All posts by John (HFJ Director)

Take Great Care In Making Vows to Our Creator

Judges 11:29-40 is a tough read for most of us. The context of the culture is so different than what we are used to today. What happens seems unthinkable to us today. However, we should take heed. Making a vow to YHWH is a serious matter. Do not make one unless you plan to keep it.

Deuteronomy 23:21-23

  21“When you make a vow to the LORD your God, you shall not delay to pay it, for it would be sin in you, and the LORD your God will surely require it of you. 22“However, if you refrain from vowing, it would not be sin in you. 23“You shall be careful to perform what goes out from your lips, just as you have voluntarily vowed to the LORD your God, what you have promised.

Ecclesiastes 5:4-7

     4When you make a vow to God, do not be late in paying it; for He takes no delight in fools. Pay what you vow! 5It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. 6Do not let your speech cause you to sin and do not say in the presence of the messenger of God that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry on account of your voice and destroy the work of your hands? 7For in many dreams and in many words there is emptiness. Rather, fear God.

Note that the scripture does not criticize Japhthah for fulfilling the vow he makes, but clearly demonstrates that it was a very sad decision, a clear mistake to make the vow a bit carelessly. The answer is not to make a vow and then ignore it, but rather to take great care if considering to make a vow to him. We too should take great care before making a vow to our Creator. Jephthah made the vow of his own free will without any prompting from YHWH, so let’s be sure not to blame YHWH.


Judges 11:29-40

Jephthah’s Tragic Vow

      29Now the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah, so that he passed through Gilead and Manasseh; then he passed through Mizpah of Gilead, and from Mizpah of Gilead he went on to the sons of Ammon. 30Jephthah made a vow to the LORD and said, “If You will indeed give the sons of Ammon into my hand, 31then it shall be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the sons of Ammon, it shall be the LORDS, and I will offer it up as a burnt offering.” 32So Jephthah crossed over to the sons of Ammon to fight against them; and the LORD gave them into his hand. 33He struck them with a very great slaughter from Aroer to the entrance of Minnith, twenty cities, and as far as Abel-keramim. So the sons of Ammon were subdued before the sons of Israel.

      34When Jephthah came to his house at Mizpah, behold, his daughter was coming out to meet him with tambourines and with dancing. Now she was his one and only child; besides her he had no son or daughter. 35When he saw her, he tore his clothes and said, “Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low, and you are among those who trouble me; for I have given my word to the LORD, and I cannot take it back.” 36So she said to him, “My father, you have given your word to the LORD; do to me as you have said, since the LORD has avenged you of your enemies, the sons of Ammon.” 37She said to her father, “Let this thing be done for me; let me alone two months, that I may go to the mountains and weep because of my virginity, I and my companions.” 38Then he said, “Go.” So he sent her away for two months; and she left with her companions, and wept on the mountains because of her virginity. 39At the end of two months she returned to her father, who did to her according to the vow which he had made; and she had no relations with a man. Thus it became a custom in Israel, 40that the daughters of Israel went yearly to commemorate the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in the year.

If you feel you have made a vow to YHWH that you should not, by all means come before the throne of mercy and grace and ask forgiveness and then repent and don’t act in such a way in the future. If it is reasonable at all to fulfill the vow you made, then do so.


Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.


YHWH Will Choose Whom He Will Choose

I find it amazing to continue to remind myself in reading scripture how often the people that YHWH chooses to use are different than those that man would choose based on the criteria we use to judge. I believe he does this purposefully to show that it is him who brings victory rather than ourselves. Take care not to discount someone based on their personal history or background but instead seek the LORD and test what they bring against the truth of the Bible.

I find it further very interesting that Jephthah took an approach to reason with the aggressors before just picking up and going to war. He tried to resolve the matter peacefully. Ultimately, he calls upon the LORD and achieves victory, but with some complications that we will discuss in the next article when we address the end of Judges 11.


Judges 11:1-28

Jephthah the Ninth Judge

     1Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a valiant warrior, but he was the son of a harlot. And Gilead was the father of Jephthah. 2Gilead’s wife bore him sons; and when his wife’s sons grew up, they drove Jephthah out and said to him, “You shall not have an inheritance in our father’s house, for you are the son of another woman.” 3So Jephthah fled from his brothers and lived in the land of Tob; and worthless fellows gathered themselves about Jephthah, and they went out with him.

