Genesis Commentary

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In chapter 3:5-7: The serpent convinced Eve to eat the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden so that her eyes may be opened and will know good and evil. Eve believed that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom. After Adam and Eve gave in to temptation and ate the fruit, sin began. God had already made everything, and He saw that everything was good for them to live contently and most importantly, completely dependent on Him. There was no need to obtain wisdom, because with wisdom comes the knowledge of evil which was completely foreign to both Adam and Eve before the temptation. A common question is, why have a tree in the garden if it cannot even be touched? The entire concept of law and order is the fact that there are certain things people can do and certain things people cannot do. If people were able to do anything they wanted, there would be no justice and that would contradict God’s image, because God is Just.

In chapter 2:25, we read that “Both the man and his wife were naked, yet felt no shame.” After the sin in Genesis 3:8-10, both Adam and Eve heard God and hid because they were naked and afraid. Fast forward to chapter 42 within verse 9, “nakedness” is also considered “weakness.” After Adam and Eve sinned, they became weak. This fact provides excellent insight into the concept of our weakness points out God’s strength. The Bible is full of affirmations of God’s unlimited knowledge. When God asked Adam where he was, God was not unaware of the couple’s location and what had transpired in the garden. The passage describes God as a parent who instructs His children with restoration as His purpose. Adam and Eve had clothed themselves in sin and God uncovered their sin with great disappointment and punished them by taking them out of Eden, cursed the grounds, and mandating physical labor in order to survive. God could have given up on humanity right then and there, but He didn’t. God is Love, and He cares so much for humanity that it is written shortly after He declared His punishment to Adam and Eve, we read in Genesis 3:21 that “The Lord God made clothing out of skins for Adam and his wife, and He clothed them.” Although the human couple would die, it was ultimately merciful to deny them the tree; otherwise they would live forever in a sinful and painful world. God graciously provided for their new environment outside the garden and ultimately for their eternal salvation through the promised “seed.” Despite the great sin and His disappointment, He still cared for them and watched out for them, just as He still cares for us, and watches out for us.

In chapters 6-9, people became so wicked, that God decided to start over with just Noah and his family, since Noah was the only righteous person at that time. We all know the story of Noah and the great flood, what I would like to point out is in chapter 9:12-17. The passage provided new meaning to the rainbows appearance as “the sign of the covenant” in which God swore that he would never flood the earth again. Just as in the Old Testament, the people looked at the rainbow to remind them of God’s goodness, the New Testament and today, we look towards the Cross for salvation.

From chapters 12-25, we read about Abram who later is called Abraham, which means, “Father of a Multitude” and is the father of all believers. “To note that God blesses Abraham because of his obedience does not alter the fact that God’s covenant with Abraham is unconditional—based on God’s promise rather than Abraham’s fulfillment of some obligation. But a covenant is, first of all, a relationship between persons—in this case, human and divine. Within that framework, obedience always brings about divine blessing and disobedience always results in the enactment of a curse, or judgment.”

In chapter 27:1-29, Though the Lord had told Rebekeh that her older son, Esau, would serve her younger son, Jacob, that in no way excuses the elaborate deception on the part of Rebekeh and Jacob to defraud Esau of his blessing as the older son. Instead of trusting the Lord to accomplish what He had promised, Rebekeh took the matter into her own hands, much as Sarah had by giving Hagar to Abraham in chapter 16. The entire principle is common even today. Instead of trusting and waiting for the Lord, we take things in our own hands, and sure enough, the outcome is not what God, or us wanted to happen. We want things to be done our way and at our time, but we never seem to learn that life would be so much easier if we take everything to the Lord and pray and wait for Him.

In chapter 32, Jacob wrestles with God and after winning, God declared Jacob’s new name to be Israel because Jacob struggled with God and with men and have prevailed. The concept of a Christian “wrestling with God” during particularly difficult or fearful times originates in this passage. Though Jacob physically limped away from this unexpected struggle, his new divinely given name, “Israel,” indicated that “he struggled with God” and prevailed, growing spiritually in the process. Always remember that if you are going through a difficult time, hold on to God and in His time, you will come out of the struggle stronger and wiser.

Jacob’s conversation with Esau in 33:10-11 is interesting: “For indeed, I have seen your face, and it is like seeing God’s face, since you have accepted me. Please take my present that was brought to you, because God has been gracious to me and I have everything I need.” Those verses highlight the fundamental concepts of being a Christian, which are acceptance and care. God has already accepted us and cares for us just as we are. Once person acknowledges this acceptance and received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, then it should be difficult to keep this kind of love to oneself. When we accept others and care for them, just as God has done for us, we will see God in one another. Just recently I got a devotional email from Max Lucado that fits perfectly with this: Once there was a man whose life was one of misery. The days were cloudy, and the nights were long. Henry didn’t want to be unhappy, but he was. With the passing of the years, his life had changed. His children were grown. The neighborhood was different. The city seemed harsher. He was unhappy. He decided to ask his minister what was wrong. “Am I unhappy for some sin I have committed?” “Yes,” the wise pastor replied. “You have sinned.” “And what might that sin be?” “Ignorance,” came the reply. “The sin of ignorance. One of your neighbors is the Messiah in disguise, and you have not seen him.” The old man left the office stunned. “The Messiah is one of my neighbors?” He began to think who it might be. Tom the butcher? No, he’s too lazy. Mary, my cousin down the street? No, too much pride. Aaron the paperboy? No, too indulgent. The man was confounded. Every person he knew had defects. But one was the Messiah. He began to look for Him. He began to notice things he hadn’t seen. The grocer often carried sacks to the cars of older ladies. Maybe he is the Messiah. The officer at the corner always had a smile for the kids. Could it be? And the young couple who’d moved next door. How kind they are to their cat. Maybe one of them … With time he saw things in people he’d never seen. And with time his outlook began to change. The bounce returned to his step. His eyes took on a friendly sparkle. When others spoke he listened. After all, he might be listening to the Messiah. When anyone asked for help, he responded; after all this might be the Messiah needing assistance. The change of attitude was so significant that someone asked him why he was so happy. “I don’t know,” he answered. “All I know is that things changed when I started looking for God.” Now, that’s curious. The old man saw Jesus because he didn’t know what he looked like. The people in Jesus’ day missed him because they thought they did. How are things looking in your neighborhood?

