Left to Fight Alone: Where Is My Brother, Where Is My Sister?

Today’s selected reading is found in the Old Testament book of the judges which describes a transition period in the narrative of the children of Israel between the days of Joshua the son of Nun and the kings who would reign upon the throne. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the first three chapters of this Old Testament book. When you come to the Old Testament book of Judges you will find the narrative of a point in the history of the children of Israel between Joshua the son of Nun who led the children of Israel into the battles of Canaan, and against their enemies and adversaries within the land, and between Samuel who would be the first judge and prophet in the midst of the nation of Israel. If and when you read the Old Testament book of Judges you will find the author writing and speaking concerning a time within the history of the congregation of the children of Israel which was a dark time—specifically and especially because much of the events which are written and found within this book describe how the generations which rose up in the midst of the land after the death of Joshua knew not the LORD, nor knew the conquest of the land of Canaan. The Old Testament book of Judges is actually quite remarkable and astounding when you think about it, for even before the nation and kingdom of Israel was divided into the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah, and even before the kings of each kingdom would lead the people of God in open and blatant rebellion against the Lord their God, the children of Israel would engage themselves in behaviors and patterns of iniquity and transgression before and against the Lord their God. Perhaps one of the most remarkable and astounding realities that is found within this Old Testament book is the fact that the author wrote how the children of Israel served the LORD all the days of Joshua the son of Nun, however, when Joshua died and went the way of all the earth there would arise generations which would walk in blatant disregard and rebellion against the Lord their God in the midst of the land. In the midst of the land which the LORD had given unto them, and within the land which the LORD fought sought by side with them as they drove out nations and peoples much more and mightier than they were—in that land the congregation of the children of Israel would engage in whoredoms and harlotries before and in the sight of the living God. It’s actually worth noting that virtually the entire book of Judges describes a period of time in the history of the people of Israel when in the absence of leadership the men and women within the land would be left to their own devices.

It is written in the Old Testament book of the Proverbs that where there is no vision the people perish, and I firmly believe that these words are quite true and quite powerful, yet I would also take these words and declare that when there is no person who drives that vision, and when there is no leadership within and in the midst of a nation and people, they not only perish, but they are also left to their own devices and to their own schemes. What we find within the book of Judges is the tremendous reality that after the death of Joshua there would arise a generation in the midst of the land which would neither know Joshua, nor would know the conquests and battles of the land of Canaan—and I would dare say that they did not know the law, the commands, the statutes, and the precepts of the Lord their God. As I sit here this evening I can’t help but think about and consider the tremendous fact that the congregation of the children of Israel—in the midst of the conquests and battles of the land of Canaan—neglected to teach their children the laws, the commands and the statutes of the Lord their God. The question that comes through my mind is whether or not the congregation of the children of Israel had been so engaged and so enamored in the battles, the conflicts and the wars in the midst of the land of Canaan that they neglected to teach their children the commands, the laws, the statues, the decrees and the precepts of the Lord their God. Is it possible that in all their endeavors to drive out and dispossess their enemies they neglected the matters of the Law of the Lord their God, and even teaching that Law to their children, and to future generations? Is it possible that we ourselves can become so caught up in “spiritual warfare,” and so caught up in the battles, the struggles and conflicts we face that we not only neglect the Law of the LORD within our lives, but we also neglect to pass it on and teach future generations? Is it possible that the children of Israel spent so much time engaging in battle and conflict in the midst of the land, and perhaps even enjoying a period of rest in the midst of the land that they neglected to teach their sons and their daughters the commands which the Lord their God had decreed through Moses the servant of the Lord?

