~ Click on this link for today's readings ~
Judges 11:1-12:15 ~ John 1:1-28
Psalm 101:1-8 ~ Proverbs 14:13-14
Old Testament - Today we read about Jephthah and his daughter - and the related vow. It is interesting to note that some Biblical scholars do not think that Jepthah actually killed his daughter, but that she simply died a virgin, as verse 38 says. However... verse 38 also says he kept his vow. Keep in mind that oftentimes the Bible reports "just the facts," which does not necessarily mean the "facts" or actions of what us humans did was pleasing in God's sight. Human sacrifice was not part of God's laws or plans. It is clearly forbidden in Leviticus chapter 20 verses 1-5 and in Leviticus chapter 18:21 - " 'Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molech, for you must not profane the name of your God. I am the LORD."
New Testament - I am so excited that we are starting the Gospel of John today! I won’t necessarily say that it is my favorite Gospel – because they are all 4 amazing. But, I will say that John is different from the other 3. If by chance you felt like reading Luke these past few weeks has gotten repetitive, when compared to Matthew and Mark, hang in there! John is different. Beautifully different. John Chapter 15 is most definitely one of my favorite chapters in the Bible. I cannot wait to read it again! I actually have a cool personal story to share with you all about John Chapter 15. I’ll do so either in a future email or on the blog when we get to this chapter.
I have a feeling there are probably a few folks who have dropped off the One Year Bible readings over this past few months. I’d like to invite you to jump back in and join us now as we’ve just begun Judges and will soon be starting John. These are 2 great books for you to start back up with us again!
One thing I’ll recommend to everyone, if you have a chance this next week, is to watch the movie “The Gospel of John”. Have you seen it? It is incredibly well done. It was released in theaters on a limited basis a year or so ago, and I was fortunate enough to have caught it in the theater. It is a 3 hour movie that goes word-for-word through the Gospel of John, based on the Good News Bible translation. Or, perhaps you’ll want to read the Biblical text first and then watch the movie later. Either way. I definitely recommend this film. You can hopefully pick it up at a video rental store. A friend of mine was surprised to have found it at the local supermarket little video rental section recently. Website is here - http://video.movies.go.com/thegospelofjohn/
The Gospel of John
Date: A.D. 85-96
Content: The Gospel of John was written many years after Jesus’ death and resurrection by the apostle John so that those who read it might believe in Christ and thus have life through his name. John begins with a prologue unique to this Gospel where Jesus’ preexistent life with the Father is depicted to show that Jesus was not simply a great man, but God. Miracles of Jesus as well as many of Jesus’ teachings not found elsewhere are then described. A long section in John chapters 14 through 17 describes Jesus’ teaching to his apostles before his death. After Jesus’ death and resurrection, special place is given to Jesus’ appearance to his apostles.
Theme: The Gospel of John more than any other Gospel stresses the deity of Christ and provides us with an interpretation of his life. He is explained in figurative terms as light, truth, love, good shepherd, the door, the resurrection and the life, living water, true bread, and more. The beautiful material found in John chapters 14 through 17 shows the deep love of Jesus for the believer and the peace that comes from faith in Christ. (Above commentary is from Tyndale Publishers “The One Year Bible Companion” pp. 22-23)
More commentary on John is at these 3 links –
Today in John Chapter 1 verse 14 we read – “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Do you believe that Jesus is the Word John is referring to? What does this mean to you that the Word became flesh? Do you believe that Jesus was born into this world both fully divine and fully human (yet sinless)? Why would God send Jesus, full of light, grace and truth into the world? Why was this necessary?
This week in John Chapter 1 verses 10 & 11 we read – “He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.” Do you believe that the world was made through Jesus? Do you believe the world is Jesus’ own? Have you ever gone through periods in your life where you have not recognized Jesus for who he truly is? (I know that I have) Have you gone through periods of your life where Jesus has come to you and you did not receive him? (Again, I know that I have) As you read through the Gospel of John this year will you prayerfully read it? Will you ask God to reveal to you through John’s Gospel who Jesus really is? And will you ask God to make Jesus more known to you this year than ever before? Do you believe this is possible – for you to know Jesus more this year than in your prior years? Do you believe the Gospel of John and prayer can help you to truly know Jesus more?
Bible.org's commentary on our readings in John today titled "What Child is This?" is at this link.