Finally in chapters 37-50, the well-known story of Joseph and his family is told. I admire Joseph and the faith that he kept throughout his entire life. Joseph’s own brothers betrayed him by plotting to kill him because of the favor their father showed toward him, then decided to sell him as a slave to the Ishmaelites, and then was sold to an officer of the Pharaoh of Egypt. Once Joseph gained good standing with the Pharaoh, he was then framed by Pharaoh’s wife of adultery and was thrown in prison. Eventually, two of Pharaoh’s servants were thrown in prison, had dreams in which Joseph was able to interpret accurately and requested that the servants not forget about him when they left prison. Sure enough, they both forgot and Joseph remained in prison for two more years until Pharaoh had a dream in which no one else could interpret and at that point, a servant remembered Joseph, got him out of prison, and Joseph regained his status under the Pharaoh, and continued to live his life in faithfulness. In chapter 41:51-52, “Joseph named the firstborn Manasseh, meaning, ‘God has made me forget all my hardship in my father’s house.’ And the second son he named Ephraim, meaning ‘God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.’” Near the end, Joseph is reunited with his father and brothers. While he holds his brothers responsible for their actions, he nevertheless offers forgiveness and urges them to forgive themselves since God used the circumstances to accomplish His wider purpose. In chapter 50:20, Joseph tells his brothers, “You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result—the survival of many people.” Joseph had long since forgiven them, recognizing God’s providential hand of protection behind what had taken place. Let us follow that example. Whatever we have been through, whatever was done to us, whatever we are going through, whatever what is being done to us, and whatever we will go through, whatever will be done to us, let us look at the Big Picture, let us pray to see God’s hand in the workings of our daily life. Let us forgive all the wrongs that were done to us and by us and “live like saved children of God—because that is who we are.” The last quote is from a good friend who commonly uses it at the end of his sermons.

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Exodus Commentary

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“In many ways the book of Exodus is the foundation stone upon which the rest of the Bible stands…It’s regulations regarding the proper treatment of others serve as the core around which the teachings of Proverbs, the lyrics of many Psalms, and the proclamations of the prophets were built. From a New Testament perspective, this book is used in three main ways. First, it prefigures the life and ministry of Christ, especially in His role as our sacrificial lamb. Second, it provides examples that illustrate the Christian life. Finally, it presents the moral and ethical framework to guide Christians in their decision-making.” (HSCB)

3:7, 16-17, 21; 4:12, 27 —Then the LORD said, “I have observed the misery of My people, and have heard them crying out because of their oppressors, and I know about their sufferings. I have come down to rescue them…I have paid close attention to you and to what has been done to you. And I have promised you that I will bring you up from the misery…And I will give this people such favor that when you go, you will not go empty-handed…Now go! I will help you speak and I will teach you what to say… The people believed, and when they heard that the LORD had paid attention to them and that He had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped.” When the people believed, they bowed down and worshiped. What are we doing now? Most of us, are living day-by-day just going through the motions of life. Sure there are some of us that go to Church over the weekend, and maybe even a select few that go to a Bible study as well sometime during the week. What about the rest of the time? The Bible teaches that we are to pray continually, and that we should enter in prayer with first giving praise and thanksgivings to God. Here is a challenge for everyone: Worship God 24/7/365. Here is the reason for this, God has not only heard and seen our sufferings, He has experienced everything in the flesh of Jesus Christ that we have experienced and will experience. He pays close attention to us because He cares about us and every little detail about our lives, He wants to be a part of us, and not just any part. He wants the most important part, which is our heart. If we allow Him to enter our hearts, then there would be no more empty void that some of us feel. If for whatever reason, we still feel some kind of void in our lives and we have already let Jesus into our hearts, then we can take that to Him in prayer and leave it at the Cross.

9:14-16—“Then you will know there is no one like Me in all the earth. By now I could have stretched out My hand and struck you and your people with a plague, and you would have been obliterated from the earth. However, I have let you live for this purpose: to show you My power and to make My name known in all the earth.” 10:3—“This is what the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, says: How long will you refuse to humble yourself before Me?” The Bible teaches that Jesus will not come again until everyone on the entire earth has heard the Message of the Good News and has had an opportunity to make a choice of whether or not to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of their lives.

In regards to 12:13 God knows all things and did not need to make an inspection tour through the land, noting the blood on each doorpost to discern who was obedient to Him. The blood was the “distinguishing mark,” a sign for the benefit of the Israelites that confirmed their obedience to God and His promise of salvation. The phrase “when I see the blood” is used figuratively to indicate the Lord’s knowledge of those who trust Him. The expression looks ahead to God’s response to those who, having entered into the death of Christ, are protected by His blood from the wrath of God’s judgment.

14:13-14—“Don’t be afraid. Stand firm and see the LORD’s salvation He will provide for you…The LORD will fight for you; you must be quiet.” In other words, you must be still and know that the LORD is with you. Be silent and listen for Him to speak to you. 33:14—“My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

16:18—“…Each gathered as much as he needed to eat.” It seems that God was teaching His people not to profit from the hardship of their brothers and sister. We have certainly lost our way in America. God provided His people with just the right amount needed to live by, no more, no less. Here we are today, working for that extra dollar that in the end we will regret and realize that we did not actually need to make more. Later on in Exodus 18:18, 21, we read, “You will certainly wear out both yourself and these people who are with you, because the task is too heavy for you. You can’t do it alone…But you should select from all the people able men, God-fearing trustworthy, and hating bribes. Place them over the people as officials…” These verses are being said to Moses by his father-in-law in regards to Moses judging every case of the law. They can also be useful to us today in a whole other perspective. We were not created to live and work alone. We all need to be a part of a community in which everybody helps one another. I am pretty sure, this is what our founding fathers had in mind while writing the Constitution. Neighbors helping one another in order for everybody to have an equal supply. A small government of officials providing accountability to the people in order for right living.

In regards to the Ten Commandments found in 20:1-17, God and Moses perceived obedience to the laws, not as a way of or precondition to salvation, but as the grateful response of those who had already been saved. God did not reveal the law to the Israelites in Egypt and then tell them that as soon as they had measured up to this standard He would rescue them. On the contrary, by grace alone, through faith they crossed the Red Sea to freedom. All that was required was belief in God’s promise that He would hold up the walls of water on either side and see them safely through to the other shore. The Decalogue begins, not with the first commandment, but with a preamble: “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery” (Dt. 5:6). Obedience to the Decalogue or any other law has never been intended as the way of salvation but as the appropriate response to salvation already received. Today, Christians need to have the kind of faith in which Jesus has already paid the price of our sins and that He is holding our hands and carrying us through the difficulties of life. It will be because of this faith, that we follow the Commandments. There are some verses that God suggest that one reason we should obey Him is for the sake of our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. An example is, 34:6-7—“Yahweh is a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in faithful love and truth, maintaining faithful love to a thousand generations, forgiving wrongdoing, rebellion, and sin. But He will not leave the guilty unpunished, bringing the consequences of the fathers’ wrongdoing on the children and grandchildren to the third and fourth generation.” The Bible teaches that human beings are free to make choices. God is good and always acts consistently with His nature. Yet people can choose to rebel against God’s goodness, and consistent rebellion can lead to their hearts being hardened. As the saying goes, “The same sun that melts butter also hardens clay.” We are free in that we do what we want to do, but behind our plans and desired are those of God. Like ripples spreading across a pool of calm water, our actions have consequences for generations to come. We can create waves of difficulty or blessing, according to the choices we make. God does not condemn children because of their parents’ misbehavior. However, children suffer the consequences of their parent’s sinful choices in which establishes a pattern that children model as they mature. The result can be a repetition of their parent’s emotional brokenness leading to conflict, divorce, poverty, or other conditions that make their children’s, and even their grandchildren’s, lives difficult. In 20:20, Moses provides reassurance, “Don’t be afraid, for God has come to test you, so that you will fear Him and will not sin.” God will never behave immorally, but He will bring affliction upon those who live in defiance of His will. As people change their actions and wills, God changes His response to them. Although He is prepared to bring affliction upon people because of their sins, He is prepared to relent as they repent. 32:33-34—…”Whoever has sinned against Me I will erase from My book… But on the day I settle accounts, I will hold them accountable for their sin.” The point is that every person will be held accountable for his actions and words.

