From today’s reading in Tyndale’s One Year Chronological Bible dated 4/8:

Today Boaz and Ruth have a son named Obed, and the women all say to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a close relative; and may his name be famous in Israel! And may he be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you, who is better to you than seven sons, has borne him.” Obed becomes the father of Jesse who becomes the father of King David, landing a former widow Moabite woman, Ruth, in the lineage of Jesus Christ, fulfilling what will later be prophesied by Micah – “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5:2). This prophecy will be fulfilled when Jesus Christ is born in Bethlehem (Luke 2:4-7).

So Naomi goes from calling herself Mara back to Naomi, and the Lord continues working His plan through His people. This concludes the Judges Era. 

The Kingdom Era begins with genealogies connecting the story:

  • Creation Era- After the fall, we learned that the Lord is sending a Savior to restore man’s broken relationship with Him. The Savior is coming through Adam’s son Seth. Ten generations after Adam we met Noah, a descendant of Seth, who was saved by grace through faith during the flood. 
  • Patriarch Era – Ten generations after Noah, we met the first patriarch, Abraham who is father to Isaac and grandfather to Jacob. We learned that the Messiah will be coming through Jacob’s son Judah. 
  • Conquest Era – During the battle of Jericho, we met the Canaanite harlot Rahab who married Salmon, a descendant of Judah. Rahab and Salmon are parents to Boaz. 
  • Judges Era – Boaz married Ruth and they had a son named Obed. 

In the Kingdom Era, we will meet Obed’s son, Jesse, and grandson, David. David will grow to be the mighty King David, and the Lord will continue to work His plan through David’s lineage. But first is the story of Hannah, a barren woman. Her husband, Elkanah, has another wife, Peninnah, who has borne him children. This family goes every year to worship at Shiloh. At this time in the story, Eli is the high priest and his wicked sons, Hophni and Phinehas, are priests. Peninnah, “a mean church girl”, makes Hannah miserable by tormenting her because “the Lord had closed her womb. So it was, year by year, when she went up to the house of the Lord, that she provoked her; therefore she wept and did not eat.”

We have learned that the Lord is the one who opens the womb in His timing to accomplish His purposes as He did with Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel. Will He do the same for Hannah? Keep reading to find out.  (Ruth 4:13-22, 1 Chronicles 2:9-55, 1 Chronicles 4:1-23, 1 Samuel 1:1-8)

14 Eras: 

Creation Era (Gen 1:1-11:26) ✔️

Patriarch Era (Gen 11:27-50:26 and Job) ✔️

Exodus Era (Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy) ✔️

Conquest Era (Joshua) ✔️

Judges Era (Judges, Ruth) ✔️

Kingdom Era (1,2 Samuel, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles 1-9, 1 Kings 1-11, various Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon) is up now!  

Eras to follow: 

Divided Kingdom, Captivity, Return, Silent, Gospel, Church, Missions, and End Times/New Beginnings

From today’s reading in Tyndale’s One Year Chronological Bible dated 4/7:

Naomi and her husband, Elimelech, Ephrathites from Bethlehem and descendants of Judah, leave Bethlehem during a famine and go to live in Moab. There Naomi’s husband and two sons die, leaving Naomi with her two Moabite daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth. When Naomi hears there is now food in Judah, she sets out to move back home. She tells her daughters-in-law to return to their homes because she can not provide them with husbands. In the midst of Naomi’s suffering with the loss of her husband and her sons, she wrongly believes that the Lord is against her. Naomi pleads with her daughters-in-law to leave her and return home “for it grieves me very much for your sakes that the hand of the Lord has gone out against me!”

Ruth, however, refuses to leave Naomi and says, “For wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people; and your God, my God.” Ruth commits herself to Naomi and to the Lord instead of going home and worshiping the false gods of Moab. Ruth further expresses her loyalty to Naomi and faith in the Lord when she says, “The Lord do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me.” So Naomi concedes, and when Naomi and Ruth arrive in Bethlehem, the people are excited to see Naomi. But Naomi responds, “Do not call me Naomi, call me Mara [which means bitter], for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, and the Lord has brought me home again empty.” But did Naomi come back empty as she said? No. Naomi was so blinded by her deep pain that she could not see all that the Lord was doing and all the ways He was for her. She could not see how God was going to use the life of Ruth, who clung to Naomi and trusted in her God, to fulfill His promise to send a Savior.

