruitfulness.

In this house of one who was getting dim, they recognized a Levite. But, this Levite had been hired. He was a hireling. The five able men ask this hireling for wisdom from God about their search for an inheritance. Without a thought, with a prayer, the hireling agrees with their plans.

This hired Levite was serving in the house of one who was getting dim. Clearly, he did not have much light or revelation of his own. But, this is exactly the type of person those seeking their own inheritance go to counsel. They seek out the unenlightened because they want approval for their plans rather than true wisdom, true light.

In John 10:12, Jesus says, “He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.”

There is nothing in for the hired hand. He will leave us at moment’s notice because he is afraid of the wolf himself. In other words, the hired hand leaves without good counsel. And, because the shepherd is not there, we go astray like sheep do.

SEEKING EVERYTHING IN THE EARTH

We saw above that Jesus said to seek the kingdom of God and its righteous and everything we need would be added to us.

But, in Judges 18, there is no king in Israel. Dan was seeking its own inheritance. In there seeking, they found “a place where there is no lack of anything that is in the earth.”

This place was Laish. The people in Laish lived in security, were quiet and unsuspecting, lacked nothing in the earth, and possessed wealth. The name means lion. There are two words for lion in the Hebrew. This word lion is used rarely and is found just three times in the Old Testament. At least two of these verses seem to speak negatively of the lion, referring to Satan as a lion roaring about seeking someone to devour.

They lived after the manner of the Sidonians. The Sidonians were fishermen and made their living on the seas. Throughout the Bible the seas are the dwelling place of death and evil. In Revelation 13:1, John saw “a beast rising out of the sea.” But, in Revelation 13:11, John “saw another beast rising out of the earth.”

In Judges 18, I think we could see Sidon as the beast rising out of the sea and Laish as the beast rising out of the earth.

So, the men of Dan want to go take the city of Laish. They are seeking everything of the earth and the wealth of it. This is a picture of those in Revelation who take the mark of the beast. These are people seeking the things the world has to offer instead of seeking the kingdom of God. They are seeking an inheritance for themselves because they have no king.

SEEKING AN INHERITANCE THROUGH VIOLENCE

Hebrews 1:2 says that God “has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things.”

How did God speak to us by his son?

The cross.

Through his death in which he conquered death, Jesus became the heir of all things. Jesus inherited the world, all of creation, with a single act of violence. Isaiah 53:9 says of Jesus that “he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.”

Abraham and his offspring, Jesus, had been promised this inheritance. Romans 4:13 says, “For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through law but through the righteousness of faith.”

Galatians 3:26, 29 says, “For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith…And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.” When we receive Christ through faith, we also receive the promise to be heirs of the world.

By faith, we are in Christ and have become children of God. Therefore, Romans 8:17 says, “If children, then heirs – heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”

Jesus inherited the world after his death on the cross when he had done no violence. So, we must suffer with Christ, doing no violence, if we want to be an heir with him.

But, in Dan, we see that those who judge others are seeking their own inheritance through violence. In actual fact, they take the work of Christ, which revealed the non-violent nature of God, and use it as a pretext to judge others as unworthy of the kingdom, thereby committing violence so they can receive an inheritance.

How do we see this in Judges 18?

Judges 18:11 says, “So 600 men of the tribe of Dan, armed with weapons of war, set out from Zorah and Eshtaol, and went up and encamped at Kiriath-jearim in Judah. On this account that place is called Mahaneh-dan to this day.”

The number six symbolizes work. Genesis 1 and 2 show that God completed his work of creation in six days. In Genesis 31:41, Jacob says he worked for Laban for six years for his flock. Genesis 16:26 says that Israel was to gather, work for, the manna for six days.

The first mention of 100 is found in Genesis 11:10, which says, “These are the generations of Shem. When Shem was 100 years old, he fathered Arpachshad two years after the flood.” Shem was the son of Noah that Jesus would ultimately come from.

The name Shem is the Hebrew word for name. It can also mean identity or personality. The name Arpachshad means something like “light trickles from his bosom.” Therefore, at 100 years of age, the name fathered the light that trickles from his bosom.

This alludes to God fathering his only begotten son, Jesus, the light of the world from the bosom of the Father. Jesus is the identity of God. Colossians 1:15 says, “He is the image of the invisible God.” And, Hebrews 1:3 says, “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature.” Jesus is the light from the bosom of the Father, or the radiance of the glory of God. Jesus is the exact imprint of God’s nature, the light that is the identity of the Father.

The next two mentions of 100 are related to Abraham and Issac, who are a picture of the Father and Jesus. Genesis 17:17 says, “Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, ‘Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old?’” Then, Genesis 21:5 says, “Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.”

Issac was the child of promise. Paul says in Galatians that Jesus is the true child of promise. Therefore, the number 100 speaks to the child of promise, Jesus.

Therefore, the 600 men of Dan represent men, those who judge, that make use of the work of the child of promise, the cross of Christ. But, the work of Jesus on the cross was one of non-violence. Jesus suffered death instead of dealing it. However, these 600 of men of Dan were armed with weapons of war. This is in direct contrast to Paul’s statements that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but spiritual. Those who truly participating in the work of the child of promise are non-violent and use the spiritual weapons of prayer and the word of God, Jesus.

These 600 men of Dan camped at Kiriath-jearim in Judah. Kiriath-jearim means “city of forests.” It was in Judah, which means praise. There are several places in scripture where God’s people are pictured as trees. So, Kiriath-jearim in Judah represent God’s people who are praising him. But, these 600 men of Dan armed with weapons of war only camp here. In other words, this was temporary stay for them.

However, because these 600 men of Dan camped at Kiriath-jearim it became known as a Mahaneh-dan, which means “camp of judgment.” Kiriath-jearim, the city of forests in praise representing God’s people, became permanently known as Mahaneh-dan, the camp of judgment.

Is this not how the church has become know today? Instead of cities of people praising God, is not the church seen as a camp of judgment because a portion of the people of God, Dan was a tribe of Israel, are seeking to inherit the world through violence and perversion of the cross?

When the 600 men left Kiriath-jearim in Judah they went to the young Levite at Micah’s house. There they took the priest, the ephod, the household gods, the carved image, and the metal image and they told the young Levite he was going to serve them instead of Micah. So, the 600 men trusted in the idols and pagan gods when they came Laish and captured the city as an inheritance for themselves.

These 600 men of Dan represent people who are seeking to gain their own inheritance through violence by using the work of the cross of Christ as a judgment against people. In reality, the cross of Christ showed God’s non-violent to the entire world. Indeed, as he was being crucified, receiving all the violence the world could dish out, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” That was the judgment of Jesus by which he, and all those of faith in him, inherited the kingdom.

SERVING IDOLS INSTEAD OF SEEKING THE KINGDOM

What is the end result of Dan, who had no king, and went out seeking their own inheritance?

Judges 18:30 says, “And the people of Dan set up the carved image for themselves, and Jonathan the son Gershom, son of Moses, and sons were priests to the tribe of the Danites until the day of the captivity of the land.”

When we get anxious about the things of the earth, seeking our own inheritance through the judgment of others, we serve idols, false gods, carved images.

Jonathan the son of Gershom, son of Moses, and his sons were priests for the Danites.

Levi had two sons – Aaron and Moses. All the priests were supposed to come from Aaron, which means bright or very high coming from the Hebrew words for light or mountain, respectively. But, Dan chose their priests from Moses. Instead of deriving from a mountain, Moses most likely means “he who draws our” or “he who draws out of the waters.” And, Moses symbolizes the law throughout scripture.

Jonathan means “the Lord gave” while Gershom means either “stranger is his name” or exile.

Could it be that the Danites served their idols through priests that symbolized the Lord giving them as exiles to the law, he who draws out? For the Danites had pledged their allegiance to idols and gods of this world.

Let us pledge our allegiance to Jesus alone and be about seeking the kingdom of God and its righteousness and not our own inheritance so that we don’t find out.

Do You Regard Samson after the Spirit or the Flesh?

TODAY’S READING: JUDGES 14-16

How do you regard Samson?

When you read his story, do you say to yourself, “Samson was such a fool. How could demand a wife from the Philistines? What was he doing sleeping with a prostitute? How could be so stupid to fall for the seduction of Delilah?”

When you read his story, do you think about how physically strong Samson was? Do you think that after his encounters with each woman he went on a rage and a slaughtered his enemies?

Or, do you see deeper into the story of Samson? Do you look beyond the dead images and the dead letters of the Old Testament? Do you regard Samson by the Spirit and faith?

How you regard Samson says a lot about your relationship with the Lord.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO REGARD?

Before we get into how we regard Samson, it might be helpful to look at the meaning of regard.

  1. to consider and appraise usually from a particular point of view
  2. to pay attention to; to take into consideration or account
  3. a. to show respect or consideration for and b. to hold in high esteem
  4. to look at

We can regard things from many angles. For example, I am a white male aged 42 from Cincinnati, OH in the U.S. You can regard me from any of one of those demographic pieces of information. If you regard me by my skin color, then you will compare me against people of other skin colors. Your regard for my skin color then will form the basis of your action to or opinion about me. Based on how you regard my skin color, you will assign a worth or a value to me.

WHAT DOES GOD REGARD?

Genesis 4:3-4 says, “In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard.”

Why did God regard Abel’s offering and not Cain’s?

Abel was a keeper of sheep. He specifically brought the firstborn of his sheep and their fat portions. Throughout scripture, both the firstborn and the fat portion represent the best. Abel offered his best to the Lord.

Cain was a tiller of the ground. Like Abel, he offered what he had. However, we are told that Cain simply gave an offering. There is not indication that Cain gave the best of the fruit of the ground.

Did God regard Abel’s offering merely because it was his best? Or, was there another factor at play that cause God to regard Abel’s offering and not Cain’s?

Hebrews 11:4 says, “By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts.”

Why did God regard Abel and his offering?

Faith.

God regards faith.

How do we get faith?

Romans 10:17 says, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”

How do we hear the words of Christ? Who speaks the word of Christ to us?

In John 14:26, Jesus says, “Bu the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”

The Holy Spirit speaks the word of Christ to you.

So, what, or who, does God regard?

The Spirit.

God regards spiritual things not material things. God regards heavenly things not earthly things.

HOW ARE WE TO REGARD PEOPLE?

In 2 Corinthians 5:16-17, Paul says, “From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

Paul says that we once regarded Jesus only according to the flesh, the natural, the earthly. But, we no longer regard Jesus this way. Now, we regard Jesus in the Spirit, which is how God regards him and has always regarded him. Therefore, since we regard Christ this way, we no longer regard anyone according to the flesh.

Did you catch that?

We regard no one, not a single a person, according to the flesh anymore. We are only to regard people according to the Spirit, just like God does.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.”

Now, many of you are saying, “But, Paul says if anyone is in Christ. Not everyone is in Christ. Not everyone is a believer. Only believers are in Christ. Therefore, I only regard believers, the people in Christ, according to the Spirit. Only those people are new creations.”

Are you sure about that?

John 1:3 says, “All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.”

