JUDGES – Chapter 6

But, the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD. Now, we move into the next cycle, the 4th apostasy, and Gideon, who is raised up as the sixth judge.

Scripture says “These things were written for us as examples so that we would not fall into the same errors.” This story is one of man’s failure to keep covenant with God, man’s failure to heed the warnings of God. It is the story of the tragedies that befall a person who turns their back on God and begins to worship and serve other gods. In today’s society, the gods would include the gods of materialism, the gods of knowledge, the gods of pleasure, the gods of money, and the gods of power. If these become the gods of your life, if you turn from serving the true and living God, then you are flirting with disaster. Your life will go into bondage. You will become a slave to your possessions, to your knowledge, to your own pleasure. These scriptures are written, so that we might be warned against the dangers of turning our backs on God, so that we might live for God and serve God will all of our hearts, with all of our souls, with all of our mind, and with all of our strength.
In the 5th chapter of Judges, we read the song of Deborah that rose out of the victory that God had given to Israel over Jabin, the king of Hazor, and the captain of his army, Sisera. The 5th chapter ends with, “And the land had rest forty years.”

Chapter 6 begins with the words “And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD: and the LORD delivered them into the hand of Midian for seven years.”

We see the becoming of the pattern. This is the fourth apostasy and the fourth servitude that Israel has gone into as the result of their apostasy.

The hand of Midian prevailed against Israel: and because of the Midianites the children of Israel made dens in the mountains, and caves, and strong holds. And so it was, when Israel had planted, that the Midianites came up, and the Amalekites, and the children of the east, even they came up against them; and they encamped against them, and they destroyed the increase of the earth, till you come unto Gaza.

Gaza is in the south coastal area of the land. So, the Midianites would be coming from the north, so they really took the entire land, all the way from the north down south as far as Gaza. The Midianites were nomadic, so they did not build cities, they lived in tents. They moved from area to area. This was also true of the Amalekites. These folks pretty much just moved in and invaded the land, ripping off the harvest of the crops planted by Israel.

They encamped against them, destroyed the increase of the land, all the way to Gaza, they left no sustenance for Israel, neither sheep, nor ox, nor donkey.

They had completely devastated all of the crops and all of the animals.

They came up with their cattle and their tents, and they came as grasshoppers for multitudes; for both they and their camels were without number: and they entered into the land to destroy it.

They came like a plague of locusts, covering the ground. We know that just from the forces of Midian there were 135,000 men, who were killed as part of the army, those who were able to draw a bow. So, the total number had to be into the hundreds of thousands that came into the land.
Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites; and the children of Israel cried unto the LORD.

Here is that pattern, again. God blesses them, they turn their backs on God, God turns His back on them, and they are oppressed by their enemies. Finally, they cry to the LORD, and God delivers them. They serve the LORD and prosper. They forget the LORD and go back into captivity.

And so they cried unto the LORD. And it came to pass, when the children of Israel cried unto the LORD because of the Midianites, that the LORD sent a prophet unto the children of Israel, which said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I brought you up from Egypt, and brought you forth out of the house of bondage; and I delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of all that oppressed you, I drove them out from before you, and gave you their land; and I said unto you, I am the LORD your God; fear not the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell: but you have not obeyed my voice.

Here, we see the people crying to the Lord, and God sent a prophet to rebuke them for breaking the covenant with God. The prophet declared to them that their calamity had come because they had not walked in the way of God.

As we look at our own lives, we find that this is so often true. Our calamity comes, because we forsake the Lord. Whether we admit it or not, we begin to worship other gods, whether that be material things, sexual perversions, knowledge, or other things. We get into all kinds of problems and, in our difficulties, we cry to the Lord.

Here, in the scripture, the Lord is rebuking them through the prophet, calling their attention to the reason why they’re experiencing their calamity. It is interesting that God doesn’t just rebuke us. He is so good that He tries to instruct us. He tries to teach us through these things. It makes you wonder, why don’t we learn?

There came an angel of the LORD, and sat under an oak which was at Ophrah, that pertains to Joash the Abiezrite: and his son Gideon threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites.

Gideon is the son of Joash, an Abiezrite, which is the family name of the tribe of Manasseh.

And the angel of the LORD appeared unto Gideon, and said unto him, The LORD is with you, you mighty man of valour. And Gideon said unto him, Oh my Lord, if the LORD is with us, why then is all of this befallen us? and where are all of the miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt? but now the LORD hath forsaken us, and has delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.

The beginning of this conversation, between Gideon with the angel, is really quite interesting. The angel call him a mighty man of valour. I know Gideon did not perceive himself that way, but that’s how the Lord looked upon him. The Lord’s perception of him was better than his own.
It would be nice to realize just how valuable we were in the sight of God. Many times, I think we deprecate ourselves, we put ourselves down.
Yet, the Lord places such tremendous value on us.

When Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus, he told them how he prayed for them. One of his prayers for them was that they might know His exceeding rich inheritance in the saints. In other words, he was telling them, ‘If you only knew how much God prized and valued you.’

God looked at Gideon and said ‘You are a mighty man of valor.’ Gideon said ‘Hey, now, I’m nobody.’ Yet, that was how the LORD perceived him.

The second part of the conversation that I find interesting is the fact that Gideon was arguing with the angel. The angel told him “The LORD is with you.” Gideon replied ‘Hey man, if the LORD was with us, then why are we having all of this trouble? where are the miracles that our fathers told us about? He wanted to see the miracles of God to deliver them from the oppression under the Midianites.

So the LORD looked upon him, and said, Go in this your might, and you will save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have I not sent you? And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewithal shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.

God has the hardest time getting men to do His work. When God called Moses at the burning bush, Moses felt he couldn’t do it, because he was not eloquent in speech. When God called Jeremiah, Jeremiah felt he was too young, and folks wouldn’t listen to him. Gideon is doing the same thing. He feels his family is poor, and he is the least in the family.

When Samuel instructed Saul that God had chosen him as the first king of Israel, he made similar comments. It is obvious that God, many times, chooses a man who is humble to do His work. It is probably this very attitude of humility that God looks for, when He is seeking a servant to go out and to do His work. Looking at this from the back side, the level of pride in many of the television evangelists today, could lead one to believe that they may be self-chosen, and not truly selected by God. On the other hand, we are all selected of God, to do what is in His plan for our lives and the lives of others, even when that role is just a minor one.

The LORD said unto him, Surely I will be with you,

This is God’s answer to his cry of weakness, “I will be with you.” That is all I need. If God is for us, who can be against us?

I will be with you, Surely you will smite the Midianites as one man. And he said unto him, If I have really found grace in your sight,
Gideon was asking the Lord if this was for real, or if it was just his imagination. Then he asked God to wait a minute, so he could go get a sacrifice.

Let me go get a present for you. And he said, I will wait. And so Gideon went in, and he made ready a little goat, and unleavened cakes (no time to let the dough rise) out of an ephah of flour: the flesh he put in a basket, and he put the broth in a pot, and he brought it out unto him under the oak, and he presented it. And the angel of God said unto him, Take the flesh and the unleavened cakes, and lay them upon the rocks,

So, Gideon came out with this basket, and a shish kabob from the little goat, and the unleavened cakes, and the broth, and God tells him to set them on the rocks and then tells him ‘and then he said, pour the broth over it.’

This turned out to be a burnt offering and a peace offering. The cakes were a meal offering which was a peace offering. The burnt offering was the goat. The drink offering was the broth, to be poured over the offerings. “pour the broth over it.”

And so he poured the broth over it. And the angel of the LORD put forth the end of the staff that was in his hand, and he touched the flesh and the unleavened cakes; and there arose up a fire out of the rock, and consumed the flesh and the unleavened cakes. Then the angel of the LORD departed out of his sight.

This was quite a manifestation, causing Gideon to recognize that he was with an angel of the Lord. Gideon wanted proof, and he got it.
And when Gideon perceived that it was an angel of the LORD, and he said, Alas, O Lord GOD! because I have seen an angel of the LORD face to face. And the LORD said unto him, Peace be unto thee; fear not: you will not die.

All through scripture, both Old and New Testaments, God shares the message “Peace be unto you!” All through scripture, God tells us to “Fear not!” We need to take heed to these words from the Lord in our daily lives. We’re fearful of the uncertainty of our future, God is saying to us ‘Fear not. Peace be unto you!’

Then Gideon built an altar there unto the LORD, and he called it Jehovah-shalom: unto this day it is yet in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.

Gideon picked up on the statement from God, and he called the altar Jehovah-shalom, which means “Jehovah is our peace.” Gideon has been drafted to go to war. In fact, he has been called to lead the people of God against the Midianites. So, by faith in the promise from God, he built the altar and called it ‘Jehovah-shalom.’ He looked beyond the war to the peace that God would bring, after the fighting was ended.
Gideon’s whole experience is one of faith, as he looks beyond the conflict that is coming to the peace that God gives. By faith, he called the altar, in faith, ‘Jehovah-shalom.’

And it came to pass the same night, that the LORD said unto him, Take your father’s young bullock, even the second bullock of seven years old, and throw down the altar of Baal that your father has, and cut down the grove that is by it:

The grove was the pillar to the goddess Astharoth, who is the female counterpart to Baal. Gideon is told to take this bullock, and to break down his father’s altar unto Baal, and the grove that was by it.

And build instead an altar unto Jehovah your God upon the top of this rock, in the ordered place, and take the second bullock, and offer a burnt sacrifice with the wood of the grove thou shalt cut down.

