LOSERS, LAYMEN AND LEADERS Lessons From The Lives Of The Judges Of Israel

The first episode of the series: The people of Israel went through a time of lawlessness, rebellion, and moral failure during the time covered in the book of Judges. In Judges 17:6, the entire attitude of Israel during the judges' time can be summarized: "In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did what was right in his own eyes," the Bible says in 21:25. Ill. That also does a pretty good job of describing our world!)
Israel had been freed from slavery in Egypt by God. He led them through the wilderness for forty years. They entered the land of Canaan safely, and He promised to defeat all of their foes if they would walk in holiness with Him. Deuteronomy says that God told them to enter and conquer Canaan. 7:1-6. Those verses' commandments are abundantly clear. They had to: 1. 1. Be in possession of the land. 2. Completely destroy all of Canaan's nations 3. v. 2 Avoid entering into peace agreements with them. 2. Don't show them mercy. 3. Don't get married to them again 6. According to Deuteronomy 7:6, Israel was to be distinct from all the people around them, so they were to completely eradicate all traces of their pagan religions in verse 5. God had chosen them from among all the people on Earth. If they would follow Him, He would have saved them, blessed them, and promised them victory. God demanded that His people be kept completely apart. He was aware that Israel would be drawn away from God and spiritually corrupted if they allowed themselves to become involved with the Canaanites, Deut. 7:4. Deut. says that God promised that in His fury He would come to them suddenly. 7:4. Israel had their instructions, but they didn't follow the Lord's order completely. Judges 1:19–34 describes their failure in detail. Judah failed in 1:19-20, Benjamin failed in 1:21, Joseph failed in 1:22-26, Manasseh failed in 1:27-28, Ephraim failed in 1:29, Zebulon failed in 1:30, Asher failed in 1:31-32, Naphtali failed in 1:33, and Dan failed in 1:34. The tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh even refused to enter Canaan and chose to remain on the other side of Israel lived among their enemies because they were unable to defeat them. They eventually adopted the wicked ways of the various Canaanite tribes around them, becoming like their enemies. Israel eventually began to worship the Canaanites' fictitious gods. God allowed them to understand His displeasure and judgment as they went down this path. The people would eventually realize that they were to blame when the time came for judgment. They would seek the Lord and repent. God forgave them and raised a savior known as a Judge when they did. Israel was aided in breaking free from its oppressors by these men and women. They also assisted them in living a godly life. Israel would follow a Judge until that Judge passed away, at which point they would go back to their wicked ways and the cycle would continue. In Israel, this went on for about 400 years before they had their first king. Today, the book of Judges generates income for us. Because we can see in its pages that Israel had a lot of the same problems as we do today. They were physically opposed; We also do. They encountered issues brought on by the flesh, the world, and the devil; We also do. I intend to deliver a series of messages entitled Losers, Laymen, and Leaders over the next few Sunday evenings. I want to teach you some lessons from Israel's judges' lives. I want you to see that God is still looking for people He can use in our time when we look at these people He used to deliver His people in those days. God isn't looking for judges any more; instead, He is looking for leaders. He is looking for people He can use to stop the evil that threatens to sweep the church under the rug in these trying times. He is looking for individuals who will stand up for God and the Bible. He is seeking individuals to use to transform the world for God's glory. It's possible that some of the people He's looking for are sitting in these pews right now! God used ordinary people to accomplish His work in Israel during that time, and He will continue to do so in the present day. Let's look at Judges 3:1–11 and meet the first judge in Israel with that introduction in mind. Othniel is the name of the man I want to introduce to you. He is known as "The Lion of God." He lived up to his name as a man. OTHNIEL, Judges 3:1-11: Intro to THE LION OF GOD: He did not expel all of Israel's foes from the land of Canaan because Israel refused to follow the Lord's commands to walk with Him. As a result, Israel was compelled to coexist with the very people they had been sent to kill. In verses 1-4, God explains precisely why He left the people in the land. Take a look at his justifications. 