Posts Tagged ‘Judges’

Christ’s First and Second Comings:  In the Type of Ehud

September 10, 2021 7 comments

As I continue listening to Alan Cairns’ sermons, now in a series on the book of Judges, I notice a lot of similarities in the Spirit in him and qualities in Charles Spurgeon.  Cairns’ ministry was about 120 years after Spurgeon, yet many common preaching features. From a sermon on Judges 3:  allowing the Spirit to lead in determining what to preach on for any given Lord’s Day, rather than  rigid, scheduled, pre-planned series; and remarks about those who had sat under his preaching ministry for many years, and still unmoved and not saved.  Cairns, like Spurgeon, also believed Revelation 6, the first seal, was referring to Christ and not the AntiChrist (unlike most other premillennialists), and had a very optimistic view regarding the great spiritual blessings we now have.  Like Spurgeon, Cairns firmly stated his belief in the future millennial reign of Christ, yet expected great things of God, true revival, in this age.

Apparently Charles Spurgeon never preached a sermon on Ehud, the second of the Judges of Israel.  But if he had, the sermon would have been quite similar to this one from Dr. Cairns in 1989.  In “The Train of Christ’s Triumph” we see Ehud as a type of Christ, and both Christ’s First and Second Comings in the story of Ehud in Judges 3: Ehud’s individual work and victory over Eglon; and then, his blowing the trumpet to rally the people to follow him. In this type, we see freedom from sin and judgment, fellowship (they followed Ehud), and the people as followers in the king’s army.  

First, Ehud did the conquering work, slaying Eglon — like Christ’s defeat of Satan at Calvary.  Here, the mighty message of freedom; the bondage of sin broken by the power of Christ, and our reconciliation and redemption.Then, Ehud blew the trumpet, rousing the people to leave everything and to follow him.  The trumpet can be seen as a representation of the Lord Jesus Christ:  having triumphed at Calvary, calling to people to leave all and follow him.
Fellowship:  Ehud’s trumpet blast announced what he had done, and for the people to leave their sheepfolds, their earthly occupations, their fears and worries of Moab, to leave all–and come out in open fellowship with this mighty conqueror.  Christ’s victory, the reality of this type:  the victory only profits those who have been brought into fellowship with Him.

The Crusade of Victory:  Ehud’s leading the people, can be seen as a type of the progress and triumph of the Gospel.  Christ led His church, the New Testament church.  We are reminded of the essence of the Christian life:  to enter in experimentally, into what Christ has accomplished for us at Calvary.  Pentecost was their first taste of victorious service for Christ.  Then, in Acts 1:8, the apostles were given their commission:  in the conquest of Calvary.  They are going to conquer them (Jerusalem, Judea, the world) with the gospel.  He has gone into His Eglon, and come out victorious.  He’s the conqueror.  Those men could challenge the world, and conquer the world, and they did. 

Judges 3:27 describes the mountains of Ephraim; and the children of Israel went down with him from the mountains.  A spiritual application and type here also:  When God’s people spend time in the mount with their conqueror, then they come down with irresistible power.  

In the first part of Ehud’s story, he slayed Eglon.  Christ’s First Coming was in humiliation, largely unknown, unheralded.  In the second part of Ehud’s story, he blows the trumpet.  Here we have a picture of Christ’s Second Coming, with power, with hosts and armies of glory, and the blowing of the last trumpet. 

The full sermon is powerful, convicting, and well worth listening to.  Cairns brings home the importance of the Christian’s experience, the power of God for the Christian church, and the importance of serious prayer.  Cairns — again, very similar to Spurgeon’s sermons of optimism with reference to this age — noted that the church no longer had the vision of God’s word for His church, the vision had been lost — because of a peculiar notion of the Second Coming and millennial reign.  ‘Well, we can expect nothing too much in this day and age, and we’ve postponed all expectations until Christ’s victories until the millennium.'”  

Cairns considered the reason why we don’t see revival, but instead apostasy:  this is all an excuse for carnal laziness.  God had given a mandate to the apostles, and a message, and a promise of the mighty results that He would give.  

Nothing in scripture says that God has withdrawn the message, the mandate, or changed the promise.  A cloak in most cases, for our own carnality.  Cloaked in the respectable garments of theological language and theological excuses.  …. The Lord Jesus Christ is not coming back for a church in defeat, or a church in reverse-gear or a church that has only the memory and the theory of the power of the Holy Ghost.  He’s coming back for a church whose lamps are trimmed, whose witness is bright, whose experience of God is real, and whose knowledge of revival is intimate.  He has never changed that.