Ruth works in the field of Boaz, a descendant of Judah’s son, Perez (one of the twins from Judah and Tamar). Boaz admires how Ruth has been so faithful to Naomi, and he says to her, “The Lord repay your work, and a full reward be given to you by the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge.” When Ruth brings the barley she gleaned from the field to Naomi, Naomi tells her that Boaz is a close relative and instructs Ruth to go to him and lie down at his feet and wait for him to tell her what to do. Ruth obeys Naomi. When Boaz awakes and finds Ruth at his feet, she says to him, “Take your maidservant under your wing, for you are a close relative.” 

Boaz responds, “Blessed are you of the Lord, my daughter! For you have shown more kindness at the end than at the beginning, in that you did not go after young men, whether poor or rich. And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you request, for all the people of my town know that you are a virtuous woman.” Then Boaz follows the proper procedures per the Levirate law and becomes the owner of all that belonged to Naomi’s husband and sons, and he becomes husband to Ruth – “And all the people who were at the gate, and the elders, said, ‘We are witnesses. The Lord make the woman who is coming to your house like Rachel and Leah, the two who built the house of Israel; and may you prosper in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem. May your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah, because of the offspring which the Lord will give you from this young woman.’”

Tomorrow we finish the book of Ruth bringing an end to the Judges Era and transitioning us into the Kingdom Era. Keep reading. (Ruth 1:1-4:12)

From today’s reading in Tyndale’s One Year Chronological Bible dated 4/6:

“And it came to pass in those days, when there was no king in Israel, that there was a certain Levite staying in the remote mountains of Ephraim. He took for himself a concubine from Bethlehem in Judah. But his concubine played the harlot against him, and went away from him to her father’s house at Bethlehem in Judah, and was there four whole months.” Then the Levite goes to retrieve her and ends up staying with the father-in-law for several days. While journeying back home, the Levite refuses to stay in a pagan town because he assumes they will be safer in the town of Gibeah, an Israelite town belonging to the tribe of Benjamin. However, in Gibeah no one invites them in except an older man from Ephraim who is staying there.

As they are enjoying themselves in the house of the older man, perverted men from the city come to the house to rape the Levite, similar to what happened at Lot’s house in Sodom. Eventually, in order to protect himself, the Levite throws his concubine out to these wicked men, who abuse her all night. When the men finally release her, she walks to the door of the house where the Levite is staying, falls down, and dies. The next morning her callous master, the Levite, the man who should be caring for the people physically and spiritually and guiding people toward the Lord, opens the door and tells her to get up because they are leaving. But when he discovers she is dead, he loads her on his donkey and takes her home.

Then the Levite chops her body into twelve pieces and sends a body part to each of the tribes of Israel. This gets everyone’s attention. So all the children of Israel gather together before the Lord at Mizpah to hear the Levite’s story. Then Israel asks Benjamin to “deliver up the men, the perverted men who are in Gibeah, that we may put them to death and remove the evil from Israel.” However, the Benjamites refuse to rid the land of evil, igniting a war between the tribe of Benjamin and the tribes of Israel. 

The Lord instructs the Israelites to attack Benjamin, but Israel is defeated twice by the Benjamites. Keep in mind that it isn’t just the Benjamites living lives of rebellion against the Lord; it is all of Israel. Therefore the Lord is using these defeats to humble Israel as a nation. After a total of forty thousand Israelites are slaughtered, “all the children of Israel, that is, all the people, went up and came to the house of God and wept. They sat there before the Lord and fasted that day until evening; and they offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord.” Once the people are humble and brought to repentance, the Lord gives them victory over Benjamin. The entire tribe of Benjamin is nearly wiped out by Israel, with only six hundred men remaining.

