January 15, 2021
Rev. Daniel Poon
1. V1-7 The Changes of Jephthah
Jephthah was not a judge whom God had raised up to judge the twelve tribes of Israel, but a leader chosen by the people of Gilead. God was with Jephthah when he humbled himself and turned to God. Unfortunately, Jephthah did not continue to exalt God.
After defeating the Ammonites, Jephthah faced a problem. When the people of Ephraim came to rebuke Jephthah, Jephthah’s response was different to before. In the previous chapter (11:14-27) Jephthah was willing to answer the enemy’s questions with patience. Now the battle had been won, and when he responded to the people of Ephraim’s blaming, Jephthah’s answer seemed to exalt the LORD, but first he spoke how he “took his life” to do so (verse 3). Instead of seeing the strength God gave him, he exalted his hard work. It is through God that we can renew our strength.
The people of Ephraim also said similar things to Gideon (Judges 8:1-3), and Gideon kindly persuaded them. God values unity, so even though Gideon was not a good leader, God still gave Israel peace for 40 years under Gideon’s leadership. In contrast, when Jephthah was facing the same tribe of people, he tried to kill them all.
V7, Jephthah judged Israel six years. The Bible does not say that their land had peace during those six years. When we have won the victory but do not humble ourselves, God’s presence will leave. This was Jephthah’s weakness.
2. V8-10 The Expanded Alliance of Ibzan
Ibizan had thirty sons and thirty daughters. He must have had many wives. What kind of life did he lead? In those days, marriage served as an alliance. And Ibzan took foreign daughters for his sons to be their wives, and hence making alliances with different races of the Gentiles. He wanted his influence to continue to expand, which was his ambition. He judged Israel for only 7 years.
When God chooses us to be leaders and gives us authority and ability, but we fail to do well and just want to use our power to do what we want to do and expand our influence, God will leave us.
3. V11-12 The Inactivity of Elon
Elon was a leader from God, and the Bible does not record what he did during his reign. When God gives us authority and power, do we seize the opportunity to impact lives with our lives? If nothing is done – neither merits nor mistakes, the presence of God will also leave. Elon only judged Israel ten years. He was better than Jephthah and Ibzan, but he had done nothing and had not really walked in God’s purpose. If we get a position, will we be faithful and good servants, or will we lose our motivation over time?
4. V13-15, The Self-seeking Plans of Abdon
Abdon’s name means “to be praised”. He was a Pirathonite, a man of a fine background, born with a silver spoon in his mouth. “He had forty sons and thirty grandsons, who rode on seventy young donkeys”, enjoying the honour of the world. Abdon died after eight years of judging Israel. The Bible does not record what he did as a judge, because he spent his days planning for his own life. Are we also planning for ourselves?
From these judges, we can see that when God exalts us, but we do not exalt God, nor humble ourselves, nor accomplish what God has given us, then the authority given to us by God will pass. God has given us authority and power, but if we do not bear fruit, God’s presence will leave us, and many years will pass in vain. Even though the leaders were bad, God continued to raise up leaders to protect the Israelites. God loves the Israelites from the day He chose them. This is the “I AM WHO I AM” God. Ever since God chose Abraham, the Israelites had been the apple of God’s eye. He loves them to the end. The reason why Israel would perish was because they did not follow God’s will. God gives us the opportunity to change, and we must humble ourselves to seek the LORD while He may be found. God allows us to see the problems of our life, so we should seek Him earnestly, stop indulging our desires and living in the old self.
Through the judges, we see the problems of our life, and we ask the Lord to prepare the way for everyone to serve God, and be prepared by God in our valleys, to accept, bear, forgive, endure, and bravely walk the way of serving God. The lives of the four judges were to exalt themselves, expand their influence, be ineffective, and plan for themselves, and so are we. We pray for the Lord’s light shine into us to show whether our abilities and talents are used for the Lord, so that we can seek Him more while He may be found, pray for the glory of the Lord to be added to us, to see the glory of God at our low points, so that we will be more vigilant, and let God reign in every area of our lives. May God be with us when we lift everything to Him! God leads us to the path of faith and promise. God is faithful and He will let us receive glory together with Him.
从这几位士师我们看到，当神高举我们，而我们没有高举神，没有谦卑自己，没有完成神给我们的事情时，神给我们的权柄就过去了。神给我们权柄能力，却没有开花结果，神的同在就会离开我们，无功无过就过了多年。虽然领袖这么不好，但是神还是不断兴起领袖保护以色列人，神爱以色列人是从拣选他们的那天开始，这就是I AM WHO I AM. 从神拣选亚伯拉罕的时候，以色列人就是神眼中的瞳仁，他就爱他们到底。以色列之所以会亡国，是因为他们没有走在神的旨意。神给我们机会改变，我们就要趁耶和华可寻找的时候，谦卑自己去寻找神。神让我们看到生命的问题，就谦卑寻求他，不要再放纵自己的情欲，活在老我之中。