Judges 1-21 – The Bible from 30,000 Feet  – Skip Heitzig – Flight JUD01

Judges 1-21 – The Bible from 30,000 Feet – Skip Heitzig – Flight JUD01

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The Bible From 30,000 Feet,
soaring through the scripture from Genesis to Revelation. Would you turn in
your bibles, please, to the Book of Judges
in your Old Testament. Judges, chapter one– Bible From 30,000 Feet, I
want to remind you of that. Because there are sections of
this book that a lot of you would love to study in depth,
we have done that before. It is recorded for you
to get any time you wish, but this is the Bible
From 30,000 Feet, so we’re not going
to be uncovering every branch, every twig,
every leaf– just looking at things in general
and telling the story. As we begin, I was thinking
how I remember, back in school, the empty feeling I used to get
when I would do bad on a test or get a bad grade in a test. If I got below a
certain GPA, my parents didn’t deal with that well,
I didn’t deal with that well. Israel, in the Book of Judges,
gets an epic F for failure on their test to obey
and serve the Lord. Here’s what I mean. Do you remember how
the Book of Joshua ended, when Joshua gave his
farewell speech to the nation? And he says, “choose this
day whom you will serve. As for me and my house–”
finish it for me. “We will serve the Lord.” “We will serve the Lord.” That’s what Joshua said. He put his gauntlet
down and said, I’m going to serve the
Lord with my family. Israel responded
immediately, saying, us too. We will serve the Lord. With that sentence still
ringing in the air, so to speak, we come now to
the Book of Judges that shows their total
failure to serve the Lord. Verse 1 begins now after
the death of Joshua. This is the end of a strong
centralized leadership in the nation of Israel. When Moses died, God raised
up Joshua to take his place. But now Joshua is dead,
even though his death will be mentioned here
again in this book. And after Joshua dies, there
is no central leader anymore– now there are just
the tribes of Israel settling into their
land allotments, making decisions to go to war. So it is tribal government
rather than central government. It’s a 350-year period that this
book marks out, but think of it as 350 years from the
centralized government under Joshua as their central
leader to the first king of Israel, King Saul. Between Joshua and
King Saul is the period of the Book of Judges. Now it says the Book of
Judges, and immediately you think in your mind– most people do–
a courtroom, a guy in a black robe with
a gavel, litigating, pronouncing guilty or innocent. You need to push
that out of your mind and think in terms
of tribal warriors. A judge in the Old Testament was
a regional political military leader– think of it
as a tribal chieftain. The Book of Judges highlights
13 of them– some count 14, I’m going to say 13– 12 men and one woman, that
we’re going to get to. But I want to give you a
warning– the book is rated R. It’s a very bloody book,
it’s a very violent book, it is a disturbing book. It is filled with, and
tells the truth of, Israel’s moral corruption. But I got to tell
you something– this is why I like the Bible. The Bible doesn’t hide the
truth about its own history, the history of God’s people. Not only are they imperfect,
but in some cases, they utterly blow it and
become so morally depraved, not even reflecting the God
they said they would serve. But to me, that actually
highlights the veracity of the scripture, because
a lot of biographies will just tell you all the
good points about the heroes that they write about. The Bible tells you the dark
underside of biblical heroes, and we find biblical
heroes in this book. Now the theme of
the Book of Judges is from conquest to compromise. Joshua was all about conquest–
the first part of this book is all about conquest. But quickly, it goes from
conquest to compromise, and we find God’s people,
the children of Israel, walking in circles– or more appropriately, cycles– of sin. I’m going to explain that
in a moment, the sin cycle. Chapters 1 and 2
speak about conquest. Chapters 3 through 16
highlight their compromise, and chapter 17
through 21, chaos– the chaos that fills
the nation of Israel. So conquest,
compromise, and chaos. Now I’m going to read
something to you that I found, and I want you to
keep this in mind, not only as you think
of judges in 1300s BC, but think of this in
terms of modern United States of America. One historian writes this– the average age of the
world’s great civilizations is about 200 years. They all travel through
the same sequence– from bondage to spiritual
faith, from spiritual faith to great courage, from
great courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance,
from abundance to leisure. Now listen carefully–
from leisure to selfishness, from
selfishness to complacency, from complacency to apathy,
from apathy to dependence, from dependence to weakness, and
from weakness back to bondage. That’s a very astute
observation at the history of ancient civilizations, and
we’d do well to heed that. That basically is
the Book of Judges. Now, if there was
one book of the Bible that I was allowed to
erase with a giant eraser, it would be this book,
because it doesn’t highlight the great moments
of God’s people, but the lowest moments
of their history. It is a dark book, it
is a depressing book, it’s not the book you turn
to when you’re desperately needing hope. It’s like, man, I
feel so depressed– what book do I turn to? Stay away from Judges. Find just about any other book,
but stay away from this one. It’ll drive you deeper
into depression. Now the book opens
up with success– it opens up with
the tribes of Israel settling in their various tribal
