Today’s Passage – Judges 11 – 13 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)
(Second Milers also read – 1 John 1 – 5; Proverbs 24; Psalms 116 – 120)
Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 51
Read the “0324 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“Then Manoah intreated the LORD, and said, O my Lord, let the man of God which thou didst send come again unto us, and teach us what we shall do unto the child that shall be born.” – (Judges 13:8)
In Judges chapter 13, we see the story surrounding the birth of Samson. Samson’s birth came at a time when Israel was once again away from God, and was suffering at the hands of the Philistines. An angel appeared to Samson’s mother, and told her that she was going to have a son, and that this son was to be a Nazarite from the womb. You may recall that God gave instructions regarding the vow of the Nazarite in Numbers 6; but this child, Samson, is the first example of a Nazarite in the Bible. We do not know everything about this vow, but we do know that it was a vow of separation; and we also know that the person who had taken the vow was not to drink wine, cut his hair, or touch a dead body. The interesting point about this particular case is that Samson was to be a Nazarite from birth. He never makes a vow. His separation was chosen for him by the Lord. Anyway, the angel did not appear to her husband, yet Manoah believed what the angel had told his wife. Manoah then “intreats” the Lord and asks Him to send the angel back, not to prove that it really happened, but to instruct them as to what they were supposed to do. Interestingly, the angel comes back, but only tells Manoah exactly what he had already told his wife.
I like the petition made by Manoah in Judges 13:8. He wants God to “teach” them regarding what to do with the child. Manoah acknowledged that he didn’t know what to do. He was demonstrating a dependence upon the Lord. I find myself often not knowing what to do. I often pray the prayer that Solomon prayed:
“And now, O LORD my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in. And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude. Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?” – (1 Kings 3:7-9)
And sometimes I pray the prayer that Hezekiah prayed:
“O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee.” – (2 Chronicles 20:12)
The funny thing about Manoah’s prayer is that God never did give him any more information than He already gave His wife; but He did talk to him, and somehow assured him that He was going to be with him as he raised this special child for the Lord. Manoah was just going to have to continue walking by faith. It it is often frustrationg for me to walk by faith. I want God to reveal every step of the plan to me ahead of time, but He never does. He tells me what I need to know for today, and expects me to just keep walking, and keep trusting Him. But I do not think that He is upset with me for asking Him. Those prayers are my declaration of dependence upon Him.
Posted in Thoughts from Judges by Phil Erickson with 3 comments.
When Good Men Do Nothing
Today’s Passage – Judges 9 – 10 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)
(Second Milers also read – 2 Peter 1 – 3; Proverbs 23; Psalms 111 – 115)
Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 48:1 & 2
Read the “0323 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“And the bramble said unto the trees, If in truth ye anoint me king over you, then come and put your trust in my shadow: and if not, let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebanon.” – (Judges 9:15)
“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” Edmund Burke
This is a very strange passage of Scripture but I think it contains a very valuable lesson for us. In chapter 8, we have Gideon who was mightily used of the Lord to rid the land of Israel from the oppressing Mideonites. After the battle was over the people of Israel ask Gideon to be their leader but he refuses saying that the Lord is their ruler. However, without a good man leading them the people once again begin to stray away from the Lord forcing God to bring about judgment. Now when we get to today’s passage we see that one of the sons of Gideon does desire to reign over the people and goes to all of his brothers asking them to support him, and they do. The problem is that this man, Abimelech, is a very wicked man. Once he gets his power the first thing he does is have all of his brothers (70 of them) put to death. One of the brothers escapes and stands upon a mountain and delivers this parable unto the people of the city of Shechem:
“The trees went forth on a time to anoint a king over them; and they said unto the olive tree, Reign thou over us. But the olive tree said unto them, Should I leave my fatness, wherewith by me they honour God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees? And the trees said to the fig tree, Come thou, and reign over us. But the fig tree said unto them, Should I forsake my sweetness, and my good fruit, and go to be promoted over the trees? Then said the trees unto the vine, Come thou, and reign over us. And the vine said unto them, Should I leave my wine, which cheereth God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees? Then said all the trees unto the bramble, Come thou, and reign over us. And the bramble said unto the trees, If in truth ye anoint me king over you, then come and put your trust in my shadow: and if not, let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebanon.” – (Judges 9:8-15)
The olive tree refused to act, the fig tree refused to act, the vine refused to act, so there was nobody left but the bramble, which is a sticker bush.
