Wednesday, April 26, 2017

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


            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).


            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).


            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.”

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