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Showing posts from July, 2020

bible reading weekend aug 1

Bible reading for weekend of Aug 1.  Judges 15-16. "And he found a fresh jawbone of a donkey, and put out his hand and took it, and with it he struck 1,000 men." (Judges 15:15)  VICTORY, THEN DEFEAT. Samson retaliates for the murder of his wife (ch 15). The Israelites, hoping to appease the Philistines, then hand over Samson to them. Even more Philistines are killed, and God miraculously refreshes Samson after the battle (15:19; cf Ex 17:6; Deut 8:15). Samson is felled (ch 16) through his own moral weakness in the face of seduction. Cutting off his hair represented the end of his separation for God's service as a Nazirite (Num 6:5, 18). How sad was this ending of his public ministry: "And he awoke from his sleep and said, 'I will go out as at other times and shake myself free.' But he did not know that the LORD had left him" (v 20) . And yet, he is not abandoned, for the Lord hears his prayer at the end. While 3000 influential Philistines gathe

bible reading july 31

Bible reading for July 31.  Judges 14. "His father and mother did not know that it was from the LORD, for he was seeking an opportunity against the Philistines. At that time the Philistines ruled over Israel." (Judges 14:4)  SAMSON'S LOVE LIFE. We see that Samson, who is to be a deliverer, actually succumbs to the compromising influence of their Philistine overlords. People were inter-marrying and the book of Judges shows how pagan influences have affected the people of Israel. They are being culturally absorbed. But Samson's romance will not be a "happily ever after" one. Samson's love life will cause increasing conflict between the Israelites and the Philistines, and that needed to happen.    GOD'S PLAN. In God's wise providence Samson's impulsive and sinful decisions work for the greater good of God's plan (v 4; cf 1 Kgs 12:15). We have seen this before with Joseph's brothers (Gen 45:5; 50:20) and especially in the cr

bible reading july 30

Bible reading for July 30.  Judges 13. "And the angel of the LORD appeared to the woman and said to her, 'Behold, you are barren and have not borne children, but you shall conceive and bear a son.'" (Judges 13:3)  A NAZIRITE FROM BIRTH. The next several chapters will focus on a remarkable and colorful hero named Samson. His birth narrative has similarities with that of Isaac (Gen 17-18), John the Baptist (Luke 1), and our Lord Jesus (Matt 2; Luke 2). Samson was to be a Nazirite (cf Numbers 6) from his birth, indicating his separation for the Lord's service. Sadly, there were areas in his life not sanctified for God's service. The angel would not give his own name, saying that it was "wonderful", meaning perhaps, "too high for you" (compare Gen 32:29). The NIV has "beyond understanding," and the NLT, "too wonderful for you to understand". There is a lot we don't know about angels! And perhaps, this was a pr

bible reading july 29

Bible reading for July 29.  Judges 12. "Jephthah judged Israel six years. Then Jephthah the Gileadite died and was buried in his city in Gilead." (Judges 12:7) NICKELS AND NOSES. In chapter 12 we finish the story of Jephthah, followed by brief mentions of Ibzan, Elon (not Musk), and Abdon (from about 1130 to 1080 BC). As you read Judges it may seem that people are fighting all the time. These battles, however, are spread out over several hundred years, so there were often intervals of peace. But the battles become the high point, especially as the tribes are delivered from nearby oppressors. One thing we note also is the numbers of sons, daughters, donkeys, etc., some of these judges had. It represents their wealth and influence, and perhaps the blessing of God. However, it may also show how the powerful tended to gather wives and property for themselves (Deut 17:17; cf Gen 4:19), and we will see this problem arise with the later kings of Israel and Judah.   SAY

bible reading july 28

Bible reading for July 28.  Judges 11. "So Jephthah crossed over to the Ammonites to fight against them, and the LORD gave them into his hand." (Judges 11:32)  THE STORY SO FAR. In the past few chapters (ch 7 to 11), from Gideon to Jephthah, we have covered the period from 1210 to 1125 BC. Gideon was a commendable leader (8:35), but we see how he (or rather, his gold-laced priestly tunic) becomes an idol to the people at that time. John Calvin once wrote, “Man's nature, so to speak, is a perpetual factory of idols.”* Abimelech, one of Gideon's sons, manifests the worst traits of leadership, unlike his father. (Though it could be argued that with so many wives and so many sons, how could Gideon ever had time to nurture them in the faith?)  It seems that even justified violence (e.g., in a war of defense) can gradually lead to acceptance of violence in unjustified ways (e.g., ch 9). But Abimelech comes to the end that he deserves. "Repay no one evil for e

bible reading for july 24

Bible reading for July 24.  Judges 7 The LORD said to Gideon, "The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over me, saying, 'My own hand has saved me.'" (Judges 7:2) NATURAL MEANS, SUPERNATURAL RESULTS. In giving victory God often uses very natural, normal, even lowly things to achieve his purposes.  In Judges we see such things as an ox goad, a storm, a tent peg, and here, clay pots, (to come: donkey jaw bone) to bring about unusual, miraculous results. This applies to believers today: we too use natural, everyday means to see God's supernatural results. For example, God uses church fellowship, reading the Bible, prayer, witnessing to our neighbors, words of encouragement, acts of mercy, etc., to bring about wonderful results. People are won to Christ, sanctified, transformed into his image, given the ability to discern truth from error, right from wrong, choose courage over fear, faith over unbeli

