Category Archives: Wickedness / Evil

Be Vigilant To Avoid False Prophets

Make no mistake, there were and clearly still are false prophets. They corrupt the teaching and instruction of YHWH and mix and mingle it with what is unholy. They lead people astray from YHWH’s path, especially those that do not study the Bible to know what it tells us and to test what others say YHWH wants. By definition, a false prophet is representing themselves in some way like they are bringing truth from the LORD. They do not announce that they are teaching things against YHWH. They slowly mislead people, bit by bit, away from the path YHWH has for us.

We must be intentional. We must seek YHWH. Follow the example of Yeshua to be sure. Study and pray and walk out the life according to YHWH’s word, which we have now in the form of Bibles. Do not be idle or lazy or just take the word of men. Test everything, even that which you have been taught by churches and your family against what God’s word actually says. Study it. Pray about it.

Think about it this way. If I love my wife, do I simply listen to what others say about what she values and wants? or do I listen to her words directly? Which is the better source? If someone tells me something which does not sound right, I would test it with her and what she has told me in the past. I would trust her input over that of others if there is a conflict. If I have a point of confusion, I would seek her out to clarify, not the other person. In this way, we should also pursue the LORD.

2 Peter 2

The Rise of False Prophets

      1But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. 2Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; 3and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.

      4For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment; 5and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; 6and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter; 7and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men 8(for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds), 9then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment, 10and especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority.
Daring, self-willed, they do not tremble when they revile angelic majesties, 11whereas angels who are greater in might and power do not bring a reviling judgment against them before the Lord. 12But these, like unreasoning animals, born as creatures of instinct to be captured and killed, reviling where they have no knowledge, will in the destruction of those creatures also be destroyed, 13suffering wrong as the wages of doing wrong. They count it a pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are stains and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, as they carouse with you, 14having eyes full of adultery that never cease from sin, enticing unstable souls, having a heart trained in greed, accursed children; 15forsaking the right way, they have gone astray, having followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; 16but he received a rebuke for his own transgression, for a mute donkey, speaking with a voice of a man, restrained the madness of the prophet.

      17These are springs without water and mists driven by a storm, for whom the black darkness has been reserved. 18For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error, 19promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved. 20For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them. 22It has happened to them according to the true proverb, “A DOG RETURNS TO ITS OWN VOMIT,” and, “A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire.”

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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.

Should a Follower of Christ Celebrate Halloween?

Far to often we just go along with whatever “everyone else” is doing when holidays are concerned. We can always rationalize why many of the common “holidays” such as Halloween “are harmless” or even “an opportunity to participate so as to lead others to Christ”. However, never in scripture does God encourage us to in any way imitate the pagan celebrations of others as a way of “getting along with” or “blending in with” or even witnessing to non believers. We are instead called to be set apart from pagan traditions and worship of false gods in every way. We are to do things only God’s way. Being different is an important part of being a light to draw people to Christ. If those who follow Christ blend in with everyone else, why should any non believer accept Christ and change their lives?

The following article is a good summary about Halloween, so I choose not to write my own. I recommend you pray for God to give you an open mind and test celebration of Halloween, not against what your church does or your family has done for generations, but against the word of God.

A few easy questions to ask yourself…  “Does celebrating this holiday honor God and point others to Him? Could it actually confuse others as to what Christ calls us to do and how He calls us to act? If I ignore traditions of men for a moment and test the holiday (and how it is celebrated) against scripture, is there any way I would ever reasonably conclude I should celebrate this based on the Bible itself?” Perhaps one final question, “If I am not sure it is good and honoring to God, should I skip it or celebrate it anyway?”

ChristianAnswers.net – Should Christians participate in Halloween?

The October 31st holiday that we today know as Halloween has strong roots in paganism and is closely connected with worship of the Enemy of this world, Satan. It is a holiday that generally glorifies the dark things of this world, rather than the light of Jesus Christ, The Truth.

Have you noticed how costumes and masks are getting generally more bloody, gory, and depraved each year? Unfortunately, the gruesome and grotesque and the occult are increasingly glorified in American society, not only on Halloween, but throughout the year in frequent horror movies and television programs.

My family does not celebrate it or participate in it. We do not believe that our children are “missing out,” and neither do they. Other days are used for costumes and parties. Happily, all of our children have accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. We have found that Halloween provides an excellent time to remind our children that, as Christians, we are different, and not of this world (Heb. 11:13-16; 1 Pet. 2:11).