Colossians 1:16 says, “For by him all things were created, in heaven and earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through and for him.”

Everything, that is everything, was created by Christ and for Christ.

Therefore, Ephesians 1:9-10 says that God, “making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” Other translations say “the summing up of all things in Christ.”

When time is complete, when the fullness of time has come, everything – visible and invisible, material and immaterial, of heaven and of earth – will be in Christ.

So, who is in Christ?

Only a select few?

Try all things are in Christ. Everyone is in Christ.

Therefore, if everyone is in Christ, then we are to regard everyone as a new creation. We are to regard them as the old – the fleshly, the earthly, the natural – has gone and the new – the spiritual and the heavenly – has come. Notice very carefully that Paul says “the new has come.” Past tense. The new is already here.

In 1 Corinthians 4:1-5, Paul gives an example of exactly what he means about regarding no one according to the flesh.

“This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God, Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful. But with me it is a very small things that I should be judged by you or any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.”

We are to see everyone as a new creation, to regard them according to the Spirit. This is what keeps us from pronouncing judgment before the time. What time? The fullness of time.

At the fullness of time, Jesus will bring to light the things that are now hidden in darkness. What, or who, is hidden in darkness? The hearts, the souls, the spirits of all people. When Jesus comes he shine a light on us to that are true selves, the new creations that we are to regard people as now, that have been hidden in darkness will be able to be seen by all. At last the true purposes of our heart will be revealed. The darkness will be removed.

At this time, when all things are in Christ and everyone is revealed as a new creation, “then each one will receive his commendation from God.” Each sounds limiting. But, the Greek word for each also means every. “Then every one will receive his commendation from God.”

We are to regard everyone, believer or not, according to the Spirit and the new creation already has come.

HOW ARE GOD AND WE TO REGARD SAMSON?

If God regards everyone according to the Spirit and we are to regard everyone according to the Spirit, then what about Samson? He was with bad women and did a lot of crazy stuff.

So, how are God and we to regard Samson?

By faith. By the Spirit.

Hebrews 11 is the chapter that lists so many people of faith in the Old Testament. No one them were perfect. All of them sinned. But, the author of Hebrews, just like God, only records and only regards them according to what they did by faith.

Hebrews 11:32-33 says, “And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets – who through faith…”

REGARD SAMSON BY THE SPIRIT

If you when think about Samson you think of him in terms of the questions I asked at the beginning of this post, then you are regarding Samson according to the flesh.

Time is failing me right now to show you in every way how we are to regard Samson by faith, by the Spirit. But, I do want to give you a glimpse of how we are to regard Samson according to the Spirit.

Revelation 21:1 says, “The I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.” This is a new creation. But, remember all things are in Christ.

The remainder of Revelation shows the marriage of heaven and earth, all things being made new, all things being summed in Christ. The last verse of the Bible says, “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.” Notice the lack of a qualifier on the all. It’s just all get the grace of Jesus.

So, we have a picture of all things being united, or married, to the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. When we regard Samson according to the Spirit, this is exactly the picture that we see.

In Judges, we read of Samson being with three women that an Israelite should not have been with. One was uncircumcised. One was a prostitute. And, one was a seductress, a woman of fleshly lust. But, after his time with each woman, we see Samson do something that is very reminiscent of Jesus on the cross, reconciling the world to God.

Therefore, when we regard Samson according to the Spirit, we see him as Jesus bringing all people, these women who were not “worthy,” into unity with God.

WHO WAS SAMSON IN THE SPIRIT

The name Samson comes from the Hebrew shemesh, which means sun. Samson literally means Sun Man, although some give it a meaning of sun-like or splendid sun.

Revelation 21:23 says, “And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.”

Revelation 22:5 says, “And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light.”

Samson is a picture of the Jesus as the Sun Man that gives light to everything replacing the sun. Did you ever notice that the word sun is not found in the creation account? When Jesus replaces the sun as the light for the city, he will restore creation to its original state.

Samson was a Danite. The name Dan means judge or judging. He is a picture of Jesus as judge.

Jesus defeated and judged all his enemies on the cross.

What was the judgment that Jesus spoke on the cross?

In Luke 23:34, Jesus says, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Jesus’ judgment was to forgive us, to forgive all.

This is why we see Samson with three women he should not have been with.

Samson’s father was named Manoah. The name Manoah is identical to the noun manoah, which means place or condition of rest. The place of rest is the throne. Here we Samson as Jesus, the Sun Man, who comes from the Father who is on the throne.

REGARD SAMSON AS JESUS GETTING A BRIDE FOR HIMSELF

The first woman that Samson is with is a daughter of the Philistines from Timnah. In Judges 14:2, Samson tells his parents, “Now get her for me as my wife.” But, his parents ask, “Is there not a woman among the daughters of your relatives, or among all our people, that you must go take a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?” Samson responded, “Get her for me, for she is right in my eyes.”

Timnah means allotted portion or portion assigned. Jesus came to get his allotted portion, all the people the Father gave him (John 6:37-39).

The Philistines were a people that migrated, moved to and fro, wandered, deviated from the true course. They are a picture of Gentiles, for they were uncircumcised, that walked according to the ways of the world. The Philistines had five lords, which are a picture of our five natural senses that rule us until we are born again by the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:1-3)

Therefore, this daughter of the Philistines was a Gentile. Throughout the Bible, the bride of Christ is pictured as a Gentile.

Samson’s parents did not want him to marry a Gentile woman, someone from a people uncircumcised. But, Samson said, “She is right in my eyes.”

How was this? What does this reveal about Jesus? How are we, his Gentile bride, right in his eyes?

Ephesians 5:25-27 says, “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed by the washing of the water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such things, that she might be holy and without blemish.” We are right in the eyes of Jesus to be his bride. He makes us so.

As you read through the rest of the account of Samson and this daughter of the Philistines from Timnah, put Jesus into the middle of the story.

The Spirit rushes upon Samson and tears a roaring lion with nothing in his hands. Samson tore the lion as one tears a goat. This is a picture of Jesus defeating Satan, the roaring lion, by his word, with nothing in his hands.

Samson gives a riddle, “Out of the eater came something to eat. Out of the strong came something sweet.” Again, this pictures Jesus.

The devil, Satan, prowls around like a lion looking for someone to devour. Satan is the eater. He thought he ate Christ on the cross. But, out of the eater came something to eat, Jesus’s flesh, his broken body, that is the bread of heaven, the bride of life, that we are to eat always.

In Mark 3:27, Jesus calls Satan a strong man. But, out of the strong man come something sweet, honey. God’s words are sweeter than honey. We heard God’s ultimate word through Jesus on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” How sweet is that word!!!

Notice at the end of this story with the daughter of the Philistines that Samson is thirsty, saying that he will die of thirst and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised. This, of course, is a picture of Christ on the cross.

For Samson, God split open a hollow place and water came out. Samson drank and his spirit revived. Jesus was buried in a tomb, but God split it open, resurrecting Jesus with the power of the Spirit.

REGARD SAMSON AS JESUS GETTING A WOMAN FOR THE FATHER

After the daughter of the Philistine, Samson went to Gaza, saw a prostitute, and went into her.

The name Gaza means strong or strong place.

The Old Testament is filled with statements that Israel played the whore, prostituting herself, with idols and false gods. But, Israel is also pictured as God’s wife. Therefore, when we regard Samson according to the Spirit we see him as Jesus getting back God’s wife, Israel, who prostituted herself to the gods of this world.

The account of Samson and the prostitute is short. It ends with Judges 16:3, which says, “But Samson lay till midnight, and at midnight he arose and took hold of the doors of the gate of the city and the two posts, and pulled them, bar and all, and put them on his shoulders and carried them to the top of the hill that is in front of Hebron.”

The gate of the city was the seat of government. It was a place of strength. While the Gazites plotted to kill Samson, he destroyed their government and power. Samson was victorious.

But, what a picture of Jesus on the cross. The Jews, the Roman government, the world, plotted to kill Jesus. But, he took their ultimate judgment, the cross, and put its two beams on his shoulders and carried them to Golgotha. What looked like Jesus’ defeat was actually his victory. He took the judgment of the world on his shoulders, defeated it, and now the government of God is on his shoulders.

REGARD SAMSON AS JESUS GETTING A WOMAN FOR THE HOLY SPIRIT

After the prostitute, Samson “loved a woman in the Valley or Sorek, whose name was Delilah.” Delilah served the lords of the Philistines.

The name Delilah comes from the verb dalal, which means to be low or hang down, to dangle. Delilah likely means low life or lustful. She served the five lords of the Philistines, which as I mentioned above are a picture of our five natural senses. Delilah was ruled by her lusts, her passions, her evil desires.

In order to serve the lords of the Philistines, the gods of this world, Delilah constantly tried to seduce Samson to reveal the source of his strength. Three times Samson lied to her. However, the fourth time he told her the truth. It was only then that the lords of the Philistines could capture Samson.

The Philistines thought they had won. But, the hair on Samson’s head started to grow back. When they brought Samson out of the prison to entertain them, Samson put his hands on two pillars and asked the Lord to strengthen him this one time. “Then he bowed with all his strength.” He brought the house of the lords of the Philistines down. So, those he killed at his death were more than those whom he had killed during his life.”

Again, what a picture of the victory of Jesus.

The Jews constantly tried to trick Jesus, to trap him. But, Jesus always escaped. Until his hour had come. Then, like Samson who willingly revealed the source of his strength, Jesus willingly laid down his life. No one took it from him.

Jesus went down into the earth, the strong man’s house, the prison that held people captive. The earth is considered Satan’s kingdom. Jesus says that Satan is the ruler of this world. The Bible says that the earth, Satan’s kingdom is held up with pillars. Like Samson, Jesus tore down the pillars holding up Satan’s kingdom when he stretch his arm out the right and his other arm to the left on the cross. It was on the cross that Jesus defeated Satan, the god of this world.

Just like Samson, Jesus killed more in his death than in his life.

Wait a minute, Jesus killed? How so?

When we receive the Spirit, the flesh, the old man dies. It is in this sense that Jesus “kills.”

In his life, Jesus breather out his Spirit upon disciples (John 20:22). But, in his death, the Holy Spirit was poured out on all flesh. In the first sermon ever preached by the church, Peter quoted the prophet Joel and said, “And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh.” (Acts 2:17)

Notice the lack of qualifiers. The Spirit will be poured out on all flesh. This is why we are to regard everyone according to the Spirit and not the flesh anymore.

Now, instead of men being ruled by their five earthly senses, men can be filled with the Spirit to be “controlled” by him.” It’s in this sense that Samson pictures Jesus as getting a woman for the Holy Spirit.

If we regard Samson according to the flesh, then we will to see the full glory of Jesus. If we regard Samson according to the flesh, then we will fail to see the whole Bible as a witness to Jesus.

So, we need to regard Samson, the Bible, and everyone, according to the Spirit to see the new creation that Jesus has brought.

A Picture of Jesus in Four Judges

TODAY’S READING: JUDGES 11-13

A picture is worth a thousand words.

