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

Composite Teaching on Reason for Studying Scripture

Why and When?

This teaching is a composite from several of my teachings, and is in response to a couple of questions I have had recently regarding why I depend so much on scripture.

I apologize for the length of the teaching, but I promise you will gain insight, if you take the time to read it!

I have done several Easter sermons, in which many of these thoughts originally came to the surface and were shared. You see, at certain times of the year, Easter being one, folks who rarely attend a church service come out, and expect to hear an Easter sermon. This usually includes a re-telling of the story of the miracle of the resurrection of Jesus. How He was crucified, placed in a sealed tomb, but on the third day, as foretold in Scripture, rose again. He did this all for the redemption of our sins, so that we can be accepted into the Kingdom of God.

There are many Christian holidays, but Easter is the most important one. It is the day of celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. A day that every Christian should fall down on his or her knees and give thanks for the gift of eternal life, only available because of what happened 2000 years ago. And, because of that great gift, we set aside this Holy day to celebrate our redemption.

It’s a great and glorious story. And, if you truly understand the reality of the significance of what happened on that day, the standard Easter sermon is all you need.
It serves as a reminder of what a loving, caring, and, most importantly, forgiving God we serve. It serves as a reminder of what a sacrifice was made by our blessed Saviour, Jesus Christ. You, that truly understand all this, would be blessed by a standard Easter sermon. An annual reminder.

But, for those that hear the words, but don’t fully understand the significance, it’s just a day to dress up and go to church. A day to be around people who “get it.” A day to fellowship with Christians and to hope that some of the “good” rubs off. Just enough “good” to last for another year, until we can come back again and do it all over again. An annual reminder that we fall short of “something” that is available to us, but deep down, we just don’t quite grasp what all the fuss is really about.

I know that there are people in every congregation that believe that Jesus was here. They believe He was crucified. They believe He died on the cross. They believe He rose on the third day. They believe He ascended to Heaven. They believe all this, but there is still something missing.

This brings me to some of the questions I have recently been asked, all of which can be reduced to just two. Two questions are in many hearts, but most are afraid to ask them, for fear that they might appear to not be as “spiritual” as the rest of us. The truth of it all is that we all need to be reminded of the answers to these questions. I would be willing to bet that almost every person reading this teaching today has had a time when one or both of these two questions has entered your mind. I would be extremely surprised, if they haven’t!

So, I am going to try to spread some light on the two questions, while also reminding you of the significance of what causes our celebration of Christian holidays.
I think we would all agree, and so would most anyone you stop on the street and ask, that, based on the commandments of the Bible, we have all sinned. We can all be classified as “sinners”.

Christians only need to be reminded of one verse to come to this reality:

Romans 3:23 – For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.

We all know we are sinners.

Every Sunday, from Christian pulpits around the world, you can be sure of one thing. Sometime during the service, you will hear the words “for our sins.” Let me give you four examples of scriptures that use that exact term:

1 Corinthians 15:3 – For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures.

Galatians 1:4 – Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father.

1 John 2:2 – And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for our’s only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

1 John 4:10 – Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

So what is the first question that comes to mind?

“Why did He do it?”

Think about it. Everyone, even agnostics, recognize that it would be impossible to meet the requirements of the Ten Commandments. The basic commandments leave us all as sinners. We all tell little lies. We all bear a little false witness. Sometimes a little lie can protect someone’s feelings.

How do you like my haircut? “Looks great!” Inside, you may be thinking “Good grief. Why on earth would you pay good money to have someone put a bowl over your head and
have the goat graze on the excess hair?” But, you bear a little false witness to protect someone’s feelings.

Honor thy father and thy mother. This is a tough commandment. I think it is Mark Twain who is credited with saying something like, “When I was 17, I was amazed at how little my parents knew about life. When I turned 21, I was even more amazed to see how much they had learned in just 4 short years.” We have all had run-ins with our parents, for which we are later regretful.

How about the “covet” requirements? Ever thought? “Nice car. Sure wish I had it.” Ever wished you had your neighbor’s car, your friend’s house, or my good looks?
We have sinned. So, why did this all happen? How does this fix it, and “Why did He do it?”

The Bible, at first glance, seems extremely complicated. In one respect, it is. It is a series of events and teachings that have both basic and deep meaning. It is truly the word of God and has a purpose in all our lives. I believe all scripture to be divinely inspired by God. I believe it to be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. The scriptures support this belief. I believe God has protected the scriptures and insured that they are what we need to be reading. I do not believe that there is any contradiction in the Bible. I believe that every possible contradiction can be easily explained by putting the scripture in context and examining all aspects. If you don’t believe this, ponder this: If God “spoke into existence” the entire universe, created man, and knows the number of the hairs on your head, why would you doubt that he could handle such a simple thing as protecting His word?

Matthew 10:30 – But the very hairs of your head are numbered.

Luke 12:7 – But even the very hairs of your head are numbered.

If God knows the very number of hairs on each of our heads, why would you doubt His ability to protect His word for our edification?

Hebrews 11:3 – Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

Now, assuming that you believe, as I do, that the Bible is the true word of God, let me simplify the whole story for you.

In the beginning, God spoke the world into existence.

Genesis 1:1 – In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.

God created the earth. He then created man and gave man free will. He does not desire to have communion with man, if man does not want to have communion with Him.
Therefore, He gave us the ability to decide for ourselves if we will serve Him, or not.

He created the Garden of Eden, in which man could dwell. Genesis describes that a river flowed from the base of the tree of life to water the garden, and that it broke into four rivers, the Pison, the Gihon, the Hiddekel, and the Euphrates. I find it interesting that both Babylon and the place where it all began (the Garden of Eden) are located in Iraq. In the last decade or so, the focus of the world went right back at the location where it all began.

The first commandment of God to man can be found in Genesis 2:16-17, where God gave Adam freedom to eat anything he wanted, but commanded him not to eat of one tree – the tree of knowledge of good and evil. God warned him that the day he ate of it, “thou shall surely die.”

God saw that Adam needed a companion, so he put Adam to sleep and created Eve from Adam’s rib, to dwell with Adam in the Garden. She was called woman, because she was formed from man. She was truly flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone. They were one flesh, the first married couple. Genesis 2:25 says, “They were both naked, the man and his wife, and they were not ashamed.”

They were not ashamed, because there was not sin. They had not broken any commandment of God. Adam and Eve had full communion with God. He actually walked in the
Garden. He talked to them, just as you and I talk. It was total communion with God.

Then came the temptation.

Satan was once an angel of God. Ezekiel 28:17 says “11 Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 12 Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.

He was full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. Not the ugly horned red guy with the pitchfork, but just the opposite. Ezekiel goes on to tell us that Satan was in the
Garden of Eden.

13 Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.

He was evidently a great musician. And it goes on to say that he was the anointed cherub, because God created him as such.

14 Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. 15 Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.

God found iniquity in him. Because God had created him in beauty, knowledge, musical ability, he thought he could become God.

16 By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. 17 Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee.”

In his pride, Lucifer rebelled against God. He even led his angels in revolt against God.

Isaiah 14:12-15 – 12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! 13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. 15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.

He was cast down to the earth.

Eze 28:17 – Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor; I cast you to the ground, I laid you before kings, that they might gaze at you.

One – third of all the angels of heaven fell with him.

Rev 12:4 – His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born.

So, Satan is in the Garden of Eden. He is referred to as the “serpent”, and uses his ability to convince Eve that it’s okay to eat of the tree of which God had commanded Adam not to partake.

Gen 3:4-8 – 4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: 5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. 6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. 7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

Notice what happened to them? Satan used his ability to deceive (because of all his tools) to convince Eve that she and Adam could be like God, if they ate of this tree. In other words, God doesn’t want you to eat the fruit, because you will be like Him. Eve was convinced, that the fruit was delicious, that the tree was beautiful, and that it would make her wise, like God.

Verse 8 is very interesting to me. 8 And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. God was walking in the garden, in the cool of the day. How much closer communion can one have? They gave
it all away, because they chose to believe the lie of the master liar.

Now, because of this sin, God did several things, he condemned the serpent to crawl on its belly and eat dust. The woman was condemned to bring forth children in sorrow and to serve her husband. The man was condemned to work the ground for food, with the ground now having thorns and weeds, and he was to die physically and return to dust upon death. They were all cast out of the garden and could never enter again. No more access to the tree of life.

Adam and Eve could have lived forever, never aged, and had daily communion with God, but that was lost, because of the sin. Having to die physically and return to dust was bad enough, but the real loss was the daily communion with God. Being able to walk with Him, talk with Him, get to know Him, have all your questions answered by Him. A great loss!!!

Satan was now the prince of the earth and holds the title deed to the earth. It’s interesting to me that Satan, even though he does not dwell there, still has access to heaven.

Job 1:6 – Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them.

Job 2:1 – Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the LORD.

Rev 12:3-4 – And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. 4 His tail drew a
third of the stars of heaven [angels] and threw them to the earth.

Rev 1:20 – The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches.

But, they will be thrown out just before the tribulation starts.

Rev 12:7-9 And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, 8 but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. 9 So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the devil and satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

The rest of the Old Testament is a story of a movement toward redemption. With Satan now in control of the earth, God had to develop a way to redeem the title deed to the earth. Permanent redemption had to be made for the original sin. Sin was passed down through the male seed. Throughout the Old Testament, long lists of descendants are given. So-and-so begat so-and-so, and so-and-so begat so-and-so. In order for man to come back into fellowship with God, sacrifice was necessary. Blood sacrifice became a way of life, throughout the Old Testament. A permanent redeemer was promised and prophesied, but, annually, sins were covered by blood sacrifices. This was first demonstrated when Cain and Abel brought forth their sacrifices to God. God accepted the blood sacrifice of Abel, but not the gifts from Cain. From that story, we have the first murder.

All covering for sin in the Old Testament was temporary. Everything had to be repeated annually. Several things happened, but they were all temporary and not complete. There were many forms of rituals performed as part of these sacrifices. All sacrifices had to be without blemish, the best of the best. Before the priest could enter the Holy of Holies, he would grind incense over the hot coal, and the smoke would rise up and form a cloud in the room. This was not so that the priest could look upon God, but so that God could look upon the priest. The priest would lay his hands upon the head of the sacrificial lamb and then cut the lamb’s throat and spread the blood of the lamb on the altar as a sacrifice to God to cover sins for one year. The blood of the sacrifices was spread upon the altar to cover the sins for one year.

God’s plan for permanent redemption was perfect, and it made perfect sense. With the sin being passed down through the male, it makes sense for the conception to be from a virgin birth. That happening, would insure that the male child born, would be born without that original sin, and could be the second Adam, the atonement for the failures of the first.

Satan, being the prince of this earth, tried to have him slain as an infant. He tried everything he could to stop the birth of Christ, but he failed. Satan had opportunity to tempt Jesus and offered Him the world, if he would just bow down to Satan. He again, just as he did in the Garden, misquoted scripture to try to put sin on Christ. Every attempt failed. He even went so far as to indwell one of the disciples, in an effort to somehow derail the perfect plan of God, but that didn’t work either. When his efforts failed, he no longer needed the body of Judas, so he committed suicide to get back into the spiritual realm.

God’s plan worked. Adam sinned and was condemned to die, both physically and spiritually. Because Jesus was born of a virgin, he was not born under the original sin of Adam. He was the second perfect man. Because Jesus was not under sin, he did not have to die. He chose to die.

In His death, He became the sacrificial lamb, His blood covering our sins, not just past sins, but present and future sins. All we have to do is get under the blood.
When God looks at us, He doesn’t see us in our sinful state, He sees us as part of the body of Christ, no sin, just love.