What about church “Harvest Festivals” held on October 31? Although we understand the rational and good intentions behind them, we don’t think they are the best approach. Our family tends to agree with the author of an article called “Are ‘Harvest Parties’ for Christians?” (written by a self-avowed former witch and now active Christian). Harvest parties on October 31 tend to assume that “our children need something to take the place of Halloween, since they won’t be participating in the secular and pagan celebrations. It suggests our kids are missing out on something. And indeed they are, if we allow them to spend Halloween in celebration.” There are better things to do on Halloween than partying.

Also, we need to teach our children that “the fight isn’t against occultists, non-Christians, Christians who feel differently than we about Halloween, or institutions that promote Halloween, but” “against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12, NKJV).

Click the following link to read the full article: ChristianAnswers.net – Should Christians participate in Halloween?

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? Are you living today filled with the peace and joy of truly knowing and following Jesus Christ? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross

Everyone Did What Was Right In His Own Eyes

Judges 19-21 record a difficult time in Israel centered around wickedness carried out by Benjamin. The scripture reinforces in each chapter that there was no king and each man did what was right in his own eyes. It is a powerful reminder of what human nature leads to without boundaries or laws to give us clear direction.

Judges 21 picks up after the civil war has been won and Benjamin defeated. The Israelites are recorded as seeking YHWH, but it is not clear that he answers at this time or perhaps it seems more like they took matters into their own hands. They are mourning over Benjamin, and then they decide to punish people who did not come as directed to the meeting place. They kill the entire camp except virgin daughters, which they then give to Benjamin. Then they come up with a way to provide more women for Benjamin that just does not seem right… but it seemed right in their own eyes.

Judges 21

Mourning Lost Tribe

      1Now the men of Israel had sworn in Mizpah, saying, “None of us shall give his daughter to Benjamin in marriage.” 2So the people came to Bethel and sat there before God until evening, and lifted up their voices and wept bitterly. 3They said, “Why, O LORD, God of Israel, has this come about in Israel, so that one tribe should be missing today in Israel?” 4It came about the next day that the people arose early and built an altar there and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings.

      5Then the sons of Israel said, “Who is there among all the tribes of Israel who did not come up in the assembly to the LORD?” For they had taken a great oath concerning him who did not come up to the LORD at Mizpah, saying, “He shall surely be put to death.” 6And the sons of Israel were sorry for their brother Benjamin and said, “One tribe is cut off from Israel today. 7“What shall we do for wives for those who are left, since we have sworn by the LORD not to give them any of our daughters in marriage?”

Provision for Their Survival

      8And they said, “What one is there of the tribes of Israel who did not come up to the LORD at Mizpah?” And behold, no one had come to the camp from Jabesh-gilead to the assembly. 9For when the people were numbered, behold, not one of the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead was there. 10And the congregation sent 12,000 of the valiant warriors there, and commanded them, saying, “Go and strike the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead with the edge of the sword, with the women and the little ones. 11“This is the thing that you shall do: you shall utterly destroy every man and every woman who has lain with a man.” 12And they found among the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead 400 young virgins who had not known a man by lying with him; and they brought them to the camp at Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan.

      13Then the whole congregation sent word and spoke to the sons of Benjamin who were at the rock of Rimmon, and proclaimed peace to them. 14Benjamin returned at that time, and they gave them the women whom they had kept alive from the women of Jabesh-gilead; yet they were not enough for them. 15And the people were sorry for Benjamin because the LORD had made a breach in the tribes of Israel.

      16Then the elders of the congregation said, “What shall we do for wives for those who are left, since the women are destroyed out of Benjamin?” 17They said, “There must be an inheritance for the survivors of Benjamin, so that a tribe will not be blotted out from Israel. 18“But we cannot give them wives of our daughters.” For the sons of Israel had sworn, saying, “Cursed is he who gives a wife to Benjamin.”

      19So they said, “Behold, there is a feast of the LORD from year to year in Shiloh, which is on the north side of Bethel, on the east side of the highway that goes up from Bethel to Shechem, and on the south side of Lebonah.” 20And they commanded the sons of Benjamin, saying, “Go and lie in wait in the vineyards, 21and watch; and behold, if the daughters of Shiloh come out to take part in the dances, then you shall come out of the vineyards and each of you shall catch his wife from the daughters of Shiloh, and go to the land of Benjamin. 22“It shall come about, when their fathers or their brothers come to complain to us, that we shall say to them, ‘Give them to us voluntarily, because we did not take for each man of Benjamin a wife in battle, nor did you give them to them, else you would now be guilty.’” 23The sons of Benjamin did so, and took wives according to their number from those who danced, whom they carried away. And they went and returned to their inheritance and rebuilt the cities and lived in them. 24The sons of Israel departed from there at that time, every man to his tribe and family, and each one of them went out from there to his inheritance.