1. The word "prove" means "to put to the test," and he left them there to demonstrate Israel in verse 1. In order to test Israel, God allowed the pagan people to live near His people. His people were put through a test to see how they would fare in a hostile environment. In verse 4, His people were put through a test to see if they would keep His commands. They didn't pass this test! 2. Verse 2: He left them there to instruct future generations on spiritual warfare. God wanted them to learn from their fathers' experiences in battle. God wanted them to have strength and the ability to defeat the adversary when he appeared. They also failed this exam! It wasn't long before this led to serious issues for the Israeli people. Israel demonstrated that they could not be relied upon to fight the enemy. They demonstrated that they would join the adversary rather than fight them. Let's look at how God raised Othniel to free Israel from a time of cruel servitude: The Godly Lion. I. v. 5-7 ISRAEL'S COMPROMISE (Ill.) These verses provide the ugliness-inducing specifics of Israel's initial significant failure. When they did, it serves as a clear warning to God's people at any time. What Israel did back then is what people all over the world are doing today. Notice how they went against both God's will and the Word of God in order to carry out their plans.) A. v. 5: Interaction with the Canaanites: According to the Bible, the Israelites "dwelt among" the various Canaanite tribes. The meaning of the word "dwelt" is "of settling down; of performing housekeeping duties. when Israel first entered Canaan. They were told to kill these people without showing mercy, even though they live among them. Their former foes became their new neighbors in a very short amount of time. The issue is that Israel was to remain isolated from the outside world. They were unlike any other people on the planet. In order to serve the Lord God Almighty, they had been chosen, redeemed, and designated, and He expected them to remain distinct, Deut. 7:6-11. They did not, and as a result, they let in a torrent of sin that would eventually see them subjected to God's terrible rebuke. (Ill. Do I need to remind you that the ones who have been saved by God are also to be a separate people? 6:17? Do I have to remind you that we are a "peculiar people" according to Titus 2:14? That does not imply that we are strange; rather, it indicates that we are "His special possession." We were chosen by Him, and He sent His Son to die for us; 1 Cor. says that he bought us and saved us. 6:19-20. We also open the floodgates of sin, which eventually overwhelm us and submerge us in its turbulent currents, when we refuse to live in accordance with His will and honor His Word in our lives. Living like the world around him is dangerous for a child of God!) B. v. 6a Intermarriage with the Canaanites The Israelites eventually became so accustomed to living with the Canaanites that they began to marry each other. The Lord explicitly forbade this. Their disobedience was unadulterated. They might have said, "These Canaanites are not as bad as we were told," for instance. Actually, they are very nice people. They are not at all monsters. Their daughters are capable, devoted wives. We can marry them without a problem. We might just be able to alter them, after all." Soon, Israel realized that they were the ones who changed, not the Canaanites. The Israelites began to lose their national identity as they married into the nearby tribes. Their families' integrity began to deteriorate. They quickly lost the very thing that distinguished them. (Ill.) We face the same threat today. We will soon find ourselves entangled in their sins if we get too close to the world around us. 1 Cor. says that how closely you walk with the Lord is influenced by the company you keep. 15:33. According to 2 Corinthians, God has always instructed His people to keep their distance from the lost world around them. 2:14. Matt. says that we must interact with the world in order to spread the Gospel and be a light to them. 5;16; Acts 1:8. We must, however, maintain our spiritual distance. Idolatry with the Canaanites — it was a very short step from living among them, marrying them, and worshiping with them) C. v. 6b, 7b. Walking with the world to living like the world You can probably picture how they justified this. Perhaps they said, "Well, you just have to understand how they are if you marry a Canaanite girl." They had a different upbringing than we did. You must grant them permission to bring their gods. In any case, it's simply a part of her culture." Therefore, the children of Israel, who had been saved by the blood of the lamb and had been delivered from Egypt by God's powerful power, and who have repeatedly benefited from God's power and work, bow down to the Canaanite idol gods. They "served Baalim and the groves," according to verse 7b. This is a reference to the various Canaanite gods and goddesses. They worshiped a number of gods who were associated with fertility practices, including the actual prostitution of their daughters in the groves and disgusting sexual acts. The groves consisted of high poles erected on hills. In an effort to persuade their gods to bless the crops and the ground with a good harvest, people