      4It came about after a while that the sons of Ammon fought against Israel. 5When the sons of Ammon fought against Israel, the elders of Gilead went to get Jephthah from the land of Tob; 6and they said to Jephthah, “Come and be our chief that we may fight against the sons of Ammon.” 7Then Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, “Did you not hate me and drive me from my father’s house? So why have you come to me now when you are in trouble?” 8The elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, “For this reason we have now returned to you, that you may go with us and fight with the sons of Ammon and become head over all the inhabitants of Gilead.” 9So Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, “If you take me back to fight against the sons of Ammon and the LORD gives them up to me, will I become your head?” 10The elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, “The LORD is witness between us; surely we will do as you have said.” 11Then Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and chief over them; and Jephthah spoke all his words before the LORD at Mizpah.

      12Now Jephthah sent messengers to the king of the sons of Ammon, saying, “What is between you and me, that you have come to me to fight against my land?” 13The king of the sons of Ammon said to the messengers of Jephthah, “Because Israel took away my land when they came up from Egypt, from the Arnon as far as the Jabbok and the Jordan; therefore, return them peaceably now.” 14But Jephthah sent messengers again to the king of the sons of Ammon, 15and they said to him, “Thus says Jephthah, ‘Israel did not take away the land of Moab nor the land of the sons of Ammon. 16‘For when they came up from Egypt, and Israel went through the wilderness to the Red Sea and came to Kadesh, 17then Israel sent messengers to the king of Edom, saying, “Please let us pass through your land,” but the king of Edom would not listen. And they also sent to the king of Moab, but he would not consent. So Israel remained at Kadesh. 18‘Then they went through the wilderness and around the land of Edom and the land of Moab, and came to the east side of the land of Moab, and they camped beyond the Arnon; but they did not enter the territory of Moab, for the Arnon was the border of Moab. 19‘And Israel sent messengers to Sihon king of the Amorites, the king of Heshbon, and Israel said to him, “Please let us pass through your land to our place.” 20‘But Sihon did not trust Israel to pass through his territory; so Sihon gathered all his people and camped in Jahaz and fought with Israel. 21‘The LORD, the God of Israel, gave Sihon and all his people into the hand of Israel, and they defeated them; so Israel possessed all the land of the Amorites, the inhabitants of that country. 22‘So they possessed all the territory of the Amorites, from the Arnon as far as the Jabbok, and from the wilderness as far as the Jordan. 23‘Since now the LORD, the God of Israel, drove out the Amorites from before His people Israel, are you then to possess it? 24‘Do you not possess what Chemosh your god gives you to possess? So whatever the LORD our God has driven out before us, we will possess it. 25‘Now are you any better than Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab? Did he ever strive with Israel, or did he ever fight against them? 26‘While Israel lived in Heshbon and its villages, and in Aroer and its villages, and in all the cities that are on the banks of the Arnon, three hundred years, why did you not recover them within that time? 27‘I therefore have not sinned against you, but you are doing me wrong by making war against me; may the LORD, the Judge, judge today between the sons of Israel and the sons of Ammon.’” 28But the king of the sons of Ammon disregarded the message which Jephthah sent him.


Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.


One Sacrifice of Yeshua Is Sufficient, But We Must Stop Willfully Sinning


As we read on in Hebrews 10, it is important to remember the context clearly articulated from earlier chapters in Hebrews. There is much emphasis that Yeshua is greater than the angels and a priest greater than the Levites. He is nothing less than God himself. Chapter 8 references a “new covenant”, which specifically refers to YHWH writing his laws in our hearts. Writing his laws in our hearts does not imply changing his laws as so many take it to mean. If I write a law down, it is straight forward from context that I did not change it, or I would have said so. Chapter 9 goes on to say the old covenant is being replaced, but the specific context articulated in the chapter identifies and focuses only on Yeshua’s sacrifice for our sins replacing that of animals. It does not imply the whole of the law and the prophets being made obsolete, which Yeshua himself declared would not happen until the end of the age in Matthew 5.

Matthew 5:17-19

     17“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18“For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19“Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

It is with this context in mind that we should continue into Hebrews 10.

Hebrews 10

One Sacrifice of Christ Is Sufficient

     1For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near. 2Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have had consciousness of sins? 3But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year. 4For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

5Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says,



8After saying above, “SACRIFICES AND OFFERINGS AND WHOLE BURNT OFFERINGS AND sacrifices FOR SIN YOU HAVE NOT DESIRED, NOR HAVE YOU TAKEN PLEASURE in them” (which are offered according to the Law), 9then He said, “BEHOLD, I HAVE COME TO DO YOUR WILL.” He takes away the first in order to establish the second. 10By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

      11Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; 12but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD, 13waiting from that time onward UNTIL HIS ENEMIES BE MADE A FOOTSTOOL FOR HIS FEET. 14For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. 15And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us; for after saying,

He then says,


18Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin.

