God’s Creation Sings the Glory of God


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 evaporates, 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.

Job is one of the oldest books in the Bible, written about the time of Abraham, over 2000 years before the birth of Christ, and yet Job has this keen insight into the workings of the major organs of the human body.

Job is beset by a lot of misery, including the death of his 10 children. He loses everything, all of his livestock, and all his valuables, all in a single day. To add to his misery, he becomes enveloped in a plague of boils.

A group of his friends come to console him, but instead they cast accusations about his relationship with God.

In his rebuke of these guys, Job makes some interesting comments. First, he tells them to consult nature, and they will see that God is in control. He tells them that the soul of every living thing and the breath of all mankind, are in the hand of God.

Daniel says a similar thing, when he is rebuking the king for taking sacred items from the Jewish temple and using this to drink and be merry. Daniel said to the king “The God in whose hand your very breath is, you have not glorified”.

Another interesting scripture is found in Leviticus 17:11, where we are told “For the life of the flesh is in the blood.”

In our body we have voluntary and involuntary muscles. The voluntary muscles are attached to the skeleton. They are controlled by the brain.

When my son goes into the gym to keep his muscles so highly developed, he is working the involuntary muscles, attached to the skeleton and controlled by his brain.

Involuntary muscles are not attached to the skeleton and not controlled by the brain.

Your heart is an involuntary muscle. Your lungs are involuntary muscles. You don’t have to think to breath. You don’t have to think to insure your heart pumps your blood.

The lungs provide oxygen to the brain, with which we are able to think. The heart pumps the blood within our bodies, within which is contained the life of the flesh.

All this is controlled by involuntary muscles, over which you and I have no control. They are in the control of God.

Those muscles on which your life depends, God does not put in your control.

God maintains control of every heart and every lung. He alone has the power to allow or remove breath. This is great wisdom.

I would think we would all desire to learn the ways of God, so that we can do those things that are pleasing in His eyes, and discontinue the action to remove Him, and any reference or mention of Him, from every aspect of our lives.

It does not seem to me to be terribly wise to use the breath given by God to speak in opposition to the things of God.

Just my thoughts!
Don D. Stephens

Fear – 365 Times, God said, “Fear Not.”

Felt a bit of fear for some friends of mine in Hawaii today (Love you, Troy and family), and decided to post this. Also, with the death of Scotty, I am also posting my thoughts on death. I have posted those thoughts before, but I think these thoughts might be beneficial to some folks who have lost loved ones recently. For those of you I tag on this post, I won’t tag on the Death posting, but if you haven’t read them they will be on my wall. Love you all!


The times in which we live seem to get uglier as each day passes. Korea seems to be pushing us on a daily basis, shooting missiles at random, and threatening to destroy our country. On Saturday of this week, there was an actual alert in Hawaii that a missile was headed toward them, and folks were rushing to safe areas in fear of what might be occurring. We have continuous warnings of wars and rumors of wars and, even though our county seems to be heading in the right direction, most of the world is in danger of the financial collapse of the world monetary system. Even the U.S. has quickly surpassed 20 trillion dollars in debt, with no reduction in the budget, seemingly no accountability by our elected leaders. We are finally preparing to tap into our own plentiful petroleum reserves, but we remain dependent on those who hate us. This is all bad, but there is even worse news for many of us.

You see, hatred toward true Christianity is growing, Satan is taking over the pulpits, with teachings about how there are many roads to heaven, and acceptance of sin is now the politically correct sermon being sounded all over the airways. It seems the only thing that is not accepted as “okay” in our current environment is Bible based Christianity. If you believe that the Bible is the Word of God, you are a hate monger. Every other religion is allowed to attack Christianity, but Christians are fast losing the ability to preach the Truth from a Biblical perspective. Most messages in our churches today are watered down in an effort to show tolerance toward those who have chosen to live a sinful life. Over the past several decades, the federal government has been taking more and more control of our lives. On top of all that, murder, theft, adultery, homosexuality, debauchery and all else that God hates is growing at an alarming rate. Even the nation of Israel is in under a constant threat of being squished like a bug by the big boots all around them, except for the God of Israel.

The Bible tells us that, when Israel fell out of the protection of God (13 different occasions in Judges, alone), if was due to the fact that “…….every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” This was true in the days of Noah and in the days of Lot. Every man did that which was right in his own eyes. Sounds a lot like today, doesn’t it? Folks do what they feel in right, even if it is in direct conflict with Scripture, all in the name of tolerance and political correctness. This is actually being taught in our churches. The problem is that it has always led to God pulling away and letting folks suffer the results of their own choices.

It’s easy to see how that doesn’t work. It’s anarchy. Even when you have a council, it can be an evil council. What Israel did, in each case, was inexcusable, and there is no rational justification for the actions of these people. We have to be guided by the law of God, by principals. Unfortunately, man must have laws and must have proper enforcement of laws, or else there’s a total breakdown in the whole social structure.

There was no king in Israel, everyone was doing right in his own eyes, and we see the results. We see the horrible crimes that were committed against others. The Bible tells us that we should have respect for those who are in authority and have power over us, because God has appointed them.

Man needs to have laws and man needs to have enforcement of those laws. Can you imagine if there was no law enforcement in your community for even a week? None of you would be safe. Driving home tonight would be the most frightening experience of your life, because people are crazy! We need to be protected against ourselves.

We need to be governed by principals. Those who have come to Jesus Christ have become subject to the principals of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Man’s laws are for people with no principals. Paul said that we are to love one another, even as we love ourselves. If you are governed by the principal of love, you need no law. Against such, there is no law. If you have a real love and concern for the person next to you, as much as you have for yourself, you would need no law at all. You don’t need anybody to tell you not to hurt him, or not to take from him. Laws are for the unlawful, and they are a necessary part of our society.

Israel was in bad shape, yet God still owned them as His people. What is true of Israel, is, I’m afraid, true of much of the church. The church is in bad shape. Everybody seems to just do their own thing, what’s right in their own eyes. Oh, how we need to seek God and wait upon Him.

We are in the biggest mess since the days of Noah, and something big is definitely on the horizon. Fear abounds everywhere. We are in deep dung. It becomes increasingly difficult to get up in the morning and make it through the day, for fear of what may come next. I recently heard the comparison of being in a 747 at 40,000 feet, when the engines go out. The only direction available is down.

I have to ask myself, “How can anyone face this world, without a constant and agonizing fear?” Without my faith in Jesus, I know I could not. With my faith, I honestly am a bit excited to see the fruition of my faith.

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In the King James Version of the Bible, the term “fear not” occurs in 144 verses and 63 times exactly as quoted. It would seem to me that God does not want any of His children to have fear in their hearts.

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear: because fear has torment. He that fears is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18)

What it says is that perfect love casts out all fear. This is only certain, when the love of God is within us. With that Truth, the fear of the world diminishes.

Those folks that are my age fear more for what may become of our children and grandchildren. That is a natural fear for what our kids may experience. This world does not now, nor did it ever, offer much. Our only real hope of happy living is found in Jesus Christ. Unless you have it, you won’t understand it, but it’s true. Many of you may read this and laugh, others will get half way through and shrug it off as another one of Don’s nutty rants. But, maybe this scripture will shed some light on where I base my thoughts?

“And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28)

The destiny of humanity is on a collision course with this world. We cannot imagine the terror that is ahead. If you think this is bad, judgment is just clearing his throat.

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe.” (John 14:27-29)

Just my Thoughts!
Don D. Stephens

Don’t get out of the Car!

Why do Christians hang with Christians?