What I happen to find so incredibly astounding about the Old Testament book of Judges is that it doesn’t necessarily begin with the narrative of the generations which would emerge within the land of Canaan walking in blatant rebellion and disobedience to the Lord their God. If and as you begin reading this Old Testament book you will discover the undeniable reality that it opens up with further conflict, further warfare, and further battle. As you begin reading with and from the first and opening verse of the first chapter you will find that after the death of Joshua the children of Israel asked the LORD, and inquiring of Him who should go up for them against the Canaanites first, to fight against them. In response to their inquiry, the Lord declared unto them that Judah would be the ones who would go up against the Canaanites, for He had delivered the land into the hand of Judah. When it was determined that Judah would go up against the Canaanites in the midst of the land you will find that the men of Judah came unto Simeon his brother and entreated him that he might come with them into their lot, in order that they might fight against the Canaanites. In other words, there were enemies and adversaries which were still present in the midst of the lot and possession of the tribe of Judah which needed to be driven out and dispossessed, and the men of Judah invited the men of Simeon their brother into their Lot and into their possession to help them drive out and dispossess the inhabitants which were still present in the midst of the land—even after the death of Joshua. Please don’t miss and lose sight of this absolutely incredible and tremendous reality, for within this passage of Scripture we find that despite the many battles which were found within the land of Canaan, and despite the many conquests, victories, triumphs and battles which Joshua and the children of Israel had won against their enemies in the midst of the land of Canaan, there would still be enemies and adversaries in the midst of the land, which would still need to be driven out. There would still be enemies, adversaries, nations and peoples in the midst of the land—even after the death of Joshua—and the children of Israel would continue the process of rising up against them to drive them out and dispossess them from the land. What I so absolutely love about what we find and read in the first and opening chapter of the Old Testament book of Judges is that when it was determined that Judah would go up first against the Canaanites, Judah not only invited Simeon his brother into their Lot, but also invited him into his lot should the Canaanites be too strong and too powerful for them to fight alone. It’s worth noting that after the death of Joshua there would still be enemies and adversaries—remnants of the former battles and conquests—which would still be present in the midst of the land that would need to be driven out.

As I sit here today I can’t help but think about and consider the fact that when you read the Old Testament book of Joshua you will find the battles and wars that were fought within the land of Canaan being fought by the entire congregation of the children of Israel. When you read the words which are written and found within this particular Old Testament book you will find the tribes of Israel fighting together as one man in the midst of the land, in order that they might conquer and subdue the nations and peoples which were before them within the land. The book of Joshua describes and details the children of Israel fighting together as one man after they entered into the land of Canaan, as more than six hundred thousand men of war would march within and march throughout the land that they might conquer and defeat the nations and peoples which were present in the midst of the land. It’s worth noting that the children of Israel entered into the land of Canaan together as one man, and as they marched within and throughout the land they would march together as one man. There would be no division, nor would there be any schism found between the children of Israel, for all twelve tribes would be united in a single army that would engage the nations, the peoples, the enemies and the adversaries which were present in the midst of the land. When the congregation of the children of Israel entered into the land of Canaan they entered in as one single man and not twelve tribes, and it would be as one single man that they would engage in conflict and battle within and in the midst of the land. What is interesting when you come to the Old Testament book of Judges is the apparent separation of the tribes of Israel as they engaged the enemies and adversaries which were present in the land. Upon reading the opening verses of the chapter you will find what appears to be a semblance of unity in waging war against the adversaries and enemies within the land as Judah and Simeon would engage the Canaanites and the Perizzites within the land. It would seem that after the death of Joshua, and after the land had been divided by Lot unto the different tribes that the tribes would be willing to unite themselves together to engage in conflict and battle with and against the enemies and adversaries in the midst of the land. Essentially, it would seem and appear that brother would fight with brother in the midst of the land as they would engage the enemies and adversaries which still remained in the land. What we find and what we witness in terms of Judah and Simeon is a wonderful and powerful picture of two brothers which fought side by side together in battle in order that the enemies might be driven out of the land. In fact, Judah invited Simeon into their lot that they might fight alongside them to drive out the enemies which still remained in the land, and they in turn promised that they would enter into their Lot to drive out and dispossess the inhabitants which still remained in the midst of the land.

