The Thief Comes …

Photo by Marlon Alves:

When we left Judges chapter 9 we saw the false judge Abimelech (the concubine son of Gideon or Jerubbaal) ruled (not judged, but ruled) over Israel for three years. God allowed Abimelech to slaughter all but one of the other sons of Gideon (Jotham) to set up his kingdom. After three years, everything fell apart. The men of Shechem who conspired with Abimelech to do evil were utterly destroyed, and Abimelech himself died when a woman dropped a millstone on his head (Judges 9:53; 2 Samuel 11:21). This reminded me of what Jesus said:

Mark 9:42 And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.

Something interesting happens between chapters 9 and 10. The general pattern of the Book of Judges that we have seen so far is…

Israel rebels against God
God disciplines Israel with an unbelieving nation
Israel repents
God raises up a Judge to restore Israel

Failure To Repent And Pursuit Of Sin
Brings Hardening Of The Conscience

This pattern is disrupted in chapter 10. As we enter this chapter 10, we see two judges in the first FIVE verses of chapter 10:

Judges 10:1-2 And after Abimelech there arose to defend Israel Tola the son of Puah, the son of Dodo, a man of Issachar; and he dwelt in Shamir in mount Ephraim. 2 And he judged Israel twenty and three years, and died, and was buried in Shamir.

This is already different. Up to this point only Shamgar was so little spoken of (Judges 3:31) – and Shamgar is shown to have killed 600 Philistines with an ox goad (a pointy stick). Every judge that God raised up, the Lord did so when Israel repented of their sin.

Judges 2:16 … “the Lord raised UP Judges, who saved them out of the hand of those who plundered them

What is missing with the next two judges – Tola and Jair – is that Israel never repents.
Israel is suffering hardness of the heart.

The Bible repeatedly warns us of the dangers of sin. The Bible tells us that …

1 John 1:9 (ESV) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.God is always faithful (1 Corinthians 1:9). He will forgive. The problem with sin is that – every time we sin – we scar our souls. The Bible calls this a seared conscience” (1 Timothy 4:2). The conscience of a person can become desensitized to sin, and to the call and reality of God. Israel did not repent after Abimelech, yet God in His Grace allowed Tola to become a partial judge of Israel. The Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary notes:

Tola arose after Abimelech’s death to deliver Israel, and judged Israel twenty-three years until his death, though certainly not all the Israelites of the twelve tribes, but only the northern and possibly also the eastern tribes, to the exclusion of Judah, Simeon, and Benjamin, as these southern tribes neither took part in Gideon’s war of freedom nor stood under Abimelech’s rule.”

Tola’s reign was provisional, and did not effect all of Israel, only part of the nation. Tola was from the Tribe of Issachar (see Genesis 46:13; Numbers 26:23). We do not know much about Tola, other than his name means “scarlet worm” (tola’ath). The crimson or scarlet worm (scientific name: coccus ilicis or kermes ilicis) was used in Biblical times when the red dye the worm excretes is extracted, and used to stain the High Priest’s robe and the covering of the tabernacle. The Crimson Worm is seen in Psalms 22:6 as a Prophecy of the first coming of Jesus Christ. Like the Crimson Worm, Jesus was crushed to dye our robes crimson and white before God. Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18). While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us(Romans 5:8). Though Israel did not repent, God sent a Savior for His people. Because they were so hardened by sin, God could do little for them. So this judge did little – but it was not his fault. Under Tola, Israel had peacetwenty and three years, and died, and was buried in Shamir. Normally after the death of a judge, we would see Israel returning to sin. But we do not see this because Israel never left sin. For 23 years they lived in their sins apart from God.

How horrible when we drift from God! Jesus said:

John 10:10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

I have heard various preachers talk about the “thief” as Satan. I don’t think Satan is the thief. Satan steals nothing without our permission. The “THIEF” Jesus spoke of and personalized is unconquered SIN.

