RESTORING THE PEACE OF INHERITANCE & RESTORING THE REST OF POSSESSION

Today’s selected reading continues in the Old Testament book of Judges which describes a period of time that existed between the death of Joshua and the emergence of Samuel the prophet. More specifically, today’s passage is found in chapters ten through thirteen of this Old Testament book. The more I read the words which are written and recorded in the Old Testament book of the Judges the more I can’t help but come face to face with the awesome and tremendous reality of the patterns and cycles which the congregation of the children of Israel engaged themselves in during the days and times of the Judges. When you begin reading this Old Testament you will initially be confronted with two the twelve tribes of Israel fighting together against enemies and adversaries which still existed and still remained in the midst of the land. What’s more, is that you will read how Joseph also rose up and engaged enemies and adversaries within and in the midst of the land that the land might continue to be subdued before them. Perhaps one of the most astonishing realities surrounding the Old Testament book of Judges is when you think about and consider the fact that although Joshua led the congregation of the children of Israel in conquest and battle in the midst of the land, and although Joshua led the children of Israel against nations and peoples which were more and mightier than they were in the midst of the land, there were still nations and peoples in the midst of the land which the tribes of Israel needed to drive and dispossess from the land. What we find upon reading the opening chapter of the Old Testament book of Judges is that instead of fighting together as one man as they did during the days of Joshua, the battle seemed to transition to one that was on an individual level and basis than was on a corporate level. The entire book of Joshua is about the whole congregation crossing over the Jordan and entering into the land together, and about the whole congregation of the children of Israel conquering and subduing the land which was before them, and even receiving their individual lots as possession in the midst of the inheritance that was given unto them by the Lord. By the time the book of Joshua draws to a close you will find that the LORD had given the people of Israel rest from their enemies within, as well as rest from their enemies without. Eventually—after all the conflict, all the struggle, all the conquests, all the battles which were fought and engaged in within the land had been completed, there would come a period of rest and peace that the people of God would enjoy in the land which was given unto them as an inheritance. Eventually there would come a point in time when the children of Israel which had wandered forty years in the wilderness before entering into the land of Canaan, and which had engaged in numerous conflicts, battles and struggles within the land would finally receive rest in the midst of the land that was to be theirs as an inheritance, and rest from the nations and peoples round about them.

As you come to the second chapter of this Old Testament book of Judges you will quickly encounter and come face to face with the reality that the children of Israel would begin doing that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, and that not only did the LORD begin to remove the peace and rest which they enjoyed and experienced in the midst of the land, but LORD would also raise up nations and peoples round about and within them which would oppress them. What I find to be truly captivating when you think about and read the words that are found in the Old Testament book of Judges is when you consider the fact that for more than four-hundred years the children of Israel were oppressed in the land of Egypt as Pharaoh raised up taskmasters which would violently afflict, oppress and oppose them in the midst of the land. Eventually—after their cries had come up before and unto the Lord their God—the LORD raised up Moses who would not only confront Pharaoh time and time again demanding that he let the people go, but also delivered the congregation of the children of Israel out of their slavery, their bondage and oppression within the land of Egypt. What I can’t help but think about and consider is that it was one thing for the children of Israel to be oppressed in a foreign land which was not their own land, but it was something else altogether to be oppressed within the land that was theirs as an inheritance. The children of Israel would be oppressed within the land of Egypt for more than four centuries, and now we find them living and dwelling within their own land. In that land which had been given unto them we find them doing that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, and as a direct result of their doing evil in the sight of the living God, the Lord would deliver them into the hands of their enemies. In the midst of the land that was given unto them as an inheritance, and in the midst of the land that was promised unto their fathers and finally given unto them in their generation, the children of Israel would and could be oppressed by those nations and peoples which were round about them. I can’t help but think about the book of Judges and consider the fact that as a direct result of their transgression, their disobedience, and their iniquity before and against the Lord their God, the LORD would not only remove their peace and rest in the midst of the land, but the Lord would also raise up against them adversaries which would oppress and afflict them.