allotments in the new land, in the promised land. But the job isn’t
done– there are still enemies to be conquered. So initial success
starts in Chapter 1 Verse 1, where it says, “Now
after the death of Joshua it came to pass that
the children of Israel asked the Lord, saying–”
oh, this is good. It’s good because there’s no
Joshua, but there’s always God. So if there is no Joshua,
then let’s talk to God– that’s good. Problem is, that’s it– they don’t keep doing this. They start having
success because they’re looking to the Lord
initially, but not eventually. But they ask the
Lord, saying, “who shall be first to go up
against the Canaanites to fight against them?” Now the term
Canaanites, by the way, is a broad term
for a whole bunch of different ethnic
groups that lived in the land west
of the Jordan River that we call today
modern-day Israel. In those days it was
Canaan, and there were all sorts of groups
that were eventually put under the heading of Canaanites,
even though Canaanite was a specific group. The Canaanites was a broad term
for Girgashites, Perizzites, termites– no not termites. But just all these
different people groups were in the land of Canaan,
which became the Promised Land later on. And the Lord said, Verse 2– “Judah shall go up. Indeed, I have delivered
the land into his hand.” Notice the past tense that
God uses– he’s so sure it will happen. Verse 4– “then Judah
went up, and the Lord delivered the Canaanites and
the Perizzites into their hand, and they killed
10,000 men at Bezek.” So at first, success. Why? Because initially,
they were wise, they asked the Lord what to
do, and the Lord answered. Go down to Verse 21. “But the children
of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites
who inhabited Jerusalem.” Verse 27– “However,
Menassah did not drive out the inhabitants of
Bethshean and its villages.” You who have toured
with us to Israel, we always spend a half
a day at Bethshean. Verse 29– “nor did Ephraim
drive out the Canaanites who dwelt in Gezer.” Verse 30– “nor did Zebulon
out the inhabitants of Kitron.” Verse 31– “nor did Asher drive
out the inhabitants of Accho.” So think of where
we’ve come from– Joshua, as the military
general, led attacks and defeats of many Canaanite towns– but not all of them. Not all of them have
been driven out– there’s still much to be taken,
and there are still Canaanites who live in the land. Chapter 1 gives a long,
detailed list of those towns. We’re not going to
bother to read them. But as you look at chapter
2, we are given a preview into their failure. Chapter 2, verse 7– it says, “so the
people serve the Lord all the days of Joshua, and
all the days of the elders who outlived
Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the Lord
which he had done for Israel.” Now implied in that
statement is that, as long as good
spiritual leadership was intact and in place,
everybody did what was right. When that was removed,
they quickly degenerated. Verse 8– “now Joshua, the
son of Nun, the servant of the Lord–” actually, I
said that wrong, didn’t I? He’s the son of? Noon. Noon. You guys are so good, you
get an A on that test. “Joshua, the son of Nun,
the servant of the Lord, died when he was 110 years old.” This marks the end of a
strong centralized leadership in that nation. Remember where we’ve come from? We looked at the
Book of Genesis– we saw four important
men who were leaders– Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph. Joseph died, Exodus begins,
there arose a pharaoh who did not know Joseph. They were absent of leadership. Who arose? Moses. God used Moses to
deliver the children of Israel out of Egypt. Moses at the end of his life
was told to select Joshua. Joshua became the leader. Now Joshua is dead– there’s a vacancy in leadership. There’s no leader to lead the
driving out of the Canaanites. Now let me give you a note. The whole point of driving out
the Canaanites from the land that they once inhabited is
to avoid moral corruption of the Canaanite religion
into the lives of the children of Israel– that really
is the whole point, and I have detailed what
that is like before. I will just say they
were so corrupt, they worshiped false gods
by sacrificing their babies. Human sacrifices
were very common among the practice of
the Canaanite religion, and so they were told
to eradicate them. What Israel does, instead
of eradicating them– because they think they are
morally superior to God, who told them to get rid
of them all– they go, no, we shouldn’t do that. They can be changed. Well, so what they did is they
just moved in next to them, and became exactly like them. That’s what happened– the
Canaanite didn’t get influenced by the Israelites,
the Israelites got influenced by the
Canaanites, and drug them down to their level. In Chapter 2– I’m going to point
something out– the narrator stops the flow
of the story, and he gives a– I like this– 30,000-foot
view of the rest of the Book of Judges. It’s all summed up in Chapter 2. Now the narrator– we
don’t know who it is– some think it’s Samuel
who wrote this book. Truth is, we don’t know who
wrote the Book of Judges. Whoever did stops the narration,
the flow of the story, and he gives a view of
the rest of the book, and he shows us this cycle
that I was talking about. Think of spirals that just go
further down, and further down, and further down
each time they cycle. There is a series that
is called the sin cycle. Let me give you the four
phases of the sin cycle. Number one, the first
phase, is rebellion. Chapter 2 Verse 10. “When all the
generation that had been gathered to their
fathers, another generation arose after them who
did not know the Lord, nor the work which he
had done for Israel. Then the children of Israel did