The “eye for eye, tooth for tooth” passage is well known, and unfortunately, often twisted, it did not require people to pay someone back for a wrong done to them. Its purpose was to establish limits for retaliation. The most one could do in response to knocking out a tooth was to knock out the other person’s tooth; a person could not be killed for injuring someone’s eye. As Jesus pointed out, a person who was wronged by another could choose not to retaliate for what had been done to him. Often such a response would be the best way to deal with the problem. In every case, it should be the first option considered.

While the Lord ordained the use of ritual in worship, He abhorred ritual that aimed at divine manipulation. The only actions that pleased God were those that arose from the heart, and true worship was to be accompanied by joy in the Lord. In 25:2 God states, “You are to take My offering from everyone whose heart stirs him to give.” Thus biblical religion gives at the same time a higher view of humanity and a higher view of God—omnipotent, undivided, purposeful, merciful, uniformly righteous, and deserving of our undivided love. Israel was to be a kingdom of priests, singing to the Lord and declaring His glory among the nations day after day.

“In the Hebrew language, what is translated as “jealous” can also be translated as “zealous.” The term describes God’s expectation that human beings will make Him their highest priority in life, loving Him with all their heart, soul, and strength. As Creator of the universe and all life, God has the right to expect people to value Him most highly. This type of “jealousy” is not a bad thing. It is proper in a marriage; a wife or husband expects the spouse to be faithful in thought, word, and deed, and would be rightfully upset should the spouse prove unfaithful. The Israelite prophets sometimes compare God’s relationship to His people, in His covenant, to a marriage.”(HSCB)

Leviticus Commentary

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“Exodus closes with the glory of the Lord filling the tabernacle that His people built. Proper response to God’s presence is worship. Through Leviticus God instructs His people in how He is to be worshiped. Leviticus continues a major theme of Exodus—that God is holy and His people are to be holy. This manual of worship is highly detailed but makes clear that details are important to God. Leviticus gives instructions on the consecration of priests and clearly demonstrates the consequences of not worshiping God as He instructs. Although Israel has been set apart as God’s people, they are still a sinful people. Leviticus provides numerous pictures of how sinful human beings can commune with a holy God. Sacrifice is a pivotal concept in Israel’s worship. The purpose of the Israelite sacrificial system was twofold—to offer a gift to God and to effect atonement. The word “atonement” addresses the need for reconciliation in the disturbed relationship between God and humans brought about by sin. The need for atonement is necessitated by the universality of sin, the seriousness of sin, and humanity’s inability to remove or deal with sin. The word “atonement” is closely related to and frequently occurs in context with the prominent theological terms “forgiveness” and “reconciliation.” It specifically addresses the need for removal of sin (expiation) in order to effect reconciliation with God. Jesus focused on the motivation underlying the sacrificial act and taught that the offering was only acceptable to God when the worshiper’s devotion was genuinely heartfelt. The Old Testament sacrifices to God were types of the ultimate, climactic sacrifice made by Jesus Christ, the Son of God. His sacrifice can never be repeated and now the most desirable sacrifice that anyone, rich or poor, can bring to God is a consecrated life.” (HCSB)

The restitution offering is like the sin offering; the law is the same for both. It belongs to the priest who makes atonement with it. The blood is the most holy element of the sacrifice and, as the means of atonement. The priest will burn this memorial portion of it on the altar, a fire offering of a pleasing aroma to the LORD, the holiest part of the fire offerings to the LORD. The burnt offering foreshadows the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. Paul had the burnt offering in mind in Romans 12:1-2—the believer is to present himself entirely just as the burnt offering was entirely consumed on the altar. Fire must be kept burning on the altar continually; it must not go out. God appeared as fire in passages as well as on four other occasions, God sent fire to consume a burnt offering.

2:13, “You are to season each of your grain offerings with salt; you must not omit from your grain offering the salt of the covenant with your God. You are to present salt with each of your offerings.” (Salt, used as a preservative, is a symbol of the permanence of the covenant.)

The Holy Spirit puts a fire in our souls. Our offering of the fire is pleasing to the LORD. Today, we give fire offerings with salt by putting God first and allowing Him to use us as tools for His purposes. We put Him first by reading and meditating on His word daily, participating in Church and Bible study weekly, and always LISTENING and talking to Him in prayer. By putting this into practice in our lives, our faces will glow as Moses’ face glowed when he saw God. When we have that glow, the non-believers will wonder what we have and will ask how they can have what we have.

Jami Smith (Salt and Light):  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cd_gnvnAV8U

All the impurities dealt with in chapter 15 threatened the purity of the sanctuary. 15:2—“When any man has a discharge from his body, he is unclean.” For further clarification of this passage, the verse refers to discharges resulting from illness or infection, in addition to menstruation and seminal emissions. While these regulations may have involved personal hygiene, their main concern is the holiness of the worshiper. In 15:31, we read, “You must keep the Israelites from their uncleanness, so that they do not die by defiling My tabernacle that is among them.

16:29-31, “…you are to practice self-denial and do no work, both the native and the foreigner who resides among you. Atonement will be made for you on this day to cleanse you, and you will be clean from all your sins before the LORD. It is a Sabbath of complete rest for you, and you must practice self-denial; it is a permanent statute.” Practicing self-denial consists of fasting, abstinence from food and drink, bathing, use of oil on the body, wearing leather shoes and sexual intercourse and replacing the mentioned items by prayers of penance as a person seeks God for forgiveness. The only difference for a Christian in practicing self-denial is the fact that we know that we have already been forgiven, so we pray in gratitude and ask what His will is for our lives and listen intently for His answer to be given.