      25In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

Perhaps if the people of Israel had not been so quick to vow not to give their daughters to Benjamin, then they would not have been tempted to be so drastic in how they provided daughters to Benjamin. In either case, verse 25 reminds us that the events in this passage are not condoned or endorsed by YHWH. It specifically calls out how people were doing whatever seemed right in their own eyes.

We do well to look upon the Torah (law) of YHWH as our helpful guide and book of instructions. He provided it to help us have the boundaries we need to live his way rather than our own. Let us look to his perfect law and not seek to do what is right in our own eyes.

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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.

 

Lawlessness Continued In Israel

We have been reading in Judges 17-19 about some historical records that reveal the lawlessness that took place in Israel after the death of Samson. Chapters 17-19 specify explicitly that in those days there was no king in Israel. We see people have degraded to “might makes right” mindset to do whatever they please that they can get away with. We should not pretend that the same thing would not happen even today if there was no government or clear leadership to constrain evil people.

In Judges 19 specifically, a Levite took on a concubine, she played harlot, her father made difficult their return home, and they end up in amongst a very wicked people within Benjamin. They rape (to the point of death) the concubine. It is an appalling series of events to witness.  In Judges 20 it continues with men of Israel gathering to carry out justice against the wickedness, but the tribe of Benjamin turns it into a civil war by refusing to acknowledge the wickedness.

This situation is a stark warning and remind to us of what happens when we allow a society to evolve toward anarchy and lawlessness.

Judges 20

Resolve to Punish the Guilty

      1Then all the sons of Israel from Dan to Beersheba, including the land of Gilead, came out, and the congregation assembled as one man to the LORD at Mizpah. 2The chiefs of all the people, even of all the tribes of Israel, took their stand in the assembly of the people of God, 400,000 foot soldiers who drew the sword. 3(Now the sons of Benjamin heard that the sons of Israel had gone up to Mizpah.) And the sons of Israel said, “Tell us, how did this wickedness take place?” 4So the Levite, the husband of the woman who was murdered, answered and said, “I came with my concubine to spend the night at Gibeah which belongs to Benjamin. 5“But the men of Gibeah rose up against me and surrounded the house at night because of me. They intended to kill me; instead, they ravished my concubine so that she died. 6“And I took hold of my concubine and cut her in pieces and sent her throughout the land of Israel’s inheritance; for they have committed a lewd and disgraceful act in Israel. 7“Behold, all you sons of Israel, give your advice and counsel here.”

      8Then all the people arose as one man, saying, “Not one of us will go to his tent, nor will any of us return to his house. 9“But now this is the thing which we will do to Gibeah; we will go up against it by lot. 10“And we will take 10 men out of 100 throughout the tribes of Israel, and 100 out of 1,000, and 1,000 out of 10,000 to supply food for the people, that when they come to Gibeah of Benjamin, they may punish them for all the disgraceful acts that they have committed in Israel.” 11Thus all the men of Israel were gathered against the city, united as one man.

      12Then the tribes of Israel sent men through the entire tribe of Benjamin, saying, “What is this wickedness that has taken place among you? 13“Now then, deliver up the men, the worthless fellows in Gibeah, that we may put them to death and remove this wickedness from Israel.” But the sons of Benjamin would not listen to the voice of their brothers, the sons of Israel. 14The sons of Benjamin gathered from the cities to Gibeah, to go out to battle against the sons of Israel. 15From the cities on that day the sons of Benjamin were numbered, 26,000 men who draw the sword, besides the inhabitants of Gibeah who were numbered, 700 choice men. 16Out of all these people 700 choice men were left-handed; each one could sling a stone at a hair and not miss.

      17Then the men of Israel besides Benjamin were numbered, 400,000 men who draw the sword; all these were men of war.

Civil War, Benjamin Defeated

      18Now the sons of Israel arose, went up to Bethel, and inquired of God and said, “Who shall go up first for us to battle against the sons of Benjamin?” Then the LORD said, “Judah shall go up first.”

      19So the sons of Israel arose in the morning and camped against Gibeah. 20The men of Israel went out to battle against Benjamin, and the men of Israel arrayed for battle against them at Gibeah. 21Then the sons of Benjamin came out of Gibeah and felled to the ground on that day 22,000 men of Israel. 22But the people, the men of Israel, encouraged themselves and arrayed for battle again in the place where they had arrayed themselves the first day. 23The sons of Israel went up and wept before the LORD until evening, and inquired of the LORD, saying, “Shall we again draw near for battle against the sons of my brother Benjamin?” And the LORD said, “Go up against him.”