evil in the sight of the Lord, and served the Baals, and
they forsook the Lord God of their fathers who had brought
them out of the land of Egypt, and they followed other
gods from among the gods of the people who
were all around them, and they bowed down
to them, and they provoked the Lord to anger.” “They forsook the Lord
and served the Baals–” or served Baal– “and the Ashtoreths.” That’s rebellion– that’s the
first phase, the rebellion phase. Now in that text, two different
gods are mentioned– bale. A better pronunciation
is ba-all. That’s how they
would say it, ba-all, but you can say bale,
because we’re Americans. We can sort of say
whatever we want when it comes to pronouncing
words, I’ve discovered. So, Ba’al or Baal, and
Ashtarte, also called Ashtoreth, these two are the two principal
Canaanite deities, both of them the god and goddess
of fertility. Baal, the chief god, and
Ashtoreth, his counterpart. Now the worship of
Baal and Ashtoreth was very attractive–
let me tell you why. Baal was the storm god. They believed he rode on the
clouds, he controlled rain, he controlled sunshine,
so he controlled the production of the crops. By the way, Baal was
at his strongest, they believed, midday when
the sun was shining directly– the heat of the day. This helped you understand
1 Kings Chapter 18, when Elijah has a contest with
the prophets of Ba’al or Baal on Mount Carmel. And on that contest, he waits
till it’s the heat of the day, and the sun is at its
strength, to choose off the prophets of Baal. And Yahweh, the God of
Israel, wins that battle. You know that story. So that’s Baal– he’s the
storm god, the principal deity of fertility. Ashtarte, or Ashtoreth,
was also the goddess of fertility, love, and war. Now when I say that the worship
of these gods was attractive, this is what I mean. The Canaanites believed
that it was the sexual union of Baal and Ashtarte
in heaven that brought an abundant harvest. So the way to worship
Baal and Ashtoreth was to mimic what they
did in the heavens. So they would have
prostitutes who would bring people to
have sexual intercourse, and there were incantations
that would say, just as fertility is taking
place right now right here, may my crops, may my
animals, may my family also be prolific and fertile. That was part of
their worship system. That is why the
children of Israel– one of the reasons why– it was so attractive,
and they fell, because of the sexual license
that it gave in worship. So that’s the first
phase– rebellion. Second phase, retribution. Verse 14– “and the anger of the
Lord was hot against Israel.” He’s telling the story
of the whole book. “So he delivered them into
the hands of plunderers who despoiled them,
and he sold them into the hands of their
enemies all around, so they could no longer
stand before their enemies.” Now he just summed
up the 350 years of history between
Joshua and Saul. That’s the period
of Judges summed up. Verse 15– “wherever they
went out, the hand of the Lord was against them for
calamity, as the Lord had said and the Lord had sworn
to them, and they were greatly distressed.” So phase one– rebellion,
phase two, retribution. Phase three and four is
repentance and restoration. Verse 16– “nevertheless,”
how I love this phrase. “The Lord raised up judges
who delivered them out of the hand of those
who plundered them. Yet they would not
listen to their judges, but they played the
harlot with other gods and bowed down to them. They turned quickly from the way
in which their fathers walked, in obeying the
commandments of the Lord. They did not do so. “And when the Lord raised up
judges for them–” verse 18– “the Lord was with the
judge, and delivered them out of the hand
of their enemies all the days of the judge. For the Lord was moved to
pity by their groaning because of those who oppressed
them and harassed them.” That’s the sin
cycle, and this cycle gets repeated in this book over
and over, and over and over again. 350 wasted years of people not
learning the lesson that God was trying to teach them. “It came to pass–”
verse 19– “when the judge was dead, they
reverted and behaved more corruptly than their fathers
by following other gods, to serve them and
bow down to them. They did not cease
from their own doings, nor from their stubborn way.” But here’s what I love– God’s love is an
unrelenting, pursuing love. Even though they keep blowing
it over and over again, God says, I’m not giving up. I’m going to chase you down
and make life miserable for you so that, in your misery,
you’ll say, “I’m sorry,” and then I’ll bring you back. Even if you blow it again,
I’ll chase you down, and you’ll cry out, and
I’ll bring you back. God’s love is an unrelenting,
pursuing, chasing love, and the Book of Judges,
even though it’s tragic, shows me this lesson. In fact, it could be summed
up by that great hymn called The Love Of God, that
says the love of God is greater far than ink
or pen could ever tell. It stretches to
the farthest star, it reaches to the lowest hell. Could we with ink
the oceans fill, and were the skies
of parchment made, were every stalk on earth a
quill and every man a scribe by trade, to write
the love of God would drain the oceans dry,
nor could that scroll contain the whole, though
stretched from sky to sky. The love of God,
unrelenting, pursuing. In fact, there’s a word for
it in the Old Testament– it’s sometimes translated,
loving kindness. It’s the Hebrew word hesed. Hesed means covenant
love, or loving kindness. Two years ago I sat in
Benjamin Netanyahu’s office in Jerusalem, and we
were talking about Jesus. And he said, well, I have to
admit Jesus Christ brought a whole different
level of– and he said, he was trying to
think of the word, and he said it in