After some time passes, the Israelites weep at the thought of completely losing the tribe of Benjamin since the Benjamite women were all killed in war, and the Israelites made an oath at Mizpah not to give their daughters to the Benjamites. So when Israel realizes that the people from Jabesh Gilead failed to come to the congregation at Mizpah, the Israelites attack them and take four hundred of their women for the tribe of Benjamin. Then the Israelites give the Benjamites permission to kidnap two hundred of their daughters while they come out to dance at the annual festival at Shiloh, giving each of the remaining Benjamite men a woman.

The book of Judges ends today with this statement which explains why the Judges Era was such a dark period in the history of Israel – “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own sight.” Today’s reading is a perfect example of how wicked a nation can become when everyone is doing what they believe is right in their own sight without regard to God’s word. It started with a Levite taking a concubine, the concubine leaving the Levite, the Levite handing her over to be abused, the men of the city raping and killing her, the shock of the body parts sent out, war against their brothers, killing of others, and kidnapping of women. What a tragic mess! This is why we so desperately need the word of God! We need guidance outside of ourselves for living and relating to others or we will act out of the wickedness of our own hearts. We need the Lord, His word, His Spirit, and His promises.

And that concludes the book of Judges. Tomorrow we get a glimmer of hope in the book of Ruth, as we will see that the Lord is still on the throne. Behind the scenes He is working His plan to send a Savior, just as He promised at the beginning of this story. So keep reading. (Judges 19:1-21:25)

From today’s reading in Tyndale’s One Year Chronological Bible dated 4/5:

“Now Samson went to Gaza and saw a harlot there, and went in to her.” Then he leaves Gaza carrying the city gate with him and goes to the Valley of Sorek. There he falls in love with another ungodly woman named Delilah, who does not have his best interests at heart. The lords of the Philistines bribe Delilah to find out where Samson’s strength lies. As Delilah attempts to uncover his secret, Samson allows her to place him in bondage three times. However, Samson is just toying with her. “And it came to pass, when she pestered him daily with her words and pressed him, so that his soul was vexed to death, that he told her all his heart, and said to her, ‘No razor has ever come upon my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb. If I am shaven, then my strength will leave me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.’” Once again, Samson caves into the pestering of a woman like he did with the Philistine wife and the honey riddle. God has warned His people over and over since the exodus from Egypt not to commingle with the people around them who are walking outside of the presence of the Lord. Samson’s downfall is due to his disobedience, as he is a man who walks by sight making decisions based on the lust of the eye and fleshy emotions instead of walking by faith and trusting in the Lord, in His word, and in His promises. However, the Lord uses Samson’s disobedience to accomplish His purposes, but it results in a tragic life for Samson.

While Samson is asleep, Delilah has his head shaved. “Then the Philistines took him and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza. They bound him with bronze fetters, and he became a grinder in the prison. However, the hair of his head began to grow again after it had been shaven.” At the end of his life, when Samson is brought to the temple of the false god Dagon to entertain the crowds, he prays for the Lord to give him strength one last time so he may take vengeance on the Philistines for the loss of his eyes. The Lord hears his prayer, and Samson pushes down the beams of the temple killing about three thousand Philistines, which was more than he had killed his entire life. Although Samson suffered major consequences as a result of being a sinful, fleshly driven man, he was still a man who had faith in the Lord, as we see here at the end of his life (Hebrews 11:32-34).

Next we meet a man named Micah, from the tribe of Ephraim, who stole a great fortune from his mother. However, when he returned the shekels to his mother, she praised him and asked him to make a shrine, ephod, and household idols from the fortune that he stole from her. Then Micah makes one of his sons a priest. The Judges Era is defined as a period of time in Israel when “there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” The story of a Micah is a good illustration of someone doing what is right in their own sight, as we see him making up a new religion with his false gods and man made rules. When a Levite named Jonathan, one of Moses’ grandsons, shows up at Micah’s house looking for a place to stay, Micah welcomes him in and makes him his priest. Jonathan is a priest who offers to serve for his own personal gain and not for the glory of the Lord.