What he was saying through this parable was that oftentimes good men will refuse to take their place of leadership, perhaps because they are already busy doing good things. However, when good men refuse to act there will always be an evil person that will seize the opportunity to gain power and use it for his own purposes. This is what happens to the people of Shechem. Gideon refused to lead and then his sons willingly turn over control of the city to this one brother. Eventually, as a result of all of this, just about everybody is put to death.
Bad things happen when good men do nothing. By refusing to get involved we sometimes create a scenario where the wrong kind of people start calling the shots. Let’s apply this to the local church. Often times there are carnal people within the church that are hungry for power and they are always looking for opportunities to advance themselves. And then there are others within the body who are good men who just sit back and let it happen: perhaps because they have a lot of things going on in their lives or maybe because they are just trusting men who are willing to yield to others. By the way, it is never a good sign when an individual is seeking position. Truly spiritual people will often be reluctant to take positions because they either feel unworthy or doubt their own ability. However, we need to not neglect the opportunities and responsibilities that God places in front of us because when we refuse it opens up the door to someone else who may not be God’s choice.
We can also see this in government. Good people often refuse to get involved, leaving the door wide open to men and women who may not have the best interests of the people at hand. The end result is that things begin to change for the worse for everybody. Good people, godly people, need to stay in the process so that we all can keep the good things that God has entrusted to us. How involved are you in the process? Do you get involved in the local church and in your community and local government? Do you even vote? We need good people to do their part. The devil never stops trying to advance his agenda. We need to stay in the game in order to keep him from taking from us the wonderful blessings that God has given us.
Posted in Thoughts from Judges by Phil Erickson with 2 comments.
The Sword of the Lord, and of Gideon
Today’s Passage – Judges 7 – 8 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)
(Second Milers also read – 1 Peter 1 – 5; Proverbs 22; Psalms 106 – 110
Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 47:1
Read a previous post from this passage – “Little is Much.”
Read the “0322 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“20 And the three companies blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers, and held the lamps in their left hands, and the trumpets in their right hands to blow withal: and they cried, The sword of the LORD, and of Gideon.” (Judges 7:20)
In Judges six, we saw God’s calling of Gideon to lead Israel against the Midianites who had been oppressing them for seven years. Though Gideon is insecure and reluctant, God assures him that he is the man that God has chosen, and the man that God will equip and bless to bring victory to Israel. God gives Gideon three assurances in chapter six:
He asks the Angel of the Lord to give him a sign (v. 17), which the Angel does by consuming with fire the sacrifice and the unleavened cakes that Gideon placed upon a rock.
He also asked God to make his fleece wet while the ground remained dry.
Finally, he asks God to keep the fleece dry while the ground around it is wet.
Here, in this chapter, we will see that God will once again encourage and assure Gideon that he is doing exactly what God wants him to do.
I The Lord Culls the Crowd (vs. 1 – 8)
God does not need a big crowd to win His battles or to fulfill His will. God wanted to be sure that the people knew that the victory came from Him.
The army of Israel started out with 32,000. Gideon invited the fearful to leave and they immediately lost 10,000 and were down to 22,000. By the way – it is an amazing thing that Gideon did not leave. Then the Lord set up a test at the watering hole, and there he lost almost the entire army, leaving only 300 left to fight against the huge numbers of Midianites.
This world is enamored with big numbers. big churches, big businesses. Growth is good if God is in it, but growth should not be the primary goal. We want to reach people, and we want to see people saved, for the Lord’s sake and for their good, not just so we can inflate our egos. God should be our primary goal, not numeric growth. If we are faithful to the Lord, He will probably give the increase, but if He doesn’t, we should still be content. Little is much when God is in it. God does not need big numbers. God’s people need a big God.
“And Joab answered, The LORD make his people an hundred times so many more as they be: but, my lord the king, are they not all my lord’s servants? why then doth my lord require this thing? why will he be a cause of trespass to Israel?” (1 Chronicles 21:3)
“And Jonathan said to the young man that bare his armour, Come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised: it may be that the LORD will work for us: for there is no restraint to the LORD to save by many or by few.” (1 Samuel 14:6)
We learn from Judges 8:10 that there were 135,000 Midianites that they were about to go up against.
God does not need gifted people, either:
“Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence.” (1 Corinthians 1:25-29)
“And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)
But, be sure about this: the three hundred men that Gideon had left were all in. I would rather have 50 people who were sold out for the Lord than 5000 who were all about themselves. These 300 men that were left were being watched, and God liked what He saw in them. Warren Wiersbe said:
“Make every occasion a great occasion, for you can never tell when somebody may be taking your measure for a larger place.”
II The Lord Cheers Up Gideon and Causes the Midianites to Fear (vs. 7 – 15)
The dream was God’s way of assuring Gideon that everything was OK; that he was doing exactly what God wanted him to do, and that all would be well. Gideon was a little bit insecure. This is now the fourth time that God reassures him.