Tola is symbolic of the undeserved Grace of God. Tola lived in and died in Shamir, which means “a thornbush”. Jesus came to this sinful world – lived and died here – to save us from our sins.

Because Israel would not repent, only portions of Israel were saved. Because Israel loved her sin more than her Savior, confusion abounded. I believe this is the state of America today. God in Grace is offering this nation salvation, but we love our sin and have hardened our hearts. We need to turn to our Tola, our Jesus in repentance.

The Hardened Hearts Of Israel Lead To Jair,
The Compromising Judge

Judges 10:3-5 And after him arose Jair, a Gileadite, and judged Israel twenty and two years. 4 And he had thirty sons that rode on thirty ass colts, and they had thirty cities, which are called Havothjair unto this day, which are in the land of Gilead. 5 And Jair died, and was buried in Camon.

The name Jair (yā’îr) means “He Enlightens”. Jair was the “Progressive Judge”. Again we don’t see much mentioned about him, but we know he had thirty sons. Jair or “He Who Enlightens” was probably polygamous, a man who had many wives. He compromised with the fallen world around him. God tells His people:

2 Corinthians 6:16-18 … And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

God’s people are to live for God, not for themselves. Jair succumbed to the spirit of his age, the characteristic sexual sinfulness of his people. We also read that he had thirty sons that rode on thirty ass colts. The words ass colts is the Hebrew ʿayir, which means “a male donkey”. At this time in history the average Israelite had no horses or donkeys. The Keil and Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary notes that “Only the wealthy and prominent in Israel rode on donkeys at that time”. Jair and his family were very wealthy. They literally owned cities. We are told:

they had thirty cities, which are called Havothjair

Their cities were called Havothjair, literally “cities of enlightenment”. The Soniclight Commentary notes:

We see, in this brief record of Jair’s life, continuing tendencies in Israel toward the lifestyle of the surrounding pagan nations, and away from fidelity to Yahweh and His Law. “In Jair’s story I can see three things: (1) prosperity without purpose; (2) affluence without influence; (3) prestige without power” (J. Vernon McGee).”

Neither Tola nor Jair corrected any of the problems that Israel was having. Only one Judge can fix the human heart, and this Judge is God. God blessed Israel for a total of 45 years while He waited on His people to genuinely repent. What did Jair’s leadership do for Israel?

Judges 10:6 And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the Lord, and served Baalim, and Ashtaroth, and the gods of Syria, and the gods of Zidon, and the gods of Moab, and the gods of the children of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines, and forsook the Lord, and served not him.

Israel entered into a seven-fold apostasy. They served seven types of false gods and goddesses.

Why did Israel turn from the Living God to serve these false gods? Because of compromise. The compromise of faith is a very subtle thing. If the devil cannot keep you from Jesus, he will do what he can to blend your faith in Jesus with the world. I’ve seen young people wearing t-shirts that say:

Jesus is Dope, and
God is Dope

“Dope” is an illicit, habit forming or narcotic drug. The young people say that the slang “Dope” means “cool, awesome, or great”. So they are saying “Jesus is great”. But “Dope” is not great. “Dope” destroys lives. “Dope” addicts and drags downward. Opium addicts were first called “Dopes” because they ingested the syrupy drug. Race horses that are “doped” win or lose races based on the type of drug given them. When you call someone a “Dope”, it means they are “foolish or stupid”. Jesus is NOT Dope. Jesus is Lord. God is NOT Dope. God is the King of Kings. God is our Creator, and calls us to salvation so that He might be our Father.

When the faith of God is blended with the world, what comes out is not Christianity but some evil counterfeit.

