Bible reading for July 21.
"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 how this victory came about.
"And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, 'See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?'" (Acts 8:36)
PERSECUTION, AND EXPANSION. The martyrdom of Stephen launches a movement of Christian persecution at the hands of the young rabbi, Saul of Tarsus. Most believers have to leave Jerusalem, but share the gospel as they travel. Philip, another deacon and an evangelist, sees a wonderful response in Samaria. Simon the magician is impressed by the signs he sees, and joins the movement, but he is not truly converted. Not everybody who "believes" truly believes. (Some church historians associate Simon with the rise of Gnosticism.) A better response is seen in the Ethiopian eunuch who comes to faith in Christ, not by seeing miracles, but through reading the Scriptures and the testimony of Philip. He is the first convert from Africa. The church in Ethiopia has an ancient and noble history. Read more about it here.
TO THE NATIONS. My takeaway: it is still God's desire and will that we proclaim the Good News about his Son to all the world (Gen 12:3). Hear what Jesus says: "...the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations" (Mark 13:10); "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations..." (Matt 28:19); "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem" (Luke 24:46-47).
Image credit. Eowyn, the slayer of the witch king in The Lord of the Rings, was played by Miranda Otto in the movie version. Photo source unknown.
We are following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson.
Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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