We understand this when we look at a painting. In the literal sense, these pictures are dead. They don’t have any movement. Therefore, they have no life.

However, when we bring our spirit and imagination to the painting, we see beyond the dead image into the life behind the painting. We can see into the artist’s soul, reach into his mind, to see beyond the dead image to the life created it.

We need to approach it in the same way as a painting. The Old Testament is a picture book. Each story is a picture. We can approach a story as a dead image. But, seeing just the dead image fails to convey anything of the mind, the heart, the spirit, of God.

God is life, and a dead image can’t reveal him. This is why Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 3 that “the letter kills.” A literal reading of the Old Testament turns the picture into a dead image. It removes the life, the inspiration of the Spirit, that God filled it with.

To read the letter of the Old Testament, turning it into dead images, is to read it with a carnal mind. In Romans 8:5, 6, 7-8, Paul says, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh…For to set the mind on the flesh is death…For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed it cannot. Those are are in the flesh cannot please God.”

Therefore, instead of reading the Old Testament as literal letters, dead images, we need to let the Spirit of God bring the picture to life. In 2 Corinthians 3, Paul says that “the Spirit gives life.” Reading the Old Testament with the inspiration of the Spirit conveys the mind, the heart, the spirit, of God to our hearts. Now, the dead image moves, it has life. As the image is inspired, it creates all that God is within us.

In Romans 8:2, 5, 6, 9, 10-11, Paul says, “For the law of the Spirit has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death…Those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit…To set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace…You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you…But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”

We need the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to raise the dead letters and dead images of the Old Testament into living pictures of Jesus Christ. Raised by the power of the Holy Spirit, each picture of the Old Testament conveys a thousand words.

A picture is worth a thousand words. What a fascinating statement filled with unintended but true meaning. John 1 tells us that Jesus is the word of God. The number 1,000 speaks to the totality, the immensity, the ultimate fullness of something. The Spirit-filled, living pictures of the Old Testament convey the totality and immensity of Jesus Christ.

So, let’s look at four judges – Jephthah, Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon – in Judges 12:7-15 to see the picture that Spirit has raised to life in order to convey the fullness of Jesus.

JEPHTHAH: THE WORK OF JESUS

Judges 12:7 says, “Jephthah judged Israel six years. Then Jephthah the Gileadite was buried in his city in Gilead.”

Jephthah judged Israel for six years.

The number six symbolizes work. Genesis 1 and 2 show that God completed his work of creation in six days. In Genesis 31:41, Jacob says he worked for Laban for six years for his flock. Genesis 16:26 says that Israel was to gather, work for, the manna for six days.

Philippians 2:13 says, “For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

How does God work in you? How does he equip you?

Hebrews 13:20-21 says, “Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ.”

The name Jephthah means “he will open” or “God opens.”

So, Jephthah is a picture of Jesus whose work opened the way into the holy places for us. Hebrews 10:19-20 says, “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way, that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh.”

What did the work of Jesus open us to in the holy places?

Jephthah was Gileadite. He was a son of Gilead. One possible meaning of the name Gilead is perpetual fountain.

Jephthah pictures Jesus as the one worked to open the way into the holy places where God, the perpetual fountain of life, resides.

In John 4:13-14, Jesus says, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

The water that Jesus gives keeps you from ever being thirsty again. And, the water that Jesus is welling up, that is continually, to eternal life. Jesus gives you the perpetual fountain of the life of God.

Judges 12:7 says that when Jephthah’s work was complete he was “buried in his city Gilead.” But, this is not translated correctly. The Hebrew word for city is plural. Therefore, Jephthah was “buried in his cities of Gilead.”

Why is this important?

The church was birthed by the work of Jesus. In the New Testament, churches were identified by their city. Every city in which the church, the body of Christ, was birthed provided access to the perpetual fountain of the life of God for all those that would come to her.

It’s also interesting to note that Gilead was in Manasseh east of the Jordan river. Again, this is a picture of Christ at work. He had not entered the promised land yet. So, he was still under the law, as Jesus was in his earthly life. Galatians 4:4 says, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his son, born of woman, born under the law.”

Further, Jesus came to do his work of giving life because the law was unable to do so. Romans 8:3 says, “For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh.”

Joseph’s firstborn was Manasseh. His name means to forget, to cause to forget, to be forgotten. When he was born, Joseph said, “For God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s house.” (Genesis 41:51)

Jesus was sent by God to Israel, to the place of God’s dwelling, to the place of God’s temple, to God’s house. When Jesus was there, his own did not believe him and killed him. But, in Luke 23:34, Jesus says from the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” At that moment, Jesus forgets all his hardship in his Father’s house. And, by his work, Jesus made it so that all our sins would be forgotten.

The literal Jephthah, a dead image, when brought to life by the Holy Spirit becomes a living picture of the work of Jesus Christ, who opened a way into the holy places where the perpetual fountain of the life God resides.

IBZAN: THE REST OF JESUS

Judges 12:8-10 says, “After him Ibzan of Bethlehem judged Israel. He had thirty sons, and thirty daughters he gave in marriage outside of his clan, and thirty daughters he brought in from outside for his sons. And he judged Israel seven years. Then Ibzan died and was buried in Bethlehem.”

Ibzan judged Israel for seven years.

The number seven symbolizes rest, perfection, and completion. The number seven is found all over the Bible, but let’s just focus on the creation account. Many of the Hebrew words in the creation account are used in multiples of seven. If I remember correctly, Elohim is used 35 times. Bara, the Hebrew word for create, which only God does, is used seven times. And, Genesis 2:2 says, “And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work he had done.”

But, there is something different about this seventh day of creation. Have you ever noticed that it has no end? Every other day of creation ended with a statement like “And there was evening and there was the morning, the sixth day.” But, the seventh day has no such statement. In other words, when God was done creating the seventh day of rest never ended.

A king had to work through war and conquering to create his kingdom. But, when his work was done, he rested by taking his throne and ruling. Ibzan judging Israel for seven years is a picture of Jesus’ work to establish the kingdom of God was finished and now he’s resting, reigning, from the throne forever without end.

Revelation 21:15 says, “And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.”

There are different opinions of the meaning of the name Ibzan. But, I think the most appropriate one is illustrious. The name can also mean white, shining, brilliant, splendid.

Illustrious means notably or brilliantly outstanding because of dignity or achievements or actions.

What achievement, what action, made Jesus illustrious?

His obedience to death on the cross. The Father exalted Jesus for this.

Philippians 2:8-9 says, “And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore, God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name.”

But, the archaic meaning of illustrious is shining brightly with light, clearly evident, just like the meaning of the name Ibzan.

When did we see Jesus white, shining brightly?

Peter, James, and John saw Jesus this way on the mount of transfiguration as a preview of the glory Jesus would have when he completed his work on the cross. Matthew 17:2 says, “And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light.” Hebrews 1:3 says that Jesus “is the radiance of the glory of God.” In Acts 22:11, Paul says he was blinded “because of the brightness of that light,” which was Jesus on his throne.

Ibzan was from Bethlehem, which means house of bread. It was when the work of Jesus was complete that his body, the bread of life, was broken for us. It was at that moment we could truly feed on Jesus, the bread that came down from heaven.

John 6:47-51 says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.

Interestingly, there are two Bethlehems in Israel. One is in Judah and the other is in Zebulun. Judges 12:8-10 does not tell us which Bethlehem Ibzan was from. Perhaps this is the case so that both remain a possibility.

But, I believe Ibzan was from the Bethlehem in Judah. Therefore, this symbolizes the praise that Jesus gave his Father and that he received from him. Speaking of his death on the cross, Jesus said in John 17:1, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you.”

 

Verse 9 says that Ibzan had 30 sons and 30 daughters that he gave in marriage. He gave the daughters to marry outside his clan while he brought in women from outside the clan for his sons.

Marriage signifies the two coming together as one. Jesus came to reunite heaven and earth, the spiritual and the natural, into one as they were before the fall. In a sense, this is the marriage that Revelation 21 and 22 pictures. I believe it is what Paul means in 2 Corinthians 5:19 when he says “in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself.”

But, it wasn’t just Ibzan as a picture of Jesus that was doing the reconciling. Ibzan gave his sons and daughters in marriage, picturing the role each Christ’s disciples play in the reconciliation of all things to God. In 2 Corinthians 5:18, 19-20, Paul says, God “gave us the ministry of reconciliation…entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.”

But, what is the significance of 30 sons and 30 daughters?

The number 30 marks the beginning of service for the Lord. In Numbers 4, Moses listed the Levites ready for service starting at the age of 30. Genesis 41:46 says Joseph was 30 years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh. And, of course, Jesus began his ministry when he was 30. Therefore, the 30 sons and daughters are a picture of all the men and women that are ready to be ministers of reconciliation once Jesus took the throne.

The literal Ibzan, a dead image, when brought to life by the Holy Spirit becomes a living picture of the rest of Jesus Christ, who when his body was broken gave it as bread to us to feed us for our ministry of reconciliation. And, with his work complete, Jesus Christ took the throne, shining in all his glory with the name that is above every other name.

ELON: THE COMPLETENESS OF JESUS

Judges 12:11-12 says, “After him Elon the Zebulunite judges Israel, and judged Israel ten year. Then Elon the Zebulunite died and was buried in Aijalon in the land of Zebulun.”

Elon judged Israel for 10 years.

The number represents law, accountability, responsibility, and completeness of order. The law of Moses had 10 commandments. Boaz took ten men of the elders of the city to make a judgment regarding the kinsman redeemer. In Genesis 1, God created heavens and the earth with 10 statements. Therefore, with 10 statements God completed the order of creation.

The name Elon means oak.

Near the beginning of his ministry, Jesus quoted Isaiah 61:1-2, leaving out a key part of the verse regarding God’s vengeance. The day that Jesus quoted this passage of scripture he told his audience that it was fulfilled.

However, the passage continues in Isaiah 61:3, “To grant to those who mourn in Zion, to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they might be called oaks of righteousness.”

Notice that in Isaiah 61:1-2 that the anointed one, Jesus was to bring and to proclaim. That is, Jesus was to usher these things good news and liberty, which he did at the beginning of his ministry. But, in Isaiah 61:3, the anointed one, Jesus, is to grant and give. Now, he’s not just ushering in good news and liberty. Rather, Jesus is bestowing gifts upon those who mourn in Zion.

Could it be that when Jesus, “It is finished,” from the cross in John 19:30 that he meant he had now fulfilled Isaiah 61:3? If so, then Jesus was saying that we could now be called oaks of righteousness. In other words, he brought completeness of order to us by making us righteous.

Romans 3:21-22 says, “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it – the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.”

Paul writes in Philippians 1:6, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

In Colossians 2:10, Paul says that we “have been filled [or, made complete] in him.” You are made complete when you “know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:19)

Elon was from Zebulun. Zebulun means glorious dwelling place of wished-for habitation. So, if Ibzan was from the Bethlehem in Zebulun, then it could symbolize the glorious dwelling place, our wished-for habitation,  that Jesus was going to build for us after he died on the cross.