If you move throughout the book of Judges you will find a repetition of patterns and cycles in the history and narrative of the children of Israel, for the children of Israel would do that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, and as a result of their doing that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, the LORD would deliver them into the hands of their enemies. What’s more, is the LORD wouldn’t merely deliver them into the hands of their enemies and allow them to be defeated, but the LORD would actually allow them to be oppressed and afflicted. The question I can’t help but ask when reading the words which are found in this Old Testament book is which is actually more difficult to bear—experiencing defeat at the hands of your enemies, or being afflicted and oppressed by your enemies and adversaries. It’s worth noting that the LORD didn’t merely allow the congregation of the children of Israel to be defeated at the hands of their enemies, but the LORD allow them be afflicted and oppressed by those nations and those peoples who were round about and within them. As you begin reading with and from the second chapter of this Old Testament book you will find a tremendous summary of that which would take place in the midst of the land of Israel, as the children of Israel would do that which was evil in the sight of the Lord. I am convinced that in order to understand the great significance of the judges whom the Lord would raise up in the midst of the land of Israel it is necessary to understand the patterns and cycles which they had engaged themselves in and experienced. The Old Testament book of Judges is about the children of Israel doing that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, the LORD delivering them into the hands of those who would oppress and afflict them, their crying unto the LORD in the midst of and because of that affliction, and the LORRD delivering them out of the hands of those which did and would afflict them. The tragic part is that when the judge which ruled over them would die and go all the way of the earth, they would return to their evil and wicked ways. While the Old Testament book of Judges is a book about patterns and cycles, I would dare say the book is best understood as the children of Israel doing that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord delivering them into the hands of their enemies and adversaries. What we must recognize is that the LORD didn’t give them into the hands of their enemies in terms of their being defeated in battle, but rather by their enemies afflicting and oppressing them in the midst of the land that had been given unto them by the Lord their God. The children of Israel wouldn’t go forth into battle against an enemy and adversary and be defeated as they were during the days of Joshua when they would go against Ai, and would be defeated by the men of Ai because of iniquity and transgression in the midst of the camp. In the Old Testament book of Judges, the Lord would not give the children of Israel into hands of their enemies in battle, but would actually allow their enemies and adversaries to oppress them.

Upon delving and diving even deeper and further in this Old Testament book of Judges you will encounter and come face to face with the reality that time and time again the children of Israel would be sold into the hands of their enemies and adversaries as they would be allowed to oppress and afflict them. We cannot read the Old Testament book of Judges without coming face to face with the tremendous reality that not only did and not only would the LORD remove the peace and rest which they had enjoyed during the days of Joshua, as well as during the days of the elders which outlived Joshua, but the LORD would also allow their enemies and adversaries to afflict them. Those nations and those peoples whom the LORD would give the people of Israel rest and peace from would be permitted to rise up against them, as they would be allowed to completely and utterly afflict them. In fact, there would be certain and specific times within the history and narrative of the children of Israel when the affliction and oppression would be so great that it would completely and absolutely cripple the people of God within and in the midst of the inheritance. This people which had moved within and throughout the land conquering and subduing peoples which were more and mightier than they were would now themselves be completely and utterly crippled by enemies and adversaries whom the LORD would raise up against them—much like the Lord would raise up adversaries within and during the days of Solomon king of Israel and son of David. I continue to read and find that which is found in the Old Testament book of Judges as a tremendous sign and portent of that which would come in the generations ahead, for what would begin with and during the days of Solomon would continue and would eventually reach the point and place when the Babylonian Empire would not only afflict and oppress the people of God, but would eventually lay siege to the city, completely and utterly destroy the city with the Temple of the living God, and take the people of God captive. It would be during the days of Solomon the LORD would raise up specific adversaries against him and the people of Israel, thus removing the peace and rest which David the king of Israel and father of Solomon had fought so hard for. Eventually there would come a period in the history of the children of Israel—after spending so much time at war with the Philistines who would regularly and continually afflict and oppress them—when they would finally find rest and peace from their enemies and nations round about them. In all reality, I would dare say that what was so awesome about the reign of David king of Israel was that David would essentially undo and reverse that which had begun during the days of the Judges. I am convinced that what is so absolutely astonishing and remarkable about the Old Testament king David is that the battles and wars he faced seemed to be the Lord’s way of reversing that which had been permitted to take place during the days of the judges—and even during the days of Saul, the first king of Israel.

If you read the words which are found within the Old Testament book of Judges you will find that the LORD would raise up enemies and adversaries against the children of Israel in response to their transgressing and rebelling against His commandment, and in the midst of that oppression and affliction the LORD would also raise up a judge who would deliver His people out of the affliction and oppression which had been raised up against them. What we must recognize and understand concerning this is that during the time period of the judges, the LORD would indeed deliver the children of Israel out of the hands of those which oppressed and afflicted them, however, as soon as the judge which the LORD had raised up died and went the way of all the earth the people would return to their evil and treacherous ways before and in the sight of the living God. It was true the LORD would raise up judges over an extended period of time who would deliver the people of God out of the hands of those that would oppress and afflict them, however, there wouldn’t be true and lasting period of peace—not like it was during the days of Joshua when the LORD gave the people of Israel peace and rest from all their enemies round about them. What you find in the Old Testament book of Judges would be the LORD delivering the people of Israel out of the hands of their enemies and adversaries through the judges He would raise up, however, while there would be a period of rest that would be enjoyed during the time of the judge which ruled and reigned over them—that peace would immediately be removed after the judge died and as they returned to their evil and wicked ways of doing that which was right in their own eyes. In the Old Testament book of Judges there would be a period of rest that would be enjoyed after the judge delivered the people of Israel out of the hands of those who oppressed them until the time of their death. For each of the main judges which this book records and speaks about we find that they would rise up and emerge within a period of oppression and affliction, they would deliver the people of God out of the hands of those who would oppress them, and there would be a period of rest and peace that would be enjoyed until their death. Upon their death, however, the people of Israel would return to their evil and wicked ways and would once more do what was evil in the sight of the LORD. This would be followed by a period of time when the peace and rest that was just fought for and secured by the judge would be removed, and when they would find themselves facing affliction and oppression all over again.

