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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

THE CURSE OF MEROZ

Judges 5:23 Curse ye Meroz, said the angel of the Lord, curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof; because they came not to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty.

Many times, as recorded in the Old Testament, the children of Israel "did evil in the sight of the Lord." Usually, in times like those, Israel became oppressed by neighboring nations. In this instance, Judges, chapter 4, tells about the oppression of Canaan under king Jabin. Deborah, a prophetess, began to judge Israel at this time. She selected Barak to lead the army of Israel against Jabin, king of Canaan. Barak put together an army of 10,000 men and went to battle against the army of Canaan, which was lead by Sisera.

With the guidance of God, Israel prevailed against the much mightier army of Canaan. In an interesting sidelight, Sisera fled and was pursued by Barak. Sisera fled to the tent of Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite. Heber was not a Jew, but was a descendent of Hobab, the father-in-law of Moses, and an ally of Israel. Jael lured Sisera into her tent with an offer of food and drink. As he slept, Jael went in to Sisera and slew him by driving a nail into his head with a hammer. Thus, Israel prevailed against Jabin, the king of Canaan.

Chapter 5 of the Book of Judges, is a song of triumph that was sung by Deborah and Barak. In the latter part of this chapter, Jael was given praise for her part in slaying the leader of the army of Canaan. However, in the first part of this chapter, ten tribes of Israel were condemned, for various reasons, because they did not help in the battle. The twotribes of Zebulun and Naphtali, were given praise for their leadership and participation in the defeat of the armies of Canaan. It appears that it was from these two tribes that the 10,000 men volunteered and became the army of Israel that Barak led into battle.

In this very harsh criticism of those tribes of Israel that refused to go to battle, the subject text is found. The town of Meroz was singled out and "cursed" in the words of the song of Deborah and Barak. It says that the inhabitants of Meroz were cursed bitterly ... because they came not to the help of the Lord.

When the call went out to all the tribes of Israel to prepare for battle against the enemy, only the men of Zebulun and Naphtali came to the aid of Israel - God's chosen people. Other tribes, specifically those of the town of Meroz, refused to hear the calling to serve God and His people.

Just as the nation of Israel was called out, Christians are called out by God today. In Ephesians 1:18, Paul reminds the Christians at Ephesus that they had been taught to know what is the hope of His calling. Just as Israel was a special people to God in Old Testament times, Christians, in New Testament times, are a special people to God. Further in Ephesians 4:1, Paul begs the Ephesian Christians to walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye were called. The calling of Israel carried with it, not only the rewards of being God's children, but also its responsibilities - there were duties to perform. The same is true for Christians today. There are great rewards for being a Christian, but there are also duties and responsibilities.

The word "vocation" generally meansa trade or profession. Like our secular vocation that provides for our physical existence, we Christians also have a spiritual vocation that provides for our spiritual well-being. Christians are called to perform Godly tasks. On a daily basis Christians have a responsibility to search for and recognize the physical and spiritual needs of their friends and neighbors as well as their families. They are to fill these needs to the best of their abilities. God called Meroz to His service. They came not and were cursed rather than blessed by God. God is calling you to His service today. How are you responding to His call? Based on our response, we will, likewise, receive God's blessing or Hiscursing. No doubt, Meroz is mentioned in God's Word as a warning to all Christians. We must never pattern our lives after the inhabitants of Meroz. We must serve God at every calling, both physical and spiritual.