Judges, chapters 19-21

They asked: “Who among the tribes of Israel did not come up to Jehovah at Mizpah?” It so happened that no one had come from Jabesh-gilead into the camp where the congregation was.
~Judges 21:8

The people of Jabesh-gilead lived east of the Jordan, within the territory belonging to the tribe of Gad.

When all the other people of Israel gathered against the tribe of Benjamin for condoning a mass sex act which resulted in the death of a woman, the people of Jabesh-gilead did not take any action (Jud. 20:3-6, 12-14; 21:8,9).

As a consequence of their grave mistake, many suffered the same fate that most of the tribe of Benjamin had already suffered: annihilation (Jud. 21:10,11).

Among the thousands of people who died during the war against the tribe of Benjamin, there must have been many who considered themselves to be neutral and uninvolved in the conflict.

Sometimes a passive attitude toward social conflict can result in further violence or the injury of innocent people, for as a wise man wrote, there is “a time to be silent and a time to speak; […] A time for war and a time for peace,” (Eccl. 3:7,8).

As Christians, we do not engage in political struggles such as war, for our hope for the future lies wholly in Christ’s kingdom (Isa. 2:2-4; John 18:36).

We do, however, make every possible use of our voice to promote righteousness and condemn blatant acts of hatred and violence- acts that government too often covers up (2 Cor. 10:3,4).

Judges, chapters 15-18

After that the Danites set up the carved image for themselves, and Jonathan the son of Gershom, the son of Moses, and his sons became priests to the tribe of the Danites until the day that the inhabitants of the land went into exile.
~Judges 18:30

Moses’s grandson, Jonathan, descended from the most famous Levite, but Jehovah had installed Aaron’s descendants as those primarily responsible for carrying out the priesthood (Nu. 3:3,6,9,10).

On top of this, Jehovah had forbidden the use of idols in connection with his worship time and again (Ex. 20:4; De. 4:16; 5:8).

It was selfish of Jonathan to allow the man from Ephraim to install him as priest, leading his family in idol worship in exchange for money (Jud. 17:10).

His selfishness is magnified by his later betrayal of that family to go serve as priest before the tribe of Dan, collaborating with the Danites in their theft of various expensive idols (Jud. 18:18-20).

What can I learn from Jonathan’s attitude?
Even if I were to come from a family with a rich spiritual heritage or certain level of prominence, I should not assume my family’s reputation automatically makes me a spiritual person.
No one is exempt from following God’s explicit laws or practicing his principles, regardless of what their last name may be.
Each person is ultimately responsible for upholding strong Biblical values wholeheartedly on an individual basis (Ez. 18:30).

Judges, chapters 11-14

“Look! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and no razor should touch his head, because the child will be a Nazirite of God from birth, and he will take the lead in saving Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.”
~Judges 13:5

When reading about Samson and how he scraped honey out of a lion carcass and how he killed 30 Philistines and then took their garments, I wondered if this was not in direct conflict with his being a Nazirite (Jud. 14:8,9,19; Nu. 6:1-7).

Nazirites were individuals who vowed special dedication to Jehovah during certain periods of their lives, and they had a set of restrictions governing their conduct .

One such restriction was that they were not to come in contact with a dead body (Nu. 6:6,7).

In Samson’s case, however, those restrictions did not apply.

Because he was divinely appointed a Nazirite since before his birth, his conduct was only governed by the restrictions the angelic harbinger had indicated to his parents (Jud. 13:3-5,13,14).

 

Judges, chapters 8-10

 Gideon made it into an ephod and exhibited it in his city Ophrah; and all Israel committed spiritual prostitution with it there, and it served as a snare to Gideon and to his household.
~Judges 8:27

When Gideon liberated the Israelites from the oppression of Midian, they tried to make him king (Jg. 8:22).

However, Gideon was not about to usurp on God’s sole right to rule, so he instead asked for material donations (Jg. 8:23,24).

He proceeded to use these donations to create an Ephod, which was an apron-like garment made of gold and precious stones, worn by the high priest on special occasions (Ex. 28:6-14).

Gideon, being a man of Faith, was apparently motivated by the desire to commemorate the unlikely victory Jehovah had granted Israel over its enemies (Jg. 7:20-22; Heb. 11:32,33).

How did this piece of commemorative art become a snare?

It detracted attention from the center of pure worship which was God’s tabernacle.

The Israelites commited “spiritual prostitution” in the sense that they bowed down to the ephod as if it were God, much to Gideon’s dismay.

What can we learn from this?
Good intentions do no always justify the means or the project.
We should be careful with our actions so that we never become a “stumbling block” to members of our community and our spiritual endeavors end up having an opposite effect (Rom. 14:13; 1 Cor. 10:23,24).

 

Judges, chapters 5-7

The villagers in Israel were no more;
They were no more until I, Deborah, rose up,
Until I arose as a mother in Israel.
~Judges 5:7

Here, the prophetess Deborah is praised in song for leading the Israelites in victorious battle against their oppressors (Jud. 4:14-16).

As women, we should never feel so powerless or intimidated by men to the point where we restrain from delivering God’s message .

To assume no one will listen to us is to underestimate the power of God’s word, for he is the one who puts it into action, and he will use any means he wishes to achieve its purpose (Isa. 55:10,11).

Therefor, may we not shy away from making a difference.
Let us seize decisive moments and speak God’s truth (John 17:17).

Judges, chapters 1-4

“They would take their daughters as wives, and their own daughters they gave to their sons, and they began serving their gods.”

~Judges 3:6

Strict as God’s commandment on inter-religious marrying may seem, the truth is the person who can most influence our worship and spirituality is our spouse, whether for good or bad.

A person who has an unbelieving spouse lives divided, always trying to find the balance between two sacred priorities.

If both partners hold strong values, this can lead to countless unnecessary arguments that can leave emotional scars on either of them or their children.

Growing up, my father was agnostic and my mother, a zealous evangelizer of God’s word.

In recent years, my father has changed his opinion of the Bible and now participates in bi-weekly Christian meetings alongside my mother.

In effect, they get along a lot better now and are overall more happy than when they each held separate belief systems.

It is as easy now as it was in ancient Israel to underestimate the degree of influence a potential spouse will play in one’s relationship with God, especially because we tend to think of spirituality as an individual soul-searching process.

Sadly, throughout my adult life I have had the experience of witnessing the exact opposite of my parents’ experience.

I have had several friends leave their God-fearing spouses for unbelieving new partners.

This course of action has led these friends to spiritual ruin, and has undone the reputation of their faithful spouses.

It is just as essential, then, to heed God’s advice and seek an intimate relationship with someone of the opposite sex “only in the Lord,” (1 Cor. 7:39).