III The Lord Conceives a Strange Attack Plan (vs. 16 – 22)
Note – “middle watch” in v. 19 is from 10 PM – 2 AM.
God does not do things our way.
“O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” (Romans 11:33)
Notice also that Gideon leads by example (v. 17)
IV Israel Chases the Enemy (vs. 23 – 25)
Gideon chases the enemy completely to the other side of the Jordan River. Sometimes, we win the battle, but we fail to drive the enemy completely out of our lives, which allows them to regain strength again.
Notice the story starts with Gideon hiding by a winepress and ends with the enemies of Gideon being slain by a winepress.
The big problems that you have in your life are not big problems to God. The big enemies that you face are not big to God. God is well able to multiple your feeble efforts to fulfill His will. The widow’s mite was an awful lot of money in the hands of God. The little lad’s lunch of loaves and fishes was multiplied to feed 5000 men, and possible 15,000 more women and children. Little is much when God is in it.
In chapter eight, we see the conclusion of the campaign against the Midianites, and we learn what happens to Gideon afterwards, and what happens to Israel when Gideon is gone.
I Gideon Placates the Ephraimites Anger (vs. 1 – 3)
As the Midianites were escaping to the south and east, Gideon called upon Ephraim, which was located to the south of the location of the battle. They were strategically in the right spot to cut off many of the escaping Midianites, and they were able to capture and kill two of the princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb.
However, the Ephraimites were upset because Gideon had not initially called them to fight. (See Judges 6:35) I am not sure of the reason that Gideon didn’t call for them at the beginning of the battle, but he assures them that their role at the end of the battle was critical to Israel’s success.
Don’t be offended if you are not asked to do something. It may be that God is reserving you for something bigger later.
Illustrate – I wanted to teach the 4th – 6th grade class but wasn’t asked. Later, however, Pastor Wedemeyer asked me to be his youth director.
II Gideon Pursues After the Remaining Midianites (vs. 8 – 12)
The men of Succoth and Penuel both chose the wrong side. They calculated that the 15,000 left from Midian should easily conquer these 300 from Israel. They calculated against God. Always a mistake.
Always take the side of what is right, regardless of what you think the consequences may be. Sometimes it looks as if the devil’s crowd is winning, but you should always side with God’s people.
Note – “discomfited” means “terrified.”
III Gideon Punishes Succoth and Penuel (vs. 13 – 17)
Gideon teaches Succoth a lesson, and they he kills all the men of Penuel. These cities reaped what they sowed. They were warned, but they made a bad decision, and God was giving them exactly what he warned them that he would give.
IV Gideon Puts an End to the Princes of Midian. (vs. 18 – 21)
These princes were brutal men who had murdered members of Gideon’s family.
Notice that Jether was asked by his father to put these princes to death, but he refused.
It would have been humiliating for (and possibly more painful) for these kings to be killed by Jether, rather than Gideon. Perhaps he was afraid. Maybe, he wasn’t ready. Maybe, he wasn’t gifted to be a warrior.
V Gideon Produces an Ephod (vs. 22 – 27)
Gideon turns down the offer of being their king. This is the first mention of Israel desiring a king.
The ephod eventually became an idol that the people worshipped.
Hezekiah had the same problem with the brazen serpent. People were worshipping it, so Hezekiah destroyed it. (2 Kings 18:4)
Note – 700 shekels = 42.5 pounds.
VI Gideon Passes and the People Forget God and Gideon’s Family (vs. 28 – 35)Israel failed to continue to worship the Lord, and they also failed to appreciate Gideon.
 Wiersbe, W. W. (1994). Be available (p. 60). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
Posted in Devotions by Phil Erickson with 2 comments.
Today’s Passage – Judges 4 – 6 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)
(Second Milers also read – James 1 – 5; Proverbs 21; Psalms 101 – 105
Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 34:6
Read a previous post from this passage – “Deborah and Jael – Women of God”
Read the “0321 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“And Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said, Behold, I will put a fleece of wool in the floor; and if the dew be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all the earth beside, then shall I know that thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said.” – (Judges 6:36-37)
Three times in Judges 6, Gideon asks the Lord for a sign of some sort in order to assure him that it was, in fact, God that was speaking to him. The first time occurs when the angel of the Lord first appears to him in verse 17. Here he wants to be sure that it is the Lord. Maybe he was afraid that he was hallucinating, or perhaps being tricked. The Lord proves Himself to Gideon by consuming the kid and the bread upon the rock with fire.