He has such a great love for us, even in our sin, that he chose to die, so that we could get back the daily communion with Him, through the Holy Spirit.

John 16 7-15 – 7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. 8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 Of sin, because they believe not on me; 10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; 11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. 12 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. 13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. 14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. 15 All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

John 14:1-3 – 1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

This brings us to the second question: Where is He, and when is He returning?

We can find the answer in

2 Peter 3

1 This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: 2 That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: 3 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, 4 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. 5 For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: 6 Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: 7 But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. 8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. 11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. 14 Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. 15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; 16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. 17 Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. 18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.

Peter begins this third chapter by making reference to the whole epistle.

This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance (3:1):

The word pure could be better translated, “sincere”. None of us could boast of pure minds, but I would hope we all have sincere minds. Peter is seeking to stir up their sincere minds by remembering the things that have been written.

In the first chapter of 2 Peter, verse 21, he says “the prophecies came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy
Spirit”. He is speaking of remembering the Old Testament prophecies about event, many of them yet future.

That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of our Lord and Saviour (3:2):

The Bible is composed of the writings of men, the Old Testament prophets, holy men, spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit and the New Testament written by men inspired by the Holy Spirit.

Paul wrote to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:16: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for reproof and rebuke and correction”.

Peter is including the Old Testament plus the writings of the apostles in the New Testament that bring to us our full canon of scripture.

Knowing this, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, who are walking after their own lusts (3:3),

In Chapter 2 of 2 Peter, he spoke of false prophets who were more interested in their own welfare, rather than the church of God. Here, he is speaking about the last days, when there would be scoffers who again are walking in their own lusts. One major reason people scoff at the scriptures, and especially the teachings of Jesus, is because they are ruled and controlled by their own lusts. Jesus said in:

John 3:17-19 – 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

Because a man is controlled by his own lust, and does not want to give up his own lust and desires, he scoffs at the word of Jesus. He scoffs at the idea that God would intervene in the affairs of man. Peter tells us that in the last days, these scoffers would come.

And they would say, Where is the promise of His coming (3:4)?

One of the things they would be scoffing about would be the promise that Jesus is coming again. Their declaration is interesting.

all things continue as they were from the beginning (3:4).

What today we refer to as uniformitarianism, is the background for the evolutionary theory. All things continue as they were from the beginning. Nothing has really changed. The interesting thing to me is that we openly teach this theory as fact in our schools today, as at no other time in history. Evolution is based on one continual process, with no change.

Peter goes on to say,

They are willingly ignorant of the fact, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished (3:5,6):

They are willingly ignorant. They choose not to believe that God has, at times past, intervened in the history of man, bringing judgment upon the earth. There are two forms of thought here. Some Bible commentators believe that this may be a reference to a pre-historic earth. There are some who believe in the possibility of the Gap Theory. I’m not going to get into that, because it would take a full lesson to do so, but basically, it is a theory that there was a break “Gap” between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2. It was an indefinite period of time, in which a pre-historic man may have existed. The theory is based on the fact that Verse 1 of Genesis states, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Then, the second verse says, “And the earth was without form and void.” Those that support the gap theory use the translation “And the earth became without form and void.”

I believe Peter is referring to the flood of Noah, not the “Gap”. The Hebrew word “Bara” is used for created, which is to bring into existence, something out of nothing. In addition, Hebrews 11:3 says, “By faith we believe that the worlds were made by things that are not seen”. In light of the fact that today, we have knowledge of atomic particles and that the universe if made up of invisible atoms, this is not only an interesting, but also an incredible statement. The things we see are made out of things we don’t see.

If we had no mountain ranges today, the earth would actually be covered with water to a depth of about six thousand feet. In Genesis 1:9, God said, “Let the dry land appear.” God separated the dry land from the waters. He brought into existence the mountain ranges and the various continents upon the earth.

High in the Himalayas, they find fossils of seashells. How did they get up at those extremely high elevations? If you go up to the south rim of the Grand Canyon, you can see there in the strata, seashells. These seashells are the bottom kind of ocean life and you can see them at the 7,000-foot level of the south rim of the Grand Canyon. How in the world were the oceans once up that high? There are a lot of mysteries about our world that we do not yet fully understand but there surely are evidences of cataclysmic upheavals.

But Peter speaks of the willing ignorance. Emmanuel Velikovsky, in his book Earth in Upheaval totally destroys the theory of uniformitarianism. Because of that, his work has come under much criticism by the evolutionists. He points out and proves that there have been great cataclysmic changes in the earth’s structure in the past. But, these men are “willingly ignorant, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water.”

An interesting phrase, “by the word of God.” God spoke the earth into existence. All through the creation story in Genesis, it repeats the phrase “And, God said.”

In Psalm 33:6, David said, “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all of the hosts of them by the breath of His mouth”.

They are willingly ignorant of this, “whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished.” I believe this is probably a reference to the flood in Noah’s day. In Chapter 2 of 2 Peter, he makes reference to Noah. Most scientists today are willing to acknowledge that much of geology today is better explained by a universal flood, but they are unwilling to acknowledge that there was a universal flood.

In fact, it is commonly accepted by most scientists today that the Grand Canyon was formed by a large amount of water over a short period of time, not a small amount of water over a long period of time. But, our children are still taught that the Colorado River is responsible for the formation of the Grand Canyon over millions of years.

They are willingly ignorant. They don’t want to believe in the flood because then they would have to believe in the Bible as God’s truth.

But the heavens and the earth, which are now (3:7),

Prior to the flood, the earth and heaven were under different kinds of atmospheric conditions.

Genesis 1:6-7 – 6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. 7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters, which were under the firmament from the waters, which were above the firmament: and it was so.

There was a water canopy around the earth. It would have protected the earth from much of the ultraviolet radiation that we now experience. Birds flew between the water above the firmament and the waters below the firmament.

Genesis 1:20 – 20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.

The effects of this protection would decrease the wear and tear of the suns rays. Man would live longer, much longer.

In some of today’s geological findings, we find the fossils of butterflies that had wingspans that were two or three feet. In some of the fossils, there are ferns that were ninety feet high. The canopy of water would have created a universal green house effect. The earth would have had great humidity. Before the flood, there was no rain. The tremendous humidity would have created ideal growing conditions. A mist watered the ground.

Genesis 2:6 – 6 But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.

The South Pole was at one time, a very tropical region. They have found charcoal deposits 200 feet below the ice. The north-pole arctic regions were once tropical areas. Giant mammoths have been found, perfectly preserved, frozen in the icy tundra. The change that took place was dramatic and instantaneous. Some of these mammoths that had the tropical vegetation in their digestive tracts, were frozen in place while they were eating this tropical vegetation. I believe this happened at the time of the flood.

We recently experienced a “Tsunami”. It was devastating. It resulted in massive death and destruction. Scientists have stated that it caused the earth to move and resulted in a minor change in our axis. If a wave the size of our recent catastrophe can cause the earth to move its axis, what effect would the flood of Noah have had?

Imagine for a minute that the earth was once on an axis that provided perfect climate globally. Every spot on the earth had a tropical climate, vegetation, and life. There was a canopy of water around the earth, causing ideal growing conditions, and ideal living conditions. People could live for long periods of time. Then, God decided that man was evil and had to be destroyed. The water from the upper canopy was released onto the earth from both sides of the globe. At first, just like rain, but at some point, a large amount of water is released. That could result in quite a tidal wave, causing the earth to reel on its axis. As the tidal waves reached the ends of the earth, the planet was thrown off axis, just enough to immediately freeze the ice caps and set a whole new climate condition over the planet. Now, keeping that in mind, read with me

Job 38:4-11 – 4 Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. 5 Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? 6 Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; 7 When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? 8 Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth, as if it had issued out of the womb? 9 When I made the cloud the garment thereof, and thick darkness a swaddlingband for it, 10 And brake up for it my decreed place, and set bars and doors, 11 And said, Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed?

Just a thought!!!!!!!

“But the present heavens and earth which are now,”

are being reserved by the same word [that is, the word of God that created them] they are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and the perdition of ungodly men (3:7).

Isaiah 24:18-21 – 18 And it shall come to pass, that he who fleeth from the noise of the fear shall fall into the pit; and he that cometh up out of the midst of the pit shall be taken in the snare: for the windows from on high are open, and the foundations of the earth do shake. 19 The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is clean dissolved, the earth is moved exceedingly. 20 The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall, and not rise again.

As God intervened once with the flood, destroying the men that once inhabited the earth, God will once again intervene in divine judgment against wicked men. But this time it will be with fire.

But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, a thousand years as one day (3:8).

This is one of my favorite scriptures. If we examine the Bible, we find it was 2000 years between the Garden of Eden and Abraham, 2000 years between Abraham and Jesus, and 2000 since Jesus.

Scoffers say, “Where is the promise of His coming?” We see a lot of comedy projects aimed at the Rapture, the Mark of the Beast, the Return of Jesus. I saw a banking commercial recently that shows people having a number sign stapled to their forehead, so that they could get their foreheads scanned for purchases. You can see scoffers on every channel of your TV.

Peter gives us an explanation. One of the problems with Christians today, is that we try to make our image of God conforming to the realm in which we live, instead of seeking to understand that God exists outside of time. In the eternal realm, different measurements apply. There is no time in the eternal realm.

Moses wrote in Psalm 90:4, “For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.” A watch in the night was six-hours. A thousand years to God is like a six-hour stint.

In Hosea, we see an interesting passage of scripture, in light of a day is as a thousand years, a thousand years as a day. Hosea 6:1-2, speaks about the Jews in these last days who will say, “Come and let us return unto the LORD: for he has torn, and he will heal us; he has smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days he will revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.”

God has a covenant with the nation of Israel that is not completely fulfilled. The covenant with the nation of Israel was to bring their Messiah. It was also to bring in the everlasting peace; it was to bring in the kingdom of God. That has not yet taken place. The prophecy was divided into sixty-nine sevens, with one seven year period separated from the sixty-nine. The sixty-nine seven-year periods were to run between the commandment to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the coming of the Messiah the Prince. That was fulfilled 483 years after Artaxerxes gave the commandment to Nehemiah to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, when Jesus the Messiah came.
But, God has unfinished business with the nation of Israel. That will take place during a seven-year cycle, which will precede the glorious coming again of Jesus Christ and His thousand-year reign upon the earth.

God has worked in patterns of six and one. It can be seen throughout the Bible. Six days of labor and one day of rest. When a person was sold into slavery, they were to be slaves for six years and set free the seventh. God has established this six and one pattern throughout the Bible. We are extremely close to the six thousand years of man’s existence upon the earth. Adam was created about six thousand years ago. He was sold into the bondage of sin or sold himself into the bondage of sin about six thousand years ago. The seventh year could very well be the seventh millennium of peace and rest, after the fulfillment of the covenant with Israel.

Hosea writes concerning the Jews in the last days, they will say, “After two days He will revive us.” It is interesting that it has been almost two thousand years since the Jews were dispersed by the Romans when Titus conquered Jerusalem in 70 A.D. “in the third year, after two days, he will revive us.” The nation of Israel coming to life after two thousand years existing again as a nation is not, in my mind, a coincidence. “In the third day,” it says, “we shall live in His sight.” Live in the presence of the Messiah. I believe it could be a reference to the glorious reign of Jesus Christ.

So Peter tells us that people make the mistake because they don’t realize that with God, there is no time of minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, or even millenniums. “A day is as a thousand years.” It’s a relative term. “A thousand years is as a day unto the Lord.” And then Peter assures us that,

The Lord is not slack concerning His promises (3:9),

John 14:3 – Jesus said, “If I go away, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”

Now Peter is telling us “He’s not slack concerning His promises.” He then gives us the reason for the delay.

