Eph 1:18,19 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.
So far we looked at the cycle of sin that
repeats itself throughout the book of Judges, and we have had a general look at
the enemies which
3:7-8 ‘The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD; they forgot the LORD their God and served the Baals
and the Asherahs. The anger of the LORD burned against
So the passage starts with a very
surprising turn of events…
Now, this is the first nation that would
take charge over
Cushan-Rishathaim means ‘doubly-wicked
blackness’. A lovely name don’t you think? It’s quite surprising that is
hasn’t caught on very well! Obviously a very nice man to be around! This man is said to have been the King of
Now, why do you think self-exaltation and pride would be called ‘double-wickedness’? It is double wickedness because there is nothing God can do with a man who does not see his need of God. God resists the proud because the proud resist Him. There is a very real sense in which pride and independence (and it’s ‘spiritual’ form through legalism) are worse than normal outward sins because at the very least the person who gets tripped up into sin still sees their own weakness, their need of Jesus’ work on the cross, and His power in their life now. The person proud of his own achievements and independence does not see the importance of God’s work on behalf of mankind…So Israel forgot the Lord, and in turning from Him the Lord allowed them to be dominated by that which their own hearts leans towards – prideful independence in the form of the King of Aram.
Judges 3:9-11 ‘But when they cried out to the LORD, he raised up for them a deliverer…’
Before we get onto the
deliverer that God raised up, let’s just quickly see what was needed on
3:9-10 But when they cried out to the LORD, he raised up for them a deliverer, Othniel son of Kenaz,
Caleb’s younger brother, who saved them. The Spirit of the LORD came upon him, so that he became
The first judge was Othniel. He came from good stock this man for he was Caleb’s nephew. The name Othniel means the ‘power of God’ but we will get back to this later. If you have been reading the book of Judges for yourself you would, I’m sure, remember Othniel from chapter one. He was the one who fought valiantly in capturing Kiriath-sepher at the request of Caleb (-12)
From the passage above we see that Othniel
get back to Othniel himself. We read that ‘the Spirit of the Lord came upon
Him’ and he went out and defeated that doubly-wicked black Cushan! When
Now, none of this should be new to us. The writers of the New Testament (especially Paul) were constantly trying to focus our attention on the fact that knowing God’s life and power is critical if we are to be effective in our Christian life. Listen to some of their pleas…
The Old Testament is likewise filled with examples that say this very thing. The Psalms alone are filled with verses empathising the need to know, trust in, and proclaim the mighty power of God. (See Psalm 20:6-7, 68:34-35, 71:18, 78:4). In fact, the Psalms also show that Israel’s moaning, unbelief and rebellion in the wilderness were due to the fact that they ‘did not remember His power’. (Psalm 78:40-42).
May we learn from the
lessons presented to us here in the book of Judges. Be careful of him who was the
first enemy to completely conquer
|Other Bible Studies in the Judges Series|
 Instead of
 Jesus has already exalted us to the highest possible place – ‘seated with Him in the Heavenly places.’ (Eph 2:6) Don’t you think it’s a shame that people are not happy with such exaltation and have to exalt themselves? Even for our normal lives the Bible says that God is the one who exalts one person and brings another down – See Psalm 75:4-7. Our good friend Nebuchadnezzar found this out the hard way! He had barely finished admiring… himself… when God humbled him in an extremely unique way! Read the fascinating account in Daniel 4:28-37. At the end of it however he had come to his senses and he spoke these wise words ‘Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.’
 In his book ‘Beware the new prophets’, Pastor Bill Randles has an interesting chapter entitled ‘The Two Mysteries’ which seems appropriate for what we are currently talking about. Here are some direct quotes – ‘Though indeed there are so many spiritualities flourishing in the world today, there are in essence only two religions underlying them. All religious expression or experience can biblically be put into only two categories, two spiritual principles or mysteries as the Bible calls them. They are the Mystery of Iniquity and the Mystery of Godliness. As far back as the garden of Eden (and even before that) these two spiritualities have coexisted.’ And here is a non-direct loose wrap-up of these two mysteries. The mystery of Iniquity (2 Thes 2:7) has its heart in Satan’s prideful desire to become something great. ‘I will exalt my throne above the stars of God… I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.’ This was the promise that was given to Adam and Eve that they would be ‘like God’. This exalting of our self has its roots in the nature of Satan and is the Mystery of Iniquity. The mystery of godliness (1 Tim ) is totally different! It doesn’t emphasise our exaltation, but that Jesus descended for us! God’s life living out through a man is the nature of the mystery. So which do you emphasise? Do you major on what we have to do to become ‘more like God’ or do you emphasise who Jesus is in and through you?
 There is a great little picture in this once you know the meanings of the place names. Kiriath-sepher means ‘the city of the book’. Othniel (the ‘power of God’) captured this place and it is renamed Debir which means an ‘oracle – the living word of God’. It is the power of God that can transform the Bible from just being a ‘book’ to what is really is – the living word of God for you. This doesn’t replace our need to really read it and study it, and then read it again. Oh yeah, and then study more!. (Prov 25:2) It just shows our need and reliance upon the Holy Spirit to grant us insight and understanding of His word. (1 Cor 2:6-16)
 Ok, personal confession time! This is what I mean by self judgement, especially in regards to pride and exalting ourselves. I speak quite regularly in the church that I attend. There have been a few times that I can remember were the following has happened… Before the sermon I’ll be praying ‘Lord, speak through me, speak to peoples hearts, it’s not me but only you that can do this!’ I then give the sermon and afterwards, occasionally, ok very occasionally, someone will tell me that I did really well and that I am a good speaker blah blah. And sure enough, I begin believing my own press! Pride is always at the door, be sure of that. It can’t be just me I hope, you’ve got the same nature too! Now it is right at this point that self judgement is needed. Are you going run with these prideful feelings or admit them to the Lord as a further evidence of your need of Him?
 Judging yourself is only difficult if you don’t understand grace. But once you know grace and have come to know yourself it becomes so much easier. Pride is all that people in the world have so they often find it hard to admit they are wrong. Christians who know grace know that God fully accepts them despite the range of responses of their twisted old nature. It just comes down to examining your own heart and being honest with God about it. And like I said, grace makes all of this possible because your standing is not based on your own works but on Jesus gift of righteousness to you!