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Judging Righteously in the Appointed Time

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For Our Admonition Part 19

“Judging Righteously in the Appointed Time”

Key Verses:  Judges 8:1 – 8:9

We now enter the eighth chapter of the Book of Judges which continues with the life and events of Gideon and the host (army) of Israel.  To recap, the Midianites were routed by Gideon’s 300-man army (FOA Part 18).  Gideon then calls the men of Ephraim to come help clean up the remaining remnant.  It is then when the two princes of the Midianites are hunted down and beheaded.  We saw that prince Oreb means raven and symbolizes carnal/false doctrines that keep us in bondage and prince Zeeb means wolf symbolizes our ravenous beast in our natural state.  Until the mindset is cutoff (beheaded), we remain under the oppression of those two princes.  Yet the challenge with the Midianites is more involved as there remain two kings to be destroyed.

Jdg 8:1  Now the men of Ephraim said to him (Gideon), “Why have you done this to us by not calling us when you went to fight with the Midianites?” And they reprimanded him (Gideon) sharply. 

Jdg 8:2  So he (Gideon) said to them, “What have I done now in comparison with you? Is not the gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim better than the vintage of Abiezer? 

Jdg 8:3  God has delivered into your hands the princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb. And what was I able to do in comparison with you?” Then their anger toward him (Gideon) subsided when he said that. 

We are all being remade by the Lord according to His timeline and plan declared from the very beginning (Isa 46:10, Psa 139:16).  This Midianite marring causes us to readily err from the commands and is all by God’s design (Jer 18:4, Rom 8:20, Isa 63:17).  This gives the Lord the opportunity to use His devised devise (grace) to teach us the right way.

Jer 18:11  Now therefore go to, speak to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I frame evil against you, and devise a device against you: return ye now everyone from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good. 

Tit 2:11  For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,

Tit 2:12  Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 

We cannot cleanse the land of Midianites or any enemy in and by ourselves.  It takes the whole of the Israel of God, the saviours of Oba 1:21 and the judges over all the tribes (Mat 19:28) to be saved and delivered.  Every part of The Christ (the Israel of God) all have roles and commandments to do these greater works and save one another.

Gal 5:13  For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. 

Gal 5:14  For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

But carnal men don’t get to God’s high standards, it takes many admonishments to have the Midianite mindset destroyed within us and to learn to act righteously.

Gal 5:15  But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.

Our chapter 8 verses begin with the Ephraimites, a type for the elect contending with Gideon because they were not one of the four tribes (Jdg 6:35) called for use in the initial battle and were only brought in to mop up the remnant.  This is the consummate Midianite spirit within all of us.  Such a spirit and mindset are not content and wants an exalted and preeminent place in the congregation.  This story is not the first or last time there is going to be conflict jealousy between the tribes of Israel.  We see the same Ephraimites later also being jealous of the conquests of the descendants of Gideon (aka Jerubbabel).

Jdg 12:1  Then the men of Ephraim gathered together, crossed over toward Zaphon, and said to Jephthah, “Why did you cross over to fight against the people of Ammon, and did not call us to go with you? We will burn your house down on you with fire!”

The Ephraimites that act this way against their brethren is you and me in our own discontentment with our role and place in Israel.  Godliness with contentment with all things, including where the Lord has us is great gain.  Christ commands us in His parables to take the lowest seat, be thankful and wait on Him to pull us into greater pursuits.

Luk 14:8  NKJV “When you are invited by anyone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in the best place, lest one more honorable than you be invited by him;

Luk 14:9  and he who invited you and him come and say to you, ‘Give place to this man,’ and then you begin with shame to take the lowest place.

Luk 14:10  But when you are invited, go and sit down in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, go up higher.’ Then you will have glory in the presence of those who sit at the table with you.

When this kind of activity is playing out among the Israelites it is no surprise that the Midianite kings are still alive and well within us because the Midianites are the origins and strongholds of any envying and striving spirit.