One of the most astounding realities which is found in the Old Testament book of Judges is that it opens up with the tribes of the children of Israel still needing to wage war against the inhabitants which remained in the midst of the land in order that they might drive them out of the land. It would begin with Judah inviting Simeon into their Lot to help them fight against the enemies and adversaries which remained in the land, and they in turn would enter their lot and help them drive out the enemies and adversaries which were present in the midst of their lot. It’s worth noting that in the Old Testament book of Joshua we find each of the tribes of Israel fighting together as one man, and that there was not a single tribe which had its own agenda, nor its own objective and mission within the land. The narratives and accounts of the conquests and battles within the land of Canaan would be the mission and assignment of one single man as all the tribes of Israel would be united in the common purpose of conquering and subduing the land. The book of Judges, however, introduces something entirely different, as the tribes would not fight together as one man in the midst of the land, but as the tribes would apparently engage in battles and conflicts themselves without the help and assistance of their brother(s). Only in the case of Judah and Simeon do we find brothers fighting side by side in battle within the land of Canaan, in order that the enemies and adversaries might be driven out. What we find within the opening verses of the first chapter is that Jerusalem would be in the midst of the lot of Judah, and it might very well make sense that Judah was chosen first because eventually and ultimately Jerusalem would be the place where the Lord would set and place His name. It would be in the midst of the city of Jerusalem where the Temple of the living God would be set up and established and where the entire nation and kingdom of Israel would gather together to worship before the throne of the Lord their God. I can’t help but think about and consider the fact that Judah was chosen first given the fact that it would be in the midst of Judah where the city of Jerusalem would not only be the place of the Temple of the living God, but it would also be the place of the throne of David. It would be in the midst of the city of Jerusalem where the throne of David and the Temple of God would be established in the midst of the people of God, as they would not only experience the government of the Lord their God, but also the glory of the Lord their God. Jerusalem would be the place where the people of God would not only experience His glory, but also His government through the throne of David. I cant help but be absolutely and completely convinced at the thought and reality that Judah was chosen first, and that they had specifically fought against Jerusalem and taken it and smitten it with the edge of the sword, for it would be the city of Jerusalem which would be instrumental in the midst of the government and glory of the living God for the people which would dwell in and occupy the land.

The more I think about and the more I consider how the first chapter of the book of Judges opens and begins, the more I can’t help but think about Joan and his brother during the days of David king of Israel. If you turn and direct your attention to the narrative of David king of Israel you will find that the Ammonites and the Syrians united their forces together against the nation and kingdom of Israel, and against David king of Israel. If you turn and direct your attention to the Old Testament book of Second Samuel you will find and discover the narrative of the Ammonites and Syrians uniting their forces against David and the kingdom of Israel, and how Joan and his brother Abishai would each lead a front against this united force. Joab would fight and engage one of the enemies which would come against the people of God, while Abishai his brother would fight against the other adversary which would come against the people of God. It is absolutely necessary that we consider this particular narrative, for when you do you will come face to face with the awesome and incredible reality of two brothers who would be united in a single conflict and battle in order that the people of God might be victorious over enemies which would rise up against them. Consider if you will the words which are found within this passage of Scripture beginning to read with and from the opening verse of the tenth chapter of the Old Testament book of Second Samuel:

“And it came to pass after this, that the king of the children of Ammon died, and Hananiah his son reigned in his stead. Then said David, I will shew kindness unto Hanun the son of Nahash, as his father shewed kindness unto me. And David sent to comfort him by the hand of his servants for his father. And David’s servants came into the land of the children of Ammon. And the princes of the children of Ammon said unto Hanun their lord, Thinkest thou that David doth honour thy father, that he hath sent comforters unto thee? Hath not David rather sent his servants unto thee, to search the city, and to spy it out, and to overthrow it? Wherefore Hanun took David’s servants, and shaved the one half of their beards, and cut off their garments in the middle, even to their buttocks, and sent them away. When they told it unto David, he sent to meet them, because the men were greatly ashamed: and the king said Tarry at Jericho until your beards be grown, and then return. And when the children of Ammon saw that they stank before David, the children of Ammon sent and hired the Syrians of Beth-rehob, and the Syrians of Zoba, twenty thousand footmen, and of king Maacah a thousand men, and of Ish-tob twelve thousand men. And when David heard of it, he sent Joab, and all the host of the mighty men. And the children of Ammon came out and put the battle in array at the entering in of the gate: and the Syrians of Zoba, and of Rehob, and Ish-tob, and Maacah, were by themselves in the field. When Joab saw that the front of the battle was against him before and behind, he chose of all the choice men of Israel, and put them in array against the Syrians: and the rest of th people he delivered into the hand of Abishai his brother, that he might put them in array against the children of Ammon. And he said, If the Syrians be too strong for me, then thou shalt help me: but if the children of Ammon be too strong for thee, then I will come and help thee. Be of good courage, and let us play the men for our people, and for the cities of our God: and the LORD do that which seeketh him good. And joab drew nigh, and the people that were with him, unto the battle against the Syrians: and they fled before him. And when the children of Ammon saw that the Syrians were fled, then fled they also before Abishai, and entered into the city. So Joab returned from the children of Ammon, and came to Jerusalem. And when the Syrians saw that they were smitten before Israel, they gathered themselves together. And Hadarezer sent, and brought out the Syrians that were beyond the river: and they came to Helam; and Shobach the captain of the host of Hadarezer went before them. And when it was told David, he gathered all Israel together, and passed over Jordan, and came to Helam. And the Syrians set themselves in array against David, and fought with him. And the Syrians fled before Israel; and David slew the men of seven hundred chariots of the Syrians, and forty thousand horsemen, and smote Shobach the captain of their host, who died there. And when all the kings that were servants to Hadarezer saw that they were smitten before Israel, they made peace with Israel, and served them. So the Syrians feared to help the children of Ammon any more” (2 Samuel 10:1-19).

