The angel of the Lord appears to Gideon

Judges 6:11-24 

Apostasy is a recurring theme in Judges 3-16. The Israelites consistently violate their covenant with Yahweh, embracing idolatry and immorality. They overlook – even celebrate – lying, cheating, stealing, deception, adultery, and murder. When the LORD brings down the hammer of retribution, the people cry out for relief from their divinely appointed tormentors. No doubt, these perilous times are the fulfillment of the covenant curses outlined in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28.

In the opening verses of Judges 6, we learn the Israelites have suffered for seven years under Midianite cruelty. The Midianites are a seminomadic people of the Sinai Peninsula and western Arabia. According to Genesis 25:2-4, they are distant relatives of the Israelites, being descended from Abraham by his second wife, Keturah. The relationship between the Israelites and Midianites is tenuous, to say the least.

For starters, Midianites play a role in the sale of Joseph to Egypt (Gen. 37:28, 36), although Joseph comes to see it as divine providence (Gen. 45:4-8; 50:19-20). Later, the Midianites provide Moses with a safe haven after he flees Pharaoh. What’s more, Moses takes the daughter of a Midianite priest as his wife (Exod. 2:15-22). God sends Moses back to Egypt from Midian (Exod. 3:1 – 4:23), and after the Israelites escape from Pharaoh, Moses leads them to Midianite soil, where they enter into a covenant relationship with Yahweh and receive the Torah (Exod. 19 – Num. 7). Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, even has a hand in Israel’s civic affairs (Exod. 18). 

But once the Israelites leave Sinai, their relationship with Midian begins to sour. Moses delivers a severe blow to the Midianites at the LORD’s command. He recruits a thousand warriors from each Israelite tribe and wages war with Midian, killing every male as well as the Midianites’ five kings. The Israelites also kill Balaam, the prophet for hire who had led them to intermarry with the Midianites. Moses also commands the people to plunder the livestock and property, burn down the cities, and kill every woman, sparing only the virgins, for the older women are the ones who actively participated in leading the Israelites astray (Num. 31:1-18). 

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Article IV-A of The Baptist Faith & Message 2000: Regeneration

Following is another in a series of posts on the Baptist Faith & Message 2000.

Regeneration is the work of the Holy Spirit that brings a sinner from spiritual death into spiritual life.

Article IV-A of The Baptist Faith & Message 2000 reads:

“Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God’s grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace.

“Repentance is a genuine turning from sin toward God. Faith is the acceptance of Jesus Christ and commitment of the entire personality to Him and Lord and Saviour.”

Regeneration is the work of the Holy Spirit that brings a sinner from spiritual death into spiritual life. While Christians may disagree about such issues as the relationship between regeneration and baptism, or whether regeneration precedes faith, it is biblically faithful for a follower of Jesus to say, “I am regenerated.”

While the Greek noun palingenesia appears only twice in the New Testament (Matt. 19:28; Tit. 3:5), the concept of regeneration, or new birth, is a consistent theme of Jesus and the New Testament writers. Jesus makes it clear that people must be “born again,” or “born of the Spirit,” if they are to see the kingdom of heaven (John 3:3, 5). 

The work of the Holy Spirit, making an individual a “new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15), prepares that person for the future work of Christ as he creates “new heavens and a new earth” (2 Pet. 3:13). All those the Spirit regenerates are assured a place with Christ when he refurbishes the cosmos, purging it completely of sin and its stain.

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The angel of the Lord in the time of the judges

The Book of Judges introduces us to Israel’s arduous struggle to maintain control of the Promised Land between the death of Joshua and the anointing of King Saul. While conquest of the land is relatively quick, settlement of the tribal territories proves challenging. There are pockets of strong resistance, and worldly allures, that lead many of the Israelites to adopt a policy of coexistence rather than total conquest.

A loose tribal confederacy emerges after Joshua’s death. The Spirit of God empowers various leaders, called judges, to deliver the people from their common enemies. For the Israelites, there are six cycles of sin, distress, and salvation, which form the core of the book structured around six major judges and six minor ones (3:7 – 16:31).

The Hebrew word for judge (shophet) is closely related to the verb shaphat (“to judge”), and also to mishpat(“justice”). Judges maintain justice and settle legal disputes. The term also may apply to governors, and in the Book of Judges we see God raise up special leaders who judge, administer, and deliver. The word shophet in Judges is used once in reference to the LORD (11:27), six times in reference to those who deliver Israel under God’s power or Spirit (2:18; 3:9-10; 13:25; 14:6, 19; 15:14), and seven times in relation to judges who serve as administrators (4:4; 12:8-9, 11, 13-14; 15:20). Throughout the Book of Judges, these Spirit-empowered leaders save the Israelites from their enemies as Yahweh judges their hearts and demonstrates divine grace. 

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Commander of the Lord’s Army

In the Book of Joshua, we find that Moses is dead, and the Lord has tapped Joshua as successor. The son of Nun is to lead the Israelites across the Jordan River and into the Promised Land. Yahweh assures Joshua that his covenant promises remain intact. No one is able to stand against Joshua because the Lord is with him, just as he was with Moses. Three times in the opening verses of the Book of Joshua, the Lord urges Joshua to be strong and courageous. The key to the new leader’s success is to carefully observe every instruction the Lord has given the people through Moses. “Do not be afraid or discouraged,” says Yahweh, “for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Josh. 1:9).

As Joshua prepares the people for their journey, he sends spies to Jericho. They come to the home of a prostitute, Rahab, who hides them from Jericho’s king and helps them escape. In return, the spies agree to spare Rahab and her family on the day the Israelites attack. Returning to camp, the spies report to Joshua, “The LORD has handed over the entire land to us. Everyone who lives in the land is also panicking because of us” (Josh. 2:24).

The Israelites advance to the banks of the Jordan River, where they stay for three days and receive instructions. Joshua sends Levitical priests, carrying the ark of the covenant, ahead of the people. When the priests reach the water’s edge, the Jordan River divides, and the entire nation crosses on dry ground. The Lord commands Joshua to build a memorial from stones taken from the river bed, one stone for each tribe. Finally, when Joshua calls the priests to come up out of the Jordan, the waters resume their normal course.

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Article IV of The Baptist Faith & Message 2000: Salvation

Salvation is God’s remedy for the sin that has ruined everything and alienated everyone from him.

Article IV of The Baptist Faith & Message 2000 reads:

“Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, who by His own blood obtained eternal redemption for the believer. In its broadest sense salvation includes regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification. There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.”

People use the words salvation and saved in a variety of settings, from sporting events to political campaigns to natural disasters. Even within Christian circles, there is disagreement as to what it means to be saved and how salvation is acquired. So, it’s critical for us to begin with a definition.

Stated simply, salvation is God’s remedy for the sin that has ruined everything and alienated everyone from him. The Lord reveals this remedy as soon as Adam and Eve rebel against him. He promises a future redeemer who crushes the head of Satan (Gen. 3:15). Then, he provides additional promises throughout the Old Testament, granting us more than 400 prophecies, appearances, or foreshadows of the Messiah. 

Jesus of Nazareth bursts onto the scene at just the right time (Gal. 4:4). He lives a sinless life and dies on a Roman cross, taking upon himself our sins and paying the penalty of death for them (2 Cor. 5:21). Then, he rises physically from the dead on the third day, conquering Satan, sin, and death, and freely offering forgiveness of sins and everlasting life by grace through faith in him. 

Before ascending into heaven, Jesus promises to return one day to fulfill all things – that  is, to complete his work of salvation, judge every person, and set everything right. 

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