My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.
If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?
Your thoughts—how rare, how beautiful!
God, I’ll never comprehend them! I couldn’t even begin to count them—
any more than I could count the sand of the sea.
Oh, let me rise in the morning and live always with You!
And please, God, do away with wickedness for good!
And you murderers—out of here!—
all the men and women who belittle You, God,
infatuated with cheap god-imitations.
See how I hate those who hate You, God,
see how I loathe all this godless arrogance;
I hate it with pure, unadulterated hatred.
Your enemies are my enemies!
God’s angel went up from Gilgal to Bokim and said,
“I brought you out of Egypt; I led you to the land that I promised to your fathers; and I said, I’ll never break My covenant with you—never! And you’re never to make a covenant with the people who live in this land. Tear down their altars! But you haven’t obeyed Me! What’s this that you’re doing?
“So now I’m telling you that I won’t drive them out before you. They’ll trip you up and their gods will become a trap.”
When God’s angel had spoken these words to all the People of Israel, they cried out—oh! how they wept! They named the place Bokim (Weepers). And there they sacrificed to God.
After Joshua had dismissed them, the People of Israel went off to claim their allotted territories and take possession of the land. The people worshiped God throughout the lifetime of Joshua and the time of the leaders who survived him, leaders who had been in on all of God’s great work that he had done for Israel. Then Joshua son of Nun, the servant of God, died. He was 110 years old. They buried him in his allotted inheritance at Timnath Heres in the hills of Ephraim north of Mount Gaash.
Eventually that entire generation died and was buried. Then another generation grew up that didn’t know anything of God or the work he had done for Israel.
The People of Israel did evil in God’s sight: they served Baal-gods; they deserted God, the God of their parents who had led them out of Egypt; they took up with other gods, gods of the peoples around them. They actually worshiped them! And oh, how they angered God as they worshiped god Baal and goddess Astarte! God’s anger was hot against Israel: He handed them off to plunderers who stripped them; He sold them cheap to enemies on all sides. They were helpless before their enemies. Every time they walked out the door God was with them—but for evil, just as God had said, just as he had sworn he would do. They were in a bad way.
But then God raised up judges who saved them from their plunderers. But they wouldn’t listen to their judges; they prostituted themselves to other gods—worshiped them! They lost no time leaving the road walked by their parents, the road of obedience to God’s commands. They refused to have anything to do with it.
When God was setting up judges for them, He would be right there with the judge: He would save them from their enemies’ oppression as long as the judge was alive, for God was moved to compassion when He heard their groaning because of those who afflicted and beat them. But when the judge died, the people went right back to their old ways—but even worse than their parents!—running after other gods, serving and worshiping them. Stubborn as mules, they didn’t drop a single evil practice.
And God’s anger blazed against Israel. He said, “Because these people have thrown out my covenant that I commanded their parents and haven’t listened to me, I’m not driving out one more person from the nations that Joshua left behind when he died. I’ll use them to test Israel and see whether they stay on God’s road and walk down it as their parents did.”
That’s why God let those nations remain. He didn’t drive them out or let Joshua get rid of them. (Judges 2)
God raised up Samuel during a time when His Word was scarcely heard…
“For the foundations of the earth are the Lord’s;
on them He has set the world.
He will guard the feet of His faithful servants,
but the wicked will be silenced in the place of darkness.
“It is not by strength that one prevails;
those who oppose the Lord will be broken.
The Most High will thunder from heaven;
the Lord will judge the ends of the earth.
“He will give strength to His king
and exalt the horn of His anointed.”
1 Samuel 2:9-10
“I will raise up for Myself a faithful priest, who will do according to what is in My heart and mind. I will firmly establish his priestly house, and they will minister before My anointed one always. Then everyone left in your family line will come and bow down before him for a piece of silver and a loaf of bread and plead, “Appoint me to some priestly office so I can have food to eat.”
1 Samuel 2:35-36
God places lonely people in families. He leads prisoners out of prison into productive lives, but rebellious people must live in an unproductive land. The LORD hears the needy and does not despise His captive people.
He settles the barren woman in her home as a happy mother of children. Praise the LORD. He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free.
Psalm 68:6, Psalm 69:33, Psalm 113:9 – Psalm 146:7
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
1 Peter 1:3
Spread Out! Think Big!
“Sing, barren woman, who has never had a baby.
Fill the air with song, you who’ve never experienced childbirth!