What we find in this passage of Scripture is quite unique and quite powerful when you take the time to think about and consider it, for what is contained therein is a wonderful and powerful picture of what we find in the opening chapter of the Old Testament book of Judges. The first chapter of the book of Judges begins with the death of Joshua as the Old Testament book of Joshua begins with the death of Joshua. It’s actually quite unique to think about and consider that when the book of Joshua ends and the book of Judges begins there is no clear successor to Joshua. After Moses the servant of the LORD died and went the way of all the earth in the land of Moab, Joshua knew that he would be anointed and appointed to lead the children of Israel into the land of Canaan to subdue it. When the book of Joshua concludes and the book of Judges begins we find the people of Israel dwelling in the midst of the land with enemies and adversaries still present within the land, and inquiring of the LORD who among them should go up first against the Canaanites. It’s quite unique to think about and consider this reality, for it is within this passage of Scripture that you find enemies and adversaries still present in the midst of the land, and the tribes of Israel needing to drive them out and dispossess them from the land. Judah was chosen by the LORD first among the twelve tribes to drive out the inhabitants of the land, and to engage those which remained in the land in conflict and battle, and when they realized this, they inquired of their brother Simeon to enter into their lot to help them drive out the peoples which were present in the midst of the land. What I find to be so absolutely intriguing is to think about and consider that the book of Judges begins with the death of Joshua, and after the death of Joshua we find two of the twelve tribes agreeing to fight together within one of their lots in the land given unto them, in order that the enemies and adversaries within the land might be driven out and might be removed from land. What I still can’t get out of my mind is the fact that in the Old Testament book of Judges we find the children of Israel fighting together as one man against the enemies and adversaries which were present in the midst of the land—this despite the fact that there were twelve tribes which made up the entire congregation and host of the children of Israel. The children of Israel would enter into the land as one man, and they would conquer and subdue the land as one man, and yet when you come to the Old Testament book of Judges you will no longer find them fighting together as one man, but rather fighting as individual tribes against the remaining enemies and adversaries which were in the midst of the land. Judah was the first to march up against the Canaanites, and Judah would enlist the help of his brother Simeon, and together they would engage the Canaanites and the Perizzites in the midst of the lot of Judah. It would be Judah and Simeon that would find Adoni-bezek in Bezek, and they fought against him, and slew both the Canaanites and the Perizzites.

The opening chapter of the Old Testament book of Judges is quite the unique and intriguing book, for it begins and opens with Judah being instructed of the Lord to march up first against the Canaanites which dwelt and remained in the land, and their inviting Simeon their brother to join them in the fight against the Canaanites and Perizzites in the midst of the land. Judah and Simeon would defeat Adoni-bezek within the land, and would fight against Jerusalem, took it, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and set it on fire. This would in turn be followed with the children of Judah going down to fight against the Canaanites which dwelt in the mountain, and in the south, and in the valley. Judah would go against the Canaanites that dwelt in Hebron, and they would slaughter Shesahi, and Ahriman, and Talmai. Moving on, they would wage war against the inhabitants of Debir. The first chapter would continue with Othniel smiting Kirjath-sepher, taking it, and completely overtaking and overthrowing it. As you continue reading you will find Simeon march in against the Canaanites which dwelt in Zephath, and utterly destroying it. The first portion and first half of the first chapter of the book of Judges describes Judah and Simeon fighting side by side to engage the enemies and adversaries which were present in the midst of the land, yet what we must recognize and understand is that the remaining chapter would not conclude the way it began. While the first chapter would begin with Judah and Simeon fighting side by side as brothers against the enemies and adversaries which remained in the midst of the land, it would not continue and conclude that way, for there would be other of the tribes of the children of Israel which would not completely and utterly drive out the inhabitants of the land which would remain in the land after the death of Joshua. Upon the death of Joshua there would be enemies and adversaries which would remain in the midst of the land, and while Judah and Simeon showed signs of driving out and dispossessing those enemies which remained in the midst of the land, the rest of the twelve tribes would not continue and carry out the same command. Even before we begin reading of how the children of Israel did that which was evil in the sight of the living God we find many of the tribes of Israel failing to drive out and dispossess the enemies and adversaries which remained in the midst of the land, and either allowing them to remain in the land, or being dictated and controlled by them. In fact, I would dare say that how the first chapter ends and concludes sets the entire tone and stage for how the book of Judges would play out, for it would be directly because the tribes of Israel refused to drive out the enemies and adversaries which were present in the midst of the land that we find then doing that which was evil in the sight of the living God, and walking in open and blatant rebellion against His authority, His law and His commands. Consider if you will the words which are written and recorded in the final portion of the first chapter of this Old Testament book of Judges:

“Neither did Manasseh drive out the inhabitants of Beth-shean and her towns, nor Taanach and her towns, nor the inhabitants of Dor and her towns, nor the inhabitants of Ibleam and her towns, nor the inhabitants of Megiddo and her towns: but the Canaanites would dwell in that land. And it came to pass, when Israel was strong, that they put the Canaanites to tribute, and did not utterly drive them out. Neither did Ephraim drive out the Canaanites that dwelt in Gezer; but the Canaanites dwelt in Gezer among them. Neither did Zebulun drive out the inhabitants of Kitron, nor the inhabitants of Nahalol; but the Canaanites dwelt among them, and became tributaries. Neither did Asher drive out the inhabitants of Accho, nor the inhabitants of Zidon, nor of Ahab, nor of Achzib, nor of Helbah, nor of Aphik, nor of Rehob: but the Asherites dwelt among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land: for they did not drive them out. Neither did Naphtali drive out the inhabitants of Beth-shemesh, nor the inhabitants of the land: nevertheless the inhabitants of Beth-shemesh and of Beth-Anath became tributaries unto them. And the Amorites forced the children of Dan into the mountain: for they would not suffer them to come down to the valley: but the Amorites would dwell in mount Here’s in Aijalon, and in Shaalbim: yet the hand of the house of Joseph prevailed, so that they became tributaries. And the coast of the Amorites was from the going up to Akrabbim, from the rock, and upward” (Judges 1:27-26).

The words which you find listed in these particular verses are absolutely astonishing when you take the time to think about and consider it, for the words that are contained here describe a tremendous period of time after the death of Joshua when the tribes of Israel would not completely and utterly drive out the inhabitants of the land in which they had been brought. In a little more than the first half of this chapter we find conflict and warfare being engaged in the midst of the land, as Judah and Simeon would fight together and would fight side by side to utterly destroy and drive out the inhabitants of the land. As this chapter opens, it does so with Judah and Simeon—two brothers of Israel—agreeing to fight together with a common goal and a common purpose within the land. What is so intriguing when I read the words found within the first and opening chapter of this Old Testament book of Judges is when you think about and consider the absolutely astonishing reality that in the Old Testament book of Joshua you will find the twelve tribes of Israel—most of which were brothers (Ephraim and Manasseh were tribes that took the place of Joseph and Levi)—fighting together as one man to conquer and subdue the land. In the Old Testament book of Joshua there is a tremendous amount of language concerning the conquest of the land, and how Joshua and the children of Israel were able to drive out and dispossess great enemies and adversaries within the land. When we come to the opening chapter of the book of Judges, however, we find that there were still certain enemies and adversaries which remained within the land—or remnants and remains of those enemies and adversaries which were present in the midst of the land. The book of Judges initially begins and opens with Judah inviting Simeon his brother into his lot to help him overtake and drive out the inhabitants which were present in the midst of the land. What makes this so incredibly interesting is when you think about and consider the fact in the book of Joshua you will find the tribes of Israel fighting together as one man to conquer and subdue the land, and when you come to the book of Judges you will find the tribes of Israel seemingly going in their own direction as they would confront the remnants and remains of the enemies and adversaries which were present in the midst of the land. If and as you read the words which are written and contained within this book you will find Judah and Simeon fighting side by side as they would engage the enemies and adversaries which remained in the land, and how they would experience a measure of success and victory within the land. Upon reading further within this passage of Scripture you will find the remaining tribes seemingly fighting their own battles within their lots, and would fight them independent of their brothers which would remain in the land. What’s more, is that by this time the two and a half tribes which received their inheritance on the eastern side of the Jordan—the tribe of Reuben, the tribe of Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh—had already received their inheritance in land that had been conquered by the entire army of the children of Israel.