He is longsuffering to us and He’s not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (3:9).

The reason for the delay is to give every opportunity for people to receive Jesus Christ as their Saviour to be forgiven of their sins. Peter first tells us that God is just giving extra time for people to come in to the kingdom, then he assures us that, though it has been a while, Jesus will return.

That the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night (3:10);

Jesus mentioned His coming as a thief in the night. He said, Luke 12:39 – “If the good man of the house had known in what hour the thief was coming, he would have been watching for him and his house would not have been broken up.” He tells us to watch and to be ready, because we don’t know the day or the hour in which He is coming.
It will be “as a thief in the night;”

in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, the elements shall melt with a fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing that all these things shall be dissolved (3:10,11),

The basic elements will melt with a “fervent” heat.

what manner then of persons ought we to be in all holy manner of life and godliness (3:11),

If you are tied into worldly things, this should hit you hard. Material things will burn, they will pass away, and they will be no more. You can’t take them with you. Knowing this, what manner of persons ought we to be? If you are attached to any material thing, let it go. Knowing from what I have taught you today, you should realize that Satan has all the tools to fool any of you. If you have a lusting heart, he will introduce you to Internet porn. If you like getting high, he will get you hooked. If you like your beer or scotch, he will work you toward alcoholism. If you lust after your neighbor things, he will give you opportunity to steal. If you have your heart in the worldly things, he will use it to harden your heart. If you lust after other men or women, he will give you plenty of opportunity to ruin your marriage. If you cannot handle money, he will drag you to the bottom. If you have anything that you worship, he will use it to destroy you and your chances of salvation. Don’t let it happen.

As we look for and hasten the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire will be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with a fervent heat (3:12)?
Isaiah 24:19 – “The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is clean dissolved, the earth is moved exceedingly.”

Isaiah 34:4 – “And all the host of heaven will be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as a leaf
falleth from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree.”

Isaiah 13:13 – “Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the LORD of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger.”

Nevertheless we, according to His promise, we look for new heaven and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness (3:13).

Wherefore, beloved, seeing that you look for such things, be diligent that you might be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless (3:14).

We need to be looking for His coming, living a godly, holy life, being diligent in the things of the Lord, living in the grace of God, covered by Christ’s blood, without spot and blameless. These are all in response to seeing that all these things are going to be dissolved.

Account the longsuffering of our Lord as salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also concerning the wisdom that was given unto him hath written unto you (3:15);
He recognizes the writings of Paul.

And also in all of his letters, he is speaking in them of these things; which are some of them hard to understand, which they that are unlearned and unstable have twisted, as they do also other scriptures, to their own destruction (3:16).

Ye therefore, beloved, seeing that you know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness (3:17).

You know these things, because you have been taught them many times. Once in this teaching, so you do know them. It’s up to you to believe them, or you can choose to ignore them and figure the Lord is delaying his coming. Or, you can ignore the truth and continue in the manner in which you choose. Continue with the things you know are wrong. Be a scoffer.

Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (3:18).

That is the reason why teachers like me (having my training from Calvary Chapel), take you through the bible, chapter by chapter, verse by verse. That you might grow
in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Today, you have the right to choose, the same as Adam. You can ignore the truth and stay in your sin. You can be a scoffer and ridicule the truth. You can get caught in the wrong place at the wrong time and miss His coming altogether.

Or, you can make a change. What manner of person ought you to be???????

Just my thoughts!
Don D. Stephens

JUDGES – Chapter 12

Now, the men of Ephraim gathered themselves together, and they went northward, and said to Jephthah, How come you passed over to fight against the children of Ammon, and you didn’t call us to go with you? We’re going to burn your house with fire (27:1).

Now, these guys from Ephraim are an interesting group. When Gideon was fighting against the Midianites, only after he had wiped them out and had them on the run, did the men of Ephraim join in the battle. They happened to catch and kill the two chiefs of the Midianites, Zeeb and Zalmonah. Then, after the battle of the Midianites was over, they came to Gideon and said “What’s the big idea not calling us to help you! We’re going to get you, man!” Gideon responded “Come on, guys! What have I done, compared to what you did? Wow! You captured the kings, while all I did was wipe out 135,000 of the army.” He used the allegory, “Is not the gleanings of Ephriam better than the vintage of Gideon?” The vintage is the full harvest of Gideon, and the gleanings are the grapes that are left over after the harvest. They harvest the grape crop and, after they have done so, all the little clumps of grapes that they miss when they’re picking, are the leftovers, the gleanings. So, what these guys from Ephriam have are the gleanings, worth more than the whole harvest of Gideon. This appeased the guy. Gideon used his keen diplomacy to calm the situation. Jephthah was a bandit, he was tough, and he didn’t take anything from anybody! The men of Ephriam came they come to him and try the same old trick. “Why didn’t you call us? Why did you go fight without us? We’re gonna burn your house!” This time, they were dealing with a whole different type.

He said, I and my people were at great strife with the children of Ammon; and I called for your help, but you didn’t deliver me. And when I saw that you would not respond, I put my life in my hands, and I passed over against the children of Ammon, and the Lord delivered them into my hand: wherefore are you come this day to fight against me (12:2-3)?

He says “I called for your help, but you didn’t show up!” He stands up to these guys, gets right back in their faces. Gideon appeased them, but this guy stands up to them. “Hey! I called for your help. You didn’t come. You didn’t deliver me, so I put my life in great jeopardy. I went against them without your help, and the Lord delivered them. Now, why have you come to fight against me?”

And Jephthah gathered together all the men of Gilead, and fought with Ephraim: and the men of Gilead smote Ephraim, because they said, Ye Gileadites are fugitives of Ephraim among the Ephraimites, among the Manassites (12:4).

So, they came over, and they were rude and crude, and they were calling them a bunch of fugitives. So, the Gileadites smote Ephraim, and the Gileadites took the passages of Jordan, which is the area where the Jordan was crossable. When the Ephraimites, who had escaped, came to these passages, the men of Gilead were there guarding them, and they said:

Let us cross over to Jordan, and they said, Are you an Ephramite? And if they said no, then they said unto him, Say Shibboleth: and the fellows would answer Sibboleth: for they could not frame the word to pronounce it right (12:5-6).

Evidently, these guys had definite accents. Depending on what country, or even what part of a county, a person comes from, folks develop a certain way of speaking. From those accents, you can sometimes determine where they are from. In Spanish, many of the words with the “rr”, require that you trill your tongue to pronounce the word correctly. I can’t do that, so I would be easy to find out, simply by asking me to say a word that requires the trill. The same was evidently true of these Ephramites.

The Ephramites could not pronounce the “sh” sound. It’s interesting that when they came over, they were harassing these guys about being half-breeds, fugitives from Ephriam. They were bragging about their own tribe, Ephriam. Now that they are trying to get back, they are denying that they are Ephriamites. As they meet them at the river they ask if they are from Ephriam and, if they deny it, they ask them to pronounce this word. If they cannot say it correctly, they are slain.

They took him, and killed him at the passages of Jordan: and there fell that time of the tribe of Ephriam, about forty thousand men. [42,000] And Jephthah judged Israel for six years.
Then Jephthah the Gileadite died, and was buried in one of the cities of Gilead (12:6-7).

Many scholars, believe that his deep grief over his daughter shortened his life. They are most likely correct. He spoke of being bowed down by the grief that he felt for his daughter. A six year reign is extremely short for a judge. When he died, he was buried in one of the cities of Gilead.

So after him Ibzan of Bethlehem judged Israel. He had thirty sons and thirty daughters, so he sent his daughters out to marry those from abroad, and he took thirty daughters from abroad for his sons. He judged Israel for only seven years. He died and was buried at Bethlehem.

This guy sent his daughters abroad to marry foreign princes, and he brought in foreign princesses to marry his sons. This is still practiced today, among royalty.

It is important to notice that the judges come from various tribes. There is no ruling tribe, just men from various tribes are chosen to judge Israel.

And after him Elon, a Zebulonite, judged Israel; he judged Israel for ten years. Elon the Zebulonite died, and was buried in Aijahlon in the country of Zebulun.

This is not the Aijahlon of Joshua’s fame, where God threw the rocks at their enemies. It is a different Aijahlon.

And after him Abdon the son of Hillel, a Pirathonite, judged Israel. And he had forty sons and thirty grandsons that rode on seventy ass colts: and he judged Israel for eight years.
Abdon the son of Hillel died, and was buried in Pirathon in the land of Ephraim, in the mount of the Amalekites (12:8-15).

In summary of this information, there was a quick succession of judges, one for six years, then seven years, ten years, and eight years, all short reigns. Then, we come to the fascinating story of Samson. Samson was the thirteenth judge of Israel, and is a most interesting character study.

One expression, which caught my attention, was from Jephthah, when he said “I’ve opened my mouth before the Lord, and I cannot go back.” I like to think of the fact that we, as Christians, have opened our mouths before the Lord. We have confessed Him to be our Savior, confessed Him to be our Lord, confessed our love for Him. So, having opened our mouths before the Lord, we cannot go back. I cannot go back into the life of sin. I cannot go back into the life of self-centeredness. I belong to Him forever. “I have opened my mouth before the Lord, I cannot go back.”

I pray that each of us have made that confession, and that each of us will not go back. We all need to go forth serving the Lord. We all need to commit to show by our actions, by a
life of commitment, and by our love for Him. We all need to commit daily worship of the Lord, to constantly praying to the Lord, and that we do not neglect family fellowship.

We all need to make a diligent effort to spend time expressing our love for the Lord, by regular worship.

JUDGES – Chapter 11

Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a man of valour, and the son of a harlot: and Gilead begat Jephthah (11:1).

Gilead was an area on the east bank on the Jordan. It was an area that was occupied by the tribe of Gath. There was a mountain range called mount Gilead.

This man, Gilead, somehow picked up the name of the area in which he lived. He had a son named Jephthah, who was a son of a harlot. His son Jephthah became a very mighty man of valor, but Gilead’s wife had other sons.

And it came to pass in time, that the other sons ordered Jephthah out. They said unto him, You will not inherit our father’s house; for you are the son of a strange woman.

So, Jephthah was more or less banished from the area of his family.

And Jephthah fled from his brothers and he dwelt in the land of Tob: and there were gathered with him vain men, and they went out with him (11:2-3).

The area of Tob would be east of Gilead, and into the area of Syria. It is necessary to understand that he grew up in this area of Syria, which was an area that was filled with paganism. He became a bit of a Robin Hood. This band of men, rugged individuals, all of them, gathered around him and made their living by marauding the villages and plundering the area. They were really just a bunch of bandits. Folks looked upon him as a type of Robin Hood. It was alright to plunder a village, as long as it was the village of an enemy. It wasn’t okay to plunder your own, but it was looked at as an acceptable thing to plunder an enemy village.

And it came to pass in the process of time, that the children of Ammon made war against Israel. And so it was, that when the children of Ammon made war against Israel, the elders of Gilead went to fetch Jephthah out of the land of Tob (11:4):
Evidently, they realized that they didn’t have any man with strong leadership characteristics. They didn’t have anyone who was experienced in warfare anywhere near the level as this guy, Jephthah. So, they went to the land of Tob, to recruit his services, to help them against this invasion by the king of Ammon.

And they said to Jephthah, Come, and be our captain, that we may fight with the children of Ammon. He said, Did you not hate me, you expelled me out of my father’s house? why do you come to me now just because you’re in distress (11:6-7)?

Jephthah was a little reluctant to immediately go with them. He initially turns them down. In his mind, he felt that they had kicked him out of the area but, now that they were in trouble, they came to him for help.