So, this wooden pillar that was worshipped as a monument to Astharoth was to be used to kindle the fire on the altar.

And Gideon took ten men of his servants, and did as the LORD had said unto him: and so it was, because he feared his father’s household, and the men of the city, he could not do it by day, so he did it by night.

It seems the folks were pretty heavy into the worship of Baal. They were committed to this idolatry. They were so committed to it that had Gideon tried to do this during the day, there would have been one big confrontation and probably a battle. So, Gideon decided to do it at night, while they were all asleep.

So when the men of the city arose early in the morning, and behold, the altar of Baal was cast down, and the grove was cut down that was by it, and the second bullock was offered upon the altar that was built. They said one to another, Who has done this thing? And they asked around, and they said, It was Gideon the son of Joash who has done it. So the men of the city said unto Joash, Bring out your son, that he may die: because he has cast down the altar of Baal, and because he has cut down the grove that was by it. And Joash said unto them that stood against him, Will you plead for Baal? will you save him?

Do you have a god that you have to rescue? Isn’t your god able to take care of himself?

He that will plead for him, let him be put to death

This really demonstrates just how deeply entrenched was the worship of Baal in the hearts of these people. They are ready to kill Gideon because he broke down the altar of Baal.

while it is yet morning: if he is a god, let him plead for himself, because one has cast down his altar.

In other words, ‘let him defend himself.’ I think how many times we find ourselves foolishly caught in the position of trying to defend God as though God needs defense. We don’t have to defend God, He’s perfectly capable of defending Himself. And, this was the same logic of Joash, Gideon’s father: if Baal is a god, let him defend himself.

Therefore on that day he called Gideon Jerubbaal, saying Let Baal plead for himself, [Jerubbaal literally means, ‘let Baal plead’] because he has thrown down his altar. Then all the Midianites and the Amalekites and the children of the east were gathered together, and they went over, and they pitched in the valley of Jezreel.

Jezreel is the valley between Mount Gilboa and Mount Moreh. It is in the eastern part of the valley of Megeddo. It is known as the valley of Jezreel, the valley of Megeddo. They all more or less run together. It begins at Bethshemesh, which is just up out of the Jordan river at the northern end of the Mount Gilboa range. The valley is about 15 miles long and 12 miles wide, and it is extremely fertile. It is the valley where the final battle will be fought, the battle of Armageddon.

Coming up from Bethshemesh is the natural way to invade the land of Israel, if you’re coming from the north. It’s a natural pass into the valley, and it goes all the way to Haifa on the Mediterranean.

Here, we see the Midianites, the Amalekites, and these people from the east had come into this valley of Jezreel.

But the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet; and Abiezer was gathered after him.

We need to take notice here that the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon. Throughout Judges, we will be reading about this, as God’s Spirit begins to move upon these men, the judges of Israel.

And he sent messengers throughout all of Manasseh; who also was gathered after him: and he sent messengers unto the tribes of Asher, to Zebulun, to Naphtali; and they came up to meet him.

So, Gideon sent messengers to all the tribes that were in the northern section. There is no mention of messages down to Judah, or Simeon, or Benjamin, or even Ephraim, only those that were in the northern portion.

And Gideon said unto God, If you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said, Behold, I will put a fleece of wool in the floor; and if the dew is on the fleece only, and it is dry upon all of the earth around it, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said.

So, Gideon has a second test to insure that it is God talking to him. The first was the sacrifice. Evidently, Gideon is still uncertain if God is really in this. So, Gideon put the fleece out on the ground.

And on the next day, he thrust the fleece together, he wrung out the dew out of the fleece, and there was a bowl full of water.

At this point, Gideon probably thought that there might be some rule of physics, of which he was not aware, that caused the dew to gather on the fleece and not on the ground. So, he wanted one more chance, and this time they would reverse the process.

in the morning let the ground be covered with dew, and let the fleece be dry.

So, the next morning, the ground was covered with dew and the fleece was dry. From this, Gideon determined that God had called him, and would deliver the Midianites into his hands.

Because of Gideon’s putting out this fleece, a practice was instituted by a lot of folks, where a kind of fleece was used to attempt to ascertain the will of the Lord, or the plan of God.

Even in the New Testament they sought the will of God by casting lots, to determine which of the two disciples should take the place of Judas Iscariot, whether it would be Barnabas or Mathias. When they cast the lots, the lot fell on Mathias and he was numbered with the twelve.

We do not read of this practice taking place in the New Testament after the day of Pentecost. There is no further mention of people seeking to ascertain the will of God by the casting of lots, or by drawing straws, or by any other method. God’s Spirit began to direct the early church.
“And the Spirit spake and said, Separate unto me Paul and Barnabas for the ministry wherein I have called them.” There began to be a more direct leading of the Spirit that they understood, with the elimination of the need to check or test to see the will of God.