I was reminded the other day of a gentleman who, in the mid 1970’s (I want to say 1975, because that was the year my son, Kiiler, was born, and I remember that event around the same time, made a huge mistake. He and his family (and some others) were on safari in enclosed cars, watching and taking photos of various animals. There was a video taken of this event, and it was the talk of the country, mostly condemning this guy for what they classified as “stupidity”.

You see, the group of cars, in which these folks were traveling though the countryside, stopped in the middle of a pride of lions. In fact, there was probable more than one pride there at the time. These folks were taking photos, first through the windows, and then they began to roll down the windows to get better photos. The gentleman, to whom I am referencing, got brave and decided to get out of the vehicle to get closer for a better photo. I remember he got out of the car and took care to make sure the door was closed, as his family (one small child, as I recall) was with him, and he didn’t want them to be eaten.

As he began to kneel, just a few feet from the lioness, who was the subject of his photo, a male lion pounced on his back and began to tear him apart. I won’t go into detail, but suffice it to say that he was killed and eaten, while the others with him were unable to help. Too many lions, and he was on the ground in the middle of the pride.

stay in the carWhy do I share this? Well, if there is one moral for us all to learn from this horrible event, it is this: “Don’t get out of the car!” You see, lions don’t attack, unless they are certain that they will be the eater, but are hesitant to attack, if there is any chance that they might end up as the eaten! When all those folks were in those cars, the lion had no way of knowing if his attack would have resulted in his own death, so he did not attack. However, when the man, alone, got out of the car and had his back to the lion, it was obvious to the lion that his prey was totally defenseless. “Don’t get out of the car!”

If you were in a small boat in the ocean, surrounded by sharks, you would not be foolish enough to get out of the boat, would you? I am certain that most of you would have enough sense to stay in the car, when in the middle of a pride of lions. This guy didn’t! The result was a total loss.

This is an important analogy for the Christian life. We are told in 1 Peter 5:8, that we should “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary, the devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”

Knowing that Satan is running around, SEEKING whom he may devour, we need to learn quickly to stay in the car! What is the car? Many things make up our transportation. The Word, Itself, is our guide through hostile territory. The full armor of God is our protection against attacks. Fellowship with other Christians is vital to insuring that we are constantly aware of the adversary.

One thing I remember all too well from my days with the 60’s drug crowd is the fact that a stoner doesn’t not want to be stoned alone. If you friends are into drugs of any kind, they will always urge you to join in. Don’t get out of the car! When your friends are into the party scene they will encourage you to join in. Don’t get out of the car! When you are home alone, and you have the internet available, and your friends have told you about those amazing porn sites that are available. Don’t get out of the car!

You all have Christian friends, and I am certain that they are constantly encouraging you to join in with wholesome events. Once you are in this crowd, you will find that Christians are not boring, and we don’t live perfect lives. We are constantly doing things we should not do. We step out of the car, too. But, our Christians friends are quick to encourage us to get back in the car.

2 Corinthians 6:14 tells us “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And, what communion has light with darkness?”

Hebrews, Chapter 10, verses 23-25 tells us “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”

That day is on its way. The signs and events of today are pointing to the soon return of our Lord and Savior. We need to look up, for our redemption is fast approaching.

Jesus tells us, in Matthew 6:19-21 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Find a church, or some Christian friends and start a life that matters. While you are traveling this road, remember…….


Just my thoughts!
Don D. Stephens

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Ramblin’ a Bit

Rambling a bit? LOL


There are many interesting things in the Bible. Things that have been, for the most part, overlooked by our scientific community. I was reading in Matthew and Mark today, about what I believe is a reference by Jesus to the Rapture of the Church. The verses state that Jesus had just referenced Lot’s wife, who turned back to look at Sodom, and was turned into a pillar of salt. Regarding this reference He stated “For whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it (Mark 17:33).

This is the teaching of Jesus, with the text of Matthew 24 containing much the same thing. What I find most interesting about this is the language of the next three verses. Jesus tells His disciples about his return with the words “I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together (Mark 17:34-37).

Before I get to my thought on these words and what they indicate, let me say that there are two major interpretations of this passage. Those two interpretations are diametrically opposed to one other. In one interpretation of this passage, those who are taken are the ones being blessed, while those who are left are those who will be facing the Great Tribulation, the judgment of God that is coming upon the earth.

The other interpretation is that those who are taken are taken to judgment, the exact opposite interpretation, with those remaining being the blessed persons. Exact opposite interpretations.

I, of course, believe in the first interpretation, for several reasons, the main reason being the previous references in the text related to Noah and Lot. Both of those instances had Lot and Noah being the ones who were taken and thus spared the judgement that came from God. Noah went into the Ark, then the great flood came upon the earth.

Lot was taken out of the city and then the judgment of God came upon Sodom. In fact, the angel who was taking him out told Lot to Hurry, because they could not destroy the city, until Lot was safely out. So, in context, the disciples are reminded of Lot’s wife who hesitated, who turned back to look, and was subsequently destroyed in the judgment that came upon Sodom and Gomorrah.

In Peter’s commentary concerning Lot, he says that his righteous spirit was vexed by the way people were living in Sodom. He even speaks about how God delivered that righteous man Lot, before the judgment came. God knows how to deliver the righteous but to reserve the ungodly for the Day of Judgment.

I have wandered away from my point in mentioning this particular passage of scripture, but felt in important to put my position in context, so you can better understand my point. You see, Matthew and Mark were both written in the 1st century. They were both disciples of Jesus, and wrote of His time on earth in each of their Gospels. Why is this important? I find it interesting that two men, who claim to have known the Living God through Christ Jesus, tell of His words to them about what folks would be doing, when He comes for His people.

Two sleeping in bed, one taken, the other left. Folks sleep at night. Two grinding, one taken, the other left. In those days, folks grind grain (separated the wheat from the chaff) in the late afternoon, evening. Two working in the field, one taken, the other left. Folks work in the fields during the daylight hours. These show daytime, evening time, and night time events, yet the coming is as a thief in the night, during one blink of an eye, instantaneously. This tells me that Jesus was fully aware of the fact that the world was round, and that there were different times of day and night around the world. This was a full 14 centuries before Columbus and the sailors dared to take the round earth stance and sailed toward the west in an attempt to change the world opinion on this subject.

Of even deeper interest should have been scripture recorded in Isaiah, sometime in the 8th century B.C. We are introduced to the Book of Isaiah with a summary of just who Isaiah was with the words “The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah (Isaiah 1:1).”

So we, first of all are introduced to the prophet Isaiah. We are told that he is the son of Amoz. Now, this is not Amos, the prophet, but Amoz, who according to rabbinic tradition, was the brother of Amaziah, king of Judah, the father of Uziah. This would mean that Uziah the king, was then a first cousin of Isaiah, making Isaiah a part of the royal family of Israel. Isaiah prophesied during the days of Uziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, who were kings of Judah.

Isaiah was given amazing insight related to the coming of the Messiah. The entire Book of Isaiah relates his visions regarding the coming Messiah, and his relationship to God could not be more evident than in the 22 Verse of Chapter 40, where we are told by Isaiah “It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.”

Amazing what you can learn from the Word of God! In the 8th century B.C. we see that the earth is round. God sits above the CIRCLE OF THE EARTH. We had this information from Isaiah 22 centuries before Columbus, and it is repeated 14 centuries before the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria took to the Atlantic, sailing for our shores.

Maybe we should pay more attention to what God has to say? I think so.