At this time, the tribe of Dan is still trying to acquire land for themselves since they failed to drive out the inhabitants of their allocated land during the conquest. So they send five men to spy out the land, and the spies go to the mountains of Ephraim where they arrive at the house of Micah. There they recognize the voice of the Levite. Then the spies from the rebellious tribe of Dan ask the rebellious Levite priest, Jonathan, for God’s blessing, which is interesting because clearly no one is obeying the Lord. The men desire God’s blessing while completely ignoring His Word. 

After receiving a blessing from Jonathan, the spies continue scouting out the land and find some easy territory to conquer, a city called Laish. Before the tribe of Dan conquers the land, the spies go back to Micah’s house and say to the Levite priest – “‘Is it better for you to be a priest to the household of one man, or that you be a priest to a tribe and a family in Israel?’ So the priest’s heart was glad; and he took the ephod, the household idols, and the carved image, and took his place among the people.” Jonathan glady goes with the tribe of Dan and continues to build his own platform for his own interest.

“So they took the things Micah had made, and the priest who had belonged to him, and went to Laish, to a people quiet and secure; and they struck them with the edge of the sword and burned the city with fire… So they rebuilt the city and dwelt there. And they called the name of the city Dan, after the name of Dan their father, who was born to Israel… Then the children of Dan set up for themselves the carved image; and Jonathan the son of Gershom, the son of Manasseh, and his sons were priests to the tribe of Dan until the day of the captivity of the land. So they set up for themselves Micah’s carved image which he made, all the time that the house of God was in Shiloh.”

This story shows how far away from the Lord the Israelites are at this point. Moses’ own grandson leads an entire tribe into idolatry and away from worshiping the true God in the way and place the Lord told His people to worship Him. We will see during the Divided Kingdom Era that this idolatrous city of Dan will continue to be a central place of false worship for Northern Israel. 

Tomorrow we meet another Levite living a life in complete rebellion against the Lord, resulting in a very dark outcome. Keep reading. (Judges 16:1-18:31)

From today’s reading in Tyndale’s One Year Chronological Bible dated 4/4:

“Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah, …he advanced toward the people of Ammon. And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord, and said, ‘If You will indeed deliver the people of Ammon into my hands, then it will be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the people of Ammon, shall surely be the Lord’s, and I will offer it up as a burnt offering.’” Was this vow necessary for the Lord to work on Israel’s behalf? No. I’m not sure what Jephthah was expecting to run out of that house when he returned home after the Lord gave him victory, but it was his daughter, his only child, who was playing music and dancing.

We read in Numbers 30:2 – “If a man vows a vow to the Lord… he shall not break his word.” Jephthah does not break his word – “he carried out his vow with her which he had vowed. She knew no man.” Some commentators debate whether she was offered as a burnt offering since this would go against the Lord’s teaching in Leviticus 20:1-5 about not offering human sacrifices. They debate that she could have been sent to the tabernacle as a servant of the Lord for life since she went away two months with her friends to mourn her virginity and not her death. Regardless, this story teaches us the importance of not making hasty and foolish vows. The story of Jephthah’s vow becomes so popular with the Israelites that “it became a custom in Israel that the daughters of Israel went four days each year to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite.”

After the victory over the people of Ammon, the prideful men of Ephraim confront Jephthah in the same way they confronted Gideon. Once again they are upset that they weren’t also asked to fight – “Why did you cross over to fight against the people of Ammon, and did not call us to go with you? We will burn your house down on you with fire!” This results in a battle between the men of Ephraim and the men of Gilead, with Gilead defeating Ephraim. Jephthah judges Israel for six years before he dies.

After several more sin cycles and judges, “again the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord delivered them into the hand of the Philistines for forty years.” This is when we meet Samson. Israel was being oppressed by the Philistines, and the Lord appears to a barren woman, the wife of Manoah, and tells her she is going to have a child, and “the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.” Samson grows up into a sinful, fleshly driven man who does not have much regard for the Nazirite lifestyle. However, the Lord will send His spirit upon Samson and use him mightily to accomplish His purposes against the pagan Philistines. 