What I happen to find so absolutely and incredibly tragic when I come to this particular chapter within the book of Judges is that after the death of Joshua—not only do we find the children of Israel doing what was right in their own eyes, but we also find the underlying and root cause of this manifestation among them in their midst. The first and opening chapter of the Old Testament book of Judges brings us face to face with the tremendous truth that whereas the tribes of Israel would at one point fight together as one man—they would now fight independent of each other. What’s more, is that not only would they fight independent of each other, but they would also fail to drive out the remnants of the Canaanites which dwelt in and remained within the land. We dare not, we cannot and must not miss this absolutely incredible reality, for to do so would be to miss an incredible truth within our own hearts and our own lives. It’s absolutely and utterly amazing to think about and consider the fact that the congregation of the children of Israel would indeed fight together as one man upon crossing the Jordan River, and they would indeed fight together to conquer and subdue the land before them, however, after the death of Joshua they would apparently cease fighting together as one man, and would engage in their own conflicts and battles. What’s more, is that for most of the tribes which remained on the western side of the Jordan River—they did not completely and utterly drive out the inhabitants which were present in the midst of the land. In fact, most of the tribes which were present on the western side of the Jordan River which would receive their inheritance on that side of the river would fail to drive out the inhabitants which remained in the land. Moreover, as you read the final verses of the first and opening chapter of the book of Judges you will find two distinct realities concerning the lots which were given unto the tribes of the children of Israel—namely, (1) they did not drive out the Canaanites within the land, and (2) the Canaanites dwelt among them and remained in the land. Perhaps one of the greatest questions I can’t help but ask myself is actually two-fold, and it touches upon the response of the enemy and the responsibility we have as the people of God. The tribes which received their inheritance on the western side of the Jordan River had a responsibility to completely drive out and utterly dispossess the inhabitants of the land, however, what we find within this passage of Scripture is not only a failure to carry out and complete the responsibility that was assigned to them, but also the response of the Canaanites which remained in the land, as they refused to be driven out of the land. In fact, The Amorites which remained in the lot of Dan relegated and confined them to the mountains and would not even suffer them to come down into the valley.

THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE PEOPLE OF GOD & THE RESPONSE OF THE ENEMY! Permit me to ask you a very pointed question—namely, what do you do when you have been given a mandate and assignment to drive out and utterly destroy those enemies, those adversaries, and those things within the lot of your life, and those things which are present within your life refuse to be driven out, and would choose to remain and abide within your life? What happens within your life when you have been given a mission critical assignment to drive out and utterly dispossess the inhabitants of the land within your own lot, and yet they show absolutely no signs of wanting to be removed and wanting to be driven out? What happens when there are things which have remained within your heart, within your mind, and within your life which have great need of being driven out, and yet not only do you fail—perhaps even refuse—to drive them out, but also they show absolutely no signs of wanting to be removed and driven out of the land? The more I read the words which are written and found within these chapters the more I can’t help but encounter and come face to face with the awesome and underlying reality that the responsibility of the people of God was met with the response of the inhabitants of the land, as the inhabitants of the land would not go quietly. What’s more, is that not only would the inhabitants of the land not go quietly, but they would also choose to remain and abide within the land. We dare not, we must not, and we cannot afford to miss this point, for we have been given a command by the living God to completely and utterly destroy those things within our lives which would distract, deter and destroy us. We have been given a mandate by the living God within our hearts and lives to completely and utterly drive out those things within our lives which would destroy and distract us, and we have a great responsibility to not fail in this matter. The question I can’t help but ask when reading the words which are found within these verses is what are we permitting and what are we allowing to remain within our lives—that which needs to be completely and utterly driven out? What are we allowing to continue to abide within our hearts, our minds, and our lives which should no longer have any place within our lives? Oh, I can’t help but be reminded of Saul king of Israel who was given a mandate similar to the congregation of the children of Israel before—and even when they entered into the land of Canaan. You will recall in the Old Testament book of First Samuel that Saul was given a command through and from the mouth of Samuel to completely and utterly destroy Amalie, and to utterly destroy them and their memory from the face of the earth. If and as you read the words which are found within this particular book of the Old Testament, you will find that not only did Saul not utterly destroy Amalek, but he also spared the best of the cattle, the best of the flock, and the best of the cattle, and even spared Agag the king of Amalek alive. Consider if you will the words which are written and found in the fifteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of First Samuel beginning to read with and from the opening verse of the chapter:

