Monday, April 18, 2016

Bible Study Notes in Ruth- Chapter 4

Ruth 4

-Now Boaz followed through with his word to seek out a kinsman redeemer for the widowed Ruth. He went to the gate and sat down there as was the custom when matters needed to be addressed. As this closer relative to Elimelech soon passed by, Boaz had him turn aside and sit down with him to offer him the opportunity to buy Elimelech’s inherited land as a redemption property. Initially, this close relative did want to buy the land and redeem it. But, when Boaz informed him that if he bought the land he needed to also acquire Ruth as his wife, the close relative thought again about his decision and for whatever reason now declined the offer. He did mention that somehow he would jeopardize his own inheritance; therefore, he allowed Boaz the right to redemption of the land and Ruth. They performed the customary removal of the sandal from one to another to confirm the exchange of the land unto the manner of attestation in Israel at the time, and the matter was completed. Boaz said to the elders and all the people who were there, “You are witnesses today that I have bought from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to Chilion and Mahlon (Elimelech’s sons who had passed away, Ruth 4:1-9).”

-He went on, “Moreover, I have acquired Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of Mahlon, to be my wife in order to raise up the name of the deceased on his inheritance, so that the name of the deceased will not be cut off from his brothers or from the court of his birth place; you are witnesses today.” All the people there agreed. They then pronounced blessing upon Ruth and Boaz by saying, “May the LORD make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, both of whom built the house of Israel; and may you achieve wealth in Ephrathah and become famous in Bethlehem (Ruth 4:10-11).” They went on with the pouring out of favor, “Moreover, may your house be like the house of Perez whom Tamar bore to Judah, through the offspring which the LORD will give you by this young woman (Ruth 4:12).” So Boaz completed his honorable and loveable mission by marrying his young bride and having sexual intimacy. They conceived by the enabling of the LORD and had a son. The women of the region blessed Naomi now and told her that indeed the LORD had raised up a redeemer who would become famous in Israel. Boaz would become a restorer of life to this older widow and a sustainer for her well-being. They went on to say something really special of this Moabitess foreigner, the impeccable and noble Ruth. She was to Naomi better than seven sons because she loved her mother-in-law and gave her a grandchild to carry on the family name (Ruth 4:13-15).

-In time Naomi laid the new child on her lap and became his nurse. He was named Obed, who later became the father of Jesse, who was the father of the future King David (Ruth 4:16-17). The book ends with the genealogy from Perez to David, a remarkable-real family line that fulfilled the ancient prophecies and would lead to the Messiah in the fullness of time (Ruth 4:18-22, Genesis 38:11-29; 49:10, Galatians 4:4-7).

-*Application* To this day, Boaz and Ruth’s names are famous in Bethlehem Ephrathah. Included is a picture of a restaurant built in the fertile area where Boaz’s wheat once grew. More important than this however is the legacy of love and redemption that truly began with this great man and woman of God. They had transformed lives that exuded class, kindness, and courage. For their character they received blessings, honor, and favor perhaps more than any other family in Israel. Let’s think about it, the Messiah, Jesus Christ, came from them. Do we want to incur the favor of God in our lives like these remarkable people? I don’t even need to answer that question do I? It’s obvious, as we allow the LORD to change our hearts, wills, and minds into conformity with His image, we too will experience the blessings of the Almighty in small and large ways.

Verses to Memorize: Ruth 4:10, 14

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Bible Study Notes in Ruth- Chapter 3