God tells us to make a choice. We can follow Him, or follow the world. The Scripture says:

1 Corinthians 10:21 Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils.

God was not please with Israel’s sevenfold apostasy. We read:

Judges 10:7-9 And the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and {God} sold them into the hands of the Philistines, and into the hands of the children of Ammon. 8 And that year they vexed and oppressed the children of Israel: eighteen years, all the children of Israel that were on the other side Jordan in the land of the Amorites, which is in Gilead. 9 Moreover the children of Ammon passed over Jordan to fight also against Judah, and against Benjamin, and against the house of Ephraim; so that Israel was sore distressed.

anger of the Lord was hot. The word translated hot is the Hebrew chârâh, which means “to flame up, to be incensed, to be kindled”. Israel threw seven logs on the fire of God’s glory – and God consumed them! We are told that {God} sold them into the hands of the Philistines, and into the hands of the children of Ammon. That phrase {God} sold them emphasizes to us that – if God has saved you, God owns you. Let me say that again:

If God Has SAVED You, God OWNS You,
And You’d Better Follow Him!

The Scripture declares:

Psalm 24:1–2 The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers.

The Bible tells us in GOD’S HAND IS THE SOUL OF EVERY LIVING THING, and the breath of all mankind” (Job 12:10). It tells us that our BODIES are the TEMPLE OF GOD’S SPIRIT Who is in us … and WE DO NOT BELONG TO OURSELVES” (1 Corinthians 6:19). The wonder author C.S. Lewis wrote:

Every faculty you have, your power of thinking or of moving your limbs from moment to moment, is given you by God.”

Because Israel rejected God, God “sold them” (for they belong to Him) into the hands of the Ammonites and the Philistines. This is what has happened in America today. The devil has taught us to “you do you”, and so God has stepped back and allowed us to be “sold” into misery and foolishness. We as a nation are like Israel was – we are sore distressed, that is “greatly distressed and suffering”.

Judges 10:10-13 And the children of Israel cried unto the Lord, saying, We have sinned against thee, both because we have forsaken our God, and also served Baalim. 11 And the Lord said unto the children of Israel, Did not I deliver you from the Egyptians, and from the Amorites, from the children of Ammon, and from the Philistines? 12 The Zidonians also, and the Amalekites, and the Maonites, did oppress you; and ye cried to me, and I delivered you out of their hand. 13 Yet ye have forsaken me, and served other gods: wherefore I will deliver you no more.

After the 7th Judge (Jair) Israel entered 7 forms of apostasy against God. As they are suffering under Philistia and Ammon they cry out to God for relief. But here’s the thing. God sees our hearts. Israel has not genuinely repented of their sin, but are asking God to take away the suffering. In all the other instances when Israel repented, God was not angry with them … but now He is. They are playing God like He’s a patsy – a Divine Patsy – and He is not pleased. We can see Israel’s false confession and repentance in what they say:

Judges 10:10 We have sinned against thee, both because we have forsaken our God, and also served Baalim.

Israel confessed that they served the Baals” (see verse 6. BAALIM is the plural of Baal). They served MORE than the BAALIM. They served ASHTEROTH, as well as the gods of Syria (Astarte or Athtart) the gods of Sidon (Melquat), the gods of Moab (Chemosh and Milcom), the gods of the sons of Ammon (Molech), the gods of the Philistines (Dagon the fish god). Israel confessed ONE god, but were following seven abominations.

God delivered Israel out of the hands of the seven nations that created these false gods – and Israel was worshiping them and would not repent!

This is why God told Israel ye have forsaken Me, and served other gods: wherefore I will deliver you no more. They were not serving just Baalim – and they had not repented. God will not forgive an excuse nor a lie. God told His people:

Judges 10:14 Go and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your tribulation.

God allowed Israel to experience the sickness of their sin. He told them, “go and cry out to the gods that you have chosen over Me – call on them to save you”. The Enduring Word Commentary notes:

One technique used to help people stop smoking is to put them in a small, unventilated room and make them smoke for hours on end, until they can hardly bear it. It makes them sick of smoking and makes them truly want to stop. In the same way, sometimes God will allow the natural consequences of our sin to crash upon us in concentrated form, so we can become sick of our sin.”