The book of Leviticus lists so many different offenses where there are basically two types of punishment for them, which are exile or death. 18:30, “You must keep My instruction to not do any of the detestable customs that were practiced before you, so that you do not defile yourselves by them; I am the LORD your God.” 20:26, “You are to be holy to Me because I, the LORD, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be Mine.” 19:17, “You must not hate your brother in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor directly, and you will not incur guilt because of him. Do not take revenge or bear a grudge against members of your community, but love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD.” According to the eminent Rabbi Akiba, the expression “love your neighbor as yourself” is a central principle in the Torah. In 19:27, God says that, “You are not to cut off the hair at the sides of your head or mar the edge of your beard.” Tearing out the hair of one’s beard, as well as of the head, was a custom associated with mourning over the dead. Basically, God is telling the people to leave their “comfort zones” and ultimately not to spend too much time mourning over the dead. He wants us to continue living our lives for Him. 19:33, “When a foreigner lives with you in your land, you must not oppress him. You must regard the foreigner who lives with you as the native-born among you. You are to love him as yourself, for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt; I am the LORD your God.” I am glad to be a Christian, where the punishment has already been paid. Jesus was exiled by the people with so many rejections, and ultimately was put to death. Three days later, He rose again and conquered the grave, so that in whoever believes in Him may not perish, but have life everlasting.

In regards to 24:10-14, Blasphemy brings guilt on those who hear it as well as on the blasphemer. To rid themselves of this guilt, the hearers had to lay their hands on the blasphemer’s head. Today, if a Christian were to lay their hands on someone else’s head, then the Christian is taking a great risk of physical pain. However, if a Christian were to ask to lay their hands, maybe not on the head, but rather on another’s shoulder’s, arms, or hands, then that would make a huge impact. Spencer Michael Free wrote: “Tis the human touch in this world that counts, The touch of your hand and mine, Which means far more to the fainting heart Than shelter and bread and wine; For shelter is gone when the night is o’er, And bread lasts only a day, But the touch of the hand and the sound of the voice Sing on in the soul always…”

26:10-13, “…you will clear out the old to make room for the new. I will place My residence among you, and I will not reject you. I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be My people. I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, so that you would no longer be their slaves. I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to live in freedom.” People who do not study, or at the very least, read, the Old Testament, they would have this twisted perception that there is nothing but rules and names. Yes, there are rules and a large amount of names in the Old Testament, but there is so much more. This passage in chapter 26 is an amazing example. God is always making new, and in order for Him to perform new tasks in our lives, we must first clear out the old with His help by accepting Him in our hearts. God never rejects anyone and He wants us to be free from the slavery of sin. I know from experience that sin puts a strong bondage on a person that is impossible to escape by one’s self. God can free us from such bondage and give us freedom and give us a light yoke. As a reference, “yoke” is another term for “weight”. When God says that His yoke is light, He is telling us that even though we will still have weight to carry with the troubles of this world, He will be there with us helping us carry the weight.

Numbers Commentary

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“The book of Numbers is about faithfulness—portraying the faithfulness of God in dealing with a people who are often unfaithful. As a whole the book presents a challenge to the people of God to live holy and righteous lives according to the Word of God, and as a result enjoy the blessings and benefits of living in right relationship to Him…Whatever the interpretation of the numbers, the theological importance is clear: in spite of the faithlessness of the people of Israel, God was faithful to bless and increase them even during the difficult times encountered in their wilderness journey.” (HCSB)

Note the summary statement in 1:19 and 1:54, that Moses and Aaron led the Israelites in doing just as the Lord commanded them. This statement appears several times in Exodus and Leviticus to express the faithfulness of the people in following the instructions from God. Chapters 7-10 are concerned with celebration and consecration, as the nation prepared for the journey from Mount Sinai to the Promised Land. The success of their future endeavors depended on their obedience. An excellent example of faithfulness was that those celebrating the Passover must do so in a state of ritual purity. But several Israelites had become unclean due to death in their household. If they chose not to celebrate Passover, they were subject to banishment from the community. They approached Moses for a judgment regarding their case. As was his usual recourse, Moses consulted the Lord for the answer. We find this in chapter 9:7-10, 14, “We are unclean because of a human corpse. Why should we be excluded from presenting the LORD’s offering at its appointed time with the other Israelites? Moses replied to them, “Wait here until I hear what the LORD commands for you.” Then the LORD spoke to Moses: “Tell the Israelites: When any one of you or your descendants is unclean because of a corpse or is on a distant journey, he may still observe the Passover to the LORD…If a foreigner resides with you and wants to observe the Passover to the LORD, he is to do so according to the Passover statute and its ordinances.” Even when a person was “unclean,” God showed his love again in the Old Testament by still allowing that person to celebrate in worship to Him.

What I found interesting was that chapter 9:17-23 was originally a song that was sung during the wilderness journey, as the people followed the Lord in the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. The song also reiterates the theme of the faithfulness of the Israelites, who were to follow the Lord’s leading in the movement through the wilderness. Imagine a wilderness where it is hot during the day and cold by night, and many obstacles in the way to the final destination. God served as a cloud by day, and fire by night, while leading His people to a blessed land. How can anyone turn away from such a God?

6:1-4, “The LORD instructed Moses: ‘Speak to the Israelites and tell them: When a man or woman makes a special vow, a Nazirite vow, to consecrate himself to the LORD, he is to abstain from wine and beer. He must not drink vinegar made from wine or from beer. He must not drink any grape juice or eat fresh grapes or raisins. He is not to eat anything produced by the grapevine, from seeds to skin, during his vow.’” The Nazirite vow involved total restriction from the vineyard and any of its products. The cultivation of vineyards required a settled lifestyle that tended to lose the sense of total devotion to the Lord that characterized Israel’s nomadic life in the wilderness. Today, such a vow would be considered a fast for Christians. God is telling us that when we choose to fast, that we must do so with a clear mind with no alcohol in our system, with no worries or “to-do” lists on our minds. When we fast, we should have 100% focus on God and God alone.

In 10:29-32, Moses asked his brother-in-law Hobab to accompany them on the journey and experience the goodness of the blessing of God upon Israel. In 10:32, Moses says, “If you come with us, whatever good the LORD does for us we will do for you.” Jesus Christ died and rose again to conquer the grave of our sins, what more can we do for our fellow people? Moses was the interpreter of God’s direction, revealed through the cloud in the wilderness, but Hobab could provide valuable support in the desert setting native to the clans of the Midianites. The Lord was the provider of both forms of leadership through the Spirit. 11:14-15, Moses tells God, “I can’t carry all these people by myself. They are too much for me. If You are going to treat me like this, please kill me right now. If You are pleased with me, don’t let me see my misery any more.” In 11:17, God replies, “I will take some of the Spirit who is on you and put the Spirit on them. They will help you bear the burden of the people, so that you do not have to bear it by yourself.” In regards to 11:16-27, the work of the Spirit of God here is to enable the elders and officers to carry out the task of teaching, judging and leading the Israelites through the wilderness experiences. God has provided us with different gifts from the Spirit, and it is up to us to be used as much as possible as instruments in His will to help others.