A New and Living Way

     19Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, 20by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 24and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

Christ or Judgment

     26For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27but a terrifying expectation of judgment and THE FURY OF A FIRE WHICH WILL CONSUME THE ADVERSARIES. 28Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30For we know Him who said, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY.” And again, “THE LORD WILL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE.” 31It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

      32But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings, 33partly by being made a public spectacle through reproaches and tribulations, and partly by becoming sharers with those who were so treated. 34For you showed sympathy to the prisoners and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and a lasting one. 35Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 36For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.



39But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.

I think very often people misunderstand Hebrews to be saying the whole of the Law is abolished and irrelevant, which directly contradicts what Yeshua said in Matthew 5. They then assume we should do whatever we feel like as if that is the new standard because we are forgiven of sin and the Law is written on our heart. This is a dangerous misunderstanding and false teaching. Even within this same chapter in Hebrews we can see a warning that is often overlooked by the same people.

     26For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27but a terrifying expectation of judgment and THE FURY OF A FIRE WHICH WILL CONSUME THE ADVERSARIES.

Let us take great care in testing what is taught in churches and by man in general against what the Bible actually says. Pray and ask the LORD to help you. Test everything and hold on to what is good.


Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Prayer for Protection Against The Wicked

We may or may not have wicked people coming against us in the same way that David did, but we can come before the LORD and ask for his protection and deliverance from all that we face.

Psalms 140

Prayer for Protection against the Wicked.

For the choir director. A Psalm of David.

     1Rescue me, O LORD, from evil men;
Preserve me from violent men

      2Who devise evil things in their hearts;
They continually stir up wars.

      3They sharpen their tongues as a serpent;
Poison of a viper is under their lips.


      4Keep me, O LORD, from the hands of the wicked;
Preserve me from violent men
Who have purposed to trip up my feet.

      5The proud have hidden a trap for me, and cords;
They have spread a net by the wayside;
They have set snares for me.


      6I said to the LORD, “You are my God;
Give ear, O LORD, to the voice of my supplications.

      7“O GOD the Lord, the strength of my salvation,
You have covered my head in the day of battle.

      8“Do not grant, O LORD, the desires of the wicked;
Do not promote his evil device, that they not be exalted.


      9“As for the head of those who surround me,
May the mischief of their lips cover them.

      10“May burning coals fall upon them;
May they be cast into the fire,
Into deep pits from which they cannot rise.

      11“May a slanderer not be established in the earth;
May evil hunt the violent man speedily.”

      12I know that the LORD will maintain the cause of the afflicted
And justice for the poor.

      13Surely the righteous will give thanks to Your name;
The upright will dwell in Your presence.


Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Do Not Turn Your Back on YHWH After He Delivers You

Human nature has not changed. We can learn from the past and apply these learnings to our own life and to the path our nation follows. Judges provides an excellent, at times accelerated, demonstration of how people can be fickle with regards to YHWH. When there is a significant burden or crisis, they turn toward him. Then, over time, they become complacent… especially over a few generations. Then he allows consequences for their disobedience and rebellion, and then they want to repent to get his help.

If we put ourselves in his place, we would be frustrated and disgusted how quickly people forget that we helped and delivered them as we watch them go worship rocks and sticks. Yet we expect YHWH to just somehow smile at us as we ignore and reject him and then smile again when we come back and ask for help again and again. He is merciful and patient, but he also experiences righteous anger. Let us not take for granted that he provides, that he rescues, that he delivers us. Let us not grow complacent after he does and let us not wander away from him in good times.

Judges 10

Oppression of Philistines and Ammonites

      1Now after Abimelech died, Tola the son of Puah, the son of Dodo, a man of Issachar, arose to save Israel; and he lived in Shamir in the hill country of Ephraim. 2He judged Israel twenty-three years. Then he died and was buried in Shamir.

      3After him, Jair the Gileadite arose and judged Israel twenty-two years. 4He had thirty sons who rode on thirty donkeys, and they had thirty cities in the land of Gilead that are called Havvoth-jair to this day. 5And Jair died and was buried in Kamon.

      6Then the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD, served the Baals and the Ashtaroth, the gods of Aram, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the sons of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines; thus they forsook the LORD and did not serve Him. 7The anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and He sold them into the hands of the Philistines and into the hands of the sons of Ammon. 8They afflicted and crushed the sons of Israel that year; for eighteen years they afflicted all the sons of Israel who were beyond the Jordan in Gilead in the land of the Amorites. 9The sons of Ammon crossed the Jordan to fight also against Judah, Benjamin, and the house of Ephraim, so that Israel was greatly distressed.

