Mark R Lindsey

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God’s Promises Unleash My Obedience (Judges 1-2)

In Bible Study, Life Without a King on August 12, 2018 at 5:24 pm

The first section of the book of Judges — Judges 1:1 – 2:5 — makes me ask myself: Am I like these people at all? After all, the nation of Israel, attempting to conquer the land of Canaan. I have no land to claim — but I do have promises, and God’s enablement.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10, ESV)

God’s Actions, Israel’s Work

The job given to Israel was difficult. But God would do it, and God would enable them to do it! A few years before Judges 1, God spoke to Joshua:

Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:6-7,9 ESV)

God would be with them. God would drive out the people. They would drive out the people. How could it be both — that God would drive them out, and the Israelites would drive them out?

Promises to Israel

In Judges 1-2, we see a people who had received great promises, and were commanded and enabled to live and obey in those promises:

  • God promised to be with them & to make them his people (Exodus 6:7, Leviticus 26:12)
  • God promised to give them a land, and to drive out the inhabitants ahead of them (Deuteronomy 6:10-12, 7:20)
  • God had given them his Word, & made them a kingdom of priests (Exodus 19:6, 24:12)
  • God had given them amazing memories of deliverance (Deuteronomy 8:1-2)
  • God had warned what would happen if they disown him (Deuteronomy 28:15)

Partial Obedience & God’s Assessment

Following God’s command, Judah leads. Caleb’s family shows courage and takes full possession. But Judah fails to obediently conquer, eventually reasoning that the iron chariots were too strong for God’s people.

Judges 2:1–3: [1] Now the angel of the LORD went up from Gilgal to Bochim. And he said, “I brought you up from Egypt and brought you into the land that I swore to give to your fathers. I said, ‘I will never break my covenant with you, [2] and you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall break down their altars.’ But you have not obeyed my voice. What is this you have done? [3] So now I say, I will not drive them out before you, but they shall become thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare to you.”  (ESV)

The Background: God’s Reminders

  1. He brought them from Egypt. (Verse 1)
  2. He had made a pledge to their ancestors to give this people the land. (Verse 1)
  3. He had said, in the past, that: (Verse 1-2) ?
    — He will never break his covenant with the people of Israel,
    — And the people of Israel must not make any covenant with the inhabitants of the land
    — And the people of Israel must break down the altars for worship of false Gods.

God’s Assessment.

  1. The people of Israel have been disobedient.
  1. He will not drive the Canaanites out before the Israelites.
  2. The Canaanites will become thorns in their sides.
  3. The gods of the Canaanites will be a snare, a trap, to the Israelites.

God’s original command: God is referring to his words in Exodus 23:28-33.

As soon as the angel of the LORD spoke these words to all the people of Israel, the people lifted up their voices and wept. And they called the name of that place Bochim. And they sacrificed there to the LORD. (Judges 2:4,5 ESV)

What did the Israelites want? The Israelites wanted the land of the Canaanites — without having to actually fight for it. We know this because, until this promise, God had promised to drive out the Canaanites. And we know they had not driven out the Canaanites — they had enslaved them, forming agreements with them, and leaving Canaanite worship intact.

“It’s a good things wants don’t hurt.”

A good friend of mine says, “It’s a good things wants don’t hurt.” I can have all the wants in the world, but they’re meaningless — neither helpful nor hurtful — if I don’t do what’s necessary to get them, or if I want things I shouldn’t have. Wants can be merely thought-stuff.

But in a dangerous way, wants can hurt. If the wants I have are out of order or contradictory, I can desire the impossible or harmful things more than the best things.

Israel’s Mixed Motives for Comfort and Wealth

Comfort & Avoiding Conflict. While some tribes take possession, the many other tribes seem to avoid conflict — leaving the Canaanites rather than driving them out and killing those who fight. We see an empowered people who wanted comfort more than they wanted God’s nearness and his land.

Seeking Wealth. Some tribes enslave the remaining Canaanites — but still don’t drive them out.

Love of Comfort led them to stop fighting, to make alliances rather than drive out the people. Love of Wealth led them to enslave the Canaanites.

