1709.) Judges 3:12-31

November 19, 2015

. . . said Ehud, and it worked to his advantage!

Judges 3:12-31  (NIV)


12 Once again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, and because they did this evil the LORD gave Eglon king of Moab power over Israel. 13 Getting the Ammonites and Amalekites to join him, Eglon came and attacked Israel, and they took possession of the City of Palms (that is, Jericho).  14 The Israelites were subject to Eglon king of Moab for eighteen years.

15 Again the Israelites cried out to the LORD, and he gave them a deliverer—Ehud, a left-handed man, the son of Gera the Benjamite.

In the ancient world left-handed people were often forced to become right-handed. This made Ehud’s standing as a left-handed man more unusual.

–David Guzik



HERE  is Scriabin’s beautiful “Nocturne for the Left Hand Alone,” played by Antonio Iturrioz.  Alexander Scriabin, 1872-1915, was a Russian composer and pianist; Tolstoy described his music as “a sincere expression of genius.”


The Israelites sent him with tribute to Eglon king of Moab. 16 Now Ehud had made a double-edged sword about a foot and a half  long, which he strapped to his right thigh under his clothing. 17 He presented the tribute to Eglon king of Moab, who was a very fat man. 18 After Ehud had presented the tribute, he sent on their way the men who had carried it. 19 At the idols  near Gilgal he himself turned back and said, “I have a secret message for you, O king.”

The king said, “Quiet!” And all his attendants left him.

20 Ehud then approached him while he was sitting alone in the upper room of his summer palace and said, “I have a message from God for you.” As the king rose from his seat, 21 Ehud reached with his left hand, drew the sword from his right thigh and plunged it into the king’s belly.

by dm

by J. M. Smith  — JMSmith.org/art

A right-handed person would have strapped the dagger on his left thigh in order to grab it with his right hand at the opportune moment, and Eglon would have been on guard when seeing a man’s right hand go under his cloak. But left-handed Ehud was not suspected when he slipped his left hand beneath his cloak to grab his short sword!

22 Even the handle sank in after the blade, which came out his back. Ehud did not pull the sword out, and the fat closed in over it. 23 Then Ehud went out to the porch ; he shut the doors of the upper room behind him and locked them.

24 After he had gone, the servants came and found the doors of the upper room locked. They said, “He must be relieving himself in the inner room of the house.” 25 They waited to the point of embarrassment, but when he did not open the doors of the room, they took a key and unlocked them. There they saw their lord fallen to the floor, dead.

26 While they waited, Ehud got away. He passed by the idols and escaped to Seirah. 27 When he arrived there, he blew a trumpet in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites went down with him from the hills, with him leading them.

28 “Follow me,” he ordered, “for the LORD has given Moab, your enemy, into your hands.” So they followed him down and, taking possession of the fords of the Jordan that led to Moab, they allowed no one to cross over. 29 At that time they struck down about ten thousand Moabites, all vigorous and strong; not a man escaped. 30 That day Moab was made subject to Israel, and the land had peace for eighty years.

Really, couldn’t you see this whole situation as part of a James Bond movie?!  “Bond.  Ehud Bond.”

And for the record, Sean Connery is THE James Bond; all other actors in that role are also-rans.


31 After Ehud came Shamgar son of Anath, who struck down six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad. He too saved Israel.

If Ehud was James Bond, I think Shamgar was more Chuck Norris!

And by the way, an oxgoad is a traditional farming tool used to prod and guide livestock.  It could be up to 10 feet long, with a metal spear-like point on one end, and a metal flattened plate, like a paddle, on the other.  Just the kind of weapon that would appeal to Chuck!


There was nothing spectacular about an ox goad. But God can use, and wants to use, whatever is in our hands. Shamgar was merely a laborer doing his job; but he took what was in his hand when prompted by God and he rescued the people of God from their enemies. Shamgar was like Moses and his shepherd’s staff or David and his shepherd’s sling. God uses simple things to accomplish great things.

What do you have in your hand? Do you sing? Make jam? Write? Teach? Cook? Draw up architectural plans? Operate on sick people? Remove teeth? Push a wheel chair? Grow plants for food? Visit people in the nursing home? Offer it to God for him to use it for his good purposes!


New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica
Images courtesy of:
Yes, I am left-handed.    http://www.jasonslater.co.uk/images/lefthanded.jpg
left hand print.    http://healthpsych.psy.vanderbilt.edu/2008/LeftHand_files/image001.jpg
Ehud kills Eglon.    http://jmsmith.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Ehud-and-Eglon.jpg
James Bond.   http://shipbright.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/sean-connery8.jpg
Chuck Norris.    http://msmills.files.wordpress.com/2008/03/chuck_norris.jpg

1708.) Judges 3:1-11

November 18, 2015

Perhaps this bronze figure is a Canaanite warrior god, with his left hand holding part of a shield and his right raised to throw a spear.  It is dated to the early 2nd Millennium BCE, and measures about 5.5 by 1.5 inches.

