In today’s Judges reading, we see a song from Deborah and Barak praising God for their success and blessings. What if, every time we received a major blessing from the Lord, we wrote and sang a praise song for him? That would be such a cool testimony that people could know for generations. Think about it next time God blesses you in a major way.
- 4 – Deborah was the only recorded female judge.
- 8-10 – Barak would not go without Deborah. Whether it was God or Deborah he did not trust, his lack of trust resulted in not him, but a woman, receiving the glory of a war victory.
- 1-31 – It was common for people who experienced the greatness and favor of God to write and sing a song praising him for his blessings. In the Old Testament a few are: Moses, Deborah and Barak, Hannah, and in the New Testament we see Mary and Zechariah.
- 41-42 – We often don’t know how to pray when we’re not sure of God’s will. This is a great example of how to pray. God wants to know your heart, but ultimately wants us to submit to his will.
- 44-46 – Clearly the disciples did not understand the magnitude of the situation or the agony through which Jesus was going.
- 52-53 – Jesus calls the chief priests out explaining that they obviously didn’t view him as a dangerous criminal because they had had many other easier opportunities to arrest him.
- 6-11 – Those who seek to disprove God often attempt to outsmart him or disprove him by our own standards and understanding. The Psalmist makes it clear that the one who formed the eye can see as much and more than we see.
Originally, Israel had no king. That’s how God designed it. But, as usual, we humans have a gift for messing up God’s intentions. The system of judges was no different. So, if you’re ready for some corruption and intrigue, dive right in.
Covenants are a big deal throughout Scripture. They are promises made between God and the people where both sides have a part to play. Today, we read about the covenant God makes with humanity through Christ and his blood. We are a part of that covenant. Our part is to accept the free gift of grace offered to us and God’s part is to offer us salvation.
- 10 – It was the job of the older generations to teach the younger generations the goodness of God. There are several times in Scripture where monuments are built or parents are instructed to teach their children the Scriptures. Clearly this generation had failed to do so.
- 11-16 – God instructed the Israelite to drive everyone out of the Promised Land when they moved in because intermixing would tempt them to worship other gods. The Israelites did not completely obey and God was right.
- 18-19 – The Israelites didn’t have any sort of all-encompassing leader or king. Instead, God raised up judges to try to help guide them.
- 7-11 – Sometimes we struggle to understand why God would allow bad things to happen to the Israelites, but this makes it clear the Israelites served another king for 8 years and worshipped his gods. But when the Israelites cried out to God, he raised up a leader and returned to them.
- 15-30 – An interesting story where it’s hard not to get distracted by the details. A couple of key points: 1) Ehud being left-handed allowed him to conceal his sword. Guards would have checked the left thigh for weapons. 2) When Israelites worshipped and honored God, he protected them and gave others over into their hands.
- 20 – There were several covenants between God and the Israelites in the Old Testament. This is the first found in the New Testament and is through the blood of Christ and is offered to everyone, not just the Israelites.
- 28-30 – For the first time Jesus offers his disciples a position in eternity.
- 31-34 – Peter is the most zealous disciple. He is committed to following Jesus anywhere, but Jesus knows that he even he has limits and weaknesses and he too will deny Jesus.
- 1-3 – It is crucial for us to give God thanks and praise for all the good things he has done and for how good he is. He deserves it and it reminds us of where our blessings derive.
Note the significance of Jesus, the lamb of God, shedding his blood for the people on Passover in relation to what happened on the first Passover.
- Judges, for many generations, were the leaders of Israelites. It was not normally an authoritarian leader, but one who relayed God’s plans for the people and helped guide them in following God’s commands. They often led the Israelites into battles as well.
- 2 – Judah is the appointed leader after Joshua’s death.
- 6-7 – Based on the information in verse 7, Adoni-Bezek had his fingers and toes cut off because he had performed the same punishment on many other kings.
- 21-36 – The Israelites had been clearly instructed to remove the current inhabitants from their land, but many of the tribes allowed Canaanites to remain in their land. God wanted the Canaanites out of the promised land because they would influence the Israelites to form allegiances with other gods.
- 1-5 – God remains faithful in his part of the covenant, but the Israelites fail to do their part so though God will not forsake them, he will also not be able to protect them from the influences of the Canaanites.
- 6-9 – Joshua doesn’t die twice, it’s just two accounts of the same event.