Hebrew to his aide. He said hesed, and I recognized
the word, so I interrupted– I said, loving kindness. He goes, that’s it. Loving kindness. Jesus brought a whole new
level of loving kindness. And he did– that is a word
that describes God’s love. That’s a Hebrew word, even
from the Old Testament. Well, the first four judges,
shown in chapters 3, 4, and 5, are as follows– Othniel, Ehud,
Shamgar, and Deborah. These chapters record what
they did in delivering Israel, but I gotta warn
you, they’re violent. I already gave you the warning
at the beginning of the book– it’s details of their violence
against their enemies. Now when we get to the
story of Deborah, chapter 5, I’ve always seen Deborah– and I like she’s the only
female judge in this book, but she’s there– she’s a leader. Deborah reminds
me of Golda Meir. Anybody heard of Golda Meir? She was the fourth
prime minister of the nation of Israel. She was called the Iron
Lady of Israeli politics. A very apt leader, she
was the prime minister during the late ’60s. In Chapter 4, verse 4, Deborah
is called a prophetess– please mark that. It indicates there
were prophets, but also there were women
who were given the title prophetess, and she is one. Also, in that verse, she is
called a wife, a prophetess who was the wife of Lapiddoth– that’s her husband’s name. Weird name, but that’s
her husband’s name. And that’s an
important designation. It doesn’t say Lapiddoth
was the husband of Deborah, even though that would seem to
be appropriate, because she’s the one that does the
leadership, not him, but she knew her place
within the family. And they knew what her
place within the family, and her place within the family
was different than her place within the nation. And so she is
called a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth. So they understood each other– he knew that she was a
leader, and he gave her the freedom to do that. Somebody said marriage is like
a long trip in a tiny rowboat. If one passenger starts
to rock the boat, the other has to steady it, or
they’ll both go to the bottom together. So they learned the balance
in their relationship. In Chapter 5 verse
7, she sings a song after the victory God
gives her, and it says, village life ceased– that is, in Israel– it ceased in Israel
until I, Deborah, arose, arose a mother in Israel. So she is a prophetess, she
is a wife, and she is a mama. There’s an old hymn
of the church– Faith Of Our Fathers. Anybody heard that song? Faith of our fathers
living still? Really? That’s all– only four
of you know that, or have heard that song? Great song. Faith Of Our Fathers. We need to add a verse– faith of our mothers. She was a prophetess, a wife,
she was a mother in Israel, and she was a leader
that God raised up. The next few judges are Gideon– you’ve heard of him. Tola– you may not be
too familiar with him. Jair, or ya-ear, and Jephthah. Now a couple of these
have longer narratives– that is, the story is
told with more words– and the story focuses
on the character flaws of these leaders. So Gideon– Gideon
begins as a coward. He was a coward. He was scared, he was
fearful of the enemy. But he learns to trust
the Lord through a process that God puts him through, and
he defeats the Midianite army with 300 of the
children of Israel. By the way, on our trips to
Israel, we don’t always do it, but I like to– if we have
the time– take people to the well of Harod, and the
spring that runs out of there. It’s where he took the 300 men
and had them bring the water to their mouth, and lap. It’s recorded in this book, and
we reenact that scene there. And even drink if you
trust the water enough. If you trust the Lord
enough to drink the water, we let you try it there. So let’s meet our hero
Gideon in Chapter 6 verse 11. “Now the angel of
the Lord came and sat under the terebinth tree–”
which I just kind of like. Here’s an angel,
just like [YAWNS].. Just sitting down under
the tree, under the shade– it’s what angels do. “Which is in Ophrah,
which belonged to Joash the Abizerite,
while his son Gideon–” now watch this. “Gideon threshed wheat
in the wine press in order to hide it
from the Midianites. And the angel of the
Lord appeared to him and said to him, the
Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor.” A wine press is located
at the bottom of the hill. Wheat is not threshed at
the bottom of a hill– wheat was threshed at
the top of the hill. The threshing floor was
on the top of the hill, so that the afternoon
breezes that blow through, you can throw the wheat in
the air with your pitchfork. The chaff gets separated from
the wheat and blows away, the wheat falls to the
ground– but you need a breeze for that to happen. The best breeze is on the
top of the hill– that’s why threshing floors were
always on top of a hill. Wine presses were on the
bottom– he’s not on the top, he’s down below at the
bottom, because he’s scared. He didn’t want to
be in plain sight, so he hides and he throws
his wheat up in the air, and there may be a little bit
of a breeze blowing through, but it would take four times
as long to separate that stuff. But that’s why he’s down there. So it’s funny when
the angel of the Lord says, hey, mighty man of valor! He’s probably
looking around like, is there somebody else up here? Or down here? Now why does the
angel of the Lord call this coward a
mighty man of valor? Here’s why, I believe. God doesn’t see you
just as you are– he sees what you will
become by his strength. He is not a mighty
man of valor, but he will become one
through this process God is putting him through. Now he should be at
the top of the hill, but fear always brings you down. So he is not a
mighty man of valor, but the Lord calls him
that through his angel, because that’s what the