It is vital to any Christian to know where God stands on an issue, and the best way to do that is to pray, trust God to answer that prayer, and to not force the issue. Jesus said “Ask, and ye shall receive; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” So, we should ask, knock on a few doors, and see which one opens.

We need not try to force doors open. Many times, we get something in our minds, and we act and push for what, in our own mind, we believe is the right thing for us. This is a mistake. If we are in God’s will, they right door will open. As the Lord said to the church of Philadelphia, “I have set before thee an open door that no man can shut.” If God is in it, God is going to bless it.

Whether we are trying to make something happen, or if we are trying to keep something moving, if God is not in it, or if God is trying to kill it, we can really mess things up. If a system in the church cannot support itself, without artificial support, it needs to die. We can’t force things to keep something alive, when God wants it gone. God will open or close doors, as he sees fit. We need not push.

God is able to take care of things. It is when we get into forcing issues that we can easily get out of God’s will.

I don’t use fleeces, I just pray, trust God, and get out of His way.

Don D. Stephens

(Photo credit to Colm Verhoeff)

I am what I am.

I am a Christian. This is the first and most important part of my life. If you understand what this means to me, it should help you to understand who I am and why I think like I think.

Being a Christian is a very simple thing, but it involves truth and commitment to ones beliefs. I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. I believe He came to earth and willingly went to the cross to take on all sin, for all those who would believe. This included and continues to include all past sin, all present sin, and all future sin, but only for those who accept Him for who He is.

The Bible tells us that all we have to do is believe in our hearts and confess with our mouths that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we are saved. I believe will all my heart, and I freely confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. So, I am a Christian, based on what the Bible tells us is required for me to be covered by the blood of Jesus.

Now, as a Christian, I have certain responsibilities to do the best I can to walk the path, which God has laid before me. I am not perfect, and I don’t profess to be. If I could be perfect, why would I need the forgiveness of Jesus? I still sin, regularly, but I recognize my sin, and I accept the forgiveness, which God so gracefully gives.

It is my responsibility, as a Christian, to support the teachings of the Bible, if I am to walk the walk in accordance with my Christian beliefs. I cannot, in this short text, explain all of those things, but I do want to cover a few, and show why I feel it so important to bring them up at this point in history.

I am the Way

FIRST: Jesus taught us that “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father, but by Me.” That is pretty black and white. The only way to God is through Jesus, the ONLY way. When I hear statements by others that we have to be tolerant of other religions, and when I hear our recent President, Barak Obama, state to the entire world that “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam”, I must disagree. When it comes to my Christianity, I cannot bow to any other religion. God had entire nations destroyed, in the Old Testament, because they worshiped false gods. Jesus told us “For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels.”

Now, this does not mean I need to hate people who worship other gods, but I cannot and will not bow to those folks, even in the name of political correctness. I thank God, daily, that we now have a man in the White House, who openly confesses a faith in the One True God.

The Bible is very clear.

SECOND: The Bible is very clear on “unnatural affection”. God called it an “abomination’, and the New Testament testifies to the sinful nature of those that partake in unnatural affection. Does that mean that I hate homosexuals? No, it does not. However, I cannot support any legislation that promotes these types of relationships. Today, we see gay rights being, not only supported, but pushed by our educational system. What will be next? There is currently a push for those who have a desire to have sexual relations with young children, in the name of tolerance. Where will this all end? As a Christian, I support those things I am taught by the Bible. I follow Jesus, and will not bow to political correctness. In Hebrews 13:8, we are told that “Jesus Christ is the same today, yesterday, and forever.” God has not changed. Just because the political correctness in our country teaches tolerance toward these acts, God called it an abomination, and HE HAS NOT CHANGED HIS MIND.

Filled with the Holy Spirit

THIRD: The Bible tells us that John the Baptist was filled with the spirit in his mother’s womb. He jumped for joy, inside his mother’s womb, when Mary, pregnant with Jesus, came close to him. A child is a person, from inception. That is what the Bible tells us. As a Christian, I am anti-abortion. That being said, I feel it only fair to point out that God gave us all the ability to choose. Adam and Even had a choice about the fruit in the garden. We all have a choice to accept Jesus or reject Him. And, we each have a choice whether we take the life of an unborn child or opt to save that life. We each have a right to choose. I believe each of you have the right to choose to about the unborn, if you so desire. However, I do not believe it is right for you to take that option and then expect me, and others with my same beliefs, to pay for your decision with our tax dollars. If that were fair, then your tax dollars should pay for the birth of my child, should I opt for a pro-life choice. That only seems fair.