Ruth 3

-Naomi now had a plan to move forward in an attempt to find a kinsman redeemer for her lovely daughter-in-law, Ruth. She was seeking security for this young life and developed an interesting opportunity according to the cultural tradition. She had in mind Boaz; after all, he had shown incredible kindness already in showing them favor. Ruth was operating with his maids already in the harvesting of sustenance, so this was the logical maneuver. Somehow Naomi knew that Boaz would be winnowing barley at the threshing floor on a particular night. This was a section, usually outside the city where the wheat chaff, which was useless, was separated from the good inner kernel grain on an elevated site where the wind could do its work in blowing the chaff away (see Psalm 1:4, Daniel 2:35, Malachi 4:1, Matthew 3:12, Luke 3:17). The good kernels would remain for sustenance and provision. Boaz was probably there by appointment as individuals shared this common threshing area in the community. He was staying there for the night either to prevent theft, or he may have been there waiting his turn to thresh the wheat. Harvesting was done in the daylight hours, and threshing was more of a nighttime activity in this culture. Naomi had Ruth wash herself, anoint herself with perfume, and put on her very best clothes. She was instructed to then go down to the threshing floor without making herself known to Boaz until he had finished his eating and drinking. When he lay down for the evening, she was to go and uncover his feet and lie down (a culture tradition, no sexually explicit promiscuous come on here). Naomi told Ruth that Boaz would let her know what to do next. Ruth, as always, graciously complied to Naomi’s design and followed through with the plan (Ruth 3:1-6).

-When Boaz had eaten and drank his heart to merriment, he went to lie down for the evening at the end of the heap of grain. Ruth came in secretly and uncovered his feet and lay down. In the middle of the night, Boaz awoke startled as he bent forward and observed this young woman lying at his feet. In the dark, he asked, “Who are you?” When Ruth told him who she was, she encouraged him to cover her as his close relative and maidservant. Boaz blessed her in the Name of the LORD for her kindness in considering an older man, probably past his prime, for a redeemer. However, there was one matter that needed to be taken care of first. After telling her not to fear and that he would do all that she asked for because she was a woman of excellence, he related that there was a relative closer to their family than he. Ruth was instructed by Boaz to stay there with him for the night in safety until the morning when he could see if the other-closer relative would redeem her or not. If not, Boaz promised, as the LORD lives, to redeem her himself. She lay at his feet until morning in obedience to this benevolent man. But while it was still dark, she departed before anyone could recognize that a woman had come to the threshing floor, which could give indication that this kind of activity would not have been condoned by the society. But, he could have been keeping her activity hidden for the sake of the closer relative. He didn’t want to hurt any reputations it appears from the text. But before she could go, Boaz once again blessed her with sustenance to share with her mother-in-law. He asked for her outward cloak and filled it with six measures of barley. Ruth then went into the city and gave the provisions to her mother-in-law. Upon approaching, Naomi asked, “How did it go my daughter?” Ruth gleefully told her all that had transpired, and how Boaz did not want to leave Naomi empty-handed. The chapter ends with this fundamental statement, “Wait, my daughter, until you know how the matter turns out; for the man will not rest until he has settled it today (Ruth 3:7-18).”

-*Application* Boaz must have considered his relationship with Ruth sometime prior to what happened on the threshing floor. He knew the cultural protocol, and kept his righteous ways before him at all times. His wisdom shines through and is perceived by all. He was a true man of success in every facet. Naomi, knowing his character, knew that Boaz was a man that could be counted on. How good are we at keeping our word and fulling our promises? This is the meditation of the day from this Scripture (Psalm 15:4).

Verses to Memorize: Ruth 3:6, 11

Friday, April 15, 2016

Bible Study Notes in Ruth- Chapter 2

Ruth 2

-“Now Naomi had a kinsman of her husband, a man of great wealth, of the family of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz (Ruth 2:1).” This introduces new intrigue into the story of God’s salvation plan as we continue. Ruth, described as the Moabitess several times in the pericope (Ruth 1:22; 2:2, 6, 21), requests from her mother-in-law to go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after the one who gives her favor. Naomi consented to this request, more than likely out of need more than want. So, Ruth departed and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers according to the Law of Moses (Leviticus 18:9-10, Deuteronomy 24:18-22). She happened to come to the portion of the field belonging to Boaz, again who was of the family of Elimelech. Whether or not she had knowledge of whose field this was in the first encounter is unknown from text. Boaz then comes into the picture asking whose young woman this was as he came from Bethlehem blessing his reapers in the Name of the LORD (Ruth 2:2-5). From the beginning we can discern the kindness and humble spirit of this incredible man of God. He soon discovered from his reapers that this was the young Moabite woman who had returned with Naomi. The reapers further relayed that she had come to them in the morning asking to glean after them among the sheaves and had patiently remained there in the house until the time Boaz had arrived (Ruth 2:6-7).