In John 14:2-3, Jesus says, “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”

In John 15:4, Jesus says, “Abide in me, and I in you.” We are to live together with Jesus. He lives in our hearts, and we live with him in his Father’s house. Colossians 3:1 tells us that Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Then, verse 3 says, “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Even now, we can live in the glorious dwelling place with Jesus.

Elon died in Aijalon. Aijalon means place of gazelles or a large stag. In scripture, gazelles are seen in high places and cliffs several. They are able to roam those places because they are sure-footed. Hence, the completeness of order, or righteousness, that Jesus brings to us is in the high place of heaven and is safe and secure because of his sure-footedness.

The literal Elon, a dead image, when brought to life by the Holy Spirit becomes a living picture of the completeness or order of Jesus Christ, when he died on the cross to make us righteous in him by faith. Because he has completed us, Jesus has caused us to live with him in the glorious dwelling place of his Father. In this high and lofty place, we are secured by Jesus’ sure footedness. He will lose none that the Father has given him.

ABDON: NEW CREATIONS IN JESUS

Judges 12:13-15 says, “After him Abdon the son of Hillel the Pirathonite judged Israel. He had 40 sons and thirty grandsons, who rode on seventy donkeys, and judged Israel eight years. Then Abdon the son of Hillel the Pirathonite died and was buried in Pirathon in the land of Ephraim, in the hill country of the Amalekites.”

Abdon judged Israel for eight years. The number eight signifies new creation. The first mention of the number eight is in Genesis 17:12 when God tells Abraham that every male of his offspring shall be circumcised when they are eight days old. Then, in Genesis 21:4 we read about the first person that was circumcised at eight days old. The verse says, “And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him.”

Isaac was the first man circumcised at eight days old. And, Isaac is very much a shadow or type of Jesus. Jesus was resurrected three days after he was crucified. But, resurrection day also was eight days after Jesus was selected as the passover lamb to bring in the new creation.

The name Abdon means place of work or working one.

But, notice that in Galatians 6:15 Paul says, “For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.”

If circumcision doesn’t count for anything, then where does this new creation take place?

In Romans 2:28, Paul says, “For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter.”

So, Abdon is a picture of the place of Jesus’ work of new creation is in our hearts. Jesus came to do this work in our hearts that “we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has set the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!'” (Galatians 4:5-6) Paul says almost exactly the same thing in Romans 8:15-16, “But you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.”

Jesus’ work of new creation creates sons of God. This is why Abdon is mentioned as having sons and grandsons.

But, why does he have 70 total sons and grandsons?

Seventy is the number of all the people that came with Jacob into Egypt. I believe this number represents the true people of God, the people of Jesus, that are part of the new creation. These 70, representing the people of God, were coming back into the world.

Why do I believe this?

I believe this because this is not the first time the number 70 appears in scripture. I wrote about the first occurrence of 70 in my post Jesus Undoes Babel and Gathers the Nations. Genesis 10 records a list of 70 nations that were dispersed after the flood, when God “recreated” the world.

Where did these 70 nations come from?

Genesis 9:18-19 says, “The sons of Noah who went forth from the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. (Ham was the father of Canaan.) These three were the sons of Noah, and from these the people of the whole earth were dispersed.”

The 70 nations came from Noah’s three sons. After the flood, the sons of Noah “went forth from the ark.” How did they leave the ark? From the one door that it had built into its side. Jesus had a hole pierced in his side on the cross from which the church, the people of God, came forth.

Abdon was a Pirathonite. The name Pirathon means leader, prince, chief, head of family.

Jesus is our leader as our brother. Romans 8:29 says, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son [a new creation], in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”

Not only is Jesus the first many brothers, he is the head of of the body. Colossians 1:18 says, “And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.” Jesus has the first place in everything. He truly is a Pirathonite, buried in Pirathon.

Pirathon was in the land of Ephraim. Ephraim means fruitfulness. It is when Jesus makes us a new a creation, when we abide in him and he in us, that we bear fruit, more fruit, and much fruit.

Abdon was the son of Hillel. Hillel means “he has praised.”

As new creations, who do we get our praise from?

Recall that in Romans 2:28-29 Paul said that we are Jews inwardly by the Spirit’s circumcision of the heart. The end of verse 29 says about the one whom is circumcised in the heart by the Spirit, “His praise is not from man but from God.”

God has praised the new creations of Jesus Christ.

The literal Abdon, a dead image, when brought to life by the Holy Spirit becomes a living picture of new creation of Jesus Christ, which were made sons of God by the circumcision of the heart by the Spirit. God sees these new creations and praises them.

A FOUR-FOLD PICTURE OF JESUS CHRIST

These four judges represent a four-fold picture of Jesus Christ. Of course, we have four gospels to give us the universal picture of Jesus.

What’s interesting about this is that throughout scripture, when you see a list of four or four things, typically three of them are similar and one of them is different.

For example, consider the four directions – north, south, east, and west. Of the four directions, there is only one that you can enter the tabernacle by – the east.

Consider the four gospels. Three of them picture Jesus as a man – Matthew, Mark, and Luke. But, the fourth, John, pictures Jesus as the son of God.

So it is with our four judges that make up a four-fold picture Jesus Christ. The book of judges just over a chapter telling us about the work of Jephthah. But, for the other three judges we get just sparse biographical details. I believe this is because Jephthah represents Jesus’ work on this earth in his physical body.

But, if you look at what the other three judges represent, then you see it is who Jesus is after his resurrection in heaven. Jesus is not directly seen anymore. Therefore, we aren’t told about the events of the other three judges. In fact, we are only told about their children. This pictures how today Jesus can only been seen in his church, his body, his brethren.

Another interesting fact of these judges is that the final three judged for 25 years.

Throughout the Bible, the number five represents God’s grace.

Perhaps the first place we see this is Genesis 43:34, which says, “Portions were taken to them from Joseph’s table, but Benjamin’s portion was five times as much as any of theirs.” Joseph extended grace to his brother Benjamin by giving a portion of food five times larger to Benjamin than his other brothers.

In Isaiah 9:6, Isaiah prophesies of a child being born, a son being given – Jesus. Depending on your translation, Jesus is given five names here – Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. These five names depict Jesus as full of grace.

In Leviticus 1-6, we read of five offerings – burnt, grain, peace, sin, and guilt – that symbolize Jesus’ work of grace on the cross.

We find the number five all throughout the tabernacle. The tabernacle was patterned after the heavenly reality of Jesus.

In Exodus 26:36-37, the screen at the entrance to the tent of meeting, the specific place where God dwelt, was attached to five pillars set in five bases. Grace upon grace to enter into the place of God’s presence.

In Exodus 26:1-6, the innermost covering of the tent of meeting was made of 10 linen curtains. But, five curtains were coupled together in one set and five curtains were coupled together in a second set. As the innermost covering, Jesus was full of grace. And the two sets of curtains picture that fullness of grace being received by all of us as grace upon grace.

In Exodus 27:1, the altar was five cubits long and five cubits broad. The altar was the first piece of furniture you came to in the tabernacle. You couldn’t go anywhere else in the tabernacle without first going to the altar. The altar, the place of the offering, is symbolic of the cross. The altar was five by five. The cross, where we all begin our relationship with Jesus, is the place where we all receive grace upon grace.

John 1:16 says, “For from his fullness we have received, grace upon grace.” Grace upon grace. Five times five. I wrote in Why do Levites Serve from 25 to 50 Years Old then Keep Guard over 50 Years Old? that the number 25 was a picture of when we begin our spiritual warfare. This corresponds to the final three judges judging for 25 years as a picture of Jesus in heaven as we wage spiritual warfare on the earth.

But, if you total up all the years of judging then you get 31 years. I wrote about the number 31 in All the Kings of Our Heart Have Been Defeated by Jesus.

So, when inspired by the Spirit, just a few short verses about four judges, three of which are quite obscure, provide a living picture of Jesus instead of a dead image that is worth far more than a thousand words.

God Redeems You, He Does Not Sell You

TODAY’S READING: JUDGES 9-10

Does God forsake you only to redeem you later?

To put it another way, does God sell you and then buy you back later?

Does God sell you off, forsake you, to the enemy when you have done evil or behaved wickedly?

Then, after he has sold you off to the enemy and punished you for a while, God redeems you, buys you back, from the enemy that he sold you to?

This is what Israel believe in the Old Testament.

Judges 10:7 says, “So the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he sold them into the hand of the Philistines and into the hand of the Ammonites.” Judges 2:14 and 3:8 say virtually the same exact thing.

There are many Christians today that still believe this. When they sin, God gets angry and sells them off to the enemy. God gives them over to some sort of evil because they were evil. Then, after they have suffered awhile for their sin, God buys them back from the enemy. God redeems them once they have proven themselves worth of redemption.

WE SOLD OURSELVES AND OUR BIRTHRIGHT

The Hebrew word for sold is makar. Makar means to sell, to betray to others, to sell off, to be sold, to sell oneself. It’s very interesting that makar includes the connotation of betrayal and selling oneself.

The first time the word makar appears in the Bible is the story of Esau and Jacob and the birthright.

Genesis 25:30-33 says, “And Esau said to Jacob, ‘Let me some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!’ (Therefore his name was called Edom.) Jacob said, ‘Sell me your birthright now.’ Esau said, ‘I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?’ Jacob said, ‘Swear to me now.’ So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob.”

Jacob asked Esau to sell (makar) his birthright. Esau sold (makar) it. Therefore, the very first time sold (makar) appears in the Bible it is an individual, Esau, selling himself and his inheritance, his birthright.

Makar comes again when Jacob tells Rachel and Leah that it is time to leave their fathers’ house.

Genesis 31:14-15 says, “Then Rachel and Leah answered and said to him, ‘Is there any portion or inheritance left to us in our father’s house? Are we not regarded by him as foreigners? For he has sold us, and he indeed devoured our money.”

Rachel and Leah said their father viewed as foreigners, so he sold them. Their father devoured their money. Rachel and Leah had no inheritance left. So, they were sold and their inheritance was lost. Again we see the connection of being sold (makar) and the loss of inheritance.

The vast majority of the references in the Old Testament to sold, makar, have to do with the inheritance, land, being sold or people selling themselves of others into slavery.

This is what lurks underneath the idea in the New Testament of us being slaves to sin.

In John 8, Jesus says that those who practice sin are slaves to sin. These people do the works of their father, the devil. In effect, we sold ourselves to him, giving up our birthright, which was to be sons God. Instead, we sold ourselves and became sons of the devil, sons of wrath.

In Romans 6, Paul writes about how at one time we presented ourselves as obedient slaves to sin and our members to unrighteousness. We were slaves to sin and served sin.

Ephesians 2:1-3 says, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience – among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the ming, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”

We sold ourselves to the prince of the power of the air, Satan, fulfill our lusts. By doing so, we became sons of disobedience, sons of wrath.

WE SOLD JESUS

The third occurrence of makar in the Old Testament is when Joseph’s brothers sell him to the Ishmaelites.