From our viewpoint today, over 30 years later and the apostasy of the professing church increasingly more apparent, I observe that, yes, God still has that message, mandate, and promise — and yet, clearly God has used that “carnal laziness” to bring about what He has purposed for the last of the last days, that this age would end in failure, in increasing apostasy– and not in revival.  Yes, God does have His people, who have real experience of God, the virgins whose lamps are trimmed.  But such will not be the characteristic of the majority, of the overall professing Church.  As God has also purposed and revealed in His word, the people at the Second Coming would be asleep (both the virgins with their lamps trimmed, as well as the others who did not have oil), and “when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”  (Luke 18:8

Amid his words about the trumpet, that call to challenge the world and to conquer this world for God, Cairns acknowledged that God is sovereign, and He does not promise that every day will be a Pentecost.  Along with mention of the 1850s Prayer Revival in the US, and emphasis on the importance of prayer, he related a story about a preacher in Romania (then behind the Iron Curtain) and their real persecution and hard suffering, and that man’s interaction with a Western-thinking evangelist.  The only places where revival occurs today, are places where people are poor, and where their lives are in danger.  It is not happening in the West, because of the carnality of God’s people at ease.

We are still in God’s good hands, in spite of this.  After all, in Revelation 5, it is the Lamb who opens the seals, it is He, the Lamb, who unfolds these terrible events.  We’re in the hand of our Savior.  The seven trumpet blasts in Revelation represent serious, solemn markers of God’s progressing purpose during the last of the last days, this last period before the return of Christ.  We look forward to the last trumpet, that time of deliverance from sin and bondage, and entering into the full enjoyment of that deliverance. 

Biblical eschatology must include Christ’s First coming.  Sensationalism comes from forgetting Christ’s First Coming and speculating about dates and ideas that are not even in the Bible–such as the notion of Russia being in the Bible (when it is not, the similar sounding word does not mean Russia), and since the US isn’t mentioned in the Bible it’s going to be blown to bits.  Here I also recall J.C. Ryle’s emphasis upon both “the cross and the crown.”

Some more great observations from this sermon, and the hope we have:

… those not premillennial, you don’t believe Christ will reign upon the earth.  I’m not too worried about it; you’re going to learn.  It won’t keep you from heaven, but will make life a little more difficult for you.  … the childish rubble they will come up with to try to deny that 1000 year reign of Christ.  He came, He conquered, He gives His church a mandate, a message, and a promise, and He’s coming back in mighty final glory.  Do you have that hope?  Has your soul ever been gripped with those things?

Bible Reading Highlights

June 15, 2010 Comments off

Reflection on selected passages from my recent Bible readings:

Psalms 105 and 106 are both longer psalms that recount the early history of Israel, from two different perspectives:

  • Psalm 105 looks at the good things of God’s faithfulness, His deliverance of Israel and His judgment on Egypt.
  • Psalm 106 recounts the same general historical time period but points to the many failings and unbelief of the people.

Psalm 107 makes for interesting reading on the same day as Mark 4; I especially noticed these verses:
Psalm 107: 29-30 —  He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed.   Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven.

Mark 4:39-40 features a literal “fulfillment” of these verses, the story of Jesus calming the storm.  Of course Psalm 107 is not intended to be prophetic, but it still is interesting to see how the psalmist describes a wonderful scene of God’s power over nature–and then the Messiah came and literally demonstrated that power to His disciples.

This time through Judges, I noticed Judges 6:2, which tells us that the people of Israel made the dens, the caves and strongholds in the mountains, because of the Midianites.  I’ve been listening to S. Lewis Johnson’s series through the life of David, and so this brief statement jumped out as I realized that all the caves and strongholds mentioned in 1 Samuel were not natural caves, but must have been the very structures built a few hundred years earlier in Gideon’s day.  It’s yet another interesting look at God’s providence, that the very caves built by the Israelites in their rebellion (during a time they were under enemy oppression, having disobeyed God) served greater purposes in the time of David and his men.

