Sunday’s Study: Judges 17 – Micah and his idols

Micah lived in a time when lifestyle choices where “anything goes” … maybe not unlike today. He chose to set up a shrine (including idols) in his home. He hired a priest to make it legitimate. The priest’s greed allowed him to set aside what is right regarding proper worship and obedience to God’s will.

Today there are a lot of people who consider themselves believers yet they set aside what is right regarding proper worship and obedience to God’s will. Their idols may not be images or objects of worship – their idols may be self-serving ideals they keep in their hearts. Just because it feels good and has been legitimized by some authority, doesn’t make it sanctioned or sanctified by God.


Sunday’s Study: Judges 15 – Samson

If you watched the video for Chapter 14, you can jump about 2 1/2 minutes into today’s lesson. Today’s portion of Samson’s biographer required some of the history previously covered.

I’m struck by how wonderful God is. We’re created in His image, but because we’re not God we’re flawed. We’re blessed and cursed with free will. We’re so darn HUMAN!!!

Samson is an excellent example of an imperfect human who is used as an instrument by God. Samson takes the Israelites on their first step in the journey to break free of the Philistines.

Samson’s life continues following his failed marriage. When he attempts to reconcile with his wife, he discovers she’s been handed off to his best man! He strikes back, attacking the Philistines by burning their harvest. They retaliate. He retaliates. Life goes on.

When the power of the Holy Spirit comes upon us we can do awesome things. The hard part is avoiding sin during those lulls when we’re not feeling particularly moved by the Spirit.

Sunday’s Study: Judges 14 – Samson’s Marriage

In Judges 13 we are introduced to Samson’s parents, Manoah and an unnamed woman. In Judges 14 we are introduced to Samson and his bride (who also goes unnamed. Did you know he was married before he met Delilah?).

Samson spots a woman in Timnah and decides she’s “the one”. He insists his parents arrange their marriage, even though she was a Philistine. This was all part of God’s plan, as foretold by the angel in Chapter 13 – that Samson would “begin the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Philistines.” Does it seem strange that Samson marries a Philistine in order to deliver his people from the Philistines?

It is good to know that God is sovereign in all things. We don’t need to know or understand His plan, we just need to submit to the power of the Spirit.

Sunday’s Study: Judges 13 – Samson’s Conception & Birth

In Judges 13, Manoah’s sterile wife (never named) encounters an angel of the Lord who foretells of the conception and birth of Samson. Other notable sterile-women-who-became-mothers-after-divine-intervention: Sarah, mother of Isaac; Rebekah, mother of Jacob; Hannah, mother of Samuel; Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist.

The angel instructs Samson’s parents to raise him as a Nazirite: no alcohol, no unclean food and no haircuts. A Nazirite vow was most often temporary. It was exceptional for parents to commit their child to a lifetime as a Nazirite.

Samson was a member of the Dan tribe. He grew up wandering around the yet-unconquered land they inherited. During his visits to the tribe’s army camps, God stirred his heart and moved Samson along the path prepared for him. Although Samson began the journey of deliverance from the Philistines, the journey wasn’t completed until the time of David.

Do you feel a stirring in your heart? Are you allowing God to use you as He intends? Your role may be to start something without ever seeing it finished. Be faithful in seeking God’s will and be obedient – even if you don’t see results.

We may not know how our role fits in, for now…we’re all part of a much bigger story.

Sunday’s Study: Judges 12 – Jephthah, Ibzan, Elon and Abdon

Today’s study wraps up Jephthah’s time as judge and his successors Ibzan, Elon and Abdon. It is noteworthy that the text shifts from referring to times of peace under the leadership of the blessed judges, to just highlighting the years of leadership (Jephthah, 6; Ibzan, 7; Elon, 10; & Abdon, 8). Jephthah’s time was not peaceful but he was clearly blessed by God.

Next, we’ll dive into the story of Samson.

Sunday’s Study: Judges 11 – The Story of Jephthah

Today’s study is a “redo” of last week’s story, only this is a free-form telling of the tale. Watching myself on video is a good exercise. In the future, I will try to reduce the number of “and’s,” “so’s,” “basically’s,” etc. when I’m retelling these stories.

I swear, the Old Testament is better than anything on television. I want to do these stories justice.

Sunday’s Study: Judges 11

Judges 11 tells the story of Jephthah, the illegitimate son of Gilead. Jephthah was a mighty warrior and a natural leader, chased off by his family as a social outcast. In the face of the Ammonites threat of war, the elders of Gilead brought Jephthah home and he was elected judge and made leader of his people.

Jephthah attempts to reason with the king of Ammon fail. The Spirit of the Lord comes upon him and he leads the successful charge against the Ammonites, but not before making a foolish pledge to God.

Scholars debate how Jephthah fulfilled his vow – was his daughter sacrificed as a burnt offering or was she set apart for service to God (not killed)? Either way, her future was altered by a promise he made and fulfilled. The message for us is clear: Don’t make foolish promises based on future events.

“Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God.” (Ecclesiastes 5:2)

God desires your obedience now, not your promise of future obedience. When facing life’s challenges, don’t make deals with God. Trust Him, the Judge, to look out for your best interests. Demonstrate your faith. If it’s meant to be, it will be.

I’d rather trust and have things not work out according to my desires than to be explaining to God “I didn’t mean it” when I promised something rash in the heat of some personal battle. How about you?

(8/4: I just read Proverbs 20:25 and couldn’t help but add it to this post, considering how remarkably apropos it is: “Don’t trap yourself by making a rash promise to God and only later counting the cost.”)