Judges 3:1-11 (New International Version)

1 These are the nations the LORD left to test all those Israelites who had not experienced any of the wars in Canaan 2 (he did this only to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites who had not had previous battle experience): 3 the five rulers of the Philistines, all the Canaanites, the Sidonians, and the Hivites living in the Lebanon mountains from Mount Baal Hermon to Lebo  Hamath. 4 They were left to test the Israelites to see whether they would obey the LORD’s commands, which he had given their forefathers through Moses.

5 The Israelites lived among the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 6 They took their daughters in marriage and gave their own daughters to their sons, and served their gods.

Psalm 106:34-39 (NLT)

Israel failed to destroy the nations in the land,
as the Lord had commanded them.
Instead, they mingled among the pagans
and adopted their evil customs.
They worshiped their idols,
which led to their downfall.
They even sacrificed their sons
and their daughters to the demons.
They shed innocent blood,
the blood of their sons and daughters.
By sacrificing them to the idols of Canaan,
they polluted the land with murder.
They defiled themselves by their evil deeds,
and their love of idols was adultery in the Lord’s sight.


Othniel, the Kenizzite — by James Tissot

7 The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD; they forgot the LORD their God and served the Baals and the Asherahs. 8 The anger of the LORD burned against Israel so that he sold them into the hands of Cushan-Rishathaim king of Aram Naharaim,  to whom the Israelites were subject for eight years. 9 But when they cried out to the LORD, he raised up for them a deliverer, Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother, who saved them. 10 The Spirit of the LORD came upon him,

so that he became Israel’s judge and went to war. The LORD gave Cushan-Rishathaim king of Aram into the hands of Othniel, who overpowered him. 11 So the land had peace for forty years, until Othniel son of Kenaz died.

Othniel, Israel’s first judge

–his name could be translated “lion of God”
–he conquered the town of Debir and won Caleb’s daughter as his wife
–he smote the king Cushan-Rishathaim and delivered peace to the Israelites for an entire generation



HERE  is “My Deliverer (Is the Lord)” — a Chris Tomlin piece, which puts all the praise before the Lord, where it belongs.


New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
tall bronze figure.    http://www.heliosgallery.com/noframes/wasian/images/tallbronzefigure.jpg
Failure.    http://sharun.files.wordpress.com/2009/02/failure0400.jpg
Tissot.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/3-tissot-othniel2.jpg
Holy Spirit of God.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/3-holyspirit1.jpg?w=450
lion.  https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/3-lion.jpg?w=450

1707.) Judges 2

November 17, 2015

“Bokim — the Message.”  Encaustic wax oilgraph on wooden panel by Kevin Rolly (2007).

Judges 2 (New International Version)

The Angel of the LORD at Bokim

1 The angel of the LORD went up from Gilgal to Bokim and said, “I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land that I swore to give to your forefathers. I said, ‘I will never break my covenant with you, 2 and you shall not make a covenant with the people of this land, but you shall break down their altars.’

It is God’s general pattern to remind us of His great love and faithfulness to us before calling us to obedience or confronting our sin. We love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19), and we can only really obey Him as we walk in His love and abide in His covenant with us. The words, “I will never break My covenant with you” remind us that even though Israel never fully lived up to their part of the covenant, God promised that He would never forsake His part of the covenant.

–David Guzik

Yet you have disobeyed me. Why have you done this? 3 Now therefore I tell you that I will not drive them out before you; they will be thorns in your sides and their gods will be a snare to you.”

The announcement that the Canaanites would remain as problems to the nation was promised beforehand to Israel if they would not faithfully drive out the Canaanites.

But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then it shall be that those whom you let remain shall be irritants in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall harass you in the land where you dwell. (Numbers 33:55)

4 When the angel of the LORD had spoken these things to all the Israelites, the people wept aloud, 5 and they called that place Bokim.  There they offered sacrifices to the LORD.

We will see if this sorrow over their disobedience to God will continue and spur them to faithfulness.

Disobedience and Defeat

6 After Joshua had dismissed the Israelites, they went to take possession of the land, each to his own inheritance. 7 The people served the LORD throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had seen all the great things the LORD had done for Israel.

8 Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of a hundred and ten. 9 And they buried him in the land of his inheritance, at Timnath Heres  in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash.

Thanks for everything, Joshua!

10 After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel. 11 Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD and served the Baals. 12 They forsook the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them. They provoked the LORD to anger 13 because they forsook him and served Baal and the Ashtoreths.

This is bad news!

In all likelihood Israel did not see their idolatry as forsaking God; they probably just thought they were adding a few gods along side of the God of their fathers. Don’t they remember the First Commandment:  “You shall have no other gods before Me”?

Baal was a Canaanite fertility god. He and his consort Ashtoreth were nature gods who ruled over the crops. The belief was that when Baal and Ashtoreth had intercourse, the rains would fall and grow the crops. But Baal needed encouragement, so the religion employed temple prostitutes. Worship for Canaanite men included a roll in the hay with the temple prostitutes, with (perhaps) a fleeting thought that Baal would see and get busy himself.

No wonder that the Israelites adopted this religion! This was better than sacrificing the best animal in your flock! And no wonder that “they provoked the Lord to anger” with their disloyalty and disobedience.

