How many Judges have we covered so far?
1) Othniel – half blood foreigner from the tribe of Judah, son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother = 40 years of peace
2) Ehud – Left-handed man from a tribe called “of the right hand” (Benjamin) the two tribes who would inherit the land of Israel today (Judah and Benjamin) of the line of Rachel = 80 years of peace
3) Shamgar – Foreigner – slew 600 Philistines
4) Deborah – Woman Judge = 40 years of peace
5) Gideon – Timid servant = 40 years of peace
Then Pastor Liborio taught on Abimelech two weeks ago from Judges 9 and some historians will label Abimelech as a judge of Israel but Scripturally, he is not given this title as it was self-appointed and the people who clamored for his leadership had not sought the Lord for such, which leads to depravity that would have made Babylon or Rome quite proud. He slaughtered all of the children of Gideon (all 70 of them) murdered the people of Shechem and was ultimately killed by a woman. This man was no judge of Israel. His reign of terror lasted by only 3+ years.
We will now cover 2 more judges here today, while setting up the 3rd.
6) Tola, who will judge Israel for 23 years, from the tribe of Issachar and
7) Jair, who will judge Israel for 22 years, probably from the tribe of Manasseh
8) Then we will begin to read of Jephthah, the eight judge of the 12 covered in the book of Judges - also of the tribe of Manasseh
Have you been on a commercial airline flight this year? What happens when you get on an airplane? You likely locate your seat, store your carry-on luggage, and then sit down and buckle your seatbelt. While you are settling in or preparing to taxi out to the runway, a flight attendant gets up and delivers a sermon. The sermon goes something like this, “Please take out the card located in the seat in front of you and familiarize yourself with all of the safety features located on this plane.” The exposition of this three-point sermon includes a discussion on how to operate your seatbelt. The flight attendant then provides instructions on how to use the oxygen mask in case the cabin loses pressure. The message concludes with an explanation as to how your seat may serve as a flotation device! As you look at your seat, you realize that this is not a comforting thought.
I don’t know about you but I have to confess, I don’t pay attention to airplane sermons any more. Right or wrong, I typically read something else or rest my eyes. Occasionally, I will attempt to be courteous and make eye contact with the flight attendant, but by and large I’m not listening. Now I hear the person talking in the background but it is all noise, because I am not engaging in a sermon. Honestly, it just doesn’t seem very relevant to me. I figure if we get into a difficult situation, a flight attendant will repeat the sermon. If it is a worst-case scenario, it’s not going to matter anyway. We’re all going to die!
I think this may be how you and I approach the Bible. It’s easy to think that we really know God’s Word. Perhaps you have thought to yourself, I don’t need to read or study the Bible. I’ve been doing it for so many years. Seriously, what else is there to learn? Maybe you’ve said, “I’ve listened to hundreds or thousands of sermons in my life. I’ve heard the good, the bad, and the ugly. Do I really need to keep attending church every week? Scripture suggests that this is a dangerous attitude that can affect every area of your life. In the Book of Judges, we will discover that right theology and a thorough understanding of the Bible are essential. To put it another way: A biblical mind is a terrible thing to waste. Judges 10–12 breaks down into five scenes and today, we will cover 2 of these.
Scene 1: The devastating demise of Israel (10:6-16). Our story begins in 10:6 like a broken record. Israel once again does evil in the sight of the Lord. In fact, she serves a total of seven gods. The number seven emphasizes Israel’s complete spiritual corruption. In her idolatry, Israel forsakes the Lord and fails to serve Him. This is terribly ironic. The “gods” that Israel is worshiping belong to nations that God’s people have conquered in battle. Who gave Israel the victory? Yahweh, the one true God! Yet, instead of worshiping Him, Israel worships their “gods” (see Deut 32:36–38). That’s insane! Yet, you and I are frequently guilty of the same insanity. We are prone to worship various idols such as our house, yard, possessions, leisure, job, spouse, children, and even our ministry. Interestingly, idolatry seems to be rampant during times of peace and rest. God gave Israel forty–five years of peace (10:1–5) between Tola and Jair and they respond by worshiping seven different gods. Similarly, when God grants us rest and success, we can put other people and pursuits before Him. We are just like Israel.