When Samson goes to Timnah, he sees a Philistine woman that he desires to marry. However, his parents don’t want him marrying a Philistine as this would go against the Lord’s teaching. Samson’s parents are not aware of the fact that the Lord is working behind the scenes to use the union to make a move against the Philistines; and what a move He makes! The wedding festivities are wild! Samson ends up killing thirty men to honor a bet he made with some of the male wedding attendants. Then his wife is given to his companion to marry. Out of anger, Samson burns the Philistines fields with torches tied to fox tails. Then the Philistines burn Samson’s wife and her dad. “So he attacked them hip and thigh with a great slaughter; then he went down and dwelt in the cleft of the rock of Etam.”

The tribe of Judah takes three thousand men to the cave where Sampson is staying. They tie Samson securely with ropes and hand him over to the Philistines to avoid trouble. “Then the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him; and the ropes that were on his arms became like flax that is burned with fire, and his bonds broke loose from his hands. He found a fresh jawbone of a donkey, reached out his hand and took it, and killed a thousand men with it.” 

The Lord is using Samson to carry out His judgment against the Philistines. However, there are always consequences to living a sinful and flesh driven life, as we will see with Samson. Tomorrow Samson falls for another pagan woman, which will lead to his downfall. Keep reading. (Judges 11:29-15:20)

From today’s reading in Tyndale’s One Year Chronological Bible dated 4/3:

Abimelech reigns for three years until, in judgment, the Lord sends a spirit of ill will between Abimelech and the men of Shechem for the murder of Gideon’s sons. The men of Shechem choose a new leader, Gaal, to overthrow Abimelech. However, Abimelech and his troops defeat Gaal and his men. Then Abimelech seizes Shechem and kills the people both outside and inside the city. The remaining people flee to the temple of the god Berith for refuge, but Abimelech barricades them inside and sets it on fire, killing about a thousand men and women.

After the slaughter of Shechem, Abimelech goes to Thebez in an attempt to do the same to the people there. Once again we see the people of the city take refuge in a strong tower. However, Abimelech does not have the same success with burning down this tower. A woman throws a millstone down and crushes his head. Abimelech tells his armor-bearer to thrust his sword through him so no one will say that a woman killed him. Unfortunately for Abimelech, throughout this story a woman will continue to get credit for his death (2 Samuel 11:21). “Thus God repaid the wickedness of Abimelech, which he had done to his father by killing his seventy brothers. And all the evil of the men of Shechem God returned on their own heads, and on them came the curse of Jotham the son of Jerubbaal.”

The people, seeking safety and security, sought refuge in a tower built by man, but they never sought the Lord. “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe” (Proverbs 18:10). If we run to the Lord in times of trouble and call upon Him through prayer and reading His word, we will remember His goodness and His sovereignty, and we shall find peace and rest for our souls. However, the children of Israel don’t experience this peace for long because they keep seeking fulfillment outside of the Lord.

Again the Israelites return to doing evil and serving other gods. “So the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel; and He sold them into the hands of the Philistines and into the hands of the people of Ammon. From that year they harassed and oppressed the children of Israel for eighteen years —all the children of Israel who were on the other side of the Jordan in the land of the Amorites, in Gilead.” Then the Israelites cry out to God until “His soul could no longer endure the misery of Israel.”

The children of Israel gather together and ask “who is the man” that will fight Ammon? So God raises up a man to lead the people. This is when we meet Jephthah, a mighty man of valor and a son of a harlot. His half brothers drove him away from home, but when Ammon makes war against Israel, the elders of Gilead, who are now desperate, call Jephthah to come back and save them. Jephthah responds, “If you take me back home to fight against the people of Ammon, and the Lord delivers me, shall I be your head?” The elders of Gilead say “yes”!

When the Amorites accuse Israel of taking their land, Jephthah says that the land is theirs because the Lord gave it to them. “‘Therefore I have not sinned against you, but you wronged me by fighting against me. May the Lord, the Judge, render judgment this day between the children of Israel and the people of Ammon.’ However, the king of the people of Ammon did not heed the words which Jephthah sent him.” 