1Co 3:3  For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?

We can spout the truth of no eternal hell, no free will all the time but as soon as we are criticizing or complaining about the role of another versus ourselves, we have been overrun by a king of the Midianites.

Jas 3:13  Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.

Jas 3:14  But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.

Jas 3:15  This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.

Jas 3:16  For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.

Jas 3:17  But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.

This battle with the Midianites, our carnal mindset, is pervasive and an ever-present danger we need to be always vigilant about.  We see many admonishments to the elect (the one and only true Church) in the Scriptures about these spirits and the bondage they bring us into.  These grievous errors are to be rebuked sharply within ourselves and when we see a brother or sister err in this regard.  It’s the same main message the stories of Cain, Balaam and Korah are teaching us (1Co 10:11).

Jud 1:11  Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.

Jud 1:12  These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots;

Jud 1:13  raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.

Jud 1:16  These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage.

These defiling thoughts of carnal unbelief will cause us to return to the vomit of the world which we have left (2Pe 2:20-22) if we are not careful to take captive these spirits.

The “mighty man of valor” in the making, judge Gideon, responds by telling the Ephraimites not to compare themselves with others.  Ephraim was told not to compare the vintages with the men of Abiezer.  Grapes and vintages refer to wine and spiritually our wine relates to our experiences, what we are drinking which is our own walk of faith.  The fact was there being no minor roles in a living thriving organism called the Body of Christ.  All parts matter and are crucial to good health of Israel.

1Co 12:18  But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.

1Co 12:19  And if they were all one member, where would the body be?

1Co 12:20  But now indeed there are many members, yet one body.

Gideon reminds Ephraim of their critical role in slaying the Midianite princes.  Walking by faith is believing that the Lord knows what He is doing in putting Israel together.

2Co 10:12  For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.

2Co 10:13  But we will not boast of things without our measure, but according to the measure of the rule which God hath distributed to us, a measure to reach even unto you.

The war against the Midianites is an Israel wide fight.  We cannot succeed cut off from the living Christ (1Co 12:12).  It is commanded (our duty) to be a living sacrifice and provide our reasonable “divine” service (Rom 12:1) to help our brother and sisters fight this fight of faith.  Judgment is now on the House of God (1Pe 4:17) and its imposition is done in part by the Gideon’s (judges of all mankind) that have been raised up and put into this little flock.  That judgment is done righteously according to the Lord’s commandments and not according to the flesh and the Midianite mindset.

Joh 7:24  Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.

It is a Midianite lying spirit that twists the Word of God and denies bringing correction within or without ourselves when such correction is warranted.  Judgment is a good thing, the process that is redeeming us (Exo 6:6, Isa 1:27).  We must be judging always but it is to be done with much introspection of our own motive, delivered with gentleness (Gal 6:1) and without malice (Matthew 18) in seeking restoration of our brother or sister.

Mat 7:2  For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

Mat 7:3  And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

Mat 7:4  Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?

Mat 7:5  Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

Those that make the first resurrection will be able watchmen having learned to judge righteously knowing such acts as the love of God in action.

Jas 5:19  Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him;

Jas 5:20  Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

The opportunities for our learning continue as we move on in the Midianite story and see some erring from the narrow way and some necessary judgment delivered.

Jdg 8:4  And Gideon came to Jordan, and passed over, he, and the three hundred men that were with him, faint, yet pursuing them. 

Jdg 8:5  And he said unto the men of Succoth, Give, I pray you, loaves of bread unto the people that follow me; for they be faint, and I am pursuing after Zebah and Zalmunna, kings of Midian. 

Jdg 8:6  And the princes of Succoth said, Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna now in thine hand, that we should give bread unto thine army? 

Jdg 8:7  And Gideon said, Therefore when the LORD hath delivered Zebah and Zalmunna into mine hand, then I will tear your flesh with the thorns of the wilderness and with briers. 

Jdg 8:8  And he went up thence to Penuel, and spake unto them likewise: and the men of Penuel answered him as the men of Succoth had answered him. 