      10Then the sons of Israel cried out to the LORD, saying, “We have sinned against You, for indeed, we have forsaken our God and served the Baals.” 11The LORD said to the sons of Israel, “Did I not deliver you from the Egyptians, the Amorites, the sons of Ammon, and the Philistines? 12“Also when the Sidonians, the Amalekites and the Maonites oppressed you, you cried out to Me, and I delivered you from their hands. 13“Yet you have forsaken Me and served other gods; therefore I will no longer deliver you. 14“Go and cry out to the gods which you have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your distress.” 15The sons of Israel said to the LORD, “We have sinned, do to us whatever seems good to You; only please deliver us this day.” 16So they put away the foreign gods from among them and served the LORD; and He could bear the misery of Israel no longer.

      17Then the sons of Ammon were summoned and they camped in Gilead. And the sons of Israel gathered together and camped in Mizpah. 18The people, the leaders of Gilead, said to one another, “Who is the man who will begin to fight against the sons of Ammon? He shall become head over all the inhabitants of Gilead.”


Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

The Old and The New – Let’s Study Carefully

Hebrews 9 continues to build upon the them from the preceding chapters of Hebrews. Yeshua has died and shed blood for the atonement of our sins. He is now our high priest, not on earth like the Levites, but actually in the presence of the LORD in heaven. His blood was sufficient once and for all and we do not need to continue with sacrifices for atonement for sin. The author reminds us the role of the Levites and the tabernacle relate to or reflect the heavenly things. By understanding the physical (e.g. the role of Levites and sacrifices) in our relationship with YHWH, we then are better able to understand the spiritual (Yeshua’s sacrifice and role as high priest).

Let us keep in mind, however, that these chapters of Hebrews are specifically focused on the priesthood and on sacrifice for atonement of sin. This is the focus of these chapters when referencing the “old” and the “new” covenant. In fact, Hebrews 8:10 emphasizes that this is not a change in YHWH’s law in its entirety.


If the laws had changed, it would not say “I will put my laws into their minds…” but rather it would refer to a change or new laws. It does not. The “new” in this context is that YHWH will help us to live out his laws by putting the same Law in our minds and hearts. I believe this is a reference to the gift of the Holy Spirit which is available to help us now.

This is important context as we read in Hebrews 9 about the “old” and the “new”.

Hebrews 9

The Old and the New

      1Now even the first covenant had regulations of divine worship and the earthly sanctuary. 2For there was a tabernacle prepared, the outer one, in which were the lampstand and the table and the sacred bread; this is called the holy place. 3Behind the second veil there was a tabernacle which is called the Holy of Holies, 4having a golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden jar holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod which budded, and the tables of the covenant; 5and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat; but of these things we cannot now speak in detail.

      6Now when these things have been so prepared, the priests are continually entering the outer tabernacle performing the divine worship, 7but into the second, only the high priest enters once a year, not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the sins of the people committed in ignorance. 8The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed while the outer tabernacle is still standing, 9which is a symbol for the present time. Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience, 10since they relate only to food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until a time of reformation.

      11But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; 12and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. 13For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, 14how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

      15For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. 16For where a covenant is, there must of necessity be the death of the one who made it. 17For a covenant is valid only when men are dead, for it is never in force while the one who made it lives. 18Therefore even the first covenant was not inaugurated without blood. 19For when every commandment had been spoken by Moses to all the people according to the Law, he took the blood of the calves and the goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20saying, “THIS IS THE BLOOD OF THE COVENANT WHICH GOD COMMANDED YOU.” 21And in the same way he sprinkled both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry with the blood. 22And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

      23Therefore it was necessary for the copies of the things in the heavens to be cleansed with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; 25nor was it that He would offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the holy place year by year with blood that is not his own. 26Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. 27And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, 28so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.


Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

YHWH Is Everywhere at All Times

Psalm 139 reminds us that YHWH is everywhere (omnipresent) at all times. He is all knowing (omniscient).  He is aware of what we say and do before we do it. He was there when we were created in our mother’s womb. We can not run away from him (just ask Jonah!). We are also reminded with the closing verses to cry out to YHWH and ask him to search us and help us turn from any hurtful or unhelpful ways and turn toward his ways. I encourage you to take some time to ask for his help with this now.

Psalm 139

God’s Omnipresence and Omniscience.

For the choir director. A Psalm of David.

      1O LORD, You have searched me and known me.

      2You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar.

      3You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.

      4Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, O LORD, You know it all.

      5You have enclosed me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.

      6Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is too high, I cannot attain to it.

      7Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?

      8If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.

      9If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,

      10Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.

      11If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,
And the light around me will be night,”

      12Even the darkness is not dark to You,
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to You.

      13For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.

      14I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.

      15My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;

      16Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.