Genesis 37:26-28 says, “Then Judah said to his brothers, ‘What profit is it if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.’ And his brothers listened to him. Then Midianite traders passed by. And they drew Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver.”

Joseph is a shadow or type of Jesus. This passage teaches us that is not God that sells us. Rather, it is we who sell Jesus in act of betrayal. Remember, makar has the connotation of betrayal.

Luke 22:3-6 says, “Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve. He went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers how he might betray him to them. And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. So he consented and sought an opportunity to betray him in the absence of a crowd.”

Judas betrayed Jesus, and he got paid to do it. Judas sold Jesus. Judas spent three years with Jesus. He saw everything Jesus did and heard everything that he taught. Judas saw the goodness of God in Jesus, yet he sold him. We are all guilty of doing this same thing at some point in our life.

But, pay careful attention to who inspired Judas to betray Jesus for money, to sell him. Satan was the inspiration for selling. We must always keep this in mind. Satan was the inspiration for Esau selling his birthright. Satan was the inspiration for Joseph’s brothers selling him into slavery. Satan was the inspiration for Adam and Eve selling their access to the tree of life so that they could live by the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Satan is the inspiration for our selling God and his loving provision so that we can live by our lusts and evil desires.

WHY WE BLAME GOD FOR SELLING US

If Satan is the inspiration for selling our inheritance, selling ourselves and others into slavery, and selling God’s loving provision to live by our lusts and evil desires, then why do we blame God for selling us?

Recall in Judges 10 that Israel believed God was angry with and sold them into the hands of their enemies. Did God really do that to Israel? Or, did Israel just think? Was Israel projecting their own actions and behaviors onto God?

Whenever Israel says that God was angry with them and sold them into slavery, there is almost always a statement about what Israel was doing at the time.

For example, we read in Judges 10:7 that Israel thought God was angry with them and sold them. But, Judges 10:6 tells us what Israel was doing prior to thinking that.

Judges 10:6 says, “The people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight  of the Lord and served the Baals and the Ashtaroth, the gods of Syria, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the Ammonites, and the gods of the Philistines. And they forsook the Lord and did not serve him.”

Israel was doing evil. They served every false god they could find. Israel forsook God. Israel became slaves to sin and served it. They served their father, the devil. They were sons of disobedience and sons of wrath.

Instead of taking responsibility for their actions and decisions, they blamed God. Not only did they blame God, but they attributed to God all of the evil that they were doing. They forsook God, but they blamed their oppression and suffering on God forsaking them, selling them to their enemies.

Like Israel, we still map our evil intentions and wicked thoughts onto God because our deeds are evil and we love the darkness more than the light of God. So, because we war against flesh and blood, which is evil, we believe that God does. Because we forsake people and hold grudges, we believe that God does. Because we return evil for evil, we believe that God does. Because we will sell off those that mistreat us, use us, or just annoy us, we believe that God does.

WHO FORSAKES WHO?

The Hebrew word for forsook in Judges 10:6 is azab. It means to leave, to leave behind, to leave over, to let go, to give up, or to abandon.

Azab is used for the first time in Genesis 2:24. It says, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they become one flesh.” Paul quotes this verse in Ephesians 5:31 and in verse 32 says it is a profound mystery that speaks to Christ and the church. Therefore, the first time azab, the word for forsake, is used in the Bible it is speaking to the fact that Jesus will leave his Father to become one with us. Of course, this is just the opposite of what we think God will do to us, which is forsake us.

The next time we see the word azab is when God answers the prayer of Abraham’s servant that he would find a wife for Isaac. In Genesis 24:27, the servant says, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken his steadfast love and his faithfulness toward my master.”

God does not forsake his steadfast love toward us. This is why Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13:7-8, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”

In the Old Testament, over and over man is the one that forsakes God:

  • Deuteronomy 28:20, 31:16
  • Joshua 24:20
  • Judges 10:6, 10:13
  • 1 Samuel 8:8, 12:10
  • 1 Kings 11:33
  • 2 Kings 22:17
  • 2 Chronicles 21:10, 24:20, 24:24, 34:25
  • Isaiah 1:4, 1:28, 65:11
  • Jeremiah 1:6, 2:13, 2:17, 2:19, 5:7, 5:19, 16:11, 17:13, 19:4
  • Hosea 1:2, 4:10

And there are many, many more.

But, there are numerous verses that say God will not forsake us as well numerous psalms that plead to God not to forsake us:

  • Deuteronomy 24:27, 31:6, 31:8
  • Joshua 1:5
  • Ruth 2:20
  • 1 Kings 6:13
  • 1 Chronicles 28:20
  • Ezra 9:9
  • Nehemiah 9:17, 9:19, 9:31
  • Psalm 9:10, 27:9, 37:28, 38:21, 71:18, 119:8

And there are many, many more.

JESUS REVEALS THAT GOD REDEEMS US

While there are many verses that show God would not forsake Israel, there are many other verses that state God would forsake Israel. However, this is because Israel was mapping their own forsaking of God onto God as something he would do to them.

But, Jesus revealed that God was not angry with us, that he would not forsake us, and the he would redeem us.

Instead of God being angry with us, Jesus reveals that God has pity for us.

Jesus says in Matthew 23:37, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” Jesus shows that God’s desire has always been to protect us the way a mother hen does her chicks. But, we weren’t willing to let God do that.

Luke 19:41-42 says, “And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, ‘Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.” Jesus wept over what he knew was going to happen to Jerusalem because they would not listen to him. He tried to show them the things that would bring peace but they were hidden from their eyes by the god of this world, Satan.

Jesus revealed that God would never forsake us. While on the cross just before he gave up his spirit, Jesus said in Matthew 27:46, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Many take this to mean that God forsook Jesus on the cross because all the sin of the world was placed upon him.

However, if you read Psalm 22, which is what Jesus quoted on the cross, then you see that everything past the part Jesus quoted is a confident trust in God that he delivers us and does not forsake us. Oral tradition says that if Jesus quote the beginning of the Psalm then he spoke the whole Psalm. But, even if he didn’t, the disciples would have looked up the rest of the psalm later and understood that Jesus was not saying that the Father forsook him. Rather, Jesus was saying that while it appeared that the Father forsook him, he knew he could trust the Father to deliver from him all his enemies. Jesus was saying just the opposite of what many of us have been led to believe. But, again, we are mapping our own willingness to forsake others onto God.

Jesus also revealed that God redeems us. Instead of selling us into slavery, Jesus buys us back for God from the slavery to the law, sin, and Satan that we sold ourselves into.

Zechariah prophesied about Jesus in Luke 1:68-69, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of David his servant.”

When the two disciples encountered the stranger on the road to Emmaus they said that they had hoped that Jesus was the one to redeem Israel. But, it was now three days since Jesus died and no one had seen him. Then, the stranger, Jesus, said, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” (Luke 24:25-26) Jesus was essentially saying, “Don’t you see that I have redeemed you through my death?”

Galatians 3:13 says that “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us.”

Galatians 4:4-5 says that “God sent forth his Son…to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” We had sold ourselves into slavery to the law and sin, becoming sons of disobedience and sons of wrath. Christ redeemed us to make us sons of God, sons of the Spirit.

Titus 2:14 says that Jesus Christ “gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.”

Jesus gave himself to redeem us. Instead of selling us, he bought us. And, instead of selling us, Jesus sold himself to redeem us. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:20 and 7:23 that we were “bought with a price.” In 2 Corinthians 8:9, Paul says, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.”

What did Jesus sell himself to?

Philippians 2:7-8 says Jesus “emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point, even death on a cross.” We sold ourselves to slavery to death, but Jesus sold himself to death to buy us back from death to deliver us from the fear of death and our slavery to it (Hebrews 2:14-15)

REDEEMED BY GRACE AND TRUTH

Did you notice that Paul said in 2 Corinthians 8:9 that it was the grace of Jesus that cause him sell himself to become poor to make us rich?

John 1:17 says, “Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”

Grace came through Jesus Christ to redeem us. Our redemption was the purpose of grace.

Israel was told how they could redeem, restore, and make restitution for land, people, and animals.

Do you know what they had to do?

Add one fifth to the price. Just look at Leviticus 5:16; 6:5; 22:14; 27:13, 15, 19, 27, 31 and Numbers 5:7.

Why one-fifth more to the price to redeem something?

Because five is the number of grace throughout scripture. The price of redemption being one-fifth more than the value was a picture of grace coming through Jesus to redeem us by selling himself to make us rich.

Above, we saw that in John 8 Jesus says that those who practice sin are slaves to sin. These people do the works of their father, the devil. In effect, we sold ourselves to him, giving up our birthright, which was to be sons God. Instead, we sold ourselves and became sons of the devil, sons of wrath.

But, what does Jesus tell the Jews will make them free from this slavery?

In John 8:31-32, Jesus says, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and truth will set you free.” The truth frees us from being a son of disobedience and a son of wrath. Galatians 5:1 says, “For freedom Christ set us free.” The freedom who set us free for was to love God and our neighbour. Peter says, “Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.” (1 Peter 2:16) We are to have the same mind as Jesus, which is to use our freedom to sell ourselves as slaves to righteousness, servants of God.

The truth makes us free. This is why Proverbs 23:23 says, “Buy truth, and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding.”

God does not sell us. Nor does he forsake us. He never has and he never will. We only think he does things because that’s what we do.

Instead of selling us, God buys us. God redeems us. He sent Jesus with grace and Jesus to do just that.

Gideon and the 300

TODAY’S READING: JUDGES 6-8

Judges 7:7-8 – “And the Lord said to Gideon, ‘With the 300 men who lapped I will ave you and give the Midianites into your hand, and let all the others go every man to his home.’ So the people took provisions in their hands, and their trumpets. And he sent all the rest of Israel every man to his tent, but retained the 300 men.”

Why did God whittle down Gideon’s army from 22,000 to 10,000 to 300?

I have always heard it said that it was because God wants to get the glory. Therefore, God used a small force so that we would know that it was his power and strength that won the victory.

Okay, there’s some truth in that. But, why did God use Gideon by himself then? One is far less than 300. God defeating the Midians with one man, Gideon, would have been even more impressive than 300. In fact, that would have given God more glory and would have more represented Jesus, since he alone defeats our enemies.

So, I ask again. Why did God whittle down Gideon’s army from 22,000 to 10,000 to 300?

To arrive at an answer truly inspired by the Spirit, we need to see Gideon as a type of Jesus Christ. And, we need to see the numbers as symbolic of the work Jesus came to do.

GIDEON: A SHADOW OF JESUS

The name Gideon means “one who hewed down” or “cutter of trees.” Gideon is derived from the Hebrew word gada, meaning to cut off, scatter, cut to pieces, fell.

Throughout the Bible, men are pictured as trees. In John 15:1-2, Jesus says, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” As the vinedresser, the Father is a cutter of trees. He cuts off the parts of the tree that are not bearing fruit.

Jesus said he did not come to bring peace but to divide (Matthew 10:34). Jesus said this because to be friend of the world, to be at peace with the world along with its ruler and its ways, was to be at enmity with God (James 4:4).