But before we think ourselves too much better than the Israelites, let’s think:  where are we, where is our church, where is our nation disobedient and disloyal to the God who created heaven and earth and the sea and everything in them and who loves each one of us more than we can begin to imagine? And how can we live so as to honor the Lord in all we say and do?

14 In his anger against Israel the LORD handed them over to raiders who plundered them. He sold them to their enemies all around, whom they were no longer able to resist. 15 Whenever Israel went out to fight, the hand of the LORD was against them to defeat them, just as he had sworn to them. They were in great distress.

16 Then the LORD raised up judges,  who saved them out of the hands of these raiders. 17 Yet they would not listen to their judges but prostituted themselves to other gods and worshiped them. Unlike their fathers, they quickly turned from the way in which their fathers had walked, the way of obedience to the LORD’s commands. 18 Whenever the LORD raised up a judge for them, he was with the judge and saved them out of the hands of their enemies as long as the judge lived; for the LORD had compassion on them as they groaned under those who oppressed and afflicted them. 19 But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their fathers, following other gods and serving and worshiping them. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways.

These verses line out a pattern that we will see over and over again in the book of Judges. As the Walk Thru the Old Testament Seminar explains it, there are five stages:

1)  sin. And the sin is always idolatry. (Verse 13 above:  They forsook him and served Baal.)

2)  servitude. The Lord lets things get bad, hoping the people will see the connection and turn back to him. (Verse 14 above:  “the LORD handed them over to raiders who plundered them.”)

3)  supplication. When all else fails, pray! (Verse 18 above:   “as they groaned under those who oppressed and afflicted them.”)

4)  salvation. God sends deliverance and relief in the form of a “judge,” usually a heroic military leader. (Verse 16 above: “Then the LORD raised up judges,  who saved them out of the hands of these raiders.”)

5)  silence. There is obedience to God and peace among the people as long as the judge lives. (Verse 18 above:  “he was with the judge and saved them out of the hands of their enemies as long as the judge lived.”)

20 Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel and said, “Because this nation has violated the covenant that I laid down for their forefathers and has not listened to me, 21 I will no longer drive out before them any of the nations Joshua left when he died. 22 I will use them to test Israel and see whether they will keep the way of the LORD and walk in it as their forefathers did.” 23 The LORD had allowed those nations to remain; he did not drive them out at once by giving them into the hands of Joshua.

After setting their hearts on sinful things, Israel found that God gave what their sinful hearts desired. This illustrates the great danger of setting our hearts on sinful things; we may get to the point where God may allow us to have them — thus bringing sin, bondage, and pain into our lives.

–David Guzik



Verse 10 captures a great disobedience and a great sadness:  Another generation grew up who did not know the Lord.

HERE  “Teach Your Children Well”  by Crosby, Stills and Nash.  The song was first released in 1970.


New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Rolly.     http://fc09.deviantart.net/fs18/f/2007/208/6/d/Bokim___The_Message_by_kevissimo.jpg
R.I.P.    http://www.clipartbest.com/cliparts/9c4/exk/9c4exknyi.jpeg
Noooo.    http://www.nataliedee.com/082006/not-looking-good-for-egg.jpg
sin cycle chart.    http://www.jesusplusnothing.com/studies/images/cycle.gif

1706.) Judges 1

November 16, 2015

Ten fingers. Ten toes. Count them. Photography by Sarah K. Chen.

Judges 1 (New International Version)

Israel Fights the Remaining Canaanites

“There is, however, one light in which the whole book may be viewed, which renders it invaluable; it is a most remarkable history of the longsuffering of God towards the Israelites, in which we find the most signal instances of his justice and mercy alternately displayed; the people sinned, and were punished; they repented, and found mercy.  Something of this kind we meet with in every page.  And these things are writted for our warning.  None should presume, for God is just; none need despair, for God is merciful.” (Clarke)

–David Guzik



At the close of the book of Joshua, the people of Israel declare that, “as for me and my house,” they will stand firm for God and serve him.  All those people, all those families, are ready to start a new chapter in their lives, as they have come into possession of the Promised Land.  A future and a hope!  I dedicate this song to all of you who are on the verge of a new thing — may the Lord bless you!  And to the rest of you, who may be feeling pretty comfortable in your groove  (your rut?), or who are longing for a change — may the Lord bless you, too!

HERE  Gary Valenciano sings “Lead Me, Lord.”


1 After the death of Joshua, the Israelites asked the LORD, “Who will be the first to go up and fight for us against the Canaanites?”

2 The LORD answered, “Judah is to go; I have given the land into their hands.”

Under the leadership of Joshua Israel had broken the back of Canaan’s military strength. Yet it remained for each individual tribe to actually go in and possess what God had given them.

3 Then the men of Judah said to the Simeonites their brothers, “Come up with us into the territory allotted to us, to fight against the Canaanites. We in turn will go with you into yours.” So the Simeonites went with them.