      17How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!

      18If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.
When I awake, I am still with You.

      19O that You would slay the wicked, O God;
Depart from me, therefore, men of bloodshed.

      20For they speak against You wickedly,
And Your enemies take Your name in vain.

      21Do I not hate those who hate You, O LORD?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against You?

      22I hate them with the utmost hatred;
They have become my enemies.

      23Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;

      24And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.


Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Abimelech and Schecem Receive Justice

The Bible is the greatest story ever told. To those who say it is boring or not full of meaning, I say they have not fairly read through it with an open mind. It is a fascinating record of how YHWH has interacted with his people.  There are plot twists and turns that are stranger than fiction.

Judges 9 is a good example. Remembering from Judges 8 that we just wrapped up the history of Gideon, also known as Jerubbaal, now we see what happens after his death. We see plotting and scheming for power and how YHWH brings about justice on those who deserve it.

Judges 9

Abimelech’s Conspiracy

     1And Abimelech the son of Jerubbaal went to Shechem to his mother’s relatives, and spoke to them and to the whole clan of the household of his mother’s father, saying, 2“Speak, now, in the hearing of all the leaders of Shechem, ‘Which is better for you, that seventy men, all the sons of Jerubbaal, rule over you, or that one man rule over you?’ Also, remember that I am your bone and your flesh.” 3And his mother’s relatives spoke all these words on his behalf in the hearing of all the leaders of Shechem; and they were inclined to follow Abimelech, for they said, “He is our relative.” 4They gave him seventy pieces of silver from the house of Baal-berith with which Abimelech hired worthless and reckless fellows, and they followed him. 5Then he went to his father’s house at Ophrah and killed his brothers the sons of Jerubbaal, seventy men, on one stone. But Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left, for he hid himself. 6All the men of Shechem and all Beth-millo assembled together, and they went and made Abimelech king, by the oak of the pillar which was in Shechem.

      7Now when they told Jotham, he went and stood on the top of Mount Gerizim, and lifted his voice and called out. Thus he said to them, “Listen to me, O men of Shechem, that God may listen to you. 8“Once the trees went forth to anoint a king over them, and they said to the olive tree, ‘Reign over us!’ 9“But the olive tree said to them, ‘Shall I leave my fatness with which God and men are honored, and go to wave over the trees?’ 10“Then the trees said to the fig tree, ‘You come, reign over us!’ 11“But the fig tree said to them, ‘Shall I leave my sweetness and my good fruit, and go to wave over the trees?’ 12“Then the trees said to the vine, ‘You come, reign over us!’ 13“But the vine said to them, ‘Shall I leave my new wine, which cheers God and men, and go to wave over the trees?’ 14“Finally all the trees said to the bramble, ‘You come, reign over us!’ 15“The bramble said to the trees, ‘If in truth you are anointing me as king over you, come and take refuge in my shade; but if not, may fire come out from the bramble and consume the cedars of Lebanon.’

      16“Now therefore, if you have dealt in truth and integrity in making Abimelech king, and if you have dealt well with Jerubbaal and his house, and have dealt with him as he deserved— 17for my father fought for you and risked his life and delivered you from the hand of Midian; 18but you have risen against my father’s house today and have killed his sons, seventy men, on one stone, and have made Abimelech, the son of his maidservant, king over the men of Shechem, because he is your relative— 19if then you have dealt in truth and integrity with Jerubbaal and his house this day, rejoice in Abimelech, and let him also rejoice in you. 20“But if not, let fire come out from Abimelech and consume the men of Shechem and Beth-millo; and let fire come out from the men of Shechem and from Beth-millo, and consume Abimelech.” 21Then Jotham escaped and fled, and went to Beer and remained there because of Abimelech his brother.

Shechem and Abimelech Fall

     22Now Abimelech ruled over Israel three years. 23Then God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem; and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech, 24so that the violence done to the seventy sons of Jerubbaal might come, and their blood might be laid on Abimelech their brother, who killed them, and on the men of Shechem, who strengthened his hands to kill his brothers. 25The men of Shechem set men in ambush against him on the tops of the mountains, and they robbed all who might pass by them along the road; and it was told to Abimelech.

      26Now Gaal the son of Ebed came with his relatives, and crossed over into Shechem; and the men of Shechem put their trust in him. 27They went out into the field and gathered the grapes of their vineyards and trod them, and held a festival; and they went into the house of their god, and ate and drank and cursed Abimelech. 28Then Gaal the son of Ebed said, “Who is Abimelech, and who is Shechem, that we should serve him? Is he not the son of Jerubbaal, and is Zebul not his lieutenant? Serve the men of Hamor the father of Shechem; but why should we serve him? 29“Would, therefore, that this people were under my authority! Then I would remove Abimelech.” And he said to Abimelech, “Increase your army and come out.”