Rise from Your Sleep

FOURTH: The Bible teaches us responsibility and accountability. The Bible tells us “Go to the ant, oh sluggard. Consider her ways and be wise!” It also says “How long with you slumber, oh Sluggard? When will you rise from your sleep?” Paul writes in Thessalonians, “For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread.” I believe that we should care for the needy, but not create a state where anyone can live off the government, just because they don’t want to work. A helping hand is a good thing, when needed, but stops need to be in place to insure that our elected officials are good stewards of our tax dollars.

Be Good Stewards

FIFTH: We should all strive to be good stewards of our own funds. Establishing a budget, saving for the future, living within one’s means, are all Christian principles. I believe the government should be required to do the same things. They need to set a budget that does not take us further into debt, live within that budget, and stop spending foolishly for things that are not necessary to this country.

Support Israel

SIXTH: God tells us, many times throughout the Bible that “those that bless Israel will be blessed and those that curse Israel will be cursed.” As a Christian, I support Israel, PERIOD!

There are many more of these areas, in which I could continue my thoughts, but for now, I just wanted to post this so that you will all understand exactly why I stand for what I do. We all need to become more civil in our discussions and in the way we treat each other. I respect your right to believe in what you believe and to make decisions related to your own personal moral standards. With the recent election of Donald Trump as our President, and the move toward political correctness in lieu of Biblical principles, we have seen, within the past several weeks, a photo showing a comedian holding the bloody severed head of President Trump, Rosie O’Donnell with a new game lauding the killing of our president, daily attacks on the character of President Trump and his family, a Senator stating that he would kill the president, should he find himself within 10’ of him, and even idiots like Johnny Depp asking when the last time was that an actor killed a president, followed by his statement the “Maybe it’s about time.”

If you agree with 3 or more of the statements, which I have pointed out in this text, you have conservative values and need to consider where we are headed as a nation, and what we can do to insure a more civil tone in our country.

If you don’t agree with these statements, chances are you are following the liberal dogma being flooded across the airways, and taught on our college campuses. Needless to say, this text will fall on deaf ears.

As for me and my house, we shall serve the Lord.

Just my thoughts!
Don D. Stephens

Proverbial Wisdom

Solomon was the son of David, and he was a wise man. When he ascended to the throne of Israel, God told him “Ask of me, whatever you would like.” Solomon requested “Lord, grant to me the wisdom, that I might rule over these your people.” The Lord was pleased with Solomon’s request, and responded “Because you did not ask for money or fame, but for wisdom, I will not only give you wisdom, but I will also give you money, riches, and fame.” Solomon was pronounced the wisest king that lived, both to that date and forward.
We are told in Kings that Solomon wrote 3000 proverbs, of which only around 1000 are contained in the Bible. The book of Proverbs begins with a short explanation, which should be a guide to each of us.

The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel:
• To know wisdom and instruction, to perceive the words of understanding.
• To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, judgment, and equity.
• To give prudence to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion.
• A wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel.
• To understand a proverb and an enigma, the words of the wise and their riddles.
• The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

A proverb will help you to be wise, to give you wisdom. It helps you to receive instruction. Proverbs contain deep and necessary understanding to life. The purpose of Proverbs is to provide us with wisdom, justice, judgment, and equity. In other words, it is used for instruction, to put the truth in a manner by which it can be remembered. It puts things in a clever way, so the wisdom sticks to you.

A young man can receive knowledge and discretion, while a wise man will heed it and use the wisdom to counsel others. Proverbs minister to the simple, to the young, to the wise, and to the men of understanding. The Proverbs of Solomon are written in a manner in which you don’t normally get the true meaning, the first time it is read. However, when you do get the wisdom, the truth is very clear. The truth of Proverbs is hidden, until it is drawn out through meditation.

The first 6 verses of Proverbs introduce the Proverbs, give the purpose of them, and explain what they can do for those who choose to seek and obtain the wisdom. Verse 7 give the foundation of the whole book. The Proverbs are meant to bring us into a reverential fear of the Lord. Verse 7 actually says that the fear of the Lord is the BEGINNING OF KNOWLEDGE.

I find it interesting that we, as a nation, choose to no longer seek the wisdom contained in the Bible. Most of us claim to believe in a Creator, but somehow do not seek the wisdom provided by that Creator through the wisdom of King Solomon.

David
Today, many folks make knowledge their god. Their education and what schools they have attended is a huge part of their life, their identity. They are constantly reading, constantly studying, constantly seeking to learn more and more. As they gain knowledge and understanding, they develop a snobbish sort of sophistication about it. With this as the main part of their identity, they still choose to avoid the knowledge contained in the Wisdom of Solomon, given him by God, personally.