The second and third time was regarding the fleece. He puts out the fleece twice: two nights in a row. The first night, he asked that the fleece would be wet with dew, and the ground dry. The second night, just to be sure, he asked that the ground be wet and the fleece be dry. God graciously proved Himself to Gideon on all of these occasions.
I have often heard people say that Gideon was not acting in faith because he kept asking for some sort of a sign. However, we must remember that God had not recorded in His word at this point anything about Gideon’s situation. Had God written through Moses or a prophet that there would be a man named Gideon that would deliver the children of Israel from the hand of the Mideonites, there might be a reason to accuse Gideon of lacking faith; but this was totally unpredicted, and unprecedented. I don’t blame Gideon for wanting to be sure that He was doing the will of God.
Today, we certainly are to walk by faith and not by sight. Most of what God calls us to do is clearly revealed in His Bible; but every once in a while, He reveals His will to us personally through extraordinary means. This does not happen very often, but it does happen. I have been saved for over thirty years, and I can only point to a few times where I put forth a “fleece” in order to determine God’s will. I will share one of these incidents with you. When I was in my senior year of Bible college, I was very burdened about what I was going to do after I graduated. There were a few opportunities offered to me in various places and capacities; but I wanted to be sure that I was completely following the will of God. In my heart, I wanted to come back home to New Jersey, but I was not sure that my heart was lining up with God’s will. I began to pray. I decided one day to call up Pastor Charlie Clark who pastored in south Jersey, in order to get some advice from him. I told him that I was praying about coming back to New Jersey to start a church, or work for a church. He recommended that I head back to New Jersey upon graduation, and we would begin to pray and work toward the planting of a church. I was very excited about that prospect, but God had a slightly different plan. You see, as God was working in my heart about coming to New Jersey – unknown to me – He was also working in another pastor’s heart about moving away from New Jersey. Just a few minutes after I got off the phone with Pastor Clark, He received another phone call from Pastor Dan Owens. Brother Owens was the man who started Jersey Shore Baptist Church. The Lord was leading him to go back into the military as a chaplain, but he wanted to make sure that he left his church in good hands. So Brother Owens called Pastor Clark in order to see if He knew of any pastor that was praying about coming to New Jersey. “Coincidentally”, Pastor Clark did know of someone. Pastor Clark has since shared with me that he has had very few phone calls through the years regarding people either looking for a church, or looking to leave a church; and to get two such calls within minutes of each other was definitely a “sign” that this was of God.
I am not saying that we should be tempting God, or asking God to prove Himself to us. If we are His children, we have already placed our faith in Him, and in His revealed will through the Word of God. I am saying, though, that it is OK to ask God to clearly reveal His perfect will for your life. If your like me, you want to be sure that you are doing exactly what God wants you to do. There are a lot of big decisions to make in life, and they are not all completely covered in the Bible. For instance: Who are you going to marry? Where you are going to live? What will be your life’s vocation? Where will you go to college? These are all important questions, and you want to be sure you are in the perfect will of God. I don’t think you are wrong to ask God to miraculously reveal His will to you personally, as He did to Gideon in our reading today.
Posted in Thoughts from Judges by Phil Erickson with 4 comments.
The “Vicious” Cycle of Judges
Today’s Passage – Judges 1 – 3 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)
(Second Milers also read – Hebrews 10 – 13; Proverbs 20; Psalms 96 – 100
Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 34
Read the “0320 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
Read previous posts from this passage – “God Sent Them A Deliverer,” and “Hold the Line.“
“And when the LORD raised them up judges, then the LORD was with the judge, and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge: for it repented the LORD because of their groanings by reason of them that oppressed them and vexed them. And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they returned, and corrupted themselves more than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them, and to bow down unto them; they ceased not from their own doings, nor from their stubborn way.” (Judges 2:18-19)
The Book of Judges covers the period of time from the death of Joshua to the beginning of the monarchy when King Saul was anointed. (Approximately from 1380 BC to 1050 BC) Joshua had driven out most of the inhabitants of the land, but there were still enemies within the borders of Israel that needed to be removed. Throughout judges, we see the victories and, unfortunately, the defeats of God’s people as they contend with these Canaanites and others.
During this period, Israel was ruled by judges. These judges were not necessarily sovereign rulers over the entire nation, but were mostly regional military and civil rulers and some of the dates of their leadership overlapped other judges.