And the elders of Gilead said, We turn to you now, that you might go with us, and fight against the children of Ammon, and be the head over all of the inhabitants of Gilead.

They wanted him to be their chief, the head over all the area of Gilead.

And Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, If you bring me home again to fight against the children of Ammon, and the Lord deliver them before me, shall I be your head? And the elders of Gilead said unto Jephthah, The Lord be witness between us, if we do not so according to your words (11:8-10).

He was concerned that, once he helped them to victory, that they wouldn’t need him after that. So, they took a poll, and they swore to him before the Lord, that if he came and led them to victory over the people of Ammon, that they would make him the ruler over their territory. They swore this to him, before the Lord.
Then Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and captain over them: and Jephthah uttered all his words before the Lord in Mizpeh (11:11).

When Jacob was fleeing from his uncle Laban, and Laban finally caught up with him, there was a confrontation. It was a tense situation and, as they departed, Laban said to Jacob, “Mizpeh”, which means “the Lord watch after me and thee while we’re absent one from another.” Even today, folks use that statement as a parting comment.

In reality, it was not intended to be a pleasant parting. It was a bit more intense parting, actually. The better translation might be “Now that you are leaving with my daughters, and I can’t watch over you anymore, may the Lord watch over you”. It’s really a bit of a barb. They called the place where they parted Mizpeh, and it was in this area of Gilead. It is interesting that they are back, where Jacob and Laban had their confrontation, which became a city. This is the place where he came, where he moved his family, in the land of Gilead, to set up his headquarters.

And Jephthah sent messengers unto the king of the children of Ammon, saying, What have you to do with me, that you are come against me to fight in my land.

Here, I find it interesting that he lays claim to the land. Today, we might hear “What is your problem? Why are you coming to challenge me in MY house?”
And the king of the children of Ammon answered unto the messengers of Jephthah, Because Israel took away my land, when they came out of Egypt, from Arnon even unto Jabbok, now therefore restore those lands again peaceably.

In other words, he was saying “Just give us back our land.” Arnon is the river to the south. Jabbok is the river that Jacob crossed over, the second time he came back from his uncle Laban. He said, “When I crossed over this stream, all I had was a staff, but now, God has blessed me so much that I’ve had to divide my group into two companies. Great is thy faithfulness O God, morning by morning the mercies of God I see”.

And Jephthah sent messengers again unto the king of the children of Ammon: And he said unto him, Thus saith Jephthah, Israel did not take away the land of Moab, nor the land of the children of Ammon: But when Israel came up from Egypt, and walked through the wilderness unto the Red sea, they came to Kadesh; Then Israel sent messengers to the king of Edom, saying, Let me, I pray thee, pass through thy land: but the king of Edom would not hearken thereto. And in like manner they sent to the king of Moab: and he would not consent: and Israel stayed in Kadesh. Then they went along through the wilderness, and encircled the land of Edom, and the land of Moab, and they came by the east side of the land of Moab, and they pitched on the other side of Arnon, but came not within the border of Moab: for Arnon was the border of Moab. And Israel sent messengers unto Sihon king of the Amorites, the king of Heshbon; and Israel said unto him, Let us pass, we pray thee, through thy land into my place. But Sihon trusted not Israel to pass through his coast: but Sihon gathered all his people together, and pitched in Jahaz, and fought against Israel. And the Lord God of Israel delivered Sihon and all his people into the hand of Israel, and they smote them: and so Israel possessed all of the land of the Amorites, the inhabitants of the country (11:12-21).

Jephthah was a good student of history. If you take a good look at this description, you will find that he is giving an accurate account of what happened. This is an accurate historical account. I’m giving him an A+ on his history homework. He was, evidently, a good student of the history of the people. What he is saying is exactly true.

When the children of Israel came out of Egypt, they came into the land of Israel, up to Kadesh Barnea. It was there that the ten spies came back with the evil report, and the people were afraid and did not go directly into the land. God told them “Okay, folks, because you haven’t believed me and trusted me, you are going to roam in the wilderness until you all die.” Even then, they attempted to go, but they were defeated. Then, they wanted to encircle the land of Canaan, going up on the opposite side of the Dead sea, and the Jordan River on the east side, which would cause them to pass through the land of Edom, and then through the land of Moab.

They told the king of Edom, “We want to pass through the land, and we’ll eat our own food and agree not to touch your food or crops, but we just want passage through your land”. But, the king of Edom refused, so they sent to the king of Moab. When he denied them, they made a long journey into the wilderness, encircling around behind the nations of Edom and Moab. They came back towards the land, between the valley of the Arnon and the Jabbok, which was not the land of Moab or Ammon. They did not take the land of the Amorites. Sihon was the king of the Amorites.

Jephthah is absolutely correct. These people are laying claim to land that does not belong to them. Now, way back in their history, they had claimed this land. But, it actually belonged to the Amorites at the time that Moses conquered this land. He conquered Sihon and the Amorites, and he took the land from the Amorites, not from Moab. So, Jephthah is absolutely correct. He actually is pretty much quoting from Numbers and Deuteronomy. He is a good student, who knows the history.

The king of Ammon is claiming this as his territory, even though it never did belong to him. The Israelites did not take it from him, they took it from Sihon, the king of the Amorites. “So, the Lord God of Israel delivered Sihon and all of his people into the hand of Israel, and they smote them: so Israel possessed all the land of the Amorites, the inhabitants of that country.”

And they possessed all the coasts of the Amorites, from Arnon even unto Jabbok, and from the wilderness even to the Jordan river. So now the Lord God of Israel has dispossessed the Amorites from before his people, and why should you possess it?

“The Lord is the one who dispossessed the Amorites, why should you take it over?”

Will you not possess that which Chemosh your god gives you to possess?

He is asking him that his God gave them this land, why don’t they just be happy with what their god can provide them?

So whomsoever the Lord our God shall drive out from before us, them will we possess. And now are you any thing better than Balak the son of Zippor, the king of Moab? did he ever strive against Israel, or did he ever fight against them, So while Israel dwelt in Heshbon and her towns, and in the Aroer and in her towns, and all of the cities that are along the coasts of Arnon, these three hundred years? why therefore did you not recover it within that time 11:22-26)?

It had been 300 years since Moses had conquered this area. This is about the year 1143, and it was about 1460 or so that Moses first conquered the land of the Amorites. So, he says “Hey we’ve had it for about 300 years. There are certain proprietary rights now! Why didn’t you take it back then? Why are you just now stirring this up?”

Wherefore he said, I have not sinned against you, but you are doing wrong in warring against me: and the Lord the Judge be judge this day between the children of Israel and the children of Ammon. Howbeit the king of the children of Ammon hearkened not unto the words of Jephthah which he sent. And then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah, and he passed over Gilead, and Manasseh, and passed over Mizpeh of Gilead, and from Mizpeh of Gilead he passed over unto the children of Ammon.

So, he went through the territory, gathered the troops, and came out against the king of Ammon.

Now, Jephthah grew up in Syria. When he was kicked out by his brothers, he moved to Tob. So, he actually grew up in a pagan culture. In the pagan culture in those days human sacrifice was a common occurrence. To us, who live under the influence of western civilization, which has been highly influenced by the Christian ethic, human sacrifice is reprehensible. It’s an abomination. It was also an abomination to God. The bible speaks consistently against human sacrifice, but it was a common practice among the other nations. Human sacrifice is something that was practiced, not only among the nations of the Middle East, it was something that was practiced even by the American Indians. It was heavily practiced by the Aztecs and the Mayans.

Human sacrifice is something that is practiced today by those who are in satanic cults, in Satanism. As horrible as it is to our own consciousness, human sacrifice is practiced in the United States today. You can talk to any major police department in the United States, and they will confirm the evidence of human sacrifice led by satanic groups. It’s horrible! It’s repulsive! We can’t conceive how a person could take another person’s life, to sacrifice it to their god.

Jephthah had been cast out of Israel, so he had a certain knowledge of God, but not a thorough knowledge. Coming from this pagan background, he had a strange mixture of pagan practices, along with the practices of Judaism.

…….he vowed a vow unto the Lord and said, If you shall without fail deliver the children of Ammon into my hands, Then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the Lord’s, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering (11:30-31).

You can see the combination of the two cultures in this statement. He vowed that, “Whoever comes out of the door of my house when I come home, I will offer it to you, Lord, as a burnt offering”. This is not something the Lord wants. This is a truly foolish vow.

We read through the Old Testament how, in the worship of Molech, they were constantly burning their children in the fires to Molech. This was common practice. During even the future of the children of Israel, they will practice this evil worship, and it will bring future judgment from God against them. They followed after the practices of the pagans around them and they were causing their children to pass through fire unto Molech. It was part of the worship of Baal. If you become comfortable in any culture, or in any situation, the practices that are acceptable in those situations, will become acceptable to you. It is only human nature. We need to tread softly in these areas.

In Museum of Natural History, in Israel, you will see many little representations of Molech, or Baal. The representation is usually with little iron gods. These little iron gods have their little arms outstretched in front of them, with their fingers and hands pointing upward. This design is so that they could cradle the babies.

They would put the iron gods in the fire and heat them until they were glowing red. Then, they would set their babies in the gods’ arms. That is what is meant to cause your children to pass through the fires of Molech. Horrible! Repulsive!

Reprehensible! But, it was a common practice of the people. Here, because of his mixed background, and so much time in the pagan society, Jephthah makes this horrible vow.

And Jephthah passed over to the children of Ammon to fight against them; and the Lord delivered them into his hands. And he smote them from Aroer even till you come to Minith, even twenty cities, and to the plain of the vineyards, with a very great slaughter. Thus the children of Ammon were subdued before the children of Israel. And Jephthah came to Mizpeh unto his house, and, behold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances: and she was his only child; and beside her he had neither son nor daughter. And it came to pass, when he saw her, that he tore his clothes, and said, Alas, my daughter! you have brought me very low, you are one of them that trouble me, for I have opened my mouth unto the Lord, and I cannot go back (11:32-35).

Every time I read this story, I wonder the same thing. Who did he expect to come out of that door? He only had the one child, a daughter, so he certainly was not wanting her to be the one! The thing that always crossed my mind is whether he was hoping his wife would come out. This is a terrible event for this guy. This was his only daughter, his only child. She came out the door with a timbrel, a tambourine, and she was dancing, in celebration of her father’s homecoming.

Seeing her, his heart is torn.

There is a problem, in his not knowing the whole law. Because, under the law, it did declare that if you were to make a vow to the Lord, you are bound to keep that vow. However, Leviticus, Chapter 27, the Lord spoke to Moses, and told him: “Speak unto the children of Israel, say to them, when a man shall make a singular vow, the persons shall be for the Lord by thy estimation. And thy estimation shall be of the male from twenty years old even unto sixty years old, even thy estimation shall be fifty shekels of silver, after the shekel of the sanctuary. If it is a female, thirty shekels. If they are from five to twenty years old, then for a male it is twenty shekels, for a female ten.”

There is little doubt that she was between five and twenty years old, which means that he could have redeemed her from the vow. He could have just given the Lord ten shekels of silver, instead. I don’t know if he actually knew the law.

Maybe he didn’t know that the Lord had provided a way out of the law. If a person made a vow to give to the Lord, and they wanted to take back the vow, they simply had to redeem it. He could’ve redeemed his daughter from the vow for 10 shekels of silver. Instead, he said, “I have opened my mouth unto the Lord, and I cannot go back.”

She said unto him, My father, if you have opened your mouth unto the Lord, do to me according to that which hath proceeded out of your mouth; forasmuch as the Lord has taken vengeance for thee on your enemies, even of the children of Ammon (11:36).