RESTORING THE PEACE OF INHERITANCE! RESTORING THE REST OF POSSESSION! The more I think about the Old Testament book of Judges, as well as the narrative of David king of Israel, the more I can’t help but think about and consider the fact that when the judges emerged on to the scene—not only did they help deliver the people of God out of the hands of their oppressors and those who would afflict them, but they would also restore the peace and rest which was and had been secured by Joshua the son of Nun before he died and went the way of all the earth. Before Joshua died and went the way of his fathers we find that the Lord had given the people of God peace and rest from all their enemies and adversaries before and round about them, and they were able to enjoy the inheritance and possession the way the living God desired and intended them to. During the days of the judges, however, we find the people of Israel doing that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, being delivered into the hands of those who would oppress and afflict them, and ultimately being delivered out of that affliction and oppression at the hands of the judges whom the Lord would raise up. I can’t help but think about and consider that what the judges were raise up for, and what the judges fought for was not only to deliver the people of God out of the affliction and oppression their enemies and adversaries would impose upon them, but also restore the peace and rest which their fathers enjoyed during the days of Joshua the son of Nun. This is perhaps what is so great about the narrative of David king of Israel, for it would be David king of Israel who would subdue the Philistines who had long been a thorn in the side of the congregation of the children of Israel, and who would oppress and afflict them. What’s more, is that the Philistines would oppress the people of God—pretty much from the time of Samson until the time of David—as they would afflict and oppress them beyond measure. In all reality, what is truly remarkable about the battles David the king of Israel fought and engaged in during the days he reigned over the kingdom and nation of Israel were that they were essentially battles that would once more subdue the nations and peoples round about Israel which had previously afflicted them during the days and times of the judges. The book of Judges reveals the countless and many enemies which would oppress and afflict the people of God in the midst of the inheritance—enemies and adversaries which would include the Moabites, the Ammonites, the Midianites, the Amalekites, the Philistines, and even the Canaanites which still remained within the land. You cannot read the Old Testament book of Judges and not come face to face with the awesome and incredible reality that it is a book which is not only about deliverance from oppression and affliction, but it is also a book about the restoration of peace and rest.

DELIVERANCE FROM OPPRESSION AND AFFLICTION! RESTORATION OF PEACE AND REST! What we find about the days of the judges—and even the days of David the king of Israel—is that the wars and battles which they fought were not merely for the sake of engaging in conflict and struggle, but they were about bringing about the restoration of peace and rest that was introduced during the days of Joshua. There is a part of me that can’t help but wonder if the opposite of peace and rest is affliction and oppression, and how that which opens the door and invites this oppression and affliction is disobedience and rebellion against the living God. I can’t help but think about and consider the tremendous reality that it is the desire and will of the Lord that His people experience rest and peace in the midst of that which He has promised and provided them. The congregation of the children of Israel were brought into the land which the LORD swore unto their fathers—unto Abraham, unto Isaac and unto Jacob—and once they had conquered and subdued the land and received it as an inheritance during the days of Joshua, they were to live and dwell in the midst of the land in the midst of safety, peace and rest. We dare not and cannot miss and lose sight of this absolutely tremendous and incredible reality, for to do so would be to miss the absolutely tremendous tragedy that surrounds the Old Testament book of Judges. After the death of Joshua, and after the elders which outlived him died as well, we find the children of Israel doing that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, and as a direct result of their doing what was evil in the sight of the LORD we find the LORD delivering them into the hands of those who would oppress, spoil, plunder and afflict them. Not only this, but the LORD would also remove the peace, the safety and the rest which they had enjoyed and experienced during the days of Joshua when each of the nine and a half tribes which had not yet received an inheritance would experience rest and peace in the midst of the land that was now theirs as an inheritance and possession. Altogether all twelve tribes of the children of Israel would experience rest, peace and safety as the LORD would give them rest and peace from all their enemies and adversaries round about. The second chapter of the Old Testament book of the Judges reveals the pattern of the children of Israel doing that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, and as a direct result of their doing what was evil in the sight of the Lord we find them being sold into the hand of their enemies and adversaries. Consider if you will the accounts of the congregation of the children of Israel being thrust and sold into the hands of their enemies, and being allowed to be afflicted and oppressed by those who should have never afflicted them:

