MLToday: [Judges Chapter One]: Praise is Your First Line of Defense! In this chapter Judah goes first against the remaining Canaanites in the land. The word Canaanite means “trafficker” and speaks of compromise with the enemy over your peace. Many times you will be pressured to compromise your stand for God for the sake of peace in life’s relationships. In this chapter we see that PRAISE and the PROPHETIC are the key weapons to overcome and see breakthrough in these difficult circumstances.

Today: [Judges Chapter Two]: Finding Your Angel: In this chapter of Judges the angel of the Lord shows up. He comes to reaffirm the covenant of God made with the people in the wilderness. The angel who guides through the wilderness is the same one that wars in your behalf in the promised land. Angels are powerful beings who are in our lives to execute God’s will in our behalf. We need to be aware of them and to be aware that they can be provoked in ways that will delay God’s blessing in our lives.

[Jdg 2:1-23 KJV] 1 And an angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with you. 2 And ye shall make no league with the inhabitants of this land; ye shall throw down their altars: but ye have not obeyed my voice: why have ye done this? 3 Wherefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be [as thorns] in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you.

In this chapter God pulls back the curtain of natural events and shows us the angelic activity taking place in the second heaven. The natural realm is the first heaven. The second heaven is the immediate spiritual environment around us where angels and demons operate. This is the realm where Jacob saw the ladder and angels ascending and descending. The third heaven is the throne of God itself where Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father.

This angel is not just any rank of angel. He is the “angel of the Lord” or the “Malak Yahweh”. He is the executor of God’s will in the promised land. It is interesting to note that the angels act differently depending whether they were in the wilderness or the promised land. In the wilderness the angels were leading the people out. In the promised land they were establishing the people in.

This angel is traveling from Gilgal to Bochim. Gilgal means “a wheel”. Throughout Israel’s history Gilgal was a place known for it’s prophets and as a place where prophets dwelt. If you want to see an angel or get close to an angel go find a prophet. James 3:6 talks about the “course” of nature activated by the tongue or the words of your mouth. Eccl. 5:6 warns against careless words being spoken around angels. In Dan. 10:12 the angel tells Daniel he was there because of Daniel’s words. The first thing an angel does when he shows up in your life is to take inventory of your words. They are very close to and attentive to the words of the prophets as well. This angel is an “executor” angel who leaves the place of the prophets and goes to Bochim which means “place of weeping”. So the purpose of the angel is to execute the words of the prophets and close the gap between the prophetic promise and the weeping and disappointment of God’s people.

In this case the angel manifests and tells the people that he will never change his mind about what God promised. He goes on however to warn them because the same God that promised to give them victory in Canaan also warned them to make no league or treaty with the inhabitants of the land. We see reflected here the provisional and conditional aspect of the prophetic. In Judges 6 Gideon complains about the promises of God not coming to pass but the promises didn’t come to pass because the people only focused on the promise and not the conditions and provisions that called upon them to align with what God was saying.

4 And it came to pass, when the angel of the LORD spake these words unto all the children of Israel, that the people lifted up their voice, and wept. 5 And they called the name of that place Bochim: and they sacrificed there unto the LORD. 6 And when Joshua had let the people go, the children of Israel went every man unto his inheritance to possess the land. 7 And the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the LORD, that he did for Israel. 8 And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died, [being] an hundred and ten years old. 9 And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnathheres, in the mount of Ephraim, on the north side of the hill Gaash. 10 And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel.

In every generation there is a responsibility to remember the things God has done in the past. Throughout the law of Moses there was a consistent command to the fathers of Israel to teach the children and remind them of where they came from. When I talk to young people and ask them about great men of God from times past I often get a blank stare. These young people are usually interns in some ministry, or close followers of well known men and women of God. I am always amazed and think “what are these young people being taught?” If we live in a generation where the young people don’t know the Lord it is an indictment and a call to repentance upon the older generation. Worldliness and spiritual disinterest is an indictment against the older generation who sit back and cluck their tongues complaining “what is this world coming to?” It is headed in the direction that the older generation pointed it!