      24Then the sons of Israel came against the sons of Benjamin the second day. 25Benjamin went out against them from Gibeah the second day and felled to the ground again 18,000 men of the sons of Israel; all these drew the sword. 26Then all the sons of Israel and all the people went up and came to Bethel and wept; thus they remained there before the LORD and fasted that day until evening. And they offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the LORD. 27The sons of Israel inquired of the LORD (for the ark of the covenant of God was there in those days, 28and Phinehas the son of Eleazar, Aaron’s son, stood before it to minister in those days), saying, “Shall I yet again go out to battle against the sons of my brother Benjamin, or shall I cease?” And the LORD said, “Go up, for tomorrow I will deliver them into your hand.”

      29So Israel set men in ambush around Gibeah. 30The sons of Israel went up against the sons of Benjamin on the third day and arrayed themselves against Gibeah as at other times. 31The sons of Benjamin went out against the people and were drawn away from the city, and they began to strike and kill some of the people as at other times, on the highways, one of which goes up to Bethel and the other to Gibeah, and in the field, about thirty men of Israel. 32The sons of Benjamin said, “They are struck down before us, as at the first.” But the sons of Israel said, “Let us flee that we may draw them away from the city to the highways.” 33Then all the men of Israel arose from their place and arrayed themselves at Baal-tamar; and the men of Israel in ambush broke out of their place, even out of Maareh-geba. 34When ten thousand choice men from all Israel came against Gibeah, the battle became fierce; but Benjamin did not know that disaster was close to them. 35And the LORD struck Benjamin before Israel, so that the sons of Israel destroyed 25,100 men of Benjamin that day, all who draw the sword.

      36So the sons of Benjamin saw that they were defeated. When the men of Israel gave ground to Benjamin because they relied on the men in ambush whom they had set against Gibeah, 37the men in ambush hurried and rushed against Gibeah; the men in ambush also deployed and struck all the city with the edge of the sword. 38Now the appointed sign between the men of Israel and the men in ambush was that they would make a great cloud of smoke rise from the city. 39Then the men of Israel turned in the battle, and Benjamin began to strike and kill about thirty men of Israel, for they said, “Surely they are defeated before us, as in the first battle.” 40But when the cloud began to rise from the city in a column of smoke, Benjamin looked behind them; and behold, the whole city was going up in smoke to heaven. 41Then the men of Israel turned, and the men of Benjamin were terrified; for they saw that disaster was close to them. 42Therefore, they turned their backs before the men of Israel toward the direction of the wilderness, but the battle overtook them while those who came out of the cities destroyed them in the midst of them. 43They surrounded Benjamin, pursued them without rest and trod them down opposite Gibeah toward the east. 44Thus 18,000 men of Benjamin fell; all these were valiant warriors. 45The rest turned and fled toward the wilderness to the rock of Rimmon, but they caught 5,000 of them on the highways and overtook them at Gidom and killed 2,000 of them. 46So all of Benjamin who fell that day were 25,000 men who draw the sword; all these were valiant warriors. 47But 600 men turned and fled toward the wilderness to the rock of Rimmon, and they remained at the rock of Rimmon four months. 48The men of Israel then turned back against the sons of Benjamin and struck them with the edge of the sword, both the entire city with the cattle and all that they found; they also set on fire all the cities which they found.

We do see at least the men of Israel turning toward the LORD for help and guidance. They pray and fast. They are seeking justice against those who practice wickedness. Interesting enough, I am not clear why the LORD allowed them to be defeated at first, but they kept turning toward him and he gave them victory in the end. Perhaps we can take it as a reminder that just because we face temporary defeat, does not mean we are not following YHWH’s path or that living righteously and seeking justice is not easy.

Let us remember historical accounts like this one when we find ourselves complaining about the law of YHWH. His instructions and guidance is there to provide a framework of righteous living. The rules help protect us. Let us take great care when claiming and pursuing “freedom” to do whatever seems right in our own eyes. This will never end well in the long run due to the inherent sinful nature of man. Seek after YHWH’s ways rather than our own.

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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.

When There Was no King In Israel…

We previously explored the language in Judges 17 and 18 about there being no king in Israel. It was associated with idolatry, even amongst a priest, and lawlessness. In Judges 19 we again see this emphasized as we read a story of great lawlessness and conflict, with each man doing what he feels is right in his own eyes.

