Friday, April 28, 2017

April 28: Judges 8:18-9:21; Psalm 99; Proverbs 14:9-10; Luke 23:44-24:12



Overview

            Judges: Gideon discovered that Zebah and Zalmunna had killed his brothers so he killed them. The people of Israel wanted Gideon, his son, and grandson to rule over them but he refused. He said the Lord rules over them. But, he asked them for the earrings from the spoil they collected. They agreed and he collected enough gold to make a golden ephod, which he put in his city. All Israel whored after it and it was a snare to Gideon. The land had peace for forty years.
            Gideon had seventy sons from many wives and one son, Abimelech, from a concubine in Shechem. After Gideon died, Israel turned back to the Baals and didn’t honor Gideon’s family.
            Abimelech went to Shechem and convinced them to be their ruler. They gave him money and a house. He hired thugs, went to his father’s house, and killed all but the youngest son, Jotham who escaped. The city of Shechem and Beth-millo made him king over them.
            Jotham called to the elders of Shechem from Mount Gerizim and told a parable against them for making Abimelech king. He said if they were honest about making him king and had treated his father’s according to his deeds in rescuing them from Midian, then may Abimelech be their joy. However, they didn’t so he calls for fire to come from them on Abimelech and vice versa. Then Jotham escaped and lived in Beer.
            Psalm: God is exalted and mighty in his reign. He is enthroned on cherubim. He is holy and loves justice. He establishes righteousness in Israel. He is to be exalted and worshiped.
            Moses, Aaron, and Samuel all called upon God’s name and he answered them. When they did wrong, God forgave them but avenged their wrongdoing. He is holy and to be worshiped.
            Proverbs: Fools mock God’s provision for taking care of guilt. The upright welcome being accepted by God because of his provision.
            Our emotions are truly within us and others can’t fully comprehend either the bitterness or joy we have.
            Luke: Darkness came over the land, the temple curtain was torn in two, and then Jesus gave up his Spirit. The centurion praised God, the people turned and went away. The women who followed Jesus and his acquaintances watched it all happen.
            Joseph of Arimathea was a council member who didn’t approve of Jesus’ death. He took Jesus’ body, wrapped it in a shroud, and put him in a new tomb. The women saw where he was laid then went to prepare spices and ointments. The Sabbath interrupted them so they rested.
            On the first day of the week, they took the spices to the tomb but found the rock rolled away. Instead of finding Jesus, they found two men in dazzling clothes. They told the frightened women that Jesus had risen. They reminded them that it happened just as Jesus said.
            The women remembered what Jesus said and told the other disciples. The disciples thought it was a fairy tale but Peter ran to the tomb. He saw the linen clothes by themselves. He went home marveling at what had happened.

What Stood Out

            Judges: “As soon as Gideon died, the people of Israel turned again and whored after the Baals and made Baal-berith their god” (Judg 8:33).
            Psalm: “O Lord our God, you answered them; you were a forgiving God to them,
but an avenger of their wrongdoings” (Ps 99:8).
            Proverbs: “Fools mock at the guilt offering, but the upright enjoy acceptance” (Prov 14:9).
            Luke: “And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, ‘Why do you seek the living among the dead?’” (Luke 24:5).