In a sense, God gave the Israelites what they wanted. They had stopped obeying, and started living with the Canaanites. God said, “OK, if you want them for neighbors, then you’ve got them.”

The same God enables my obedience

Christians are not the nation of Israel, but God makes promises to us, including these:

Jonathan Edwards wrote:

In efficacious grace we are not merely passive, nor yet does God do some, and we do the rest. But God does all and we do all. God produces all, and we act all. For that is what he produces, viz. our own acts. God is the only proper author and fountain; we only are the proper actors. We are, in different respects, wholly passive and wholly active.

Salvation in Jesus is a free gift, and I contribute nothing to it. Nothing I do makes me more acceptable to God (Ephesians 2:8-9), because, by trusting God’s gift and Jesus’s accomplishment, he has already made God happy with me (Romans 5:1). And nothing I can do can make me unacceptable to God (Romans 8:1).

And God works, and equips and enables me to be obedient.

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12-13, ESV)

God has promised me no physical land on earth, but God has promised me a salvation I can work out, with his enablement. He’s made good things for me to do, and gives me power to live them out.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10, ESV)

What could stop me from obeying in God’s power?

The Israelites of Judges 1-2 had promises, God’s power, and a job to do — but they failed to do it. Would we ever be tempted to shrink back, and fail to obey?

  • We might not want the persecution promised to everyone who wants to live a godly life. (2 Timothy 3:12)
  • We might fall in love with this present world, like Demas. (2 Timothy 4:10)
  • We might not want to be hated. (1 John 3:12-13)
  • We might enjoy the fun things the world has to offer (Romans 13:13, 1 Peter 4:3)
  • We might be distracted by busyness and stress. (Luke 21:34)
  • In short — Yes, it’s easy to imagine not wanting to be hated, persecuted, called names. But God has promised to my holiness, and he expects my obedience to arrive at that holiness.

  • Mark Lindsey is an Elder at North Wake Church, Wake Forest, North Carolina, and a Computer Scientist at ECG. This material was originally developed for the “Life Without a King” LifeChange Fellowship class at North Wake Church.
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    They’ve got my password and they’re threatening me!

    In computers on July 11, 2018 at 8:54 pm

    I received this threat today in email, and you might get one too. They really had an old password I had used in the past! I’m not worried, but it’s a nice lesson. So how should you respond?


    1. Realize that sadly, many web sites have been hacked and your passwords stolen. In this case, I suspect the attacker is using data from the 2012 LinkedIn hack. Check your email address on to see whether your email address has appeared in published lists of stolen accounts.

    2. Use different passwords on every web site. Store passwords in the iCloud keychain or use 1Password.

    3. Contact the company enabling the attack. In this case, the email was sent from an email address, so I forwarded the email as an attachment to I found those instructions by googling for “email abuse

    4. Use a webcam cover to block your camera when you’re not using it. There are vulnerabilities where it *IS* possible for hackers to look through your webcam.

    5. Improve your odds by always installing your updates. Improve your odds of safety by using a Mac, iPad, or iPhone, and keeping your computer up to date by installing all the updates from Apple.

    6. In this case, the threat about the single-pixel tracking is bogus (though this is the way marketers track you). The attacker would need to use an HTML email, and the attacker would have to run a server to receive the notifications. That would allow authorities to trace him more easily. This email has no such tracking.

    7. Use the Internet so you know an email threat like this is bogus. But since nobody wants an invasion of privacy of any form, follow the other rules.

    Psalm 57: Weaponizing Words

    In Bible Study on May 12, 2018 at 10:47 am

    On Psalm 57, entitled:

    “To the choirmaster: according to Do Not Destroy. A Miktam of David, when he fled from Saul, in the cave.”

    • David is in an excruciatingly difficult place.

    1 Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,
    for in you my soul takes refuge;
    in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,
    till the storms of destruction pass by.

    • God is merciful.
    • David remembers God is merciful.
    • It’s good to call out to God to show his mercy.
    • There are “storms of destruction” around David; he is in real jeopardy.
    • David was in a cave physically, but considered himself under God’s wings.

    2 I cry out to God Most High,
    to God who fulfills his purpose for me.

    • God has a purpose for David.
    • David was crying out — as if God could hear, and respond.
    • God has a purpose for David — even in the storms of destruction.