The Book of Judges was probably written by Samuel, as is suggested by the Jewish Talmud. It had to be written after the coronation of King Saul as the Book claims four times that “there was no king in Israel.” (Judges 17:6; 18:1; 19:1; 21:25) Judges would have to have been written after there was a king, but records history from before there was a king. It also had to be written before 990 BC, when David drove out the Jebusites from Jerusalem:
“And the children of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites that inhabited Jerusalem; but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Benjamin in Jerusalem unto this day.” (Judges 1:21)
There were fifteen judges in all: thirteen mentioned in Judges, and then Eli and Samuel who are revealed in 1 Samuel. There is one female judge, named Deborah.
Throughout the Book of Judges we see a repeated cycle:
- Israel in a right relationship with God receiving God’s blessing of provision and protection.
- Israel moves away from God and begins to worship idols and fall into sin.
- God drops the hedge of protection that was placed around them, and Israel’s enemies begin to conquer them.
- Israel cries out to the Lord.
- The Lord raises up a judge.
- Israel is delivered.
We see the same thing happening in Christian’s lives today. Oftentimes people are saved out of very difficult circumstances. For a time, people are afterwards very contrite and zealous in their faithfulness to the Lord. However, often after experiencing the wonderful blessing of God, people will forget all about the God who blessed them. What a shame! Why can’t we learn to appreciate the Lord and remain devoted to Him as much during prosperity as we were during adversity.
America and the rest of the world are certainly experiencing adversity today. Let’s pray that this trial will cause us to cry out to the Lord as the Israelites did in days of old. But then let’s also pray that after deliverance comes, that we remain faithful.
Posted in Devotions by Phil Erickson with 6 comments.
Keep Choosing the Lord
Today’s Passage – Joshua 22 – 24 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)
(Second Milers also read – Hebrews 5 – 8; Proverbs 19; Psalms 91 – 95)
Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 25
Read the “0319 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” – (Joshua 24:15)
“And Joshua said unto the people, Ye are witnesses against yourselves that ye have chosen you the LORD, to serve him. And they said, We are witnesses.” – (Joshua 24:22)
I have been considering this 24th chapter of Joshua for many years. It is one of those victorious portions of Scripture where the people of God do exactly what they are supposed to do. Joshua lays it all out for them. He basically tells them to pick a side. In other words, he gives them the option to choose to serve God, or to serve the many gods that were worshipped by the former inhabitants of the land of Canaan. The Israelites chose wisely. However, having studied the rest of the history of the Jewish people, I also know that they will often go back on their choice. Though they decided at this time to serve God, and forsake all other gods, they will soon begin to allow idolatry to come back into their lives. Though they once chose wisely, they didn’t keep choosing wisely.
I find that we are much the same way today. At one point in our lives we choose God. We come to Him for salvation, and surrender our lives to Him for service; but down the road, we change our minds. I don’t mean that we decide that we no longer want to be God’s child, but we often decide that living for the Lord isn’t as fun as we thought it was, and we start going in alternative directions. My encouragement to you today is to keep choosing the Lord. You chose Him as your Saviour in the past, choose Him as your Lord today. Choose today to yield your life to Him. Choose today to spend time with Him through Bible reading and prayer. Choose today to serve Him by serving the people He loves. Keep choosing the Lord.
Posted in Thoughts from Joshua by Phil Erickson with 3 comments.
Ephraim and Manasseh
Today’s Passage – Joshua 16 – 18 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)
(Second Milers also read – Titus 1 – 3; Proverbs 17; Psalms 81 – 85
Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 18:3 & 46
Read a previous post from this passage – “Get to Work”
Read the “0317 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“13 And Joseph took them both, Ephraim in his right hand toward Israel’s left hand, and Manasseh in his left hand toward Israel’s right hand, and brought them near unto him. 14 And Israel stretched out his right hand, and laid it upon Ephraim’s head, who was the younger, and his left hand upon Manasseh’s head, guiding his hands wittingly; for Manasseh was the firstborn.” (Genesis 48:13-14)
Today’s post is a little longer and a bit more involved than usual. Today, we will do a Bible study on the half tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim. Chapters 16 and 17 deal with the land distribution for the Tribe of Joseph, which was made up of the two half tribes of Ephraim (Chapter 16) and Manasseh (Chapter 17).