Lord wants to do with him. Just like Peter
was called a rock. He was given the title– Cephas was called a rock. Jesus knew what
Peter could become. Now that’s Gideon,
but the story goes on to show the dark side of Gideon. Let me sum it up for you– Gideon murders a bunch of
Israelites, his own people, for not helping him
defeat the Midianites. Then, to make matters
worse, he takes gold that he got from the battles– he makes an idol out of it. And when he dies, the children
of Israel worship the idol, and the sin cycle
begins all over again. So– good guy, had
a bad, bad side. When we come to the ninth
judge, called Jephthah, in chapters 10 through 12, we
come to another great warrior, but immoral in many ways. Jephthah was adept in
battle, a real warrior. But you have to think of
Jephthah sort of like a gang thug. He was the guy giving all the
signals, he was the mafia boss, he fights against the Ammonites
because they asked him to. Chapter 11, verse
1– “now Jephthah the Gileadite was a
mighty man of valor, but he was the son of a harlot,
and Gilead begot Jephthah.” So he’s an
illegitimate son, he is scorned by people–
that’s how he grew up. Invariably, in that
culture, maybe that helps us understand a little bit
of his “rough around the edges” character. Verse 3– “then Jephthah fled
from his brothers and dwelt in the land of Tob, and
worthless men banded together with Jephthah and went
out raiding with him.” These are idle men– they’re bored, they want action. Now here’s what you need
to know about Jephthah. Jephthah, used by God– I grant that, but he is so
unfamiliar with God’s character that he treats God– the true God, Yahweh– as if he were a pagan
deity, a Canaanite deity. What do I mean by that? He is willing to
take his own daughter and sacrifice her, kill
her, as a thanksgiving for winning a battle. Chapter 11, verse 29, it
says “the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah, and
he passed through Gilead and Manasseh, passed
through Mizpah of Gilead, and from Mizpah of
Gilead, he advanced toward the people of Ammon.” “And Jephthah made a vow
to the Lord and said, if you will indeed deliver the
people of Ammon into my hands, then it will be that whatever
comes out of the doors of my house to meet me when I
return in peace from the people of Ammon will surely
be the Lord’s. I will offer it up
as a burnt offering.” Whatever comes out. If my cat comes out,
it’s a dead cat– it gets sacrificed. If my mother-in-law comes out– I made a vow. Sadly, verse 34– his
daughter came out. After he had won the
battle, after he had brought the victory, his daughter
comes out with timbrels, and she’s singing and she’s
dancing, and in verse 39, he keeps his grisly vow. Why is this story even in here? It’s in here to help highlight
how bad a shape Israel was in at the time
that they no longer even knew the character, the
nature, of their own God. Chapter 12, there are
three more judges. There is Ibzan, Elon
the Zebulonite– meaning he is from
the tribe of Zebulon– and Abdon, who is
the Pirathonite– simply means he
is from Pirathon. I have no idea where that is– just says he’s from there. I could find it, but I didn’t. Samson– chapters 13 through 16. Samson is by far the
worst of all the judges. You go, worst? Come on, he was my
Sunday school hero. I remember this story. He’s the Superman of
the Old Testament. He’s the Terminator
of the Old Testament. He’s the Transformer. That’s Samson. Actually, Samson was
promiscuous, violent, arrogant. Yes, he won great victories,
but at the expense of his own integrity. Joseph Parker, a contemporary
of Charles Spurgeon, said, Samson was an
elephant in strength, but a babe in weakness. You know the Sunday
school stories– you know he could
rip lions in half, you know he could
take 300 foxes, tie their tails together,
light it on fire, and burn the fields
of the Philistines. You know that he could take
the jaw bone of a donkey and kill the enemy. In fact, in this story,
he even runs 38 miles with doors on his back. You know some guys go to the
gym, work out with weights? He worked out with doors. Incredibly strong. At the end of his life,
he brings a house down– literally. He stands in the temple of
Dagon between two pillars, pushes them aside, God
answers his final prayer, destroys himself and his
enemies in that temple. Now, it would be great to have
Samson as your big brother. I had a big brother
who was six foot eight. Six foot eight– I loved
when he was around. I loved when I got bullied– I’d go, [SNAPS FINGERS] Bob. Be great to have
Samson to do that. He’d be a great big brother. He was a horrible
spiritual leader. In fact, you read his
story, it seems like he has no spiritual values at all. In chapter 13 verse 1,
“again the children of Israel did evil in the
sight of the Lord, and the Lord delivered them into
the hands of the Philistines for 40 years.” Now that’s the longest
period of their oppression in the Book of Judges. In this 350 years, this 40-year
length is the longest period, and it’s because
of the Philistines. Let me tell you a little
bit about the Philistines. The Philistines originated
in the area of Greece and the Aegean Sea, the
islands around the Aegean Sea. They had been forced out of
their homeland and, in 1200 BC, they sailed from that
area, went to Egypt, and attacked the
Egyptians and won. Egypt was a superpower– Philistines beat the
Egyptians, then started moving up the coast from
Egypt into the land of Israel, and settled along the coast
lands of ancient Israel in five principal cities
mentioned frequently in your Old Testament. They are Gaza– it’s
still a city today, and the territory’s
called the Gaza Strip. Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon,
Gath, and Ekron– those are the five
Philistine cities. Typically, on a tour of