When God supplied the needed food in Exodus 16 the people gathered it gladly, but in Numbers 11, they complain about His provision. In regards to 11:4-6, the people’s needs are both physical and spiritual. They complain that they are tired of the monotonous diet of manna, God’s special provision, and crave the luxury of the produce of Egypt. To have that, they would return to slavery and oppression. Insatiable human craving leads to a life of bondage. The blessing turned to craving, and the craving to disease and death. Then God instructs Moses in 11:17-20, to inform the people that, “The LORD will give you meat and you will eat…for a whole month—until it comes out of your nostrils and becomes nauseating to you—because you have rejected the LORD who is among you, and cried to Him: ‘Why did we ever leave Egypt?” How much does this relate to our lives? We become tired of a monotonous lifestyle, so we decide to get and/or do something luxurious for ourselves on our own terms, then later on, we regret that decision because that “blessing” was really a curse that caused bondage of financial, and even worse, personal responsibility. We all have a difficult time being content and just waiting on the Lord to provide in His timing. We want things to be our own way and on our own time, and when we follow our own path, we miss out on God’s blessing that He had in store for us.

In chapters 22-24, God demonstrated that He can use whatever means necessary to bring blessing to His people. Even the person most adamantly opposed to His will can become an instrument of His purpose. 22:28-33, “Then the LORD opened the donkey’s mouth, and she asked Balaam, “What have I done to you that you have beaten me these three times?” Balaam answered the donkey, “You made me look like a fool. If I had a sword in my hand, I’d kill you now!” But the donkey said, “Am I not the donkey you’ve ridden all your life until today? Have I ever treated you this way before?” “No” he replied. Then the LORD opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the Angel of the LORD standing in the path with a drawn sword in His hand. Balaam knelt and bowed with his face to the ground. The Angel of the LORD asked him, “Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? Look, I came out to oppose you, because what you are doing is evil in My sight. The donkey saw Me and turned away from Me these three times. If she had not turned away from Me, I would have killed you by now and let her live.” Balaam was so set on doing his own will; he completely ignored the fact that his devoted life-long donkey actually talked to him. The LORD finally had to open Balaam’s eyes to see what was happening. I believe that if the donkey had not talked, Balaam would have kept his eyes closed, figuratively speaking of course, and would have been killed by the Angel. This passage says a lot about the consequences of today. It is up to Christians to “talk” to non-believers, and everyone who lives in sin, so that the eyes of those who are going against God’s will be opened and lives be saved.

The text in chapter 14 emphasizes their repeated rebellion against God (10 times) to which He has now responded. In rejecting entry into the promised land, they were rejecting an essential part of their covenant with Yahweh, which was in turn founded in His covenant with Abraham. 14:7-9, “The land we passed through and explored is an extremely good land. If the LORD is pleased with us, He will bring us into this land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and give it to us. Only don’t rebel against the LORD, and don’t be afraid of the people of the land, for we will devour them. Their protection has been removed from them, and the LORD is with us. Don’t be afraid of them!” In today’s age of postmodernism, the non-believers are doing everything they can to get rid of God, and they are succeeding from the school to the courts. It is important to remember that Christians should not be afraid of this, because God is on our side and with Him, all things work together for the good for those who love Him. We must trust in Him and wait for the day when every knee will bow down and realize the Truth. In the mean time, it is our job to pray and find out how He wants us to respond to such attacks against His name. 14:11, “The LORD said to Moses, “How long will these people despise Me? How long will they not trust in Me despite all the signs I have performed among them?” 14:18-19, Moses replies to the LORD, “The LORD is slow to anger and rich in faithful love, forgiving wrongdoing and rebellion. But He will not leave the guilty unpunished…Please pardon the wrongdoing of this people in keeping with the greatness of Your faithful love, just as You have forgiven them from Egypt until now.”

In chapter 23, Balaam informs Balak that God is unchangeable; if His intent is to bless Israel, His word will be accomplished without fail and without deviation. Nothing Balaam could muster via sorcery or incantation could bring violence or destruction upon God’s people. Later on in 24:12-14, we become amazed at such faith, “Balaam answered Balak, “Didn’t I previously tell the messengers you sent me: If Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not go against the LORD’s command, to do anything good or bad of my own will? I will say whatever the LORD says.” Balaam had chosen the high road to follow God rather than sell out and obey another person’s order.

15:37-41, “The LORD said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and tell them that throughout their generations they are to make tassels for the corners of their garments, and put a blue cord on the tassel at each corner. These will serve as tassels for you to look at, so that you may remember all the LORD’s commands and obey them and not become unfaithful by following your own heart and your own eyes. This way you will remember and obey all My commands and be holy to your God. I am the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God; I am the LORD your God.” Christians today can do something similar by at the very least wearing a cross around our necks. As we wear the cross, we can remember everything that Jesus went through and to remind us that He is with us in every step of life.

Deuteronomy Commentary

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Deuteronomy is the final book of the Pentateuch that was written by Moses in which he summarizes everything the Israelites have been through since the journey out of Egypt towards the Promised Land. Moses reminds the people to be obedient towards God’s Law and goes into detail of what God expects of them once inside the Land. God’s selection of Israel as a special people to the exclusion of all others can be explained only on the basis of His grace and hidden purposes. There was nothing in Israel, or even the nation’s founding ancestor Abraham, that commended them to the Lord. Merit or deserving qualities have nothing to do with God’s sovereign choice of nations and individuals, out of all the options available to Him. The vessel has no right to ask the potter why he has shaped him thus. The point is that Israel was helpless in the desert and would surely have perished without divine intervention. The nation was found to be in a needy condition and thus dependent on God’s grace. When they tested God on the journey they manifested a lack of faith.

When the people met with Moses before going into the Promised Land, they had assembled in order to reaffirm their commitment to Him. This was not their initial relationship with Him, for that had taken place at Sinai. By renewing the covenant they became the Lord’s people in a new and fresh way; as though they themselves had been present at the original events. Everyday, we have an opportunity to renew our covenant with Jesus Christ by accepting Him as Lord and Savior of our lives, praying continually, and having sufficient Bible study in order to refresh our spirit by taking us back over 2,000 years ago on the weekend where He died on a cross on a Friday to pay the price for our sins and conquered the grave on Sunday by rising up and sitting at the right hand side of God for all of eternity.

Moses’ statement that he neither ate nor drank for 40 days presupposes supernatural sustenance; of the kind Jesus received when he, too, fasted 40 days in the Judean desert. Those to whom God is a living reality do not find such claims impossible, but receive them by faith. People can do difficult things when they consider them important. In chapter 8, the real issue, of course, is whether or not God could provide for His people in such a miraculous manner; that question is a matter not of science but of faith. The following verses speak for themselves with the fact that one must trust in God with everything. 8:2-6, “Remember that the LORD your God led you on the entire journey these 40 years in the wilderness, so that He might humble you and test you to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep His commands. He humbled you by letting you go hungry; then He gave you manna to eat, so that you might learn that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. Your clothing did not wear out, and your feet did not swell these 40 years. Keep in mind that the LORD your God has been disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son. So keep the commands of the LORD your God by walking in His ways and fearing Him.” 8:10, “When you eat and are full, you will praise the LORD your God for the good land He has given you. 8:14, “Be careful that your heart doesn’t become proud and you forget the LORD your God who brought you out of the place of slavery.”