You’re ending up with far more children
than all those childbearing women.” God says so!
“Clear lots of ground for your tents!
Make your tents large. Spread out! Think big!
Use plenty of rope,
drive the tent pegs deep.
You’re going to need lots of elbow room
for your growing family.
You’re going to take over whole nations;
you’re going to resettle abandoned cities.
Don’t be afraid—you’re not going to be embarrassed.
Don’t hold back—you’re not going to come up short.
You’ll forget all about the humiliations of your youth,
and the indignities of being a widow will fade from memory.
For your Maker is your bridegroom,
His name, God-of-the-Angel-Armies!
Your Redeemer is The Holy of Israel,
known as God of the whole earth.
You were like an abandoned wife, devastated with grief,
and God welcomed you back,
Like a woman married young
and then left,” says your God.
Your Redeemer God says:
“I left you, but only for a moment.
Now, with enormous compassion, I’m bringing you back.
In an outburst of anger I turned my back on you—
but only for a moment.
It’s with lasting love
that I’m tenderly caring for you.
“This exile is just like the days of Noah for Me:
I promised then that the waters of Noah
would never again flood the earth.
I’m promising now no more anger,
no more dressing you down.
For even if the mountains walk away
and the hills fall to pieces,
My love won’t walk away from you,
my covenant commitment of peace won’t fall apart.”
The God who has compassion on you says so.
“Afflicted city, storm-battered, unpitied:
I’m about to rebuild you with stones of turquoise,
Lay your foundations with sapphires,
construct your towers with rubies,
Your gates with jewels,
and all your walls with precious stones.
All your children will have God for their teacher—
what a mentor for your children!
You’ll be built solid, grounded in righteousness,
far from any trouble—nothing to fear!
far from terror—it won’t even come close!
If anyone attacks you,
don’t for a moment suppose that I sent them,
And if any should attack,
nothing will come of it.
I create the blacksmith
who fires up his forge
and makes a weapon designed to kill.
I also create the destroyer—
but no weapon that can hurt you has ever been forged.
Any accuser who takes you to court
will be dismissed as a liar.
This is what God’s servants can expect.
I’ll see to it that everything works out for the best.”
The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” Let anyone who hears this say, “Come.” Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
Revelation 22:17, Revelation 19:10
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. Each man will be like a shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm, like streams of water in the desert and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land.
Isaiah 43:19 – Isaiah 32:2
In the last days, God says, I will pour my Spirit on everyone. Your sons and daughters will speak what God has revealed. Your young men will see visions. Your old men will dream dreams. Even on My servants, both men and women, I will pour out My Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. Exalted to the right hand of God, He has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.
Acts 2:17-18, Acts 2:33
There the LORD will be our Mighty One. It will be like a place of broad rivers and streams. No galley with oars will ride them, no mighty ship will sail them. The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys. I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs.
Isaiah 33:21 – Isaiah 35:1 – Isaiah 35:6 – Isaiah 41:18
On the final and climactic day of the Feast, Jesus took his stand. He cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. Rivers of living water will brim and spill out of the depths of anyone who believes in me this way, just as the Scripture says.” (He said this in regard to the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were about to receive. The Spirit had not yet been given because Jesus had not yet been glorified.)
Those in the crowd who heard these words were saying, “This has to be the Prophet.” Others said, “He is the Messiah!”
See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you.You have heard these things; look at them all. Will you not admit them?
From now on I will tell you of new things, of hidden things unknown to you.
Isaiah 42:9 – Isaiah 48:6
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like streams in the Negev.
2 Corinthians 5:17 – Psalm 126:4
The LORD will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; He will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the LORD. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing.
A Pilgrim Song
It seemed like a dream, too good to be true, when God returned Zion’s exiles. We laughed, we sang, we couldn’t believe our good fortune. We were the talk of the nations—
“God was wonderful to them!”
God was wonderful to us; we are one happy people.
And now, God, do it again—bring rains to our drought-stricken lives
So those who planted their crops in despair will shout hurrahs at the harvest, So those who went off with heavy hearts
will come home laughing, with armloads of blessing.
They will neither hunger nor thirst, nor will the desert heat or the sun beat upon them. He who has compassion on them will guide them and lead them beside springs of water.
Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on His law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.
Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.
Lord, thank You for letting the fruit of Your Spirit grow in my life.
As for me and my house, we choose the Lord! And this is the victory that overcomes the world–even our faith! Amen.