It is simply amazing to me, that his daughter acquiesced to her father in this issue. You have to commend her for her comments, “Dad, if you’ve taken this vow, go ahead and do to me as you have vowed.”

However, she said, Let this be done for me: let me alone for two months, that I may go up and down upon the mountains, and bewail my virginity, and let me take my girlfriends with me (11:37).

It was a cultural shame for a woman not to bear a child. So, she wanted the opportunity to grieve over the fact that she would not be able to bear children.

And it came to pass at the end of the two months, that she returned unto her father, who did with her according to his vow which he had vowed: and she knew no man. And it was a custom in Israel, That the daughters of Israel went yearly to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite for four days in a year (11:39-40).

So, this became a practice, and this is the only place in the scripture we are told it’s a practice. It’s a practice that faded out in time, but, for at least a time, the girls would go for four days and bewail the fate of Jephthah’s daughter.

Jonathan was the son of King Saul and, during the reign of Saul, Jonathan awoke early one morning and couldn’t go back to sleep. He had a nagging thought that kept him away. The thought he had was “If God wants to deliver the Philistines to Israel today, God doesn’t need the whole army. God can use one man, just as easy as He can the whole army.” Now, this is an interesting thought. God doesn’t need a whole army to do His work, He only needs one man. As Moody once said, “The world has yet to see what God can do, just through one man, who will dedicate his life wholly to God.”

Jonathan simply could not get this off his mind, wondering if God wanted to deliver the Philistines to Israel on that day. He couldn’t go back to sleep. So, he finally woke up his armor bearer and told him of what he was thinking. Jonathan suggested that the two of them go out and see if God wanted to deliver the Philistines on that day.

Jonathan simply ventured out in faith, to see what God might want to do. These ventures in faith are amazing events. It’s exciting to see someone take a step in faith and to watch the results. As they were heading out toward the Philistines, Jonathan laid the whole plan out for his armor bearer. The plan was, when they got close to the Philistines, and the enemy discovered them, if the statement coming from the Philistines was for Jonathan to come to them to fight, then Jonathan and his armor bearer would attack, because God wanted to deliver them. However, if they statement coming from the Philistines was for Jonathan to wait where he was, and they would bring the fight to him, then God was not planning to deliver the Philistines on that day, and Jonathan and his armor bearer would flee.

So, as they got close to the Philistines, the century spotted them and shouted at them to come to the Philistine camp, and they would fight them. So, Jonathan and his armor bearer scrambled up the hill into the camp of the Philistines, where Jonathan began to slay the Philistines, while his armor bearer came around behind him. They just drove through them, until the Philistines began to fall back.

Now, on the other side of the camp was Saul. He was rubbing his eyes, and looking toward the Philistines. He saw the Philistines falling back, and he saw these two guys in the middle, just wailing away. So, he told his troops to number off, so they could see who was missing. When he found out it was Jonathan and his armor bearer, Saul made a foolish vow. He said, “Cursed be the man who eats anything today until Saul is avenged of all of his enemies”.

Saul’s troops rose up and attacked the Philistines and began to pursue them through the woods. They had the Philistines on the run. Now, in the late afternoon, Jonathan was chasing these guys and running through the woods, when he saw a beehive. He took the end of his spear, and put it in the hive and got some honey. No doubt, his energy was low, because of this day long battle. He was weak and tire of chasing the Philistines. This honey gave him a quick jolt of energy, so he could go on chasing the enemy.

As it was getting late in the evening, the men of Israel gathered together to determine if they should continue the chase throughout the night or wait until the next day to continue. They sought God, but God didn’t answer. So, Saul figured that someone had broken his vow, and he said if it was Jonathan, he would be put to death. They drew straws to determine who it was, and the straws fell on Saul and Jonathan. Saul asked Jonathan what he had done, and Jonathan explained to him that he had been out killing the Philistines, when Saul made the vow, so he was unaware. He told Saul that he shouldn’t have made such a vow, because the men needed to eat to keep up their strength for battle. He explained that was the reason the men were exhausted, because they had not eaten, and had they eaten, they would have been able to continue the chase and would have totally wiped out the Philistines. King Saul showed his foolishness again, by telling his men to put Jonathan to death. But, it backfired on Saul. The men of the army refused to touch Jonathan, because they had seen clearly that God was fighting with Jonathan against the Philistines. Jonathan was spared, but Saul almost put his own son to death, all because of a stupid vow that he made foolishly.

Sometimes folks make stupid vows. Folks box themselves in and, many times, keeping the vow ends up in sin. Folks create lose-lose situations for themselves, when they make a vow that would be sinful, and not keeping the vow is sinful.
In our story here, Jephthah has placed himself in a no win situation, with his foolish vow. He cannot win, either way. To keep his vow would be sinful. Human sacrifice is sinful. It is something God never required. In fact, it is something that God forbid. It is wrong. He made a foolish vow, which most likely stemmed from Jephthah’s pagan background. However, living in the area of Syria, where human sacrifice was a common thing, does not excuse Jephthah. Knowing his background serves only to provide us with a little better understanding of how he got to this point, it does nothing to excuse it. Vows were very common in the times of the Old Testament. Folks made promises to God, in order to solicit God’s help or God’s aid in a particular situation.

There are people today who still feel that vows are necessary in order to solicit God’s aid. This is simply not true. God wants to bless you, and He is gracious. God does not reward us for our goodness, because our relationship with God is not a legal kind of relationship. We have a loving relationship with God. God is not Santa Claus, making a list, and checking it twice. God is loving and kind, and He bestows upon us His abundant grace and mercy. This is what we receive from God, His blessings, His goodness. We DO NOT have to promise God that we will be good, or that we promise to be better.

It is not necessary to make promises to God. However, if you do, then you should keep those promises. You should not break your vow with the Lord. Vows are not practiced in the New Testament, with one exception: Paul took the vow of the Nazarene, which was just to shave his head, to signify a period of total consecration to God.

Teaching notes on Judges 11
Don D. Stephens

JUDGES – Chapter 10

After Abimelech there arose to defend Israel Tola the son of Puah, the son of Dodo, a man of Issachar;

Interesting names, don’t you think? When you speak these names, they have odd sounds, but they also have unique meanings. Dodo means “loving.” Puah means “splendor.” So, we don’t know anything else about him except that he was from the tribe of Issachar.

And he dwelt in Shamir in mount Ephraim. And he judged Israel for twenty years, and died, and was buried in his city of Shamir. And then after him there arose Jair, who was a Gileadite,

Being a Gileadite, simply means he was from the other side of the Jordan River, from the tribe of Gad on the opposite side of the Jordan.

…….and he judged Israel for twenty two years. And he had thirty sons that rode on thirty ass colts, and they had thirty cities, which they called Havothjair unto this day, which are in the land of Gilead. And Jair died, and was buried in Camon.

Now comes cycle number six.

And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim, and Ashtaroth, the gods of Syria, the gods of Zidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the children of Ammon, the gods of the Philistines, and they forsook Jehovah, and did not serve him.

Again, the people turned away from Jehovah God. They began to worship Baalim, Ashtaroth, and the various gods of the surrounding nations.

And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and he sold them into the hands of the Philistines, and into the hands of the children of Ammon.

They began to be pressed in from both sides, the Philistines from the coastal cities, and the Ammonites from the area of Moab.

And that year they vexed and oppressed the children of Israel: and for eighteen years, all of the children of Israel that were on the other side of Jordan in the land of the Amorites, which is in Gilead. Moreover the children of Ammon passed over Jordan to fight also against Judah, and against Benjamin, and against the house of Ephraim; so that Israel was sore distressed.

They had conquered the two and one-half tribes on their side of the Jordan River, and then, they actually came on across the Jordan River to attack Judah, the tribe of Benjamin, and the tribe of Ephraim. They attacked all the way into the middle of the country, and Israel was sore distressed because the Philistines were pushing on them from one side, and the Ammonites were pushing on them from the other side.

And the children of Israel cried unto the LORD, saying, We have sinned against thee, both because we have forsaken our God, and served Baalim.

So, they confessed their sin. The Bible has quite a few things to say about sin. The Bible tells us that, “you can be sure that your sin will find you out.” It tells us that, “the way of the transgressor is hard.” We are told that, “Whatever a man sows, that he’s also going to reap.” These people confessed their sins. Why? Because they were reaping the result of their sins. They had forsaken the Lord, and now the Lord had forsaken them, and they were being oppressed by their enemies. The first thing they do is to make the confession of sin. They knew what they had done wrong.

“We have forsaken the LORD, and we have been serving Baalim.”

So the LORD said to the children of Israel, “Did I not deliver you from the Egyptians and from the Amorites and from the people of Ammon and from the Philistines? Also the Sidonians and Amalekites and Maonites oppressed you; and you cried out to Me, and I delivered you from their hand. Yet you have forsaken Me and served other gods. Therefore I will deliver you no more. “Go and cry out to the gods which you have chosen; let them deliver you in your time of distress.”

And the children of Israel said to the LORD, “We have sinned! Do to us whatever seems best to You; only deliver us this day, we pray.” So they put away the foreign gods from among them and served the LORD. And His soul could no longer endure the misery of Israel.

Then the people of Ammon gathered together and encamped in Gilead. And the children of Israel assembled together and encamped in Mizpah. And the people, the leaders of Gilead, said to one another, “Who is the man who will begin the fight against the people of Ammon? He shall be head over all the inhabitants of Gilead.”

So, God tells them to ask for help from their other gods. They tell God to do with them as He will and, as they are being pressed by Ammon, they begin to search for a leader to help them to fight against Ammon.

Teaching notes: Don D. Don Stephens
Short chapter this week, so I will probably post chapter 11 in a couple of days.

Come Up Hither – Book of Revelations Chapter 3

Now we have come to the third portion of the Book of Revelation, the things which will be after the things of the church. We are about to take a trip into Heaven. John is about to enter a time warp and be catapulted 2000 years into the future to view the things which are to come. To begin this chapter, I want to share a few bits of information, provided in other books of the Bible, which I believe to be extremely pertinent at this point.

In the Book of Genesis, we find the story of Noah. Because the earth had fallen into a perverse nature and was found unacceptable to God, God decided to purge the earth with a great flood. In order to continue the human race, God selected Noah and his family to save for the purpose of replenishing the earth. God assigned Noah the task of building an ark on dry land. Needless to say, this task was viewed as the acts of an insane man. Noah and his family were ridiculed, but Noah was true to God’s request.

When the rains came, God told Noah to enter the ark and close the door. In Chapter 7 of the Book of Genesis, we find the following:

7:1 And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation.

Decide for yourselves the significance of this command being found in the very first verse of Chapter 7.

7:2 Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female. 7:3 Of fowls also of the air by sevens, the male and the female; to keep seed alive upon the face of all the earth. 7:4 For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth. 7:5 And Noah did according unto all that the LORD commanded him.

7:6 And Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters was upon the earth.

It is interesting to me that man was created on the 6th day of creation, and Noah was 6 hundred years old when the flood came, noted in the 6th verse of the story of the new beginning.

7:7 And Noah went in, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons’ wives with him, into the ark, because of the waters of the flood.

Again, the number of completion seems pertinent to the story. In the 7th verse of the 7th Chapter of the new beginning, Noah and his family receive the reward of their faith. The task is complete. Noah and his family escape the great judgment of God.

A similar story appears in the 19th Chapter of Genesis. The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah are found by God to be evil and perverse. God sent two angels to bring Lot and his family out of the city before God destroyed it. The wickedness of Sodom was evident in the fact that the men of Sodom surrounded Lot’s house and called for Lot to send out the two men “that we may know them.” The two men were the angels sent by God. Lot went so far as to offer his two virgin daughters, if the men of the city would leave the angels. The angels actually had to blind the men to keep them from making further advances.