-Boaz now spoke to her for the first time, “Listen carefully, my daughter. Do not go to glean in another field; furthermore, do not go on from this one, but stay here with my maids. Let your eyes be on the field which they reap, and go after them. Indeed, I have commanded the servants not to touch you. When you are thirsty, go to the water jars and drink from what the servants draw (Ruth 2:8-9).” Humbled and grateful, Ruth fell on her face before him bowing to the ground in homage asking, “Why I have found favor in your sight that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?” Boaz now reveals that he had done his background work, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law after the death of your husband has been fully reported to me, and how you left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and came to a people that you did not previously know.” Then he blessed her and acknowledged her faith as well as his own, “May the LORD reward your work, and your wages be full from the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge (Ruth 2:10-12).” Ruth had nothing but excitement from this unexpected blessing, “I have found favor in your sight, my lord, for you have comforted me and indeed have spoken kindly to your maidservant, though I am not like one of your maidservants (Ruth 2:13).”

-At mealtime, Boaz had her come and eat of the bread and vinegar they had provided for the reapers. She was served roasted grain until she was full and still had some left over. When she arose to glean, Boaz commanded his servants to let her glean among the sheaves (more than the Law accounted for) and not to insult her in any way. He further had them purposely pull out for her some grain from the bundles and leave it so that she could glean without any rebuke. Ruth gleaned until evening, hard at work and very grateful. She was able to beat out what she had gleaned, and it came to about an ephah of barley. This was an awesome day of work! She took it up into the city showing her mother-in-law what she had gleaned. The leftover bread she had saved was given to Naomi. The aged mother-in-law then asked, “Where did you glean today and where did you work?” Then she blessed the giver of this bountiful surplus, “May he who took notice of you be blessed.” Ruth related that she had worked with Boaz, and Naomi again blessed him for his kindness to the living and to the dead. Then, as she began to think about it, surmised, “The man is our relative, he is one of our closest relatives.” Ruth then further related that he had told her to stay close to his servants until they had finished all his harvest in the field. Naomi responded that it was good that she go out with his maids for protection as she was out in the field. Ruth delightfully obeyed staying close by the maids of Boaz in order to glean until the end of the barley harvest and wheat harvest, and she continued to live and support her mother-in-law (Ruth 2:14-23).

-*Application* Things always begin to turn around for the better when we continue to trust in the LORD and seek His refuge. What a beautiful story of kindness and generosity we are given here today. I am praying that the LORD rewards all of our work and that our wages be full from the LORD, the God of Israel and everyone else who believes in His wonderful-matchless Name. Notice that this kindness involves action. If you are blessed, and all of us in America really are when we think about it, share your provisions and favor others, especially those who are having a rough go of it. It will make all of our day and provide a future hope, which we so desperately need. Every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father through us as a blessing (James 1:17). Be like Boaz, extend the favor of the LORD to others. If we are in need today, keep trusting and working like Ruth did. She was proactive and diligent to receive all God had for her. We should be the exact same.

Verses to Memorize: Ruth 2:12-13

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Bible Study Notes in Ruth- Introduction and Chapter 1

Ruth 1

-Introduction: During the period of the judges of Israel an important family makes its appearance on the biblical scene in regard to God’s salvation plan for mankind. The book of Ruth tells us how God worked through a Gentile woman to bring her into the Family of Boaz, who is a direct ancestor of King David and Jesus the Messiah. The Israeli society around this family was collapsing in many ways with people living to please themselves rather than their covenant LORD, but God was still at work for the redemption of mankind as we will see in this short narrative. This book has an unknown author, though some have speculated it to be the prophet Samuel. The date of the writing is also unknown, but the events of the story happen three generations before the birth of King David with Ruth being the great-grandmother of this future leader after the heart of God (Acts 13:32). Therefore, the themes of this work include, but are not limited to, grace, faithfulness, kindness, integrity, protection, prosperity, blessing, and redemption. So as we read and study let us remember that no matter how discouraging or antagonistic the world may seem, there are always people who follow God around us, and His purposes will always transcend the junk.