See also Genesis 48 to help make sense of Joshua 16 and 17. I will highlight a few verses from that portion of Scripture here:
“4 And said unto me, Behold, I will make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, and I will make of thee a multitude of people; and will give this land to thy seed after thee for an everlasting possession. 5 And now thy two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, which were born unto thee in the land of Egypt before I came unto thee into Egypt, are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine.” (Genesis 48:4-5)
Note on Genesis 48:4 – 5 – Joseph’s two sons were adopted by Jacob here, and were given the right of the firstborn, but Ephraim traded place with Manasseh as the firstborn among the sons of Joseph:
“Now the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel, (for he was the firstborn; but, forasmuch as he defiled his father’s bed, his birthright was given unto the sons of Joseph the son of Israel: and the genealogy is not to be reckoned after the birthright. For Judah prevailed above his brethren, and of him came the chief ruler; but the birthright was Joseph’s:)” (1 Chronicles 5:1-2)
“19 And his father refused, and said, I know it, my son, I know it: he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great: but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations.” (Genesis 48:19)
Note on Genesis 48:19 – After the kingdom splits in the time of Jeroboam and Rehoboam, Ephraim becomes the more dominant tribe in the northern kingdom. Also, Shiloh would be the city within the borders of Ephraim where the Tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant would stay for approximately 300 years. Joshua, the great leader of Israel, was from the tribe of Ephraim.
“22 Moreover I have given to thee one portion above thy brethren, which I took out of the hand of the Amorite with my sword and with my bow.” (Genesis 48:22)
Note on Genesis 48:22 – Genesis does not mention this conquest, but the parcel of land that he referred to here is mentioned in John 4:5:
“Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.” (John 4:5)
I The Distribution of Land
A The Distribution for Ephraim (Joshua 16:5 – 9 See map)
Note on v. 9 – apparently Ephraim was also allotted some cities within the territory of Manasseh, perhaps because their total land area was small.
B The Distribution for Manasseh (Joshua 17:1 – 2; 7 – 11)
Note on Joshua 17:1
“And the children of Machir the son of Manasseh went to Gilead, and took it, and dispossessed the Amorite which was in it. And Moses gave Gilead unto Machir the son of Manasseh; and he dwelt therein.” (Numbers 32:39-40)
II The Dereliction of Duty
“But of the cities of these people, which the LORD thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth: But thou shalt utterly destroy them; namely, the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee: That they teach you not to do after all their abominations, which they have done unto their gods; so should ye sin against the LORD your God.” (Deuteronomy 20:16-18)
A The Disobedience of Ephraim (vs. 10)
They failed to drive out all the Canaanites. This was slightly different from the situation with the Gibeonites, who made a peace treaty with Joshua. This was also different from the situation in chapter 15 where we are told that Jebusites dwelled with the children of Judah. Here there was no treaty, nor was there a peaceful coexistence, but the Canaanites were apparently conquered and made slaves. This was against God’s explicit command:
Disobedience is part of our fallen human nature – We won’t get it right all of the time.
Disobedience will cause long-term problems. The Canaanites that Ephraim allowed to remain in the land would eventually cause problems for them. Idolatry was part of Canaanite culture, and eventually would become a big problem in Israel.
The things that we disobediently allow in our lives today, may one day destroy our children or grand-children.
B The Disobedience of Manasseh (Joshua 17:12 – 13)
Manasseh’s situation was slightly different yet. They at first could not (vs. 12); then they would not drive the Canaanites out. (v. 13)
III The Daughters of Zelophehad (Joshua 17:3 – 6)
See Numbers 27:1 – 11
The five daughters of Zelophehad brought a unique problem before Moses that Moses took up with God. Their father had no sons to give his land inheritance to and the daughters were afraid that they were going to lose their portion of the land. The Lord said that they were entitled to the inheritance. This caused Moses to write an amendment to the Law.
But this caused another potential problem. If the daughters of Zelophehad inherit land and then marry outside of their tribe, then the land would transfer to another tribe. (See Numbers 36:1 – 13) God stated that any women receiving a land inheritance would only be permitted to marry within her tribe.
IV The Dissatisfaction of Manasseh and Ephraim (Joshua 17:14 – 18)
Here we see presumably the two half tribes complaining to Joshua regarding the portion of land that they received. They said it was too small. They said that they were far too “great” a people to be confined to such a small piece of land. Together, their population was 82,500, which was large. Manasseh had increased in size dramatically (by approximately 20,000 men) during their wandering in the Wilderness. Ephraim had decreased by 8,000 men.
Joshua stated that what they had was enough, but they weren’t making the most of it.
They would have to work for it.
They would have to fight for it.
Many times, God’s people are dissatisfied with their lives, causing them to covet things that belong to somebody else. God wants us to appreciate what we have and make the most of what we have.
Don’t covet somebody else’s home – make the most of the home that God gave you. Don’t covet somebody else’s marriage – work hard and fight to make yours the best it can be.
Posted in Devotions by Phil Erickson with 2 comments.