But, the dividing that Jesus does is within our hearts. This is where his kingdom resides. Jesus has to divide, cut off, and scatter everything in our hearts that does not belong in his kingdom. Therefore, Gideon, the cutter of trees, represents Jesus as the one who cuts off from us the things of this world.

Hebrew 4:12-13 says, “For the word of God [that’s Jesus] is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”

Jesus divides the soul, the things of the earth, from the spirit, the things of heaven, within us. Ultimately, Jesus is discerning the thoughts and intentions of our heart, cutting off those things that do not belong in his kingdom. Interestingly, the writer of Hebrews says that Jesus does this, not just for men, but for everything that God created, every creature, both physical and spiritual.

GIDEON: JESUS AS THE SON OF JOASH, THE ABIEZRITE

The name Joash means “God gives” or “God rewards.” Gideon was the son of Joash. Since Gideon is a picture of Jesus, that makes Joash a picture of the Father.

The Father rewarded Jesus a number of ways.

First, the Father rewarded Jesus for glorifying him. John 17:4-5 says, “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.”

Second, the Father rewarded Jesus for humbling himself and being obedient. Jesus, “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name.” (Philippians 2:6-9)

It’s interesting that Joash was an Abiezrite. If we translated the appellation, Abiezrite would mean “Father of the Helper.” Joash, the father of Gideon, pictures the God who rewards and the Father of the Helper.

The Father rewards us with the Helper, the Holy Spirit. In John 14:26, Jesus says, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”

So, Jesus, the Father, and the Holy Spirit are all represented in the story of Gideon.

NOT WITH 22,000

The Lord told Gideon that he would give the Midianites into his head. But, Gideon had too many people with him.  In Judges 7:3, God said, “Whoever is fearful and trembling, let him return home and hurry away from Mount Gilead.” And, 22,000 of the people returned.

Is the number 22,000 just an actual count of the people that returned home? Or, is the number recorded because of its significance?

Well, we can’t prove the first question. It very well might be an actual count of the people that returned. But, I think it is more important to understand the significance of the number, since we have already seen that beneath Gideon and Joash are lurking Jesus and the Father.

How do we understand the number 22,000?

One clue is that these people were fearful and trembling.

A second clue is that they hurried away from Mt. Gilead. One possible meaning for the name Gilead is “perpetual fountain.” Mountains in the Bible represents. So, the people that were fearful and trembling hurried away from the kingdom of the perpetual fountain.

In Ezekiel 47:1-12, Ezekiel sees a vision “the door of the temple, and behold, water was issuing from below the threshold of the temple.” As Ezekiel went further and further away from the temple the water got deeper and deeper. I believe this implies that water was flowing from a perpetual fountain underneath the temple. The temple was a representation of God’s kingdom on earth.

Therefore, the people that were fearful and trembling were hurrying away from God’s kingdom.

The number two can represent union or division. Consider creation in Genesis 1. Light shined in the darkness and they were divided. The waters above and the waters below were divided by the firmament. The seas were gathered and the land arose. They were divided. Cain was divided so that Seth, the line of Jesus, could be brought forth. Ishmael was divided from Isaac. Esau was divided from Jacob. Whenever two are divided, it is a picture of the separation of the things of the earth from the things of heaven.

That Gideon’s name means cutter of trees clues us in to the number two meaning division in this case. As does the fact that the people were hurrying away from Mt. Gilead, the perpetual fountain of God’s kingdom, indicating that they were being separated or divided.

The number 11 can represent disorder, chaos, or judgment. In the tabernacle, there were 11 curtains of goat’s hair symbolizing the judgment of Christ on the cross. Israel was to take an 11 day journey through the wilderness to reach the promised land. The 11 days in the wilderness represented a period of disorder or chaos until Israel reached the rest of the promise land. Jehoiakim and Zedekiah were a kings of Judah who did evil in God’s sight. Their reigns were 11 years, symbolizing their reigns as ones of disorder and chaos.

Therefore, the number 22, which is 2 x 11, could be thought of as the concentration of disorder and chaos or the dividing off of disorder and chaos from what remained. Jeroboam, the first king of the ten tribes divided off to form the northern kingdom of Israel, reigned for 22 years.

The number 1,000 represents immensity, fullness, multitude, totality. The first mention of 1,000 is in Genesis 20:16 when Abimelech gave Abraham 1,000 pieces of silver as a sign of full and total innocence and vindication. Deuteronomy 5:10 says that God shows steadfast love to thousands who love him and keep his commandments. The statement does not mean that God shows love just to thousands but to the fullness or totality of those who love him and keep his commandments.

The number 22,000 (22 x 1,000) does appear elsewhere in the Bible. The first mention of it is in Numbers 3:39, which says that all those listed among the Levites to serve were 22,000. The 22,000 Levites represented the totality or the fullness of those that were separated to serve the Lord in the tabernacle.

But, in the case of Judges 7:3, the 22,000 represented the totality of those that were separated from the perpetual fountain of God’s kingdom for fear and trembling. Revelation 21:8 says that cowardly, the fearful, will not enter the kingdom. Also, in Galatians 5:19-21, Paul says that those who cause divisions are of the flesh and will not inherit the kingdom of God.

NOT WITH 10,000

Judges 7:3 says, “Then 22,000 of the people returned, and 10,000 remained.”

God said this was still too many people. So, he told Gideon to take them down to the water, perhaps to the water perpetual fountain of Mt. Gilead. God told Gideon he keep take with him all those who lapped the water with his tongue but all those who knelt down to drink he was to send away.

We have already seen that the number 1,000 represents immensity, fullness, multitude, totality.

The number represents testimony, law, responsibility, and completeness of order. In Genesis 1, God brought complete order to the creation with 10 statements. There were 10 generations of men from Adam to Noah before the flood, perhaps representing that man was completely responsible because every intention of heart was evil. God brought complete order to the law through 10 commandments.

So, I believe the number 10,000 in Judges 7:3 represents the fullness or totality of those that were responsible enough to go with Gideon. These were the fullness of the people that could bring complete order. Emphasis on could.

GIDEON WAS TO GO WITH 300

As I mentioned at the beginning, God could have picked any small number to send with Gideon. He could sent 173 or 246 with him. Why 300?

The first mention of 100 is found in Genesis 11:10, which says, “These are the generations of Shem. When Shem was 100 years old, he fathered Arpachshad two years after the flood.” Shem was the son of Noah that Jesus would ultimately come from.

The name Shem is the Hebrew word for name. It can also mean identity or personality. The name Arpachshad means something like “light trickles from his bosom.” Therefore, at 100 years of age, the name fathered the light that trickles from his bosom.

This alludes to God fathering his only begotten son, Jesus, the light of the world from the bosom of the Father. Jesus is the identity of God. Colossians 1:15 says, “He is the image of the invisible God.” And, Hebrews 1:3 says, “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature.” Jesus is the light from the bosom of the Father, or the radiance of the glory of God. Jesus is the exact imprint of God’s nature, the light that is the identity of the Father.

The next two mentions of 100 are related to Abraham and Issac, who are a picture of the Father and Jesus. Genesis 17:17 says, “Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, ‘Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old?’” Then, Genesis 21:5 says, “Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.”

Issac was the child of promise. Paul says in Galatians that Jesus is the true child of promise. Therefore, the number 100 speaks to the child of promise, Jesus.

The number three most often represents the time between death and life. Have you ever noticed how many things happen in three days or on the third day in scripture? This is because it was on the third day that Jesus rose from the grave, that he was resurrected. The most significant meaning of the number three is resurrection.

Therefore, the number 300 symbolizes the resurrection of the child or promise. Remember that Gideon was a shadow of Jesus. So, it makes sense that he would take with him a number of men that was symbolic of Jesus.

Not only is the number 300 symbolic of Jesus. But, take notice of why these 300 men were selected. They were chosen to go with Gideon because they lapped the water from the perpetual fountain the way a dog laps water. In fact, the only other portion of scripture were the Hebrew word for lapped is used is 1 Kings 21 and 22 in reference to dogs licking up the blood of king Ahab.

The Jews called someone a dog as a term of reproach or humiliation. Of, course Jesus was despised, humiliated, and rejected. The world hated him. To the Jews, he was a dog. In John 15:18-19, Jesus says, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, there the world hates you.”

A dead dog was something insignificant to the Jews. In 1 Corinthians 1:18 says that “word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing.” A crucified man as a king of the Jews was foolishness because the man was clearly insignificant. Why else would he have been crucified? In verses 27 and 28, Paul goes on to say that God chooses what is foolish and low and despised in the world. Paul reminds the Corinthians that not many of them were wise, powerful, or noble. They were viewed as insignificant by the world just like Jesus.

For a dog to drink water by lapping it had to lower its head down very close to the water. This is a symbol of humility and in contrast to men who simply kneeled to drink the water without lowering their heads. We saw above in Philippians 2:6-9 that Jesus Christ took the form of a servant and humbled himself by becoming obedient even to the point of death. In Philippians 2:5 Paul says to us”have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.”

Therefore, these men were chosen because they were humble. But, not just humble as men may be humble. There were 300 men chosen to symbolize that they had the same mind as the resurrected child of promise, Jesus.

There is nothing in the Bible that is there by chance. All of the scriptures are a witness to Jesus. We just have to ask the Spirit to illuminate them for us so that we can see Jesus in every story.

The Inspiration of Scripture – What Is It? How Does It Work?

TODAY’S READING: JUDGES 4-5

“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.” – 2 Timothy 3:16

What does it mean that scripture is inspired, or breathed out, by God?

TYPICAL BELIEFS ABOUT THE INSPIRATION OF SCRIPTURE

Some Christians take the inspiration of scripture to mean that God literally told word for word the people who wrote the Bible exactly what to write.

Some Christians take the inspiration of scripture to mean that God literally caused all of the events in the Bible to happen exactly as they are recorded.

These Christians believe that this type of inspiration of scripture is necessary in order for us to be taught, reproved, corrected, and trained by it. They also believe this is the method of inspiration because “no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation.” (2 Peter 1:20) Therefore, if the inspiration is not literal and exactly as God wanted, then we are interpreting the scripture according to our own interpretation.

“INSPIRATION” BY THE LETTER IS DEAD

If we take the inspiration of scripture to be literal and exact, then we will learn that God commits genocide, rapes women, mass murders children, causes the earth to swallow people, etc. If we take the inspiration of scripture to be literal and exact, then in today’s reading we would be taught that it was is a noble act to drive a tent peg through the temple of our enemy in order to kill him.

The problem with the literal inspiration of scripture is that it creates numerous conflicts with Jesus in the gospels. But, John 1:17-18 says, “Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.” As the only one who has seen the Father, Jesus was able to do and say only and exactly what the Father does and says.

So, if the literal inspiration of scripture leads to numerous conflicts with the character of the Father as revealed by Jesus, then we know that believe in the literal inspiration of scripture is wrong.

In 2 Corinthians 3, when Paul speaks of the Old Testament he says that it was a letter written “with ink” and “on tablets of stone.” But, “the letter kills.” Paul says that the ministry of the letter was a “ministry of death, carved in letters on stone.” Not only was the ministry of the letter in the Old Testament one of death, Paul also called it a “ministry of condemnation.”