      30When Zebul the ruler of the city heard the words of Gaal the son of Ebed, his anger burned. 31He sent messengers to Abimelech deceitfully, saying, “Behold, Gaal the son of Ebed and his relatives have come to Shechem; and behold, they are stirring up the city against you. 32“Now therefore, arise by night, you and the people who are with you, and lie in wait in the field. 33“In the morning, as soon as the sun is up, you shall rise early and rush upon the city; and behold, when he and the people who are with him come out against you, you shall do to them whatever you can.”

      34So Abimelech and all the people who were with him arose by night and lay in wait against Shechem in four companies. 35Now Gaal the son of Ebed went out and stood in the entrance of the city gate; and Abimelech and the people who were with him arose from the ambush. 36When Gaal saw the people, he said to Zebul, “Look, people are coming down from the tops of the mountains.” But Zebul said to him, “You are seeing the shadow of the mountains as if they were men.” 37Gaal spoke again and said, “Behold, people are coming down from the highest part of the land, and one company comes by the way of the diviners’ oak.” 38Then Zebul said to him, “Where is your boasting now with which you said, ‘Who is Abimelech that we should serve him?’ Is this not the people whom you despised? Go out now and fight with them!” 39So Gaal went out before the leaders of Shechem and fought with Abimelech. 40Abimelech chased him, and he fled before him; and many fell wounded up to the entrance of the gate. 41Then Abimelech remained at Arumah, but Zebul drove out Gaal and his relatives so that they could not remain in Shechem.

      42Now it came about the next day, that the people went out to the field, and it was told to Abimelech. 43So he took his people and divided them into three companies, and lay in wait in the field; when he looked and saw the people coming out from the city, he arose against them and slew them. 44Then Abimelech and the company who was with him dashed forward and stood in the entrance of the city gate; the other two companies then dashed against all who were in the field and slew them. 45Abimelech fought against the city all that day, and he captured the city and killed the people who were in it; then he razed the city and sowed it with salt.

      46When all the leaders of the tower of Shechem heard of it, they entered the inner chamber of the temple of El-berith. 47It was told Abimelech that all the leaders of the tower of Shechem were gathered together. 48So Abimelech went up to Mount Zalmon, he and all the people who were with him; and Abimelech took an axe in his hand and cut down a branch from the trees, and lifted it and laid it on his shoulder. Then he said to the people who were with him, “What you have seen me do, hurry and do likewise.” 49All the people also cut down each one his branch and followed Abimelech, and put them on the inner chamber and set the inner chamber on fire over those inside, so that all the men of the tower of Shechem also died, about a thousand men and women.

      50Then Abimelech went to Thebez, and he camped against Thebez and captured it. 51But there was a strong tower in the center of the city, and all the men and women with all the leaders of the city fled there and shut themselves in; and they went up on the roof of the tower. 52So Abimelech came to the tower and fought against it, and approached the entrance of the tower to burn it with fire. 53But a certain woman threw an upper millstone on Abimelech’s head, crushing his skull. 54Then he called quickly to the young man, his armor bearer, and said to him, “Draw your sword and kill me, so that it will not be said of me, ‘A woman slew him.’” So the young man pierced him through, and he died. 55When the men of Israel saw that Abimelech was dead, each departed to his home. 56Thus God repaid the wickedness of Abimelech, which he had done to his father in killing his seventy brothers. 57Also God returned all the wickedness of the men of Shechem on their heads, and the curse of Jotham the son of Jerubbaal came upon them.

We can certainly wonder sometimes why it seems evil people have success in their endeavors at the expense of “good” or “innocent” people. We can even ask YHWH, but we must trust in him no matter how strange or “unfair” the events appear to us. Judges 9 shows an example of justice delivered after a time.  There are times when we may not ever see the justice delivered to the wicked. However, we will all stand before YHWH one day and be judged and be held accountable for whether or not we accepted Yeshua as our savior and how we lived our lives.


Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Pray with me for YHWH to heal and strengthen marriages

Periodically we bring forth a prayer request in lieu of studying scripture for our daily walk. We invite you to pray with us for the marriages of those who follow Yeshua.

Father, please open the eyes and ears of Christians around the world to the truth and depth of your word. Help create a revival in Christian marriages by convicting your people of their selfishness and sin in marriage toward you and their spouse. Create in them a new spirit to seek to understand your word and follow you and as result experience the true joy that You intend for a godly marriage.

