Monday, March 05, 2012

'You Live Until You Die'- Judges 12

Judges 12After him Ibzan of Bethlehem judged Israel. He had thirty sons, and thirty daughters he gave in marriage outside his clan, and thirty daughters he brought in from outside for his sons. And he judged Israel seven years.10 Then Ibzan died and was buried at Bethlehem.
11 After him Elon the Zebulunite judged Israel, and he judged Israel ten years. 12 Then Elon the Zebulunite died and was buried at Aijalon in the land of Zebulun.
13 After him Abdon the son of Hillel the Pirathonite judged Israel. 14 He had forty ssons and thirty grandsons, who trode on seventy donkeys, and he judged Israel eight years. 15 Then Abdon the son of Hillel the Pirathonite died and was buried at Pirathon in the land of Ephraim, in the hill country of the Amalekites.

 I have to confess a huge frustration I feel as I am writing this because I have more to say than time or space will allow. I work hard to keep these posts short because all research is pointing to brevity as a key to being read.

Hard to believe that 8 verses about Judges mentioned as a 'flyover' would create such a problem- but it does. There is too much here to squeeze in one post- and proves that there is no insignificant Bible passage.

The more I read Judges, the more I get a feel that there is so much more going on here than meets the eye.

Here are some of my amateur comments as I react to Judges:

I- What DO Judges # 11, #12 and #13 Teach Us?

Here is what I get from these Judges... You live until you die. The tapestry of human experience is amazing. Some rich- some poor. Some Rulers and some servants. Some with children, some are barren. Some with health and some with sickness. Some successful and some who fail.

It is not WHAT the circumstances of life... but HOW to respond and WHO to believe in. But it is one shot and the next step is not predictable or guaranteed. You cannot guess with God. Anticipation and anxiousness is futile.

II- The Sad Testimony of Man in Judges:

Here is what Judges records:
2:11 And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord  3:7 And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord.  3:12  And the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord  4:1 Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD  6:1 The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD  10:6 Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD.  13:1 Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD

God made the great covenant promises on Mout Sinai. He proved His worth in the Exodus and reaffirmed all the instructions on the banks of the Jordan. But people always mess it up.

III The Beauty of God's Providence in Judges

In spite of man's failures, God keeps moving toward goodness and completion. He is not thwarted in His purposes. Even sinful choices are channeled in a way to fulfill God's glory. How? No clue. His ways are so deep and profound.

IV- The Key Implication of God's Providence in Judges

Men picked Judges based on the pressure of the times. Judges were selected in response to the current threat. Very similar to the tribal factions you hear about today in Afganistan when there is no powerful central government. In this cycle of Judges (6 cycles) the leadership comes from the northeast which corresponds to the threat of the Ammorites. The next chapter will be Samson in the southwest and the Phlistines. But the way the writer describes Abdon's burial ground (in the hills of the Amalekites) shows the failure of Israel's part of the campaign.

But God is still in control. Variety and chaos is clean and pure in His eternal plan fulfilled. It is like looking at a pencil in a glass jar. It 'looks' crooked because we see it through air and water. Sometimes God looks crooked because we see Him in spirit and frail flesh.

V The Inevitable Slide to 'Ichabod'

The Judges here in this section show less and less of godly pursuit and more and more worldly leisure. The numbers of children indicates multiple wives. These Judges are more king like, using a pseudo-peace to live in the lap of luxury. The land is NOT at rest, the work is NOT done.

This will culminate in I Samuel where the Philistines capture the Ark.  

  I Samuel 4:21 And she (Eli's daughter-in-law) named the child Ichabod, saying, “The glory has departed from Israel!” because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband.

VI What all of this Means to ME

I need to make sure I don't label these brief sections as 'insignificant'. These were men appointed by God to lead His people. My trust in God puts me in the category of "Need to Know Basis". I'm OK living in the light of Deuteronomy 29:29 "The secret things belong to the Lord".

I wonder out loud if these last three Judges were anti-Jephthah rulers, who made sure to lead differently but did nothing of substance in the process- no reward?

Finally, in my failings... God is trustworthy. I am so thankful my salvation is secure in His WORK and not in mine.

In the give and tug, ups and down in life- God still sovereignly moves. 'Normalcy' provides a backdrop for the dramatic. Normal times are a baseline where we understand the joys of special days and the depths of dark days.

These 3 judges are benchmarks for other rulers and especially a coming King- David and .... Christ Himself.

But these men also seemingly represent 'status quo' living. Never underestimate the power of the status quo. It is a big disease in my heart.

Finally, do I doubt the King?

God works by the counsel of His will. Can I look at my providential circumstances and say, "The Judge of all the earth will do right"? Can we do that?

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