“And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which He had done for Israel. And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim: and they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the LORD to anger. And they forsook the LORD, and served Baal and Ashtaroah. And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and He delivered them into the hands of spoilers and spoiled them, and He stood them into the hands of their enemies round about, so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies. Whithersoever they went out, the hand of the LORD was against them for evil, as the LORD had said, and as the LORD was against them for evil, as the LORD had said, and as the LORD had sworn unto them: and they were greatly distress. NEverthless the LORD raised up judges, which delivered them out of the hand of those that spoiled them. And yet they would not hearken unto their judges, but they went a whoring after other gods, and bowed themselves unto them: they turned quickly out of the way which their fathers walked in, obeying the commandments of the LORD; but they did not so. And when the LORD raised them up judges, then the LORD was with the judge, and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge: for it repented the LORD because of their groanings by reason of them that oppressed and vexed them. And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they returned, and corrupted themselves more than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them, and to bow down unto them; they ceased not from their own doings, nor from their stubborn way. And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel; and he said, Because that this people hath transgressed my covenant which I commanded their fathers, and have not hearkened unto my voice; I also will not henceforth drive out any from before them of the nations which Joshua left when he died: that through them I may prove Israel, whether they will keep the way of the LORD to walk therein, as their fathers did keep it, or not. Therefore the LORD left those nations, without driving them out hastily; neither delivered He them into the hand of Joshua” (Judges 2:10-23).

“And the children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, Hittites, the Amorites, and Perizzites, and Hivites, and JEbusites: and they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons, and served other gods. And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and forgot the Lord their God, and served Baalim and the groves. Therefore the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and He sold them into the hand of Chushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia: and the children of Israel served Chushan-rishathaim eigh years. And when the children of Israel cried unto the LORD, the Lord raised up a deliver to the children of Israel, who delivered them, even Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother…And the land had rest forty years” (Judges 3:5-11).

“And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD: and the LORD strengthened Elton the king of Moab against Israel, because they had done evil in the sight of the LORD. And he gathered unto him the children of Ammon and Amalekites, and went and smote Israel, and possessed the city of palm trees. So the children of Israel served Eglon the king of Moab eighteen years. But when the children of Israel cried unto the LORD, the LORD raised them up a deliverer” (Judges 3:12-15).

“And the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord when Ehud was dead. And the LORD sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, that reigned in Hazor; the captain of whose host was Sisera, which dwelt in Harosheth of the Gentiles And the children of Israel cried unto the LORD: For he had nine hundred chariots of iron; and twenty years he mightily oppressed the children of Israel” (Judges 4:1-3).

“And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD: and the LORD delivered them into the hand of Midian seven years. And the hand of Midian prevailed against Israel: and because of the MIdianites the children of Israel made them dens which are in the mountains, and caves, and stron holds. And so it was, when Israel had sown, that the Midianites came up, and the Amalekites, and the children of the East, even they came up against them; and they ecanmped against them, and destroyed the increase of the earth, till thou come unto Gaza, and left no sustenance for Israel, neither sheep, nor ox, nor ass. For they came up with their cattle and their tents, and they came as grasshoppers for multitude; for both they and their camels were without number: and they entered into the land to destroy it. And Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites; and the children of Israel cried unto the LORD. And it came to pass, when the children of Israel cried unto the LORD because of the Midianites, that the LORD sent a prophet unto the children of Israel” (Judges 6:1-8).

“And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the Lord, and served Baalim, and Ashtororth, and the gods of Syria, and the gods of Zidon, and the gods of Moab, and the gods of the children of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines, and forsook the LORD, and served not Him. And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and he sold them into the hands of the Philistines, and into the hands of the children of Ammon. And that year they vexed and oppressed the children of Israel: eighteen years, all the children of Israel that were on the other side Jordan in the land of the Amorites, which is in Gilead. Moreover the children of Ammon passed over Jordan to fight also against Judah, and against Benjamin, and against the house of Ephraim; so that Israel was sore distressed. And the children of Israel cried unto the LORd, saying, We have sinned against thee, both because we have forsaken our God, and also served Baalim” (Judges 10:6-10).

“And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD delivered them into the hand of the Philistines forty years” (Judges 13:1).

