Probably a weird thing to say, but Judges is my favorite book in the OT. It feels like the Wild West. There is a sense of law vs. lawlessness in the claiming of this new land. And much like the European visitors who tried to take the land from the Native Americans, the would-be settlers were not always behaving as though they were righteous or just. Judges gives us a picture of people vacillating between right and wrong. It feels real, gritty, and more relatable than the wanderings in the desert we’ve been dealing with the last couple of weeks. Still, this book also contains some HORRIFIC passages, and none are worse than the Jephthah’s daughter debacle. What a disaster of a promise Jephthah makes and what an awful result.
On to the notes!
- Judges 1 – Here’s the first reference to Jerusalem (I think?). Amazing to see this important city enter through violence. It is still such a divided place today and it began as a divided place in Judges. Just a preview of what’s to come…
- Funny how just a generation after Joshua dies, the people forget the Lord. Do we have the same problem? Do we take for granted the exploits and sacrifices of our parents? Grandparents and beyond?
- “Then the Israelites did what was evil in the sight of the Lord…” We run into this phrase an awful lot over the next 20+ chapters, don’t we?
- Othniel doesn’t get very much of a story, just a short paragraph in chapter 3. I wish there was more to his backstory.
- Judges 3:12-30 – WOW that’s a lot of violence all of the sudden. Killing a guy in the bathroom? Again, best book in the OT. Wild stories.
- I love the introduction of Deborah. Here we have a very strong female leader who takes up the mantle when the male general is unwilling to do so alone. If this isn’t great rationale for female leadership and ordination, then I don’t know what is. Deborah is called by God to lead the people with her gifts, talents, and faith. I want my daughter to know this story. I want my son to know this story. I want all people to read the scripture with an eye toward the whole – what is God’s ultimate message about our relationships with one another, strangers, friends, and even our enemies.
- Judges 6 – The Sign of the Fleece – Gideon may be blessed, anointed, and touched by God, but he doesn’t have a ton of trust in God, does he? It’s funny how he test God once and when God passes, he decides to retest God. What does he think, the first time was a fluke? God got lucky?
- And the very next chapter we get an army chosen because they drink like dogs? This stuff is hilarious, awesome, fantastic, and hopeful. I really, really enjoy this book.
- Judges 11 – Jephthah’s vow feels like the beginning of the end for the book. Why do we make deals with God that God does not ask us to make? Why would you bargain with God when there is no need to bargain? This poor girl. What an awful story…
- And onto the scene burst Samson! Here is yet another child of promise, born to a previously barren mother. There will be many more of these individuals in the scriptures that follow. My favorite Grateful Dead song? “Samson and Delilah” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NQXv4JL0Fzg
- The Samson chronicles are great to teach kids…until everybody starts dying…and we have to deal with the weird sexual stuff…and the genocide…and animal abuse…and blindings…and, well, I’ll take back my previous statement.
- And after Samson comes another passage I didn’t really learn in Sunday School. Judges 19 describes the horrible rape of two women and the civil war that follows between the various tribes involved in the incident. You’ll notice that God is absent from this section. The people were without any clear leadership, faith, or hope.
- Ruth was one of the first books I preached on when I became thepastor at The Peoples church. I love the way this book provides a hope that was missing in Judges. It’s kind of a palate cleanser for the end of the last book. Now THIS is a story you can teach to all ages. After the NC-17 Judges, we have the more digestible PG Ruth…with a few scenes of adult situations (threashing room floor comes to mind).
- Who are the people picking up the sheaves in our culture? Do we leave the sheaves out for them?
- Names are important.
- Everyone has the responsibility for another person. We are all called to take care of others, aren’t we?
- Boaz and Ruth are part of the lineage of David, and a little farther down the line, the genealogy of Jesus. Makes you start to wonder about all the questionable characters in Jesus’ background.
- We’re just starting this book today.
- We encounter yet another child of promise. Hannah prays for a child and is eventually rewarded. So what does she do with her new baby? Gives him away to the temple.
