The Law and Grace. Day thirty-five...
After Ehud's death, the Israelites again did evil in the LORD's sight. So the LORD turned them over to King Jabin of Hazor, a Canaanite king. The commander of his army was Sisera, who lived in Harosheth‐haggoyim. Sisera, who had 900 iron chariots, ruthlessly oppressed the Israelites for twenty years. Then the people of Israel cried out to the LORD for help. (Judges 4:1–3 NLT)
For twenty years, the Israelites had suffered at the hand of Sisera. Deborah, the prophetess, was judging Israel at that time. And the Lord gave her some instructions.
One day she sent for Barak son of Abinoam, who lived in Kedesh in the land of Naphtali. She said to him, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, commands you: Call out 10,000 warriors from the tribes of Naphtali and Zebulun at Mount Tabor. And I will call out Sisera, commander of Jabin's army, along with his chariots and warriors, to the Kishon River. There I will give you victory over him.” (Judges 4:6–7 NLT)
The Israelites had not been obeying the law of Moses. But after a prolonged period of dealing with the consequences of their rebellion God, in His mercy, gave them victory over Sisera.
When Barak attacked, the LORD threw Sisera and all
chariots and warriors into a panic. Sisera leaped down from his chariot
escaped on foot. Then Barak chased the chariots and the enemy army all
to Harosheth‐haggoyim, killing all of Sisera's warriors. Not a single
left alive. Meanwhile, Sisera ran to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber
Kenite, because Heber's family was on friendly terms with King Jabin of
Jael went out to meet Sisera and said to him, “Come into my tent, sir. Come in. Don't be afraid.” So he went into her tent, and she covered him with a blanket.
“Please give me some water,” he said. “I'm thirsty.” So she gave him some milk from a leather bag and covered him again.
“Stand at the door of the tent,” he told her. “If anybody comes and asks you if there is anyone here, say no.”
But when Sisera fell asleep from exhaustion, Jael quietly crept up to him with a hammer and tent peg in her hand. Then she drove the tent peg through his temple and into the ground, and so he died.
When Barak came looking for Sisera, Jael went out to meet him. She said, “Come, and I will show you the man you are looking for.” So he followed her into the tent and found Sisera lying there dead, with the tent peg through his temple.
So on that day Israel saw God defeat Jabin, the Canaanite king.
And from that time on Israel became stronger and stronger against King Jabin until they finally destroyed him. (Judges 4:15–24 NLT)
There is a phrase that appears twice in this period of judges—between the time of Joshua and the time of the kings.
In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes. (Judges 17:6 KJV)
At first glance “doing that which was right in his own eyes” has a noble ring to it. How could a man or a woman be criticized for doing what is right? We make make heroes and heroines out of people who stick to their convictions and do what is right. But what I think is right and what you think is right may not be what God thinks is right. And while it's a little hard to swallow, God's opinion is the only one that matters.
As I taught on earlier in this series, the law of Moses is generally viewed in our day from two extremes by new‐covenant believers.
One extreme treats the law as if we are to follow it today as a way of justifying God's grace in our lives. The other extreme treats the law as if we are to ignore it today because of God's grace in our lives. Both extremes, and all the mixtures in between, miss the point of the law.
God wants the law to be written in our hearts and on our minds. He doesn't want us trying to follow His laws as if they are some relevant external rules that have everything to do with us. And He doesn't want us trying to ignore His laws as if they are some irrelevant external rules that have nothing to do with us.
God wants what is right in His eyes to become what is right in ours.
I'll get into this more tomorrow. But let's close today with an example of how a man operates when he does what is right in his own eyes, rather than what is right in the eyes of the Lord.
That evening an old man came home from his work in
fields. He was from the hill country of Ephraim, but he was living in
where the people were from the tribe of Benjamin. When he saw the
sitting in the town square, he asked them where they were from and where
“We have been in Bethlehem in Judah,” the man replied. “We are on our way to a remote area in the hill country of Ephraim, which is my home. I traveled to Bethlehem, and now I'm returning home. But no one has taken us in for the night, even though we have everything we need. We have straw and feed for our donkeys and plenty of bread and wine for ourselves.”
“You are welcome to stay with me,” the old man said. “I will give you anything you might need. But whatever you do, don't spend the night in the square.” So he took them home with him and fed the donkeys. After they washed their feet, they ate and drank together.
While they were enjoying themselves, a crowd of troublemakers from the town surrounded the house. They began beating at the door and shouting to the old man, “Bring out the man who is staying with you so we can have sex with him.”
The old man stepped outside to talk to them. “No, my brothers, don't do such an evil thing. For this man is a guest in my house, and such a thing would be shameful. Here, take my virgin daughter and this man's concubine. I will bring them out to you, and you can abuse them and do whatever you like. But don't do such a shameful thing to this man.”
But they wouldn't listen to him. So the Levite took hold of his concubine and pushed her out the door. The men of the town abused her all night, taking turns raping her until morning. Finally, at dawn they let her go.
At daybreak the woman returned to the house where her husband was staying. She collapsed at the door of the house and lay there until it was light. When her husband opened the door to leave, there lay his concubine with her hands on the threshold. He said, “Get up! Let's go!” But there was no answer. So he put her body on his donkey and took her home.
When he got home, he took a knife and cut his concubine's body into twelve pieces. Then he sent one piece to each tribe throughout all the territory of Israel.
Everyone who saw it said, “Such a horrible crime has not been committed in all the time since Israel left Egypt. Think about it! What are we going to do? Who's going to speak up?” (Judges 19:16–30 NLT)
So much for the goodness of man apart from God. What a mess we make out of things when we live by our standards rather than by God's standards.
Have a good day,