If you read each of these individual accounts you will get the strong sense, and a great picture of what the period of time during the days of the judges was truly like, as it was a time when affliction and opposition would find their way into the inheritance that had been given unto the congregation of the children of Israel. What’s more is that during the days of the the judges the peace, the rest, the safety and security which Joshua and the children of Israel fought so hard for would be compromised and jeopardized through their disobedience and rebellion in the sight of the living God. It would be during the days of the judges when the people of Israel would compromise the peace and rest the living God had given them—peace and rest which their fathers had fought for—through their rebellion, their wickedness and rebellion against the living God. In all reality, I would dare say that this nation has also experienced a similar point within their history, and has been in a place where the peace, the rest, the safety and the security our fathers fought for has been compromised on more than one occasion. I believe with all my heart that this nation—although it is considered to be the most powerful nation in all the earth—has done a considerable amount of damage to the peace, the rest and the safety which our forefathers spent so much time fighting for centuries ago. What I so love about David when he became king over the nation and kingdom of Israel was that David was a man who not only fought to conquer and subdue enemies and adversaries which had been too long thorns in the side of the nation and people of Israel, but he also fought to restore the peace and rest which Joshua and that first generation fought so hard for. I am absolutely and completely convinced that what we read and what we find in the narrative of David king of Israel is a man who together with his mighty men, and together with the army of Israel would engage the enemies and adversaries round about the nation and kingdom of Israel, and would subdue them before the people of God that the peace and rest which had been forfeited, compromised and missing since the days of Joshua might once more be experienced by the people of God. Pause for a moment and think about just how long the people of God would have lived without peace and with the rest which the LORD their God had given unto their fathers after they had conquered and subdued the land of Canaan. Consider how long the nation and people of Israel had gone without the peace and rest of God—peace and rest that would be mere glimpses during the days and time of the judges. What is so absolutely astounding about the judges within the nation of Israel was that they would fight against the enemies and adversaries which would afflict and oppose the people of God, and would bring back some semblance of the peace and rest that was to be enjoyed and experienced once the people of God began to truly dwell within and inhabit the land of Canaan.

In all reality, it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we consider the absolutely wonderful reality that when the living God brought the congregation of the children of Israel into the land of Canaan, He brought them in that they might conquer, subdue and utterly drive out the inhabitants of the land, but also that He might give unto them rest and peace in the midst of the nations and peoples round about them. This is perhaps the main and underlying reason why the Temple of the living God would and could not be built in the midst of the land until the days of Solomon king of Israel, for the Temple could not be built during a time of conflict, war, battle and struggle, but would instead need to be built during a time of peace and rest. If there is one thing we must recognize and understand concerning the Temple of the living God, it’s that the Temple of God which would be built in the midst of the land of Israel would and could only be built when the LORD had given His people rest on all sides from all their enemies and adversaries. There is not a doubt in my mind that the reign of David—this man after God’s own heart, yet was also a man of war, battle and conflict—was one that was absolutely critical for the nation and kingdom of Israel, and was what the Lord had originally intended for the people upon conquering and subduing the land. I firmly believe that David did what the people of Israel should have done during the days of the judges, as David not only conquered and subdued those enemies and adversaries which were present within and in the midst of the land, but also those nations, those peoples, those enemies and adversaries which were round about the land. From the Philistines territory, to Lebanon, to Syria, to Moab, to Ammon, and Edom, the nation and kingdom of Israel was given rest on all sides and on all fronts, as the LORD would bring them into a wonderful and powerful period of rest that was perhaps unparalleled in all the history of the nation and kingdom of Israel, and when Solomon ascended to the throne after David his father went the way of all the earth. When Solomon ascended to the throne, he did so during a period of time when the nation and kingdom of Israel enjoyed unparalleled peace and rest as a result of the wars which his father David had fought in his generation and during the time of his reign—wars and battles which not only secured the borders of the nation and kingdom of Israel, but also secured a powerful sense of peace and rest. Perhaps the most tragic reality that surrounds the book of judges was that the peace and rest which Joshua and the fathers of the children of Israel had fought so hard for would be compromised and forfeited through their disobedience, their rebellion and their wickedness.

FORFEITING THE PEACE AND REST OF THE FATHERS! COMPROMISING AND JEOPARDIZING THE REST AND PEACE WHICH PREVIOUS GENERATIONS FOUGHT FOR! RESTORING THE PEACE AND REST LOST THROUGH REBELLION AND DISOBEDIENCE! If there is one thing which I find to be absolutely and incredibly tragic about the Old Testament book of Judges, it’s the fact that there didn’t simply arise a generation which knew not the wonders and works of the LORD which He had done in the midst of His people, but also the great wars, conflicts and battles which their fathers had fought, but there were subsequent generations which emerged and which arose in the midst of the land that followed in their footsteps. There arose a generation which knew not the LORD, nor the works which He hade done for Israel, and as a result they would do what was evil in the sight of the Lord. I can’t help but be absolutely gripped and captivated with and by the fact that there would arise generations in the midst of the land which wouldn’t necessarily forfeit the land which had been given unto them by the Lord their God, however, they would forfeit the peace and rest the LORD had given, and which their fathers had fought so incredibly hard for. The generations that would emerge in the midst of the land after the death of Joshua, and even after the death of the elders which outlived Joshua would greatly comprise the safety and security of the land. What is so absolutely astonishing about the book of Judges is how greatly these future generations would compromise the peace and rest which their fathers had fought so hard for. What I can’t get over and what I can’t escape when reading the words which are written and found within the book is the fact that there would arise generations in the midst of the land of Canaan who would through their disobedience and rebellion against the Lord their God would compromise the peace and rest the LORD their God had given them. What a stark and strong contrast exists between the book of Joshua and the book of Judges, for the book of Joshua would conclude with the LORD giving His people rest and peace from their enemies and adversaries round about. The book of Judges, however, would present and bring us face to face with the tremendous reality that that peace and rest could be greatly compromised and greatly jeopardized through rebellion and disobedience—particularly and especially to those things which were mandated and commanded by the living God. The book of Judges is quite the book when you think about and consider the fact that there arose generations in the midst of the land which not only would know not the LORD, nor the works which He had done in Israel, but would in that ignorance do that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, and compromise the peace and rest their fathers had fought so hard for through years of conquest and battles in the midst of the land. Oh I can’t help but think about the tremendous fact that throughout the generations which have emerged and risen up in the midst of this nation of ours, we too have greatly compromised the peace, the rest, the safety and security our fathers and forefathers fought so hard for centuries earlier. The more I think about and the more I consider that which is found in the book of Judges the more I can’t help but see a strong and stark comparison between the nation of Israel and this nation, for time and time again generations have emerged and risen up within this land of ours and through their disobedience have comprised the safety, the security, the peace and the rest which our forefathers believed so strongly in, and for which they fought.