would have sex between these poles. A group of people who, in just one generation, went from worshiping God and fighting evil to abandoning God and sleeping with the enemy is what you have here! Worst of all, they gave their precious daughters and sons to the very people they had been instructed to completely eliminate. (Ill.) The same danger exists today for sinful saints! When we refuse to keep our distance from the outside world; when we constantly bind ourselves to the world's people and things; We are offering a generation to the world's gods when we kneel at their altars. We're showing our kids that they can treat God and His Word however they want. We are instructing them that disobeying God, His Word, His House, His worship, and His will is acceptable. We're telling them that they can choose how to move through this world on their own.) D. v. 7a Aloofness With The Canaanites - Each step they removed drove them farther from God. They progressed in the direction of total abandonment of Him and His ways with each step away from Him. According to verse 7a, they "forgave the Lord their God." "to ignore, or to cease to care" is the meaning of the word "forgat." The Israelites reached a point where they stopped caring about God or what He had to say about anything and simply ignored Him. They reached a point where they had no regard for the Lord at all. (Ill. Many people in our day have arrived there! The Lord is there, as most people are aware. They are aware that His Word has something to say about how they live their lives. They are aware that God has a claim on their lives but decide to ignore Him. He is present, but no one is paying attention. He calls, but no one answers. They become hostile to God, His Word, and the call of the Holy Spirit, hardening their hearts. They ignore His call on their lives and ignore Him. God doesn't matter to them, and it's better that He doesn't even exist! That is a hazardous location! I. Israel's Settlement II. v. 8: Israel's chastisement (Ill.) That was Israel's spiritual home, but God would not leave them there. The phrase "God never allows His people to sin successfully" was once used by Charles Spurgeon. That is to say, you might do it, but you won't be able to continue doing it forever! Disobedience and rebellion against God always result in a cost.) A. Where God's wrath is focused: The word "anger" means "a flaring of the nostrils." The image depicts a vengeful face. "to be furious" is the meaning of the word "hot." The Canaanites did not pique God's ire. Despite the fact that they were lost, He detested their sin. His Law did not exist for them. They hadn't been saved, split up, or told to be different. No, God was mad, but God was mad at His people. They were about to suffer the consequences of their disobedience to God. (Ill.) You ought to be aware that there will be a cost if you are saved and choose to depart from the Lord. Rev. 3:19 says that God will bring His rebuke into your life. Heb. 12:6-12. According to 1 Cor., God does this not to cause us harm but rather to assist us in returning to our intended location. 11:32.) B. The Fury of God's Retribution: It is said that God "sold" Israel to a pagan king. The phrase "giving up, or giving over into one's control or power" is associated with it. To put it another way, Israel gave in to paganism, and God gave them what they wanted. They did not want to live their lives under His rule, so He let a harsh pagan king rule over them. This king goes by the name "Chushan-rishathaim." This name translates to "Doubly Wicked Cushan," which means "Doubly wicked and black." This only indicates that Israel harvested what they had sown. They desired pagan religion. They desired their false gods and their sin; and God granted their requests in addition to everything else. (Ill. People in this room today face the same threat. Today, some of the people seated here are not as devoted to the Lord as they once were. You aren't going to church as often as you used to. You are less committed than you once were. You are no longer as obedient to the Lord as you used to be. You simply don't serve Him as well as you once did. Your life no longer revolves around Him. In other words, other gods. Things as insignificant as your pleasure, aspirations, and possessions; You are aware of what I'm referring to. Well. When you see the fruits of your labor, don't be surprised. It is possible for the things you hold so dear to you to become tyrants in your life. You might describe them as "doubly wicked and black." When your children leave God, you might see the fruits of your labor in their lives. God may sell you to the things you chase in order for you to reap your harvest. However, you will bear fruit! In point of fact, Spurgeon was correct. God will never allow His people to successfully commit sin! Gal, you will get back what you put in, 6:7-8. The time to make a change is right now, before any more harm is done, if you are afraid of what you might reap. Today, come home! C. God's complete wrath: He sold them