Ruth, chapters 1-4

“I will do for you everything that you say, for everyone in the city knows that you are an excellent woman. While it is true that I am a repurchaser, there is a repurchaser more closely related than I am. Stay here tonight, and if he will repurchase you in the morning, fine! Let him repurchase you. But if he does not want to repurchase you, I will then repurchase you myself, as surely as Jehovah lives.”
~Ruth 3:11-13

By the time the widowed Ruth approached her benefactor, Boaz to request he perform brother-in-law marriage with her, it is obvious he had already given the matter significant thought.

Through his reply, one can infer that he had taken enough notice of Ruth to ask others about her personality and reputation, and he had also taken into account her personal circumstances (Ruth 3:17).

He did not, however, rush into a relationship with Ruth, since he recognized that there was another man who legally had first choice regarding marrying Ruth and acquiring her first husband’s inheritance (Ruth 4:3-6).

Boaz, despite his power and feelings, did not overstep this law.

He took into account God’s instructions regarding the marital arrangement, setting a fine example for us, demonstrating that true love is based on principles.

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).

Joshua, chapters 21-24

“Today we know that Jehovah is among us, because you have not committed this act of unfaithfulness against Jehovah.  […]”
Joshua 22:31

The chieftains of the tribes that had settled to the West of the Jordan River were upset at the Reubenites, Gadites and half tribe of Manasseh on account of an altar these tribes had built on the edge of the river.

Even though they received their loyal help through the entire time Israel was fighting the Canaanites, these Western tribes were ready to go to war against their brothers as soon as they heard of about the altar.

It was never the Eastern tribes’ intention to separate in worship, however, as they patiently explained.

“If we were rebellious and unfaithful to Jehovah, do not spare us this day. […] No, it was because of another concern that we did this, for we said, ‘In the future, your sons will say to our sons: “What do you have to do with Jehovah the God of Israel?”‘” (Jos. 22:22-25).

The tribes of Western Israel heard out this reasoning and then proceeded ‘to praise God, and they said nothing more about going to war,’ (Jos. 22:33).

Thus we learn that it is always better to assume the best in others.
Even when we are thrown off by certain actions they decide to take, we cannot see what reasoning or underlying motivation they have.

Hence the wise words:
“Do not be quick to take offense, for the taking of offense lodges in the bosom of fools,”
(Ec. 7:9).

Joshua, chapters 16-20

Thus they finished dividing the land for inheritance by its territories. Then the Israelites gave Joshua the son of Nun an inheritance in their midst.
~Joshua 19:49

Joshua had to put the nation’s interests before his own.

He selflessly waited until the tribes had received their land assignments before proceeding to accept his family’s inheritance.

This reminds me of the self-sacrifice Christian elders demonstrate in the congregation and the patience that is expected of them and their families.

Today’s elders may never see physical blessings until God’s paradise fills the earth, yet they continue to selflessly put the congregation’s interests first, tirelessly concentrating on serving those commended to their care (Isa. 65:21,22; 1 Pet. 5:1-4).

Joshua, chapters 12-15

Caleb then said: “To the man who strikes Kir′i·ath-se′pher and captures it, I will give my daughter Achsah as a wife.” And Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s brother, captured it. So he gave him his daughter Achsah as a wife.
~Joshua 15:16,17

Othniel came to be Israel’s first judge after Joshua, but in this passage we see him rise from anonymity, transforming himself into a valiant man, building his reputation, fighting for his loved ones and what he believes in (Jg. 3:9-11).

Growing up in the shadow of his uncle Joshua, who was very diligent when it came to matters of faith, was without a doubt a strong positive influence on young Othniel.

This is a laudable example of how adult behavior and companionship can have a great, long-lasting effect on the attitudes and confidence levels of the children who look up to them.

Therefor, even those of us who are not parents should take our roles as aunts, uncles, confidants, mentors and role-models very seriously.

Joshua, chapters 9-11

“It was Jehovah who allowed their hearts to become stubborn so that they waged war against Israel, in order for him to devote them to destruction without any favorable consideration.”
~Joshua 11:20

Jehovah did not decide the fate of the Canaanites for them.

The previous verse clearly states: There was no city that made peace with the Israelites except the Hivites inhabiting Gibeon. They conquered all the others by war,” (Joshua 11:19).

Despite Jehovah’s instructions ‘not to make a covenant with them,’ the Israelites had unintentionally established a treaty between themselves and the people of Gibeon (Ex. 34:12; Jos. 9:6-15).

Then, when the other cities attacked Gibeon, the Israelites rightly felt a moral obligation to defend them (Jos. 10:6-8).

Gibeon was spared the peril that the rest of the country suffered because, in their own words, they were ‘plainly told that Jehovah […] commanded Moses his servant to give Israel all the land and to annihilate all its inhabitants,’ (Jos. 9:24).

Thus, instead of arrogantly waging war against God himself, they laid themselves at the mercy of Israel and were indefinitely assigned the role of temple servants (Jos. 9:25-27).

The fact that Jehovah did extend considerable mercy toward the people of Gibeon, even allowing them the privilege of performing duties directly related to sacred worship, highlights his willingness to set aside the execution of his own judgment in order to favor those who seek him out sincerely (Ps. 86:15).

It is different, though, in the case of those who ‘allow their hearts to become stubborn.’

We do not need to be Canaanites or God’s sworn enemies to fall into this trap of obstinate arrogance.

Whether or not we witness God’s saving hand does not depend on who we are or where we come from.

It depends on whether or not we individually heed his words to ‘cleanse our hearts and stop being so stubborn,’ (De. 10:16).