    3 He will send from heaven and save me;
    he will put to shame him who tramples on me. Selah
    God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness!

    • God is in Heaven.
    • David trusted God to save him with intervention from Heaven.
    • David has certainty as a Prophet — God has revealed something special to David.
    • The saving from heaven to be sent is:
      • His steadfast love
      • His faithfulness
    • So we know steadfast love and faithfulness are useful for
      • God’s purpose
      • Saving
      • Protection from the storm of destruction

    4 My soul is in the midst of lions;
    I lie down amid fiery beasts—
    the children of man, whose teeth are spears and arrows,
    whose tongues are sharp swords.

    • David was able to rest, to “lie down”
    • David’s rest is among “lions” and “fiery beasts”.
    • The “fiery beasts” and “lions” are descriptions of people — “children of man”
    • The weapon of these beasts? Teeth and tongues
    • How are teeth and tongues weapons? The words they say are destructive

    5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!
    Let your glory be over all the earth!

    • David’s cry in the “storm of destruction” as he’s under attack is for God’s greatness to be seen and recognized

    But does it apply to me?

    Do you have a relationship with God like King David had? You can! He promises to make the same covenant (promises and commitments) that he makes with David — with anyone who admits they need God, and trusts him:

    Isaiah 55:1-3 (ESV)

    “Come, everyone who thirsts,

    come to the waters;

    and he who has no money,

    come, buy and eat!

    Come, buy wine and milk

    without money and without price.

    Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,

    and your labor for that which does not satisfy?

    Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,

    and delight yourselves in rich food.

    Incline your ear, and come to me;

    hear, that your soul may live;

    and I will make with you an everlasting covenant,

    my steadfast, sure love for David.

    Enduring Violence, and God’s Call to Protect the Weak

    In Uncategorized on May 12, 2018 at 9:07 am

    Should a Christian stay in a physically dangerous place? No. And we Christians must provide protection!

    1. Jesus’s language assumed persecution would mean the danger was avoided. Jesus presumed that when you’re chased, you run.

    Matthew 10:22-23 — “and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.”

    2. Violence toward a woman in marriage violates God’s law. We must never tolerate sin but always work against it.

    Colossians 3:19 — Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.

    3. Christian leaders are to “shepherd” — and our Biblical model of care necessarily includes physical protection. To “bind up the injured” cannot be any less than working for safety and protection for the vulnerable.

    Failing leaders as bad shepherds: Ezekiel 34:4 — The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them.

    God as good shepherd: Ezekiel 34:16 — I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice.

    4. John Bunyan wrote how there is no Christian principle that means staying while persecuted.

    “He that flies, has warrant to do so; he that stands, has warrant to do so. Yea, the same man may both fly and stand, as the call and working of God with his heart may be.

    Moses fled, Ex. 2:15;

    Moses stood, Heb. 11:27.

    David fled, 1 Sam. 19:12;

    David stood, 24:8.

    Jeremiah fled, Jer. 37:11­–12;

    Jeremiah stood, 38:17.

    Christ withdrew himself, Luke 19:10;

    Christ stood, John 18:1–8.

    Paul fled, 2 Cor. 11:33;

    Paul stood, Acts 20:22–23. . . .”

    5. If a Christian leader teaches a truth and it’s unpopular, then that’s to be expected, and Christians should support that truth, while admitting the teacher is always error-prone and fallible. Jesus told us to expect to be hated (John 15:18-20).

    But if a Christian leader sins by genuinely teaching falsely, and doesn’t repent of it, he should be held to account publicly.

    1 Timothy 5:19-20 Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.

    Praising the trust in God held by one person in one instance that already occurred doesn’t necessarily make a recommendation for other people. Just enduring hard things doesn’t make us Holy.

    But it’s difficult to see other examples of trust and bravery, and not try to make inferences. Hebrews 11 is full of examples of good and bad people are cited for trusting God. In nearly every case, we cannot follow their actions as examples because we’re not living the same lives. But we who believe Jesus died for us to bring us to God can trust that God is with us, and provides for us, and will always protect us — this year, and in a billion years. “I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice.”