Tomorrow Jephthah makes a foolish vow to the Lord, resulting in a tragic outcome. Keep reading to find out what happens. (Judges 9:22-11:28)

From today’s reading in Tyndale’s One Year Chronological Bible dated 4/2:

Gideon and his men go to camp close to the Midianites in preparation for battle. “And the Lord said to Gideon, ‘The people who are with you are too many for Me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel claim glory for itself against Me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’” So God narrows Gideon’s army of 32,000 men down to 300 men and arms them with unusual weapons of war, trumpets and empty pitchers with torches inside; “and they blew the trumpets and broke the pitchers that were in their hands… they held the torches in their left hands and the trumpets in their right hands for blowing—and they cried, ‘The sword of the Lord and of Gideon!’” At the sound and sight of the army of Gideon, the Lord confuses the Midianites, and “the Lord set every man’s sword against his companion throughout the whole camp; and the army fled.” 

After the initial attack, Gideon calls for the rest of the men of Ephriam to join them in pursuing the Midianites. When the prideful men of Ephraim catch up to Gideon they say “‘Why have you done this to us by not calling us when you went to fight with the Midianites?’ And they reprimanded him sharply.” It is obvious that these men only care about their own recognition and their own agenda. They have no clue that this is the Lord’s battle and that He chose who will fight and how they will fight. So Gideon responds by giving them the recognition they want, and then he continues on with the work that the Lord has for him.  

Once the Lord gives Gideon final victory over the Midianites, the people ask Gideon to rule over them, but he smartly declines and tells the people that the Lord shall rule over them. However, Gideon’s humble words do not align with his prideful actions as he tells the people to bring him earrings from the plunder. Then Gideon makes an ephod, a garment worn by the priests, out of the gold, which becomes a snare to Israel because anything we elevate other than the Lord always becomes a stumbling block. Gideon began well with the Lord, but success leads him to sin. A now prideful Gideon acquires many wives and has seventy sons. However, the Lord gives the Israelites forty years of peace.

“So it was, as soon as Gideon was dead, that the children of Israel again played the harlot with the Baals, and made Baal-Berith their god. Thus the children of Israel did not remember the Lord their God, who had delivered them from the hands of all their enemies on every side; nor did they show kindness to the house of Jerubbaal (Gideon) in accordance with the good he had done for Israel.” Gideon’s son Abimelech from his concubine in Shechem hires some reckless troublemakers to follow him. “Then he went to his father’s house at Ophrah and killed his brothers, the seventy sons of Jerubbaal, on one stone. But Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left, because he hid himself. And all the men of Shechem gathered together, all of Beth Millo, and they went and made Abimelech king beside the terebinth tree at the pillar that was in Shechem.”

Jotham, Gideon’s youngest son, who escaped the slaughter, runs to the top of Mount Gerizim, where about one hundred and fifty years earlier Israel heard the blessings of God for obedience (Joshua 8:33). From there Jotham shouts down a parable to the people warning them of their new king. He tells of worthy trees bearing good fruit who did not want to be king, but the unworthy bramble did. This unworthy bramble will not provide any good shelter or protection for the people. Jotham says that the city of Shechem will be repaid for foolishly choosing such an unworthy leader.

Tomorrow Jotham’s warning comes true as the Lord sends a spirit of ill will between Abimelech and the men of Shechem. Keep reading. (Judges 7:1-9:21)

From today’s reading in Tyndale’s One Year Chronological Bible dated 4/1:

Today we begin another sin cycle – “When Ehud was dead, the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord. So the Lord sold them into the hand of Jabin, king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. The commander of his army was Sisera, who dwelt in Harosheth Hagoyim. And the children of Israel cried out to the Lord; for Jabin had nine hundred chariots of iron, and for twenty years he had harshly oppressed the children of Israel.” 

“Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, was judging Israel at that time. And she would sit under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the mountains of Ephraim. And the children of Israel came up to her for judgment.” Deborah calls for Barak, a commander of the Israelites, and asks him why he hasn’t attacked Sisera’s army as the Lord commanded. Barak responds, “If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go!” Deborah responds to Barak, “I will surely go with you; nevertheless there will be no glory for you in the journey you are taking, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.”

The Lord gives Barak and the Israelites great victory over Sisera’s army. “However, Sisera had fled away on foot to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite.” Jael welcomes Sisera into her tent, covers him with a blanket, gives him warm milk – “Then Jael, took a tent peg and a hammer in her hand and went softly to him and drove the peg into his temple, and it went down into the ground; for he was fast asleep and weary. So he died.” A peg in the head kills Sisera, and Jael, a woman, gets the glory as Deborah predicted. Then Deborah and Barak sing, “Most blessed among women is Jael… At her feet he sank, he fell; Where he sank, there he fell dead.” “So the land has rest for forty years.”

“Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord. So the Lord delivered them into the hand of Midian for seven years, and the hand of Midian prevailed against Israel… So Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites, and the children of Israel cried out to the Lord.” Then the Angel of the Lord appears to Gideon, who is hiding from the Midianites in the wine press. I love how God says to this fearful man in hiding, “The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!” God sees Gideon for the man he will become because the Lord will be with him! But Gideon reminds me of Moses and how Moses first responded to the Lord at the burning bush by saying “who am I” to go and deliver the children of Israel from Egypt (Exodus 3:11). Gideon too questions God saying, “O my Lord, how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” Gideon can’t. That’s the whole point. But the One who can save Israel will be with Gideon just like He was with Moses. So God responds to Gideon saying, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man.”

Gideon, like Moses, receives a sign from the Lord to help build his faith. An Angel of the Lord touches the offering that Gideon prepared with His staff,  “and fire rose out of the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened bread.” Then Gideon obeys the Lord by tearing down the altar of Baal that his father has, cutting down the wooden image beside it, and building an altar to the Lord in its place. When the men of the city discover what Gideon did, they want to kill him, but Joash intervenes and says about Baal – “‘If he is a god, let him plead for himself, because his altar has been torn down!’ Therefore on that day, he called him [Gideon] Jerubbaal, saying, ‘Let Baal plead against him, because he has torn down his altar.’”

However Gideon is still uncertain about his calling to save Israel, so he asks the Lord for more signs to help build his faith. And the Lord responds by graciously wetting and drying the fleece for Gideon. Now Gideon is ready for battle. Tomorrow Gideon goes to war against the Midianites, so keep reading. (Judges 3:31-6:40)

From today’s reading in Tyndale’s One Year Chronological Bible dated 3/31:

The Israelites’ failure to drive the Canaanites out of the land is going to impact the children of Israel for generations. The Lord says to Israel, “I led you up from Egypt and brought you to the land of which I swore to your fathers; and I said, ‘I will never break My covenant with you. And you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall tear down their altars.’ But you have not obeyed My voice. Why have you done this? Therefore I also said, ‘I will not drive them out before you; but they shall be thorns in your side, and their gods shall be a snare to you.’” 

We sadly learn that after Joshua and his generation died, “another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel.” Welcome to the Judges Era, which is defined by everyone doing what is right in their own sight (Judges 17:6, 21:25), which never goes well. The children of Israel are now intermarrying with the nations around them, worshiping their gods, and doing all kinds of evil in the sight of the Lord. Therefore, the Lord allows their enemies to overtake them. When the people cry out to the Lord, He raises up a judge or military leader to rescue them. This is called the sin cycle: Israel serves the Lord and experiences peace – Israel does evil – Israel is oppressed by their enemies – Israel cries out – God raises up a judge – Israel is delivered – and repeat. In the book of Judges, this cycle happens seven times over what most scholars believe was about a three hundred and fifty year period with twelve different judges, some serving during overlapping periods. We will meet two more judges, Eli and Samuel, when we enter the Kingdom Era.