So, Paul says that the literal inspiration of scripture kills you. Believing in the literal inspiration of scripture by the letter kills you. The literal inspiration of scripture will condemn you.

In 2 Corinthians 4, Paul says that the literal inspiration of scripture is the result of a veil. The veil keeps us blinded to what the inspiration of scripture truly is and what we are to truly learn from it.

WHAT IS INSPIRATION?

Perhaps we need to look at the meaning of inspiration.

  1. a divine influence or action on a person believe to qualify him or her to receive and communicate sacred revelation
  2. the action or power of moving the intellect or emotions
  3. the act of influencing or suggesting opinions

The literal, dead letter inspiration of scripture kills, condemns, and commands. But, this is not inspiration. Instead of commanding, true inspiration influences someone to received revelation.

Revelation is not something readily apparent. Rather, revelation is something that beneath the surface that an agent of inspiration brings to light.

The literal, dead letter inspiration of scripture kills. In other words, it stops movement. But, true inspiration moves the intellect and emotions. True inspiration causes the mind and heart to move to a higher place.

The literal, dead letter inspiration of scripture says there is one exact way to interpret scripture. But, true inspiration influences and suggests. True inspiration creates possibilities, many possibilities instead of one and only one possibility

INSPIRATION OF SCRIPTURE BY THE HOLY SPIRIT

In the same passage of scripture where Paul tells us that the literal, dead letter inspiration of scripture kills and is a ministry of death and condemnation, Paul reveals what the true inspiration of scripture is.

In 2 Corinthians 3, Paul says that we are a letter. Instead of dead letters in a book written with ink, we are a letter written “with the Spirit of the living God…on tablets of human hearts.” This is the ministry of the new covenant, a ministry “of the Spirit” and “the Spirit gives life.” This ministry is a “ministry of righteousness.”

The scripture is truly inspired by the Spirit because he brings life to it. The Spirit inspires the creative possibilities of scripture to communicate sacred revelation, to move our minds and hearts toward God, and to influence us and suggest to us with majesty and splendor of the Father.

This type of inspiration is absolutely necessary because God is infinite. There is no way to pin down an infinite God with one literal, dead letter inspiration of scripture.

True inspiration of scripture comes through Jesus Christ because his death and resurrection removes the veil that causes us to read the scriptures with a literal, dead letter interpretation.

True inspiration comes from the Holy Spirit enlivening the scripture with truth, meaning, and possibilities we would never see on our own. This is the very meaning of revelation. I can understand dead letters with my own intellect. But, I need the Holy Spirit to reveal truth in my heart.

Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3:16-18, “But when on turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”

THE INSPIRATION OF JUDGES 4

If you haven’t read it today, then get out a Bible and read Judges 4. I want the literal story to be fresh in your mind. Then with the literal, dead letter story in your mind, I want to show you the story with the inspiration of the Spirit. I won’t necessarily come to any conclusions along the way or at the end. My goals is to breathe in possibilities to the scripture. You can use those possibilities as inspiration “for profitable teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.”

THE INSPIRATION OF JABIN

The name Jabin comes from two Hebrew words. One means to understand or see, to pay attention, consider, teach, or examine. The other means to build, to develop buildings, or to rebuild. The name means something like he perceives or he will understand.

The name Canaanite comes from the Hebrew word kana. Kana means to have to submit, to be humbled, to humble oneself, to humble somebody. The Canaanites eventually came to be known as merchants and traders. Merchants are not viewed favorably in scripture as they oppress and get rich off of people.

The name Hazor means fence or enclosure.

Kings are powers that vying with God for the throne of our hearts. Therefore, Jabin represents the power that tries to fence or enclose our hearts with that we can understand and build ourselves as merchants and traders. In this way we humble ourselves to the material things of this world instead of God.

In Matthew 6:24, Jesus says, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

An inspiration of Jabin is that this is our attempt to serve God and money. Another inspiration of Jabin is our attempt to rule through economic power.

THE INSPIRATION OF SISERA

The name Sisera is likely the combination of two Hebrew words. One is the word for horse. The other is the word meaning to see or look.

Horses speak to military power in the Bible. Therefore, the inspiration of Sisera is the looking to military power for strength and protection.

Sisera was the commander of Jabin’s army. Every economic power throughout history shows that economic power uses military power to maintain its empire, its fence or enclosure.

The name Harosheth-hagoyim means “carving of the nations” of “silencing of the Gentiles.” This is where Sisera lived, where he abided.

An inspiration here is that economic power and military seek to divide that nations of the world for their own personal benefit.

Sisera oppressed Israel with 900 chariots of iron for 20 years. What is an inspiration of this?

The number speaks to finality. It also is linked judgment in the prophets. The number 100 symbolizes the child of promise. Like horses, chariots represented military strength. Iron represents hardness, strength, affliction, severity, captivity, bondage, and destruction power. Daniel 2:20 says that iron breaks to pieces everything. The number 20 represents a period of judgment. In fact, there are a couple of times in scripture where the number nine is connected with the number with the theme of judgment.

An inspiration here is the people of God are oppressed military and economic power that attempts to carve up the nations by bringing a final judgment on the child promise the affliction of sever military strength and destructive power.

Psalm 2:1-3 says, “Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, ‘Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.'”

THE INSPIRATION OF DEBORAH

But, Deborah is judging Israel during the oppression.

The name Deborah is the Hebrew word for bee or wasp. The name Deborah likely comes from the Hebrew word for speak.

Bees produce honey, which was the sweetener in the ancient near east. A number of scriptures (including Psalm 19:10, Psalm 119:103, and Ezekiel 3:3) says that God’s words are sweeter than honey.

The name Lappidoth comes from the Hebrew word meaning flame or torch. Deborah was the wife of the Lappidoth. Alternatively, the translation could say that Deborah was a woman of Lappidoth. Deborah was the wife of woman of flames.

Deborah sat under a palm tree. Palm trees were all over the tabernacle and temple between the cherubims. The palm tree could be a symbol of the tree of life.

This palm tree was between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim. Ramah means a high place. Bethel means the house of God. Eprhaim means fruitfulness.

An inspiration of Deborah is God’s people being ruled by the word of life, Jesus Christ, that sets them on fire. The lives of God’s people are hidden in Jesus as we are seated with him in high heavenly places. In this sense, perhaps we could think of Deborah as the church.

THE INSPIRATION OF BARAK

Barak means lightning.

Abinoam means “the father is pleasantness” or “my father is delight.”

Kedesh-naphtali means something like the sacred place of my wrestling.

Tabor means purifying or declaring.

There are many instances in the scripture were lightning is used in a reference to Jesus. And, Barak, who’s name means lightning, is the son of the father who is pleasantness or the father who is delight. This son who is named lightning dwells in the sacred place of wrestling, which could be thought of as God’s presence, his holy temple.

An inspiration of Barak is that he is a picture of Jesus. As a picture of Jesus, he gathers men from Mount Tabor. He comes from the mountain, or kingdom, of cleansing.

Barak brings 10,000 men from Naphtali and Zebulun. The number 10 represents the completeness of order. The number 1,000 speaks to the bridal price or the price of innocence for a woman. Naphtali means my wrestling and Zebulun means lofty place, dwelling, wished-for habitation.

So, an inspiration for Barak is that he is a picture of Jesus, who has a father that is pleasant and a delight, that comes the kingdom of cleansing, our wished-for habitation, with the price for his bride to make her innocent.

THE INSPIRATION OF JAEL

Jael means mountain goat. It comes from the root word meaning to profit or benefit. It also comes from the root word meaning to ascend, to lead up, to lead out, to bring up, to cause to rise.

Jael was the wife of Heber the Kenite. Heber means to ally oneself, to couple together. And, Kenite derives from the name Cain, which means to get, acquire, or create. Kenite means buyers, and the Kenites were part of the Canaanites. But, Heber, and hence Jael, had separated from the Kenites and the Canaanites.

An inspiration for Jael is the person who was once part of the world of Jabin and Sisera, involved in the economic of military powers and ways of the world, but has separated from them.

AN INSPIRATION OF THE STORY

How do these characters all fit together? What is the inspiration of their story?

Notice that Barak routed Sisera with the edge of the sword. This is another allusion to Barak as Jesus since Jesus is the sword of the Spirit, the word of God. Barak destroyed the chariots, the military power of Jabin, the economic power. He also destroyed carving up of the nations done by this army. Therefore, like Jesus, he created a people from every nation, tribe, people, and language.

While Barak routed the powers, Sisera fled away on foot. Jael met Sisera and told him to turn aside into her tent. He asks for water, but Jael feeds him milk. Milk is often associated with basics of the word of God, the gospel.

Jael ends up driving a tent peg through his temple into the ground. There are several instances where we see Jesus as the tent peg in scripture. Also, there are numerous instances where we see that violence of the wicked, Sisera in this case, comes back on their own head.

The tent peg could be though of as the cross. It was put through Sisera’s head. This is interesting because had to go into the ground at Golgatha, the place of the skull, in order for Jesus to be crucified on it. But, since it is Jael, and not Barak, that applies the figurative cross, I think this speaks to the idea we have to crucify ourselves daily, crucify our flesh and its desires, and crucify ourselves to the world and the world to us. Remember, Jael had separated from the Kenites and the Canaanites as well as their economic and military power. It was after Jael applied the cross to Sisera that Jabin was subdued and ultimately destroyed.

We have to remember that our enemies are spiritual, not carnal and internal, not external. In this sense, the inspiration of Judges four seems to be picking up our own cross and denying ourselves so that we crucify the lust for money and power within ourselves. Then we can love as Jesus loves.

Does God Tempt You with Evil?

TODAY’S READING: JUDGES 1-3

Does God tempt you with evil?

You might answer, “Of course God doesn’t cause me to do evil. But, he uses evil to clean me, to purify me, to shape me, to make me the way he wants me to be…”

Many Christians might think on the surface that God doesn’t tempt them with evil. Hence, the first part of the answer above. However, when we really dig down deep and analyze the second part of the answer, then we see that many of us do indeed believe that God does tempt us with evil. We subtly believe this because we think God is using evil to achieve something in us, for us, or through us.

In Judges, Israel thought God was using evil to punish them, shape them, change them, etc.

This is a lie. God does not tempt you with evil. In no way, shape, or form does God make use of evil.

Let me repeat, this is a lie. God does not tempt you with or use evil for anything.

Let’s look at the book of Judges to see the lie in action.

Then, let’s look at Jesus to see the truth – God never uses evil for anything nor is there any evil in him.

JOSHUA: EVIL IS DEFEATED IN THE LAND AND AND THE LANDED RESTED

The book of Joshua recounts how Joshua defeated all the kings in the promised land. I wrote in All the Kings of Our Hearts Have Been Defeated by Jesus that this is a picture of Jesus defeating everything that had captured our heart so that he could reign over hearts, so that the kingdom of God would be within us.