Israel, we’ll take a half day, and we’ll go down to
the Philistines country into the valley of Elah, where
David slew Goliath, and see where Samson was born in that
area called the Philistine country. The Philistines, once
they settled in the land, they had an advantage
over Israel, because they were
advanced in metallurgy. They had a lot of metal
smiths, blacksmiths– they knew how to mine iron and
smelt it, and form weapons, and so they had that
advantage over Israel. So as the Philistines
are oppressing, God gets hold of the
parents of Samson. Verse 5– we’ll
jump to this story. “For behold you shall
conceive,” God says to them, “and bear a son, and no razor
shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a
Nazirite to God from the womb, and he shall begin
to deliver Israel out of the hands of
the Philistines.” So– God had great
plans for him. And the plans God made for
him was to be a man of God, but he becomes a
man of the flesh– he really wants nothing to do
with God ruling over his life. Very strong, but
very weak morally. Now, he is to take
a vow of a Nazirite. It’s unusual, because
God says, he’s going to be a Nazirite
from his birth. A Nazirite vow was usually
for a certain period of time– had a beginning, had an ending. You don’t cut your hair. You cut it at the end of
the vow and you burn it. You don’t touch
wine, you don’t touch any of the dead to be defiled–
there were certain restrictions for Nazirite. He was to be a
lifelong Nazirite, along the lines of later on
John the Baptist in the New Testament. That’s how he had set up. Go down to verse 24. “So the woman–” that
is Samson’s mom– “bore a son and called
him–” sheem-shon. No, I didn’t say it right. It’s Samson in English,
but in Hebrew, shimshon, which is a word that means
of the sun, or Sunny Boy. So Sunny Boy’s name probably
comes from the sun worship, Baal worship, so that
his parents were already influenced by the paganism
of the Philistines that were around him. He is called Sunny
Boy, or of the son– Samson, Shimshon. Says “the child grew,
and the Lord blessed him, and the Spirit of
the Lord–” watch this– “the Spirit
of the Lord began to move upon him at Mahaneh
Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol.” The Spirit of the Lord
began to move upon Samson. This is the secret of
Samson’s strength– it’s not his hair,
it’s not his arms, it’s the spirit of
God moving upon him. Jesus in the New Testament will
say, “without me, you can do–” how much? Nothing. Nothing. So the strength of this man was
not his hair, was not his arms, was not the fact that
he worked out with doors and ran 38 miles,
got really in shape. It was the spirit of
God that was on him. That’s the secret of
this man’s strength. Now I want to stop right
here and make a note of this. At key times in
Israel’s history, both with judges and with
kings, the spirit of God will come upon a person
to empower that person to accomplish God’s
work, and in this case, to accomplish deliverance. The fact that God uses him does
not mean that God endorses him. You need to know
that, because you go, what, this guy’s wicked. It says, the spirit
of God came upon him. He’s not in him– he does come upon him
for a specific season to accomplish a specific task. The fact that God uses
a person doesn’t mean that God endorses a person. Now you should know that from
your reading of the Bible– God raises up a guy by the
name of King Cyrus, a Persian. A pagan, hates Israel,
oppresses Israel at first, helps them later– but he’s called
the servant of God. Nebuchadnezzar, the
King of Babylon, hated the Jews, burned their
temple, took them captive. But it says God used him, and
he was a servant of the Lord. Caesar, in the
New Testament, God uses Caesar to make all the
world get registered, which is why Joseph and Mary leave
Nazareth to go to Bethlehem, so that Jesus can be
born in Bethlehem. So all the Kings
of the world can be used by God at
specific times, and the fact that God uses
them does not mean the God endorses them. So that’s a very, very
important concept to get. Now God wants to
save his people, and God wants to
rule over his people. The truth is, this is all
he’s got to work with– these knuckleheads
called judges, so flawed, so imperfect. That’s how bad
Israel had become– that’s really the point. God really wants to
do a work, but all he’s got to work with is
numbskulls like this– so he does. Well, here’s the story. Shimshon, Sammy-boy, sees–
two Philistine girls. One is unnamed, the other is
named– you know her name– it’s Samson and? Delilah. Delilah. Well, when he meets them– it’s lust at first sight. He’s just says, she’s so
beautiful, I have to have her, and he has both of them. He’s a man that has
potential, but he is weak. Why? He didn’t have the power inside
to counteract the pressure outside. He didn’t have the power inside
to counteract the pressure outside. In the 1960s, there
was a submarine that America had called
the Thresher submarine. It was going through its paces
up by Cape Cod and the Atlantic Ocean. And when it was doing
its depth test– it’s a very thick skinned hull,
but it went down to a depth, and it never came up. The hull imploded. Even though it was stout– it was built well,
it seemed like it could withstand the pressure. But the water pressure
on the outside was too much that it just
crumpled that submarine, and all the crew died in
that horrible disaster. What’s odd is, at the same depth
where the submarine crumpled, there’s little fish that swim
around with very thin skin, almost– well it is,
it’s translucent– it’s almost like you
can see through it. But they’re just swimming by
the submarine like, see you. No problem– this is easy. They’re not imploding. You know why? The pressure on