Jdg 8:9  And he spake also unto the men of Penuel, saying, When I come again in peace, I will break down this tower. 

The 300 chosen few which did the heavy lifting in routing the huge Midianite army are tired and hungry.  There are two places, Succoth and Penuel, where the people refused to serve Gideon’s men and provide them food and rest.  These two places are within the Kingdom of God within us and represent carnal strongholds that defile the land and keep us from the perfect peace of Christ.  It is in these two places where the influence of King Zebah and Zalmunna is discovered as Gideon deals with the weak in the faith.

Zebah [H2078] comes from H2077 which means a slaughter and as used the “sacrifice” of an animal’s flesh.  This king, like all carnal kings, is our self-righteousness of the law where we demand of ourselves and others act to change themselves not knowing or ignoring the truth of Gal 2:16.

Gal 2:16  Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith

We know these truths, but it is in the doing where the challenge and striving comes in and we all fail miserably the complete number (seven) times needed to teach us true righteousness.  Zabah is our outward sacrifice at the expense of inward obedience.  This is the curse of the old man who is ultimately rejected and cut off from Israel.

1Sa 15:22  And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.

1Sa 15:23  For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.

The true sacrifices the Lord desires is our obedience.  This requires seeing ourselves in need of a Saviour to call us to godly repentance.

Mat 9:11  And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?

Mat 9:12  But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.

Mat 9:13  But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Zalmunna [H6759]  is the other king.  Zalmunna comes from H6738 meaning “shadow” and H4513 meaning “withhold” which Strong says means “shade has been denied”.  BDB defines it as “deprived of protection”.  Either way, denying shade or protection is what we are doing when we cling to the law for the lawless in our thoughts and actions.  Zalmunna is our self-righteous Pharisee that withholds the covering and shade that is found only through Christ.  Here is Christ speaking about this heathen king mindset within us.

Mat 23:5  But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,

Mat 23:6  And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues …..

Mat 23:13  But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.

These carnal kings, who are really one king (the dream is one), occupy all men and the house of God until the Lord sends Gideon (Christ in you) to take them away as stubble.

Psa 83:11  Make their nobles like Oreb, and like Zeeb: yea, all their princes as Zebah, and as Zalmunna:

Psa 83:12  Who said, Let us take to ourselves the houses of God in possession.

Psa 83:13  O my God, make them like a wheel; as the stubble before the wind.

Succoth and Penuel (Peniel): 

Men of Succoth symbolize brethren who have just left Egypt and begin the wrestling process with the Lord as the story of Jacob portrays in first establishing Succoth (Gen 33:17).  Men of Succoth are the newest of the babes, fresh out of Egypt with a mixed multitude mindset.

Exo 12:37  And the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on foot that were men, beside children.

Exo 12:38  And a mixed multitude (our carnal emotions) went up also with them; and flocks, and herds, even very much cattle.

Penuel means face of God. Moses saw the face of God but was not given to enter into the Kingdom of God and possess it (the promised land).

Deu 34:10  And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face,

Like Succoth, Penuel, typifies our immature and yet carnal mindset that is not given to enter into the Kingdom of heaven.

Mat 11:11  Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

Spiritually speaking, we, as warriors for the Lord all get tired because our flesh is weak (Zec 4:6) and we only have an earnest deposit of the fullness of the Spirit (Eph 1:14).  When we are tired and hungry, food was needed and requested.  We are not speaking about physical food because the words in these verses like all Scripture are principally speaking about what is, was and will be happing in the Spirit.

Joh 6:63  It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

Without eating our physical bodies will grow weak and cannot fight off disease and other enemies.  It is the same in the spiritual (Rom 1:20).  We need constant strengthening through nourishment to be healthy and remain viable in the fight of faith.  Abiding in the Word and especially our obedience to the Word is how we mature and remain healthy spiritually, provoking and being provoked into the love of God.