If and as you continue reading in the Old Testament book of Judges you will come to the narrative of Jephthah which in all reality is one that is absolutely and incredibly captivating, If you read the words which are written and found within the final portion of the tenth chapter you will find that the children of Israel would again do that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, and as a direct result of their doing what was evil in the sight of the LORD, He would sell them into the hands of their enemies and adversaries. During this specific time period the LORD would deliver them into the hands of the children of Ammon, as well as the Philistines, and both would radically oppress and afflict them. If you begin reading with and from the sixth verse of the tenth chapter, and you continue reading through and until the final verse of the chapter you will find the narrative of the children of Israel doing what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord responding by once more delivering them into the hands of their enemies and adversaries. Oh the LORD would not take the land away from them, and the LORD would not remove them from the land, but he would allow them to remain in the land and to be oppressed by their enemies and adversaries. If there is one thing we must recognize and learn from the narrative that is found in the book of Judges, it’s that the Lord would not remove the congregation of the children of Israel from the land which He had sworn unto their fathers and given unto them as an inheritance, however, He would deliver them into the hands of those that would oppress, afflict, spoil, and plunder them. The LORD would deliver them into the hands of nations and peoples round about them—nations and peoples which He wanted to give them rest on all sides from. With that being said, I invite you to consider the words which are found in this passage of Scripture beginning with the sixth verse of the tenth chapter:

“And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim, and Ashtaroth, and the gods of Syria, and the gods of Zidon, and the gods of Moab, and the gods of the children of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines, and forsook the LORD, and served not him. And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and he sold them into the hands of the Philistines, and into the hands of the children of Ammon. And that year they vexed and oppressed the children of Israel: eighteen years, all the children of Israel that were on the other side Jordan in the land of the Amorites, which is in Gilead. Moreover the children of Ammon passed over Jordan to fight also against Judah, and against Benjamin, and against the house of Ephraim; so that Israel was sore distressed. And the children of Israel cried unto the LORD, saying, We have sinned against thee, both because we have forsaken our God, and also served Baalim. And the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Did I not deliver you from the Egyptians, and from the Amorites, from the children of Ammon, and from the Philistines? The Zidonians also, and the Amalekites, and the Maonites, did oppress thou; and ye cried to me, and I delivered thou out of their hand. Yet ye have forsaken me, and served other gods: wherefore I will deliver you n more. Go and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your tribulation. And the children of Israel said unto the LORD, We have sinned: do thou unto us whatsoever seemeth good unto thee; deliver us only, we pray thee, this day. And they put away the strange gods from among them, and served the LORD; and His soul was grieved for the misery of Israel. Then the children of Ammon were gathered together, and encamped in Gilead. And the children of Israel assembled themselves together, and encamped in Mizpeh. And the people and princes of Gilead said one to another, What man is he that will begin to fight against the children of Ammon? HE shall be head over all the inhabitants of Gilead” (Judges 10:6-18).

In the tenth chapter of the Old Testament book of Judges you will find the LORD delivering the children of Israel into the hands of the children of Ammon, as well as the Philistines, and it would be during this time when the Philistines would begin to rise up to oppress the congregation of the children of Israel. The tenth chapter of the Old Testament book of Judges would reveal how the LORD would deliver the children of Israel into the hands of their enemies and adversaries—specifically the children of Ammon and the Philistines—and how they would cry out unto the LORD in their distress. Initially the LORD would not deliver them, however, once they removed and put away the strange gods from among them in their midst, the LORD would be grieved at their plight and misery. When you come to the eleventh chapter of this Old Testament book you will find another individual rising up and emerging in the midst of the land—Jephthah the Gileadite who was a might man of valour, but was the son of a harlot. Because of his being a son of a harlot and essentially considered a bastard son, he was thrust from the midst of the land by the true sons and true heirs of their father. Ultimately, Jephthah would flee from their presence and would dwell in the land of Tob where there were gathered unto him vain men—those who would go out with him. The narrative of Jephthah is similar in nature to that of David king of Israel with the noted exception and difference that of course David wasn’t born of a harlot, nor was he a bastard son. You will recall the narrative of David and how he would be thrust from the house and place of his father, and how he was forced to flee from the murderous hand and presence of Saul king of Israel. Eventually David would find himself in the cave of Adullam where the LORD would bring unto him a great number of individuals who would not only encourage and support him, but also those who would become the mighty men who would surround him in the battles he would face—both before he would become king of Israel, and after he would become king of Israel. Consider if you will the narrative of David at the cave of Adullam, and those whom the LORD would bring unto him there at the cave:

“David therefore departed thence, and escaped to the cave Adullam: and when his brethren and all his father’s house heard it, they went down thither to him. And every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men. And David went thence to Mizpeh of Moab: and he said unto the king of Moab, Let my father and my mother, I pray thee, come forth, and be with you, till I know what God will do for me. And he brought them before the king of Moab: and they dwelt with him all the while that David was in the hold. Ands the prophet Gad said unto David, Abide not in the hold; depart, and get thee into the land of Judah. Then David departed, and came into the forest of Hareth” (1 Samuel 22:1-5).

What we find within the twenty-second chapter of the book of First Samuel is David fleeing from the murderous hand and threats of Saul king of Israel, and eventually coming unto a very specific cave—the cave of Adullam. It would be there at the cave where the LORD would not only bring unto David his father and his mother, and not only his brethren, but also every one that was discontented, and every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt. These men which would come unto David would total around four-hundred, and David would become a captain over them. The account we find here in this particular passage is quite remarkable and astounding when you think about and consider it, for even though David would flee for his life, the LORD would bring unto him upwards of around four hundred men who would cleave unto him, and who would be his companions from that time forward. Not only this, but these men would also go on to be the mighty men that would make up the core of the army of Israel when he would finally become king over the nation and kingdom of Israel. Similarly, when Jephthah fled from his brethren in Gilead and came to Tob there would be those who would themselves unto him, and would go out with him wherever he went. It’s quite interring to think about and consider the fact that it would be during the time Jephthah fled from his brethren and dwelt in the land of Tob that the children of Ammon would make war against Israel. When the children of of Ammon made war with and war against the children of Israel, the elders of Gilead went to fetch Jephthah out of the land of Tob, and asked that he would come unto them, be their captain, and fight against the children of Ammon. The opening verses of the eleventh chapter describe Jephthah being a mighty man of valor—despite the fact that he was the son of an harlot—his subsequent flight from his brothers because he was considered the bastard son, the children of Ammon making war against the children of Israel, and the elders of Gilead bringing Jephthah back unto and among them that he might lead them in battle against the children of Ammon. It’s actually quite remarkable to read the narrative that is found in the eleventh chapter of the Old Testament book of Judges, for when you come to the twelfth verse you will find Jephthah sending messengers to the king of the children of Ammon asking him what he had to do with him that he would come and fight in the land of Israel. It’s worth considering this narrative, for not only did the LORD deliver the children of Israel into the hands of those who would oppress and afflict them, but here in this passage we actually find one of those enemies and adversaries being brazen enough to declare that when the children of Israel came out of Egypt they stole and took away land from them, and even demanded it be returned. Consider if you will the words which are found in this passage of Scripture beginning with the twelfth verse:

“And Jephthah sent messengers unto the king of the children of Ammon, saying, What hath thou to do with me, that thou art come against me to fight in my land? And the king of the children of Ammon answered unto the messengers of Jephthah, Because Israel took away my land, when they came up out of Egypt, from Arnon even unto Jabbok, and unto Jordan: now therefore restore those lands again peaceably. And Jephthah sent messengers again unto the king of the children of Ammon: and said unto him, Thus saith Jephthah, Israel took not away the land of Moab, nor the land of the children of Ammon: but when Israel came up from Egypt, and walked through the wilderness unto the Red Sea, and came to Kadesh; then Israel sent messengers unto the king of Edom, saying, Let me, I pray thee, pass through thy land: but the king of Edom would not hearken thereto. And in like manner they sent unto the king of Moab: but he would not consent: and Israel abode in Kadesh. Then they went along through the wilderness, and compassed the land of Edom, and the land of Moab, and came by the east side of the land of Moab, and pitched on the other side of Arnon, but came not within the border of Moab: for Arnon was the border of Moab. And Israel sent messengers unto Sihon king of the Amorites, the king of Heshbon; and Israel said unto him, Let us pass, we pray thee, through thy land into my place. But Sihon trusted not Israel to pass through his coast: but Sihon gathered all his people together, and pitched in Japan, and fought against Israel. And the LORD God of Israel delivered Sihon and all his people into the hand of Israel, and they smote them: so Israel possessed all the land of the Amorites, the inhabitants of that country. And they possessed all the coasts of the Amorites, from Arnon even unto Jabbok, and from the wilderness of Jordan. So now the LORD God of Israel hath dispossessed the Amorites from before his people Israel, and shouldest thou possess it? Wilt not thou possess that which Chemosh thy god giveth thee to possess? So whomsoever the LORD our God shall drive out from before us, them will we possess. And now art thou any better than Belak the son of Zippor, king of Moab? Did he ever strive against Israel, or did he ever fight against them, while Israel dwelt in Heshbon and her towns, and in Aroer and her towns, and in all the cities that be along by the coasts of Arnon, three hundred years? Why therefore did ye not recover them within that time? Wherefore I have not sinned against thee, but thou doest me wrong to war against me: the LORD the Judge be judge this day between the children of Israel and the children of Ammon. Howbeit the king of the children of Ammon hearkened not unto the words of Jephthah which he sent him” (Judges 11:12-28).

