~ Click on this link for today's readings ~
Judges 6:1-40 ~ Luke 22:54-23:12
Psalm 95:1-96:13 ~ Proverbs 14:5-6
Old Testament - Today in Judges chapter 6 verses 1 we read - "Again the Israelites did what was evil in the LORD's sight." It is so interesting to see the back-and-forth relationship of the Israelites with God in the Old Testament. The Israelites did evil. They cried out to God. God saved them. Then... The Israelites did evil again... And I wonder - are we so different from the Israelites today? Should we be? Could we be? How? I do believe that through a growing and loving relationship with Jesus, we can be spared of this back-and-forth relationship with God. I believe this is the only Way. Let us not have to spend our lives running back and forth to "caves" as we will see below... Let us only run into the arms of the Jesus and the Father.
An image for a continuation of verses 1 & 2 - "So the LORD handed them over to the Midianites for seven years. The Midianites were so cruel that the Israelites fled to the mountains, where they made hiding places for themselves in caves and dens."
Today read about Gideon and the fleece. We also read about how the angel of the Lord comes to Gideon and tells Gideon he will save Israel out of Midian’s hands, because he is being sent by God. In verse 15 Gideon replies, “But Lord, how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” You’ll notice how this reply of Gideon’s is reminiscent of Moses’ reaction to God’s call to serve in Exodus chapters 3 & 4 – “Why me? How can I?” etc. etc. And I think it is very useful for each of us to note that God often calls the seemingly lowly – like Moses and Gideon – rather than the seemingly mighty to act for him. This should be encouraging to us! I wonder if you and I are sometimes like Gideon and Moses? I wonder if perhaps we are being called to do something incredible for God in our lives, and we are making excuses like Gideon and Moses made excuses? Should we instead act in obedience to God’s call and trust that he will lead us? If God has called us to something, shouldn’t we have enough faith to believe he will give us the strength and wisdom needed for the journey? What is God calling you to do in your life that you are not doing? Are you making excuses like Gideon and Moses did? Will you instead move forward in faith and obedience to God in this holy calling in your life?
New Testament - Luke chapter 22 verse 70 is powerful - "They all shouted, "Then you claim you are the Son of God?" And Jesus replied, "You are right in saying that I am."" Check out those last two words of Jesus' - I am. Sound familiar? Remember from Exodus 3:14 when Moses asks the burning bush who he should say sent him to free the Israelites from Egypt. And what did God reply? "I am. Tell them that I am is sending you." And here we see Jesus use this same terminology that God used - I am.
An image is below for Luke chapter 23 verses 8 & 9 - "Herod was delighted at the opportunity to see Jesus, because he had heard about him and had been hoping for a long time to see him perform a miracle. He asked Jesus question after question, but Jesus refused to answer." Remember how Herod and this scene below was portrayed in the movie "The Passion of the Christ"? I thought it was incredibly well done. We saw the "worldliness" and immorality of Herod and his surrounding court. Herod wanted a miracle "performed." And Jesus simply stayed silent. Beautiful... I wonder if there are moments in our life when we would do well to model Jesus here - to stay silent in the face of a ridiculous request - or in the face of a ridiculous attack on our faith. Silence may be the perfect thing in the face of ridiculousness...
Bible.org's commentary on Luke chapter 22 titled "The Rejection of Israel's Messiah - Part I" is at this link and Part II is at this link.
Psalms - Bible.org's commentary on Psalm 95 titled "A Warning about Worship" is at this link. Wow.. Psalm 96 today is amazing! I love verse 1 - "Sing a new song to the LORD! Let the whole earth sing to the LORD!" Is there a new song God is asking you to sing to him these days? Will you sing this new song to God?
And I love the imagery in verse 12 - "Let the fields and their crops burst forth with joy! Let the trees of the forest rustle with praise."
What verses or insights jumped out for you in today's readings? Please post up in the Comments section below!
The Israelites continually sinned by worshiping Baal (many consider our Christmas trees and Maypoles to also be Asherah poles) just as the apostles continually sinned (such as the earlier purchase of two swords and Peter’s three denials) even when they didn’t realize it. Revelation includes a harsh condemnation (“I will vomit you out of my mouth”) for the church of Laodicea (the etymologically meaning of “the rights of the people” may suggest a democracy where the church was dominated not by its religious leaders but by its people) for being filthy rich, spoiled, and deplorably indifferent to everything (even if they likewise didn’t know it). God only rebukes those whom He loves.
Satan entered Judas (hardened heart) and Jesus said to Peter, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you all as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” Faith here is not about not failing, but being the one able to pick yourself and others up afterwards - to stop the cycle of sin and guilt. In Romans 6:18-22, Paul reveals that believers are to be free from sin (while still sinning). The elders knew that Jesus was a Godly agent and fabricated accusations (such as opposing payment of taxes) and Pilate also said that he could find no basis for their charges. They sin was similarly one of inaction for not stopping the mob rule (in the same way Adam allowed sin to enter the world by not stopping Eve from eating the Fruit of Knowledge). It was from such fear of peers that Gideon decides to only obey God at night when no one could see him. Ironically, Herod became friends with Pilate that day just for the honor of sending Jesus to him in deference to Pilate’s authority. Our lives are sadly too often ruled by the voices of others or our own ego to just go along instead of God’s voice to Godly action.
“But the LORD said to , ‘Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die.’” Gideon is terrified by the vision of God because he knows that no one can see God face to face and survive (since that was what God told Moses). Is it likely that Gideon was afraid and offered food because it was a being with physical form? How could this be possible unless it was Christ Himself (see Christophony)!
Gideon tests God. “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God.” (1 John 4:1) “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you - unless, of course, you fail the test?” (2 Corinthians 13:5) The Edomites’ homes were turned to stubble for joyfully assisting God with His punishment of the sinful Jews in the valley below. Moses, on the other hand, told God straight to His face that he could not punish the sinful Jews below him because it would look bad for God. Scripture demands that anyone claiming to have spiritual gifts or messages from God must submit to rational testing before employing (“let two or three prophets speak, and let others pass judgment.” – 1 Cor 12:29), and this was what Gideon did before obeying. “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind (not heart or faith). Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is - his good, pleasing, and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2) If a person is unwilling or his message fails such an examination, he, she, or it is to be rejected outright (if not stoned to death). “But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:14).
Better, moreover, says Psalms that through singing, extolling, and worshiping Him we should keep our heart from hardening when hearing God’s voice and never failing to remember Him to all the nations.
Posted by: Footsteps of God | April 26, 2005 at 08:28 PM