Book of Judges Bible Study - The Message of Judges: Chapter Three
Othniel and the Power of God
by I Gordon
From the passage above we see that Othniel judged Israel first and then went to war against Cushan-Rishathaim. This is very instructive and very necessary for us! It reminds us of our constant need to judge ourselves  . The Bible says that ' if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged.' (1 Cor ) This is talking about the discipline of the Lord that our Heavenly Father applies to all of His children. If Israel, when they were in the process of 'forgetting the Lord', judged the condition of their heart and cried out for the Lord to be take His rightful place again, you could be sure that Cushan-Rishathaim wouldn't have even come into the picture. But Israel didn't do this but allowed their dependence upon God to wane and, worse still, followed the gods of their enemies. Be careful to judge yourself. When you are exalted by others, just watch yourself. When you are wronged or let down and a range of emotions are running - keep an eye on that nature of yours. When you feel bitter towards someone, be harder on yourself than you are on others.  As honestly as possible, make sure you judge your own heart first.
Eph 1.18-19 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.
2 Pet 1:3 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
Eph 3:16-21 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith... Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Eph 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
 ↩ Instead of Aram, your Bible may say that he was the King of 'Mesopotamia'. This is the same place. The Hebrew name is Aram Naharaim. Some Bibles use the Greek version of the word as translated in the Septuagint (the Greek version of the Old Testament Hebrew) which is Mesopotamia. Clear as mud? Good. Bottom line... they are the same place. In today's world this region is the modern state of Iraq. So we have a doubly wicked dictator from the area of Iraq, who exalts himself and despises and fights against Israel. Mmmm... wait a minute! I can't put my finger on it but that's starting to remind me of someone in today's world!
 ↩ Jesus has already exalted us to the highest possible place - 'seated with Him in the Heavenly places.' (Eph 2:6) Don't you think it's a shame that people are not happy with such exaltation and have to exalt themselves? Even for our normal lives the Bible says that God is the one who exalts one person and brings another down - See Psalm 75:4-7. Our good friend Nebuchadnezzar found this out the hard way! He had barely finished admiring... himself... when God humbled him in an extremely unique way! Read the fascinating account in Daniel 4:28-37. At the end of it however he had come to his senses and he spoke these wise words 'Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.'
 ↩ In his book 'Beware the new prophets', Pastor Bill Randles has an interesting chapter entitled 'The Two Mysteries' which seems appropriate for what we are currently talking about. Here are some direct quotes - 'Though indeed there are so many spiritualities flourishing in the world today, there are in essence only two religions underlying them. All religious expression or experience can biblically be put into only two categories, two spiritual principles or mysteries as the Bible calls them. They are the Mystery of Iniquity and the Mystery of Godliness. As far back as the garden of Eden (and even before that) these two spiritualities have coexisted.' And here is a non-direct loose wrap-up of these two mysteries. The mystery of Iniquity (2 Thes 2:7) has its heart in Satan's prideful desire to become something great. 'I will exalt my throne above the stars of God... I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.' This was the promise that was given to Adam and Eve that they would be 'like God'. This exalting of our self has its roots in the nature of Satan and is the Mystery of Iniquity. The mystery of godliness (1 Tim ) is totally different! It doesn't emphasise our exaltation, but that Jesus descended for us! God's life living out through a man is the nature of the mystery. So which do you emphasise? Do you major on what we have to do to become 'more like God' or do you emphasise who Jesus is in and through you?
 ↩ There is a great little picture in this once you know the meanings of the place names. Kiriath-sepher means 'the city of the book'. Othniel (the 'power of God') captured this place and it is renamed Debir which means an 'oracle - the living word of God'. It is the power of God that can transform the Bible from just being a 'book' to what is really is - the living word of God for you. This doesn't replace our need to really read it and study it, and then read it again. Oh yeah, and then study more!. (Prov 25:2) It just shows our need and reliance upon the Holy Spirit to grant us insight and understanding of His word. (1 Cor 2:6-16)
 ↩ Ok, personal confession time! This is what I mean by self judgement, especially in regards to pride and exalting ourselves. I speak quite regularly in the church that I attend. There have been a few times that I can remember were the following has happened... Before the sermon I'll be praying 'Lord, speak through me, speak to peoples hearts, it's not me but only you that can do this!' I then give the sermon and afterwards, occasionally, ok very occasionally, someone will tell me that I did really well and that I am a good speaker blah blah. And sure enough, I begin believing my own press! Pride is always at the door, be sure of that. It can't be just me I hope, you've got the same nature too! Now it is right at this point that self judgement is needed. Are you going run with these prideful feelings or admit them to the Lord as a further evidence of your need of Him?
 ↩ Judging yourself is only difficult if you don't understand grace. But once you know grace and have come to know yourself it becomes so much easier. Pride is all that people in the world have so they often find it hard to admit they are wrong. Christians who know grace know that God fully accepts them despite the range of responses of their twisted old nature. It just comes down to examining your own heart and being honest with God about it. And like I said, grace makes all of this possible because your standing is not based on your own works but on Jesus gift of righteousness to you!