” In the days of Shamgar the son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were unoccupied, and the travelers walked through byways.”  Judges 5:6

Matthew Henry makes an observation about what this verse meant:

First it meant, “No trade. For want of soldiers to protect men of business in their business from the incursions of the enemy, and for want of magistrates to restrain and punish thieves and robbers among them (men of broken fortunes and desperate spirits, that, having no employment, took to rob on the highroad)….”

Secondly, “No travelling. Whereas in times when there was some order and government the travellers might be safe in the open roads, and the robbers were forced to lurk in the by-ways, no, on the contrary, the robbers insulted on the open roads without check, and the honest travelers were obliged to sculk and walk through by-ways, in continual frights. “

Thirdly, “No tillage. The fields must needs be laid waste and unoccupied when the inhabitants of the villages, the country farmers, ceased from their employment, quitted their houses which were continually alarmed and plundered by the banditti, and were obliged to take shelter for themselves and their families in walled and fenced cities.”

Fourth, “No administration of justice. There was war in the gates where their courts were kept, Judges 5:8 – Judges 5:11. The continual incursions of the enemy deprived the magistrates of the dignity, and the people of the benefit, of their government.”

Fifth, “No peace to him that went out nor to him that came in. The gates through which they passed and repassed were infested by the enemy; nay, the places of drawing water were alarmed by the archers.”

Sixth,  “Neither arms nor spirit to help themselves with, not a shield nor spear seen among forty thousand, (Judges 5:8), Either they were disarmed by their oppressors, or they themselves neglected the art of war; so that, though they had spears and shields, they were not to be seen, but were thrown by and suffered to rust, they having neither skill nor will to use them.”

Sound familiar? Yes, God was chastening his people for “doing what was right in their own eyes.” Judges 21:25

In Amos 8:11 in another time frame: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord:”

Friends, as Ecclesiastes tells us plainly, there is nothing new under the sun. God continues to weigh men’s wanting’ and ambition, giving to us according to our willful choices, whether “right” in our own eyes or otherwise.

Deuteronomy 32:4 says it straight, “He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he. “

Woe is us.

However, let me make an analogy of highways and byways as of Judges 5 above. When we forsake and are forbidden the highways, we must settle for the byways. In the byways there is a famine of hearing the Word of God. Could it mean, we get the letter but no Spirit? Perhaps we get knowledge but no anointing for breaking heavy yokes? Maybe we get legalism but no liberty in the finished work. Iniquity abounds, the love of many waxes cold?

But mercy rejoices over judgement. Did we not know this? Friends there is a highway.

Psalm 84:5  Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee, they, in whose heart are the highways.

Beloved the highways can remain in our heart, indeed must, because in Proverbs 15:24  “The way of life is above to the wise, that he may depart from hell beneath.” In our analogy ‘hell’ is the place of torment right here and now and also future.

Isaiah 35:8 speaks of a highway, “And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.”

In closing, as Gideon was sent to restore the highways, the highway of he finished work of Jesus Christ removes from me the byways of fear and doubt, guilt and oppression, prayers unanswered and loss of hope. It proclaims me “righteous.” Beloved, we can keep it in the midst of our heart. Love ya

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