When Geese Fly Over…

Photo and Content by Dennis Bradley

LeAnne and I live just north of Des Moines and where we live just happens to be right in the center of a flyway for migrating geese and ducks. Last week I was coming out of my house to go to church and I could hear the geese flying overhead. I thought about my grandfather Cline Lloyd Bradley and I remembered this little piece I picked up years ago:

Most birds migrate in silence, but not the geese. Whether you are walking down a city street, standing in a suburban back yard or working in a rural wood lot, you know when the geese fly over. First you hear that distant gabble, a faint clamor that seems to echo from the whole sky. You search the sky, and the gabble comes closer. Then you see them, flying high, marking a V almost like a pencil line of dots.

You listen and watch, and the flight is so high it seems almost leisurely. If it is a close V in formation, it is almost certainly Canada geese. If it is a looser V, rippling and waving, or if it is a long line like one leg of the V, it more likely is the less common snow geese. Whichever, the flock’s gabbling is like the voice of restless autumn, and the flight never wavers. On and on, over the hills and the towns and the cities, to the far horizon and still…beyond, southward. And only that restless echo, faint and haunting, remains.

They are footloose as the autumn wind, and they follow the sun. There is something both exhilarating and faintly sad in the echo of their going. Maybe it is the echo of another summer gone. Maybe it is the freedom song of the skies. Whatever, it haunts the earthbound heart.

I will tell you what haunts this earthbound heart. To observe the old grey-headed saints of God like my 98 year old grandpapa, Cline Bradley , who had fought the good fight, kept the faith, and who go off into eternity knowing they will inherit that heavenly country and instantly are present with the lord. I hear the echo of their going as they follow the Son …. I am restless. I yearn to go with them because eternity is in my heart. Heaven is my home. I was made for it. So were you if Jesus is your savior.

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JUDGES – Chapter 18

Teaching Notes – Don D. Stephens

At the beginning of Chapter 18, we read again:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Judges Chapter 19

THIS IS ONE YOU NEED TO READ!!!!!!!

Teaching Notes: Don D. Stephens

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 Thessalonians 2

The Great Apostasy

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

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

Just my thoughts!

Don D. Stephens

Teaching Reguarding Enoch

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

JUDGES – Chapter 15

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Power of No

So I have a word for you today. God really can use that word to change your life. The word is No. It’s such an important word. It can liberate you. It can free you. It can help you to set your boundaries. There was a time in your life when you loved this word. There was a time when you were about 2 years old. You said this word recreationally, joyfully, gleefully.

“Clean your room.”

“No!”

“Eat your peas.”

“No!”

“Share your toys.”

“No!”

Then over time, you learned that people like you better if you say yes than if you say no. We do not like it
when people say no, and they don’t like it when we do.

See, that’s what you’re in for when you say no, and who wants to set themselves up for that? We learn
over time to say yes in ways that create enormous problems. We say yes to bosses, and we say yes to
schedules and yes to meetings and yes to obligations and yes to burdens and yes to stuff we’re going to
buy that we don’t really need and yes to people we barely know and don’t even like. Then eventually our
lives are crammed full. So many times we become decent, respectable, exhausted, fatigued, resent-filled, people who have said yes to the wrong things for the wrong reasons.

Remember that sanctified saying , “The good is the enemy of the best.” What we need is this word no.

God wants to give you today a scalpel to remake your life, to make space for Him, because God generally
won’t force his way. God generally will not honk the horn. He is just there. The Bible, among other things,
is a book filled with amazing noes, wonderful noes, glorious noes.

There’s a man named Joseph, and he had a lot of reasons to have a lot of self-pity and think he deserved to
just have some pleasure. He was invited into this relationship he knew would mess him up. He knows his
identity and his mission. He says, “No.”

There are some young men, and their names are Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Their lives turned
out really badly, a lot of disappointment. They’re invited to worship an idol. We’re all invited to worship
idols. They know their identity and their mission, and they said, “No.”

Wisdom from God teaches us when to say yes and when to say no. Wisdom says yes to God and no to the Devil. Pray for wisdom.

(From Dennis Bradley)

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

God’s Mercy, Our Ministry

We are all the recipients of the mercy of God, which means we each have a ministry, and because of this simple fact, we must not lose heart. Those of us who have accepted the truth of the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ are termed “Christians”. As such, we have each (in our hearts) renounced those things that are shameful and hidden, because we chose to not walk in deceit, but we want to walk in truth. Doing so, we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of our God. If others cannot understand the gospel that we share, it is not because we veil the truth from them, but because their minds have been blinded to the truth by the god of this age, the god that they have chosen to worship.

Because of this choice, they are perishing. They do not believe for fear that the truth of Jesus, the image of God, might shine on them. When light enters darkness, darkness flees, and those things hidden are revealed.

We, as Christians, do not preach for the benefit of our own glory, but for the glory of Him, whom we follow, our Lord Jesus Christ. God, the Father, has commanded that light come out of darkness, and we are called to share that light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus.

Living in these earthly bodies, the power of the Lord is in us, and not of us. We may be pressured on all sides, but we will not be crushed. We may be perplexed, but we do not despair. We may be persecuted, but we are never alone. We may be struck down, but we will not be destroyed. We are part of the body of Christ, and the life of Jesus is manifest in our bodies. We are witness to the power that fills the name of Jesus, and we are delivered to death in Jesus name. Through our faith in the reward of death, the life of Jesus may be made manifest in our mortal flesh. The death of any Christian should bring the reality of the immortality gained through faith in the truth of Jesus Christ.

True belief in the truth of Christ causes one to speak that truth boldly, knowing that God raised Jesus up to sit at His right hand and that He will also raise us up with Him. The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, dwells in each of us. We will be reunited with the Lord by the power of God’s Spirit raising us from the dead. All things are for our sakes, so that grace can cause thanksgiving to the glory of God.

Don’t lose heart, simply because your mortal body is perishing with age, because your inward man is being renewed each day. The afflictions we face in this life are light and only temporary, and they work us toward the eternal weight of glory. We must not look at the things we can see, but at the things which we cannot see. All the things we see are temporary, but the things we cannot see are eternal.

Have a great Monday and wonderful week!

2 Corinthians, Chapter 4

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