“Samuel also said unto Saul, The LORD sent me to anoint thee to be king over his people, over Israel: now therefore hearten thou unto the voice of the words of the LORD. Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass. And Saul gathered the people together, and numbered them in Telaim, two hundred thousand footmen, and ten thousand men of Judah. And Saul came to a city of Amalek, and laid wait in the valley. And Saul said unto the Kenites, Go, depart, get you down from among the Amalekites, lest I destroy you with them: For ye shewed kindness to all the children of Israel, when they came up out of Egypt. So the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites. And Saul smote the Amalekites from Havilah until thou comest to Shur, that is over against Egypt. And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword. But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the failings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly. Then came the word of the LORD unto Samuel, saying, It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the LORD all night. And when Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning, it was told Samuel, saying, Saul came to Carmel, and, behold, he set him up a place, and is gone about, and passed on, and gone down to Gilgal. And Samuel came to Saul: and Saul said unto him, Blessed be thou of the LORD: I have performed the commandment of the LORD. And Samuel said, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear? And Saul said, They have brought them from the Amalekites: for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed. Then Samuel said unto Saul, Stay, and I will tell thee what the LORD hath said to me this night. And he said unto him, Say on. And Samuel said, When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the LORD anointed thee king over Israel? And the LORD sent thee on a journey, and said, Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed. Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the LORD, but didst fly upon the spoil, and didst evil in the sight of the LORD? And Saul said unto Samuel, Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the LORD, and have gone the way which the LORD sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. But the people took of the spoil, sheep, and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God in Gilgal. And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearten than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king. And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the the LORD, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice. Now therefore, I pray thee, pardon my sin, and turn again with me, that I may worship the LORD. And Samuel said unto Saul, I will not return with thee: for thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD hath rejected thee from being king over Israel” (1 Samuel 15:1-26).

As you read the words which are written and found within this passage you will find that Saul king of Israel was given a mandate similar to that which was given unto the children of Israel upon entering into the land which they had been brought unto. The twelve tribes of Israel were given a mission critical mandate and assignment to completely and utterly destroy the inhabitants which dwelt in the midst of the land, and yet when you come to the book of Judges you will find that after the death of Joshua the tribes of Israel would not utterly drive out the inhabitants which remained in the midst of the land. The question I can’t help but ask and wonder upon considering the opening chapter of the book of Judges is why the tribes of Israel would refuse to completely and utterly drive out and destroy the inhabitants of the land. Why would certain of the tribes which received their inheritance on the western edge of the Jordan River not only refuse to drive out the Canaanites and the Amorites which remained in the land, and would allow them to remain within and in the midst of the land? The book of Judges doesn’t quite give and provide an explanation as to why these tribes of the children of Israel refused to drive out and destroy the inhabitants of the land, but makes sure to reveal unto us that they were permitted to remain within the land. What we must understand what we must recognize when reading the words which are found in the first and opening chapter of the Old Testament book of Judges is that the tribes of Israel were given a specific mandate and command to drive out the inhabitants of the land, and yet individual tribes failed—perhaps even refused to drive out the inhabitants which remained in the midst of the land. Perhaps the underlying reason for this is found in the fact that during the days of Joshua they fought as one man to drive out the inhabitants of the land, but after the death of Joshua they would no longer fight together as one man, but would fight as individual tribes. Within the book of Joshua you will find the twelve tribes of Israel receiving their inheritance, with nine and a half tribes receiving their inheritance by lot on the western side of the Jordan River. It’s actually quite interesting to think about and consider that while the book of Joshua speaks of the tribes of Israel receiving their inheritance within and in the midst of the land, and while it speaks of the LORD giving them rest from their enemies round about them, the book of Judges reveals how after the death of Joshua the tribes of Israel would be left within their lots with remnants of the Canaanites which remained in the midst of the land. What’s more, is that in the book of Judges you don’t and won’t find the tribes of Israel fighting together as one man to drive out and completely destroy the inhabitants of the land, but rather being left to their own lots to drive out the inhabitants which remained in the midst of the land.