Lot’s son-in-laws laughed at Lot, when offered the opportunity to leave Sodom and be saved from God’s judgment. They did not escape, because they refused to believe. Lot and his wife and two daughters were the only ones to escape the destruction of these wicked cities. Please take the time to read for yourself this amazing story of the grace of God.

Gen 19:1 And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground; 19:2 And he said, Behold now, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servant’s house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early, and go on your ways. And they said, Nay; but we will abide in the street all night. 19:3 And he pressed upon them greatly; and they turned in unto him, and entered into his house; and he made them a feast, and did bake unleavened bread, and they did eat. 19:4 But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter: 19:5 And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them. 19:6 And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him, 19:7 And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly. 19:8 Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof. 19:9 And they said, Stand back. And they said again, This one fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge: now will we deal worse with thee, than with them. And they pressed sore upon the man, even Lot, and came near to break the door. 19:10 But the men put forth their hand, and pulled Lot into the house to them, and shut to the door. 19:11 And they smote the men that were at the door of the house with blindness, both small and great: so that they wearied themselves to find the door. 19:12 And the men said unto Lot, Hast thou here any besides? son in law, and thy sons, and thy daughters, and whatsoever thou hast in the city, bring them out of this place: 19:13 For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the LORD; and the LORD hath sent us to destroy it. 19:14 And Lot went out, and spake unto his sons in law, which married his daughters, and said, Up, get you out of this place; for the LORD will destroy this city. But he seemed as one that mocked unto his sons in law. 19:15 And when the morning arose, then the angels hastened Lot, saying, Arise, take thy wife, and thy two daughters, which are here; lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city. 19:16 And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the LORD being merciful unto him: and they brought him forth, and set him without the city. 19:17 And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that he said, Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed. 19:18 And Lot said unto them, Oh, not so, my LORD: 19:19 Behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hast magnified thy mercy, which thou hast shewed unto me in saving my life; and I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die: 19:20 Behold now, this city is near to flee unto, and it is a little one: Oh, let me escape thither, (is it not a little one?) and my soul shall live. 19:21 And he said unto him, See, I have accepted thee concerning this thing also, that I will not overthrow this city, for the which thou hast spoken. 19:22 Haste thee, escape thither; for I cannot do anything till thou be come thither.

Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar. 19:23 The sun was risen upon the earth when Lot entered into Zoar. 19:24 Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven; 19:25 And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground. 19:26 But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt. 19:27 And Abraham gat up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the LORD: 19:28 And he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace. 19:29 And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when he overthrew the cities in the which Lot dwelt. 19:30 And Lot went up out of Zoar, and dwelt in the mountain, and his two daughters with him; for he feared to dwell in Zoar: and he dwelt in a cave, he and his two daughters. 19:31 And the firstborn said unto the younger, Our father is old, and there is not a man in the earth to come in unto us after the manner of all the earth: 19:32 Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father. 19:33 And they made their father drink wine that night: and the firstborn went in, and lay with her father; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose. 19:34 And it came to pass on the morrow, that the firstborn said unto the younger, Behold, I lay yesternight with my father: let us make him drink wine this night also; and go thou in, and lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father. 19:35 And they made their father drink wine that night also: and the younger arose, and lay with him; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose. 19:36 Thus were both the daughters of Lot with child by their father. 19:37 And the first born bare a son, and called his name Moab: the same is the father of the Moabites unto this day. 19:38 And the younger, she also bare a son, and called his name Benammi: the same is the father of the children of Ammon unto this day.

In the times in which we live, we are told that we must be “sensitive” to the beliefs of others. We are told that we must be “politically correct” in addressing other beliefs. I cannot do that. I must speak the truth. From the pulpits all over this great nation, we hear the politically correct story of Lot. We hear the denial of the fact that sexual perversion is an abomination to God. Preacher in churches all over the county are telling the flock that it is “okay” to be different, it is “okay” to be sexually perverse, even to the point of accepting “gays” as pastors and teachers.

Let me share a few key scriptures regarding God’s thoughts regarding today’s “gay movement.”

Lev 18:22 Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.

If you have a sexual relationship with a man, and with a woman, it is an abomination to God. Not a good thing to do.

Lev 20:13 If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

If a man has a sexual relationship with another man, both men have committed an abomination before God. Not a good thing for either to do.

Rom 1:26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 1:27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. 1:28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; 1:29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 1:30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 1:31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: 1:32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

Men and women having homosexual relationships are called “vile” affection. Homosexual relationships are not “natural.” In all cases, they are worthy of death.

Col 3:5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: 3:6 For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:

The “wrath of God” is warned to all those who do not repent of “inordinate affection.”

II Tim 3:1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 3:2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3:3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 3:4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 3:5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

Here, Paul is talking of the last days. Warning of perilous time to come. One of the signs is man “without natural affection.” Sound familiar doesn’t it? Billy Graham said “If God doesn’t pass judgment on San Francisco, He owes Sodom and Gomorrah an apology.” The signs of the times are all around us. Not only do we accept the “gay liberation movement,” we actually offer special privileges to those with a “gay” lifestyle. There is no doubt that we are moving toward the final judgment from God. But, there is a way out.

Heb 11:7 By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

Paul tells us here in Hebrews that Noah moved with fear and prepared an ark to save his house from the destruction to come.

In Second Peter, we find the same comparison of the things to come in the last days with the things of Noah and Lot.

II Peter 2:1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. 2:2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. 2:3 And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not. 2:4 For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; 2:5 And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly; 2:6 And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; 2:7 And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: 2:8 (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;) 2:9 The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished: 2:10 But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities.

Peter knew that there would come a time when final judgment would come upon the world. He was also keenly aware of the fact the some would be spared this time of great tribulation. He uses the same examples that are used elsewhere to describe the escape of those chosen by God. Noah and his family escaped the judgment of the entire world. Lot and his family escaped the judgment of the evil cities. We, the church can escape the final judgment that is soon to come upon the earth, just like Noah and Lot.
Still have doubts? Then listen to what Jesus said.

Luke 17:26 And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. 17:27 They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all.

Jesus compares the final days to the days of Noah.

Luke 17:28 Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; 17:29 But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. 17:30 Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.
Jesus compares the final days to the days of Lot.

Luke 17:31 In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back. 17:32 Remember Lot’s wife. 17:33 Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.

The angels warned Lot not to look back. Lot’s wife did so and was turned into a pillar of salt. She still had desires for those things left behind and suffered great loss for acting out on those desires.

Luke 17:34 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. 17:35 Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 17:36 Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

Notice the warning of Jesus about the escape. It is instantaneous. Two together, then one is gone. Instantaneous. Also of note are the three examples. You sleep at night, you grind in the evening, and you work the field in the day. People from around the earth will see this event that has come to be called “the Rapture of the church.”

Let’s take a look at some other key verses contained in the Bible regarding this instantaneous event.

I Thessalonians 4:16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 4:17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
4:18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

We, who are alive when the Lord returns, will be caught up in the clouds to forever be with the Lord. We are directed to comfort each other with these words. I find them to be a personal comfort every minute of every day.

I Corinthians 15:51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 15:52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 15:53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 15:54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 15:55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 15:56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 15:57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

Both these passages of scripture are speaking of the same event, the Rapture of the church. Both speak of a trumpet sounding and us changing from a physical body to a spiritual body. When will this happen? Two passages of scripture provide what I believe to be the answer to this question. The first in found in Matthew, Chapter 24.

Matthew 24:32 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh:

The fig tree is commonly used in scripture to represent Israel. In 1948, the state of Israel was re-established after almost 2000 years of wandering. The fig tree is yet tender and putting forth leaves. Summer is nigh.

Matthew 24:33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.

When you see Israel become a nation and the signs of the times begin to take place all around you, know that the Lord is coming soon.

24:34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.

The generation that sees Israel become a nation shall not pass away until the fulfillment of the scriptures.

24:35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. 24:36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. 24:37 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

No one knows the day or the hour, not even the angels of heaven, only God. Then, Jesus goes on with the promise of escape, as did Noah. The day and the hour are not ours to know, but we are told to watch and look for his coming, lest we be caught unaware. Israel is a nation again and we are to be watching for His coming. The times and the seasons are ours to know. We have been told that summer draws near. The times of the Gentiles must be completed before the church is taken away and the Jewish people will know the reality of the true Messiah, Jesus Christ.

Now, here, in Verse 1, of Chapter 4, of the Book of Revelation is another announcement for us to heed. Chapter 4, Verse 1 begins with the Greek word “Metatalsa.” Chapter 4, Verse 1 also ends with the Greek word “Metatalsa.” This word literally means “after these things.” The church age comes to an end, with the end of Chapter 3 of the Book of Revelation. Now begins the things, which must come hereafter. “After these things.”

Rev 4:1 After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.

The main point I want you to see here is the voice, which he heard. He describes it “as it were a trumpet talking with me.” A trumpet? I believe it to be the same trumpet described in I Thessalonians and II Corinthians. I believe it to be the same trump that calls the church to be with the Lord. I believe it to be the Rapture of the church.
The times of the Gentiles are complete with the end of the church age. The church has to be gone from the earth so that the promises to the church are fulfilled. The church has to be rescued so that it truly can be as in the days of Noah and Lot. We are leaving, before the tribulation begins. We have a glorious event for which we are told to watch. My heart races every time I study these scriptures, especially this one. Revelation Chapter 1, Verse 1. The Rapture of the church, the beginning of John’s travel through time, the end of the church age, the beginning of God’s judgment on the earth, the opening of the eyes of the Jewish people, the beginning of the wedding feast in heaven, the beginning of the final seven years preceding the Millennium, are all events portrayed in this verse. If you are not excited about that, start over in Chapter one of this book and read it again. Don’t miss this. Come with us. Become a member of the church of Jesus Christ. Do it now, before it is too late.

Just my thoughts!
Don D. Stephens

From my review notes from the Book of Revelation. This will be the 3rd or 4th Chapter of my book on my notes.

Mourning & Death in Ecclesiastes.

One of my favorite scriptures is Ecclesiastes 7:1, where we are told that “… the day of one’s death is better than the day of one’s birth.”

Each minute, 107 people die. Each day, 150,000 people die. No one could argue that DEATH is the one thing in life that we ALL have in common.

Life is simply a journey toward death. We are all dying, some soon, some later, some old, some young, but we all are on the same journey. We all have had some personal experience with death, whether it be the death of immediate family, distant relatives, or friends.

The age-old question remains the same…….“What happens, when a Christian dies?” I have written a lot of information on my take on this event and, lately, the subject has crossed my mind on numerous occasions. Many of my high school classmates have posted on Facebook about illnesses, deaths of friends, and regular requests for prayer appear, almost daily.

I thought it appropriate that I post a few of my notes related to this subject, in hope that the truth of what scripture reveals about the subject might set a few minds at ease, or even create an eagerness in the spirits of those that are hurting or fearful toward what is to come.

So, let’s begin with the truth that causes this to be a necessary understanding for all Christians. DEATH IS A CERTAIN EVENT. We are all destined to die. So, it is vital that we accept the truth of the scripture I quoted earlier…….“the day of one’s death is better than the day of one’s birth.”