Insight

            Judges: Nothing good was reported during this time after Gideon conquered Midian. Even Gideon was drawn away from the Lord by making a golden ephod that all Israel worshiped. He had many wives but that didn’t keep him from having a child by a servant.
            Once again, as soon as a judge dies, the people turn back to the foreign gods and worship them. This worship of other gods affected the people in such a way as to lose all sense of decency. This is highlighted by the way Abimelech sought a position for himself and became king over two cities after murdering all his half brothers, Gideon’s sons. The elders of Shechem were no better as they were the ones who financed the operation and made him king.
            Sin may creep in to a person or a nation in small steps. However, there comes a point where it becomes an avalanche. The downfall of society after Gideon started with the ephod and blew up after his death. It should be a warning to us not to let the small “respectable” sins get a foothold.
            Psalm: Moses, Aaron, and Samuel are three examples of godly men in the Bible. While they were mostly obedient, each had some flaws. Moses struck a rock instead of speaking to it. Aaron was complicit in that as well. They both had previous sins as well. The only bad thing recorded about Samuel was his inability to keep his sons honest. They took bribes and perverted justice (1 Sam 8:3). Even though God forgave them, they still had to face the consequences of their sins. We know Moses and Aaron didn’t get to enter the Promised Land. We don’t know what personally happened to Samuel, but Israel wanted a king as a result of his wayward sons.
            God’s holiness, righteousness, and justice will never be compromised. That is why Jesus had to die for our sins. Someone had to pay the penalty and our sinful lives are never enough.
            Proverbs: There again, fools just reject what is right and holy. In Old Testament times, some people blatantly scoffed at God’s provision to cover guilt and sin through the sacrificial system. It isn’t any different today. Fools scoff at Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins. They reject Jesus and act as if his death had no meaning. They trample Jesus under foot and treat as unholy his shed blood of the new covenant (Heb 10:29). Their end is not going to be pretty.
            On the other hand, Old Testament saints rejoiced in knowing that the guilt offering made them acceptable to God. Their acceptance was not perfect as is our because Jesus’ sacrifice was once for all and theirs had to be done over and over (Heb 10:10-14). We can rejoice in our acceptance into God’s family when we trust Jesus as our Lord and Savior.
            Luke: Jesus’ death had a profound impact on many people. The centurion praised God. Many simply turned away. Others watched from a distance. I don’t know how people who watched could bear it.
            Joseph came out of hiding as a disciple and courageously took Jesus’ body down from the cross. The disciples are strangely missing from the accounts. Only John is mentioned in John 19:26. I can’t blame them because they believed they would be killed along with Jesus. I don’t think I could stomach seeing a crucifixion and especially seeing how Jesus was brutalized.
            I can only fathom it from the standpoint of this side of the resurrection. Why seek the living among the dead? Rather than focusing on his death, the angels tell us to look for the risen Christ. We shouldn’t minimize his death because that is what we should all have to suffer for our sins. However, our hope is in the resurrection. It proves out sins are forgiven. It proves Jesus really is God. It proves we are children of God and have eternal life. That all depends on our belief and confession of Jesus as our Lord (Rom 10:9-10). Otherwise, we are just like the scoffers.

Application

            I need to think about Jesus’ death to put my sins in perspective. I don’t need to dwell on them because they are forgiven. I need to go forward in the power of Jesus’ resurrection.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

April 27: Judges 7 – 8:17; Psalm 97 – 98; Proverbs 14:7-8; Luke 23:13-43



Overview

            Judges: Gideon camped by the spring of Harod. The Lord told him that there were too many men with him. If they won the battle, they might boast that they did it. So the Lord had Gideon tell fearful men to go home. 22,000 left and 10,000 remained. That was still too many so the Lord sorted them out by having men drink from the spring. 300 men lapped water and were selected. The rest went home leaving provisions for the 300.
            The Lord told Gideon to fight. If he was afraid, he was to first sneak down and listen to the Midianites in their camp. When he was listening, a Midianite told a dream and the interpretation by another was that the Lord had given Midian into Gideon’s hand.
            Gideon worshiped when he heard it. He went back and assembled the 300, each with a trumpet and a torch under a jar. They circled the Midian camp, broke the jar, sounded their trumpets, and shouted, “A sword for the Lord and Gideon.” The Midianites panicked and killed each other. Survivors fled and the men of Israel from Naphtali, Asher, and Manasseh were called to pursue them. Ephraim was also called and they killed many including two Midian princes, Oreb and Zeeb.
            The Ephraimites were angry with Gideon for not calling them sooner. But Gideon cooled them off saying that capturing Oreb and Zeeb was better than what he had done.
            Gideon and his 300 men crossed the Jordon and asked for food at Succoth and Penuel. They were refused at both because they hadn’t yet captured Zebah and Zalmunna, the Midian kings. Gideon promised he would punish them for not helping. Only 15,000 out of 135,000 were left from the Midianite army. Gideon surprised them, captured Zebah and Zalmunna and sent the remaining army into a panic.
            Gideon returned to Succoth and whipped the men of the city with thorns. He killed the men of Penuel.
            Psalm 97: The Lord reigns and everyone should rejoice because he is righteous and just. His power is demonstrated in fire and lightning before which no one or thing can stand. Looking at the heavens shows that he is righteous and that idol worshipers put their trust in the wrong things. Zion and Judah rejoice at God’s judgments and his exaltation. People who love God hate evil. God takes care of them giving them righteousness, joy, and they thank the Lord.
            Psalm 98: Sing to the Lord because he has revealed his salvation and righteousness before all nations. It is seen in his love and faithfulness to Israel. All the earth should sing and make joyful music to the Lord. All nature will praise him when he comes to judge the earth.
            Proverbs: A prudent person knows his way and will leave fools because there is no wisdom among them and their ways are deceiving.
            Luke: Pilate called the Jewish leaders together and told them he didn’t find Jesus guilty and neither did Herod. He would punish Jesus and release him. But they demanded to have Jesus crucified. Pilate tried three times to release Jesus but they persisted and he released Barabbas, as they demanded.
            They led Jesus away to be crucified and forced Simon of Cyrene to carry the cross. Many people followed, mourning and lamenting. Jesus told them to weep for themselves, for if people are doing this now, what will it be like later when there is even more evil.
            Two criminals were crucified with him. Jesus asked the Father to forgive the soldiers because they didn’t know what they were doing. The soldiers divided Jesus’ clothing and mocked him, the people watched, and the rulers scoffed. One criminal railed at him wanting Jesus to save them if he was the Christ. The other criminal rebuked the first and asked Jesus to remember him when Jesus came into his kingdom. Jesus assured him that he would be with him in paradise that day.