- 3-6 – Though Jesus knew it had to happen, it still must have been extremely hurtful to Jesus that one of his chosen, closest friends and followers not only betrayed him, but sought out an opportunity to betray him.
- 7-13 – It is quite symbolic that Jesus is killed at the Passover. During the original Passover, the Israelites’ first born were saved by the blood of a lamb that was wiped on the doorframe. Christ’s blood, through his death, also saved all of us who choose to be covered by it.
- 1-7 – God can protect us from so many of our hardships and struggles. When we choose to abide in his shelter, we don’t have to worry about the consequences of sin, because we’re not choosing to sin. This is not to be mistaken as saying, when we abide in God nothing bad will ever happen to us.
- This proverb encourages boundaries and discipline for children to assure they know and follow the Lord throughout their lives.
Today we start a new book, Judges! Isn’t it crazy that the Israelites went from strong leaders like Abraham, Moses, and Joshua to a system of judges and then to kings? To shed a little light on the concept of judges, it’s important to note that they weren’t just like the judges we think of today. They were looked to for leadership for the people. Many of them led the Israelites in military engagements and all of them were called to help the Israelites remain true to God’s law and commands. You may have heard of names like Samson or Gideon, these were some of the judges. And though this system of leading the Israelites didn’t last, it is an important part of their history.
This week we’ll also read through the majority of Luke’s account of the final week of Jesus’ life. Do your best not to skim it even though it’s our third account to read and we just heard it all during Holy Week. Let yourself recognize the anguish Jesus experienced as he was abandoned by his friends and rejected by the whole city. Notice the great symbolism of Jesus dying for the people during Passover, when they were celebrating another time God had saved them with the blood of another. This story should never become old hat. It is the story that changed history forever but it also changes each of our lives individually. Take the time this week to experience the greatest story ever told.
At the end of this week, we will have finished 9 books of the Bible! And these aren’t just any 9, they are 9 big, thick books that teach us a great deal of how we got to where we are today both through our initial history and through Jesus’ life, death, and ministry. We still have a lot of great stuff to read, but give yourself a high five for a job well done so far.
In today’s Luke reading, Jesus talks about David’s relationship to and knowledge of the Messiah in a similar way that we have celebrity endorsements. It gives validity to choosing All Spice, Oil of Olay or Ford for us. For the Jews, associating something with King David gave it automatic clout.
- 21-29 – The tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half of the tribe of Manasseh were on the opposite side of the Jordan from the rest of the tribes. They feared that this physical barrier would eventually cause the other tribes to disown them. The altar they built was not intended to compete with the true altar, but as a reminder that they too worshipped God.
- 12-13 – God’s desire was to separate the Israelites from other people groups because he knew if they intermingled, the other groups would turn the Israelites to other gods. His desire was to protect them. If they chose not to follow his directions, he could not protect them from the consequences he lists.
- 27-40 – Once again, Jesus goes beyond the Mosaic Law. He doesn’t discount it, but moves beyond it. Where the Sadducees, who were known for putting a very heavy emphasis on the Torah (the first 5 books of the Bible), were focused on the details of the law, Jesus shifts to what it will be like during the resurrection. At the time, the issue they brought up will no longer be an issue.
- 41-44 – David was a highly respected legend to the Jews of Jesus’ time. Here, because of their admiration for David, he makes it clear that even David submitted to the authority of the Messiah.
- This Psalm reminds its readers of the covenant made with David that his line would be on the throne of Israel for all generations. This Psalm is most likely written for the Israelites while in exile. They were most likely questioning the validity of God’s promise.
- 19 – This reminds us that it can quickly become apparent what kind of company you keep depending on whether or not they consider your attempts to turn away from evil an abomination or not.
Some things just don’t make sense…to us. In today’s reading in Joshua we read a verse that we could read over quickly and never think about it again. It says, “And the Lord gave them rest on every side.” The context, however, is that they had just taken over lands from other nations and normally this would have caused an uprising somewhere. The other context, though, is that God promised them peace, which trumps everything. God makes crooked paths straight.
- 1-3 – The Levites, which were the priests, were given no inheritance by God, but they were instructed to take what was given to God as theirs. The Israelites pony up cities and pasturelands to fulfill this stipulation.
- 44 – Nations were at war over borders, property, and power constantly. It is very unusual that Israel would have taken land from a number of nations and then had a time of complete peace.