Many questions could be asked… such as, “Why does a Levite have a concubine?” or “Why did he tolerate her playing a harlot and pursue her?” How about “Why did her father make it so difficult for them to return safely home by constantly imposing on them to stay?”How about “Why was so much wickedness accepted within the tribe of Benjamin?”

We will see more in chapter 20, but for today, just try to absorb and reflect on the lawlessness that takes place when there is no clear government in place to lead or constrain the people. People tend to degrade to doing whatever they feel like that they can get away with. It is a good reminder that human nature is sinful and selfish and not at all righteous and good. Righteousness and goodness come through YHWH and his transforming us to be more like him.

Judges 19

A Levite’s Concubine Degraded

      1Now it came about in those days, when there was no king in Israel, that there was a certain Levite staying in the remote part of the hill country of Ephraim, who took a concubine for himself from Bethlehem in Judah. 2But his concubine played the harlot against him, and she went away from him to her father’s house in Bethlehem in Judah, and was there for a period of four months. 3Then her husband arose and went after her to speak tenderly to her in order to bring her back, taking with him his servant and a pair of donkeys. So she brought him into her father’s house, and when the girl’s father saw him, he was glad to meet him. 4His father-in-law, the girl’s father, detained him; and he remained with him three days. So they ate and drank and lodged there. 5Now on the fourth day they got up early in the morning, and he prepared to go; and the girl’s father said to his son-in-law, “Sustain yourself with a piece of bread, and afterward you may go.” 6So both of them sat down and ate and drank together; and the girl’s father said to the man, “Please be willing to spend the night, and let your heart be merry.” 7Then the man arose to go, but his father-in-law urged him so that he spent the night there again. 8On the fifth day he arose to go early in the morning, and the girl’s father said, “Please sustain yourself, and wait until afternoon”; so both of them ate. 9When the man arose to go along with his concubine and servant, his father-in-law, the girl’s father, said to him, “Behold now, the day has drawn to a close; please spend the night. Lo, the day is coming to an end; spend the night here that your heart may be merry. Then tomorrow you may arise early for your journey so that you may go home.”

      10But the man was not willing to spend the night, so he arose and departed and came to a place opposite Jebus (that is, Jerusalem). And there were with him a pair of saddled donkeys; his concubine also was with him. 11When they were near Jebus, the day was almost gone; and the servant said to his master, “Please come, and let us turn aside into this city of the Jebusites and spend the night in it.” 12However, his master said to him, “We will not turn aside into the city of foreigners who are not of the sons of Israel; but we will go on as far as Gibeah.” 13He said to his servant, “Come and let us approach one of these places; and we will spend the night in Gibeah or Ramah.” 14So they passed along and went their way, and the sun set on them near Gibeah which belongs to Benjamin. 15They turned aside there in order to enter and lodge in Gibeah. When they entered, they sat down in the open square of the city, for no one took them into his house to spend the night.

      16Then behold, an old man was coming out of the field from his work at evening. Now the man was from the hill country of Ephraim, and he was staying in Gibeah, but the men of the place were Benjamites. 17And he lifted up his eyes and saw the traveler in the open square of the city; and the old man said, “Where are you going, and where do you come from?” 18He said to him, “We are passing from Bethlehem in Judah to the remote part of the hill country of Ephraim, for I am from there, and I went to Bethlehem in Judah. But I am now going to my house, and no man will take me into his house. 19“Yet there is both straw and fodder for our donkeys, and also bread and wine for me, your maidservant, and the young man who is with your servants; there is no lack of anything.” 20The old man said, “Peace to you. Only let me take care of all your needs; however, do not spend the night in the open square.” 21So he took him into his house and gave the donkeys fodder, and they washed their feet and ate and drank.

      22While they were celebrating, behold, the men of the city, certain worthless fellows, surrounded the house, pounding the door; and they spoke to the owner of the house, the old man, saying, “Bring out the man who came into your house that we may have relations with him.” 23Then the man, the owner of the house, went out to them and said to them, “No, my fellows, please do not act so wickedly; since this man has come into my house, do not commit this act of folly. 24“Here is my virgin daughter and his concubine. Please let me bring them out that you may ravish them and do to them whatever you wish. But do not commit such an act of folly against this man.” 25But the men would not listen to him. So the man seized his concubine and brought her out to them; and they raped her and abused her all night until morning, then let her go at the approach of dawn. 26As the day began to dawn, the woman came and fell down at the doorway of the man’s house where her master was, until full daylight.