(Ideas extracted from “New American Standard Bible: Life Application Study Bible.” Zondervan: Grand Rapids, MI, 1995, pgs. 426-427)

-Chapter 1: There was a famine in the land of Israel at a point of the later period of the judges’ governance. A certain man, Elimelech, from Bethlehem in Judah sojourned to the land of Moab with his wife and two sons in search for sustenance and optimistic about a better life during these days of distress. Elimelech’s wife was named Naomi (pleasant), and his sons were Mahlon and Chilion. They were Ephrathites of Bethlehem in Judah. They remained in Moab until the death of Elimelech, and his boys had both married Moabite women in due time. The Moabite women are biblically named as Orpah and Ruth. Events occurred in time where both of the sons of Elimelech died as well leaving Naomi, Orpah, and Ruth without the support of a man. Women were very dependent on husbands for well-being in those days, and something had to be done for survival. The decision was made by Naomi that she would return to her ancestral home in Judah because she received word that the LORD had visited His people with favor in giving them food again (Ruth 1:1-6).

-They departed the place where they were staying and went on their way towards Judah. Along the journey, somewhere probably in the barren land of that region, Naomi beseeched her daughters-in-law to return to their mother’s house with the blessings of the LORD for rest, kindness, and a husband for each. She had been very blessed to have had them as kind and considerate daughters-in-law in her time of grief. Now she desired to release them so they could pick up the pieces of their lives and somehow prosper again. They lifted their up voices together and wept. They wanted to stay with Naomi, but Naomi rationalized that she could not support them for she was old, unable to remarry, and could not possibly provide for them other sons. She felt like the Hand of the LORD had gone forth against her, and she felt like detaining these girls would not be a good thing at all for their sake (Ruth 1:7-13).

-They lifted up their voices and wept again. Orpah decided at this point to return to her people and her gods, but Ruth had another idea. She clung to her mother-in-law telling her, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the LORD do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me (Ruth 1:14-17).” What a stirring testimony! Her faith and her commitment was enduring. She would stick with this mother-in-law that she so dearly loved, not knowing the future or what would become of them. She desired oneness and communion. She would not separate the unity they had as a family.

-When Naomi saw that Ruth was indeed determined to go with her, they ventured on together into the bold new future back in Israel. They eventually came to Bethlehem, and the small city was stirred by the news of their arrival. The women of the city said, “Is this Naomi?” It had been so long since they’d seen her. Her reply to them shows what hard times she’d had, “Do not call me Naomi (pleasant); call me Mara (bitter), for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, but the LORD has brought me back empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the LORD has witnessed against me and the Almighty has afflicted me?” Now they came back around the time of the beginning of the barley harvest (Ruth 1:18-22).

-*Application* Hard core commitment is a rare thing in our day and age. Sticking to something or someone is not the fashion of the hour. Would that we consider the message here that Ruth presents us. Tough times never last but tough people do. Love and unity overcomes all (Romans 12:21).

Verse to Memorize: Ruth 1:16

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Bible Study Notes in Judges- Chapter 21

Judges 21

-The final chapter of the Judges attempts to tie up the disastrous events of the internal conflict caused by everyone doing what they thought was right according to their own opinions rather than God’s Word. The men of Israel, after the horrific clash with Benjamin, swore to themselves in Mizpah that none of them would give his daughter to the Benjamites in marriage. Instead of forgiveness and restoration, they sought vengeance and retribution with a cold heart. There is no indication that they sought God on this matter, and it led to more struggles and violence in the land. However, they did come to Bethel before the LORD and wept bitterly in grief over their missing tribe. Their brother had been cut off, and now they faced extinction due to the fact of their covenant not to give their daughters in marriage. After sacrificing burnt offerings and peace offerings unto the LORD, they felt sorry for their brother and devised a plan, which was again ill-conceived and not of God. They began to consider who among their nation had not come up to the LORD at Mizpah. It was soon discovered that no one from Jabesh-gilead had come up to the assembly. The congregation of Israel then hastily sent 12,000 of the valiant warriors there to Jabesh-gilead, and they struck down completely every man and woman who had lain with a man (Judges 21:1-11).