Within this passage of Scripture—not only do we find the children of Ammon oppressing and afflicting the children of Israel, but even when confronted by Jephthah as to the reason why they strove against the people of Israel, the king of Ammon declared unto them that it was because of land which they had taken and removed from them when they had come out of the land of Egypt, and even out of the wilderness into the land east of the Jordan River. What makes the words contained in this passage of Scripture so incredibly unique is when you think about and consider the fact that not only did the children of Ammon oppress and afflict the children of Israel, but the king of the children of Ammon also declared unto Jephthah that the children of Israel had taken land away from his people when they came out of the land of Egypt, and even demanded it back. This adds an entirely new and different twist to what we find in this passage of Scripture, for what we find in this passage of Scripture is not only an enemy and adversary oppressing, provoking and afflicting the people of God, but also demanding that they give back land which the children of Israel had taken possession of as an inheritance. We dare not, we cannot and must not miss and lose sight of this absolutely astonishing reality, for not only would the children of Ammon provoke, oppress and afflict the children of Israel, but so also would their king demand land which Israel had taken on the eastern side of the Jordan River. Up to this point the children of Israel were merely oppressed and afflicted by enemies and adversaries round about them, however, what we now find is the king of the Ammonites demanding that Israel return land which they had taken as possession after defeating, conquering and subduing Sihon king of Heshbon after he had gathered all his people in battle and set them in array against the children of Israel. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand this absolutely astonishing reality, for what we find here is one of the greatest tactics and strategies of the enemy and adversary within our hearts and lives, for not only can and not only will the enemy seek to oppress and afflict us, but the enemy and adversary can and will also seek to take and recover that which we have taken through conflict and battle. There are men and women who through tremendous struggle, conflict and battle have taken ground and taken territory within and throughout their Christian walk, and the enemy and adversary can and will try everything he can to take that which we have conquered through great struggle, conflict and battle. What I so love about the narrative of Jephthah is that despite the fact the king of Ammon demanded that Jephthah give back land which the children of Israel had taken nearly three centuries earlier, he was unwilling to give back land which the children of Israel took from those who would rise up against them in conflict and battle.

As I bring this writing to a close I feel compelled to state and emphatically declare unto you who are reading it that the enemy and adversary can and will make every attempt to oppress and afflict you, as well as making demands that you give up that which you have taken through conflict, struggle, and battle. The enemy can and will attempt everything he can to have us give up that land and that territory which we have gained through conflict, battle and struggle. The enemy can and will rise up against us in opposition, and can and will rise up against us in order that he might try and bring us to the place where we give up that which we have fought so hard for, and even that which our fathers have fought for. What’s so interesting about this narrative is that the king of Ammon wasn’t wasn’t asking for Jephthah to give up something which he had fought for and which he had captured, but that which his fathers and that generation which moved east of the Jordan River had conquered, subdued and taken as a possession when Sihon marched against them in battle. Oh it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we think about and consider this reality, for it brings us face to face with the reality that the enemy and adversary can and will seek to rise up against us in order that he might bring us to the place where we are willing to give up territory which we have fought for—even territory which our fathers have fought so hard for. THE underlying principle and truth that is found within this particular portion of Scripture is whether or not we are willing to give in to that which the enemy demands of us—whether or not we are willing to give in to the enemy’s demands that we give up that which we have fought so hard for through blood, sweat and tears. Perhaps the single greatest reality we must recognize and understand when reading these words is the powerful call to the people of God to refuse any demand the enemy makes for us to give up that which we have conquered and subdued. There is a clarion call given unto the people of God to refuse any demand the enemy makes to relinquish that we have fought so hard for, and that which the enemy feels belongs to him and should be returned. There is absolutely no room, nor is there any place in the midst of our hearts and lives to give back anything the enemy demands of us, and in fact—we ought to be doing the opposite, which is taking back that which the enemy has stolen and taken from us. Are you willing to not only refuse the demands of the enemy to give back what he feels you have taken from him, but also to take back that which he has taken, stolen and robbed from you in this life?

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