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March 25, 2019

Please read today’s Scriptures and use the comment section on this page to share your insights from today’s reading. You can also just mention a verse that impacted you or post a question!

Read (and Hear) the Bible in One Year
Christian Standard Bible for 2019

Text: Judges 19-21
Audio: Judges 19-21

You can use the audio Bible as a guide to help “set the pace” as you read along.

Judges 6 (ESV)

The people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord gave them into the hand of Midian seven years. And the hand of Midian overpowered Israel, and because of Midian the people of Israel made for themselves the dens that are in the mountains and the caves and the strongholds.For whenever the Israelites planted crops, the Midianites and the Amalekites and the people of the East would come up against them. They would encamp against them and devour the produce of the land, as far as Gaza, and leave no sustenance in Israel and no sheep or ox or donkey. For they would come up with their livestock and their tents; they would come like locusts in number—both they and their camels could not be counted—so that they laid waste the land as they came in. And Israel was brought very low because of Midian. And the people of Israel cried out for help to the Lord.

When the people of Israel cried out to the Lord on account of the Midianites,the Lord sent a prophet to the people of Israel. And he said to them, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: I led you up from Egypt and brought you out of the house of slavery. And I delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of all who oppressed you, and drove them out before you and gave you their land. 10 And I said to you, ‘I am the Lord your God; you shall not fear the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell.’ But you have not obeyed my voice.”

11 Now the angel of the Lord came and sat under the terebinth at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress to hide it from the Midianites. 12 And the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor.” 13 And Gideon said to him, “Please, my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all his wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian.” 14 And the Lord turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?” 15 And he said to him, “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” 16 And the Lord said to him, “But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.” 17 And he said to him, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, then show me a sign that it is you who speak with me. 18 Please do not depart from here until I come to you and bring out my present and set it before you.” And he said, “I will stay till you return.”

19 So Gideon went into his house and prepared a young goat and unleavened cakes from an ephah of flour. The meat he put in a basket, and the broth he put in a pot, and brought them to him under the terebinth and presented them. 20 And the angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened cakes, and put them on this rock, and pour the broth over them.” And he did so. 21 Then the angel of the Lord reached out the tip of the staff that was in his hand and touched the meat and the unleavened cakes. And fire sprang up from the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened cakes. And the angel of the Lord vanished from his sight. 22 Then Gideon perceived that he was the angel of the Lord. And Gideon said, “Alas, O Lord God! For now I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face.”23 But the Lord said to him, “Peace be to you. Do not fear; you shall not die.”24 Then Gideon built an altar there to the Lord and called it, The Lord Is Peace. To this day it still stands at Ophrah, which belongs to the Abiezrites.

25 That night the Lord said to him, “Take your father’s bull, and the second bull seven years old, and pull down the altar of Baal that your father has, and cut down the Asherah that is beside it 26 and build an altar to the Lord your God on the top of the stronghold here, with stones laid in due order. Then take the second bull and offer it as a burnt offering with the wood of the Asherah that you shall cut down.” 27 So Gideon took ten men of his servants and did as the Lord had told him. But because he was too afraid of his family and the men of the town to do it by day, he did it by night.

28 When the men of the town rose early in the morning, behold, the altar of Baal was broken down, and the Asherah beside it was cut down, and the second bull was offered on the altar that had been built. 29 And they said to one another, “Who has done this thing?” And after they had searched and inquired, they said, “Gideon the son of Joash has done this thing.” 30 Then the men of the town said to Joash, “Bring out your son, that he may die, for he has broken down the altar of Baal and cut down the Asherah beside it.” 31 But Joash said to all who stood against him, “Will you contend for Baal? Or will you save him? Whoever contends for him shall be put to death by morning. If he is a god, let him contend for himself, because his altar has been broken down.” 32 Therefore on that day Gideon was called Jerubbaal, that is to say, “Let Baal contend against him,” because he broke down his altar.

33 Now all the Midianites and the Amalekites and the people of the East came together, and they crossed the Jordan and encamped in the Valley of Jezreel.34 But the Spirit of the Lord clothed Gideon, and he sounded the trumpet, and the Abiezrites were called out to follow him. 35 And he sent messengers throughout all Manasseh, and they too were called out to follow him. And he sent messengers to Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali, and they went up to meet them.

36 Then Gideon said to God, “If you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said,37 behold, I am laying a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece alone, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said.” 38 And it was so. When he rose early next morning and squeezed the fleece, he wrung enough dew from the fleece to fill a bowl with water. 39 Then Gideon said to God, “Let not your anger burn against me; let me speak just once more. Please let me test just once more with the fleece. Please let it be dry on the fleece only, and on all the ground let there be dew.”40 And God did so that night; and it was dry on the fleece only, and on all the ground there was dew.

