Thursday, April 27, 2017

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


            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).


            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.


            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.

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