Let not people turn toward divorce and accept it because of the hardness of their hearts, but rather overcome it by living your word in their lives! Let your people truly be a light to the nations, demonstrating loving, kind, selfless, marriages that are filled with joy. 

Thank you for praying with us today.  To pray with us regularly for one another and for Biblical examples of prayer, please visit our Prayer Requests page.

Learning To Pray Effectively

God has a lot to say about prayer in the Bible. It is a very important two-way communication between God and His people. He wants to hear from us and wants us to hear from Him. God also wants us to selflessly pray for others, not just for ourselves.

Prayer is a topic that can and should be studied at great length by every believer. This teaching is longer than most that we provide. As such you may expect to go through it thoughtfully will take more than just a few minutes. Take it in pieces and come back to it if that helps, but get started even if you can’t finish it all at once.

For the purposes of this teaching as a starting point to lead you toward righteous prayer we highlight several scriptures regarding prayer but will only break down into greater detail the teaching of Jesus, Himself, regarding prayer in Matthew 6:5-14. It was in this way that Jesus began teaching His disciples how to pray.

To learn more about prayer, you can review our devotions on prayer by selecting the Category “Prayer” or consider other resources such as those recommended on our site at “Study The Word: Books and Other Study Tools“.

1 Timothy 2:1-8

1First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, 2for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. 3This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time. 7For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying) as a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

8Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension.

Ephesians 6:18-20 

18With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, 19and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

Philippians 4:4-7

4Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! 5Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. 6Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Matthew 5:23

23“Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.

Matthew 26:36-46 

36Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to His disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and distressed. 38Then He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.”

39And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” 40And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour? 41“Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

42He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done.” 43Again He came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44And He left them again, and went away and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more. 45Then He came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46“Get up, let us be going; behold, the one who betrays Me is at hand!”

Matthew 6:5-14

5“When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 6“But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.

7“And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. 8“So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.

9“Pray, then, in this way:
‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.

10‘Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.

11‘Give us this day our daily bread.

12‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’]

14“For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15“But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.

Please do not skip over verses 5-8. While these are not included in what we commonly refer to as “The Lord’s Prayer” or “The Our Father”, they are critical points in teaching common mistakes that what we should not be doing. Do not pray for attention before men, but rather pray in secret for relationship with God. Do not use meaningless repetition… including just empty recitation of the prayer that Jesus shares in verses 9-13! This prayer is not a formula of specific words that must be recited, but rather an outline to help you focus your prayer in relating to God. It is meaningless to just memorize and repeat the words without truly dwelling on what they mean and how to relate to our God!

To explore this further, we will explore how to apply this outline for prayer with greater depth, so we draw near to God rather than repeat memorized words. (I am grateful to those who shared with me what I now share with you as I find it a very good application of the Lord’s Prayer.)

“Our Father who is in heaven,”

Respect and honor who God is. Take a few moments and be still before God. Contemplate the character of God:

  • The Great I Am
  • Creator of All
  • All Knowing (omniscient)
  • All Powerful (omnipotent)
  • Present In All Places At All Times (omnipresent)
  • Unchanging (immutable)
  •  Eternal (without beginning or end)
  • Incapable of Making a Mistake (flawless)
  • Without limit or boundaries (infinite)
  • Holy (worthy of devotion as one perfect in goodness)
  • Just (behaving according to what is morally right and fair)
  • The Beginning and the End (Alpha and Omega)

In Ephesians  1:18-19 Paul prays “…that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.”

Reflect on the greatness of God’s power toward you as:

  • God the Father: Father, Provider, Shelter, Protector
  • God the Son: Righteousness, Holiness, Peace, Truth
  • God the Holy Spirit: Comforter, Counselor, Teacher, Guide

“Hallowed be Your name.”

God’s name is to be separated from the world. To do this, we must separate from the world and focus on God. Focus on the Old Testament names for God.

Consider, also, focusing on God through a worship song.

“Your kingdom come.”

God’s kingdom is where He has total rule and authority. It is a kingdom of righteousness based in free will. His servants choose willingly or even enthusiastically to obey Him.

This scripture represents submission to God to rule and control your life. You are asking God to make your character to transform to be more like His character to make the fruit you bear more like the fruit of Jesus’ life and ministry.

We must first pray “my kingdom go” before we can truly pray for God’s kingdom to come. Pray for God to take control of these areas of your life; release them into His hands.

  • My family
  • My future
  • My job
  • My finances
  • My ministry
  • My thought life

Write in your prayer journal any areas you feel like God is directing you to pray for specifically.

God’s character should be reflected in our character.