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Next: Judges 7

Back: Judges 5

This Post Has One Comment
  1. The Lord Is Peace

    Our natural inclination as people is to seek comfort. When the temperature gets too cold, we turn on the heat. When it's too hot, we turn on the air conditioning (or if we're outside, we get out of the sun and seek relief in the shade). We don't shower in scalding hot water or with only warm water. We find a temperature that is comfortable for us. 

    Beyond temperature, we seek comfort in what we wear, where we work and where we live. But these "comforts" are all external. Truth is, we also have the need for internal comfort. If we feel bad, we want relief and might seek the comfort from a friend or loved one. Some find comfort in getting drunk or high or eating "comfort food."

    Inevitably there will come a time for all of us when we do not have inner peace. The "stuff of life" can cause even the most laid back person to experience anxiety. And in those times, people look for ways to soothe their consciences. 

    This restlessness in our souls has only one cure and that is having peace with God. There is no drink or drug strong enough or food satisfying enough to provide true, lasting comfort for weary souls. 

    I have found great comfort in recent months in Philippians 4:4-9:

    "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

    8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you."

    When Michelle was diagnosed with breast cancer late last year, the first week was difficult. I knew God was in control but the peace I experienced when the doctor told us it was cancer was fleeting. I was having a hard time rejoicing in this midst of her diagnosis. 

    As I reflected on these words, in particular the words "rejoice in the Lord always," I began to experience the peace that surpasses all understanding. As I focused on God's sovereignty in the words "the Lord is at hand" (Philippians 4:5), I began to not be anxious about anything. As I prayed to God, I began to give Him my anxious thoughts, fear, concern and uncertainty. It was then that my heart and mind was being guarded in Christ Jesus. 

    Finally there is the promise that thinking about (and practicing) what is just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, worthy of praise, (and what I have learned, received, heard and seen from the Lord through His Word and in those I know who love Him), the God of peace was with me. 

    I was then able to thank God for Michelle's cancer. I wasn't happy or glad she had it but I was able to rejoice that the Lord is at hand in the midst of the cancer and in the midst of my anxiety and fear. I was able to rejoice at finally experience the peace that surpasses understanding – something I had longed for but never experienced like that before. 

    In Judges 6:14-16 the Lord said to Gideon, "'Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?' 15 And he [Gideon] said to him, 'Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house.' 16 And the Lord said to him, 'But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.' 17 And he said to him, 'If now I have found favor in your eyes, then show me a sign that it is you who speak with me. 18 Please do not depart from here until I come to you and bring out my present and set it before you.' And he said, 'I will stay till you return.'

    After the angel of the Lord reached out the tip of the staff that was in his hand and touched the meat and the unleavened cakes that Gideon had made, Gideon said, "Alas, O Lord God! For now I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face." 23 But the Lord said to him, 'Peace be to you. Do not fear; you shall not die.' 24 Then Gideon built an altar there to the Lord and called it, The Lord Is Peace."

    For me, my altar is Michelle's cancer. It's the place where God met me and gave me His peace. With two more chemo treatments to go followed by radiation, we are not yet looking back on these difficult times. We're in the middle of them and yet, God is sustaining us and blessing us throughout this journey.

    I will admit there have been moments when I don't sense the peace as strongly as other days, but in the past, the sense of peace would have been only momentary while fear and anxiety would have reigned in my mind and soul. Now fear and anxiety are rare and when they do rise up, they are fleeting and God's peace is restored. 

    One of the keys of experience this peace is knowing (and being reminded of) the promises of God – and it's right in the middle of today's chapter!

    Judges 6:7-10 says, "When the people of Israel cried out to the Lord on account of the Midianites, 8 the Lord sent a prophet to the people of Israel. And he said to them, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: I led you up from Egypt and brought you out of the house of slavery. 9 And I delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of all who oppressed you, and drove them out before you and gave you their land. 10 And I said to you, ‘I am the Lord your God; you shall not fear the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell.’ But you have not obeyed my voice."

    Here God reminds them what He did in the past (in the previous generation) and what He is going to do for them now in the midst of Midian's oppression. 

    It's then that we're introduced to Gideon who says to the Lord in Judges 6:13, "Please, my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all his wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian.” 

    It didn't take Gideon long to go from feeling like God had forsaken them and given them into the hand of Midian to building an altar and calling it "The Lord is Peace."

    But we should also remember that ultimately the peace of God only comes from having peace with God. You must be born again to have peace with God and that is only by God's grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

    Can you look back at when you first had peace with God?

    Can you look back at when you first had the peace of God?
     

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