-Only 400 virgins were found, and these were brought back to the camp at Shiloh in the land of Canaan. These daughters of Israel were then offered to the sons of Benjamin who were hiding out at the rock of Rimmon (see Judges 20:47), and they proclaimed peace to them. However, there were 600 men from Benjamin and only 400 virgins. There was still a shortage of women to repopulate the cut-off tribe. Something needed to be done, so the elders of the congregation considered this matter. They did not want their brother’s tribe to be blotted out from among Israel, so they devised a plan to go around their promise not to intermarry with Benjamin. They consulted to have the sons of Benjamin lie in wait in the vineyards at the feast to the LORD in Shiloh on the north side of Bethel on the east side of the highway that goes up from Bethel to Shechem and on the south side of Lebonah (very specific instructions). These Benjamites were basically allowed to kidnap them a wife if the daughters came out to dance in the cultural tradition. They could then take them back to Benjamin and procreate. If the fathers or brothers of the virgins came to complain about this situation they would cover their guilt because they were not able to take for Benjamin enough virgins in the battle at Jabesh-gilead. The fathers would not have given them away, so they would be innocent in keeping covenant. It was convoluted, but it worked to keep the tribe of Benjamin from going extinct. The Benjamites took their wives at the appointed time and returned with them to their original inheritance and rebuilt their cities and lived in them. The sons of Israel, now satisfied with the results, departed from there back to the tribes and families of their inheritance. “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes (Judges 21:12-25).”

-*Application* Any system that is set up on the opinion of man without consulting God will eventually have catastrophic results. This is the ultimate lesson from all the events in the book of Judges. Rule of law according to the principles of a righteous and just Sovereign is the only standard by which a society can thrive and survive. We cannot just do what we want to do without having degenerating effects. Therefore, it is the ultimate heroic act to submit all of our plans, motives, desires, and dreams over to the one, real, living God and let Him be our righteousness. This is a primary theme of all Scripture, Old or New Covenant (Malachi 2:5-7, Philippians 1:11; 3:8-10, Hebrews 12:28, James 4:7, 10, 1 Peter 5:6).

Verse to Memorize: Judges 21:25

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Bible Study Notes in Judges- Chapter 19

Judges 19

-The depravity and degradation of the cultural during the period of the judges is chronicled in this extensively morbid chapter in the history of Israel. In those days “there was no king in Israel.” This repeated phrase alerts the reader that something ominous and infuriating is about to be commented on by the historians as they write this inspired text looking back. As the Israelites’ faith in God disintegrated, their unity as a people also collapsed.