Today’s Passage – Joshua 13 – 15 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)
(Second Milers also read – 2 Timothy 1 – 4; Proverbs 16; Psalms 76 – 80)
Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Joshua 1:8
Read a previous post from this passage – “I Want That Mountain.“
Read the “0316 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“1 And these are the countries which the children of Israel inherited in the land of Canaan, which Eleazar the priest, and Joshua the son of Nun, and the heads of the fathers of the tribes of the children of Israel, distributed for inheritance to them. 2 By lot was their inheritance, as the LORD commanded by the hand of Moses, for the nine tribes, and for the half tribe. 3 For Moses had given the inheritance of two tribes and an half tribe on the other side Jordan: but unto the Levites he gave none inheritance among them. 4 For the children of Joseph were two tribes, Manasseh and Ephraim: therefore they gave no part unto the Levites in the land, save cities to dwell in, with their suburbs for their cattle and for their substance. 5 As the LORD commanded Moses, so the children of Israel did, and they divided the land.” (Joshua 14:1-5)
“33 But unto the tribe of Levi Moses gave not any inheritance: the LORD God of Israel was their inheritance, as he said unto them.” (Joshua 13:33)
63 As for the Jebusites the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the children of Judah could not drive them out: but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Judah at Jerusalem unto this day.” (Joshua 15:63)
In Joshua, chapters 13 – 15, we see how the land was divided among the twelve tribes of Israel. The general principle was that God was going to give some land, originally only on the western side of the Jordan River, to each of the tribes, but there were some anomalies to this general distribution plan.
First, because the Israelites were attacked by the nations on the eastern side of the Jordan River, they ended up acquiring some additional land there. The tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh were given portions on the eastern side. Note – I’ll explain this “half-tribe” in a minute. Anyway, this additional land allowed the children of Israel to spread out a little more. God did not give them this eastern land initially, but because they were attacked, God allowed them to conquer those nations and take their land.
Second, regarding the “half-tribes” of Manasseh and Ephraim, Jacob had divided the inheritance of Joseph with his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim (See Genesis 48). There were still only twelve portions of land distributed, but the tribe of Levi was not to inherit any land; they were the priests and servants of the Lord for the Tabernacle and later, the Temple. They were given Levitical cities, forty-eight of them (see Numbers 35:1 – 8; Joshua 21:41), distributed throughout the land of Israel, and six of those cities would be designated as Cities of Refuge. These cities were to be given to the Levites within the borders of the ten other tribes and two “half-tribes.”
The third interesting point from this passage is that we see in Joshua 15:63 that the Jebusites who inhabited Jerusalem were not removed from the land. The verse tells us that the children of Judah could not drive them out, which is amazing because God promised that He would go before them, and that He would remove all of the inhabitants from the land. I wonder what the problem was for this particular group of people. The Jebusites actually remained in Jerusalem until David drove them out many years later (1 Chronicles 11:1 – 9).
Perhaps, the most interesting portion of these three chapters was the old man, Caleb, still fighting battles for the Lord. God gave him the city of Hebron for his efforts (Joshua 14:13). See – I Want That Mountain.
Posted in Devotions by Phil Erickson with 2 comments.
The Day The Sun Stood Still
Today’s Passage – Joshua 10 – 12 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)
(Second Milers also read – 1 Timothy 1 – 6; Proverbs 15; Psalms 71 – 75)
Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Deuteronomy 32:4
Read a previous post from this passage – “Face Your Fears“
Read the “0315 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day. And there was no day like that before it or after it, that the LORD hearkened unto the voice of a man: for the LORD fought for Israel.” – (Joshua 10:13-14)
In Joshua 10 – 12 we have the nation of Israel now inside of the Promised Land, and they are in the process of ridding the land of all of the unwanted tennants. After the Battles of Jericho and Ai, and after the treaty made with the people of Gideon, it became clear to the people of Canaan that Israel was a powerful force and a threat that needed to be taken seriously. The kings of the land joined forces together to fight against Israel. They probably should have just moved out of the area, but instead they came out together to do battle. God, however, is once again with Israel and he defeats these kingdoms easily; but as these people are retreating, Joshua is afraid that the sun would go down before he got to all of them, so he asks the Lord to stop the earth’s rotation, and the sun and moon stand still until all of the enemies are defeated. The Bible says that there has never been a day like this before or since.
Have you ever wished that God would stop time for you? I know there have been many times when I was in school that I have wished that God would speed time up. However, except for this one time in the history of the world, God keeps time clicking away very steadily. The seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, decades, centuries, and millennia just seem to fly on by. And the funny thing about time is that once it is gone, you cannot get it back. It seems like yesterday when I was just starting out with my wife and family. It seems like just a few days has gone by since God brought us to Galloway, NJ to be serve at Jersey Shore. Where does the time go? I had all kinds of dreams and visions about what I wanted to do, about where I wanted to be by now, but many of those things never came to pass. There is so much more that I would like to do before I die.