In 10:7, the Lord gets righteously ticked over Israel’s idolatry and sells her as slaves to the Philistines and Amonites. These tribes afflict and crush Israel for eighteen years (10:8). That’s a long time! (If you have teenagers, you surely understand this.) Nevertheless, God loves His people enough to discipline them, with the goal of wooing them back to Himself. Israel becomes distressed as a result of her slavery (10:9). Thus, in 10:10, we read these words: “Then the sons of Israel cried out to the LORD, saying, ‘We have sinned against You, for indeed, we have forsaken our God and served the Baals.’” This is the first time that Israel acknowledges her sin in the Book of Judges. It is refreshing to hear God’s people call their behavior “sin.” What a great reminder that we too must call sin “SIN”…not a mistake, an error, or a shortcoming. When you and I call sin “SIN,” we demonstrate that we have a proper view of ourselves and an exalted view of God.
In 10:11–14, the Lord verbally drops the hammer on Israel and reiterates the fact that He delivered her from all of her enemies; yet they have forsaken Him and served other gods. Therefore, the Lord declares, “I will no longer deliver you. Go and cry out to the gods which you have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your distress” (10:13b–14).
After God said this – he drops the mic and walks out of the room. But it won’t be the end of the conversation because God loves His people too much.
Since Israel has been worshiping seven other gods, the Lord “gives them over” like He said he would do even now in Romans 1 (cf. Rom 1: 24, 26, 28) to find what they are looking for in their other lovers. This is “tough love,” but this is what it takes to get Israel’s spiritual attention. Spouses and parents often have to make similar tough-love decisions when a loved one is in rebellion. The goal is to let the individual reach rock bottom and eventually, Lord willing, be reconciled in the marriage or family. Spiritually speaking, as long as we are comfortable we will not change. But when we are “given over,” God can humble us and draw us back.
God discusses the state of Israel with Azariah in 2 Chronicles 15 and in verses 3-4 we read:
“For a long time Israel has been without the true God, without a teaching priest, and without law; 4 but when in their trouble they turned to the Lord God of Israel, and sought Him, He was found by them.”
Do you think that Israel stopped reading the law or going to church? No, rather they sought what was comfortable to their lifestyle – they didn’t want the burden of serving the true God. That was too much work. They wanted to hear how great they were and how God was pleased.
In 2 Timothy 4:3, we read that men will not endure sound doctrine and will turn their ears away from the truth and turn to myths – chasing mirages that make them feel good about their posture before the living God.
Israel responds to God’s judgment by exclaiming: ‘“We have sinned, do to us whatever seems good to You; only please deliver us this day.’ So they put away the foreign gods from among them and served the LORD; and He could bear the misery of Israel no longer” (10:15–16). God’s people finally decide that they are going to worship and serve the Lord, whether it pays them to do so or whether it doesn’t. In the past, all that Israel cared about was God delivering them from their circumstances. They seemed to view God like a Vegas slot machine. They pumped in a few coins (i.e., prayers) and expected blessing in return. But God doesn’t typically work this way. In fact, God doesn’t promise His people worldly happiness and success; He promises them joy in the midst of life’s circumstances.
Look – God wants to bless His people – that is a fact:
Malachi 3:10: “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”
But we can’t get rid of our idols. There is too much noise in our lives for God. Have you ever asked God to speak to you? Do you really care? If you did, it would show in your life. If Jesus were coming to dine at your home this afternoon, what would you change? Would you not at least vacuum, dust a bit, put on your best attire, shower perhaps. Then why don’t you do that every day? Is it too much to ask you to clean up your life so you can dine with the one who gave it all for you?
The parable of the Bridesmaids comes to mind here:
Matthew 25:1-13: “Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. 3 Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. 5 But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.
6 “And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ 7 Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.
11 “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ 12 But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’
13 “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.
We are so lazy with the power of the living God. We hope we can just skate by in the end that hanging on to the hard work that someone else did will be enough.
If you are lazy now with the things of God – prayer, reading of the Word and devotion to His work, then this will only escalate as the end of days draw near.
If you want to live in the presence of God – then act like you are in the presence of God. Mind your thoughts, your words and your actions. If we are Christians, then we must be Christians – this is not a request but a directive in 1 John 2:6. Be like Christ.
2 big issues come to mind here - 1) We think idols are those statues that pagan people worship. Let me take you to the Scripture on this:
Ezekiel 14:1-11: “Now some of the elders of Israel came to me and sat before me. 2 And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 3 “Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their hearts, and put before them that which causes them to stumble into iniquity. Should I let Myself be inquired of at all by them?
4 “Therefore speak to them, and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Everyone of the house of Israel who sets up his idols in his heart, and puts before him what causes him to stumble into iniquity, and then comes to the prophet, I the Lord will answer him who comes, according to the multitude of his idols, 5 that I may seize the house of Israel by their heart, because they are all estranged from Me by their idols.”’