into slavery and kept them there for "eight years." He let them experience everything that their sin had cost them. They had no idea it would come to this when they lived among the Canaanites, married their children, and bowed down to their gods, but it did! Their foolishness cost them dearly! (Ill.) How much will your transgression cost you? You are powerless to break free when you are sold for your sins. You lack the ability to assist those around you. You are unable to pray as you ought to. You are unable to read and comprehend the Bible as effectively as you could. You are powerless to become the person God created you to be. "Sin will take you farther than you want to go," someone once said. keep you around for longer than you want to; and will cost you more than you can afford. That is the fact, and if I were you, I would pay attention to what the Lord has to say to you right now!) I. Israel's Settlement II. Third chastisement by Israel. Ill. When Israel came to themselves, they prayed to God, and He heard them. vv. 9-11 ISRAEL'S CHAMPION He reached out to deliver them when they turned back to Him in their hearts. Othniel, their first judge, was raised up by him! Othniel is known as a "deliverer." Othniel was exactly what the word means—a savior.) A. Othniel's Credentials: Othniel is said to be "Caleb's younger brother." Additionally, we are informed that he is "Kenaz's" son. Num, a man by the name of "Jephunneh," was Caleb's father. 13:6. There is no contradiction in this. Othniel was probably Caleb's son, and Kenaz was probably Caleb's brother. He would have been Caleb's nephew as a result. Othniel would have been promoted to a position of authority within the family if Kenaz had passed away. He would have been regarded as Caleb's brother as a result. In any case, Othniel was a brave and courageous man. Othniel won Caleb's daughter as his wife by defeating a Canaanite city in Judges 1:12-13. As a result, Othniel was a brave man who had strong ties to an earlier generation of Israeli leaders. Some estimate his age to be around 75. He was an older man. He was put through battle. God chose him because he could be had. (Ill. Othniel serves as a reminder to us that God can use anybody. regardless of our current age. irrespective of our past. God can use us for His glory if we will make ourselves available to Him, regardless of who we are or what we have going for or against us. Othniel was used powerfully by the Lord for that. The expression "the greatest ability is availability" is accurate.) B. Othniel's Companion: Because "the Spirit of the Lord came upon him," Othniel was helpful to the Lord. Othniel lacked the ability to bring Israel out of himself. But God was able to use him greatly when the Spirit of God took control of his life. Israel was not actually saved by Othniel. Othniel provided deliverance for Israel! (Ill.) The truth is that if we are left to our own devices, we will not be able to serve God in the manner in which He deserves to be served. When we are controlled by the Spirit of God in the same way that Othniel was, Gal., the only way we will ever be useful to and usable by the Lord is when we are. 5:16-25; Eph. 5:18. We will be given the strength to stand against our adversaries by the Spirit of God. We will become powerful for the Lord's glory through the power of the Holy Spirit. We must submit to the Spirit of God and His power over our lives in order for Him to use us in ways we can't even imagine. Acts 1:8 states that this is the key to God's power.) C. Othniel's Conquest: Othniel's victory over the previous "Doubly wicked and black" Othniel was given permission by God to free Israel from that pagan king's slavery. Othniel was given the authority by God to rule over Israel for forty years. Because Othniel devoted himself to the Lord, God granted Othniel victory in his life! (Ill.) Do you wish that the Lord would make use of your life for His glory? Do you want to witness Him use you to accomplish great things? Do you want to be free from paganism's hold? Do you want to see your family freed from the hold that sin and the world have on them? Do you want to succeed in life? If you do, do as Othniel did and submit to the Lord. You will be used for His glory if you let the Lord lead and control you.) Conc: I am curious if you are concerned about where you are spiritually right now with the Lord. Do you worry about the future of your family? Are you worried about people around you who have left this world in search of things? If any of these things are true, why don't you address these issues today before Him? Would you like to be used more effectively by the Lord? Would you like to devote yourself more fully to Him? Regarding your relationship with Him, has God been speaking to you? If this is the case, you should come to Him for assistance. Come and let Him do what He wants with you if He has touched your heart in any way. You need to listen to what He says if He calls. The first step toward victory is that.

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