Samuel played a pivotal role in the transitional period between the Judges and the Kings of Israel. The times of the Judges spanned over 300 years from the death of Joshua to the coronation King Saul. “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Jgs. 21:25, NKJV). While that sounds good on the surface, if everyone does their own thing instead of God’s thing, chaos results. That era was defined by this sad cycle:
1. Apostasy: Israel backslid into idolatry.
2. Oppression: God allowed their enemies to invade, occupy and rule over them.
3. Repentance: Israel cried out to God in desperation.
4. Deliverance: God raised up deliverers (judges) to liberate them and lead revival.
As we recently celebrated Pentecost Sunday, we were reminded that God is still pouring out His Spirit as He did on the First Century Church. The term “Pentecost” is found three times in the Bible (Ac. 2:1, 20:16; 1 Cor. 16:8) and refers to a specific feast and holiday on the Jewish calendar. The word “Pentecost” means “fifty,” because it occurred 50 days after Passover. (Now it falls on the 7th Sunday after Easter.) To fully understand Pentecost, we must study God’s manifestation on Mt. Sinai (Ex. 19). Pentecost was a feast instituted by God to commemorate the giving of the Law. It’s also called the “feast of weeks” and “feast of harvest” (Ex. 23:14-16; Lev. 23:15-21; Dt. 16:9-12). The first Pentecost occurred when God consumed Mt. Sinai with fire and thundered His 10 Commandments to Israel. Incidentally, when God spoke to a man (Moses), He lit a bush on fire; when He spoke to a nation (Israel), He lit a mountain on fire! “For our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:29).Read More
Ruth and Esther are the two Bible books named after women. Benjamin Franklin was so fond of Ruth he pulled a prank on his cronies in Paris as the Ambassador to France. He often attended the “Infidel’s Club,” a group of intellectuals who read literary masterpieces but spurned the Bible. He told them he found a piece of ancient literature worthy of their consideration. Then he read them the Book of Ruth but changed the names and locations so they wouldn’t recognize it. When he finished, they raved that it was one of the most touching stories they’d ever heard and begged him to print it so the public could read it. He grinned and said, “It is already in print, it is a part of the Bible you ridicule.”
The Midianites invaded Israel like a swarm of grasshoppers. God let them oppress His backslidden people for seven years and chastise them for their chronic idolatry. The Israelites survived by hiding in caves during the invasion. The enemy swooped in at harvest time and destroyed their crops causing a dire food shortage. On the brink of starvation, Israel desperately cried out to God in repentance. Mercifully, He raised up an unlikely hero to deliver them—Gideon, God’s reluctant general. Hungry and scared, Gideon was hiding behind a wine press threshing wheat to gather enough grain to make bread. Suddenly, an angelic encounter rocked his world and launched him into spiritual leadership.Read More
Albert Einstein believed, “Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.” Some discount the book of Esther because none of God’s names appear in it. While His name is absent, His hand is present and clearly seen protecting His people. Esther shows how God sovereignly orchestrates events to serve His purpose. Imagine God as a master maestro conducting the orchestra of nations, world leaders and global events. Like pawns on His chessboard, He maneuvers them at will to fulfill His bidding. “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord . . . He turns it wherever He wishes” (Pr. 21:1, NKJV).