What Stood Out

            Judges: “The Lord said to Gideon, ‘The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over me, saying, “My own hand has saved me”’” (Judg 7:2).
            Psalm: “The Lord has made known his salvation; he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations” (Ps 98:2).
            Proverbs: “Leave the presence of a fool, for there you do not meet words of knowledge” (Prov 14:7).
            Luke: “And he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ And he said to him, ‘Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise’” (Luke 23:42-43).

Insight

            Judges: One thing that becomes evident in the Bible is that God will not let anyone get the glory that belongs to him. Giving credit to people for what God has done is a serious affront to God. From a human perspective, we are also upset when someone takes credit for something we’ve done. However, we will overlook it unless it is of a major importance. From God’s perspective, taking credit for anything God has done is always of major importance because it means a person is taking God’s place. There is only one place for God and that is first in everything.
            Since Israel’s problems stemmed from worshiping other God, it was of vital importance for God to show them he was taking care of them and it wasn’t their own strength and especially their own gods. We need to be careful. We can become self-sufficient and think we are able to do great things. When we put God first in our lives, we acknowledge that the Lord is the only reason we can do anything. If we stop and think about it, we should realize that every breath we take is only because it is God’s will. When we give glory to God in all things (1 Cor 10:31), we will be able to worship the Lord correctly. Look at Gideon when he heard the Midianites admit that God had given them into his hand. He worshiped (Judg 7:15). That should be our daily, all day long, response.
            Psalm: Trying to understand that salvation is a gift from God and not by our own efforts is one of the areas that people have the greatest difficulty. Psalm 98:2 clearly states that God has made know his salvation to all nations. Note, it is his salvation, not ours. God will not give his glory to another and is one reason salvation is a gift from God and not because of our ability, potential, good deeds, baptism, or anything else we can imagine. 1 Corinthians 1:18-29 explains God’s salvation to the whole world. It is through the cross of Jesus Christ and God chooses who will be saved. Anyone who come to God thinking he is something special will be greatly disappointed because God’s salvation is accomplished in his way “so that no human being might boast in the presence of God” (1 Cor 1:29).
            Proverbs: We should take Proverbs 14:7 to heart with all the fake news and alternative facts being proclaimed today. Before the internet and email, people had to print the fake news and it was harder to spread. I remember getting copies of an urgent request to keep the FCC from shutting down Christian Radio stations because Madalyn Murray O’Hair, the famous atheist, was suing the FCC. It was fake news in the 70s and the same fake news still is passed in emails with some of the details changed. A little decrement, a little research, and trust in the Lord will always keep us from becoming alarmed or anxious about claims we see even when the news is supposed to be correct, in the newspapers. The proverbs are right; fools are deceiving. Don’t fall for it, don’t pass it on.
            Luke: The second criminal expressed a faith in Jesus that isn’t always obvious. He didn’t ask forgiveness, he didn’t confess Jesus is Lord, he didn’t pray the sinner’s prayer. He didn’t do any of the things that we normally associate as accoutrements to receiving salvation.
            What he said reveals that he knew Jesus was the Messiah. How he knew is not recorded. If he had not known, he would not have asked to be remembered in Jesus’ kingdom. Only the Messiah is going to have a kingdom after his death. His faith is evident in believing Jesus would die but still have a kingdom. He didn’t confess his sin, but simply asking Jesus to remember him was a confession of need.
            Jesus’ reply speaks volumes as well. It tells us that the criminal was right. Jesus has a kingdom that extends past his death. It tells us that works don’t save because the criminal had no opportunity to do any good works. It tells us that baptism doesn’t save or any other rituals. It tells us that when we die with faith in Jesus, we will be with him immediately. We don’t have to wait for the resurrection. We won’t be in some kind of soul sleep. Where we are going will be a paradise. It won’t be a dark holding cell. It won’t be full of fiery demons. It will be a beautiful place. Think of the Garden of Eden, only better. It tells us that Jesus is omnipresent because he will be with the criminal and he also was raised three days later. We’ll talk more about that when we get to his after-resurrection appearances.
            We can draw much assurance from this because it is by faith we are saved.