Just my thoughts!
Don D. Stephens

JUDGES – Chapter 18

Teaching Notes – Don D. Stephens

At the beginning of Chapter 18, we read again:

In those days there was no king in Israel: and in those days the tribe of the Danites sought for an inheritance to dwell in; for unto that day, all of their inheritance had not fallen unto them among the tribes of Israel (18:1).

The Danites were actually given the area from the bottom of the Jerusalem Mountains, which is Eshtaol and Zorah, to the coast, then over to Joppa. It is a beautiful coastal plain. Zorah and Eshtaol is the area where Samson originated.

This is the area that was given to Dan, but the Philistines lived on the coastal cities of Gaza and Ashdod, and the Philistines were a powerful people. Whenever the tribe of Dan would try to extend coastward, they would meet the Philistines and be driven back. So, they were a bit cramped. The Philistines would not allow them to move out toward the coast, into the valleys, to live; so they didn’t inherit the territory that was given to them. They felt cramped in that narrow little area of the upper valleys, right next to the Jerusalem hill. So, they decided to look around and see if they could find another place for the tribe to dwell.

So they sent of their family, the family of Dan, five men from the coasts, men who were men of valour who were from Zorah and Eshtaol to spy out the land and to search it; and they said unto them, Go and search the land: who when they came to mount Ephraim to the house of Micah, they lodged there (18:2).

These guys are on an expedition, similar to the Oregon Trail adventure of those who came west in America to settle. On the way, they stopped at the house of Micah, the man who had all the gods and who would hire this young Levite for a priest.

And when they were by the house of Micah, they recognized the voice of the young man the Levite: and they turned in (18:3).

He was probably saying his prayers. They go through the prayer book and sing their prayers, so that is what they most likely heard. They recognized his voice and wondered what he was doing there.

And they went in and they said unto him, How did you get here? And what are you doing in this place? How much is he paying you? What do you have here?

And so he said unto them, This is how the man Micah dealt with me. He’s hired me, I’m his priest. And they said unto him, Ask counsel, we pray thee, of God that we may know whether our way in which we go will be prosperous (18:3-5).

They wanted to first seek the Lord and find out from the Lord what lay ahead. He had the teraphim and the ephod with him to seek the will of God, so they asked him to seek from God to know if this journey would be prosperous.

And the priest said unto them, Go in peace: before the Lord your way wherein you go (18:6).

He informed them that the Lord was with them in the way they were going, so he told them to go in peace.

So the five men departed and they came to Laish, and they saw the people that were there, how they dwelt carelessly after the manner of the Zidonians [those from Zidon], they were secure, they were quiet, they didn’t have any judges in the land that might put them to shame for anything (18:7).

They were just people living carelessly, with no law, no order, and they were far from the Zidonians. It is, actually, several miles from Dan to Zidon. However, Zidon is directly west from there, right on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Dan is about 35-40 miles inland from Zidon. They had no commerce with any men. They were just an isolated group up in this beautiful city, Laish. Laish is one of the most beautiful places on earth. They have one of the largest springs in the world, where the water just comes gushing out of the ground, it’s one of the headwaters of the Jordan River. The city of Laish later becomes known as Dan.

Because of this tremendous volume of water, gushing right out of the ground, it is a beautiful place. They have a nature preserve there, loaded with these little springs, and waterfalls, and rivulets, making it a gloriously beautiful area. When they got there and saw this beautiful valley, with people having no commerce with anybody else, and the isolation of the people, they thought that these people, living this carefree life would be a pushover.

They came back to their brothers to Zorah and Eshtaol and their brothers said to them, Well, what did you find? And they said, Arise that we may go up against them for we have seen the land and behold it’s very good. Why are you waiting?

Don’t be slothful to go and to enter in and possess the land. Let’s go, man, it’s ready, it’s ripe for picking. And when you go, you’re gonna come unto a people who are dwelling securely, a lot of territory, for God has given it into your hands a place where there is no want of anything that is in the earth (18:8-10).

It is just a very fertile, fruitful, beautiful place.

And so there went up from there of the family of the Danites, out of Zorah and from Eshtaol six hundred men appointed with weapons of war. And they went up and pitched in Kirjathjearim in Judah and they called the name of the place Mahanehdan which is the camp of Dan unto this day, behold it is behind Kirjathjearim (18:11, 12).

We see there that there were 600 men, which means there were 2,000 – 2,400 people, when you add the wives and children. You can picture this as a complete settlement, moving slowly along to take the land.

They passed from there to Mount Ephraim and arrived at the house of Micah.

Then the five men that went to spy out the country of Laish, informed the folks that there was a in the house, who had an ephod and a teraphim, along with a graven image and a molten image.

Now consider what we have to do. And so they turned into the house and they came to the young man the Levite, even to the house of Micah and they greeted him and the six hundred men appointed with their weapons of war which were the children of Dan, they stood by the entering of the gate. And the five men that went out to spy the land went up and they came in and they took the graven image and the ephod [they stole them], the teraphim, the molten image, and the priest stood at the entering of the gate where the six hundred men were waiting who were all armed for war. And these went into Micah’s house and they fetched the carved image, the ephod, the teraphim, the molten image [fetched is another word for ripped off], and then the priest said to them, what are you doing? And they said unto him, Hold your peace, put your hand on your mouth and go with us, and be to us a father and a priest. Isn’t it better to be a priest to a whole family in Israel, a whole… the tribe of Dan, rather than to just one man? (18:13-19)

So, they took his stuff, now they are trying to take him.

And the priest’s heart was glad (18:20).

Evidently, he saw this as a great opportunity for advancement.

He took the ephod and the teraphim, the graven image and he went in the midst of the people, he joined with them. So they turned and departed and they put their little ones and the cattle and the luggage in front of them (18:20, 21).

They figured that Micah was not going to sit still, which they took his priest, and that he would attack them from the rear, as they moved away. Because of that, they put the men in the rear and the women and all the luggage, up in front of them.

And when they were a good way on the road from the house of Micah, the men that were his neighbors, lived in the houses near to him, they gathered together and they overtook the children of Dan. And they cried unto the children of Dan and they turned their faces and said to Micah, the men of Dan and said, Hey, what’s your problem, man, what ails you that you come after us with these men with you? And he said, you have taken away my gods which I made and the priest and you are gone away and what have I more? (18:22-24).

Micah was a bit shocked that they would ask him what his problem was, after they had ripped him off of his gods and took off with his priest. It seems to me to be a pretty sad state of affairs, when a man worships a god, which can be stolen.

Many of us have those types of gods. Some of our gods even live in our garages.

Some of them are sharp looking, even classic. Many of them receive our full devotion, we wash them, polish them, walk around and adore them, show them off to our friends and, if they get a little bump or scratch, we mourn the fact that they have been hurt.

Some of us keep our gods in a bank, some in a closet, some we wear around our necks or on our fingers or wrists. Sad thing is that we have a god that can get ripped off. That’s sad. It is a tragic thing, when a person worships a god that can be stolen.

The men of Dan said to him, Don’t let your voice be heard among us. Lest angry fellows run upon you and you lose your life and the lives of your household (18:25).

They warned him to shut up, or suffer the consequences. “Hey, cool it or we’ll wipe you out. Why should you lose your own life? Just go home and forget it.”

Every man just did what was right in his own heart. This was the condition of the people in those days, and it’s important to understand what was going on during this period of history.

So the children of Dan went their way and Micah saw that they were too strong for him, he turned and went back to his own house (18:18:26).

This was simply rule by force. The stronger man is always right. Might is right.