Psalms - Wow. Psalm 101 is awesome today... great verses, all of them. I like verse 3 - "I will refuse to look at anything vile and vulgar." This seems to be a bit tougher and tougher to adhere to in our modern world where pornography is getting more and more into the mainstream. But, it is such a beautiful and true Psalm of David for us to adhere to... Do you refuse to look at anything vile and vulgar?
Proverbs chapter 14 verse 13 is an interesting look at laughter. It is said to be the best medicine... and oftentimes I agree. But, this Proverb tells us that laughter may not always heal a heavy heart... Perhaps something more than laughter is needed when we have a heavy heart? Perhaps - God is needed?
What verses or insights jumped out for you in today's readings? Please post up in the Comments section below!
Again today I must limit my time on thoughts and comments. I’m going to a concert tonight, no, not U2 (smile) but a friend who is a Classical Composer work is being performed tonight, then I must get back home to pack.
What jumped out at me today, in this book that records that “every man did that which was right in his own eyes (21:25),” was the reversal of relationships in doing what was evil. Yesterday and Thursday we read about Abimelech, son of Gideon, aka, Jerubbaal, the illegitimate son, killing his seventy brothers, save but one, and ruling or judging as a political judge, not a spiritual one. Today we have the legitimate sons of Gilead not killing but forcing out the illegitimate son, their half-brother. Is it just me but has anyone notice that the judges have moved from have any kind of spiritual influence to just plan brut force? It seems God is using them in spite of themselves.
I am only guessing as to why they didn’t kill him but it could have been that he was a “great warrior,” and with all great warriors they usually have a “posse.” Regardless of illegitimacy or legitimacy I saw that the perversion of God’s commands and wickedness does not dwell in a particular family, neighborhood or person. We sometimes try to compartmentalize “sin” by giving deference to a particular time, place, space and people as being sinless. Folks run from neighborhood to neighborhood, state to state looking for “good” places and communities which to raise their young, when in reality the danger that we think dwells without, really resides within.
Each one did what was right in his own eyes implies that what everyone else did was wrong, but what I do is right. This sets up the individual as his or her own god. So even though we read in this book about Israel swinging from god to God, like a trapeze artist swinging from bar to bar, the gods they really served were the gods of their own self interest, the gods that lived in their hearts.
Are we guilty of serving our own gods and calling them something else, swinging from bar to bar, from god to God thinking we are safe because the mercy of God has formed a net underneath us? If the net or when the net is removed, do we cry out to God, “Where were You? When in reality we were grabbing for the wrong trapeze.
What I absolutely love about this Gospel is the image of light and True light, and the juxtaposing of truth with non-truth. This passage mentions that John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin and elder by birth by six months, proclaimed the “Light” that was Christ and gave testimony validating that Light.
8 John himself was not the light; he was only a witness to the light. 9The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was going to come into the world.
Take note if the writer is distinguishing between true light, know for certain there is a false one, in other words it illuminates to a point but leaves many things in the shadows.
What light am I serving? Do I need to get rid of a dimly lit bulb I’m calling the revelation of God? Thoughts that make one do some soul searching.
Mike, in the King James Version verse three reads,
I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me.
Maybe the KJV and NKJV can be understood clearer this time and with this verse. The NLT using, “I will refuse to look at” leaves us helpless in keeping outside forces from passing before us. We would have to go into a cave or put our eyes out to stop the onslaught of smut that comes before our eyes just walking down the street. Working in a college it’s not so much as what some folks are wearing that comes before my eyes, but what they aren’t wearing.
The King James talks about us placing something wicked before our very own eyes. Now if something wicked this way comes propelled by a human being that we have no control over, that’s one thing, but if we stop and stare at it then we are setting “it” before our eyes.
Laughter may conceal a heavy heart, just think of all the stand-up comics and comedians through the ages who are bitter, hurting people, but surly laughter that proceeds from a merry heart brings healing. (Proverbs 15:13;17:22). The key is the state of the heart. If the heart is merry then the laughter is legitimately flowing from the inside. But only God knows what is really in the heart of a person.