Many of our educated, when asked about God, somehow take pride in announcing that they are ‘agnostic’. They believe that answer to be extremely wise and sophisticated. Many even try to exclaim it with a nasal sound, indicating an Ivy League connection. It is interesting that the word ‘agnostic’ is a Greek word. The Latin word for agnostic is ‘ignoramus’. So, the Harvard exclamation of pompous pride could be translated “I’m an ignoramus.” I find it a bit humorous that a person, who makes his intellect his god, somehow ends up with a confession of ignorance, when it comes to ultimate knowledge.

In Proverbs, we are immediately told the “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” The “beginning” of knowledge is the fear of the Lord. Without that, true knowledge is simply not attainable. I have a lot of friends, who just don’t get me. They don’t understand my commitment to my faith, my constant references to the Word, my consistent insistence that we are living in the last days of earth, as we know it. I have many old friends who avoid me, because of this.

In the book of Proverbs, there are over 70 verses that refer to fools or foolish acts. The problem is that a fool doesn’t know he is a fool. It is difficult for a fool to receive wisdom and instruction, even from the wisest man who ever lived, simply because they don’t know that they are fools. Without the fear of the Lord, a fool despises wisdom and instruction. The fool believes that he already knows it all.

This brings me, finally, to my point. With the move to all but eliminate God from our schools, courts, and even from our lives, the ‘fear of the Lord’ is no longer present in our country or, for the most part, our family lives. When I was a boy, God was a no-brainer. We went to church, prayed in school, and most folks could get along, even in disagreement. My mother was a democrat (days of Kennedy), and my father was a republican. I have always been registered as ‘unaffiliated’, because I was taught to vote my morals, not my party. With God in our home, this was not difficult to manage. It seems to me, that we have slowly eliminated teaching morals to our children and have replaced morals with opinions, most of which are based on our political affiliation. The problem with this is that the fear of the Lord has been replaced by political correctness, meaning we are blocking from our children the ‘beginning of knowledge’.

Sadly, most homes today teach their children to follow the beliefs of their political party, choosing to ignore the basic morals contained in the Bible. The first problem is that, just because something is believed to be politically correct or along party lines, does not mean that it is morally right. Secondly, when the person has no ‘fear of the Lord’ they do not realize they are foolish in their support of immorality because of political correctness.

One of my favorite scriptures, and one that sums up what I am trying to say, is Proverbs 26:11. If you are ‘agnostic’ and are content in your own ignorance, you may not understand. However, if you can try to remember that these are words that God, Himself, gave you to increase your knowledge, and for those Christians who still acknowledge the truth of the Word of God, you just need to let the truth of it find you.

Proverbs 26:11 — As a dog returns to his vomit, so a fool returns to his folly.

It’s a sickening thing to think about, but a dog, when it gets sick, will usually eat grass and then regurgitate whatever might be causing their sickness. After a while, you will see the same dog licking and eating their own regurgitation. THINK ABOUT IT!!!!!

Just my thoughts!
Don D. Stephens

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JUDGES – Chapter 4 – Teaching Notes – Don D. Stephens

And the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD, when Ehud was dead. And the LORD sold them into the hand of Jabin the king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor; —

This is the 3rd apostasy. As long as the judge, who God raised up, lived, the people obeyed the Lord. As soon as he died, people quickly forgot the Lord.

Israel had already taken Hazor in an earlier battle, when Joshua was alive.

However, they evidently didn’t follow instructions by cleaning it all out, because they allowed the people to remain there. Jabin has now become strong, and Jabin puts them to a tribute. This, again, was the direct result of their failure to follow God’s instructions.

It would seem that it would be the northern tribes around the Galilee that were more affected by this king, because Hazor is just north of the Sea of Galilee, probably 5 to 7 miles north of the Sea of Galilee and then up into the area of the upper Galilee. The Sea of Galilee is approximately six hundred feet below sea level. The upper valley is above the Sea of Galilee. Hazor is north towards Hermon, not a long distance.

Historically, Hazor was a very powerful city. There are vast excavations there, including a huge tell. It would be an exciting time for me, to visit this area.

So God sold them into the hand of Jabin the Canaanite, who was reigning in Hazor; and the captain of whose host was Sisera, who dwelt in Harosheth of the Gentiles. And the children of Israel cried unto the LORD: for he had nine hundred chariots of iron; and for twenty years he mightily oppressed the children of Israel.

As we discussed in previous chapters, chariots of iron were equivalent to tanks in battle in those days. They were formidable weapons against the infantry. Pulled by the horses, an infantry wouldn’t have a chance against the chariots. And 900 chariots of iron is no small armament. It makes for a powerful brigade.

Deborah, the prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, who judged Israel at that time. She dwelt under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in mount Ephraim: and the children of Israel would come unto her for judgment.

This woman was a prophetess. She was a judge in Israel, and they would come to her for judgment. She is, indeed, a prophetess, so she speaks the work of the Lord.