4 When Judah attacked, the LORD gave the Canaanites and Perizzites into their hands and they struck down ten thousand men at Bezek. 5 It was there that they found Adoni-Bezek and fought against him, putting to rout the Canaanites and Perizzites. 6 Adoni-Bezek fled, but they chased him and caught him, and cut off his thumbs and big toes.

7 Then Adoni-Bezek said, “Seventy kings with their thumbs and big toes cut off have picked up scraps under my table. Now God has paid me back for what I did to them.”

Thumbs and big toes!

My mother used to say . . .

“What you put into the lives of others, comes back into your own.”

And the Bible says . . .

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Adoni-Bezek said . . .

“Thumb-thing is wrong here, no thanks to toes Israelites!”

They brought him to Jerusalem, and he died there.

8 The men of Judah attacked Jerusalem also and took it. They put the city to the sword and set it on fire.

9 After that, the men of Judah went down to fight against the Canaanites living in the hill country, the Negev and the western foothills.

Note that Judges 1:9 describes the three major geographic divisions of Israel:

  • The mountains, or more literally the hill country, “which describes the mountainous regions between Jerusalem and Hebron.”
  • The South, also known as the Negev, which is “the semi-arid area between Hebron and Kadesh-barnea.”
  • The lowland, sometimes called the Shelphelah from the Hebrew word used here. This “is the region of foot-hills running north and south between the costal plain and the central mountain range.”

–David Guzik

10 They advanced against the Canaanites living in Hebron (formerly called Kiriath Arba) and defeated Sheshai, Ahiman and Talmai.

11 From there they advanced against the people living in Debir (formerly called Kiriath Sepher). 12 And Caleb said, “I will give my daughter Acsah in marriage to the man who attacks and captures Kiriath Sepher.” 13 Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother, took it; so Caleb gave his daughter Acsah to him in marriage.

14 One day when she came to Othniel, she urged him  to ask her father for a field. When she got off her donkey, Caleb asked her, “What can I do for you?”

15 She replied, “Do me a special favor. Since you have given me land in the Negev, give me also springs of water.” Then Caleb gave her the upper and lower springs.

from Mrs. Cowman’s Streams in the Desert:

“And Caleb said unto her, What wouldest thou?  She answered, give me a blessing; for thou hast given me a south land; give me also springs of water.  And he gave her the upper springs, and the nether springs” (Joshua 15:18, 19).

There are both upper and nether springs.  They are springs, not stagnant pools. There are joys and blessings that flow from above through the hottest summer and the most desert land of sorrow and trial.  The lands of Achsah were “south lands,” lying under a burning sun and often parched with burning heat.   But from the hills came the unfailing springs, that cooled, refreshed and fertilized all the land.

There are springs that flow in the low places of life, in the hard places, in the desert places, in the lone places, in the common places, and no matter what may be our situation, we can always find these upper springs.

Abraham found them amid the hills of Canaan.  Moses found them among the rocks of Midian.  David found them among the ashes of Ziklag when his property was gone, his family captives and his people talked of stoning him, but “David encouraged himself in the Lord.”

Habakkuk found them when the fig tree was withered and the fields were brown, but as he drank from them he could sing:  “Yet will I rejoice in the Lord and joy in the God of my salvation.”

Isaiah found them in the awful days of Sennacherib’s invasion, when the mountains seemed hurled into the midst of the sea, but faith could sing:  “There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God.  God is in the midst of her:  she shall not be moved.”

The martyrs found them amid the flames, and reformers amid their foes and conflicts, and we can find them all the year if we have the Comforter in our hearts and have learned to say with David:  “All my springs are in thee.”  How many and how precious these springs, and how much more there is to be possessed of God’s own fullness!

16 The descendants of Moses’ father-in-law, the Kenite, went up from the City of Palms (that is, Jericho) with the men of Judah to live among the people of the Desert of Judah in the Negev near Arad.

17 Then the men of Judah went with the Simeonites their brothers and attacked the Canaanites living in Zephath, and they totally destroyed the city. Therefore it was called Hormah.  18 The men of Judah also took  Gaza, Ashkelon and Ekron—each city with its territory.

19 The LORD was with the men of Judah. They took possession of the hill country, but they were unable to drive the people from the plains, because they had iron chariots.

a replica of an ancient iron-wheeled chariot

The men of the tribe of Judah could not drive out the inhabitants of the plain because they had iron chariots. Pulled by two horses, the chariot was in effect a moving platform for two or three soldiers. It was most valuable in making rapid flanking movements where the land was fairly flat and open. The coastal area of Palestine was relatively level, while the hill-country inland featured steep slopes and deep valleys. In ancient times the hills were heavily forested and Israelite guerrilla tactics proved successful in this territory. However, in the coastal plain the Canaanite and Philistine chariots proved to be the tanks of their period, racing across the flat country. But chariots were ineffective on wooded hills.

Since the Iron Age had just begun in Canaan, iron chariots would have been the latest and best military weapon. Some scholars believe the iron would have been used to make part of the wheels and fittings of the chariot, while others think there was an iron plate to reinforce the wooden body of the chariot. In either case, the iron would have been superior to bronze, and would have made the chariot more durable.

Israel did not obtain chariots until the time of the monarchy.