Application

            I need to be careful to give God all the glory due him. I have to be careful not to take it for myself. It isn’t always easy to do this because it is an all day, every day, attitude that is opposed to my sinful nature.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

April 26: Judges 6; Psalm 95 – 96; Proverbs 14:5-6; Luke 22:54-23:12



Overview

            Judges: The people did evil in the sight of the Lord and he gave them over to Midian who devoured their crops and livestock. They were very numerous. Israel cried to the Lord and he sent a prophet to tell them they had disobeyed.
            The Angel of the Lord then appeared to Gideon and said the Lord was with him. Gideon questioned how God could be with them because they were oppressed by Midian. The Lord told him to go and save Israel and he could do it even though he was weakest in Manasseh because the Lord would be with Gideon. Gideon wanted a sign so he brought a present, meat from a young goat, unleavened bread, and broth. The Angel of the Lord told him to put the offering on a rock and pour the broth over it. He touched it with his staff and fire came out of the rock devouring it. The Angel of the Lord disappeared. Gideon was afraid he was going to die because he saw the Lord but the Lord told him not to fear but have peace. Gideon built an altar and called it The Lord is Peace.
            That night the Lord told him to destroy his father’s idol and Asherah. He was to sacrifice a bull using the wood from the Asherah. He was afraid of his family and the townspeople so he did it at night.
            The next day the people saw the broken Baal, Asherah, and remains of the bull. They discovered Gideon had done it so they told his father, Joash, to bring him out because he must die for the crime. Joash told them if Baal was a god then let him deal with Gideon. So they called Gideon Jerubbaal, “Let Baal contend against him.”
            The Midianites crossed the Jordon and Gideon called together Manasseh, Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali. Gideon was apprehensive so he asked God to confirm that they were to save Israel. He laid out a fleece for a sign. He asked two different night to have a sign. The first was to have the fleece be wet with dew and the ground dry, the second the ground wet with dew and the fleece dry. That’s what God did.
            Psalm 95: Let us worship the Lord because he is a great God. He holds all nature together. He is our maker. When we hear his voice, we shouldn’t harden our hearts like Israel’s fathers did in the wilderness. God was angry with them for forty years. They didn’t enter into his rest.
            Psalm 96: Let us sing a new song to the Lord. Let us declare his wonders among the nations because God is feared among all the gods. All their gods are worthless idols, but God made the heavens. We are to ascribe to God all the glory due him, bring an offering, worship, and tremble before him. The nations are to recognize that the Lord reigns. All nature extols his greatness and he will judge the world in righteousness and the people with faithfulness.
            Proverbs: Faithful witnesses tell the truth while unfaithful ones lie. Scoffers will do what they can to come up with alternative facts but it is all lies. A knowledgeable person doesn’t have a problem understanding the truth.
            Luke: The crowd takes Jesus to the high priest’s house. They build a fire in the courtyard and Peter joins them around the fire. A servant girl recognizes him and Peter denies Jesus. As time passes, two more men recognize him and Peter denies Jesus each time. A rooster crows and Peter weeps bitterly.
            The guards beat Jesus and mock him until the assembly of elders comes together in the morning. They ask him if he is the Christ but Jesus tells them they won’t believe him but they will see him seated at the right hand of the power of God. They ask if he is the Son of God and Jesus says he is. They stop questioning him because they believe he has admitted guilt.
            They then take him to Pilate and accuse him of misleading Israel, forbidding paying taxes, and being a king. Pilate asks Jesus if he is king of the Jews and Jesus says he is. Pilate tells the chief priests and crowd that he doesn’t find any guilt in Jesus. They complain that Jesus has been stirring up people from Galilee to here.
            Pilate then sent Jesus to Herod who was in Jerusalem but Galilee was under his jurisdiction. Herod was delighted to see Jesus but only to see a miracle. When he couldn’t get anything out of Jesus, he let his soldiers mistreat Jesus and sent him back to Pilate.

