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Sermon31 Judges16 Guide

Judges 16:19-30, Theme verse Judges 13:8

The praise and honor and glory be to our heavenly Father who seeks true worshipers who worship Him with the Spirit and truth.

Over the last past few weeks, we have learned that God led and settled the Israelites after conquering the promised land, Canaan, after delivering them from the slavery in Egypt for 430 years, through Moses and Joshua and renewed the covenant of Sinai with the older generation to the covenant in Moab, just before the conquering war and in Shechem, after the war of conquer of Canaan ended with the new generation, and in addition to that, God commanded them to destroy all the people in the Canaan, not making the covenants with them and destroy their temple of idolatry, but, new generation who did not know God and His great work for them, after the second generation who experienced all His miracles died, failed to keep His commandments so that lots of the Canaanites remained in them. So we would like to learn few lessons from the story of the Judges together.

1) The book of Judges recorded the history of Israel after Joshua died, i.e., how they kept the commandments of God and the covenant which was renewed through the covenant of Shechem after the conquering war of Canaan and the covenant of Moab before the war with the new generation, from the covenant of Sinai with the older generation to praise His faithfulness to keep His covenant with the Israelites who continued to fail to keep it.

2) But, in order to understand the Judgers, I think we need to understand the regulations of war to destroy all the Canaanites in the conquering war. According to Deut. 20:10-18, God gave the Israelites the laws of warfare, in which, when they draw near to a city to fight against it, they shall offer terms of peace to it. If it responds to them peacefully and it opens to them, then all the people who are found in it shall do forced labor for them and shall serve them. But, if it makes no peace with them, but makes war against them, then they shall put all its males to the sword, but the women and the little ones, the livestock, and everything else in the city, all its spoil, they shall take as plunder for themselves. But in the cities of these peoples that the LORD your God is giving them for an inheritance, they shall save alive nothing that breathes, but they shall devote them to complete destruction, the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaantes and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites, as the LORD your God has commanded. And even God commanded not to make any covenants with them and to destroy their temple completely (Judg. 2:2) so that they could not follow their idolatries to sin to God. But, including Joshua’s covenant with the inhabitants of Gibeon not to destroy them, since Joshua could not conquer all the land before he died, through the conquering war after his death, they could not conquer all the land of Canaan, so after Joshua and the generation who experienced the miraculous work of God died, the new generation who did not know God and His work slipped to bow down to the idols of the Canaanites, so that the anger of God was kindled and God said He will not expel their enemies and let them to suffer by them whenever they do not obey to God, but, if they repent and call for God’s help, then He will save them. All the history of these were recorded in the book of the Judges.

3) The structure of the book of the Judges is the chiastic structure in which between two instructions and two conclusions, there’s the stories of twelve judges as the central theme of the book as follows;

A 1:1-2:5 Political & Social Background

B 2:6-3:6 Religious Background

X 3:7-16:31 The Stories of the Judges

B’ 17:1-18:31 Religious Corruption

A’ 19:1-21:25 Political & Social Corruption

In the body X of the book of the Judges, in vv.3:7-16:31, Michael Wilcock said the 4 Rs – Rebellion of the Israel, Retribution of God, Repentance of Israel, Rescue of God, are repeated. But, in the case of Samson, this structure was not followed.

4) For examples, when Israel served the Baals and the Asheroth, God sold them into the hand of Cushan-richathaim king of Mesopotamia. When the people of Israel cried out to the LORD, the LORD raised up a deliverer, Othniel, for them and saved them. And then when the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, the LORD strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel and let Israel to serve him. When the people of Israel cried out to the LORD, the LORD raised up for them a deliverer, Ehud, the Benjaminite, to save them. And then when the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the LORD after Ehud died, the LORD sold them into the hand of Jabin, king of Canaan. Then when the people of Israel cried out to the LORD for help, the LORD called Deborah, a prophetess, to let Barak to support her and saved them. And then when people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, the LORD gave them into the hand of the Midian. And when they cried out to the LORD on account of the Midianites, the LORD sent Gideon to save them. And also when the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and served the Baals and the Ashtaroth, the LORD sold them into the hand of the Philistines and into the hand of the Ammonites. When the people of Israel cried out to the LORD, the LORD called Jephthah to save them.