–James Moyer


20 As Moses had promised, Hebron was given to Caleb, who drove from it the three sons of Anak. 21 The Benjamites, however, failed to dislodge the Jebusites, who were living in Jerusalem; to this day the Jebusites live there with the Benjamites.

22 Now the house of Joseph attacked Bethel, and the LORD was with them. 23 When they sent men to spy out Bethel (formerly called Luz), 24 the spies saw a man coming out of the city and they said to him, “Show us how to get into the city and we will see that you are treated well.” 25 So he showed them, and they put the city to the sword but spared the man and his whole family. 26 He then went to the land of the Hittites, where he built a city and called it Luz, which is its name to this day.

27 But Manasseh did not drive out the people of Beth Shan or Taanach or Dor or Ibleam or Megiddo and their surrounding settlements, for the Canaanites were determined to live in that land. 28 When Israel became strong, they pressed the Canaanites into forced labor but never drove them out completely. 29 Nor did Ephraim drive out the Canaanites living in Gezer, but the Canaanites continued to live there among them. 30 Neither did Zebulun drive out the Canaanites living in Kitron or Nahalol, who remained among them; but they did subject them to forced labor. 31 Nor did Asher drive out those living in Acco or Sidon or Ahlab or Aczib or Helbah or Aphek or Rehob, 32 and because of this the people of Asher lived among the Canaanite inhabitants of the land. 33 Neither did Naphtali drive out those living in Beth Shemesh or Beth Anath; but the Naphtalites too lived among the Canaanite inhabitants of the land, and those living in Beth Shemesh and Beth Anath became forced laborers for them. 34 The Amorites confined the tribe of Dan to the hill country, not allowing them to come down into the plain. 35 And the Amorites were determined also to hold out in Mount Heres, Aijalon and Shaalbim, but when the power of the house of Joseph increased, they too were pressed into forced labor. 36 The boundary of the Amorites was from Scorpion  Pass to Sela and beyond.

Judg1 broken-faithful

from Experiencing God Day-by-Day,
by Henry T. Blackaby and Richard Blackaby

God gave the Israelites specific instructions:  Drive the Canaanites out of every corner of the land, and obliterate any vestige of their abominable idol worship.  The assignment was challenging!  Their enemies had formidable  chariots.  The Canaanites had seemingly impregnable fortresses that were dangerous and difficult to overcome.  The Israelites failed to drive all the Canaanites from the land.  Much about the Canaanite lifestyle and religion appealed to the Israelites’ sinful nature.  Rather than destroying them and their idolatry, Israel compromised.  The Canaanites would prove to be a troublesome distraction to the Israelites.  Their idol worship would present a constant temptation.

The book of Judges is one long lesson:  Do not underestimate the destructive power of sin.

A final thought:  At this period of time, the tribes of Israel at their best experienced incomplete victory; at their worst they simply surrendered to and accommodated the enemy. This makes us value the complete and glorious victory of Jesus Christ on our behalf all the more. There was nothing left incomplete in the victory He won for us on the cross and through the resurrection.

–David Guzik


New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Chen.    http://sarahkchen.net/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/kylie-1000ww.jpg
thumb clip art.    http://www.clker.com/cliparts/f/9/4/2/1195435260847559291dagobert83_thumb.svg.hi.png
bubbling spring.    http://heartofukraine.com/images/Big15.JPG
iron chariot.    http://www.bible-archaeology.info/images/1.8.Deborah_Etruscan_chariot_530BC.jpg
Judges.    https://biblicaljoy.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/judges-small.jpg

1705.) Jude

November 13, 2015

Jude 1 (English Standard Version)

We have just read about the successes of the Israelite nation under the strong leadership of Joshua, that with God’s help they came into the Promised Land to make it their own. “As for me and my house,” they vowed, “we will serve the Lord!”

Next up is Judges, where we will read of their repeated failures to love God obediently and love their neighbors properly. This book today, Jude, is a New Testament letter along a very similar line. Here Jude warns readers to be on guard against all who might pervert the grace of God by teaching dangerous practices and doctrines that put the gospel of Jesus Christ in peril.


1Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James,

To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ:

2May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.

Judgment on False Teachers

3Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.

Jude wrestling

  • The ancient Greek word translated contend comes from the athletic world — the wrestling mat. It is a strengthened form of the word meaning “to agonize.” Contend speaks of hard and diligent work.
  • The verb translated contend earnestly is in the present infinitive, showing that the Christian struggle is continuous.

–David Guzik

“Fight the good fight of faith, and God will give you spiritual mercies.”

–George Whitefield

We are never to lie down and allow lies to take hold and fester. We are to relentlessly assault error with the truth. That is our battle.

–Brandon N. Davison

4For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Jude could not be more clear in his terminology when referring to false teachers. I have underlined the epithets he uses when speaking of false teachers. He bolsters his argument by giving three examples which show the certainty of God’s judgement against those “certain people” — the example of the people of Israel (verse 5), the example of the angels who sinned (verse 6), and the example of Sodom and Gomorrah (verse 7).

5Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. 6And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— 7just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

8Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones.