      27When her master arose in the morning and opened the doors of the house and went out to go on his way, then behold, his concubine was lying at the doorway of the house with her hands on the threshold. 28He said to her, “Get up and let us go,” but there was no answer. Then he placed her on the donkey; and the man arose and went to his home. 29When he entered his house, he took a knife and laid hold of his concubine and cut her in twelve pieces, limb by limb, and sent her throughout the territory of Israel. 30All who saw it said, “Nothing like this has ever happened or been seen from the day when the sons of Israel came up from the land of Egypt to this day. Consider it, take counsel and speak up!”

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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.

Draw Near To YHWH And Our Fellow Man

James identifies a really targeted list of behaviors and attitudes that help us draw nearer to YHWH and our fellow man. We should carefully read through them and prayerfully reflect, asking YHWH to open our eyes to how they apply in our lives.

James 4

Things to Avoid

      1What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? 2You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. 3You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. 4You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”? 6But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.” 7Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. 10Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.

      11Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it. 12There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?

      13Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” 14Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. 15Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” 16But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. 17Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.

There is a lot in this list. We should not skip any of it, but I will pull out a few items that may often be misunderstood. Where he speaks about not being a friend to the world, the context is an adulteress. Where he speaks about turning joy into mourning, he is talking about us as sinners no longer finding joy but rather mourning in our sinful behavior and attitudes so we may become humble before YHWH and repent. Where he speaks of “judging”, let us first recognize that he is recognizing the law as the righteous standard of conduct we should follow, even after Yeshua was raised from the dead. He further is emphasizing that we should focus more on obeying the law ourselves and less on judging how others are doing about it. That said, we know from elsewhere in scripture we are to discern or judge right from wrong so we may reject what is bad and embrace what is good. Thus I think his emphasis here is on those who rather than follow the law themselves, just gossip and speak against others who follow it imperfectly.

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Praise the Lord For Restoration and Prosperity

Let us remember to praise the LORD as he provides restoration and prosperity. It is at times to easy to run to him in difficult times and then forget him when he delivers us from them.

Psalm 147

Praise for Jerusalem’s Restoration and Prosperity.

1Praise the LORD!
For it is good to sing praises to our God;
For it is pleasant and praise is becoming.

      2The LORD builds up Jerusalem;
He gathers the outcasts of Israel.

      3He heals the brokenhearted
And binds up their wounds.

      4He counts the number of the stars;
He gives names to all of them.

      5Great is our Lord and abundant in strength;
His understanding is infinite.

      6The LORD supports the afflicted;
He brings down the wicked to the ground.

      7Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving;
Sing praises to our God on the lyre,

      8Who covers the heavens with clouds,
Who provides rain for the earth,
Who makes grass to grow on the mountains.

      9He gives to the beast its food,
And to the young ravens which cry.

      10He does not delight in the strength of the horse;
He does not take pleasure in the legs of a man.

      11The LORD favors those who fear Him,
Those who wait for His lovingkindness.

      12Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem!
Praise your God, O Zion!

      13For He has strengthened the bars of your gates;
He has blessed your sons within you.

      14He makes peace in your borders;
He satisfies you with the finest of the wheat.

      15He sends forth His command to the earth;
His word runs very swiftly.

      16He gives snow like wool;
He scatters the frost like ashes.

      17He casts forth His ice as fragments;
Who can stand before His cold?

      18He sends forth His word and melts them;
He causes His wind to blow and the waters to flow.

      19He declares His words to Jacob,
His statutes and His ordinances to Israel.

      20He has not dealt thus with any nation;
And as for His ordinances, they have not known them.
Praise the LORD!

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Lost and Lawless

Judges 18 continues to record the picture of a lost people, living lawlessly and without a ruler or clear understanding of YHWH and how to follow him. They are practically fighting over idols and a priest that is ok with idols. This is not pleasing to the LORD. I find it curious to note that in both Judges 17 and 18, scripture makes the point that there was no king in Israel. It seems an important point. It reminds us that without clear governance, people just degrade toward anarchy and “might makes right” approach at taking what they want. Of course, a government that operates to take away our freedom is not much better. What a blessing to live in a country like the USA where a constitutional republic form of government is designed to protect our freedoms, even from the government itself.

However, to close on a point, Judges 18 reminds us that it is not the nature of man to be righteous. If and when we drift away from YHWH and his instructions, we drift away from true righteousness and into lawlessness and anarchy. Just as in our society today, the law established by YHWH is intended to protect and guide us in how to live in freedom. It is not to put us in bondage.

We can also be reminded that just following a priest or leader in established religion is no certainty that we are living in a way that is pleasing to YHWH. We have to seek the truth in his word.

Lastly, I find it somewhat telling, that as we read about lawless living in Judges 17-18, we see there is no mention of YHWH acting on behalf of the people. He seems to have left them to their own depravity as they do not seem to be seeking or following him.