Posted in Bible in 90 Days
Tagged 1 Samuel, Bible, Bible in 90 Days, Boaz, Confusing, Deborah, Difficult, Gideon, Grateful Dead, Hannah, Jephthah, Jephthah's Daughter, Joshua, Judges, OT, Reading, Ruth, Samson, Samson and Delialah
President’s Day Reading Catch-up
Days 13-17 – Numbers 33 – Joshua 24
Nothing like a long weekend to help you catch up on some reading, eh? Or, in my case, nothing like a long weekend with your family at a waterpark to wreck havoc on your good intentions. I feel like there is some kind of parallel between this weekend and the Hebrew people’s journey in the wilderness. Hear me out – they want to do the right thing, the thing God has called them to do, but something always seems to get in their way and distract them. They assume it’s going to be easy and, predictably, it never is. We’re still reading some difficult passages and truth be told, I’m looking forward to the end of this section.
This is a big chunk of the OT and by the time we finish it we’ll be out of the Torah and onto Joshua. That’s gotta mean something, right?
- Numbers 33 feels like a sitcom “clips” show. You know the episode I’m talking about? One of those shows that claims to be all new but it’s really just a collection of clips from the previous episodes. That’s what we’re dealing with here. A recap of what we just read in the previous 32 chapters. Actually, it’s helpful for me to reread this whole section. Nice to remind yourself how everybody got to where they are.
- Numbers 35 – Cities of refuge for those seeking asylum. I love this concept. Where are the places of security, refuge and sanctuary in our world today? Where do we allow the accused, the frightened, and worrisome?
- Again, I’m concerned with this approach to reading scripture. I know there are some subtle differences between the similar events that are retold in Leviticus, Exodus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, but for the life of me, I can’t pick them out while reading this much this fast. What I am discovering are the larger themes and ideas that permeate throughout the meta-narrative – God’s continual presence, call and response, the need for obedience, humanity’s shortcomings, and the ability to forgive – just to name a few.
- Moses is again reminded that he will not enter into Canaan. What must he have felt to know that his children and grandchildren would see the land he had longed for for so long? Is that a comfort to us? To know our children will experience great joy, even if we do not?
- Retelling the 10 commandments – Deuteronomy 5
- Best part of Deuteronomy – 6:4-9 – SHEMA!!! I may not remember much else from my seminary Hebrew classes than these wonderful verses. This sticks and it should stick. I want to remember these verses- To keep these words. To share these words.
- Big warning – Deut 8:19 If you forget the Lord your God and follow other gods to serve and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish.
- Hooray! More food laws! I was wondering if I should eat roebuck or the buzzard. Guess not.
- Deuteronomy 15:10 – Give liberally and ungrudging when you do so
- And here come the sexuality laws…Deuteronomy 22…this deserves more attention…in another post…on another day…
- Fun new law I just learned? Deuteronomy 23:24 – If you go into your neighbor’s vineyard, you may eat your fill of grapes, as many as you wish, but you shall not put any in a container.
- Laws usually develop because of the actions of a community. I’d like to know the origin of this particular law and want to know how many times it occurred to warrant recording it in Deuteronomy 25:11-12 – If men get into a fight with one another, and the wife of one intervenes by reaching out and seizing his genitals, you shall cut off her hand; show her no pity.
- Wrapping Deuteronomy up with another recap, this time set to a song. Way to go, Moses. I didn’t realize you had some music skills in addition to all the prophetic stuff!
- Moses’ eulogy is beautiful, fitting, and a nice conclusion to the Torah.
- It’s the turning point! We’re in Joshua!
- And let’s also welcome Rahab onto the scene. Her story is a pretty fantastic one – this foreign woman is responsible for giving the Israelites what they needed to come into the land and survive. She is one of many “women of questionable backgrounds” who proves to be part of the great story of all of God’s people. God chooses the most unlikely, even you and me. Her quick thinking and wise words make all the difference.
- Joshua 5:15 – Josh takes off his sandals in the presence of God’s holy messenger…very similar to Moses removing his shoes in front of the burning bush. Bottom line? Take off your shoes in the presence of the divine.
- Those sneaky Gibeonites tried to pull a fast one on Joshua. Didn’t seem to work out in their favor (Joshua 9).
- Joshua 12 is the list of kings defeated. That’s, um, a lot of war. A whole lot of war.
- Dividing up the conquered land – give it to the tribes, give the Levites their due, and make sure you set up cities of refuge. I think I got this section. Bring on Judges.
Posted in Bible in 90 Days, Genesis in Lent
Tagged Andrew Pomerville, Bible, Deuteronomy, Gibeonites, Joshua, Moses, Rahab, Reading, Robert Burns, Roebuck, The Bible in 90 Days, The Peoples Church of East Lansing, The Shema