Heb 10:24  And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:

Heb 10:25  Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

The Christ speaks the Word (Jer 5:14) and it is our hearkening to that Voice and then doing the right things that heal us of all our spiritual diseases.

Exo 15:26  And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee.

Without such interaction and abiding together we grow weary and will not have the opportunities to do good “especially” to the Household of faith  (Gal 6:9-10).

Act 20:35  I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive. 

We are purposefully put into a living spiritual Body where one part can help the other and supply just what is needed when it is needed.  We see that even in the OT shadows.

Exo 17:11  And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek (flesh) prevailed.

Exo 17:12  But Moses’ hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.

Helping others and sharing our gifts, whatever they may be, is a command to God’s people.

1Co 9:4  Do we have no right to eat and drink?

1Co 9:7  Who ever goes to war at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its fruit? Or who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk of the flock?

1Co 9:11  If we have sown spiritual things for you (Fighting the Midianites with Truth), is it a great thing if we reap your material things?

This interplay with the Succothites on top of the Ephraimites are further examples that we are one another’s lake of fire and here to help sharpen and shape one another by the process of judgment that is maturing us on the Lord’s timetable.

Pro 27:17  Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.

1Co 11:31  For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.

1Co 11:32  But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.

The men of Succoth criticize Gideon’s army because the Midianite kings are not yet captured, and they only agree to feed the men once that is done.  This immature judgment is us judging ourselves and our brethren in the flesh.  The Lord is in charge and our deliverance and overcoming comes on His timeline not on ours.

Job 14:4  Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one.

Job 14:5  Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass;

The weak in the faith, the Succothites, will naturally judge the more mature (Gideon’s army) and the strong will look down upon the weak and immature.  But this is not how the household of God (Israel) is to conduct itself in bringing judgment to the nations within and without ourselves.

Rom 14:1  Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.

Rom 14:2  For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs.

Rom 14:3  Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him.

Rom 14:4  Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.

Gideon answers both camps rejection of his petition to feed his men.  Gideon has grown mightily from unbelief to fear and now boldness in his answer to Succoth and Penuel.  The word for tear [H1758] is really the word “thresh” and “trodden”.   Gideon, as a type of Christ, returns in the appointed time and thresh the land of Succoth and bring in the Lord’s harvest.  Gideon and all the elect are the threshers, the judges of all men in the appointed time who bring salvation by the Word that is judging us now.

Mat 3:12  NKJV His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

Our first witness for Christ bears many lies and falsehoods that are burned up when Christ through Gideon returns to bring judgment.

Heb 6:7  For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God;

Heb 6:8  but if it bears thorns and briers, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned.

The fact is the Succothites and those of Penuel had no usable food for Gideon’s army.  They represent the beginnings of our walking with God where we are yet incapable of feeding ourselves much less the army of Christ.  In outward Babylon, we are ruled over by carnal babes (Isa 3:4).  It is in spiritual Babylon we are ruled over by our carnal mindset (babes).  Gideon warring in the land is bringing us out of that mindset (Rev 18:4) where we will obedient to the commands to not entertain such leavened bread.

1Co 5:11  But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.

We are taught in judgment to try the spirits and test the doctrines we take into our spiritually minds and hearts (1Joh 4:1).  It is by doing so that we overcome.

1Jn 4:4  You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

1Jn 4:5  They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them.

Gideon does not contend with the rebellious Succothites and Penuelites.  He leaves them be.  But as Christ tells us when we first reject Him, we will see Him (Gideon) again when judgment time is come.

Luk 13:35  Behold, your house is left unto you desolate: and verily I say unto you, Ye shall not see me, until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.

1Co 4:5  Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God.

Christ is true to His Word and Gideon, as a type of Christ, does return to Succoth and Penuel and does exactly what was prophesied.  We will see that judgment next week which will also be the event that slays these two Midianite kings.

Questions and comments are always welcome.  You can also email me directly at peterjwilson56@gmail.com