bible reading july 23

Bible reading for July 23.  Judges 6 "Now all the Midianites and the Amalekites and the people of the East came together, and they crossed the Jordan and encamped in the Valley of Jezreel. But the Spirit of the LORD clothed Gideon, and he sounded the trumpet, and the Abiezrites were called out to follow him." (Judges 6:33-34) DESERT RAIDERS. The next cycle of unfaithfulness, followed by oppression, involved the regular seasonal invasions by the Midianites and Amalekites from the east (c. 1210 BC). Gideon does not seem to be a good candidate for hero of valor, but the Lord calls him and is very patient in building up Gideon's faith for what will follow. His first step is to challenge the idols of his day. Though fearful, he takes a stand for true worship of the true and living God. Gideon was nicknamed "Jerubbaal", which paraphrased means, "if Baal doesn't like it, let him do something about it."   ==============   Acts 10 "

bible reading july 22

Bible reading for July 22.  Judges 5 "My heart goes out to the commanders of Israel who offered themselves willingly among the people. Bless the LORD." (Judges 5:9)  A SONG OF VICTORY. Deborah writes a poem about God's deliverance (see yesterday's post). These Israelites (primarily tribes from the central region) had lived in fear of the powerful Canaanites in that region, led by the military commander, Sisera. The Israelites kept off the main roads, likely to avoid encounter and abuse from their cruel overlords. The tribes rallied and faced their enemy in the plain between Megiddo and Mount Tabor. This flat region gave great advantage to the chariot warfare waged by the Canaanites. As we saw yesterday the Canaanites, despite heavy odds in their favor, were totally defeated. So what happened? Apparently, a most unusual and massive storm  -- possibly along with an earthquake -- took place and flooded the plain between Megiddo and Tabor (vv 4-5, 20-22). The t

bible reading july 21

Bible reading for July 21.  Judges 4 "But Jael the wife of Heber took a tent peg, and took a hammer in her hand. Then she went softly to him and drove the peg into his temple until it went down into the ground while he was lying fast asleep from weariness. So he died."   STRONG WOMEN. We read that the Lord raised up Deborah as a prophetess and judge in Israel, and that the death of the Canaanite king Sisera comes about by the hand of woman who knows how to wield a hammer and tent peg. When it came to the winning blow, Jael nailed it. Deborah had expected Barak to lead, and she rebuked him for his timidity (v 9). As noted in a previous post, the chariot (made of iron and pulled by horses) was a fearsome weapon against foot soldiers. It was fast, brutal (if you were in its path), and could put archers and swordsmen anywhere on the field quickly. But God gives victory in answer to his people's prayers. We'll read in the song lyrics of the next chapter about ho

bible reading for july 20

Bible reading for July 20.  Judges 3 "They were for the testing of Israel, to know whether Israel would obey the commandments of the LORD, which he commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses." (Judges 3:4)  THE FIRST THREE JUDGES. This chapter records the exploits of the first three judges (the military, judicial leaders raised up by God) -- Ehud, Othniel, and Shamgar -- which covered a period of about 120 years (c. 1370 --1250 BC). The land had not been completely occupied. There were Canaanite strongholds still within their borders. It was God's plan that these remain in order to test Israel and to teach the next generation about war (vv 1-7). We see the cycle of compromise, bondage, and deliverance begin. (See the diagram in yesterday's post.) Compromise and inter-marriage were so dangerous because a) they resulted in the loss of the distinctiveness of the nation of Israel; b) they endangered the continuity and purity of the messianic lineage (Gen 12:2

bible reading weekend july 18

Bible reading for weekend July 18.  Judges 1-2 "Then the LORD raised up judges, who saved them out of the hand of those who plundered them." (Judges 2:16) WHO WERE THE JUDGES? The period between Joshua (the conquest of the land) and Saul (the first king of Israel) is known as the time of the Judges. The twelve tribes at that time operated more or less independently as states within the larger nation. The period covered by this book is circa 1370 to 1050 BC. Israel's enemies which were not displaced from the land became a snare to the nation, leading them into compromise, idolatry, and inter-marriage. The judges were military leaders, with special endowment from God, raised up as deliverers for the nation. Their leadership involved organizing troops to combat enemies, hearing judicial cases within the land, and leading moral and spiritual reform in the nation. We will see, however, that some of these leaders had as many moral problems as did the nation at large.

bible reading july 17

Bible reading for July 17.  Joshua 24 "And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." (Joshua 24:15) COVENANT RENEWAL (vv 1-28). The Mosaic covenant, given in grace to the descendants of Jacob, nevertheless had a bilateral character. Blessing from God upon each generation depended upon the peoples' wholehearted obedience. The Israelites are confident and sincere at this point in their desire to be faithful to the Lord. But the book of Judges which follows will tell a different story. One of the great lessons of the OT is that people will need a unilateral covenant with God, that is, one that is made (and kept) secure by the power of God. It is not enough that God should provide land, cities, vineyards, and orchards (v 13), what is needed is a changed