[Author's Note: In the period of the Judges, there was a conflict for theCANAAN Approx. 1200 BC
very Soul of Israel. The false gods of Canaan were sensual, earthy,
indulgent, tempting, while the Lord God of Israel was none of these
things and indeed, the exact opposite. In this Edition, an aging Shamgar,
the third 'Judge' of Israel, is firing up his countrymen. His descriptions
of the evil they were doing, while historically accurate, may be a
little intense for some more sensitive readers.]
I am Shamgar. Some know me as a Tribal Chieftain, a Judge if you will. Yes I took a cattle prod, the famous 'oxgoad' and slew hundreds of Philistine soldiers. But I didn't stop to count them, some say it was a thousand, some less. I'll let history be the judge of that. My name means 'Stranger' in our language, which is what I am. I am a farmer by trade, I was not a reader of the Law, I did not sit with the elders, my family was unimportant, as was my tribe. Until the very Hand of the Lord God touched me and gave me the strength of body and mind to deliver His people yet again from their enemies and oppressors.
"You have given yourselves to the strange gods of this land! You have grown used to being at ease with the people of this land. Giving your daughters to them, taking theirs. Eating with them on their days devoted to their gods. You wallow in the sexual immorality of their rituals to their goddesses of fertility, to their gods of the sun and moon. Then you come to me and cry unto my God how sorry you are! You Make Me SICK! And even moreso... You Make GOD ALMIGHTY Sick! He will spit you out of his mouth!"
I'm getting too old for this kind of thing. I long to go to my rest. There is so much wrong with my people and my land again. Even the roads are unsafe again. The bandits and other enemies of the people know the people are sliding back into wickedness and they prey on them like the wolves of the hills on our sheep. False teachers wander through the villages talking about Anath, a false goddess they try to link to the Lord God, saying HE is her consort, this is nothing but the work of the deceiver. But many listen, and some even speak her name in meetings on the Sabbath. And what is worse, many times the priests do not rebuke them.
"JUDGEMENT sits again at the gate! The Wrath of GOD is Great! When He sees HIS children sacrifice Their Children on the altar of the horned god only His LOVE stays His Hand from JUDGEMENT! But even the LOVE OF GOD has its limit when faced with your blatant disregard for What YOU know is RIGHT! You have FAILED GOD through your Compromises to make yourselves more comfortable with those you SHOULD have destroyed!"
My rage against them gave strength to my failing legs. I stood leaning on my stick, shaking my fist at them. I could see many things in their eyes. Since the LORD'S SPIRIT had come upon me I could see the hearts of men in their eyes. Some believed, and fell to their faces in repentance and sorrow. Others thought my words were simply the ravings of a man whose mind had been taken by age. There were even some Canaanites in the crowd, they seemed to take what I said more to heart than some of my own people.
"You know the POWER of GOD. How He raises the Least to be the Greatest. How He often allows those that would be Greatest to fall the furthest! If it were the Lord's Will He could install a Shepherd as your King! Or raise the son of a tradesman to be the Redeemer that HE has promised!"
Some of the crowd snickered. A Shepherd as King? An Apprentice the Redeemer? Who would believe such a thing? Yet here was I, a plowman, their Judge, the Leader that defeated the Philistines. How soon they forget their own history. How easily they ignore their own birthright. These People of GOD are so unworthy of the status, so fickle and shallow, yet they ARE the Chosen Nation. And even if they desert HIM, HE has never deserted them. I glared at them, so self righteous, so pious, so confident they were doing nothing wrong.
"What harmony has Our GOD with Baal? What has a Believer in GOD have in common with an unbeliever? What is an idol made with hands of cold metal to do with the Living GOD? Remember Sodom and Gomorrah in the days of your fathers? How they went after strange flesh and immorality and were judged! They are your example! And YOU are doing things now they even they whom the FIRE OF GOD fell on would abhor. Even THEY respected their own daughters. Even THEY, whom GOD destroyed found the blood of innocents taboo. Yet you have stopped at NOTHING in pursuit of your own pleasure! And in the name of FALSE GODS as well!"
When I was told of the things the pagans were doing I sighed and told my friend I expected nothing less from those that give themselves to empty gods. Then he told me people of Israel did it, people from my tribe did it, and people from my own household had been doing it. I filled my lungs with breath to indict him as a liar, but I saw his eyes, and my condemnation turned into a sigh. He spoke naught but the very truth. There was one last thing I had to do before God called my Soul to Sheol. My words may fall on ears that were as hard as those on the idols of stone they had bowed to, but I could not rest if I did not speak the Truth in the Spirit of Truth one last time.
"You give yourselves over to that which is not natural. To other men, to animals, to the gods of stone and iron. And what do you have the next day? You send your women into the feasting of heathens, and you congratulate each other on your cunning. Your children run naked while you offer your cloak to a god of straw! The Fire of Eternity will consume the straw, your cloak, and YOU!"
I am tired as I have never been tired before. My soul yearns to be free. I have fought the fight as best I could. It was easier to slaughter the Philistines than it is to bend the stiff necks of these people. My breath is coming hard, I know my time is short. Yet my anger is so great it stays the hand of the very Angel of Death as he beckons me. I rise up to the height I had as a young man, I look upon them with scorn and wrath, and yet, I love them, as GOD loves them. I love them enough to pronounce doom upon them. I draw a great breath and harden my voice. The tongue that spoke was no longer mine, my mind was fire, but my body was ice. I heard myself shouting even though I was no longer myself.
"You in your Evil plot against the righteous, and gnash your teeth at those that serve GOD. Yet HE laughs at you. HE knows the Day of the LORD is coming like a thief in the night. THUS SAYTH THE LIVING GOD: At the sound of MY name, Every Knee SHALL BOW, and EVERY tongue Confess that I AM THE LORD GOD ALMIGHTY!"
I fell backwards. I knew I had spoken my last. But I had said all that needed to be said. God knows if it did any good. But all I ask is that I be remembered for more than the killing I had done. I wanted one thing to be said of me if nothing else.
'He saved Israel.'
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