11 And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim: 12 And they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that [were] round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the LORD to anger. 13 And they forsook the LORD, and served Baal and Ashtaroth. 14 And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and he delivered them into the hands of spoilers that spoiled them, and he sold them into the hands of their enemies round about, so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies. 15 Whithersoever they went out, the hand of the LORD was against them for evil, as the LORD had said, and as the LORD had sworn unto them: and they were greatly distressed.

Who were Baalim, Baal and Ashtaroth? Baal means “dominative father”. The goddess Ashtaroth was the goddess of sexual lust and attraction. The children of Israel adopted these pagan practices from the Canaanites that they put under tribute rather than driving out altogether. The vulnerabilities that led to pagan worship at this time are in the earth still today. We look for strong leaders to give us a sense of security. We expect those even in the church who stand on the platform or who appear on TV to be attractive sexually. If our favorite worship leader was a 450 pound woman with the face of a troll we probably wouldn’t buy her latest album would we? We need to guard against the modern day equivalent of worshipping Baal and Ashtoroth lest we be unable to stand before our enemies. When we are struggling and under a cloud of defeat we should look very closely at our associations and our focus where spiritual things are concerned. God is a jealous God and does not accept our sentiments or our security to be invested in anything or anyone but Him.

16 Nevertheless the LORD raised up judges, which delivered them out of the hand of those that spoiled them. 17 And yet they would not hearken unto their judges, but they went a whoring after other gods, and bowed themselves unto them: they turned quickly out of the way which their fathers walked in, obeying the commandments of the LORD; [but] they did not so. 18 And when the LORD raised them up judges, then the LORD was with the judge, and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge: for it repented the LORD because of their groanings by reason of them that oppressed them and vexed them. 19 And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, [that] they returned, and corrupted [themselves] more than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them, and to bow down unto them; they ceased not from their own doings, nor from their stubborn way.

Are we following men or are we following God. My father as a young boy witnessed his pastor in a compromising situation. He was mortified and scandalized in that moment. The Lord spoke clearly to him as a boy saying “Get your eyes off of man and keep them on me…” Your leaders will fail. Leaders err and make mistakes and sometimes commit outright sin. Beyond that human nature is fickle – when they first find a powerful ministry people are enamored and impressed but over time things get old, they get bored and move on restless for another more interesting man or woman of God. We see this all the time in our ministry. Don’t be led by man. Listen to the voice of God and anchor yourself in His presence in your life and not in the personalities of men. Remember this whole chapter is focused upon why victory wasn’t coming and why the angel commissioned to defeat the enemy was instead withdrawing his support.

20 And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel; and he said, Because that this people hath transgressed my covenant which I commanded their fathers, and have not hearkened unto my voice; 21 I also will not henceforth drive out any from before them of the nations which Joshua left when he died: 22 That through them I may prove Israel, whether they will keep the way of the LORD to walk therein, as their fathers did keep [it], or not. 23 Therefore the LORD left those nations, without driving them out hastily; neither delivered he them into the hand of Joshua.

Where do you find your angel? Look for the well of the prophetic in your life. The angel is always coming from Gilgal (the place of the prophets) to Bochim (the place of weeping). Angels are always working to close the gap between what God promised and what you are experiencing. There are only two things that can stay the hand of the angel – your words and your actions. If you are not prepared to align your words and your actions with what God is saying both in His word and through the prophets then there will be struggle, unnecessary struggle. The angel told the people “I will never break my covenant with you …” Because the angel knew it would look that way because the people would continually fail and fall before their enemies. He was in effect saying that God wasn’t going to change His mind about His promise but it was up to the people to make sure in their hearts, and words, and lives that they didn’t quench the promise of God through idolatry, unbelief and sin.

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