And they took the things which Micah had made and the priest which he had and they came to Laish, unto this people who were quiet and secure: they smote them with the edge of the sword, they burnt the city with fire. And there was no deliverer because it was far from Zidon and they didn’t have any commerce with any other people; and it was in the valley that lies by Bethrehob and they built a city and dwelt therein. And they called the name of the city Dan, after the name of Dan their father who was born unto Israel, howbeit the name of the city was Laish at the first (18:27-29).

There is today what is called Tel Dan. A ‘Tel’ is a location created by the many civilizations that existed, were wiped out, with a new city built on top. They have done quite a few extensive excavations at Tel Dan. It is one of the oldest cities in the world. They have even excavated a gate to the ancient city of Laish, which actually went back as far as the time of Abraham. As you look at that gate, it brings to mind scripture that refers to Abraham being in Laish. He probably walked through that very gate. I have a photo of the excavated gate, and every time I look at it, I can’t help but think that Abraham probably walked through that very gate. The same Abraham, about who Jesus speaks of as being the one whom the rich man yelled across to get Lazarus to carry water to sooth his pain.

It is interesting that when the tribe of Dan settled there, they had settled in an idolatrous state. They had stolen Micah’s idols and carried those idols with them, so the idolatry was somewhat woven into the very nature of the area of Dan. The tribe of Dan moved into the City of Dan, and they bring these idols with them.

When Jeroboam split from the southern kingdom, the nation of Israel was divided into the northern and the southern kingdoms. Jeroboam was fearful that the people of the ten tribes of the northern kingdom, which he had established, might be drawn back to Jerusalem, where they could go to worship God at the temple. Three times a year the people were to come to the temple at the feast and worship God. Jeroboam figured that, if they went back to Jerusalem, and they saw the temple, the king, and they saw the glory of it all, their hearts would be drawn back. So, he made a golden calf and set it up in Dan. Then, he told the folks that these were the gods that delivered them out of Egypt. They began the worship of the calf in the northern kingdom, under Jeroboam. This was a problem to the northern kingdom, up until the day that they were conquered by the Assyrians. It was a constant problem.

In Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles, you can see what a problem this was for the northern kingdom. This city of Dan became a center of idolatry. It’s interesting that today, they have uncovered the altar that is in the city of Dan, the very altars that are referred to in the Bible. You can stand on the ground, where the golden calf was place, and the children of Israel offered sacrifices to the pagan deities.

These digs, in Israel today, provide quite a vivid confirmation of what the scriptures tell us. They also add clarity to the reason why Israel was destroyed, their turning away from God.

So the children of Dan set up the graven image; Jonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Manasseh, he and his sons were priests to the tribe of Dan until the day of the captivity of the land. And they set them up, Micah’s graven image which he had made all the time… all of the time that the house of God was in Shiloh (18:30, 31).

At that time, the tabernacle was in Shiloh, which was in Ephraim. During this period of time, in this confused religious state, they were worshipping in Dan.
Horrible things were happening to the people of Israel, during these confusing times in their history. Yet, in the midst of this confusion, God was still working among a selected few. God always maintains a reserve, even in the darkest of circumstances. We can see that in the Book of Ruth. God told Elijah of this fact.

In I Kings, 18:22, Elijah says “Lord, I, only I am left”

God responded in I Kings 19:18, when He said “Come on now, I’ve got 7,000 men in Israel who have not bowed their knee to Baal. I reserved them” (1 Kings 19:18).

God always has those who He has reserved for Himself. God always has His remnant.

Today, of course, the religious scene is equally, or perhaps even more, confused.

Existential philosophy has really pervaded our entire society. It has affected every area of our society, even the arts. You look at a picture and you wonder what it is. If I see a drawing of a farm, I can see that it is a farm. But, most of the impressionistic art, which is a reflection of existentialism, looks to me like a person just stood back and threw paint on the canvas and puts a title to the painting. This is a good illustration of existential philosophy, because you might look at that painting and you may see something that I don’t, but it doesn’t change the fact that it is really just paint thrown on a canvas.

We had a friend of our do a European plaster finish on the walls of our home.

The interesting thing about this is that it is similar to the plastered wall we had, when growing up. I remember lying in bed and looking at the textured plaster on the walls. With my imagination, I could see all kinds of things in that texture, faces, people, animals, and all sorts of things. It was just like modern art in the respect that you were not always sure that the next person could see the same thing you see. Oh, you could try to point out what you saw, but you were never sure that they could see it. What this does is isolate us. We have to experience for ourselves. That is what existentialism is. Your personal truth is what you experience it to be, just as the painting is what you experience it to be.

But because there isn’t a distinction of form, folks become alienated from each other, because they are not sure what the others are seeing. Because of the alienation, I begin to feel alone and isolated. That is what existential philosophy does. When looking at a regular painting of a farm, we become unified in what we see, and we know we’re seeing the same thing.

We see a lot of movies today, which are also expressions of existentialism. As the movie comes to an end, certain things may not yet be determined. A guy may turn and walk down the road, but you don’t know which way he is going. There may be two obvious choices, and the movie ends with a shot of the person’s eyes, but you don’t know which choice they made.

Everybody doesn’t live happily ever after. You have to put your own end to the story. The story line is written so that you have to finish the story yourself. They leave you hanging. It is, again, just the expression of existential philosophy, whereas you have to experience it for yourself, relate in your own way, and create your own truth. I get isolated, mainly because I always take the happy ending road. I finish these stories in a positive way. That makes me a bit of a loner.

Everybody doing that which is right in his own eyes is always a state of confusion. We need a guide; we need an authority, we need a king. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6). We need Him. We need His authority over our lives, or we get caught up in the confusion of our age.

It is wonderful that we can study the Word together. We all see a lot of confusion in the world around us. People don’t know what’s right anymore. There is very little black and white, the gray has just moved into both areas and is expanding.

It is so difficult to know what is right, what is truth. We need help from the Lord, and that help comes from our faith. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing from the Word. The Word is the guide for our lives. Jesus is the only way. No man comes to the Father, but by Him.

Judges Chapter 19


Teaching Notes: Don D. Stephens

Judges Chapter 19 – An extremely amazing story from the Book of Judges

The other day, I watched a video of some of the violence occurring in European countries, caused by the massive influx of immigrants from Islamic nations. Murders, rapes, and terrorism is running rampant in these areas. With opponents of extreme vetting putting up every blockade possible to stop the necessary actions to insure against the wrong type of immigrant gaining access to this country, we may soon be in the same boat as many of our European neighbors.

Thinking on this caused me concern about things that might happen in America, which would have been unimaginable just twenty years ago. My thoughts went back to a teaching I did several years ago about a tragic story in the Book of Judges.

In Chapter 19 of Judges, we see what seems to be a familiar story. It is similar to the story of the angels of God, who went to warn Lot to leave Sodom, at least the circumstances are very similar.

We are told that there is no king in Israel. It was God’s intent that He be the king over His chosen nation, so that they can be like no other nation on the earth. This was a period of anarchy in Israel, as everyone was pretty much doing what they thought was right in their own moral character. They had a philosophy similar to that of America today, “If it feels good, do it!” Israel had rejected the rule of God, and thereby the law of God.

We begin the story with a Levite, who was living in the area of Mount Ephraim, and he took himself a concubine from Bethlehem Judah. Now, a concubine was a wife, but without all the privileges of a wife. The woman was unfaithful to the man, and went to her father’s house in Bethlehem Judah. After 4 months, the husband went after her, to her father’s house, in hopes of reconciliation. He brought with him, his servant and two donkeys. She invites him in, and her father is overjoyed to meet the guy.