In the Bible, we know that Enoch escaped death (Genesis 5:24), and that Elijah was taken up to Heaven in a fiery chariot (II Kings 2:11). Elijah is commonly believed (by most Bible scholars) to be one of the two witnesses, who are on the earth in the Tribulation (Malachi 4:5), but the identity of the other witness is a continuing discussion. Names such as Moses and John are commonly discussed, but my personal belief is that it will be Enoch. He and Elijah are the only two, from the Bible, who were taken to Heaven without tasting death. We will just have to wait and see. The witnesses are mentioned in Revelation 11:3 and 7, for those of you who enjoy the studies.

Anyway, unless we are blessed enough to be taken in the Rapture, the chances are pretty solid that we are going to die. At my age, the obvious question is “What happens, when you die?” Let me try to shed a little light on that subject, using the insight provide in scripture.

In Luke 16, we read a story, which contains a lot of useful information about the afterlife. This is a story, not a parable, told by Jesus, Himself. In the parables, Jesus never used actual names but, in this story, He does. Because of this, I believe that it was an actual event, which occurred, prior to the completion of the salvation delivered by Jesus.

In summary of the story, the Book of Luke records this actual event about two people dying, prior to the cross. One man dies and goes to Paradise, which was the place where Believers, who died waiting for the Messiah to pay for their sins, went to wait until they were delivered by Jesus and taken to heaven.

The other man went to Hades. We are told, in the story, that he had a body, was fully conscious, could think, reason, speak, remember, and he felt pain. What he says is frightening, to say the least.

In verses 23-24, we read, “In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.'”

We, as Christians, trust and believe in the Gospel of Jesus’ death and resurrection, so our sins are not counted against us, and we will (upon death or rapture) go directly to heaven.

Colossians 2:13 tells us “… having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”

In II Timothy, 1:10, we read that “Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,”

Heaven is going to be a spectacular place, one that holds wonders that none of us could imagine.

1 Corinthians 2:9 states “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.”

No matter how great an imagination, the realities we shall find in heaven will be better.

II Corinthians 4:4 calls Satan “the god of this world”, so we, effectively, are living our lives as aliens on a planet, which was hijacked by Satan. Because Satan is hostile to believers, we should all be living our lives looking forward to the next.

“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;” Philippians 3:20

Our brief time on this alien planet is referred to, in scripture, as nothing but a “vapor.”

“You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” James 4:14

You know, the Lord allows many blessings, while we are on this earth, and no one is blessed with all good or cursed with all bad. Things can go from extremely painful to absolute perfection in a short period of time. Our job is to keep our eyes on the prize of eternity, while being thankful for the blessings and enduring the bad.

Colossians 3:2 tells us to “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.”

We also need to be aware that the good times on this earth come as a result of God’s grace. Satan would have our entire lives being miserable.

We tend to describe periods of our lives based on bad things that happened during that period, like sicknesses, times we were in the hospital, earthquakes, tornadoes, divorces, deaths, etc. This is because of the evil influence under which we occupy this earth.

We need to describe our lifetimes based on our blessings, like the day we were born, the day we accepted the Lord, the day our children were saved, the day God delivered us from temptation. The final event should be a joyous blessing, so our death would be the icing on the cake.

You see, even though most of us don’t think of death as a blessing, if you seriously consider it, death is (for Christians) God’s way of helping us to escape all sickness and evil. Those bad things are immediately removed from our lives.

The human race could have ended up living in a horrible sinful condition FOREVER, had not God prevented them from access to the tree of life, after the fall.

“Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever” Genesis 3:22

“So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life.” Genesis 3:24

Had God not allowed death, we could not have received redemption. Another one of my favorite scriptures is a truth of the transition to the next life for a Christian. In 1 Corinthians 15:55, we read “O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?”

God actually looks at our death as a POSITIVE event.

Psalm 116:15 tells us “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His godly ones.”

At some point in the life of Paul, probably when he was stoned, he had either a near-death or an actual death experience. In II Corinthians, he talks about being taken to heaven to briefly see the next life. He was never the same, after that experience. He yearned to return to heaven, but his life served as an example for us to live our lives, knowing that God is in control and has a plan for us. This information can be found in II Corinthians 12:2-10, for those of you in study.

In his letter to the Christians in Rome (Romans 7:24), Paul says “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?”

Later in his life, Paul wrote to the Christians in Philippi, and relates that he was really torn between staying on earth and a deep desire to die.

“But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake.” Philippians 1:22-24

He relates a similar feeling to the Christians in Corinth. He said he would rather be dead, because he knew he would immediately be with the Lord.

“Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. …I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.” II Corinthians 5:6 & 8

Paul refers to death as a victory in 1 Corinthians 15:53-54.

“For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory.”

There is no reason to have a fear of death. Jesus told us that His death rendered the devil powerless. We can live in confidence, without fear.

Hebrews 2:14-15 says “through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.”

Death is, effectively, the end of the race, when we cross the finish line and win the prize. Death is literally an upgrade for Christians. In one instant, at the second of our death, we go from this earth to the glory of heaven. We win!

“I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” Psalm 23:6

We need not fear death. Instead, we need to be grateful. We will excape the temptations of the flesh and the pride of this life.

When we die, we get a new house, a new home, a new and perfected body in which to dwell for eternity. Paul described it like this: “For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven,” II Corinthians 5:1-2

We will have a new body, conforming to that of the Lord Jesus in His glory, after His resurrection.

“…the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory…” Philippians 3:21

Jesus walked around, ate and drank after His resurrection. So, our new body will be flesh and bone.

Luke 24:39 tells us “See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”

Our new body will have arms, legs, eyes, ears, and we will be recognizable to other. The beauty of it is that we will not be subject to the effects of sin. Additionally, and I really look forward to this, we will be able to move at the speed of thought. Jesus appeared and disappeared at will, and He was able to walk through walls. We will be able to do all these things, and we will be able to eat and drink. I like that!

“Truly I say to you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” Mark 14:25

Any Christian, who has a handicap in this life, will have no such restriction in the new body. There will be no pain, no restrictions, no handicaps. The blind will see, the deaf will hear, there will be no heartache.

“and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4

Death will be an immediate healing for all. In fact, it is not really death, at all. We will immediately go to be with the Lord…….IMMEDIATELY! We will not have a trial, we will not be evaluated, we will not be judged. Jesus paid the price, so that we can go to be with Him IMMEDIATELY, when we die.

“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1

In the Gospel of John, we see his position that we attain “no condemnation”, the moment we first believe the Gospel.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” John 5:24

It is important to understand that our time on this planet is pre-determined by God PRIOR to our being born.

“Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.” Psalm 139:16

“There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven – A time to give birth and a time to die;” Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

God has told us, in scripture that there is no need, in fact it is fruitless, to worry about death.

“And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span?” Luke 12:25

God does determine how long we each will live, but that is not an open invitation to jump off a building. We should never put the Lord to a foolish test. We need to live for Him, knowing that the rewards will come, after death. Death is gain.

“For to me, to live in Christ and to die is gain.” Philipians 1:21

Knowing that death is gain, shouldn’t we all (Christians) look forward to this transition? God says to wait eagerly for our body to be redeemed!

“…waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.” Romans 8:23

Death for Christians is security. We have heaven waiting for our entry.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,” 1 Peter 1:3-4

You see, our “spot” is “reserved.” We are simply waiting on God’s timing for our transition.

“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die.'” John 11:25-26

We can all live boldly in this life. We can have confidence in knowing that God is in control of our death and our destiny. Even if we see death approaching, we can take full comfort in what God promises will follow.

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4

There is a possibility, and a good possibility for those of us living in this generation, that we will be part of the great Exodus. The two main verses (although there is much more to this subject), which describe the Rapture are:

“Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.” 1 Corinthians 15:51-53

“For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.” 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17

The Rapture is a necessity because Believers are not appointed to God’s wrath.

“For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 5:9

“… Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.” 1 Thessalonians 1:10

“Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.” Romans 5:9

So, we Christians, who are alive at the end of the Church Age, will be translated in a split second to meet Jesus. This removal of Believers from the earth will open the way for the 7 Year Tribulation, and the anti-christ, when God’s wrath will be poured out on those who are left on earth.

Things to come, include:

“…the wrath of God…” Revelation 15:1
“…seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God,” Revelation 15:7
“…seven bowls of the wrath of God.” Revelation 16:1
“…the wine of His fierce wrath.” Revelation 16:19

If you are a Christian, who is alive the moment God ends the Church Age, you WILL participate in the Rapture! You will not die a natural death, although the result will be the same. You will be one of millions, who immediately disappear from the earth and go to be with the Lord Jesus, forever. You will also be part of the group, which returns with Him at the end of the 7 years, to assist in setting up and overseeing the 1000 years of peace and love on this planet earth.

We truly live in the most exciting times. That is why I post so many pieces of information on this Facebook page. I pray that as many as God wishes will read these words and prepare themselves for what is to come. I pray that as many as God wishes to comfort because of sickness or loss will read these words and take comfort in what God has taught us by His word.

Knowing all this, how then should we live. We need to look up, and await our blessed future. In Romans 14, verses 7 and 8, we are told:

“For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.”

Let me leave you with these wise words from 2 Peter, Chapter 3. I pray that you read them, pray on them, and live by them.

2 Peter 3 New King James Version (NKJV)

God’s Promise Is Not Slack

3 Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), 2 that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior, 3 knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” 5 For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, 6 by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. 7 But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
8 But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us,[b] not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

The Day of the Lord

10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.[c] 11 Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

Be Steadfast

14 Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; 15 and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.
17 You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.

Just my thoughts!
Don D. Stephens

JUDGES – Chapter 9

The last few verses of Chapter 8 give a short introduction to Chapter 9.

“And it came to pass, as soon as Gideon was dead, that the children of Israel turned again, and went a whoring after Baalim, and they made Baalberith their god. And the children of Israel remembered not Jehovah their God, who had delivered them out of the hands of all of their enemies on every side: and neither shewed they kindness to the house of Jerubbaal, namely, Gideon, according to all of the goodness to which he had showed to Israel.”

Gideon was a good man. He had a lot of admirable characteristics, but he also had a flaw, just as most good men have their places of weakness. With Gideon we read that he had seventy sons. This was definitely a weakness. These sons were not all from one wife, they were from many different women. He had many wives, and he also had concubines.

One of his concubines was a woman from Shechem who was a Canaanite. She was not really of the tribes of Israel, she was a Canaanitish woman living in Shechem. From her, he had a son whose name was Abimelech. And after the death of Gideon, Abimelech, the son of Gideon…….

Came to Shechem unto his mother’s brothers,

Although this woman in Shechem was a concubine to Gideon, she also had children by other men.

And so he came to his mother’s family, the brethren, and communed with them, and with all of the family of the house of his mother’s father, he said, I want you to speak to all of the men of Shechem, Whether it is better for you, either that all of the sons of Jerubbaal, which are seventy persons, reign over you, or that one reigns over you? and remember this: I am your bone and I’m your flesh.

So, he made a proposal to them, and reminded them that they were the same blood. They were related. He was proposing that they not be ruled by 70 brothers, but that they agree on one leader, and that one should be a member of the bloodline of his family.

And so his mother’s brothers spoke of him in the ears of all of the men of Shechem these words: and their hearts inclined to follow Abimelech; for they said, Well, after all, he is our brother.

Now, he is really half Canaanite, half Israelite.

And so they gave him seventy pieces of silver out of the house of Baalberith, wherewith Abimelech hired vain and light persons, which followed him.

He went out and hired a group of robbers, bandits.

And they went to his father’s house at Ophrah, and they killed his brothers the sons of Jerubbaal, being seventy persons, upon one stone: with the exception of the youngest son of Gideon whose name was Jotham; who escaped and hid himself. And all of the men of Shechem gathered together, and all of the house of Milo, and they went, and made Abimelech the king, by the plain of the pillar that was in Shechem.