6 “Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Repent, turn away from your idols, and turn your faces away from all your abominations. 7 For anyone of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell in Israel, who separates himself from Me and sets up his idols in his heart and puts before him what causes him to stumble into iniquity, then comes to a prophet to inquire of him concerning Me, I the Lord will answer him by Myself. 8 I will set My face against that man and make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from the midst of My people. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.
9 “And if the prophet is induced to speak anything, I the Lord have induced that prophet, and I will stretch out My hand against him and destroy him from among My people Israel. 10 And they shall bear their iniquity; the punishment of the prophet shall be the same as the punishment of the one who inquired, 11 that the house of Israel may no longer stray from Me, nor be profaned anymore with all their transgressions, but that they may be My people and I may be their God,“ says the Lord God.’”
Dr. Tony Evans shared an illustration this past week with us, that when he was dating his wife, she was not responding at the rate he was accustomed to or expecting, so he took her to a new amusement park where to purchased two tickets and he chose the roller coaster where the turns were tight and the situation was intense, because he had an agenda. When two people walked into that cart, by the end it appeared as though only one person was in it by the end because the in order to accomplish his objectives of close proximity, he had to create a situation that would draw her in and in a same way, God will create a situation in our lives and in our nation to draw us closer to Him when we are drifting away.
2) In the last days there will be an exchange for souls – food or eternal life. Why do you think there are so few that God calls up? Because the church is full of Esau’s who were willing to exchange their eternal life for a bowl of soup.
Matthew 7:13-14: “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
The controversial chapter of Revelation 14 is preceded by Revelation 13 where we see the beast setting up a system whereby no one will be able to purchase unless they take the mark on their forehead or hand. Then we see only 144,000 people being drawn from the earth because the Scriptures state that anyone who takes the mark will go to hell – forever. Many will claim the name of Christ, but I believe many will be sent to hell who called themselves Christians and yet sold their souls for soup. They sold their birthright for temporary gain – not unlike Judas who sold Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. Why? Because it is going to get hard – even before the worst of the tribulation is upon us. God will take His people from the earth, but we may endure famine and hardships before the worst of it and when people are hungry, they will even eat their own people as the Washington Post reported on North Korea in 2013. If you don’t have the power of the Holy Spirit with you, you will not be able to endure.
Matthew 24:22 says that if not for the sake of the elect, no one would survive. In fact, in Matthew 24:24, Christ says that even the elect may be deceived by the false prophet – a blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Mark 3:28-29).
See, inherent problem that comes with pre-tribulation rapture thinking (though I am not opposed to this teaching necessarily) is that we think our culture will still remain as it is until His return – as if the return of the Lord totally depends on the state of affairs in America. Anyone here remember Iran and Afghanistan in the 1960’s and 70’s – how would you contrast that to 1980’s before the Islamic Revolution? Let’s see… (show photos). Did Jesus return before this radical transformation of their landscape? They went from 60’s bliss to persecution, suffering and death and Jesus had not yet raptured the believers in their midst.
America as we know it could change radically tomorrow and we are not ready - spiritually or physically. Casual Christians will not survive. Change will occur rapidly – war even. Matthew 24:20 and Revelation 18:10 describe swift judgment – one hour for Babylon to fall. Why do you think Christ went into the wilderness to fast and pray for 40 days? This was to prepare Him mentally and spiritually for the 3 year assignment before Him.
What would our soldiers be like if someone told them they would never have to actually go to war before the end of their service? Do you think they would train like they should? No – of course not. They would be mediocre at best. Huh – I wonder what God sees when He looks at our training as the faithful soldiers He calls us to be (2 Timothy 2:3)?
THE SIGN: A man and his wife were driving in a dense fog and then the road came to an intersection where a semi-truck driver ran through the light and right into the side of their vehicle. The man pulled himself from the wreckage and then fought to get his wife free. She was unresponsive, covered in blood. He stumbled around looking for help and then saw a building across the street with the sign that read “Doctor’s Office”. The man, with hope in his thoughts, ran across the street with his wife in his arms. He banged on the door until someone answered. The man pleaded for help to which the person at the door said, “I am so sorry son, I am not open now. I haven’t been practicing for years.” The man, in desperation said “Sir, you have two choices, either you help me or you take down your sign. Because you are lying with false advertising saying you are one thing while being another. Either you be a doctor or don’t but don’t pretend to be something you are not.”
Either we are going to man up (ladies – woman up) and become the Christians we claim to be or take your sign down. Don’t fake it till you make it. You have to jump into the waters of truth – just like baptism – ALL IN.