He stayed for 3 days, and tried to leave several time, but the father-in-law kept delaying them, so they stayed for two additional days, and even got a late start on the day they finally left. It’s about 5 miles from Bethlehem to Jerusalem. At the time of this story, Jerusalem was occupied by the Jebusites. In fact, it was not until the times of King David, that the city was taken from the Jebusites and occupied by Israel. Now, because it is getting late, the servant suggest that they stop in Jerusalem for the night, but the man says that he does not want to stay in a place not occupied by Israelites.

So, they traveled another 2.5 to 3 miles past Jerusalem toward Ramah. It was too late to make the full journey to Ramah, so they stopped in Gibeah, about the time the sun was setting.
Gibeah was occupied by the tribe of Benjamin, Israelites.

Now in those days they didn’t have motels, where you could pay a fee and spend the night. A major part of life then was hospitality. It was extremely important to them to be hospitable to travelers. Even in our present day, the Bedouins have strict rules concerning hospitality. If you receive guests into your home, you are honor bound to shelter and protect them, for as long as they are under your roof. It doesn’t matter if you hate them so badly that you wish they were dead, you can’t mistreat them, as long as they are your guests. As long as they are under your roof, you are honor bound to entertain them, to treat them like royalty, and to defend them. Not to show hospitality was a great sin. So, the people of Gibeah were not hospitable to this man, his wife, and his servant. They were sitting in the streets of the city, because no one took them into their house for lodging.

Now, this old man, who was also from mount Ephraim, came in from working in the fields and began to talk to the man about where he was from and where he was going. The man told him of their travel to Bethlehem Judah and that they were on the way home, but no one offered to lodge them. He explained that he had adequate provisions for his group and his animals, but the old man insisted that he be allowed to lodge them for the night.

After they had eaten and drank, they were making merry, when the men of the city surrounded the house and beat on the door. They asked the old man to bring out the man, so that they could have homosexual relations with him. In response, the old man went out to them and told them not to do this wicked thing to the man, because he was a guest in the old man’s house.

This scene is very reminiscent of what happened in Sodom. If you will remember, the two angels of the Lord came to Sodom, on a mission from God to destroy the city. This destruction was because of the wickedness of the citizens of Sodom. The two angels were received by Lot, into Lot’s house, and were his guests, and therefore his responsibility. In the evening, the men of Sodom circled the house and demanded that Lot send these two men outside, so that they could actually have homosexual relationships with them. God destroyed Sodom because of this sin, and here we see the same thing happening, this time in an Israelite city, among the tribe of Benjamin. The same heinous sin that perpetrated the destruction of Sodom is now happening among God’s people. The moral decay into which the nation of Israel had sunk is obvious and evident in this story. The homosexuals of the city are so brazen as to openly parade themselves in the streets of the city, and demand their rights, which are not really rights at all. The old man recognizes it as wickedness, as folly. He begged them “Don’t do this wickedness, don’t do this folly.”

Because of the custom of hospitality, and because women in that culture and time had very little rights, the man did something that is quite unthinkable to us, today. It’s difficult for us to relate to this, because our culture is so entirely different. IMHO, our culture has been vastly affected by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. One thing that the Gospel of Jesus Christ has declared, and has promoted, is equal rights. Christianity recognizes women as equal with men, in the sight of God.

You see, in Christ there is neither male nor female. We are all one, together in Him. The New Testament of the Bible has done so much to elevate the place of the woman, giving honor to the woman, and demanding respect for the woman. Now, as the years of Christian influence has affected our culture, we have such a high regard for women.

Sadly, as the pagan influences begin to prevail in our society, we see women again being degraded by a society that is trying to erase Christ, Christianity, and the Christian influence.
Women are again being looked upon as objects for men to lust after. Pornography has added to the exploitation of the woman’s body, effectively degrading women, and planting seeds of lust in both men and women. The woman’s place of honor, respect, glory, and modesty is rapidly disappearing. If this trend of erasing Christ from our society continues, and the influences of religions such as Islam are allowed to forge their way into the base of our society, women are quickly heading on a straight track to where they once were, looked upon as an object for the gratification of a man’s sexual lust.

Then, the story takes us to a place that is even more difficult for us to understand. The man offers his virgin daughter and his concubine to the men in place of the man they are requesting. He is willing to sacrifice his own daughter. This is a grand example of a world without the influence of Christianity, a world without a king, a world without moral law, without moral principles to govern. The man recognizes this horrible sin, and he tell them “but unto this man, do not so vile a thing.”

So, these men took the traveler’s concubine, and they raped her and abused her all night. In the morning they released her, and she came and fell down at the door of the man’s house. When he arose in the morning, he opened the door and saw her fallen down, with her hands on the threshold. Did he help her? Did he check to see how she was? No! He just told her to get up, so they could be on their way. She didn’t answer, so he loaded her on his donkey, took her home, and then cut her into 12 pieces with his knife and sent one part to each of the 12 tribes of Israel.

Now, this story ends with the following statement “And it was so, that all that saw it said, There was no such deed done nor seen from the day that the children of Israel came up out of the land of Egypt unto this day: consider of it, take advice, and speak your minds.”

So, the message sent out to all of Israel was: “Hey! Look at this evil deed that has happened in an Israelite city. This has never happened before, since we became a nation. Consider this, speak your mind, and let’s get together.”

Most folks, who read this story in the Bible, simply write it off as an interesting (or, weird) story, with no real moral. I have a bit of a different take on it.

First, I see it as a necessary story, to assist us in understanding the times in which Judges were being used, if not only to show us what terrible sins and depraved lifestyles with which they had to deal on a regular basis. When we read about how a city of Israel has become so depraved in their way of life, it makes it a bit easier to accept the actions of a Judge, like Samson, using the jawbone of an ass to slay 1000 Philistines.

Second, and most importantly, is the fact that the nation of Israel, who had such rules regarding hospitality towards guests, could also be the home of such perversions. A whole lesson could be taught on the way this story could relate to how sin can come into a nation and destroy it from within.

Hmmmmmm! Is it possible that our own nation has already become indoctrinated into such perversion? Billy Graham was once quoted as saying “If God doesn’t punish San Francisco, He owes Sodom and Gomorrah an apology!” Imagine the sin and perversion that may rear its ugly head, when an event, such as the Rapture of the Church, suddenly removes all obstacles in the path of satanic forces!

2 Thessalonians 2

The Great Apostasy

Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, 2 not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. 3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.

5 Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? 6 And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

Just my thoughts!

