Reading #1 – Judges 11
Reading #2 – Psalms 10
Reading #3 – Proverbs 17
Reading #4 – Acts 13
Reading #5 – 1 Kings 12
Judges 11 – Jeptha Becomes Israel’s Judge. Jephtha was the son of a prostitute and was run off of the land so he went to Tob. When Israel was again invaded by the Ammonites, the people begged Jeptha to be their leader and defeat the Ammonites. Before engaging in battle, Jeptha wanted to find out what was causing the people of Ammon to become so riled up. It turns out that the issue had to do with “land rights”. This is an important first step to breaking down issues before unnecessary blood is shed. A parallel to this is Paul’s statement before his being judged. If I have done something worthy of death, I don’t refuse to die. But if I am innocent, no one has a right to turn me over to these men to kill me. I appeal to Caesar (Acts 25:11)!” Jephtha set the record straight about the land by telling the full story. Eventually, there would be bloodshed but only as a last resort. Jeptha made a vow that he would sacrifice the first thing that walked out of his house if the Lord would grant victory not knowing exactly who would come walking out of the door.
1 Kings 12 – The Northern Tribes Revolt. After Solomon’s death, the people gathered together to make Rehoboam the next king of Israel and Judah. Rehoboam had the perfect opportunity to sway the people but chose instead to listen to the youth who grew up with him. Jereboam who had been in Egypt and had learned about all of the detestable ways of the Egyptians including the gods they served and the altars they erected. Solomon served the G_d of his father only to the extent of “pretense”. When his heart was turned by the women he married, he set the stage for the demise of the once-powerful kingdom. David created a fissure that would mar the kingdom whereas Solomon propelled a dagger which caused the separation. When all Israel realized that the king had refused to listen to them, they responded, “Down with the dynasty of David! We have no interest in the son of Jesse. Back to your homes, O Israel! Look out for your own house, O David!” So the people of Israel returned home (16). Jereboam had been warned by the prophet Ahijah about what caused Solomon’s downfall so he was aware of the things “not to do”. Yet, Jereboam did as he chose, call it “privileges of the King”. When Jereboam instituted idol worship in his kingdom, it was to keep his people from going back over to David’s house. The two golden calves was a “throwback to the time of Moses” (Numbers 16:1-40); the people of Israel should have remembered this story and how Dathan and Korah and their families were decimated and the people who followed it ended up drinking the crushed up gold from the river.
Psalms 10 – A Psalm of David (Continued). As children, we are warned by our parents about actions that will cause us problems. When we see the other children doing what we were warned not to do and see how the “curse” never happens to them. This creates a crisis of sorts because we think that our parents “just didn’t know what they were talking about” or didn’t want us to have fun. The wicked are too proud to seek God. They seem to think that God is dead. Yet they succeed in everything they do. They do not see your punishment awaiting them. They sneer at all their enemies. They think, “Nothing bad will ever happen to us! We will be free of trouble forever (4-6)!” Usually, this is the case but hidden deep in the fissure lies problems that will destroy the family in time. IF we remain loyal to G_d and honor him with our choices he will guard our heart.
Proverbs 17 – Lessons From the Father. It is a common thought that when bad things happen to us, “we are being judged by G_d” when in truth our choices are on trial and the consequents are the jury. Wrongdoers eagerly listen to gossip; liars pay close attention to slander. Those who mock the poor insult their Maker; those who rejoice at the misfortune of others will be punished (4-5). When a person is caught in a crime, it is an easy “out” to want vengeance on the person who “ratted them out”; yet, it was their choices and actions they took that caused them problems. Prayers for deliverance from the “prison of our failures” always come in several steps: blame others, be angry with G_d, and then introspection. Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything (1 John 3:19-20).
Acts 13 – Paul and Barnabus Commissioned For Ministry. One day as these men were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Appoint Barnabas and Saul for the special work to which I have called them.” So after more fasting and prayer, the men laid their hands on them and sent them on their way (1-2). Every time we step out on faith in the Lord G_d, we must equally be aware of the trouble that may come our way. For Paul, it was Elymas “the Sorcerer” (8). Elymas’ actions are outward pressures. When these pressures do not stop us, then the attacks get more voraciousInward attacks (from family) hurt us more than any attack from the outside. Paul recounted “Israel’s story” which Stephen told just before his untimely demise. Unlike the last time, telling this story encouraged some of the people but curdled the blood of his ardent opposers. Then the Jews stirred up the influential religious women and the leaders of the city, and they incited a mob against Paul and Barnabas and ran them out of town. So they shook the dust from their feet as a sign of rejection and went to the town of Iconium. And the believers were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit (50).