Grace and peace,
Posted by: Ramona | April 30, 2005 at 10:20 AM
Jephthah presented the arguments in his negotiations with the Ammonite king that Israel had not taken their land east of the Jordon from Ammon (but from the Amorites), that Israel had been given these possession by Yahweh, that Israel had taken none of Moab (as shown by Balak’s failure to fight), and if Ammon did have some prior claim to Gilead, why had they waited 300 years to press it. The reference to Chemosh as giving them their land is intended to appeal to the king of Ammon, but it is implied that Yahweh is stronger than Chemosh (the use of the principal god of Moab is problematic because the Ammonite god is elsewhere said to be Molech, but both Moab and Ammon originated with Lot and both involved in hiring Balaam to curse Israel and so both may have been previously culturally and religiously unified) since Israel and not Ammon possessed the disputed land. Jephthah speaks not with confidence of his success (knowing how justly God might suffer the Ammonites to prevail for the further punishment of Israel) or of himself (since the Lord delivered them victory) but makes only the challenge of which God is greater.
Jephthah’s vow teaches that there may be remainders of distrust and doubting even in the hearts of true and great believers, our vows to God should express gratitude and not be as a purchase favor, we can become entangled by our vows and we must keep them no matter the outcome, all children should obediently and cheerfully submit to their parents. The same question is put to any who desire salvation by Christ: will you be willing to have Christ rule you? On no other terms will he save you. Jephthah, to obtain a little worldly honor, was willing to expose his life: shall we be discouraged in our Christian warfare by the difficulties we may meet with, when Christ has promised a crown of life to him that overcomes? We also are reminded here that no disputes are as bitter as those between brothers or rivals for honor and how quickly the scorned children of sin can become friends in need.
It is hard to say what Jephthah did in performance of his vow as to whether he really did offer up his daughter for a burnt offering to the Lord or only devoted her to perpetual virginity. At that time, perpetual virginity would have been considered as a great sacrifice (consider Samuel’s mom who gave him up to the church in exchange just not to be barren). She was the only child of Jephthah which meant there would be no grandchildren and no posterity. Human sacrifice in the days of Abraham (Gen 22:1-14) through Moses (Lev 18:21; 20:1-5; Deut 12:29-32; 18:9-12) and the consequences of the vow that “she knew no man” seems to imply that she was devoted to perpetual virginity. The joy of victory was suddenly turned to sorrow when Jephthah saw his daughter and remembered his vow. The lament then would have been that she died before bearing children.
Many others have long held, however, in accordance with his vow to provide a burnt offering to God that she was killed according to Canaanite practices (which Jephthah had previously embraced) and she literally died within two months. The Bible mentions Gahenna, which was a valley where ancient Jews used to also burn their children in worship (and later just burned their trash). In later periods there were additional incidents of human sacrifices among the Israelites (2 Kin 16:3; 17:17; 21:6; 2 Chr 33:6; Jer 7:31; 19:5; 32:35; Ezek 16:20, 21; Amos 5:25-27) even though these were never considered lawful. Human sacrifice was also practiced at various times among Israel’s neighbors (Lev 18:21; 20:2; 2 Kin 3:27).
That Christ was already in existence with God is what is meant by the term, “pre-existent Christ” and many suggest that when God walked with a person in the Old Testament that it must have been Christ (as John says, “No one had ever seen God”) referred to by the term, “Christophony.” Many would say the simplest reason why Christ is called the Word with that as our words explain our minds to others that Jesus was sent in order to reveal his Father’s mind to the world. We speak of the life and habits of animals as zoology and the accounts of men as biography. While animals have many things in command with mankind, only people lead lives controlled by intellect, creativity, free will, and morality. Passing from the thought of creation in general to mankind (with a special capacity for receiving the divine) with life being the light, the Word becomes light though the medium of spiritual life. Many say that they are Christians but will not part with their sins or have Him reign over them. As an American lives in America, a Christian lives in Christ. John the Baptist (different from any other in that the Spirit was with him from birth) came (figuratively as Elias) to bear witness concerning Jesus. Christ came after John, but in every other way He was before him. John formally renounces being either Christ or Elias, but he baptized the people as a profession of repentance as an outward sign of the spiritual blessings that awaited them from the baptism from the Messiah. John means with “of His fullness” that Christians receive whatever each requires for the perfection of his character and for the accomplishment of his work (compare John 15:15, 17:22). “I will be careful to live a blameless life… I will refuse to look at anything vile and vulgar… I will not endure conceit and pride… My daily task will be to ferret out criminals.”
Posted by: Footsteps of God | April 30, 2005 at 06:15 PM