Judges 18

Danites Seek Territory

      1In those days there was no king of Israel; and in those days the tribe of the Danites was seeking an inheritance for themselves to live in, for until that day an inheritance had not been allotted to them as a possession among the tribes of Israel. 2So the sons of Dan sent from their family five men out of their whole number, valiant men from Zorah and Eshtaol, to spy out the land and to search it; and they said to them, “Go, search the land.” And they came to the hill country of Ephraim, to the house of Micah, and lodged there. 3When they were near the house of Micah, they recognized the voice of the young man, the Levite; and they turned aside there and said to him, “Who brought you here? And what are you doing in this place? And what do you have here?” 4He said to them, “Thus and so has Micah done to me, and he has hired me and I have become his priest.” 5They said to him, “Inquire of God, please, that we may know whether our way on which we are going will be prosperous.” 6The priest said to them, “Go in peace; your way in which you are going has the LORD’S approval.”

      7Then the five men departed and came to Laish and saw the people who were in it living in security, after the manner of the Sidonians, quiet and secure; for there was no ruler humiliating them for anything in the land, and they were far from the Sidonians and had no dealings with anyone. 8When they came back to their brothers at Zorah and Eshtaol, their brothers said to them, “What do you report?9They said, “Arise, and let us go up against them; for we have seen the land, and behold, it is very good. And will you sit still? Do not delay to go, to enter, to possess the land. 10“When you enter, you will come to a secure people with a spacious land; for God has given it into your hand, a place where there is no lack of anything that is on the earth.”

      11Then from the family of the Danites, from Zorah and from Eshtaol, six hundred men armed with weapons of war set out. 12They went up and camped at Kiriath-jearim in Judah. Therefore they called that place Mahaneh-dan to this day; behold, it is west of Kiriath-jearim. 13They passed from there to the hill country of Ephraim and came to the house of Micah.

Danites Take Micah’s Idols

      14Then the five men who went to spy out the country of Laish said to their kinsmen, “Do you know that there are in these houses an ephod and household idols and a graven image and a molten image? Now therefore, consider what you should do.” 15They turned aside there and came to the house of the young man, the Levite, to the house of Micah, and asked him of his welfare. 16The six hundred men armed with their weapons of war, who were of the sons of Dan, stood by the entrance of the gate. 17Now the five men who went to spy out the land went up and entered there, and took the graven image and the ephod and household idols and the molten image, while the priest stood by the entrance of the gate with the six hundred men armed with weapons of war. 18When these went into Micah’s house and took the graven image, the ephod and household idols and the molten image, the priest said to them, “What are you doing?” 19They said to him, “Be silent, put your hand over your mouth and come with us, and be to us a father and a priest. Is it better for you to be a priest to the house of one man, or to be priest to a tribe and a family in Israel?” 20The priest’s heart was glad, and he took the ephod and household idols and the graven image and went among the people.

      21Then they turned and departed, and put the little ones and the livestock and the valuables in front of them. 22When they had gone some distance from the house of Micah, the men who were in the houses near Micah’s house assembled and overtook the sons of Dan. 23They cried to the sons of Dan, who turned around and said to Micah, “What is the matter with you, that you have assembled together?” 24He said, “You have taken away my gods which I made, and the priest, and have gone away, and what do I have besides? So how can you say to me, ‘What is the matter with you?’” 25The sons of Dan said to him, “Do not let your voice be heard among us, or else fierce men will fall upon you and you will lose your life, with the lives of your household.” 26So the sons of Dan went on their way; and when Micah saw that they were too strong for him, he turned and went back to his house.

      27Then they took what Micah had made and the priest who had belonged to him, and came to Laish, to a people quiet and secure, and struck them with the edge of the sword; and they burned the city with fire. 28And there was no one to deliver them, because it was far from Sidon and they had no dealings with anyone, and it was in the valley which is near Beth-rehob. And they rebuilt the city and lived in it. 29They called the name of the city Dan, after the name of Dan their father who was born in Israel; however, the name of the city formerly was Laish. 30The sons of Dan set up for themselves the graven image; and Jonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Manasseh, he and his sons were priests to the tribe of the Danites until the day of the captivity of the land. 31So they set up for themselves Micah’s graven image which he had made, all the time that the house of God was at Shiloh.

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Every Man Did What Was Right In His Own Eyes

The historical account in Judges after the death of Samson reminds me of Proverbs 29:18,

18Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained,
But happy is he who keeps the law.