Don D. Stephens

Teaching Reguarding Enoch

Kiiler —
Here is that reference in my teaching regarding Enoch. Hope this helps you with your study.
The Bible is an interesting book, and I enjoy finding things that cause the need for a little research and thought. Most scriptures do that, but certain scriptures tug at you, until you feel a need to examine. One such scripture is Jude 1:14, where we are told “Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”
In Hebrews, Chapter 11, we read “By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, “and was not found, because God had taken him”; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”
Enoch is the person of interest in these verses, so knowing who Enoch was, and when he lived, are extremely important to understand this reference.
In the Book of Genesis, we find that Enoch was the 7th from Adam. The genealogy follows this line: Adam, Seth, Enosh, Kenan, Mahalalel, Jared, and then Enoch. Enoch was the father of Methuselah, the grandfather of Lamech, and the great grandfather of Noah.
It should prove interesting to any Bible reader that Enoch lived prior to the Flood. Enoch lived to the age of 365 years, when he was raptured to be with God. He wrote prophesy, prior to the flood. In fact, it is interesting that the name he gave his son, Methuselah. The name ‘Methuselah’ actually means ‘when he dies, judgment’. Methuselah died in the same year God judged the sinful world with the great Flood of Noah’s day.
Genesis 5 records a genealogy, and the repetitive language forms a pattern … until you get to Enoch.
Genesis 5:5 – “Thus all the days that Adam lived were 930 years, and he died.”
Genesis 5:8 – “Thus all the days of Seth were 912 years, and he died.”
Genesis 5:11 – “Thus all the days of Enosh were 905 years, and he died.”
Genesis 5:14 – “Thus all the days of Kenan were 910 years, and he died.”
Genesis 5:17 – “Thus all the days of Mahalalel were 895 years, and he died.”
Genesis 5:20 – “Thus all the days of Jared were 962 years, and he died.”
Genesis 5:23 – “Thus all the days of Enoch were 365 years.”
Genesis 5:24 – “Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.”
Enoch was raptured, representing the Church at the end of the times of the Gentiles, just as Noah and his clan represent the Jews riding out the Tribulation.
Before Enoch was snatched up, he prophesied. This prophecy was written in the Book of Enoch, which was written before the flood.
What is interesting about this? The prophecy of Enoch is quoted in the Book of Jude, so this prophetic message was somehow carried through the flood by Noah. If this was not true, how would it be quoted in the Book of Jude?
God loved this man so much, that He actually took him to Heaven, without tasting death. God loved him that much, and Enoch left us a message, which was carried through the flood by Noah all the way to the writing of the New Testament Book of Jude. Perhaps we should heed the content?
“By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God.” (Hebrews 11:5)
Before Enoch was taken up, he prophesied. His prophecy is recorded in Jude.
“It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” (Jude 1:14-15)
This prophesy of Enoch is an heirloom seed. Though Enoch’s prophecy is not recorded by Enoch in the Bible, it is recorded by Jude, being carried down from the 8 passengers of the ark, through the Jews. This should provide great comfort to us all.
In these nasty and dark days, we are assured that the Lord will return to execute judgment. We never delight in the death of the sinful and evil people in this world, but we do delight in knowing that Enoch, the guy who walked with God and was taken, without tasting death, left us a prophecy telling us that Jesus will rectify all wrongs, judge the wicked, and institute peace on earth.
There is a grand form of comfort in knowing that the ark not only 8 selected souls and every kind of animal, but it also carried with it the knowledge of the One True God, and His promises to all generations: in the end we will see pure holiness.
I take special comfort in this.
Just my thoughts!
Don D. Stephens

JUDGES – Chapter 15

And it came to pass that a while after, that during the time of the wheat harvest, that Samson visited his wife with a little goat.

Samson cooled off, and decided to go back and see his bride. He started to go into her bedroom, but her father stopped him and told him what he had done.

And so he started to go into her chamber, but her father would not allow him to go in. Her father said, “Hey, when you left here you were so mad, I figured we would never see you again.
So I let her marry the best man. But look at her little sister over there. Hey, she’s prettier than she was anyway. Hey, why don’t you take the little sister for your wife? And Samson said, “I’m going to be more blameless than the Philistines, though I do them a displeasure.”

In other words, Samson declared that he was going to get even.

And Samson went out and caught 300 foxes [these were actually jackals] and he took fire brands, turned them tail to tail, tied their tails together and he put the fire brand in the midst of them between the two tails. And so, he then turned them loose in the fields of standing wheat.

Samson burned both the standing wheat, the shocks, the wheat that had already been gathered and bundled, along with the standing corn, the vineyards and the olives.

And the Philistines said, “Who did this?” And they answered, “It was Samson, the son-in-law of the Timnite. Because he has taken his wife, and given her to his best man.” And so the Philistines came up and burnt her and her father with fire. And Samson said to them, “Though you have done this, yet I’m going to get even with you and after that I’ll stop.” And so he went out and smoked them hip and thigh with a great slaughter.

Again, we see that this is nothing to Samson. He just went out and wiped out a bunch of these guys, all alone. No problem.

And then he went down and dwelled in the top of the rock Etam. And the Philistines went up and pitched in Judah and spread themselves in Lehi. And the men of Judah said, “Hey! Why are you guys come up against us?” And they said, “To bind Samson, and to get even with him, do to him as he’s done to us.” And so 3,000 men of Judah came to the top of the rock Etam and they said to Samson, “Don’t you know that these Philistines are rulers over us? What have you done to us man?” And he said unto them, “Look, I only did to them, what they did to me.” And they said unto him, “Look, we’re come to bind you that we may deliver you to the hand of the Philistines.” And Samson said unto them, “Swear to me that you’ll not fall upon me yourselves.” And they said, “No, we won’t fall upon you, but we want to bind you fast and deliver you into their hand, but we will not kill you.” And so they bound him with two new ropes, and they brought him up from the rock. And when he came to Lehi, where the Philistines were in camp, they shouted against him. They cried out and they began to run for him, and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him. The cords that bound his arms became like flax that were burned in the fire. His bands were loosed from off of his hands and he found a new jawbone of a donkey, and he put forth his hand, took it and he slew a thousand men with it. And Samson said, “With a jawbone of a donkey, heaps upon heaps…….

This was a reference to the piles of bodies around him.

“Heaps upon heaps with the jaw of a donkey, I’ve killed a thousand men!” And it came to pass when he had made an end to speaking, that he tossed the jawbone aside and he called the place Ramath-lehi.

Ramath-lehi is literally translated as ‘the Hill of the Jawbone’ or ‘Jawbone Heights’. .

And he was very thirsty and he called on the Lord and he said, “You have given me a great deliverance unto your servant, and now am I going to die of thirst and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised?” But God clave a hollow place that was in the jaw, and there came water out of it and when he had drunk, his spirit came again and he revived. And so he called the name of the place, En Hakkore, which is in Lehi, unto this day.

En Hakkore is translated as ‘The Well of Him that Cried’, or ‘Spring of the Caller’. He called unto the Lord, and God provided the water.

And he judged Israel in the days of the Philistines for twenty years. (15:1-20)

JUDGES – Chapter 14

Now as the child grew up, Samson went down to Timnah and saw a woman in Timnah with the daughters of the Philistines.

Zorah is right at the base of the mountains, and Timnah is at the western end of the valley, just a few miles down from Zorah, entering into the mountains. This is the valley that was occupied by the Philistines. The people of Dan pretty much hugged the hillsides, while the plains were pretty much controlled by the Philistines.

Samson went down the valley to Timnah, a Philistine city, he saw one of the daughters of the Philistines, and he came home and told his father and his mother, I have seen a woman in Timnah, one of the daughters of the Philistines, and I want you to get her for me as my wife. (14: 1-2)

Now, in those days, marriage was by arrangement. The parents would get together and haggle over a dowry. Once the amount of the dowry was determined, the groom’s father would pay the dowry to the bride’s father, and the son would then have the privilege of marrying the girl. A dowry was their answer to their weak divorce laws, which gave a woman no rights. A woman could not divorce her husband under any circumstance, but a husband could divorce his wife under any circumstance. If he didn’t like her, if he wasn’t satisfied with her, if she didn’t fix his eggs to his liking, he could just write “I divorce you” on a piece of paper, hand it to her, and she had to leave. She had no rights at all. There were, in those days, many lousy men, who would take advantage of this law. And this was the custom of dowry, which was developed to protect the women. The dowry was nothing more than alimony, in advance. The dad would make the arrangements. “You pay me so much, you can have my daughter.” It was the father’s duty to invest the dowry and to increase it by the investment. If the husband kicked the wife out, she would come home, and the dowry would be used to support her, so she was no burden to her family. The father’s duty was to keep the dowry intact and invest, so that she would always have something to fall back on.

