It’s infuriating how the Israelites, throughout the Old Testament so far, seem to be stuck in a sin cycle (see what I did there?). God tells them what to do, they choose not to (aka – sin), things get bad, and then they repent. You just want to yell at them, “don’t you get what’s happening here!?!” But then, if we look at our own lives, we tend to fall into the same cycle. Maybe we could learn from their mistakes.
- 30-41 – Gaal spoke ill of Abimelech who, though he had not fully honored God, was still one of God’s people.
- 53-57 – Interesting that a woman with such a significant story doesn’t have her name mentioned. Though Abimelech experienced some success in war, ultimately, his evil was repaid in kind. Like a stone was dropped on his brothers, a millstone was dropped on his head.
- 1-5 – Presumably, both Tola, and Jair served God and Israel faithfully because no evil is mentioned.
- 10-16 – The Israelites continue the cycle of sinning against God and serving other gods and running into trouble. Each time, when the Israelites reach their threshold, they cry out to God and repent. This passage begs the question if God’s forgiveness is ever limited.
- 13-27 – Though the prophets had foretold what would happen to Jesus and Jesus tried to explain it himself before his death, many Jews thought he could not possibly be the Messiah because he died. They had had such hope before and now had lost it.
- 28-35 – Though quickly, the resurrected Jesus revealed himself to Cleopas and his friend.
- 36-44 – Obviously a resurrection is hard to believe because it doesn’t happen often. The disciples convinced themselves that Jesus was just a spirit, so he not only showed his scars, but also ate food, which a spirit wouldn’t do.
- 49 – The disciples were instructed to keep their work contained to Jerusalem until they received power from on high, which was the Holy Spirit, which they received on Pentecost.
- This Psalm encourages us to give thanks and speaks specifically of doing it first thing – when we come into his presence and when we enter his gates.
- 12 – We should seek what is right to God instead of leaning on what we think or understand.
Dr. Seuss is often credited with the quotation, “Those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” Though not the same words, Proverbs had a similar sentiment long before Seuss. Today’s Proverb reminds us not to give any merit to those who scoff at our attempts to be faithful.
- 22-23 – God had purposefully not given the Israelites a ruler or king. God was their king. Gideon and the other judges were intended to act as guides, but not rulers.
- 29 – Remember, Jerubbaal was Gideon’s other name.
- 6 – Clearly Abimelech wasn’t intended to be king, but the people wanted one and appointed him king anyway.
- 46 – The temple curtain was designed to separate the holiness of God from the sin of the people. Jesus’ death both symbolically and literally removed this barrier.
- 50-51 – The council had approved Jesus’ death, but Joseph of Arimathea dissented.
- 1-11 – It is significant that it was women who first witnessed Jesus’ resurrection because the testimony of women did not count.
- 12 – Once again, it is Peter who is first to seek out Christ.
- 6 – Moses, Aaron, and Samuel were all Jewish heroes of the faith. The fact that they worshipped and were avenged by God gave even more clout to God.
- Foolish people mock us when we choose to do what is right and choose to obey God and repent. We should give their mocks no merit.
Do you find yourself saying the same thing over and over in prayer? It’s fine if there’s a specific, ongoing prayer request, but what about the fairly meaningless fillers? Do you tend to drone on and on without a whole lot of meaning or thought behind it? Why not try to pray like Psalm 98:1 encourages us to? Try to offer God a new praise for each new blessing you receive. You will end up feeling much more connected to him through prayer.
- 2-8 – The Midianites were a powerful fighting nation, but God only sent Gideon with 300 men to fight them because he did not want them to be able to say that they defeated Midian by their own power. This sounds extreme, but it is extremely easy to believe we succeed on our own power.
- 20-25 – The trumpets and jars were used to scare the Midianite army into fleeing and God blessed the Israelites’ swords as they pursued the Midianites.
- 4-9 – The men of Succoth and Penuel did not believe that Gideon would defeat the kings of Midian so they refused to help the Israelite army. Because of this Gideon explains that he will repay them once he overtakes the Midianite kings.
- 18-25 – It was custom for Pilate to release one prisoner at Passover. The crowds chose a murderer and asked that Jesus still be killed even though no fault was found in him.
- 27 – Not everyone had turned against Jesus. He still had a faithful following who were distraught over his impending death.
- 28-31 – Jesus is saying that if these people will reject and crucify Jesus when he’s on earth, how much less will they honor him when he’s not present. In a way he’s saying, it would be better to not even have children than to have to watch them dishonor Christ so greatly.
- 34 – Even when he’s about to be crucified, he’s still offering forgiveness.
- 43 – An unlikely candidate, this is the only person, other than the disciples, Jesus explicitly tells that they will be in heaven with him.
- 1 – Though God loves to hear our prayers, it seemingly would honor him more if we offer new praise with each blessing instead of a generic blanket prayer for all our blessings.
- 4-9 – We can all find a joyful song to sing in praise to God. Even the oceans and rivers have their way of praising. No matter what ours sounds like, we should make a joyful noise to God.
- 8 – Our wisdom is not simply for good looks or just convenient. Our wisdom should be used to discern where God is calling us and where we should go.
Today, in our reading from Luke, we encounter Herod…but in fact, it’s just one of several Herods involved in Jesus’ life at various times. Check out this resource, which will shed a little more light into the Herods.
- 8-10 – God reminds them of the good things he’s done for them and that they still disobeyed him. The Israelites seem to have a short memory when it comes to who is worthy of their worship.
- 13-14 – Gideon was young enough that he had not seen God’s power and miracles. Because of the Israelites’ unfaithfulness he had only seen Israel forsaken by God. He, understandably, struggled to trust that God could overtake the Midianites who oppressed them at the time.
- 24 – Many times in Scripture, when someone would experience God’s power or goodness, they would name that space after what they had experienced. Gideon names this “The Lord is Peace” or “Jehovah Shalom”.
- 28-31 – Gideon’s dad Joash makes a great argument. If Jerubbaal is truly a god, he shouldn’t need you to defend him. Certainly, this argument saved his son’s life.
- 36-40 – This may sound like Gideon was testing God, which we are not supposed to do. Gideon asks humbly for God to confirm that his plan is to save Israel through Gideon.
- 54-62 – Jesus predicted that Peter would deny him three times and though Peter was certain he wouldn’t, he did. Though Peter gets a bad wrap for this, note that he was the only disciple who followed Jesus to his trial.
- 66-71 – The church leaders were doing all they could to assure Jesus could be charged with blasphemy. Though he never called himself the Son of God in this passage, he says enough for them to jump on.
- 1 – Pilate was a low-level Roman leader. He was basically like the mayor of Longview, TX.
- 7 – This is not the same Herod that wanted to kill him when he was born.
- 6 – If you can’t think of a reason to praise God, simply praise him for creating you.
- 8 – The Israelites’ sins at Meribah and Massah both happened as they wandered in the desert. Most of the Israelites’ history and testaments tended to refer back to their 40 years of wandering.
- 10-11 – The Israelites sinned while in the desert causing them not to enter the Promised Land until later generations could enter instead.
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.
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.