And so she sent and called Barak the son of Abinoam out of Kedeshnaphtali, and she said unto him, Hath not the LORD God of Israel commanded, saying, Go and draw toward mount Tabor, and take with you ten thousand men of the children of Naphtali and of the children of Zebulun? And I will draw unto thee to the river Kishon Sisera, the captain of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his multitude; and I will deliver him into your hand. And Barak said unto her, If you will go with me, I will go: but if you don’t go with me, I won’t go.

This was not a very brave gesture, by this man, was it? He wouldn’t go to fight, unless she went with him. Again, we see man unwilling to trust the promise of God for delivery. He turns to the flesh for help.

And so she said, I will surely go with you: notwithstanding the journey that you take shall not be for your honour; for the LORD shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman. And so Deborah arose, and went with Barak unto Kedesh.

Again, this lack of trust in the LORD cost Barak the honor of the victory. The honor of this victory went to a woman, according to Deborah.

So Barak called Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh; and he went up with ten thousand men at his feet: and Deborah went up with him. Now Heber the Kenite, who was of the children of Hobab the father in law of Moses, had severed himself from the Kenites, and pitched his tent unto the plain of Zaanaim, which is by Kedesh.

Heber was a descendant of Moses’ father in law. These people came into the land with the children of Israel but, for the most part, they settled in the wilderness around Arad and Beersheba. They were nomadic type Bedouin people, who chose the southern country to settle. However, this one guy had moved up to the northern areas.

In Israel, today, the Bedouins live all over Israel. Most of them are in the wilderness area, with many Bedouin tents and encampments between Jerusalem and Jericho. If you go up to Galilee, you will find them encamped near Galilee, and you’ll find them encamped in an area near Mount Carmel. It’s amazing that this group of people still exist today, in much the same way they did, historically, in tents, with their livestock all around them. So, it is not unusual to have a Bedouin in the northern part.

In this story, this one Bedouin had left the normal habitat down in the wilderness area, and had come on up towards the upper end of the Sea of Galilee, near Kedesh, and he warned the king. Evidently, he had a good relationship with the King of Hazor, with Jabin, and he warned him that the children of Israel had gathered together at Tabor.

Now Heber the Kenite, which was of the children of Hobab the father in law of Moses, had severed himself from the rest of the Kenites, pitched his tent in the plain, which is by Kedesh. And he showed Sisera [the captain] that Barak was gone up to mount Tabor. So Sisera gathered together all of his chariots, all nine hundred chariots of iron, and the people that were with him, from Harosheth of the Gentiles unto the river Kishon.

The river Kishon really isn’t much of a river. It’s more like what we, in Missouri, would call a stream. There is not much water in it, today, so it is really hard to see. You can see the green trees that grow along the banks, but there isn’t really much water in Kishon. So, he gathered together, with his 900 iron chariots, at Kishon.

And Deborah said unto Barak, Up; for this is the day in which the LORD has delivered Sisera into your hand: is not the LORD gone out before thee? So Barak went down from mount Tabor, with the ten thousand men after him. And the LORD discomfited Sisera, and all of his chariots, and all of his host, with the edge of the sword before Barak; so that Sisera lighted down off his chariot, and fled away on his feet.

In the song of Deborah, we find that God did this by sending a kind of flood. The chariots got bogged down in the mire and couldn’t move. So, the troops became easy targets for Barak’s infantry, who came pouring down out of Mount Tabor and attacked them. This happened right there by the Kishon. Barak attacked them and destroyed them, but Sisera jumped out of his chariot, and began to flee.

But Barak pursued after the chariots, and after the host, unto Harosheth of the Gentiles: and all of the host of Sisera fell upon the edge of the sword; and there was not a man left. Howbeit Sisera had fled away on his feet to the tent of Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite:

This is the tent of the same guy, who had warned Sisera about where they were camped. Jael is his wife.

…….for there was peace between Jabin the king of Hazor and the house of Heber the Kenite. And Jael went out to meet Sisera, and said unto him, Turn in, my lord, turn in to me; and don’t fear. And when he had turned in unto her into the tent, she covered him with a mantle. And he said unto her, Give me a drink, I pray thee, a little water to drink; for I am thirsty. And she opened a bottle of milk, and gave him a drink, and covered him. Again he said unto her, Stand in the door of the tent, and it shall be, when any man doth come and inquire of thee, and say, Is there any man here? that thou shalt say, No. Then Jael Heber’s wife took a nail of the tent, and took a hammer in her hand, and she went softly unto him, and she smote the nail into his temples, and fastened it into the ground: for he was fast asleep and weary. And so he died instantly.

That is a pretty gruesome scene, isn’t it? He must have fallen asleep, because he was so tired from the running. She snuck in and drove a nail through his head.

Ouch!