So, Samson came home and said “Hey dad, I saw a cute little girl down there in Timnah, a daughter of the Philistines. Go down and make the arrangements! I want to marry this girl!” His father and his mother asked him if there weren’t enough cute girls in Israel, maybe his nieces. They asked him why he had to fall in love with one of those uncircumcised Philistine daughters. Samson basically told his father to stop arguing with him and get him what he wanted. The girl pleased him.

This is the first time, but not the last time we will see Samson falling in love with a Philistine girl, and each time it led him to great trouble. Now, I read on Facebook, all the time, how romanticists say that you can’t help who you fall in love with. I say you can! It’s an error to think that you can’t help who you fall in love with. And, this is a good story to demonstrate just that fact. You see, Samson fell in love with a girl in Timnah, when, actually, he had no business being in Timnah. Had he never gone there, he would never had fallen in love with a girl in Timnah.

His first mistake was going into the camp of the enemy. His first mistake led to his second, which was falling in love with the girl. There are places where we, as children of God should never go. If we go to these places, trouble will come our way. We could avoid so many problems if we would simply stay out of the camp of the enemy. The best way to avoid problems is to stay away from problem areas. In Samson’s case, just don’t go to Timnah. Stay away from the camp of the enemy. He went to Timnah. Things compounded, and he fell in love with a girl in Timnah.

So often, God takes our mistakes and turns them around for His purposes. I love the way that God so often turns the tables. Joseph’s brothers sold him to the slave traders, who were going to Egypt. Later, when Joseph faced his brothers, he said “Hey guys! Don’t trouble yourself for what you did. I know you meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.” It is so gracious that God will, many times, take those things that we do wrong, and turn them around to use them for His purposes. He even causes the wrath of man to praise Him.

And so, the parents did not know that the Lord was seeking an occasion against the Philistines for at that time, they had dominion over Israel. (14:4)

The angel of the Lord said that Samson was going to BEGIN the deliverance from the Philistines, not that he would completely deliver them.

Then Samson went down, and his father and his mother, to Timnah. And as they came to the vineyards of Timnah, behold, the young lion roared against Samson and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him and he tore that lion as you would have torn a little goat and he had nothing in his hands no knife, or sword, or whatever and he didn’t tell his father or his mother what he had done.

This was, to Samson, no great feat. He just tossed it over the vineyard and bushes and went his way, without even telling his folks. If I torn a lion apart, with my bare hands, I would be in permanent chest out position, telling everyone I met. But not this guy. It was nothing to him.

My son, Kiiler, has some of Samson’s character traits. Kiiler could bench press Montana, so it is nothing for him to work out with 400 pounds on the bench press. If I could do that, everyone in Branson would be aware. But, for Ki, it is not worth mentioning.

So he went down and talked with the woman and he was very much in love with her. Now, after a time, he returned the time of the wedding, to take her as his bride, and he decided to go in and take a look at the carcase of the lion. And behold there was a swarm of bees and there was honey in the carcase of the lion. And he took the honey in his hands and he went on the path eating it and he came to his father and mother and gave it to them and they did eat it, but he didn’t tell them that he had taken the honey out of the carcase of the lion. (14:5-8)

Why is this important? You see, Samson is supposed to be a Nazarite. One of the rules for a Nazarite is that you cannot touch a dead carcase. Even if it were his own parents, he was not to touch a dead body. Here, he is taking honey out of the dead carcass of the lion. Samson must have been quite a guy, to just reach in to this carcass and get a handful of honey. He was licking it off his fingers, sharing with his parents, and letting them take a few licks. He is really a tight mouthed type of man. He didn’t tell them about killing the lion in the first place, and now he makes no mention of where he obtained the honey. In fact, Samson must have been extremely confident. Perhaps it was just that quiet confidence that we admire in so many today? Most guys, had they been attacked by a lion, along a certain road, would never take their parents along that same road, for fear of another possible attack by another member of the pride. Yet, he didn’t seem to have any concern about that. Perhaps he felt he could slay the whole pride, should they attack. It just was of no importance to him. He had no fear, and felt no need to brag or even discuss the events.

So his father went down to the woman and Samson made there a feast.

The young men would have these huge wedding feasts, lasting seven days.

And it came to pass that when they saw him, they brought thirty companions to be with him.

These young men were hired to spend the week with the groom, to be his companions during the celebration and to help him prepare for the wedding. This was similar to our bachelor party, only it lasted a lot longer. Samson’s parents were, evidently, of means, to hire that many young men attend to Samson all week.

So Samson said unto these thirty men, “I’m going put forth a riddle unto you. If you can declare it me within the seven days of the feast and find it out, then I will give you thirty shirts, and thirty changes of garments. But if you can’t declare to me the riddle, then you have to give me thirty shirts and thirty changes of garments. They said to him, “You’re on man! What’s your riddle?” And so he said to them, “Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong, came forth sweetness”. And for three days, they tried to figure this thing out. And it came to pass that on the seventh day they said to Samson’s wife, “Entice your husband that he may declare unto us the riddle, or else we are going to burn you and your father’s house with fire.” (14:10-15)

These shirts, which he bet, were really just undershirts. They were worn next to the body, and the thirty changes of garments were the outer robes. This was a healthy bet.

So, these guys, who were hired to keep Samson company, can’t figure this riddle out. So, they threaten the bride, if she doesn’t entice Samson for the answer. They threatened to burn her father’s house and burn her with it. Not really a nice choice for groomsmen.

And Samson’s wife wept before him and said, “You hate me! You don’t love me! You put forth a riddle to these fellows and you haven’t told me what it is!” And he said,
“Hey! I haven’t even told my parents woman!” (14:16)

She was probably trying to figure this thing out for most of the week. Now, she has even more reason to seek the answer. She really pushed him for the answer.

And it came to pass that on the seventh day, that he told her.

You can be sure that she nagged him all week, until he gave in.

And so she told the riddle to the children of the Philistines. And the men of the city said to him, on the seventh day, before the sun went down, what is sweeter than honey, and what is stronger than a lion? And he said to them, “If you had not plowed with my heifer, you’d have never found out.” (14:16-18)

It is interesting that he used this language to speak of his wife. What he said was, to say the least, unkind. “Plowing my heifer” was a strange use of words, and a bit telling. Samson was really upset, and he was fully aware that she was the one that told the answer to these guys. Trust went right out the window, before they were even married.

So the Spirit of the Lord came upon him and he went down to Ashkelon, one of the coastal cities and there he got hold of thirty Philistines, who he killed, took their shirts and their garments. (14:19)

Samson’s response to being cheated in this way caused his anger to flare. So, he went down to the coastal city of Ashkelon and killed thirty Philistines, stripped them of their clothing, and gave the clothing to pay his bet. This was also, a bit “in your face!” He came right back and paid off his bet to the guys who had expounded his riddle. He was still extremely angry. He just went home, without even saying anything to his wife. In retaliation, her father gave her to the best man. I think Samson became even angrier, after this insult.

JUDGES – Chapter 13

In the 13th Chapter of Judges, we begin with the same old sad refrain.

And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the Lord (13:1).

This is the seventh time that we hear this mournful refrain in the book of Judges, the seventh apostasy, and as the result, we see a very familiar penalty from the Lord.

The Lord delivered them into the hands of the Philistines for forty years (13:1).