-There was another certain Levite, who was staying in the remote part of the hill country of Ephraim, that took for himself a concubine from Bethlehem in Judah. His concubine was unfaithful to him, and she went away from him back to her father’s house in Bethlehem. She had been there for four months when her husband arose and went after her to woo her back with tenderness. This Levite took his servant and a pair of donkeys for the journey. When he arrived, his concubine received him into her father’s house, and her dad was glad to meet him. In fact, he wanted to keep him around and host him for a while. Three days went by as the Levite ate, drank, and lodged there with merriment. On the fourth day, he planned to leave and prepared to go, but the father-in-law detained them longer with more feasting. He convinced them to stay one more night, and would have done it another night. But, the Levite decided it was indeed time to go, and he left in the afternoon heading back north towards Ephraim from Judah. Despite the father-in-law’s pleading to stay, he set out late in the day and came to Jebus (that is, Jerusalem) of the Jebusites. He, his servant, his concubine, and his pair of donkeys approached the city, and the servant implored him to turn aside and stay there for the night. The Levites’ response showed favoritism toward his own people as he rejected staying in the city of foreigners who were not sons of Israel. He wanted to get to either Gibeah or Ramah, which were Israeli areas, to spend the night. So they passed up Jerusalem and got to Gibeah, which belonged to Benjamin, as the sun set on them. They went to the open square of this city as was the custom to find some lodging for the night, but there was no one to take them into their house initially. By and by that evening, an old man came in from his work in the nearby fields. He, like the Levite, was from the hill country of Ephraim, and he got to know the man who was looking for a place to stay the night. The old man asked him, “Where are you going, and where do you come from?” The Levite explained his situation and expressed the fact that he had adequate provisions. He simply wanted a safe place to lodge for the night. The old man offered him “peace,” and generously offered to take care of all his needs for the stay. He didn’t want him to have to stay in the open square, which goes a long way in revealing the climate of that culture at this time in Benjamin. He took him into his house, gave the donkeys’ fodder, washed their feet (according to custom), gave them food, and gave them drink. “While they were celebrating, behold, the men of the city (Benjamites), certain worthless fellows, surrounded the house, pounding the door; and they spoke to the owner of the house, the old man, saying, ‘Bring out the man who came into your house that we may have (homosexual) relations with him.’” It was no wonder that the old man came out of the house begging them not to act so wickedly with an act of folly such as this. He only desired to be a proper-protective host, and things were not going well. Much like the episode in ancient Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19), the old man offered his virgin daughter as well as the Levite’s concubine to them to do to them as they pleased in ravishing (`anah- humiliate, humble, afflict) them. However, the men would not listen to the old man forcing him to bring out the concubine for them to violate. These despicable men raped and abused this woman made in God’s image all night until morning. Then, they let her go at the approach of dawn. As morning was coming, the woman came and fell down at the doorway dead, with her hands on the threshold. Soon, the Levite, her master, arose and opened the doors of the house to be on his way back home, and he beheld this abused and dead woman lying at the doorway. At first, he did not realize she had died. He told her, “Get up and let us go.” But, there was no answer from the woman. He placed her on his donkey, and contemplated what to do, I suppose, as he journeyed back to his home in the hill country of Ephraim. “When he entered his house, he took a knife and laid hold of his concubine and cut her in twelve pieces, limb by limb, and sent her throughout the territory of Israel. All who saw it said, ‘Nothing like this has ever happened or been seen from the day when the sons of Israel came up from the land of Egypt to this day. Consider it, take counsel and speak up (Judges 19:1-30)!’”

-*Application* This was the beginning of a civil war in Israel that would claim at least 65,000 lives in a short period of time. A little leaven infects the whole loaf (1 Corinthians 5:6). This mayhem in Gibeah was disastrous for a family, their relatives I’m sure, their tribes, and a whole nation of people in the end. The Levite has much to be at fault with here. He and the old man were not courageous and bold in the face of adversity. In fact, they were the antithesis of the proverbial “knights in shining armor.” But this does not excuse the blatant immorality of these disgusting-violent men in Gibeah. They were worth nothing according to Scripture, and people these days that perpetrate that same kind of spirit are still worthless, corrupt, decrepit, disgraceful, lewd, vulgar, and any other adjective we may want to use. This kind of stuff is sickening and deserves its full punishment. It is the byproduct of a depraved mind that gives itself over to every sort of evil act. Without the grace and transformation of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life, we are all capable of these most horrific crimes against humanity. Let this be a reminder in the day and age in which we live where we are infected by such atrocities. Consider it, take counsel, and speak up with some bravery and resolve to eradicate this kind of stuff whether it’s in your own neighborhood or around the world. It pains me to say but it’s true, we’ve often been too much like the old man and the Levite in this narrative.