What Stood Out

            Judges: “Then Gideon built an altar there to the Lord and called it, The Lord is Peace” (Judg 6:24).
            Psalm: “For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the Lord made the heavens” (Ps 96:5).
            Proverbs: “A scoffer seeks wisdom in vain, but knowledge is easy for a man of understanding” (Prov 14:6).
            Luke: “And he said to them, ‘You say that I am.’” (Luke 22:70).

Insight

            Judges: The beginning of this story about Gideon demonstrates how far Israel had sunk in doing evil before the Lord. They knew the basics about the Lord as Gideon said their fathers had told of God’s miracles taking them out of Egypt. So here is the picture. Joash, Gideon’s father gathers his kids in the evening and tells them about everything the Lord had done taking the people from Egypt, through the wilderness, and capturing the promised land. He probably told them of Othniel and Ehud. They may have even sang Deborah’s song. Then Joash gets up, goes outside, and offers a sacrifice to Baal and Asherah.
            What kind of crazy religion is that? Today we call that hedging your bet. He knew God was powerful and had provided in the past, but just in case God doesn’t come through, he also had other gods. The prophet that came to them told them this was disobedience and all their troubles was a result of this.
            How different are we when we think we have to earn God’s love by our works. He wants us to do things, but it is supposed to be in his power, not ours. It is out of love of him, not to earn his love. His love is solid and unmovable (Rom 8:31-39). Others of us worship the Lord on Sunday and go home to pay homage to our idols of materialism, work, porn, and other things. This is no different from the way Israel was living.
            However, when Gideon saw the Lord face to face, God gave him peace. He was a long way from being a perfect God-worshiper, but with the peace of God, he was able to take baby steps of obedience. The first was to get rid of the idols. The second was to prepare for war. We need to get rid of our idols before we can live victorious lives in Christ.
            Psalm: Thinking about the state of Israel during Gideon’s time and then these Psalms brings quite a convicting declaration. Our God is above all other gods. There isn’t one of them that can control nature. None of them have ever created from nothing, not even one thing. None of them can save us for eternity. God is worthy of all our worship.
            One of the gods of today is science’s theory of evolution. Aaron molded a golden calf and Israel said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt” (Ex 32:4)! Science has done the same thing. It has come up with theories that inorganic matter, rocks, chemicals, and such have come together to make life by chance. Now we are supposed to bow down to this god and say it has made us. Oh, yeah, I forgot, this inorganic matter just made itself and is the real god, because it is self-existent. Or it could be some form of energy that is self-existent and produced all matter. Note, this energy or matter must have made itself, otherwise, people would have to admit there is a God who made it. They expect us to worship it rather than our God who is above all their theories. He has clearly made all things and we are without excuse (Rom 1:20).
            Proverbs: Are we still taking about evolution? Scoffers are the ones who don’t believe the Bible and the clear answer to creation in six literal days as explained in Genesis 1. They are looking for alternative “facts” and that lands them squarely on evolution and a big bang that still doesn’t explain how the universe came into being. They modify their theories every day because the theories all have flaws. This is all in vain because they want wisdom that agrees with their belief that there is no God. Yet a person with understanding, one who knows and trusts the Lord and the Bible, has no problem with creation and God being the source of it all. Of course, scoffers usually want to have alternative facts because the truth would hold them accountable to God and then they would have to turn to Jesus for salvation. That is what they want to avoid.
            Luke: Many people know who Jesus is. If you talk to them and ask questions rather than trying to tell them about Jesus, you will find out that they know quite a bit about him. The Jewish leaders were in the same category only more informed. They asked if Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah, the one anointed by God, all synonyms for the meaning of the Greek word we transliterate as Christ.[1] They knew he was the Messiah, otherwise, they wouldn’t have asked him. They wanted him to admit it so they could accuse him of calling himself God. However, they may have had some different understanding about what the Messiah was. So they narrow it down to asking if he was the Son of God. Jesus knows that they can’t interpret this as anything other than claiming to be God. He answers, “You have said so” (Luke 22:70). This is Jesus’ indictment of their belief. They just admitted that they understood all that Jesus claimed by his miracles and his teaching. They now have no excuse for their actions. They just condemned themselves.
            When we talk to people about Jesus and they say he is a good teacher, a prophet, or something other than the Son of God. They are trying their best to deny the truth that Jesus is God in the flesh. Sometimes we shouldn’t be too eager to try to convince them that Jesus is the Son of God. Maybe asking about Jesus’ miracles and his teaching should come first. The Jewish leaders took three years of following Jesus before they were convinced. When we ask people about Jesus, they should draw the conclusion that Jesus is the Son of God, but haven’t, we can ask them what Jesus claimed for himself and what the Jewish leaders believed. After all, the name of Jesus is powerful. Hopefully at the name of Jesus, their knees will bow and confess he is Lord (Phil 2:9-11).