In II Chronicles, Chapter 14, the prophet came to King Asa, upon his return from victory near the beginning of his reign, and he told him “The Lord is with you, while you are with him and, if you seek him, he will be found of you. But, if you forsake him, he will forsake you.” This is just a basic Biblical truth, which didn’t apply JUST to King Asa. It goes for us today, also. The Lord will be with you, if you’ll be with Him. If you seek Him, you’ll find Him. If you forsake Him, He will forsake you. The children of Israel forsook the Lord. They did evil in the sight of the Lord and God delivered them into the hands of their enemies, this time the Philistines.

The Canaanite people, called the Philistines, populated the coastal region in the southern part of Israel. One of the cities of the Philistines, Ashkelon, is still a city in Israel today. We hear a lot about the Gaza Strip. The city of Gath, today, is nothing but ruins. There is an Israeli settlement nearby Gath, but it’s the coastal region in the southern part of Israel, which was the area that was occupied by the Canaanites, known as the Philistines. From them came the name Palestine.
Now, there was a certain man of Zorah, which is west from Jerusalem, about a third of the way to Tel Aviv. It’s right at the base of what they call the Jerusalem Mountains. From Zorah, you go up the mountains to Jerusalem. This area is where the tribe of Dan first settled. The tribe of Dan later moved on up into the northern part of the country, near mount Hermon in upper Galilee, but the tribe of Dan originally settled in this area next to the Philistines. Because the Philistines were tough, they found it hard to settle in that area and ultimately moved.

This man’s name was Manoah and his wife was barren. Now, that was a cultural curse. The most important thing that a woman could do in that culture, was to bear children. If she could not bear children, she was considered cursed by God.

It was legal grounds for divorce. If a man’s wife could not bear children, the man could legally divorce her. It was considered a disgrace for a woman not to be able to bear children. So, there was always a heavy pressure upon a young girl to bear a child, so that she is not shamed with barrenness.

There were other cases in the Bible. We all remember the case of Abraham’s wife, Sarah. In I Samuel, you can read of the case of Samuel’s mother, Hannah. In the New Testament there was Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, who for years was barren. These are a few of the women in Biblical history, who had to endure the shame of the cultural curse. Here, we hear of the wife of Manoah.

“But the Angel of the Lord appeared unto the woman, and said unto her, “Behold, you are barren, but you shall conceive and bear a son. Now, therefore be careful, I pray thee. Don’t drink any wine or strong drink, nor eat any thing that is unclean. For lo you are going to conceive and bear a son and no razor shall come on his head, for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God, from the womb and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hands of the Philistines.” (13:3-5)

As the result of her barrenness, the angel of the Lord appeared and informed her that she was no longer to be barren. She was going to have a son, and that God was going to use this son to begin to deliver the children of Israel. She was informed that, during her time of pregnancy, she is not to drink any wine, or any strong drink, and not to eat anything unclean. When the child is born, a razor is never to come to his head for he is going to be a Nazarite unto God.

Numbers, Chapter 6, deals with the vow of the Nazarite. However, the description in Numbers 6 was only for a specific period of time, not a lifetime.

During this period of time, the person was to totally dedicate their life to God. So, it could be for a month, or a shorter or longer period, but for the child to be, it was for a lifetime. To take the Nazarite vow, the person would first shave their head and beard, completely. Then, for the month, or whatever period of time of seeking the Lord, the person would seek the Lord. They would not work, they would not cut their hair, they would not drink any wine or strong drink, and they wouldn’t drink anything that came from the vine, even to the point of not eating grapes. At the end of the dedication period, they would again shave their head and face, and take the hair to the priest to burn on the altar as an offering to the Lord. This was the vow of consecration to God, as a Nazarite.

In the Book of Acts, Chapter 17, we read how Paul made such a vow. He took a Nazarite vow and dedicated himself totally to God for a specified period of time.

This was to prepare himself for the feast, because he was heading back to Jerusalem.

Here, we read how this young man, who is to be born, is not to have a time limit on his commitment, but it was to be a life-long commitment to God. He’s gonna belong to the Lord and be committed to God throughout his life. During his entire lifetime, a razor is never to come to his head.

“So the woman came and told her husband, and she said there was a man of God that came to me and his countenance, his face was like an angel of God (13:6)..

In the Old English translation, the word is terrible. When you see that word, in the Old English translation, it literally translates ‘awesome’. So, she saw this angel of the Lord as awesome.

But I did not ask him where he came from, and he didn’t tell me his name (13:6).

So, she comes home and tells her husband “I met an interesting man he had a face like an angel. I don’t know where he came from, and I didn’t ask him his name, but he told me that I was going to conceive and bear a son, and that I wasn’t to drink any wine or strong drink, and that I wasn’t to eat any unclean thing, for the child will be a Nazarite to God from the womb, until the day of his death. His whole life is to be spent committed unto God.”

“So Manoah, her husband, prayed and he asked the Lord to let the man of God come again to us and teach us what we should do for this child that’s to be born.

So God listened, or hearkened to the voice of Manoah. The Angel of God came again to the woman, as she sat in the field, but her husband wasn’t with her. So she said, “Would you wait here a minute?” and she ran with haste and got her husband and she said to him, “Behold, the man has appeared unto me, that came to me the other day”. So, Manoah arose and went with his wife and they came to the man and said unto him, he said unto him, “Are you the man that spoke with this woman?” And he said, “I am.” And Manoah said, “Now let your words come to pass. We would like to have a son but how shall we order the child? What shall we do to him?” And the Angel of the Lord said to Manoah, “Just everything that I told the woman, be careful that you do that.” She may not eat of anything that comes of the vine, neither let her drink any wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing. All that I have commanded her, let her observe.” So Manoah said to the Angel of the Lord, “I pray thee, let us detain you until we can make ready for you a little uh shish kebab, a kid, and then they used those little goats for shish kebab, and the angel of the Lord said unto Manoah, “Though you detain me, I will not eat of your bread, and if you want to offer a burnt offering, you must offer it to the Lord, for Manoah did not know that he was an Angel of the Lord. And so, Manoah said unto the Angel of the Lord, “What is your name? That when all of this comes to pass we’ll be able to say, well, you know, we’ll want to give you honor, we’ll want to recognize you for this.” And the Angel of the Lord said unto him, “Why do you ask my name, seeing that it is wonderful?”

The word translated here as “secret”, is the same word that is used in the Greek, in Isaiah’s prophecy concerning Jesus. His name shall be called “Wonderful”.

“Why do you ask my name seeing that it is wonderful?”

So Manoah took the little goat with the meal offering, and he put it on the rock, offered it unto the Lord, and the Angel did wonderously as Manoah and his wife looked on. For it came to pass when the flame went up toward heaven, from off the altar, that the Angel of the Lord ascended in the flame of the altar. And Manoah and his wife looked on and they fell on their faces to the ground. And the Angel of the Lord did not appear again to Manoah and to his wife and Manoah knew that it was the Angel of the Lord; and, he said to his wife, we’re gonna die. Because we’ve seen God. We’ve had it. That’s it! You know, it’s all over! We’ve seen God! His wife having a little more presence of mind said to him, “If the Lord wanted to kill us, why would he tell us we are going to have a son? How can we have a son if God kills us; and, why would He have received our burnt offering and our meal offering? And so, the woman bear a son, called his name Samson, which refers to the son; and, you have Mahaneh Dan right near the valley of Zorah, between Eshtaol and Zorah, and the child grew. The Lord blessed him and the Spirit of the Lord began to move him at times in the camp of Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol. (13:8-25)

Okay, we have the birth of the child, announced before hand by the Lord. He was to be, truly a special child.

Watch for Chapter 14 – Coming in a day or two!

Teaching notes – Don D. Stephens