5) But, this time when they did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, even though the LORD gave them into the hand of the Philistine, but they did not repent and cry out to God for help. But, God prepared Samson to save them, yet even Samson could not save them since even he did not live in God’s pleasing will and obey to God’s commandments. Through these facts, we can know that God was faithful to His covenant by saving the Israelites when they cried out to God for help, when they were suffered by their enemies after God put them into the hand of them when they committed sins to God and even when they did not repent and cry out to Him.

6) Like this, during the time the Judges of around 350 years from BC 1390 when Joshua died to BC 1050 when the first king of Israel, Saul was installed, total 14 judges were acted. In the book of the Judges, twelve judges – 6 major judges of Othniel, Ehud, Deborah, Gideon, Jephthah and Samson and 6 minor judges of Shamgar, Tola, Jair, Ibzan, Elon and Abdon, are recorded while in the book of Samuel, two judges of Eli and Samuel were recorded. Some scholars try to include Abimelech, the son of Gideon who became the king of Israel, after killing 70 brothers, and Barak who helped Deborah and two sons of Samuel, Joel and Abijah, but, since Abimelech was not called by God and acted not as the judge to save the Israel, yet as the oppressor of the Israel, and Barak only worked as a supporter of Deborah, and two sons of Samuel, Joel and Abijah was not called by God, generally speaking, they were not accepted as the judges.

7) Anyhow, even though the judges were used as the instrument of God to save the people of Israel, yet they were not different from the people of Israel and except Othniel, the first judge and Samuel, the last judge, it’s very difficult to find the qualified person, I mean, Ehud was from the weakest tribe, Benjamin and was left-handed, which was considered flawed at the ancient time, Deborah was a woman who was looked down upon at that time, Gideon was also a timid man who could not immediately obey God's command to save Israel, asking for signs several times, and also Jephthah was born as a son of a prostitute and lived as a street bastard hanging around with thugs and even some of them committed sins to God, for instances, Gideon committed the sin of making an ephod out of gold, causing Israel to worship it and Jephthah committed sins to kill 42,000 quarrelsome Ephraimites, after his victory over the Ammonites, nevertheless, God used them to save the Israelites. Through these, we can know that God can save the Israelites even through the imperfect people.

8) As such, even though the judge was called to save the Israelites to encourage them to live the life of obedience to the law and the covenant, but they themselves did not show more faithful life to God. Among them, Samson was the worst, I mean, since he became already a Nazirite from the womb as his judge to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines, so that he could not drink any wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean, and should not cut his hair, but, after being grown up, he married to the Philistine women, a woman at Timnah and Delilah at Gaza, and lived following his lust, and also ate the unclean food, and even told the secret of his strength was on the hair so that his hair was cut off and he was caught up by the Philistine and his eyes were gouged out and he suffered the humiliation of turning a millstone in a Philistine prison. And as his hair began to grow again, when he was called out, became a ridicule of the Philistine at the temple of Dagon where lots of the Philistines and their leaders gathered to sacrifice to their idols, Samson repented of his past sins and cried out to the Lord, praying, “O Lord God, please remember me and please strengthen me only this once, O God, that I may be avenged on the Philistines for my two eyes.” Then, God gave him grace again to restore his strength, and he destroyed the temple, killing the Philistine leaders and the Philistines over about 3,000. But he could not save the Israelites.