Matthew 7:22-23: Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness.’
Did you get that – many of you will never see a demon driven out, or a miracle before your eyes – so these were people who were evoking the name of Jesus to do His work but they did not enter into the kingdom of God! That should scare you! That is because they were giving lip-service and they didn’t really love God. They wanted the benefits of His power without the relationship in reverence.
My job is to equip you (Ephesians 4) for the work of ministry, but you have to make the choice to act on it. No one can drag you into heaven. Choose this day whom you will serve (Joshua 24:15).
Do you think you can just be a good-enough person to appease the living God? He will not be mocked and will not tolerate lukewarm attitudes (Rev. 3:16). Make a decision – don’t waste my time or God’s – make a commitment to get in, get real, get deep and get truth and get to work or get out.
One of Satan’s greatest lies is that we have plenty of time to get right with God. Procrastinators Unite…Tomorrow.
Act now before it is too late (Zephaniah 2:2).
When you go to the dentist, you should be honest with them. Many of you will never do what the dentist tells you to do – they will say, floss, rinse, use a pick, brush 2-3 times per day and don’t drink coffee or eat sugars. You will nod, say what they want to hear, maybe do something close for a couple days and then go back to what is convenient and easy. Then end up back in the dentists chair crying in pain for the next root canal.
There is no time for this. Luke 14:25-34 says we must count the cost – leave the world behind and follow the Savior or go the way to the dodo bird.
Revelation 22:12 says “"Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.”
How many teachers do I have in the room today? Thank you teachers for your service. As teachers you know your students – you know the ones who have all the talent in the world and don’t apply themselves, the arrogant ones who manipulate others into doing the work for them, the disinterested ones, the lazy ones, the brilliant ones and the ones that work hard day in and day out to win the approval of the teacher. While the others occupy the most time as you try to get them to change their ways, your heart is aligned with those who work their hardest though they may not always get an ‘A’ you love that they care. You love that they want you happy with their efforts and you will give them your best because they want your best.
God is our teacher – so what kind of student are you?
The last phrase of 10:16 is fascinating: “and He could bear the misery of Israel no longer.” This phrase speaks of God’s compassion toward His people. In the wake of Israel’s dark ages, God’s grace, mercy, love, and compassion are evident. Believers and unbelievers alike often speak of Jesus as the one who brought love to this world (see esp. Matt 5:43–48), yet Yahweh exhibits love when His people are at their absolute worst! The only appropriate response to this kind of love should be gratitude and obedience. After all, a biblical mind is a terrible thing to waste.
Scene 2: God delivers His people with a judge (10:17–11:11). Even though the Israelites have confessed their sin, their repentance is short lived. Rather than inquiring of God for a battle strategy, the Israelites seek out a human leader whom they can put their confidence in. They are rejecting Yahweh’s authority over them by doing this (10:17–18; cf. 1 Sam 8:7). Israel’s mistake is one that the church frequently makes as well. Instead of depending upon the Lord, we look to men and women to lead us. Granted, God does use men and women to lead His people; however, we must be careful to not trust in people instead of the Lord. A biblical mind is a terrible thing to waste.
In the church, we will look to men who have doctorates, have led in ministry for many years, have written a number of books and have a stellar resume for the assignment of serving you. We must qualify our servants – correct? Well, the problem is that we look to their capabilities and not God’s. If anything, God shows us over and over again throughout Scripture that he chooses the lesser, not the greater.
Mark 10:44-45 “And whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve.”
Serving is not a belittling role – oh no – it is a mission assignment from God. The servant suddenly becomes the most powerful role in the Universe.
How do we know this because Scripture tells us:
Matthew 23:11: “The greatest among you shall be your servant.”
Mark 9:35: “And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”
I was so proud of Perry for standing up here last Sunday to preach the Gospel. It is not easy – a lot of prayer, study and work goes into it (as it should). This is our mission – to disciple and to equip for the assignment of going into all the world for the cause of Christ. Perry is a student in our Academy, teaching on Saturday mornings at Brookdale and a volunteer leader here at CFFV.
However, in the midst of all of this, the Holy Spirit is the one who speaks to us through the ones who submit to Almighty God. One of my favorite Scripture verses is:
Acts 4:13: “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ordinary men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.”
Are you with Jesus – have you been with Jesus today – or are you distracted serving the idols of your minds?
It is time to get focused on the source of all power. If you are weak, then get right with God!
Judges 10:16. “And they put away the strange gods from among them, and served the LORD.“