the inside equals the pressure on the outside,
and they can manage. We have a power, God promises
us, a person, the holy spirit of God, that is equal and– stronger than the
pressure on the outside. Greater is He that is in you
than he that is in the world. You have a power on the
inside that can withstand the pressure on the outside. Samson didn’t live that way. So this whole section
is simply to show how bad things had
gotten in Israel, and this is only
with the leaders. The last section,
chapters 17 through 21, shows Israel as a whole– and how depraved, not just the
leaders, the judges, were– even though God used them,
he didn’t endorse them– but just how corrupt
and how bad the nation had gotten, how depraved the
whole bunch of them had become. And we have two tragic
stories that sound and read like soap operas, really. Now the last section,
chapters 17 to 21, is punctuated by a sentence
that is mentioned four times. Four times in these chapters,
this sentence is mentioned– in chapter 17, chapter 18,
chapter 19, chapter 21, this phrase– “and there was no
king in Israel, and every one did what was
right in his own eyes.” So the author, the
narrator, begins the book by telling the successes,
moves to telling the whole story of
the Book of Judges in a nutshell with
the sin cycle, then he goes through the judges. Said, yeah, God used them,
but they were pretty corrupt. Now he ends the book by showing
us two horrible soap opera stories. Chapters 17 and 18 is the story
of a guy by the name of Micah– not Micah the prophet,
a different Micah. Micah, in this story, builds
a private temple to an idol. Private temple, private worship. Even found a corrupt Levite to
become his own private priest. That private priesthood
and private temple is plundered by a private
army from the tribe of Dan– 600 men from the tribe of Dan. They plunder the temple,
they take the idol with them, they go north. These Danites go north to a
little peaceful town called Laish. And as you read the story,
they plunder the city, they burn it to the ground, and
they murder all the inhabitants in Laish– that’s how bad it’s gotten. When Israel rejects Yahweh as
its God, might makes right. They just start killing and
plundering and murdering, they’re bullying people
in the territory. Chapter 18, verse 27– “they took the things
Micah had made, and the priest who
had belonged to him, and went to Laish, to a
people quiet and secure.” This is up north, by Mount
Hermon, beautiful area– “and struck them with
the edge of the sword, and burned the city with fire. There was no deliverer
because it was far from Sidon. They had no ties with anyone. It was in the valley that
belongs to Beth Rehob. And so they built the
city, and dwelt there, and they called the
name of the city Dan after the name of their father.” Now again, when you go on
a tour to Israel with us, we will take you
to this town called Laish, which is now
called Tel, which is a little archaeological hill– Tel Dan, or the city of Dan. The remains are still there. In fact, the very
ancient Canaanite gate, through which we
believe Abraham entered into this city mentioned in
Genesis, is still intact. So we invite you
to come and see it. Now the final story,
and we’ll close. The final story is the worst. They saved the worst for last. This final story is the most
disturbing story in the book. It’s a story about
sexual abuse and violence that leads to Israel’s
first civil war. Now this is the whole point. The whole point is, here
is a nation that said, we’re going to serve
the Lord, Josh! We’re going to do it
with you and your house. And they failed– they
got an F on the test, they turned away from
the God who loves them. The God who once
delivered them from Egypt now has to be
delivered– they have to be delivered from themselves,
they’d become so corrupt. Chapter 19– I’ll sum it up– is about a hillbilly Levite
who takes a concubine. By the way, Levites
aren’t supposed to have one, so that gives
you insight into his morality. The concubine belongs
to him, in those days. She leaves the corrupt Levite,
has an affair with another man, leaves the other man, goes back
home to her father’s house. The Levite finds her, fetches
her, takes her back home. But on the way, as they’re
going toward Jerusalem, they stop at a town called
Gibeah, because they needed to stay the night. Nobody would let them in. One guy lets them in. As they’re inside the house of
the host, the men of the city gather around the
house demanding that the man come out, that they
can have relations with him. It’s very much to another
chapter 19 in the Bible– Genesis chapter 19, the
story of Sodom and Gomorrah. So they say bring out the man. Instead the host, to satisfy the
sexual appetite of these men, gives his daughter to them,
and the Levite’s concubine. They abuse these women all
night till they’re dead. So the Levite has a concubine,
concubine has an affair, the host gives the girls
to the perverted strangers in this city. See how depraved this story is? Chapter 19 verse 27. Now if you think
that was bad, sorry, but I’m going to read this part. “When her master arose in the
morning and opened the door–” this is the Levite– “the doors of the house
and went out to go his way, there was his concubine,
fallen at the door of the house with her
hands on the threshold.” She’s dead. She has been abused all night. “And he said to her, get
up and let’s be going. But there was no answer. So the man lifted
her on the donkey, the man got up and
went to his place. When he entered
his house he took a knife, laid hold
of his concubine, divided her into 12
pieces limb by limb, and sent her throughout all
the territory of Israel.” So he dismembered his
dead concubine’s body in 12 care packages to the