Verses to Memorize: Judges 19:22, 30

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Bible Study Notes in Judges- Chapter 18

Judges 18

-In those days there was no king in the land of Israel, and the Danites began seeking an inheritance for themselves to live in. Their possession really had been allotted (Joshua 19:40-48), but they had not taken hold of it like they should have. They sent five of their men out of the whole tribe to spy out the land and to search it for a place to have. Early on in their quest they came to the area where Micah lived in the hill country of Ephraim. They actually lodged in this area and coincidently recognized the voice of the young Levite who was living with Micah (see notes on Judges 17). This made them turn aside to try and figure out what was going on. They asked, “What are you doing here? And what are you doing in this place? And what do you have here?” They would have asked these things because they assumedly knew the protocol for worship of Yahweh in the land and perceived something out of order here. When the young priest told them of his hiring by Micah, they used him for their own benefit and asked for his blessings, which he gave. The five spies then came up to Laish in the far north of the Promised Land, and spied out this land where the inhabitants were living securely and quietly like the Sidonians. The biblical commentary says that “there was no ruler humiliating them for anything in the land.” They were secluded away from conflicts and dealings with anyone. So it became a prime area for the Danites to take over in their way of thinking. They came back south and reported these things to their tribe at Zorah and Eshtaol with a recommendation to go and attack this good land without delay. They felt like they had the blessing of the LORD, or at least His appointed priest, so this should be a success (Judges 18:1-9).

-With an ulterior motive, 600 armed men for war then went to camp at Mahaneh-dan (the camp of Dan) in Judah just west of Kiriath-jearim. They passed from there and came back to the house of Micah where the 5 spies had observed their priest, ephod, household idols, graven image, and molten image. The men asked them to consider what they should do, and they decided to go into the house of Micah and ask of his welfare. With the 600 men standing at the gate armed and ready for action, the 5 men went in and took the graven image, the ephod, the household idols, and the molten image. The priest was uniquely situated at the gate under the protection of the armed men of Dan. They covered his mouth and had him come with them. They then petitioned him to come with them saying that it would be better to be a priest over an entire tribe of Israel than a simple house of one man. This actually made the priest’s prideful heart glad, and he took the ephod, the household idols, and the graven image going among the people with a new loyalty. The tribe of Dan then turned and departed with their stolen goods as their little ones and livestock and valuables led the way. When they had gotten some distance from Micah’s house, the men of Micah assembled themselves together and overtook the tribe of Dan. They rightly wanted to know what was going on with them. They rightly accused them of taking their stuff. But before all that the men of Dan put off their discontentment with words of their own wanting to know what was the matter with them by asking them why they had assembled in this manner. There was real conflict here. The sons of Dan then threatened them, “Do not let your voice be heard among us, or else fierce men will fall upon you and you will lose your life, with the lives of your household.” This made the men of Micah frightened because they realized that Dan was too strong for them. Dan went their way uncontested up north to Laish, and the men of Micah simply returned to their house empty handed but safe. The people who had been secure and quiet in Laish soon were attacked with the edge of the sword. Their city was then burned to the ground with fire. There was no one to deliver them because they were a long way from their allies in Sidon. Their isolation proved detrimental indeed. They were in the valley which is near Beth-rehob. After these things, Dan rebuilt the city and proceeded to live in it. The city was named Dan, and still exists today as a relic of antiquity known as Tel-Dan in the upper part of Israel. Dan was their father, but they digressed greatly from the ways of the LORD their God setting up for themselves the graven image. The priest is now named as Jonathan, of the clan of Gershom and son of Moses (Exodus 2:21-22; 18:1-3). He and his sons were heretical priests to the tribe of the Dan up until the time of their captivity by the Assyrians in 722 BC. “So they set up for themselves Micah’s graven image which he had made, all the time that the house of God (Tabernacle) was at Shiloh (Judges 18:10-31).