9:5-6, “You are not going to take possession of their land because of your righteousness or your integrity. Instead, the LORD your God will drive out these nations before you because of their wickedness, in order to keep the promise He swore to your fathers. Understand that the LORD your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stiff-necked people.” 10:12-20, “And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you except to fear the LORD your God by walking in all His ways, to love Him, and to worship the LORD your God with all your heart and all your soul? Keep the LORD’s commands and statutes I am giving you today, for your own good…Therefore, circumcise your hearts and don’t be stiff-necked any longer. For the LORD your God is the God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, mighty, and awesome God, showing no partiality and taking no bribe…Remain faithful to Him and take oaths in His name.” 12:32, “You must be careful to do everything I command you; do not add anything to it or take anything away from it.” In other words, there is no more or no less we can do but love. 13:4-5, “You must follow the LORD your God and fear Him. You must keep His commands and listen to His voice; you must worship Him and remain faithful to Him…You must clean the evil from you.”

4:29, “But from there, you will search for the LORD your God, and you will find Him when you seek Him with all your heart and all your soul. When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, you will return to the LORD your God in later days and obey Him. He will not leave you, destroy you, or forget the covenant with your fathers that He swore to them by oath, because the LORD your God is a compassionate God.” 2:7, “For the LORD your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He has watched over your journey through this immense wilderness. The LORD your God has been with you this past 40 years, and you have lacked nothing.” 4:6-9, “Carefully follow the statutes and ordinances that the LORD your God has commanded, for this will show your wisdom and understanding in the eyes of the peoples. For what great nation is there that has a god near to it as the LORD our God is to us whenever we call to Him? And what great nation has righteous statues and ordinances like this entire law I set before you today? Only be on your guard and diligently watch yourselves, so that you don’t forget the things your eyes have seen and so that they don’t slip from your mind as long as you live. Teach them to your children and your grandchildren.” The sum of the statutes and ordinances can be found in 6:5, “Love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart.” The expectation here is not that Scripture should be taught to children in every waking moment, to the exclusion of anything else. By means of a figure of speech Moses uses opposites—sitting and walking, lying down and rising up—to suggest that any time is appropriate for instruction in the ways of the Lord. Taken literally, this passage would suggest that nothing was to occur in family life except the verbal communication of the law. But Moses’ intention here is to impress upon parents that their very lifestyle as well as their words is to be instructive for their children.

Both the Bible and archaeological evidence attest to the depravity of Canaanite worship, which incorporated temple prostitution, child sacrifice, mutilation, and other inhumane features. But it was detestable chiefly because it pandered to nonexistent gods, in defiance of the one true God who reveals Himself through His word and actions, not through ritualistic practice. To destroy a whole city because of the idolatry of a few may seem unfair and a miscarriage of justice. However, the modern dichotomy between the individual and his community was unknown in the world of ancient Israel. The sin of the few became the responsibility of all. Presumably the citizens of the city in question here had done nothing to expose or punish the sin of the idolatrous offenders. The execution of a wayward and incorrigible son is inconceivable in modern secular society, which lacks the standards of a theocratic (ruled by God) community. The possibility described dramatizes the heavy responsibility borne by Israelite parents to see that their offspring held to the standards demanded of the people of God. Parents were expected to be God’s agents of authority and discipline at the family level, ensuring that no dysfunction and destructive influences entered the community of faith on their account. In the Lord’s structure of authority the parent stood in God’s place; lack of respect for the parent was tantamount to lack of respect for God.

11:26-28, “Look, today I set before you a blessing and a curse: there will be a blessing, if you obey the commands of the LORD your God I am giving you today, and a curse, if you do not obey the commands of the LORD your God, and you turn aside from the path I command you today by following other gods you have not known.” The curse in view here is certainly not the use of profanity or anything of the kind but is the technical language of covenant relationship. Blessing comes by obedience and cursing by disobedience. Disobedience resulted in such things as illness, lack of rain, loss of harvest, deportation, or even death. Curses are not arbitrary and capricious acts of God but the penalty for violating a pledge made by the people themselves. Moses returns to the curse element of the covenant declaration, which is considerably longer than the blessing section. Israel’s obedience was a critical matter, and the consequences of disloyalty to the Lord needed to be clearly spelled out. The reason for the harshness of God’s judgment here is to be found in the nature of the offense being punished, idolatry. Such an act was not only intrinsically evil because of the depravity of pagan religions. In the context of the covenant with Yahweh it was nothing short of high treason, the worst of all possible offenses. To worship other “gods” is to deny God His very existence and His sovereignty.

30:1-3, “When all these things happen to you—the blessings and curses I have set before you—and you come to your senses while you are in all the nations where the LORD your God has driven you, and you and your children return to the LORD your God and obey Him with all your heart and all your soul by doing everything I am giving you today, then He will restore your fortunes, have compassion on you, and gather you again from all the peoples where the LORD your God has scattered you.” 30:7-20, “The LORD your God will put all these curses on your enemies who hate and persecute you. Then you will again obey Him and follow all His commands I am giving you today. The LORD your God will make you prosper abundantly in all the work of your hands with children, the offspring of your livestock, and your soil’s produce. Indeed, the LORD will again delight in your prosperity, as He delighted in that of your fathers, when you obey the LORD your God by keeping His commands and statutes that are written in this book of the law and return to Him with all your heart and all your soul. This command that I give you today is certainly not too difficult or beyond your reach…But the message is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, so that you may follow it…Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, love the LORD your God, obey Him, and remain faithful to Him. For He is your life, and He will prolong your life in the land the LORD swore to give to your fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”

The command to avoid the amassing of horses and wives was clearly disobeyed by all the kings of Israel, beginning with David and epitomized by Solomon. This is not an example of contradiction in the Bible. It illustrates the discrepancy between God’s ideal standards and the human incapacity or unwillingness to obey them. Scripture upholds no one as a perfect exemplar of obedience to God’s command, except Jesus Christ. I can not help but wonder what society as well as the current economy would be like if our Congress consisted only of elected officials that work as volunteers without being paid. I have a feeling that there would be little to no corruption and that there would be more money flowing through the economy. If only we small-minded human beings would put our pride aside and follow God’s instructions that are clearly written in His book. Even modern moral relativism has not erased the public’s disgust with duplicity or cheating in business practice. Dishonest dealings are an abomination to the Lord, as well. Such behavior is not just an abuse of another individual; it impacts the ethical equilibrium of the whole community. To rob one’s neighbor is, in a sense, to rob God, for He is the One who dispenses economic blessing as He sees fit. Lack of a governmental welfare system made it necessary for the poor to have access to essentials for survival. Under the covenantal principle of corporate solidarity, the community cannot view itself as a mere collection of independent individuals. What one has is, within limits, the property of all.