The question I can’t help but ask when reading the words which are written and found within the opening chapter of the book of Judges is whether or not the underlying reason why the tribes did not, would not, and perhaps could not drive out those Canaanites and Amorites which remained in the land was because they were no longer fighting together as one man in the midst of the land, but were essentially left unto themselves to fight as individual tribes. Is it possible that the opening chapter of the Old Testament book of Judges reveals the tremendous truth of how strong we are as a united people versus what it is like when we are left to ourselves? Is it possible that the opening chapter of the Old Testament book of Judges points to and reveals the fact that more often than not when we are left to engage ourselves in conflicts, struggles, battles, and the like alone and by ourselves we are not strong enough to handle certain of those things we face alone and by ourselves? WHEN YOU ARE LEFT TO FIGHT ALONE! WHEN THE PEOPLE OF GOD STOP FIGHTING AS ONE! The Old Testament book of Judges points to the absolutely tremendous reality that whereas during the days of Joshua the children of Israel would fight together as one man—during the days after the death of Joshua they would fight as individual tribes. You will notice that when they fought as individual tribes in the midst of their lots which had been given unto them during the days of Joshua they would and could not utterly drive out the inhabitants of the land, and would simply choose to allow them to remain within their lot in the midst of the land. I can’t even say that this was a matter of attrition as the inhabitants of the land would resist the people of God until they finally acquiesced and gave into their remaining within the land. In fact, I would most likely state that what we find here is simply the tragedy of the people of God ceasing fighting together as one man, and fighting alone in and of themselves. If there is one thing the opening book of Judges reveals in comparison and contrast to the entire book of Joshua, it’s just how strong we are together, and just how strong we are when we fight as a united people. I have written before and asked the question of whether or not you realize how strong you are, and I have written it on an individual basis, however, I would like to take the time right now to write and ask the question of whether or not you know and are aware of how strong you are as a united people who fight together as one. It is true that you are stronger than you realize, and it is true that you are stronger than you perhaps even give yourself credit for, however, with that being said, I would also like to declare that you are stronger as a single body that is united under the banner of the Lord your God. The congregation of the children of Israel were stronger when they fought together as one man as they conquered and subdued the land, and even when Judah and Simeon would engage the Canaanites which dwelt and remained in the land, they would experience great success within and in the midst of the land.

The underlying truth that is found within this passage of Scripture is centered upon the reality of what happens when we cease fighting together as one man, and begin fighting our battles, and fighting our struggles alone. As great as David king of Israel was, we must recognize and understand that Goliath aside—every battle David would fight from that day on would be fought with brothers and men who would fight alongside him. In fact, it would be at the cave of Adullam where the LORD would gather together around David those men who would ultimately and eventually become the mighty men of David. IT would be there at the cave of Adullam that the LORD would bring unto David those brothers who would fight alongside him, and those who would make up the core of the army of Israel which would fight against the enemies and adversaries round about the nation and kingdom of Israel. Oh there is something truly wonderful and truly powerful about our fighting together with our brothers and with our sisters—not only in the conflicts we face within our lives, but also in the conflicts our brothers and sisters face within their lives. There is something truly powerful about brothers and sisters fighting side by side together in battle as Judah and Simeon did, as Joab and Abishai did, and as we were created and intended to fight the entire time. If there is one thing we must understand when reading the opening chapter of the book of Judges it’s that we were never created, nor were we intended to fight alone, nor were we created to fight the battles, and engage the conflicts and struggles we face within our lives alone. It has always been the design and intention of the LORD for His people to not only stand together as a united people, but also to fight side by side together as one body and as one people. What’s more, is that in the New Testament we get a picture of what this looks like in the book of Acts when we find the one-hundred and twenty in the upper room partnering together in prayer, in worship and in intercession before the LORD their God. What’s more, is that within and throughout the book of Acts we find the people of God partnering together in prayer and intercession as they would unite their hearts, their minds, their spirits, their souls, and their time in prayer before the living God. Oh it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand this absolutely tremendous and incredible reality, for it brings us face to face with the reality of just what the tribes of Israel ran into and faced in the days after Joshua’s death. It is necessary that we recognize and understand that we have been called to stand together as one—and not only to stand together as one, but also to fight together as one, and to fight alongside our brothers and our sisters as they stand and fight alongside us. Oh that we would realize that we are stronger when we stand together as one, and when we fight together as one. Oh that we would truly understand and comprehend the absolutely wonderful reality that we have been called to stand together and fight together as one, and that we need our brothers and sisters just as much as they need us. Oh that we would not let our brothers and sisters be left to face the conflicts, the struggles and the battles they have to face and endure alone, but would stand side by side them as we fight to accomplish a common and united goal and mission within the earth.

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