The post-modern culture of today dismisses the notion of any absolute authority and encourages individuals to be their own judges of what is right and what is wrong. People can do this by picking and choosing what in the Scripture they will believe and follow. Or they can do this by mixing up teachings from many religions and believing what they think is nice. Or we can do this by proclaiming ourselves to be Christians yet acting no differently from our non-believing neighbors. (Pause for self-examination.) We will read more about this in the book of  Judges:  “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25).

9But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” 10 But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively.

And now three more bad examples:  Cain, Balaam, and Korah. 

Cain offered his sacrifice to the Lord without faith, and was therefore unacceptable to God (Genesis 4, Hebrews 11:4). Then Cain became angry at his brother Abel (who had offered the Lord an acceptable offering) and killed him. Jude says that Cain typifies a way that the “certain men” follow in. It is the way of unbelief and empty religion, which leads to jealousy, persecution of the truly godly, and eventually to murderous anger.

The story of Balaam is found in Numbers 22 to 25 and 31. Balaam, a prophet, disobeyed the Lord’s plain instructions and tried to curse the people of Israel because he would be paid handsomely for doing so. Jude says there are “certain men” leading and teaching the church who are willing to sell out everything for personal financial gain.

Korah resented the authority that God had given to Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and tried to get more power for himself. God destroyed him and his followers, as found in Numbers 16. “Certain men” try to do what they want for themselves rather than following Christ to the work he has called them to do.

11Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion. 12These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; 13 wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.

2 Corinthians 10:5-6 (NIV)

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.

14It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, 15 to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” 16These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage.

A Call to Persevere

17But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. 18They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” 19It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. 20But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. 22And have mercy on those who doubt; 23save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.


 24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.



1) Several years ago my late father, then aged 96, visited us, and we talked at some length about his time fighting in New Guinea during World War II. He said something which quite moved me — that it was in battle that he learned what kind of a man he was. But actually, isn’t that true for all of us? It is the hard times which show most truly our inner character.

Jude calls us to be contenders for the faith, willing to fight against our own selfish desires and habits, against the perverse and unkind ways of the world. Jude cheers us on to work at building our faith and prayer life, to love each other with mercy and Christ-likeness. It is not necessarily easy, but it is of eternal value. My prayer for all of us readers of DWELLING in the Word is that we will not grow weary in the battles of our lives, but keep our eyes on Jesus, who has already, and forever, won the victory!

HERE  is a rousing version of “Lead On, O King Eternal”!

2) The benediction in the last lines of Jude is truly beautiful, and has been put to music a number of times. Some choices for you:  HERE  from Maranatha.  HERE  from a men’s quartet from the Salvation Army.  HERE  for my favorite – an acapella version.


English Standard Version (ESV)   The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
Contend for the faith.   http://touchyaneighbor.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/contend-for-the-faith1.jpg
wrestling.   http://media.lehighvalleylive.com/sports_impact/photo/austin-sommer-and-shawn-greevy-a10bbc9fd15d132c.jpg
Post-modernism.   http://farisyakob.typepad.com/blog/images/pomo.jpg
Calvin.   http://images.fanpop.com/images/image_uploads/calvin-angry-calvin–26-hobbes-318681_366_362.jpg
Take captive every thought.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/thoughts1.jpg
keep you from falling.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/27sepp270ms800x500.jpg

1704.) Joshua 24

November 12, 2015

Joshua 24   (NRSV)

The Tribes Renew the Covenant

Then Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and summoned the elders, the heads, the judges, and the officers of Israel; and they presented themselves before God.

“Joshua assembled all the tribes of Israel at Shechem.” — by Israeli artist Nurit Tzarfati

2And Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Long ago your ancestors—Terah and his sons Abraham and Nahor—lived beyond the Euphrates and served other gods. 3Then I took your father Abraham from beyond the River and led him through all the land of Canaan and made his offspring many. I gave him Isaac; 4and to Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. I gave Esau the hill country of Seir to possess, but Jacob and his children went down to Egypt.

5“Then I sent Moses and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt with what I did in its midst; and afterwards I brought you out. 6When I brought your ancestors out of Egypt, you came to the sea; and the Egyptians pursued your ancestors with chariots and horsemen to the Red Sea.

Crossing the Red Sea — a Coptic icon

7When they cried out to the Lord, he put darkness between you and the Egyptians, and made the sea come upon them and cover them; and your eyes saw what I did to Egypt. Afterwards you lived in the wilderness a long time.

8“Then I brought you to the land of the Amorites, who lived on the other side of the Jordan; they fought with you, and I handed them over to you, and you took possession of their land, and I destroyed them before you. 9Then King Balak son of Zippor of Moab, set out to fight against Israel. He sent and invited Balaam son of Beor to curse you, 10but I would not listen to Balaam; therefore he blessed you; so I rescued you out of his hand.

11“When you went over the Jordan and came to Jericho,

the citizens of Jericho fought against you, and also the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; and I handed them over to you. 12I sent the hornet ahead of you, which drove out before you the two kings of the Amorites; it was not by your sword or by your bow. 13I gave you a land on which you had not labored, and towns that you had not built, and you live in them; you eat the fruit of vineyards and oliveyards that you did not plant.