Application

            These other gods in my lif are often well hidden. I need to be careful what draws me away from Jesus. I also should not be afraid to confess to others that he is my Lord and Savior.


[1] S. Grimm and S. Wilke, New Testament Lexicon, Joseph Henry Thayer, ed., (Seattle: Biblesoft 2006), s.v. “NT:5547.”

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

April 25: Judges 4 – 5; Psalm 94; Proverbs 14:3-4; Luke 22:35-53



Overview

            Judges: After Ehud died, the people did evil. God gave them into the hands of Jabin, king of Canaan and Sisera his commander. Sisera had 900 chariots of iron and oppressed Israel for twenty years. The people cried to the Lord for help.
            Deborah, a prophetess, was judging Israel. She sent for Barak and told him by the Lord to take 10,000 men and God would give Sisera to him. Barak said he would go only if Deborah went with him. She agreed but told him the honor of killing Sisera would go to a woman.
            The Lord drew out Sisera and routed him before Barak. Sisera ran away and took refuge in Jael’s tent, a Kenite. She invited him in and when he slept, she killed him. Then she told Barak.
            Deborah then wrote a song providing many details about the battle. Then Israel had rest for forty years.
            Psalm: The Psalmist asks the Lord to take vengeance. The enemy has been oppressing Israel. The Psalmist explains that he Lord hears and sees all. He disciplines nations, rebukes, teaches knowledge, and knows a man’s thoughts.
            People the Lord disciplines are blessed. They will eventually get rest because God doesn’t forget his people. The Lord stands up for them against the wicked. Even when it appears hopeless with the wicked banding together, the Lord holds us up and cares for us. The Lord is our refuge and the Lord will wipe out the wicked.
            Proverbs: A fool gets beat up when he mouths off, but a wise person’s speech keeps him safe.
            If you don’t have an ox you don’t have to feed it, but the ox is what helps provide a good harvest.
            Luke: Jesus asks the disciples if they lacked anything when he sent them out without provisions. They replied they had enough. Now he tells them to get provisions and buy a sword if they don’t have any. The fulfillment of the prophecy that he was numbered among the transgressors must be fulfilled. In fact, all prophecies about him must be fulfilled. They had two swords and Jesus said it was enough.
            They went to the Mount of Olives and Jesus told them to pray so they wouldn’t enter into temptation. Jesus went a stone’s throw away from them and prayed that this cup would depart from him, but whatever the Father wanted and not his own will. An angel strengthened him, yet his agony was great and his sweat was like drops of blood. When he was done praying, he found the disciples asleep from sorrow. He asked why they were sleeping and again told them to pray that they wouldn’t fall into temptation.
            Judas led a crowd to Jesus and he came close to kiss Jesus. Jesus asked if he would betray the Son of Man with a kiss. The disciples asked if they should fight and one cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant. Jesus stopped them from doing anything more, healed the ear, and asked the crowd if they came out with clubs and swords as if he were a robber. Then he said that they could have taken him any day when he was teaching but the night was there time in the power of darkness.

What Stood Out

            Judges: “The Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman” (Judg 4:9).
            Psalm: “He who teaches man knowledge— the Lord—knows the thoughts of man” (Ps 94:10-11).
            Proverbs: “Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox” (Prov 14:4).
            Luke: “Pray that you may not enter into temptation” (Luke 22:40, 46).

