Friday, June 24, 2011

The Book of Judges - Ibzan

Today we are continuing in our study of Judges.  Today we will be discussing another so-called minor judge. 
After him, Ibzan of Bethlehem judged Israel. He had thirty sons. And he gave away thirty daughters in marriage, and brought in thirty daughters from elsewhere for his sons. He judged Israel seven years. Then Ibzan died and was buried at Bethlehem.  Judges 12:8-10 NKJV
And that is all we know about Ibzan.  We know none of his exploits or even how Israel fared under his term as judge.  We do know that he lived a long time (he had 60 children) and that is ruled for a short time.  He ruled for the last seven years of his long and fruitful life.   Considering the brides and husbands for his children came from outside his clan, it is apparent that he probably had many connections throughout the land.  We really are not given much to learn about Ibzan.  His name has no real meaning that I can find (it has something to do with tin).  He was born in Bethlehem as our Lord was, but that does not mean anything in an of itself.  He is not mentioned as part of the genealogy of Jesus so he is not a direct ancestor, if even an ancestor at all. 

There are a couple of things, though, to glean from his rule.  We know that Jephthah was chosen by man.  They came and asked him to lead their army and in turn he became their ruler.  He ended up ruling for six years, the number of man.  Ibzan, who succeeded Jephthah, ruled for seven years.  Seven years is commonly referred to as a number of completeness or perfection.  The Bible does not say that Ibzan was called directly by God as Gideon was, but there is a contrast there.  We also see that the contrast in that Jephthah had one daughter who was sacrificed as a virgin and Ibzan had sixty children, all who were married.  We also see the perfect symmetry in him having thirty sons and thirty daughters.  I think what we are seeing is God giving us a contrast of a man of man (that is chosen by man) and a man chosen by God.  The lesson is that obviously it is far better to follow a man chosen by God than a man chosen by man. 

The other thing we can learn is that God has plans even for our elderly.  I am not sure how elderly Ibzan was, but he lived long enough to have and marry off sixty children so it must have been quite some time.  It did not mention a great number of wives, but obviously he had more than one wife. I think it would certainly notable if God brought sixty children out of one woman.  This man raised and married sixty children, but God was not done with him yet.  God still had big plans for his life.  His name is now eternally recorded in God's word as a man who judged Israel for seven years.  There is no mention of evil in his life and considering no falling away preceded or came after his rule, I would assume that he ruled well.  What a testimony for his children to raise them and then to serve Israel as judge.

I have known many older people who have retired or who just begin to feel the effects of age.  I know of many who sat alone in nursing homes waiting for family that never comes to visit.  I have known many who have just slowly wasted away with time, with no one to share in the wisdom obtained through years of living on this earth.  I have seen many work, and work hard, right up until death out of fear that they would die as soon as they stopped.  The fact is that so many become sad or depressed because they no longer feel wanted, or even worse, they feel useless.  That is such a lie from Satan.  There is no age where God will stop working through our lives.  There is no time in our life when we are useless to God.  We see in the life of Ibzan that he spent his last seven years after a long fruitful life having the highest office of God's chosen people.  That is quite a high calling!  In fact, we have no equivalent today of a man with the duty being God's ruling emissary on earth, delivering the law and the judgements of God to the people.  Just think that God can do with the elderly of today.  We must be an encouragement to them that God is certainly not done with them and the only thing they need to still do great things for God is to have a willing heart for God to work through them. 

Our elderly brothers and sisters in the Lord our an untapped treasure of the wisdom of many years of walking with the Lord.  They are an untapped source of great witness of telling how they held onto their faith throughout the years.  And they are unused resource to be used of God wherever He may call them.  Paul tells Timothy to not let anyone despise him because of his youth, but it is equally important for us to to despise, condescend, or ignore anyone because of their advanced age.  God still has plans for their lives, and those plans may be larger than anything we can imagine. 
You shall rise before the gray headed and honor the presence of an old man, and fear your God: I [am] the LORD.  Leviticus 19:32 NKJV

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