14“Now therefore revere the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods that your ancestors served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15Now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

Joshua commands them to choose whom you will serve, not if you will serve. We will all serve someone — either the devil (intentionally or not), or the Lord. We really are not left the option of not serving anyone. Joshua answers on behalf of his family. Inherent in Joshua’s declaration is that he would serve the Lord alone. He would not serve the Lord and someone or something else. There was one God in his life, and that God was the Lord.

–David Guzik

art by Kathleen Wilson

16Then the people answered, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods; 17for it is the Lord our God who brought us and our ancestors up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, and who did those great signs in our sight. He protected us along all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed; 18and the Lord drove out before us all the peoples, the Amorites who lived in the land. Therefore we also will serve the Lord, for he is our God.”



HERE  is the perfect song for this chapter! “Today I Choose (As for Me and my House)”  by Brian Doerksen.


19But Joshua said to the people, “You cannot serve the Lord, for he is a holy God. He is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions or your sins. 20If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, then he will turn and do you harm, and consume you, after having done you good.”

21And the people said to Joshua, “No, we will serve the Lord!”

22Then Joshua said to the people, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the Lord, to serve him.”

And they said, “We are witnesses.”

23He said, “Then put away the foreign gods that are among you, and incline your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel.”

24The people said to Joshua, “The Lord our God we will serve, and him we will obey.”

25So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and made statutes and ordinances for them at Shechem. 26Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God; and he took a large stone, and set it up there under the oak in the sanctuary of the Lord.

“Then he took a large stone and set it up there under the oak tree.” — by Israeli artist Nurit Tzarfati

27Joshua said to all the people, “See, this stone shall be a witness against us; for it has heard all the words of the Lord that he spoke to us; therefore it shall be a witness against you, if you deal falsely with your God.” 28So Joshua sent the people away to their inheritances.

from This Day with the Master,
by Dennis F. Kinlaw

The closing chapters of the book of Joshua are Joshua’s final words to the people of Israel.  Israel is in the promised land, and Joshua wishes to renew the covenant between Israel and Yahweh before he dies.  He reviews the history of the covenant and speaks about God’s faithfulness to his people.  He calls them to choose whether or not they will serve Yahweh.  Joshua is very aware that after his death the temptation to compromise with the Canaanites will be strong, and a compromise would mean death for Israel’s culture and faith.  Joshua is anxious for the people of God to reaffirm their loyalty to the God of Abraham, Moses, Sinai, and the conquest, and so he calls them to do so.  The people acknowledge God’s actions for them, and they pledge their allegiance to Yahweh.

Joshua’s appeal to the people is based on God’s actions for Israel and not on Israel’s actions for God.  God has chosen and blessed Israel, and their motive for serving him must be his great mercy and grace to them.  The same is true today.  The important thing is not what we have done for God but what God has done for us.  The deliverance from Egypt, the provision in the wilderness, the crossing of the Jordan, and the conquest of the land are historical pictures of redemption provided for us in Christ.  He will provide for those who trust in him and will give them grace to overcome all foes.

The effectiveness of Joshua’s plea is indicated in the closing verses of his book.  “Israel served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had experienced everything the Lord had done for Israel” (verse 31).  It is necessary for every individual in every successive generation to see the work of God personally.  Each of us must come to a meeting with God in which we enter into a covenant relationship with Yahweh.  Therefore the word to us is still:  “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.”

Death of Joshua and Eleazar

Thank you for everything, Joshua!

29After these things Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died, being one hundred ten years old. 30They buried him in his own inheritance at Timnath-serah, which is in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash. 31Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua and had known all the work that the Lord did for Israel.

This was the greatest legacy of Joshua. His godly influence was effectively communicated to and through the whole nation.

We will never forget you, Joseph!

32The bones of Joseph, which the Israelites had brought up from Egypt, were buried at Shechem, in the portion of ground that Jacob had bought from the children of Hamor, the father of Shechem, for one hundred pieces of money; it became an inheritance of the descendants of Joseph.

This may seem like an inconsequential point, but it fulfills Genesis 50:25. This is also mentioned in Hebrews 11:22 as an example of Joseph’s faith.

Enjoy your eternal life, Eleazar!

33Eleazar son of Aaron died; and they buried him at Gibeah, the town of his son Phinehas, which had been given him in the hill country of Ephraim.

Eleazar’s death meant that another link with the wilderness generation had passed. Now Phinehas was High Priest.

The END of the book of Joshua.



What did you learn?

Or what encouraged you?

Or what do you want to remember always?

Or for what specifically can you praise God on account of the book of Joshua?

Please leave a reply!


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
“As for me and my household”    http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3212/2995484697_9c24bb722f.jpg
Tzarfati.    http://www.biblical-art.com/artist_artwork.asp?id_artist=2096&alt=2&pagenum=1
crossing the Red Sea, a Coptic icon.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/24-red-sea-crossing.jpg
Jericho walls falling.     http://www.reformation.org/en-walls-of-jericho.jpg
Wilson.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/24-jsw_as-for-me-and-my-house.jpg
“Choose YOU this day”    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/24-v15-leaves.jpg
R.I.P.    http://thor.he.net/~gludlow/rip.gif
Think.    http://myzone.greenvinemarketi.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/think_idea.jpg

1703.) Joshua 23

November 11, 2015

— believing God’s promises are true for you!

