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.

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