Lists 6 and 7, currently in Judges and Jeremiah, share the similar theme of Israel’s idolatry and their long history of Baal worship.  Jeremiah 10, among many such chapters in Jeremiah, has strong words concerning the Baals.  Judges 6 tells the situation in the day of Gideon, the early history of Baal worship, including the specific incident of Gideon destroying the Baal idol at his father’s home.

A few great verses out of Jeremiah:
Jeremiah 9:23-24:

Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, 24 but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”

and Jeremiah 10:11 — a verse to the nations, written in Aramaic, as an example of Jeremiah the prophet to the nations (reference back to Jeremiah 1):

Thus shall you say to them: “The gods who did not make the heavens and the earth shall perish from the earth and from under the heavens.”

Highlights From Recent Bible Readings

June 9, 2010 Comments off

Some highlights from recent readings through my modified Horner Bible Reading plan:

Joshua 24:32 closes the book of Joshua with a note about Joseph’s bones, brought up from Egypt and buried at Shechem.  The same day’s reading included the well-known chapter Hebrews 11 — which includes an interesting comment about Joseph’s bones in Hebrews 11:22:  “By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones.” Both of these verses recall the original incident; Hebrews 11 tells us that Joseph spoke of this by faith; Joshua 24:32 tells us that Joseph’s burial wish was carried out, as a way of confirming the truth of all that Joseph had spoken of:  the exodus, that his descendants would one day return to the land promised to Abraham and his family.  Joseph looked forward to the future day of resurrection, too, in his desire to be buried in that land, to be in that land when his body would one day be resurrected.

Genesis 18 (List 2) gives one example of that which is described in Hebrews 13:2 (List 3, same day’s readings):  “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.”

Lists 7 and 8 now feature Jeremiah and Revelation, and here I note that both men were prophets to the nations.  Jeremiah 1:10 gives Jeremiah’s commissioning:  “See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.”  Revelation 10:11, at the end of the vision of the mighty angel and the little scroll, tells John that he “must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, languages and kings.”  Both Jeremiah and John had a strong message of judgment to all who will not repent.

Mercy and Judgment:   Several recent readings deal with these contrasting attributes of God.  James 2, the chapter on faith with deeds, emphasizes the importance of showing mercy to one another, tells us that mercy triumphs over judgment (James 2:13), with the stern warning that judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful.

Several of my other readings for the day — Genesis 19, Judges 3 and 4, and Jeremiah 7 and 8 — show various aspects of God’s judgment and mercy.  Lest we focus solely on God’s judgment and forget His mercy, Genesis 19 tells the story of the deliverance of Lot from Sodom. Genesis 19:16 expresses that the Lord was merciful to Lot; the end of the chapter also tells us that the Lord rescued Lot from Sodom, for Abraham’s sake (v. 29): “So when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he remembered Abraham, and he brought Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the cities where Lot had lived.”

Judges 3 and 4 show the common pattern throughout this book, of the people disobeying the Lord, then judgment, followed by deliverance from the judgment.  Jeremiah 7 and 8 are in a section full of judgment, to remind us of the seriousness of sin — sin similar to the time of the Judges but now even worse, such that in Jeremiah 7 the Lord even tells Jeremiah not to pray for the people:  “So do not pray for this people nor offer any plea or petition for them; do not plead with me, for I will not listen to you.”

Psalm 104 is a wonderful psalm of praise to the creator God, expressing thanks to God for His wonders, for His care and concern for His creatures.

Gideon and Samson

March 25, 2010 Comments off

Currently I’m working through S. Lewis Johnson’s Old Testament topical characters: Gideon and now Samson. These are short series: 3 for the life of Gideon, and 4 for Samson, and so I’m almost through, with an 8-part series of the life of David, and a 7-part series on Elijah, coming up soon. Johnson did the two characters from Judges in a set, in 1978.

A few good nuggets of Bible teaching from these:

Judges chapters 6, 7 and 8 show different portrayals of Gideon: first the hesitant, more fearful Gideon; then Gideon the confident warrior; and then the Gideon that stumbled into sin. S. Lewis Johnson often asked the Gideons, of Gideon International, if they follow the Gideon of Judges 6, Judges 7, or Judges 8. Predictably, he usually would get a blank stare from them. Even though the Gideons (rightly so) emphasize Bible reading, they are not that aware of the specifics of these chapters.