Joshua 23   (NRSV)

Joshua Exhorts the People

A long time afterward, when the Lord had given rest to Israel from all their enemies all around, and Joshua was old and well advanced in years, 2Joshua summoned all Israel, their elders and heads, their judges and officers, and said to them, “I am now old and well advanced in years;

“I am old and well advanced in years.” — by Israeli artist Nurit Tzarfati

3and you have seen all that the Lord your God has done to all these nations for your sake, for it is the Lord your God who has fought for you.

Joshua begins his farewell address by praising the Lord.

4I have allotted to you as an inheritance for your tribes those nations that remain, along with all the nations that I have already cut off, from the Jordan to the Great Sea in the west. 5The Lord your God will push them back before you, and drive them out of your sight;

He describes the challenges still ahead for the Israelites.

and you shall possess their land, as the Lord your God promised you.

2 Corinthians 1:20 (NIV)

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.

6“Therefore be very steadfast to observe and do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, turning aside from it neither to the right nor to the left, 7so that you may not be mixed with these nations left here among you, or make mention of the names of their gods, or swear by them, or serve them, or bow yourselves down to them, 8but hold fast to the Lord your God, as you have done to this day.

He reminds them to be obedient in every way to the word of the Lord and thereby follow God.

Precious Lord, take my hand
Lead me on, let me stand
I’m tired, I’m weak, I’m lone
Through the storm, through the night
Lead me on to the light
Take my hand precious Lord,
lead me home.

9For the Lord has driven out before you great and strong nations; and as for you, no one has been able to withstand you to this day. 10One of you puts to flight a thousand, since it is the Lord your God who fights for you, as he promised you.

“God never made a promise
that was too good to be true.”
–Dwight L. Moody

11“Be very careful, therefore, to love the Lord your God. 12For if you turn back, and join the survivors of these nations left here among you, and intermarry with them, so that you marry their women and they yours, 13know assuredly that the Lord your God will not continue to drive out these nations before you; but they shall be a snare and a trap for you, a scourge on your sides, and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from this good land that the Lord your God has given you.

Joshua tells them to keep themselves “in the love of God” (Jude 21), and “unspotted from the world” (James 1:27).

14“And now I am about to go the way of all the earth, and you know in your hearts and souls, all of you, that not one thing has failed of all the good things that the Lord your God promised concerning you; all have come to pass for you, not one of them has failed.

Every promise in the Book is mine,
Every chapter, every verse, every line,
All the blessings of His love divine,
Every promise in the Book is mine.


from Experiencing God Day-by-Day,
by Henry T. Blackaby and Richard Blackaby

Near the end of his life, Joshua took time with the Israelites to review all that God had done for them since they first began following Him.  God had given them an impossible assignment:  to conquer a foreign and hostile land with fortified cities and armies more powerful than their own.  The Israelites were to go forward with nothing more than God’s promise that He would go with them and take care of them.  Now Joshua looked back over their experience and reminded the Israelites that God had kept every promise.  They had experienced numerous victories and had enjoyed God’s provision for every need.

Sometimes hindsight gives us a clear picture of how faithful God has been.  We are tempted during a crisis to wonder if God will be faithful to His promises.  We focus on our problems, and our trust in God begins to waver.  Twenty-four years after God promised Abraham and Sarah a son, they were still waiting on God to fulfill His promise.  But in the twenty-fifth year, Abraham and Sarah could look back and see that God had been faithful.  As David was fleeing for his life, he may have been uncertain how God would keep His promise to make him a king.  But at the end of his long and prosperous reign, David could review how God had kept every promise.

You, too, can rely on God’s faithfulness.  Are you in a crisis?  Hold to the promises of the your Lord!  He will not forget His promises to you.  Look back over your Christian life and recount the many ways in which God has been faithful to His word.



HERE  is “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,”  sung by Fernando Ortega in an unusual and lovely musical setting.


15But just as all the good things that the Lord your God promised concerning you have been fulfilled for you, so the Lord will bring upon you all the bad things, until he has destroyed you from this good land that the Lord your God has given you. 16If you transgress the covenant of the Lord your God, which he enjoined on you, and go and serve other gods and bow down to them, then the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you, and you shall perish quickly from the good land that he has given to you.”

He emphasizes that God will be just as faithful to judge as He has been to bless.


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Tzarfati.    http://www.daat.ac.il/daat/tanach/albom/pictures/54.htm
yes.    http://www.boston.com/ae/music/blog/yeslogo.jpg
holding hands, holding fast.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/father-and-child-holding-hands_full.jpg
Bible.    http://images.clipartpanda.com/wont-clipart-2142861.gif
“Great is thy faithfulness” plate.    http://www.eden.co.uk/images/300/P1872.jpg


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 610 other followers