The Encourager

The Encourager

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Conclusion to the Book of Judges - Jeff Curtis

Saturday, January 13, 2024

Conclusion to the Book of Judges

By Jeff Curtis

 

The book of Judges has a double conclusion as well as a double introduction. The last five chapters can be divided into two parts: the story of Micah’s idol worship and then the moral depravity of the Benjamite men in Gibeah. Together, the two parts show the shameless religious and moral status of Israel at the end of the downward spiral described for us in the text.

 

The twofold conclusion shows the result of Israel’s gradual departure from the ways of the Lord. While chapters 17 & 18 detail the religious decline of Israel, 19-21 reflect on the moral degeneration of the nation.

 

Parallel elements are emphasized in repeated theme statements in the last five chapters. The narrator said that “every man did what was right in his own eyes” (17:6). The second statement, often combined with the other, includes the line “In those days there was no king in Israel” (17:6; 18:1; 21:25). These two statements appear in part of the conclusion.

 

The concern of the first theme statement that “every man did what was right in his own eyes” reflects in previous material in the Pentateuch. Moses called on Israel to do what was “right in the sight of the Lord.” God told Moses that the Israelites would fall away from Him and do what was right in their own eyes (Deut. 31:14-21). His prediction finally came to pass at the end of the book of Judges.

 

“Every man did what was right in his own eyes” also recalls earlier material in Judges. Seven times, the book includes some variation of the line “did evil inf the sight of the Lord.” At the end of the nation’s downward spiral, Israel was no longer able to see what was right in the eyes of the Lord. Out of repeated occasions of doing what was evil in “the sight of the Lord,” each Israelite finally did what was right in his own eyes and ignored the Lord’s will.

 

“No king in Israel,” the second theme statement, considers earlier material in two ways: in the lack of a human king and in ignoring the Lord as King. While nations around them had kings, Israel was to be led by God, not a human monarch. Moses laid out qualifications for a future Israelite king in Deuteronomy 17:14-20. Neither Moses nor Joshua assumed that role. Among the twelve judges in this book, none became a king, although the issue arose late in the life of Gideon, and in the life of his son Abimelech (Judges 8&9). Even as Judges concludes, “there was no king in Israel” (21:25).

 

At the end of the period of the judges, as Israel called for a human king, the Lord said in 1Samuel 8:7: “Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them.” This line echoes the second theme statement in Judges 17-21. Not only was there no human king in Israel, but the people did not serve the Lord as King either. Both themes reflect Israel’s disregard for the Lord and His teaching.

 

Together, the two conclusions of the book of Judges show the end result of the religious and moral decay of the nation. Each person did what he or she wanted to do, and no human or divine leader had any influence over Israel. 

Christ Gave Himself - Jeff Curtis

Saturday, January 06, 2024

Christ Gave Himself

By Jeff Curtis

 

When thinking about the mind of God, we need to realize our limitations (Isaiah 55:8-9); we shouldn’t allow ourselves to stray into areas of speculation. Still, we are encouraged by the Scriptures to meditate on the Word, and God will reward those who humbly and honestly seek to understand His will (Joshua 1:8; Psalm 1:1-3; 119:15, 46-48).

 

We should attempt to visualize the great drops of sweat that fell from our Lord’s face as He prayed in Gethsemane (Luke 22:44). We should also study on the fact that His Spirit was One with the Father’s, and yet Peter says “He… bore our sins in His body on the cross” (1Peter 2:24). By doing so, maybe we will get some insight into what is at the heart of the meaning of the term “sacrifice” and also the mystery of God. By His nature, Jesus, in perfect holiness, hated the sin. And in His perfect spiritual harmony with God, He desired to do God’s will and was nourished by doing the will of God (John 4L34).

 

Everything God asked of Him, He could willingly do, and He even desired to do. He must have known even before His coming to this world that He, the holy Prince of Life, was to be delivered over to the realm of Satan, the prince of death and the unholiest being that ever existed. It was surely here, struggling in prayer, that our Lord fully learned obedience, doing the Father’s will and submitting to something that was utterly contrary to the spiritual fiber of His Being. We should learn such obedience, such hatred of sin, such loving sacrifice – to be partakers of so great a measure of His holiness.

 

All men “have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Contingent upon this realization, fallen man must take the first step in accepting the salvation that Jesus offers us through His redemptive death. The writer of Hebrews wrote, “For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings” (Hebrews 2:10). The agony that Jesus suffered in Gethsemane was, in the will of God, the only way to achieve the purpose for which He was sent on His earthly mission (1Timothy 1:15). He, the Redeemer, paid the full price for our sins (1Peter 1:17-21). He was the Lamb of God who bore our sins (John 1:29). God made Him “to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2Corinthians 5:21). “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them” (2Corinthians 5:19). Our justification comes as “a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24).

 

 

Ever Tempted to Forsake Your Faith?

by Russ Bowman

Psalm73 - Asaph acknowledges at the outset of this psalm that he had been seriously tempted to forsake his faith. He witnessed the injustices of life, and particularly the truth that wicked people often prosper. “They are not in trouble like other men, nor are they plagued like other men...their eyes bulge with abundance; they have more than heart could wish...these are the ungodly who are always at ease...” He goes so far as to question whether or not he had been serving God in vain (v.13-14).

Notice, however, that his frame of reference is changed when he “went into the sanctuary of God” and “understood their end” (v.17). Worship helps us to keep our head on straight. As we focus upon what is divine, holy, righteous, eternal, and just, the injustices and temporality of this world are put in their proper perspective. Yes, sinful and rebellious men often prosper in this life. They revel in their pride and abundance; often abuse and oppress others; seem at times to be above judgment and secure from retribution. But my regular presence in the “sanctuary of God” serves to remind me that our holy, righteous, and all-knowing Lord sits upon the throne of God and that every man will bow before Him and give account for his actions. It is this consideration that keeps us grounded, keeps us balanced, keeps us focused on things of true eternal value. And when tempted to think poorly of our conviction and service, it is often worship that becomes our way of escape.

Isn’t it a shame that we so very often neglect that which is so crucial to our continued trust in God.

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