The Lord is always in control, and He is using the Israelites’ disobedience to test them, teach them, and train them – “Now these are the nations which the Lord left, that He might test Israel by them, that is, all who had not known any of the wars in Canaan (this was only so that the generations of the children of Israel might be taught to know war, at least those who had not formerly known it), namely, five lords of the Philistines, all the Canaanites, the Sidonians, and the Hivites who dwelt in Mount Lebanon, from Mount Baal Hermon to the entrance of Hamath. And they were left, that He might test Israel by them, to know whether they would obey the commandments of the Lord, which He had commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses. Thus the children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. And they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons; and they served their gods.” 

The Lord has been training His children to fight and stand firm in obedience to Him and His word. However, the children of Israel disobeyed the Lord. Because of the people’s disobedience, the Lord sells them into the hand of Cushan-Rishathaim, king of Mesopotamia, for eight years. Othniel, Caleb’s son-in-law, delivers them, and they have peace for forty years. After Othniel dies, the children of Israel go back to their evil ways. So the Lord delivers them to Eglon, king of Moab for eighteen years. When the Israelites cry out, He raises up Ehud to deliver them. Ehud shoves a dagger in fat Eglon’s belly, killing him, and Israel has peace for eighty years. 

Tomorrow the sin cycles continue and we will meet the only female judge, so keep reading. (Judges 1:1-3:30)

From today’s reading in Tyndale’s One Year Chronological Bible dated 4/7:

Naomi and her husband, Elimelech from the tribe of Judah, leave Bethlehem during a famine and go to live in Moab. There Naomi’s husband and two sons die leaving Naomi with her two Moabite daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth. When Naomi hears there is now food in Judah she sets out to move back home. She tells her daughters-in-law to return to their homes because she can not provide them with husbands. In the midst of Naomi’s suffering with the loss of her husband and her sons, she wrongly believes that the Lord is against her. Naomi tells her daughter-in-laws to leave her and return home “for it grieves me very much for your sakes that the hand of the Lord has gone out against me!”

Ruth, however, refuses to leave Naomi and says, “For wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people; and your God, my God.” Ruth commits herself to Naomi and to the Lord instead of going home and worshipping the false gods of Moab. Ruth further expresses her loyalty to Naomi and faith in the Lord when she says “The Lord do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me.” So Naomi concedes and when Naomi and Ruth arrive in Bethlehem, the people are excited to see Naomi! But Naomi says, “Do not call me Naomi, call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, and the Lord has brought me home again empty.” (The name Mara means bitter.) But did Naomi come back empty as she said? No. Naomi was so blinded by her deep pain that she could not see all that the Lord was doing and all the ways He was for her. She could not see how God was going to use the life of Ruth, who clung to Naomi and trusted in her God, to fulfill His promise to send a Savior.

Ruth ends up working in the field of Boaz, a descendant of Judah’s son, Perez (one of the twins from Judah and Tamar). Boaz admires how Ruth has been so faithful to Naomi and he says to her, “The Lord repay your work, and a full reward be given to you by the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge.” When Ruth brings the barley she gleaned from the field to Naomi, Naomi tells her that Boaz is a close relative and instructs Ruth to go to him and lie down at his feet and wait for him to tell her what to do. Ruth obeys Naomi. When Boaz awakes and finds Ruth at his feet she says to him, “Take your maidservant under your wing, for you are a close relative.” 

Boaz responds, “Blessed are you of the Lord, my daughter! For you have shown more kindness at the end than at the beginning, in that you did not go after young men, whether poor or rich. And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you request, for all the people of my town know that you are a virtuous woman.” Then Boaz follows the proper procedures per the Levirate law and becomes the owner of all that belonged to Naomi’s husband and sons and he becomes husband to Ruth – “And all the people who were at the gate, and the elders, said, ‘We are witnesses. The Lord make the woman who is coming to your house like Rachel and Leah, the two who built the house of Israel; and may you prosper in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem. May your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah, because of the offspring which the Lord will give you from this young woman.’”

Tomorrow we finish the book of Ruth bringing an end to the Judges Era and we jump into the Kingdom Era. Keep reading. 

(Ruth 1:1-4:12)

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