This is somewhat of a creation of a kingship, which is more of a Canaanite practice. Israel, at this time in history had never had a king, for they were ruled by these judges. We now see this group of people in Shechem, with Canaanite origin, yet they are a part of the whole territory encompassed by Israel. They kill the sons of Gideon with the exception of Jotham, the youngest son, and they set up Abimelech as king.

Now when it was told to Jotham, he went and stood in the top of mount Gerizim, and he lifted up his voice, and he cried, and he said unto them, Hearken unto me, ye men of Shechem, that God may hearken unto you.

So, the one son of Gideon, who was left, went to Mount Gerizim. Mount Gerizim rises directly above the city of Shechem. The valley below Mount Gerizim, with Mount Ebal on the backside, forms a type of natural amphitheater. So, from the top of Mount Gerizim a person can yell down, and the people can hear you in the valley. This is the place where when they came into the land, where the men of certain tribes stood and pronounced the blessings, if they would keep the law of God, to the congregation that was assembled in the valley below.

Here, we see the youngest son of Gideon upon on this mount, calling down to the men of Shechem, who had conspired against his family, to his other brothers who had slain them. Then, he gives them a parable, which actually becomes a prophecy, or a curse, on them. The parable is this:

The trees went forth on a time to anoint a king over them;

The people of Shechem are represented by the trees in the parable, and Gideon is represented as the olive tree.

…….and they said to the olive tree, Reign over us. But the olive tree said unto them, Should I leave my fatness, wherewith by me they honor God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees? So the trees said to the fig tree, Come thou, and reign over us. But the fig tree said unto them, Should I forsake my sweetness, and my good fruit, to go and be promoted over the trees? Then they said to the vine, Come, and reign over us. And the vine said unto them, Should I leave my wine, which cheereth God and man, to go and be promoted over the trees?

This is referring to the drink offerings that they offered to the Lord from the fruit of the vine. They would pour out the drink offering to God. ‘Should I leave this ministry, to be promoted over the trees?’

Now, bramble is a thorny bush, like a tumbleweed, Abimelech is represented as the tumbleweed.

Then said all of the trees unto the bramble, Come thou, and reign over us. And the bramble said unto the trees, If in truth ye anoint me king over you, then come and put your trust in my shadow: and if not, let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebanon.

Now, I have never seen much of a shadow come from a tumbleweed, have you? The bramble bush was used mainly for kindling, because it ignites in a hurry and flames up fast. This is why we see the reference here ‘let fire come out of the bramble, but let it consume the cedars of Lebanon.’

Now therefore, if you have done truly and sincerely, in that you have made Abimelech the king, and you have dealt well with Jerubbaal and his house, and have done unto him according to the deserving of his hands;

Quite an “IF” here, isn’t it? ‘If what you have done is really right, if it’s honorable.’ He is speaking of the dastardly deed upon the family of Gideon.

(For my father fought for you, and put his own life in jeopardy for you, and delivered you out of the hand of Midian:

Pretty difficult to find that what he had done to the sons of Gideon is right, at this point, isn’t it?

……. you have risen up against my father’s house this day, you have slain his sons, seventy persons, upon one stone, you’ve made Abimelech, the son of his maidservant, the king over the men of Shechem, because he is your brother;) If you have dealt truly and sincerely with Jerubbaal and with his house this day, then rejoice in Abimelech, and let him also rejoice in you: but if not, let fire come out from Abimelech, and devour the men of Shechem, and the house of Milo; and let fire come out from the men of Shechem, and from the house of Milo, and devour Abimelech.
And then Jotham took off running,

So, he tells them, if what they have done is right, then have at it. But, if not, let there be a problem that arises, and let that problem cause you to burn each other.

If you ran at top speed, it would take you about 20 minutes to get from the valley to the top of the hill where Jotham was preaching his sermon. It is probable that the men of the city started to pursue him, but he had a 20 minute head start. It’s a flat, plain area on top of the mount, so you can really move. By the time they got to the top of the hill, he had disappeared. He fled to a city called Beer, which means ‘well.’

So Jotham ran away, and fled, went to Beer, and he dwelt there, for the fear of Abimelech his brother. Now when Abimelech had reigned for three years over Israel, then God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem; the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech: that the cruelty done to the seventy sons of Jerubbaal might come, and their blood be laid upon Abimelech their brother, who slew them; and upon the men of Shechem, which aided him in killing of his brothers. And the men of Shechem set liars in wait for him in the top of the mountains, and they robbed all that came along that way by them: and it was told Abimelech.

About three years into Abimelech’s reign, the problems (fire) began to develop between the people in Shechem and Abimelech. This problem that arose, was of God. So, these guys become a sort of pirate group. They would rob anybody that would come along the road towards Shechem, and this was reported to Abimelech.

And then this fellow Gaal the son of Ebed came with his brethren, and they went over to Shechem: and the men of Shechem put their confidence in him.

Here, we see this guy, Gaal, come into the picture. He’s a Shechemite, but evidently he hasn’t been around. He comes with his brothers, and he gains the confidence of the people, who are already somewhat at odds with Abimelech.

And at the time of harvest they went out into the fields, gathered their vineyards, they tread the grapes, and made merry, and went into the house of their god, and did eat and drink, and
they cursed Abimelech.

They begin to get a little drunk, while celebrating the harvest. They are eating and drinking, and cursing Abimelech.

And then Gaal the son of Ebed said, Who is Abimelech, and who is Shechem, that we should serve him? is he not the son of Jerubbaal? and Zebul (who was the governor of the city of Shechem) is just his officer? serve the men of Hamor

In other words, he was suggesting that they serve the true Shechemites. He wanted them to go back to Hamor, who was a Canaanite. He had inhabited and established the city of Shechem, about the time of Jacob.

For why should we serve him? And would to God that I was ruling over these people! then I would remove Abimelech.

And so begins the bragging. “Too bad I’m not in charge, because I would kick him out.”

And then he sent a message to Abimelech, and it said, Gather your army, and come out and let’s fight.

Now, he is stating all this, within this circle of men. “Where’s Abimelech? Let him come out and fight me. Get his men, and come out and fight me.” His bragging is influence by the wine, I am sure.

Now when Zebul who was the governor of the city [appointed by Abimelech] heard the words of Gaal the son of Ebed, his anger was kindled.

He wasn’t strong enough to put down the rebellion himself.

So he sent messengers unto Abimelech privately, saying, Behold, Gaal the son of Ebed and his brothers are come to Shechem; and, behold, they have fortified the city against you. Therefore come by night, you and the people that are with you, and lie and wait in the field: and it shall be, that in the morning, as soon as the sun is up, you shall rise early, and set upon the city: and, behold, when he and the people that is with him come out against you, then you may do to them as you shall find occasion. So Abimelech rose up, and all the people that were with him, by night, and they laid in wait against Shechem in four companies. And Gaal the son of Ebed went out, and stood in the entering of the gate of the city: and Abimelech rose up, and the people that were with him, from lying in wait. And when Gaal saw the people, he said to Zebul, Behold, there are people coming down from the top of the mountains. And Zebul said to him, You’re just seeing the shadow of the mountains.

He was suggesting that he might be seeing things, perhaps shadows, as the sun is rising, looking like me. Zebul, of course, knew what was going on, but he was trying to hold Gaal back as long as possible.

And then Gaal spoke again and said, Look there are people coming down from the middle of the land, and another company is along the plain there. Then said Zebul unto him, Where is your mouth now, where you said, Who is Abimelech, that we should serve him? is not this the people that you have despised? go out now, I pray you, and fight with them.

He is now being called a big mouth. “Where is all your bragging at this point? If you’re such a man, have at it. Go out and fight with them.”

And Gaal went out before the men of Shechem, fought with Abimelech. Abimelech chased him, and they fled before him, and many were overthrown and wounded, even as he pursued him back to the gate of the city. And Abimelech dwelt in Arumah: and Zebul thrust out Gaal and his brethren, so that they should not dwell at Shechem.

With his forces now decimated by the battle, Zebul was powerful enough to expel Gaal out of the city.

And it came to pass on the morrow, that the people went out into the field; and they told Abimelech. And he took the people, and divided them into three companies, and he laid in wait in the field, and looked, and, behold, the people were come forth out of the city; and he rose up against them, and smote them.

Evidently, the folks who were still in Shechem figured that Abimelech had taken care of Gaal, so the danger had passed. There was no more problem. So, the next morning, as the gates were open, they went out into their fields to work. At night, the folks would come into the security of the city, most of them having small farms outside the city walls. At daylight, they would leave the protection of the wall of the city and go out to work their fields. This day, as they went out of the city, Abimelech attacked them, because there is still the bad blood between them.

And Abimelech, and the company that was with him, rushed forward, stood at the entering of the gate of the city: and two other companies ran upon all the people that were in the fields, and killed them. And Abimelech fought against the city all that day; and he took the city, and killed the people that were in it, and he beat down the city, and sowed it with salt.

He conquered the city of Shechem. The sowing of the salt was to destroy it, so that they could not plant. It was really just to lay waste the city.

And when the men of the tower of Shechem heard that, they entered into the fortress of the house of the god Berith. And it was told Abimelech, that the men of the tower of Shechem were gathered together. So Abimelech got to mount Zalmon, he and the people that were with him; and he took an ax in his hand, and he cut down a bough from the trees, and he took it, and laid it on his shoulder, and he said to the people, Do what you have seen me do. And so the people also cut down every man his bough, and they followed Abimelech, and put them against the fortress, and they set the fortress on fire upon them; so that all of the men in the tower of Shechem were cremated, about a thousand men and women that were in the tower. Then Abimelech decided to attack Thebez,

Thebez was about 6 miles away. He most likely believed that they were evolved in the conspiracy against him.

…….and he encamped against Thebez, and he took it. But there was a strong tower within that city, and all of the men and women of that city, fled to that strong tower, and they shut it up, and got in to the top of the tower. And so Abimelech came to that tower, fought against it, and he went hard against the door of the tower to burn it with fire.

He attempted to use the same strategy that worked in the tower of Shechem.

But there was a certain woman who cast a piece of a millstone upon Abimelech’s head, and crushed his skull.

I love this story. The millstone referred to here was probably one of the hand held millstones. Some millstones can weigh up to 300 or 400 pounds. No doubt, this wasn’t one of those. The woman wouldn’t be able to toss it off of the roof. They also had these smaller stones, similar to what the Indians used to grind their ears of corn. They used these pestles to pound their ear of corns, which were usually about ten inches long. These were long enough, so that they could do a lot of damage, if they were thrown off a tower and landed on the skull of someone. So, here is Abimelech, trying to beat down the door, and this woman heaves the rock over the side and hits him in the head, but it didn’t kill him. He was still alive, but he was fully aware that his time had come.

And he called hastily unto his armourbearer, and he said to his armourbearer, Take your sword, and kill me, I don’t want men to say, That I was killed by a woman.

It amazes me that pride ruled this man’s life, and now it rules his death. He keeps his pride, up to the end. It will get you every time. Amazing!

And the young man thrust him through, and he died. And the men of Israel saw that Abimelech was dead, and they departed every one to his own place. And thus God rendered the wickedness of Abimelech, which he did to his father, in the killing of his seventy brothers: and all of the evil of the men of Shechem did God render upon their heads: and upon them came the curse of Jotham the son of Jerubbaal.

The ‘fire’ came out and devoured them. It is interesting that he did cremate one thousand people or so that had found refuge in the tower. So, we see somewhat of a literal fulfillment of the curse that Jotham had pronounced against Shechem and against Abimelech for their treachery.

Teaching Notes:
Don D. Stephens