We read of Joshua defeating these kings one after another. But, we probably fail to adequately realize that the defeat of the kings of the promised land and the rest that came as a result was not a short process. Joshua 23:1 says, “A long time afterward, when the Lord had given rest to Israel from all their surrounding enemies…”

But, the slow process of bringing rest to the land was exactly what God had told Israel would happen.

Exodus 23:28-30 says, “And I will send hornets before you, which shall drive out the Hivites, the Canaanites, and the Hittites from before you. I will not drive them out from before you in one year, lest the land become desolate and the wild beasts multiply against you. Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until have increased and possess the land.”

God said he would drive the nations out of the land little by little. This was to keep the land from being desolate and becoming filled with wild beasts. By driving out the nations little by little, Israel would grow in their trust and confidence in the Lord, enabling them to possess the land.

After his promise to drive the nations out of the land little by little, God gives Israel a warning. Exodus 28:31-33 says, “For I will give the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you shall drive them out before you. You shall make no covenant with them and their gods. They shall not dwell in your land, lest they make you sin against me; for if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you.”

God would the enemies over to Israel. Israel would play a part in driving them out of the land. But, Israel was not to make a covenant with them. They should not let the nations dwell in the land because the nations would cause them to sin. Note, God was not leaving the nations, the evil, in the land. He gave the nations over to be driven. The nations, the evil, would only remain if Israel made a covenant with them. When Israel joined themselves with the nations, the evil, then they would sin. Israel would end up serving these gods instead of the Lord.

ISRAEL TRIES TO SUBJECT EVIL TO WORK FOR THEM

The beginning of the book of Judges is a little confusing. It’s confusing because I believe the first two chapters are not in chronological order.

Chapter one starts, “After the death of Joshua…” It appears that the book of Judges picks up right where the book of Joshua left off. But, “the people of Israel inquired of the Lord, ‘Who shall go up first against the Canaanites, to fight against them?'”

Joshua had defeated the evil in the land. And, after a long time, the land was at rest. Why was Israel needing to fight again?

I believe the rest of chapter one is a summary of everything we will read through the rest of the book of Judges. While Joshua had defeated all the kings and brought rest to land, this is not what we see in Judges 1.

The key phrase is “did not drive out.”

  • “Judah…could not drive out the inhabitants of the plain.” – Judges 1:19
  • “Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites.” – Judges 1:21
  • “Manasseh did not drive out the inhabitants.” – Judges 1:27
  • “Ephraim did not drive out the Canaanites.” – Judges 1:29
  • “Zebulun did not drive out the inhabitants.” – Judges 1:30
  • “Asher did not drive out the inhabitants.” – Judges 1:31
  • “Naphtali did not drive out the inhabitants.” – Judges 1:33

God told Israel back in Exodus 28 that they were to drive the nations out of the land when he gave them into their hand. But, Judges 1 says seven times that Israel failed to drive out the inhabitants. Seven is the number of rest, perfection, completion. Therefore, we see Israel perfectly failed to enter complete rest.

Instead, they did exactly what God told them not to do. They made covenants with the people in the land. We know this because instead of driving the nations out of the land they made a covenant them. Instead of driving the evil out, Israel made a covenant with it. The key phrase is “subject to forced labor.”

  • “They put the Canaanites to forced labor.” – Judges 1:28
  • “So the Canaanites lived among the, but became subject to forced labor.” – Judges 1:30
  • “The inhabitants of Beth-shemesh and Beth-anath became subject to forced labor for them.” – Judges 1:33
  • “The Amorites…became subject to forced labor.” – Judges 1:35

Judges 1 says four times that Israel put the nations to forced labor instead of driving them out of the land. Four is the number that speaks to universal quality or totality of something. Therefore, this is a picture of the total or universal manner in which Israel made a covenant with evil and tried to force evil to work for Israel. Instead of driving the evil out, Israel tried to make use of the evil.

This is the summary of the entire book of Judges.

THE LORD CAN’T DELIVER ISRAEL FROM EVIL BECAUSE OF THEIR COVENANT WITH IT

Remember Judges 1 started after Joshua died, although we don’t know how long after. However, we know now that Judges 2 jumps to a different time period because verse 6 says, “When Joshua dismissed the people.” This is referring back to Joshua 23-24 when Joshua called the people of Israel together to give them a word of knowledge about the time to come.

Therefore, I believe Judges 2:1-5 takes placed just before Joshua summoned Israel together. In fact, I believe those verses explain why Joshua summoned Israel together.

Judges 2:1 says that the angel of the Lord, the pre-incarnate Jesus, went from Gilgal to Bochim. Gilgal is the place where Israel camped and Joshua launched all of his attacks on the nations in the promised land. Gilgal means rolled away and is symbolic of the resurrection. I wrote about this in At Gilgal the Stone Was Rolled Away.

But, the angel of the Lord leaves Gilgal and goes to Bochim. Bochim means weepers. Why did the angel of the Lord leave the place the stone was rolled away, symbolic of the resurrection, and go to a place of weeping?

In Judges 2:1-3, the angel of the Lord says, “I said, ‘I will never break my covenant with you, and you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall break down the altars.’ But you have not obeyed my voice. What is this you have done? So now I say, ‘I will not drive them out before you, but they shall become thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare to you.'”

So, Israel wept and sacrificed to the Lord. (Just remember that obedience is greater than sacrifice.)

What had Israel done?

Judges 2:11-12 says, “And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals. And they abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt. They went after other gods, from among the gods of the people who were around them, and bowed down to them.” Instead of driving out the nations, Israel put them into forced labor. That is, instead of driving the evil from out of their presence, they made a covenant with it by serving false gods.

What did trying to make use of evil, covenanting with evil, and serving the evil false gods do to Israel?

They believed that not was God good but he was also evil. Israel had taken its actions with and thoughts of evil and transferred them onto God’s character. Judges 2:12, 14-15 says, “And they provoked the Lord to anger…So the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he gave them over to plunderers, who plundered them. And he sold them into the hand of their surrounding enemies, so that they could no longer withstand their enemies. Whenever they marched out, the hand of the Lord was against them for harm, as the Lord had warned, and as the Lord had sworn to them. And they were in terrible distress.”

But, that’s not what the angel of the Lord said earlier. The angel of the Lord said, “I will never break my covenant with you.” Also, we know that God does not destroy, as I wrote in Who Says “I Destroy” – God or Satan? Further, Romans 8:31 says, “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”

Israel viewed God as evil because they themselves were evil, had tried to subject evil to their will, and served evil Gods. But, the truth was that God was not against them but for them.

The reality was that the Lord raised up judges who saved Israel. “Judges 2:18 says, “Whenever the Lord raised up judges for them, the Lord was with the judge, and he saved them from the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge. For the Lord was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who afflicted and oppressed them.” The Lord wasn’t angry. He was moved to pity, sad. Just like the angel of the Lord who had gone to the place of weeping above.

But, Israel continued to whore after the false gods and serve evil. Therefore, because Israel had mapped their evil on to God, they believed that God was using evil to test, or tempt, them.

Judges 2:20-22 says, “So the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he said, ‘Because this people have transgressed my covenant that I commanded their fathers and have not obeyed my voice, I will no longer drive out out before them any of the nations that Joshua left when he died, in order to test Israel by them, whether they will take care to walk in the way of the Lord as their fathers did, or not.'”

While Israel believed the Lord was tempting them evil and refusing to drive out the evil nations from before them, the reality was that the Lord was unable to drive out the evil from before because of Israel’s unbelief.

CHRISTIANS STILL FALSELY BELIEVE THE LORD USES AND TEMPTS WITH EVIL

That Christians still believe God uses evil or tempts people with evil is evident from the way the read the Old Testament. “That’s just how God was back then.” It’s also evident from the way they talk, pointing out how God did this or that bad thing but he ultimately is using it for good.

We even see it in the Bible.

John 1:5 says, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” But, I like how the NASB and Young’s Literal Translation translate this verse.

NASB – “The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.”

Young’s – “And the light in the darkness did shine, and the darkness did not perceive it.”

The Lord was with Israel telling them that he would not forsake his covenant with them. He was showing his pity by raising up judges to deliver them from their oppressors. But, Israel didn’t comprehend or perceive God’s light. They thought he had evil in them.

We are no different today. Why?

In John 3:19, Jesus says, “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.”

Israel subjected the evil nations to their forced labor and bowed down to evil gods. Therefore, they saw God with evil, darkness, in him. We do exactly the same thing today. If you believe God has any darkness, any evil, in him at all, then you believe this because you love the darkness rather than the light because your works are evil. Jesus’ words, not mine.

This is precisely why John wrote in 1 John 1:5-6, “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.”

God is light. He has no darkness in him. He doesn’t have evil in him. He doesn’t make use of evil. God is light that shines into the darkness. God is goodness that overcomes evil. To say otherwise is to show that you don’t have true fellowship him.

Israel worshiped evil gods. Therefore, they said that God used evil. It was this belief, actually their unbelief, that prevented God from fully delivering them.

The same is true for us today. Matthew 13:58 says, “And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.” When you believe God has evil in him or uses evil to accomplishes his purposes, that is unbelief that prevents God from doing mighty works. Since the idea that God has evil in him or uses evil in some is so rampant in the church, maybe this unbelief is the reason why the church is unable to walk in the power and authority of Jesus.

GOD DOES NOT TEMPT YOU WITH EVIL

God does not tempt you will evil. Period!

Temptation comes from Satan (Matthew 4:1, 3, 1 Thessalonians 3:5, 1 Peter 5:8).

Temptation also comes from our evil desires. James 1:12-15 says, “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own evil desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.”

According to the scriptures above, it’s a simple fact that God has no evil in him and he does not use evil.

But, it’s also true that God doesn’t use evil to establish his kingdom because it would not and cannot work.

Jesus was accused of healing people by the power of evil. They said he cast out demons by Beelzebul, the prince of demons. They thought Jesus, and therefore God, had evil in him or used evil for his purposes. In Luke 11:17, Jesus responded to these accusations, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls.” Jesus could not have been using evil to cast evil because then the kingdom of evil would have fallen. Jesus further said, “But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.”

WHY DOES GOD GET RID OF EVIL SLOWLY?

Recall Exodus 23:28-30 above. If God drives out the evil within hearts quickly, then our hearts would be desolate and ripe to be filled with all sorts of wild, beastly thoughts, intentions, desires, passions, and ideas. God removes the evil slowly from our hearts so that at the same time our faith can build, filling the places he has removed the evil from with truth and light.

If God did not do it this way, then we would be just like Israel in the book of Judges. Having had all the kings defeated and peace in the land, it was worse for Israel when their enemies came back. They weren’t able to achieve rest again.

This is exactly what Jesus says to the Jews after they accused him of using evil to drive out evil. Luke 11:24-26 says, “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and finding none it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house swept and put in order. Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And the last state of that person is worse than the first.”

God is able to drive the evil out of hearts slowly because he is love. This is why Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

God is love. Clearly, love is not evil. And, clearly the description Paul gives of love is the antithesis of evil.

God does not tempt you with evil. He never has, and he never will.

God is good, always and only.