There is one thing that we can learn from this passage of Scripture. It is that time is very precious. It is probably the most valuable thing that we possess, and we really don’t know how much of it we actually have left. We need to make the most of the time that we have left on this earth. What do you have left to finish in your life. What battles are you in the middle of fighting for the Lord. How about your family? Have you given your spouse, or your parents, or your children the time that you would like to have given them. Soon enough, either you or them will be gone forever; at least as far as our time on earth is concerned. Get busy! The sun is beginning to set on many of us.
“Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” – (Ephesians 5:16)
“Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.” – (Colossians 4:5)
This evening, sometime around 6 PM, take a look outside, and you will see the dusky colors of a setting sun. Night will be right behind it, and soon the day will be over. This is a miniature picture of our lives. Soon, the sun will also set on our lives, and time will be up. What will you leave undone of your goals and dreams? More importantly, what will you have left unfinished of what God has called you to do?
Posted in Thoughts from Joshua by Phil Erickson with 2 comments.
Sin in the Camp
Today’s Passage – Joshua 5 – 7 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)
(Second Milers also read – 2 Thessalonians 1 – 3; Proverbs 13; Psalms 61 – 65)
Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – 1 John 3:1
Read the “0313 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“And Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is beside Bethaven, on the east side of Bethel, and spake unto them, saying, Go up and view the country. And the men went up and viewed Ai. And they returned to Joshua, and said unto him, Let not all the people go up; but let about two or three thousand men go up and smite Ai; and make not all the people to labour thither; for they are but few. So there went up thither of the people about three thousand men: and they fled before the men of Ai. And the men of Ai smote of them about thirty and six men: for they chased them from before the gate even unto Shebarim, and smote them in the going down: wherefore the hearts of the people melted, and became as water.” – (Joshua 7:2-5)
In our passage today, we read of the great victory of the Lord’s people in the Battle of Jericho. The large, fortress city of Jericho fell completely without one casualty in the army of Israel. It was perhaps the greatest military victory in history. Unfortunately, soon after the conquest of Jericho, the people of God suffered an horrible, embarrassing defeat against the much smaller city of Ai. Israel fled from the army of Ai, and mourned the loss of thirty-six men. Why would God give Israel such a tremendous victory at Jericho, and then remove his blessing from them so that they would lose so easily against a much smaller foe? I believe there are three reasons: three accursed things found within the camp of Israel that caused God to allow Israel to be punished before their enemy.
1 Disobedience – There was sin in the camp.
“But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against the children of Israel.” – (Joshua 7:1)
Achan took a garment from Jericho, which seems like a small thing; yet, God was very upset about it. He had given clear instructions that nothing from Jericho was to be taken, save the silver and gold, which was to be brought into Israel’s treasury. Not only did Achan take the garment, but he also stole some silver and gold for himself. The sin of one man can greatly affect the blessing of God on an entire congregation. You might think that God was unfair to judge the whole nation for the sin of one man, but you may change your mind when you consider the next two reasons.
2 Overconfidence – The people of Israel underestimated the power of the enemy, and overestimated their own strength. They thought Ai was too small to worry about. They were wrong. Christians often do the same thing today. We underestimated our enemies: the flesh, the world, and the devil; and we overestimate our own strength. Jesus said, “without me ye can do nothing”. (John 15:5)
3 Independence – When you review the account of the victory of Jericho, you will see that “the Captain of the host of the Lord” had given Joshua complete detailed instructions as to what Israel should do. However, when you look at the battle of Ai, you will see that not once does God speak to Joshua about going into Ai; nor does Joshua pray to God about going in. Now, we know that Ai was one of the many cities that God wanted the children of Israel to conquer, but they should have consulted the Lord first as to when and how they should do it. They didn’t, and as a result, Israel was on their own in this battle, without God. They didn’t think they needed God for this little city. Boy were they mistaken. I’m willing to bet that if Joshua would have just asked God about Ai before going in, God would have told Joshua about Achan’s sin. One little prayer would have prevented the demoralizing defeat as well as the death of thirty-six men. How often have you and I done things without consulting the Lord first?
When we think of Ai, we often think of “the accursed thing”, but as we have learned, there were really three of them. There was more than just one sin in the camp. Along with the sin of taking the garment and the gold there was also the sin of trusting in their own fleshly abilities, and the sin of not praying to God. Let’s not you and I make these same mistakes in our lives.
Posted in Thoughts from Joshua by Phil Erickson with 2 comments.