- 45 – We can trust that the promises God makes us are true. He does not fail.
- 1-6 – Joshua commends these tribes for obeying God’s commands well and clearly the tribes are blessed because of it. God’s requests of us are simple, but it is up to us to choose to follow or not.
- 16 – The sin they’re referring to building an altar that would compete with the one God commanded. God had designated where he wanted to receive offerings and this was not it. Though the Israelites may have built it with good intentions, they did not seek God in their decision.
- 1-8 – Jesus frequently answers a question with a question to avoid falling into the traps of religious leaders.
- 9-18 – This parable represents God sending multiple prophets to try and bring the Israelites back to God, but each was rejected. Finally God sends his Son, Jesus, and he is not only rejected but killed.
- 21-26 – Jesus shows that Caesar’s image was on the coin so it’s fine to give Caesar the coin, but God’s image is on each of us so we are to give ourselves fully to him.
- 3-4 – David’s throne through all generations was fulfilled when Jesus, from the line of David, filled the throne forever.
- 16 – This is reminiscent of the saying, “If someone tells you they’re crazy, believe them.”
Today we read Luke’s account of Palm Sunday known as The Triumphal Entry. Jesus has been preparing for this day for a large portion of his earthly ministry. On this day, he said “yes” not only to entering into Jerusalem, but also to arrest, betrayal, beatings, and a humiliating death. Here’s a sermon that goes deeper into this concept.
- This passage explains the boundaries and contents of the land each tribe received as an inheritance. The map mentioned in chapter 15 is a helpful visual.
- 28-35 – After 10 chapters of heading towards Jerusalem, Jesus finally enters the city. He rode an unridden colt to fulfill Scripture.
- 36-38 – During this scene, which we celebrate on Palm Sunday, Jesus’ followers are showing him many signs of praise and honor.
- 39-40 – Jesus answers the Pharisees explaining that someone was going to praise him and reveal his identity whether it be his disciples or even if rocks had to do it.
- 41-44 – Jesus is foretelling when the Romans would destroy Jerusalem in 70 A.D.
- 46 – Merchants were selling animals to be used for sacrifices. Jesus did not like that people were seeking to profit off others’ sins.
- Most Psalms, even when lamenting, crying out to God, or feeling forsaken, end with praise, adoration, and a reminder that God is still good and in control. This is one of the few that does not.
- 13-14 – These verses explain the benefit of God’s word and wisdom. God does not simply want us to grow in these things as busy work, but because they are life-giving and necessary.
What are you afraid of? Once again, even though they’d already gotten in trouble and punished for it…not to mention that God had assured them there was no reason to be afraid, the Israelites are afraid of people inhabiting the land God promised them. Though are definitely scary things in life, please don’t ever be afraid of whether or not God will be faithful to his promises to you.
- 10 – The Canaanites were descendants of Noah’s son Ham who was sent away after he dishonored his father.
- 3-4 – In Numbers 26:33 and 27:1-11, Zelphehad’s daughters initiate an agreement so that they too can receive inheritance since their father had no brothers. This is that agreement being enacted.
- 14-18 – Yet again, the Israelites are fearful of the people who already possessed the land. God gave them authority to oust all the inhabitants, but the tribe of Joseph is afraid of the Canaanites because of their fancy chariots.
- 1-6 – The tribe representatives took account of what there was in the various territories of land still left to be distributed. Though casting lots is normally considered a bad thing, Joshua casts lots before the Lord to distribute the remaining land to the remaining tribes. Presumably, because it was done “before the Lord”, it’s an acceptable practice.
- 1-10 – Tax collectors were hated figures because they collected taxes required by the Roman government (already disliked) and added considerable charges on top of the taxes for their own profit. It felt like betrayal to the Jews for Jesus to befriend a tax collector. Note that an encounter with Jesus was all it took for Zacchaeus to change his ways and repent double and even fourfold.
- 11-27 – There is a lot going in this parable. A few key things to note are 1) The parable parallels the coming of the kingdom. Because the king goes away for a while, this explains that Jesus will be gone for a time and the kingdom of God will not be immediate on earth. 2) The nobleman represents Jesus. 3) All followers of Jesus are given callings/commissions and some day we will have to answer for what we did in those realms.
- 2 – Zion is the hill that Jerusalem was built on.
- Most often, wealth gained little by little takes time and effort to grow. This inevitably grows the wealthy person’s appreciation for it.