-*Application* I have been reflecting here the last couple of days on some things that Tony Evans was teaching about Divine revelation verses human determination. The men of Micah and the tribe of Dan give vivid description of doing things by their own human determination (understanding) rather than following the Word of God. Yahweh had clearly laid out His constraints in the Law of Moses, but they willingly choose to gravitate to their preferences according to their own thinking. This proved disastrous in the end. These tribes, of what became the Northern Kingdom, would be exiled and totally lost in the salvation plan of God as a nation. There is only freedom when we have certain restrictions under the Almighty. His ways are higher than our ways, and they will benefit us much better if we simply follow His prescriptions with a whole heart. We just cannot do what seems right in our own eyes. God has been around much longer and has much greater wisdom. We are secure and quiet at rest when we submit to the Deliverer and Savior of our souls without fighting for our own personal system. We are showing our foolishness when we rely on human determination. Our scientific segment claims “God is dead,” but the truth has been and will be revealed. God is NOT dead, and He will accomplish His transcendent will.

Verses to Memorize: Judges 18:30-31

Friday, April 1, 2016

Bible Study Notes in Judges- Chapter 17

Judges 17

-This chapter begins the final section of the book, which could be entitled “the depravity” or “the moral failure of Israel” during this period of the judges. The phrase “In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes” replays again and again to reiterate the point that they were not following God and His righteous standards clearly outlined in His Covenant Law with the chosen people. Leadership was poor, and what we might call today “situational ethics” prevailed. Micah was a man who lived in the hill country of Ephraim. He said one day to his mother, “The eleven hundred pieces of silver which were taken from you, about which you uttered a curse in my hearing, behold, the silver is with me; I took it.” His mother then blessed him instead of the curse she had uttered as he returned the silver in to her in totality. She then did something very strange and idolatrous as she exclaimed, “I wholly dedicate the silver from my hand to the LORD for my son to make a graven image and a molten image; now therefore, I will return them to you.” This was an abomination before the LORD as clearly detailed in the Law given to Moses (Exodus 20:4). However, when the silver was return to her, she took 200 pieces of it and gave them to the silversmith who made a graven image and a molten image (idolatry), and they were placed in the house of Micah. Micah in fact set up a shrine (house to the gods) in his house and made an ephod along with other household idols. He then consecrated his son as a priest, which again was outlawed by Moses’ direct commands of the LORD God (Exodus 28, Leviticus 8). Micah was taking the law into his own hands, doing what was right in his own eyes rather than following the decreed Law of the LORD (Judges 17:1-6).

-Now in those days when worship of Yahweh was waning and the ministry of the true priestly family of the Levites must have been struggling financially due to the commanded offerings being neglected, a young man from Bethlehem in Judah, who was a Levite, left his city to go and find a place to stay. Again this was probably because he could not make a decent living where he was at; therefore, he figured in his own rational thinking that he needed to make a change. There is no indication that he consulted God at all on this matter. He just left and ventured out on his own doing what was right in his own eyes. On his journey he came across the house of Micah in the hill country of Ephraim. They met and Micah asked him where he was from. When the young man told him that he was a Levite from Bethlehem in Judah, Micah invited him to stay in his house as a father and priest to him. He offered him ten pieces of silver a year, a suit of clothes, and maintenance. It sounded like a great deal to the Levite, so he went into this situation agreeing to live with Micah’s household. The young man from Bethlehem in Judah soon became like one of his sons. It was not long after this that the young man was consecrated and became his priest. Micah erroneously thought, “Now I know that the LORD will prosper me, seeing I have a Levite as priest (Judges 17:7-13).”

-*Application* We live in much the same kind of world as this time period in the history of Israel. Situational ethics are the norm of the day, and it is considered indecent when we call people out for their immorality and sin. Everyone is doing what is right in their own eyes. We forget that God has decreed objective standards that are timeless in their application. We will struggle personally and as a society when we don’t do things the LORD’s way. We can no longer continue to put our own interests first when we come into the Kingdom of God as children of faith. His will always comes before our own. We walk in obedience as we follow Christ and His precepts. This yields the true rewards of the blessed life. His ways are always higher and better than our own (Isaiah 55:9).

Verse to Memorize: Judges 17:6