tribes of Israel, to shock them and to summons them into a fight
against the Tribe of Benjamin, who perpetrated the crime. Chapter 20 shows the attack
of the nation of Israel against the tribe of Benjamin. They lost the
first few attempts. In this civil war,
the Israelites lost 22,000 men–
that’s the first day. Benjamin lost
26,100 men, and they almost– the
children of Israel– almost totally annihilated
the entire tribe of Benjamin. There were only 600 men left
after the civil war ended– 600 men left, and that
had to be remedied so it could grow the tribe back up. Chapter 21, verse 24. We come to the end of the book. “So the children of
Israel departed from there at that time, every man
to his tribe and family.” This is after the civil war. “They went out from there,
every man to his inheritance. In those days, there
was no king in Israel, and everyone did what was
right in his own eyes.” That verse sums up the book. It does in one verse what
that chapter, Chapter 2, did in a whole chapter– giving you the four
phases of the sin cycle. This sums it up– every man did what was
right in his own eyes. But this verse sets up the
stage for the next book. The next book is what? Ruth. Ruth. Ruth tells the
ancestry of King David. So every man doing what’s
right in his own eyes sets up for the
ancestry of David and the yearning of the
people in the next book after that, 1
Samuel, for a king. So it ends setting it
up for a new beginning. Let me give you three
takeaway lessons. Number one, God often uses
the most unlikely people to accomplish his work. I hope you say, oh, good. Because the Book of Judges
proves, in very graphic ways, the truth that Paul will
articulate in the New Testament Book of 1 Corinthians 1. “God has chosen the foolish
things of this world to confound the wise.” I am confounded at
the Book of Judges. It’s a confounding narrative. He did what? They did what? I’m confounded. The Lord reserves the right
to use the worst people to accomplish his ends. Number two– God is holy,
and because God is holy, he cannot stand the
presence of sin. That’s why every time
they turned away, God judged them
till they cried out. God soft heart of
love rescued them, and they did it all over again. But God is holy and judges sin. Third lesson. Now I’m going to ask you
at this third lesson, since we’re almost done– and I’m going to
even take a seat. As we close the book, I’m going
to give you something that is– I’m going to wax a little
philosophical for a moment. Can I? Abandoning absolutism
leads to moral relativism. You know what absolutism is? You and I are absolutist– we
believe in an absolute morality expressed in God’s holy word. God doesn’t change from that. There’s only one way to heaven. There’s right, there’s
wrong, there’s truth, there’s error– we believe that. That’s absolutism. If you don’t believe that,
if you push that away, then you become a
moral relativist. Well, your truth isn’t
my truth, and everybody has their own truth and their
own way of doing things, their own way of thinking. Hey, that’s the last
verse of the book– every man did what was
right in his own eyes. So abandoning absolutism
leads to moral relativism, which leads to moral anarchy. It leads to moral anarchy. Think of the 200 years
the nations survive, and the steps that they took–
what I read at the beginning. Nietzsche said God
was dead, right? But he said this– if God is dead, then
everything is permitted. If God is dead, then
do anything you want, because you’re never going
to face the bar of judgment. There is no God. You can do anything you want,
have any pleasure you want, as long as you want. If God is dead,
everything is permitted. So abandoning absolutism
leads to moral relativism, which leads to moral anarchy– you do whatever you want. We know better. There may not be
a king in Israel, but there was a God in Israel. And God was watching, and God
is going to send a deliverer. Saul will be the first king. He’ll blow it. David will be the man
after God’s own heart, but in David is the greater
promise of the greater son of David, the
Lord Jesus Christ, and every time they
long for a king, they’re longing for Jesus the
Messiah to come and deliver from sin and punishment
and abandonment. So it sets it up for
the hope of the gospel. That’s the Book of Judges. Let’s pray. Father, we want to thank you for
these very, very dark lessons that show what happens,
the consequence of nations or individuals turning from you. And Father, I pray this
would serve as a warning to any of us who are trying to
play fast and loose with values and morality and
truth, that we would deal with these hard
questions that we all struggle with, and come to
a place where we trust you. And we know Lord that the
wages of sin is death, and every aberrant behavior
comes with a consequence. I pray, Lord, that
this would serve in turning our
hearts back to you and being generous with our love
and admiration, and abandonment and surrender to you, and
we would reap the benefits of those blessings. In Jesus’ name, Amen. We hope you enjoyed this message
from Skip Heitzig of Calvary Church. For more resources,
visit calvarynm.church. Thank you for joining us for
this teaching from The Bible From 30,000 Feet.

2 thoughts on “Judges 1-21 – The Bible from 30,000 Feet – Skip Heitzig – Flight JUD01

  • Jada Parks/Villanueva Post author

    11/9/18: I just love the way Pastor Skip teach. This is how one can RETAIN what is taught. EXCELLENT!!!! aloha from Hawaii.

  • Sylas Madison Post author

    Might be a bit late on the post but have been watching what you’ve been doing skip in out class and at home sometimes absolutely love what your doing never stop being a helper of God!!!

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