The account of Micah in Judges 17 is intriguing to study and reflect on. There was no clear leader or organization in Israel at the time. Every man did what was right in his own eyes. Micah appears on the surface to want to follow the LORD, but then is so lost he is building idols to do it. He seeks out a Levite as priest and he too seems ok with the idols. Idolatry is fairly basic and clear to avoid. Could it be these people really did not know to avoid idols? I suspect they had mixed and mingled with other cultures around them so thoroughly that they came to rationalize that it was right despite clear guidance from YHWH against it. The seem to be unable to see even obvious things that are displeasing to YHWH.

Let us take note that we should likewise be careful to test what is accepted in our culture against what YHWH actually says in his word. We should not simply take the word of a priest or denomination, but really test what the word says in the Bible itself, lest we, like Micah, convince ourselves that God is pleased with us because we have a priest or spiritual leader and yet we are still mixed up in worshiping him the wrong way and doing what is wrong in his sight instead of what is pleasing.

Judges 17

Micah’s Idolatry

      1Now there was a man of the hill country of Ephraim whose name was Micah. 2He said to his mother, “The eleven hundred pieces of silver which were taken from you, about which you uttered a curse in my hearing, behold, the silver is with me; I took it.” And his mother said, “Blessed be my son by the LORD.” 3He then returned the eleven hundred pieces of silver to his mother, and his mother said, “I wholly dedicate the silver from my hand to the LORD for my son to make a graven image and a molten image; now therefore, I will return them to you.” 4So when he returned the silver to his mother, his mother took two hundred pieces of silver and gave them to the silversmith who made them into a graven image and a molten image, and they were in the house of Micah. 5And the man Micah had a shrine and he made an ephod and household idols and consecrated one of his sons, that he might become his priest. 6In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes.

      7Now there was a young man from Bethlehem in Judah, of the family of Judah, who was a Levite; and he was staying there. 8Then the man departed from the city, from Bethlehem in Judah, to stay wherever he might find a place; and as he made his journey, he came to the hill country of Ephraim to the house of Micah. 9Micah said to him, “Where do you come from?” And he said to him, “I am a Levite from Bethlehem in Judah, and I am going to stay wherever I may find a place.10Micah then said to him, “Dwell with me and be a father and a priest to me, and I will give you ten pieces of silver a year, a suit of clothes, and your maintenance.” So the Levite went in. 11The Levite agreed to live with the man, and the young man became to him like one of his sons. 12So Micah consecrated the Levite, and the young man became his priest and lived in the house of Micah. 13Then Micah said, “Now I know that the LORD will prosper me, seeing I have a Levite as priest.”

There is a right way to live according to YHWH’s instructions. He instructed us in the Torah and the writings of the prophets. Yeshua was the word become flesh to demonstrate it for us. We have no authority then to change it and do as we please instead or to pick which elements we shall obey and which we will not, each man doing what seems right in his own eyes.

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Great Is The LORD And Highly To Be Praised

It is all too easy to take for granted having a relationship with the LORD. Let us remember to praise him.

Psalm 145

The LORD Extolled for His Goodness.

A Psalm of Praise, of David.

1I will extol You, my God, O King,
And I will bless Your name forever and ever.

      2Every day I will bless You,
And I will praise Your name forever and ever.

      3Great is the LORD, and highly to be praised,
And His greatness is unsearchable.

      4One generation shall praise Your works to another,
And shall declare Your mighty acts.

      5On the glorious splendor of Your majesty
And on Your wonderful works, I will meditate.

      6Men shall speak of the power of Your awesome acts,
And I will tell of Your greatness.

      7They shall eagerly utter the memory of Your abundant goodness
And will shout joyfully of Your righteousness.

      8The LORD is gracious and merciful;
Slow to anger and great in lovingkindness.

      9The LORD is good to all,
And His mercies are over all His works.

      10All Your works shall give thanks to You, O LORD,
And Your godly ones shall bless You.

      11They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom
And talk of Your power;

      12To make known to the sons of men Your mighty acts
And the glory of the majesty of Your kingdom.

      13Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
And Your dominion endures throughout all generations.

      14The LORD sustains all who fall
And raises up all who are bowed down.

      15The eyes of all look to You,
And You give them their food in due time.

      16You open Your hand
And satisfy the desire of every living thing.

      17The LORD is righteous in all His ways
And kind in all His deeds.

      18The LORD is near to all who call upon Him,
To all who call upon Him in truth.

      19He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him;
He will also hear their cry and will save them.

      20The LORD keeps all who love Him,
But all the wicked He will destroy.

      21My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD,
And all flesh will bless His holy name forever and ever.

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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.