  • Compassionate
  • Gracious
  • Humble
  • Pure (in body and mind)
  • Merciful
  • Giving (in time and resources)
  • Slow to anger / Patient
  • Filled with love
  • Truthful
  • Forgiving
  • Kind
  • Faithful (to God)
  • Wise
  • Servant’s heart
  • Disciplined (self control)
  • Joyful
  • Holy (set apart from sin; set apart for God’s purpose)
  • Just (e.g. justice)

Periodically (e.g. once a week) pick one of God’s characteristics, starting with your weakest, and study its meaning completely including study of application in scriptures. This activity will renew your mind in that area and, in turn, transform your character to be more like God and our Lord Jesus Christ. After completing the list, start over again.

“Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.”

This should be our personal acknowledgment of God’s will to be done in our lives in His timing and His way. Ask God what His will is for decisions that you need to make this week or later this year and then listen and wait for His answer.

Proverbs 3:5-7 guides us to”Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and turn away from evil.”

Write in your journal decisions you have to make and answers from God. Expect Him to answer, and then test the answer you hear against the scripture to ensure you are hearing from God and not from your own sin nature or from Satan.

God’s answer may not come during prayer time. It may come later that day or even the next couple days. Often His answer is not what we expect.

Pray for upcoming events as you write them in your journal. They may include things such as government (federal, state, local), schools, Christian leaders or ministry / church staff, missionaries, pastors, and of course events personal to your own life or that of your family and friends.

Pray for God’s will to be done for any individuals or groups for whom you are responsible or for individual people for whom God puts on your heart a desire to pray.

Consider writing down a prayer strategy in your journal and refer back to it periodically.

“Give us this day our daily bread.”

At this point, ask God to provide for your needs (e.g. home, family, finances, church, ministry, friends, etc.)

The body needs food to live, but the spirit also needs food to live. Jesus is our food because He is the Word. Ask Him to speak a word to your spirit. Consider reading a devotional from a book and/or a few verses from the Bible. Write down what stands out to you. Meditate on it and write in your journal an action plan for applying it to your life as you feel led by the spirit. (Meditation in the Christian walk is not emptying the mind and seeking nothingness as in some other faiths, but rather actively using our God-given minds to think about and apply the written word of God in our lives.)

“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”

This was so important to Jesus, that He came back to it in verses Matthew 6:14-15.

14“For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15“But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.

Examine your heart and be completely honest with what you find because your Father knows anyway. Confess these things to God and ask forgiveness. Then turn from them and sin no more. Ask the Holy Spirit to convict you and reveal any sins you are unaware of at this time. Confess these sins to God and again ask forgiveness, turn from them and sin no more.

If there is a particular sin that keeps recurring, create an action plan to address it. The plan should include prayer, focused Bible study, and possibly additional resources or partnering with an accountability partner with whom you can share your struggle honestly.

Pray that God would forgive, bless and be good to the people who you believe have mistreated you. The only way God will continue to forgive us is if we continue to forgive others. Hold no bitterness or resentment in your heart. Purge from your heart any desire for revenge.

“And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

Ask God for protection. Ask Him to show you any snares of the enemy so that you might not be caught in them. This is where you must ponder your footsteps and consider where you are going or by whom something is coming. Write in your journal anything new that is coming into your life or anything that is already in your life that you do not have a peace about. Now, ask God if this is from Him or from the enemy or from our own internal sin nature. Test each situation against the word of God revealed in scripture. If something does not line up with the word, do not do it. If it lines up with the word, but you still can not get peace about it, seek advice from a mentor. Godly counsel can be very helpful.

“[For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’]”

Acknowledge God and all of His attributes. Realize that God is on the throne and He is in charge. Everything is under His control. Let this truth comfort you.

Thank God for being with you during your prayer time and thank Him that He will be with you all day, because He will… our Father loves us!

Praying meaningfully through the Lord’s prayer can easily grow to take thirty minutes or more. Do not try to rush it! If you do not have as much time, pick some of the areas to focus on in each part of the prayer and then rotate which areas you focus on from day to day. Whatever you do, please heed Jesus’ advice:

5“When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 6“But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.

7“And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. 8“So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.

As individuals within a global Christian community we can ask our brothers and sisters in Christ to pray for us. To submit a prayer request, go to our Submit Prayer Request page.

We at Hearing From Jesus will pray for you when we receive these prayer requests. We also invite other members of our community to visit our site Pray for Others page and pray for the needs listed there.

For those of you in the body of Christ that have a calling to pray for others… the prayer warriors among us… you may even consider adding the Pray for Others page as a favorite to remind you to click in and pray for God’s people in their need.

To study more teachings about effective prayer, review our category of teachings about Learning to Pray Effectively.

May the grace and peace of our Lord, Jesus Christ, be with you.


Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.