Now, there is some question as to the deceitfulness of Jael. There are a lot of possibilities here, one of them being, because there was a friendship involved, that when Sisera first arrived, she recognized him, because her husband had warned him that Barak was in Mount Tabor with some troops. It could be that she was genuine in her offer of hospitality, but when, through his fear and telling her to like about where he was, while he hid, she may have realized that he had been defeated. So, being determined to get on the winning side, she took the action. I don’t want to get too harsh on Jael, because there is that very real possibility.

And, behold, as Barak pursued Sisera, Jael came out to meet, and said unto him, Come, and I will show you the man that you are looking for. And when he came into her tent, behold, Sisera lay dead, and the nail was in his temples. So God subdued on that day Jabin the king of Canaan before the children of Israel. And the hand of the children of Israel prospered, and prevailed against Jabin the king of Canaan, until they had destroyed Jabin the king of Canaan.

It’s interesting that Barak, himself, was chasing Sisera. I can’t even imagine the excitement that would come with such a complete victory over such huge odds. It would be obvious to Barak that God’s hand was in all this. Based on that, he kept pushing forward to complete the mission, with the promise of complete victory from God.

Reality of My Creator

When you look around you, no matter where you live, you can see the beauty of nature. You see, the universe in which we exist, and the planet that serves us as home, are equally complex and beautiful, even perfect, in their design. They literally shout out the existence of the Designer.

Psalms 19:1-2 state exactly that fact. “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge.”

So many things about our home, the earth, shout out the existence of my God. Think about the earth, itself. The size is perfect. If the earth was smaller, it would be impossible to hold an atmosphere. Earth would be more like Mercury. If the earth was larger, free hydrogen would be prevalent in the atmosphere. Earth would be more like Jupiter. Earth is the only known planet, where we find a perfect atmosphere for the preservation of life. The atmosphere of our home planet is composed of the perfect mixture of gases to sustain life.

The earth is located the perfect distance from the sun to insure against freezing or burning up. A longer distance would cause us to freeze, and a closer distance would cause us to burn.

Our moon is also the perfect size and distance from the earth to provide the necessary gravitational pull to move the oceans and keep them from becoming stagnant, while keeping them from flooding across the continents.

Earth is the only object in the universe, on which we know there exists water. Water is an essential ingredient for sustaining life. The earth contains the perfect hydrological system. The salt water of the oceans evaporate, leaving the salt behind. The evaporation forms clouds, which distributes the water content as rainfall over the continents.

On top of these key universal designs, the complexity of the human brain and eyes are a subject well worth studying. Animal life and plant life are both equally complex in design in every phase.

The complexity of DNA is equally amazing. In every cell of our bodies, there exists this complex and detailed instruction code. It is equivalent to a miniature computer program. This code is a program of 3 billion letters, which tells each cell how to act. It is our cellular operational manual.

When you look at just these few things, which I have described, how could such complex designs be the result of chance? Is it even remotely possible that this is all the consequence of some chance explosion, as presented in the big bang theory? Physics tells us that explosions result in chaos, not in orderly creation.

Yet, we are bombarded with the opinions of scientists, PhDs, and educators that this grand design is simply an “accidental product of evolution.”

So, to fairly compare the big bang theory to a real life experience, let me present a similar concept. Let’s say that I stand, with you, in front of Mt. Rushmore and declare to you, and to all others within hearing distance, “Isn’t it amazing that this wall of rock has re-created the faces of 4 of our countries presidents, all produced accidently by erosion?” Would you declare me a fool? Science would.

Yet, those same scientists present their incredible theory that every bit of perfection found is the result of an accidental explosion.

Psalms 53:1 tells us “The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.”

There is a great book, by Ray Comfort, titled “You Can Lead a Scientist to Evidence, But You Can’t Make Him Think!”

A truer title could not have been chosen to discuss atheism.

I choose to accept the reality of my Creator, being my God, not some freak explosion creating order, instead of chaos. I chose to believe that I am made in the image of my God.

Just my thoughts!
Don D. Stephens

Dear Sarah

Dear SarahFacing the rapture as a Christian can be frightening, or it can be a soothing thought. We will be taken up… But what about if you’re not a Christian?

What happens to you?

In this book of revealing theological discussion, Don Stephens reveals the impact the rapture of Revelations may have on those left behind.

What can you do? You’ll have to face this horrific reality if you’re not saved by the Grace of God. What then?

Where will you turn?

Catch a glimpse of heaven inside these pages and give your heart to God while there’s still time, for the end is looming near.

Don Stephens is a prolific writer of prophetic scripture and faith. His believing scriptural references share the Gospel in ways even the most simple person could understand. He brings the reality of the Gospel to men and women who believe but may not understand. He shares his insights, and his faith.

God bless you my friend, as you seek to understand and to know more about these trying times in which we live.