In 28:65-67, God warns that when the people continue in disobedience, they will be scattered around the world and God describes that the results are as follows: “You will find no peace among those nations, and there will be no resting place for the sole of your foot. There the LORD will give you a trembling heart, failing eyes, and a despondent spirit. Your life will hang in doubt before you. You will be in dread night and day, never certain of survival. In the morning you will say, ‘if only it were evening!’ and in the evening you will say, ‘If only it were morning!’—Because of the dread you will have in your heart and because of what you will see.” 28:46-48, “These curses will be a sign and a wonder against you and your descendants forever. Because you didn’t serve the LORD your God with joy and a cheerful heart, even though you had an abundance of everything, you will serve your enemies the LORD will send against you, in famine, thirst, nakedness, and a lack of everything.” Talk about being omniscient! Failing to find contentment in this world is the key theme in this passage. We want one thing, and then once we get that, we want another. God knows that contentment will never happen in a world filled with sin. As I look at my own life, I have come to the realization that I am at true peace ONLY when I am either worshipping or serving the LORD. In 29:4-9, “Yet to this day the LORD has not given you a mind to understand, eyes to see, or ears to hear. I led you 40 years in the wilderness; your clothes and the sandals on your feet did not wear out; you did not eat bread or drink wine or beer—so that you might know that I am the LORD your God…Therefore observe the words of this covenant and follow them, so that you will succeed in everything you do.” When it comes to spiritual insight, it is possible to look without seeing, to hear without listening. Throughout the entire Bible, God continues to provide us with reassurance, and the final verse for this commentary is one fine example of such encouragement, in 31:6-8, “Be strong and courageous; don’t be terrified or afraid of them. For it is the LORD your God who goes with you; He will not leave you or forsake you…Do not be afraid or discouraged.”

Joshua Commentary

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The book of Joshua continues where the Pentateuch leaves off, narrating events and placing them in a theological perspective. Joshua reminded the Israelites that it was not by their own power that these great deeds were accomplished.

3:3-4, “When you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God carried by the Levitical priests, you must break camp and follow it. But keep a distance between yourselves and the ark. Don’t go near it, so that you can see the way to go, for you haven’t traveled this way before.” Joshua instructed the people to follow the priests who would carry the Ark of the Covenant across the river ahead of them. The ark symbolized the Lord’s presence with His people. The time had arrived for the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham. 3:17, “The priests carrying the ark of the LORD’s covenant stood firmly on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, while all Israel crossed on dry ground until the entire nation had finished crossing the Jordan.” Primarily, Joshua instructs the people to keep their distance, so they may properly follow the guidance of God. Further, on, we read that the priests stood firmly as the people crossed the Jordan on dry ground. It was because the priests had the Lord’s covenant and the people had faith in their heart of God’s good guidance for them that they were not flooded and swept away in the Jordan River.

“The words “set apart” translate the Hebrew cherem, which refers to “devoted things” belonging exclusively to the Lord (often called the “ban”). Jericho was the first city the Israelites took in their conquest of Canaan. As such, it and all its inhabitants were cherem to the Lord. Everyone except Rahab and her family were to be slain, and everything in the city was to be destroyed except the gold, silver, and articles of bronze and iron. The concept of cherem can be difficult to understand today. How can the destruction of a city and the killing of all its inhabitants be justified, and how can one believe it was the Lord who specifically ordered these things? Part of the answer lies in recognizing the holiness of God and the sinfulness of the Canaanites. God is holy, and He created Israel to be a people totally consecrated to Him. The persistent sins of the Canaanites, which were an affront to the holiness of God, finally demanded that His judgment be executed through their complete removal from the land. God would bless those who loved Him and kept His commands but He would punish those who hated Him. The sins of the Canaanites are catalogued and gives the theological rationale for their extermination. The Canaanites were arrogant and proud because of their strength, and the Lord had determined bring about their destruction, driving them out ahead of Israel. The concept of cherem demonstrates the utter seriousness of sin and its consequences—and points to the ultimate need for a Savior to rescue the human race. The success of Israel at Jericho was marred by unfaithfulness with respect to the cherem on the part of Achan, who took items for himself from the spoils. The Lord held the entire nation responsible for the action of one person who violated His command. This demonstrates the biblical principle of corporate solidarity. Sin is not merely an individual matter, but affects the entire community of which the individual is a member. Rahab, the Canaanite prostitute, is included in the genealogy of the Savior, Jesus Christ, thereby participating in the Lord’s ultimate triumph of grace.” (HSCB)

The Gibeonites devised a plan to protect themselves from annihilation by pretending to be from outside of Canaan. Joshua made a treaty with them without consulting the Lord. When Joshua and the Israelites found they had been deceived, they could not go back on their oath; the Gibeonites were permitted to live, though relegated to permanent servitude. This incident illustrates the force of the oath, and the spoken word, in Israelite culture. It also illustrates the problems that arise when the Lord’s counsel isn’t sought.

13:1, “Joshua was now old, advanced in years, and the LORD said to him, “You have become old, advanced in years, but a great deal of the land remains to be possessed.” 18:3, “So Joshua said to the Israelites, “How long will you delay going out to take possession of the land that the LORD, the God of your fathers, gave you?” Despite Joshua’s old age, he was still needed to serve in the community. As long as we are still breathing on this earth, we can still be used as instruments in God’s plan for the lives of people around us.

In 21:1-3, The leaders of the Levites approached Eleazar, Joshua and the tribal heads about fulfilling the Lord’s command to Moses to give towns for them to live in and pasturelands for their flocks from within the other tribal allotments. 21:44-45, “The LORD gave them rest on every side according to all He had sworn to their fathers. None of their enemies were able to stand against them, for the LORD handed over all their enemies to them. None of the good promises the LORD had made to the house of Israel failed. Everything was fulfilled.” As I was reading this passage, I was instantly reminded of the famous Psalm 23, where God lays His people to rest in green pastures with their enemies watching as He prepares a table.

22:1-5, “Joshua summoned the Reubenites, Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh, and told them, “You have done everything Moses the LORD’s servant commanded you and have obeyed me in everything I commanded you. You have not deserted your brothers even once this whole time but have carried out the requirements of the command of the LORD your God. Now that He has given your brothers rest, just as He promised them, return to your homes in your own land that Moses the LORD’s servant gave you across the Jordan. Only carefully obey the command and instruction that Moses the LORD’s servant gave you: to love the LORD your God, walk in all His ways, keep His commands, remain faithful to Him, and serve Him with all your heart and all your soul.” 24:14, “Therefore, fear the LORD and worship Him in sincerity and truth. Get rid of the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and worship the LORD.” 24:24, “So the people said to Joshua, “We will worship the LORD our God and obey Him.”