Insight

            Judges: The account of Israel’s backsliding and Barak defeating Sisera’s army while Deborah was judge of Israel is another episode in Israel’s unfaithfulness and seeking God only when they were in trouble. The interesting part of this is that Israel was being ruled by a woman and a woman is the one who actually killed the enemy’s commander. I don’t know how many people dismiss her leadership when they say that only men should be leaders. She was certainly an exception in the history of Israel. However, Barak’s response to being told to battle Sisera reveals the state of the male leadership at that time.
            Barak was clearly told by the Lord though Deborah to go into battle and he would be successful. He either didn’t trust Deborah or he didn’t trust the Lord. His refusal to go unless Deborah went with him betrayed his spiritual weakness. Though he obeyed and went into battle, the honor of the victory went to Jael, the wife of a Kenite, a Gentile. Now that would be very insulting to a proud Israelite. To make it even worse, Deborah wrote a song about it elevating Jael.
            Men in the church should take note of this. When men abdicate their role as spiritual leaders, God will use women. The state of Israel at that time was pretty bleak. If the number of women leaders in the church is any indication of where most men are, then the church is in trouble.
            When we are supposed to do something for the Lord and refuse or do it in a way other than what he wants, we will not be rewarded in the way the Lord initially intended. It isn’t that his will won’t be accomplished because nothing can thwart the Lord’s plans. The credit will go elsewhere.
            Psalm: When we think the world is crashing in around us and there is no hope, we need to remember that the Lord is our refuge. He knows exactly what is happening around us. He sees everything and hears everything. If that isn’t enough, he even knows our thoughts. He knows the thoughts of those around us. We must realize that some of what is happening is discipline to make us stronger. It isn’t always punishment for sin as happened to Israel over and over. It can be discipline for sin, but when we are truly born again and we are walking by the Spirit, most of our troubles are for our good to help us continue to develop godly character.
            Proverbs: Some people are too cautious in their investments. These are the people who stash cash away because they don’t trust banks. The lesson from the Proverb is that if you want a return on your business or investments, it takes some money and time up front. The man without an ox doesn’t have the expense of feeding it, but he can’t get as big of a crop without the animal.
            The Bible has some practical advice for everyday living. From a spiritual standpoint, if you don’t take time to study the Bible, pray, and worship, you will have more time for other things. However, without that investment, your spiritual life and your harvest of righteousness in the kingdom of God will be meager.
            Luke: There is a lot going on in today’s reading. There is the odd request by Jesus to have swords available. It seems that this was only so that the disciples would be considered transgressors. And that is exactly what they became when one of them struck the high priest’s servant. However, Jesus was not a transgressor as he stopped the possible fight and healed the servant’s ear. Commentaries vary on the meaning of all of this. Clarke suggests this as a possibility but confesses that it is obscure.[1] Barnes seems to think that carrying weapons for self-defense was common because of robbers and this was to be the new way of travel as opposed to the previous way.[2]
            However, one thing that is striking is that Jesus twice told the disciples to pray that they would not enter into temptation. He told them this after ensuring they had at least one sword before he prayed and again just before the crowd arrived. It is possible that they not only were tempted to stop Jesus from being taken but one of them acted on the temptation, thus Jesus being counted among transgressors.
            Jesus’ warning is something we all need to heed. We should pray that we aren’t tempted. Our temptations are a result of our own desires and not God’s (James 1:13-14). Temptation in and of itself is not a sin. We are all tempted and multiple times every day. However, sin comes when we yield to that temptation. If we are praying not to be led into temptation, then we are developing desires that line up with God’s desires. It means we are developing the character that God wants us to achieve. I’m not saying we will become perfect, but we should not be seeing the same old temptations popping up all the time. When we’ve worked one out, then we will move on to the next. The process is called progressive sanctification and will be completed when we are finally free of our sinful bodies and are in heaven with heavenly bodies. In the meantime, we must pray not to enter into temptations.

Application

            When I face trying situations, I need to pray that they don’t result in temptations to get out according to my own desire. I need to line up my desires with the Lords. He does provide a way out (1 Cor 10:13).


[1] Adam Clarke, Clarke's Commentary, (Seattle, Biblesoft, 2006), Luke 22:38, Electronic Database .
[2] Albert Barnes, Barnes’ Notes, (Seattle: Biblesoft, 2005), Luke 22:38, Electronic Database.