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May 5, Day #126 – Salvation is by Faith in Christ Alone

Now we come to the book of Judges, and today we want to look at chapters 1:1-2:5. The book of Judges takes its name from the twelve different judges that we will meet in the book. The book of Judges is everything that the book of Joshua was not. Notice the differences: in Joshua we saw the victories of the Israelites in the land; in Judges, we see the defeat of the Israelites in the land. Where we saw freedom in the book of Joshua, here we see bondage. In Joshua, faith prevailed; in Judges, unbelief is prevalent. Where Joshua portrays joy and strength among the people, here in Judges we note much sorrow and weakness. In Joshua, everything seemed to be coming together for the Israelites, but here in Judges, everything seems to be coming apart. In fact, the book of Judges illustrates a repeated cycle of disobedience, distress, disaster, and thankfully, deliverance by a judge. In chapter 1, the first thing we see is that Joshua is dead – the leader of the people – is no longer available to motivate, encourage, and drive the people onward. Israel still needs to drive out the remaining Canaanites, so the LORD assigns the tribe of Judah the responsibility to lead the effort (verse 2). The tribe of Judah was supposed to set the example. However, we see that the first thing Judah does is to ask the Simeonites to go with them. Although Judah experienced some successes, its victories were incomplete. They attacked Jerusalem, the Canaanites in the hill country, and moved into Debir (verse 6-18). The text relates that, “The LORD was with the men of Judah … but they were unable to drive the people from the plains because they had iron chariots” (verses 19-20). At least eight tribes are cited here for their failure. We see as well that “Manasseh did not drive out the people of Beth Shan … nor did Ephraim drive out the Canaanites in Gezer … also … Naphtali and Dan” had similar results (verses 27-36). After Joshua’s death, this is not a good start for the Israelites. In chapter 2, “the Angel of the LORD appeared and said, ‘You have disobeyed me. I will not drive them out before you …’” (verses 2-3). This statement illustrates a crucial principle that we need to understand and learn: God will not assume the responsibilities for tasks that He assigns to us. Put another way – He will not do what He tells us to do. As we look further into this book, we will see that things are not going to get better.

The last time we read Proverbs 11, we saw that it contains numerous references to the fruit of the Spirit. Here in Proverbs 11:9-18, we find a personal guide into wisdom about the use of our tongues and our words. The ability to hold our tongues reveals understanding - a virtue on the hierarchy of truth. In verse 10, we see joy, and in verses 12-13, we notice self-control. Verse 14 pinpoints the path of our own nation today - we have nationally rejected the divine guidance that comes exclusively from the Word of God. In verse 17, we see that kindness benefits both those who give and receive it, and in verse 18, we learn that “righteousness reaps a sure reward.” We are free to choose the path we like - good or evil - but we are not free to choose the path’s consequences, and we see its end results. Strange that so many people should choose to live wickedly when the awful results of it are so accurately identified in advance.

John 4:1-26 reveals that our faith transcends nationality, culture, gender, religion, time, space, etc., and it makes provision for any and all who will simply believe and accept God’s forgiveness. I praise God for His love for everyone, and I am forever awestruck that He loves and accepts me! I always find the story of the Samaritan woman at the well fascinating. Jesus is so loving. Of all the different belief systems in the world, only Christianity is inclusive of everyone. People try to say that Christians are very exclusive. The opposite is true. Our belief system is not at all inclusive of all other beliefs. The true path to God is narrow because it comes through Christ. Nevertheless, without discrimination of any kind, Christianity is open to every person who seeks forgiveness of sins in the Person and work of Jesus Christ. Jesus never says, “Just believe what you want and that’s fine.” Instead, He demonstrates what genuine love is by giving us the truth that crosses all cultural barriers and the forgiveness of sins. Salvation is by faith in Christ alone.

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