9) Through today’s text, we would like to learn few things; First, Samson's miserable end seems to symbolize the state of Israel at that time. Like Samson, Israel was a strong and holy nation called and set apart by God, and had an identity to live as a faithful and holy people before God, but they lost their intelligence, had their spiritual eyes gouged out, and became like Samson, who became a laughing stock in front of the Philistines. Even though they were called to be God's people, but when they did not live as God's people and did not keep God's law, then they ended up falling into this miserable state. As such, we, too, were chosen by God and saved by His shear grace, making us God's distinguished people. So, I hope we check whether we live in God’s pleasing will for His glory, not becoming a plaything of the world, by losing our spiritual eyes and living in shame. Second, when we see the judges, except Othniel and Samuel, not only they seemed not to be qualified as the judges, but also, they sinned to God, for instances, Gideon had made an ephod of gold for all Israel to serve fornicating, and Abimelech, Gideon's son, was trying to become king, after killing 70 brothers, and Jephthah killed 42,000 quarreling Ephraimites after the victory over the Ammonites, and Samson, despite being a judge and Nazirite, being driven by lust, marrying the Philistine women, and eating unclean food. Looking at the fact that they lived a miserable life, we wonder whether they really have the qualifications to be the judges who were called by God. However, even though they were in short, God demonstrated His power using them by defeating the powerful enemies who were harassing Israel overnight so that we can see that ultimately God's work is accomplished through God's great power, regardless of the personality or qualities of the people He uses. And thirdly, even though his hair had grown back, Samson prayed to God, “O Lord God, please remember me and please strengthen me only this once, O God, that I may be avenged on the Philistines for my two eyes.” This prayer was the first prayer in his life that he had asked God for help. It was not only a prayer of repentance for the life he had lived, but also a prayer to ask for God’s grace. So, we can know that he finally recognized his power came from God as His grace. Ultimately, it was a prayer that sought God’s grace. We can see that it was a prayer to realize that it came from God so that he prayed to God to recover his strength to kill the Philistines, the enemies of Israel. And finally, according to Judges 13:5, even though the angel of the LORD prophesied that Samson would save the Israelites. And Samson not only received blessings from the LORD while growing up (13:24), but also the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon him when he fought with the Philistines (13:25, 14:6,19), yet he failed to live a distinguished life as God's judge and Nazirite, and ultimately failed to obey God's commands so that he could not save the Israelites, although he killed many Philistines. Through this fact, we can know that even though the LORD said he would save Israel through Samson and he experienced the strong presence of the Spirit of God, when Samson himself did not live a righteous life before God and if he failed to obey God, then he could not fulfil his mission. As such, if we fail to obey God, we will eventually be unable to fulfill our mission of God. Therefore, I pray that we can obey to God and live according to God's will so that we may fulfill God's calling for His glory.

Key Questions as Small Group Activity

Q1 Today, we saw the story of Samson that even though he was born by God's plan and selection from parents with good faith, but in the end, because he failed to live according to God's will, he had his eyes gouged out by his enemies, the Philistines, and lived a humiliating life, yet, after he repented, he used his last strength for God and the Israelites. So I hope we may think about what talents and gifts God has given us, whether we are truly living according to God's will, and with what kind of heart and for what we should use the gifts God has given us, to share our thoughts with group members.

Q2 As we read the book of the Judges today, we saw that God worked beyond the judges' qualities and strength. Through these things, we can know that we are able to carry out God's work not because of our abilities, qualities, or character, yet by the power and grace of God so that we always have to be humble. As you see the stories of the Judges, if there is a judge who is very similar to you, think about what aspects you are similar to him or her, and then I hope you could share your thought with your team members.

Love you. Thank you. Bless you.

Prayer Note

Dear ( God’s attribute which you found Today ) God!

Thanks for ( something you received through the sermon or even during the week )

Praise, gratitude and glory be to You, Lord!

Today, I realized my sin (pains) that ( the sin God reminded through the sermon ),

please forgive (or heal) me and help me not to repeat ( the sins you recognized ).

I learned that ( something you learned through the sermon )

Please help me to live in that ( learned way of life )

I pray in ( Jesus’ attribute you find ) Jesus’ name. Amen.

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