Bible reading for Aug 6.
"'Now therefore give up the men, the worthless fellows in Gibeah, that we may put them to death and purge evil from Israel.' But the Benjaminites would not listen to the voice of their brothers, the people of Israel." (Judges 20:13)
CIVIL WAR. The events of the previous chapter lead to a battle between the cities of Benjamin and the rest of the tribes of Israel. The city of Gibeah (a Benjaminite city) refuses to give up any of their guilty citizens for judgment, so warfare ensues. The battle develops just like the siege of Ai in Joshua 7-8. From that we see that the nation, rather than removing the idolatrous influences in their land, finally have become like the pagan nations and now must be judged in the same way. Thousands die in the fighting.
REFLECT. How is it that people who claim to belong to God can descend into such debauchery? Why is it that immorality and injustice, when not dealt with, seem inevitably to result in open conflict and violence (e.g., James 4:1-4)?
"And as he [Paul] reasoned about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment, Felix was alarmed and said, 'Go away for the present. When I get an opportunity I will summon you.'" (Acts 24:25)
DEFENSE BEFORE FELIX. In fulfillment of Jesus' words in Luke 21:12 and in Acts 1:8, the Apostle Paul is being a public witness and giving a defense of his faith before the Roman governor. His emphasis here is on his good conscience and behavior, and his belief in the resurrection. In this chapter we learn of two names that the early church was known by: the Nazarenes (v 5), and the Way (vv 14, 22; cf John 14:6?). Paul is respectful, reasonable, and patient. He will be in Caesarea for two years, during which time it is likely that his associate Luke made trips to Galilee and Jerusalem in research for the gospel he would later write (Luke 1:1-4).
REFLECT. Do you know why you believe in the Lord Jesus? Like Paul, are you able and prepared to defend your faith to others (1 Pet 3:15)? Can you do this with sound reasoning, gentleness, and respect for others?
Image credits. The painting above is "Sodom and Gomorrah" by Henry Ossawa Tanner, c. 1920. Wikimedia Commons.
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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