God did not hate Israel, no more than a moral parent who punishes their child hates the child. God hated punishing Israel, but knew that failure to punish would cause them to follow ever darker paths. Israel suffered under the hands of the Ammonites and Philistines until they sincerely repented.

Judges 10:15-16 And the children of Israel said unto the Lord, We have sinned: do thou unto us whatsoever seemeth good unto thee; deliver us only, we pray thee, this day. 16 And they put away the strange gods from among them, and served the Lord: and his soul was grieved for the misery of Israel.

What does genuine repentance look like? First, there is confession of sin. Israel said, We have sinned. The Bible says:

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

The word confess is a Greek compound metanoeo, which means “to say the same thing about”. When we come to God and say, “Yes Lord, what I did WAS A SIN”, then God is free to forgive us our sin. Israel did not qualify their remark, nor did they maker an excuse. They just said, “Lord, We’ve SINNED”.

Secondly, Israel submitted to the goodness of God. They said, do thou unto us whatsoever seemeth good unto thee. Lord, I deserve a whipping. I’ll take whatever punishment You want me to have. I just want to be back in fellowship with You! The Bible promises:

Isaiah 55:6-7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

Repentance is to stop walking YOUR way, and walking WITH God in HIS way. Ty Gooch, the Senior Pastor of Fellowship Life Bible Church (Greater Chicago) notes:

Christians who have genuinely repented seek to live in the light (1 John 1:5–7) and to avoid ungodliness because repentance requires not only forsaking sin but also putting on Christ (Romans 13:14). It demands that we turn away from debauchery and turning toward God by putting on Christ (Colossians 3:1–17). Practically, putting on Christ involves serving the Lord and others, and studying God’s Word. Putting in Christ means increasing fellowship, singing, praying, and setting our mind on the things above—primarily through fellowship in our local church. This process will take time, and we’ll continue to make missteps. But when God brings someone to repentance, the fruit will be evident over time (Luke 6:43–45).”

When Israel falsely repented God said I will deliver you no more” (Judges 10:13). But once Israel put away the strange gods from among them, and served the Lord, what did God do? The Bible says:

Judges 10:16 his soul was grieved for
the misery of Israel

The Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary notes:

Jehovah could no longer look down upon the misery of Israel; He was obliged to help. The change in the purpose of God does not imply any changeableness in the divine nature; it simply concerns the attitude of God towards His people, or the manifestation of the divine love to man. In order to bend the sinner at all, the love of God must withdraw its helping hand and make men feel the consequences of their sin and rebelliousness, that they may forsake their evil ways and turn to the Lord their God. When this end has been attained, the same divine love manifests itself as pitying and helping grace. Punishments and benefits flow from the love of God, and have for their object the happiness and well-being of men.”

Israel turned away from the thief of their sin nature, and put away their false gods to serve the Living God. The love of God will NEVER bless sin – EVER. What He has said is evil, will always be evil. What God has declared is GOOD will always be GOOD. You cannot blend evil into Christianity and still call it Christianity. What does the Scripture say?

1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

God did not save us so we can walk with the thief of sin. He saved us from our sins so that we can walk in the Light with Him, both now and forever more. As Israel has repented and begun to serve God, they come together to do battle with the Ammonites.

Judges 10:17-18 Then the children of Ammon were gathered together, and encamped in Gilead. And the children of Israel assembled themselves together, and encamped in Mizpeh. 18 And the people and princes of Gilead said one to another, What man is he that will begin to fight against the children of Ammon? he shall be head over all the inhabitants of Gilead.

Upon their repentance (Then) God acted, and gathered together. The Enduring Word Commentary notes:

God’s pattern for doing great works among His people is to raise up a man. He could do the work all by Himself; He could send angels to do the work for Him; He could use a leaderless mob or a committee. Yet God’s normal means of operating is to raise up a man, and through that man to do a great work. God uses leaders.”

God will raise up a judge called Jephthah to deliver Israel from their enemies. We’ll study him next week. May God bless you all as you grow in Him. Amen and Amen.

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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