In regards to 24:15, “As for me and my family, we will worship the LORD.” Joshua and his family were committed to the Lord regardless of the decision of the people. Joshua spoke as the head of his household and the spiritual leader of the family. His words reflected an undivided devotion to the Lord that served as an example of faithfulness for all the people and an incentive for them to reaffirm their loyalty to the covenant. His undivided devotion is a source of encouragement for Christian believers today by reminding us that halfhearted commitment is worthless.

Judges and Ruth Commentary

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“The books of Judges and Ruth are treated together because the events of the book of Ruth took place during the time of the judges. Controversy surrounds the books of Judges and Ruth. Even a cursory reading of these books causes many to question the validity of their inclusion in the Scripture, the content being deemed by some as unworthy of God or of little or no value to twenty-first century readers. These books include: (1) graphic depictions of violence (such as the slaughter of seemingly innocent people by the command of God, maiming, human sacrifice, and gloating over the deaths of one’s enemies); (2) heroes who are anything but role models (while seemingly under the control of the Holy Spirit, they engage in deceit, lies, mockery, and self-centered behavior); (3) illicit sex and sexual innuendo; (4) a degrading depiction of women; and (5) a writing style that seemingly includes exaggeration or fabrication. The stories may not make us feel comfortable, but these books were not designed to comfort. These two books together present hard-hitting truth designed to disturb, to inform, and to challenge. How could a loving and merciful God condone, encourage, and even participate in war? God is not only loving, but also a holy and just God who brings wise judgment upon the guilty. Although Canaanites had been increasing in wickedness for more than 400 years, God exhibited by His grace to them during that time. The time for judgment, however, had now come. God used this war both to punish the guilty and to protect His people from the corrupting influences of idolatry and moral depravity as practiced by the people of the land. That God tested the Israelites ‘to see whether they would keep the LORD’s way’ did not mean He did not know the future. The test was for Israel’s benefit, not God’s, because their obedience would strengthen their faith. Although God allowed His people to suffer severely for long periods of time, He was not unaware of their need, uncaring about their suffering, or incapable of helping them. Scripture teaches that God knows all things, that He is all-powerful, and that He is compassionate. He allowed His people to suffer because He desired them to repent of their evil ways and to turn back to Him.” (HCSB)

2:16,18-19, “The LORD raised up judges, who saved them from the power of their marauders, but they did not listen to their judges…Whenever the LORD raised up a judge for the Israelites, the LORD was with him and saved the people from the power of their enemies while the judge was still alive. The LORD was moved to pity whenever they groaned because of those who were oppressing and afflicting them…They did not turn from their evil practices or their obstinate ways.” It is amazing that time and time again, God shows his power and compassion to the Israelites and all the people throughout the Bible, even throughout history to this very day, people still choose to ignore Him and depend either on themselves or some created god. It is a depressing fact that until Jesus Christ comes back for the final time, there will always be people living their own lives doing whatever they feel is right. There is always hope and encouragement for Christians, because we know that we will never be alone. People could care less of what is written or said. Everyone looks at what is actually being done.

God called Gideon a “mighty warrior” not because of his experience, but because of his potential—and, undoubtedly, because of what God planned to accomplish through him. In 6:15-16, Gideon questions God, “He said to Him, “Please, Lord, how can I deliver Israel? Look, my family is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father’s house.” “But I will be with you,” the LORD said to him. “You will strike Midian down as if it were one man.” 7:2,7, “The LORD said to Gideon, “You have too many people for Me to hand the Midianites over to you, or else Israel might brag: ‘I did it myself.’…The LORD said to Gideon, “I will deliver you with the 300 men…” The victory would be perceived as the Lord’s doing alone. God’s statement that He had given the camp of the Midianites into Gideon’s hand was a declaration both of what God had done and of what He expected of Gideon. While God had guaranteed victory, Gideon still had to trust Him for what had not yet happened. He needed to demonstrate his faith in God by actually going to war and securing the outcome God had promised. 8:22-23, “Then the Israelites said to Gideon, “Rule over us, you as well as your sons and your grandsons, for you delivered us from the power of Midian.” But Gideon said to them, “I will not rule over you, and my son will not rule over you; the LORD will rule over you.”

In regards to10:10-16, Scripture declares that God does not change. Here the Lord declares that He will not deliver His people again. Yet, in Judges 10:16, He is moved by the suffering of His people, and 11:32 records that He delivered them once again. God has established general principles by which He operates, one being that He judges those who sin but reconciles sinners to Himself upon their sincere repentance. God had graciously delivered Israel, but Israel turned away from the Lord to serve other gods, incurring His judgment. When they then cried out to the Lord, expecting Him to deliver them on the basis of their acknowledgment of disloyalty, He declined. In this He appears to have violated His principle of reconciliation in response to repentance, but vv. 14-16 reveals that the Israelites’ repentance was not sincere, for idols remained in their midst. When they finally removed their foreign “gods” to worship the Lord alone, He responded by reconciling them to Himself and delivering them from their enemies. God changed neither His mind nor His forgiving character, but operated in accordance with His character. (HCSB)

In regards to 16:17-20, “Samson’s strength came from the Lord, not from his hair. He was in a covenant relationship with the Lord based on his Nazirite vow. Despite his sins he, up to this point, had apparently not broken the requirements of that vow. By allowing his hair to be cut Samson disregarded his vow and thus severed his covenant with God. As a consequence, God finally withdrew his superhuman strength.” (HCSB)

17:6, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did whatever he wanted.” This statement, repeated at the end of the book, is the “motto” of the book of Judges. The absence of recognized spiritual authority leads to social chaos; the narrative of Judges lays out the consequences when a people ignores its responsibility to honor, and observe, the Lord’s directives for the conduct of human life. Everyone knows God’s directives because they have been written on their hearts. Every individual has a conscience; every Christian has the Holy Spirit as guides for living life.

“Ruth, brief enough to read in 15 minutes, is a delight. The German poet Goethe called it “the loveliest complete work on a small scale.” But because Ruth’s author didn’t hammer his points home, it is possible to overlook his deeper meaning. As you read, concentrate on the loving bond between Ruth and Naomi. This love, which thrived in suffering, is the root of the book. It offers hope for other people in hard circumstances. The author of Ruth assumed that readers understood the cultural and historical background of Ruth’s time. You may wish to read about it for deeper understanding. Deuteronomy 25:5-10 describes the background on marriage for a widow with a member of her husband’s family, the “kinsman-redeemer.” Leviticus 25:23-28 gives background on a poor person’s property. Judges offers historical perspective since it is an overview of the brutal times Ruth lived in.” (The Student Bible NIV 1986, 1992) “In Ruth 1:20-21, “Naomi correctly recognized that God did not necessarily bring only good situations into one’s life but that He, at times, brought difficulties. Elsewhere in Scripture such difficulties are understood to be for the purpose of testing or discipline.” (HCSB)

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