Judges 8 is a painful reminder that, though we are secure in salvation, we are never secure from stumbling while in this body. Here, Johnson expands on the point with a few stories of great preachers, such as F.B. Meyer (preacher / commentator), who for a period of 9 years stumbled and failed to clearly preach the gospel. Yet we also know that Gideon is among the heroes of the faith listed in Hebrews 11. But like Lot, affirmed as a righteous man in the New Testament, Gideon’s stumbling brought about his own share of personal tragedy with his own family life — as evidenced in Judges 9, the generation after Gideon.

As a side note regarding Israel’s idolatry, a topic of Judges 8, S. Lewis Johnson makes an interesting point concerning Hosea 4:17 — which says “Ephraim is joined to idols; leave him alone!” Commentators often see that as God giving up and abandoning Ephraim, but SLJ notes the problem with that view, because later on in Hosea God clearly says that He has not abandoned them, and He promises to restore Ephraim (see Hosea 11:8-9, and chapters 13 and 14). We need to understand that Hosea is writing to Judea and telling Judea: Ephraim is full of idolatry, don’t have anything to do with them and their idolatry. Hosea 4:17 is a call to separation — separate from the ungodly and idolatrous. Here I recall that I have heard other preachers reference Hosea 4:17 in the popular manner (as in John MacArthur’s message, “When God Abandons a Nation”) and thus again the reminder to always search the scriptures; and listening to different preachers and their differing commentaries also helps.

… And from Samson’s story:

Samson’s mother shows great faith, as well as logical reasoning in women, with her statement in Judges 13:23, “If the Lord had meant to kill us, he would not have accepted a burnt offering and a grain offering at our hands, or shown us all these things, or now announced to us such things as these.” She likely had stronger faith and a closer relationship to the Lord than her husband had.

In Judges 14, Samson’s decision to marry a Philistine woman shows a clear violation of the law. Samson was clearly going against the explicit teaching of God’s word concerning intermarriage with unbelievers — and the application extends to us today in the New Testament . Several times Samson focuses on the woman being pleasing to him, showing that Samson’s priority is Samson, not God. Yet here we see the difference between God’s preceptive will — don’t marry unbelievers — and God’s decretive will, stated in verse 4: “His father and mother did not know that it was from the Lord, for he (the Lord) was seeking an opportunity against the Philistines.”

Bible Reading: Judges and 2 Chronicles

January 13, 2010 Comments off

I’m now reading from 8 different lists of Bible books:  Gospels (currently Mark 5), Pentateuch (Deuteronomy 9-10), Epistles (Ephesians 1-2), Wisdom (Proverbs 11-13), History (two lists: Judges and 2 Chronicles), Prophets (Isaiah 33-34), and Revelation 16.

In the current readings, one thing that strongly sticks out is the similarities between the times of the Judges and 2 Chronicles.  Both were less than honorable times in Israel’s history, the one before and the other after the great monarchy age.  The tendency to do whatever they wanted, their apostasy and idolatry, is plain throughout both books.  Another obvious similarity:  good rulers and the associated benefits to the people, followed by wicked rulers (in the Kings) or no clear rulers (in the Judges) and the resulting apostasy and evil consequences.  Both books describe great military exploits under godly rulers, and great failures when the people stray and/or have wicked rulers.  In Judges 9 (day 299), Gideon’s son Abimelech gets himself into enough power among his mother’s family, and then slays his 70 brothers.  In 2 Chroncles 21 (reading day 300), good king Jehoshaphat’s son, Jehoram, establishes his power and then kills all his brothers.  Both men later receive their just recompense for their wicked deeds.

My various bible readings have prompted further interest in bible study.  Of course, the studies (in the form of sermon series from good preachers such as S. Lewis Johnson) continue far after I’ve completed reading the book, at least until the next time through that particular list. Yet the study material is never too far away from where I am in the lists.  I’m now reading in Deuteronomy, but the “From Exodus to Canaan” series is now discussing Baalam’s prophecies in Numbers — not too far back in the readings.  I’m also listening to Johnson’s study through Acts, now up to Acts 12 — and soon enough I’ll be reading through Acts again.

I’m now considering a study through Judges, and after looking at a few possibilities, have settled on one from Believers Chapel (the church where S. Lewis Johnson preached), a series done by Dan Duncan.  He did 25 messages through the first 16 chapters of Judges.  I only wish he had completed the book, but if he did they do not have the recordings on the web site.  I’ve listened to the first one, an excellent introduction.