Reading #1 – Judges 13
Reading #2 – Psalms 12
Reading #3 – Proverbs 19
Reading #4 – Acts 15
Reading #5 – 1 Kings 14
Judges 13 – The Birth of Sampson. Manoah’s wife had been baron but an Angel of the Lord appeared with a promise too wonderful to believe. This baron woman would conceive a child. Receiving a gift from G_d came with instructions that needed to be adhered to. So be careful; you must not drink wine or any other alcoholic drink nor eat any forbidden food. You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and his hair must never be cut. For he will be dedicated to God as a Nazirite from birth. He will begin to rescue Israel from the Philistines (4-5). By adhering to the instructions, Manoah and his wife set the moral course for the child (Proverbs 22:6). As we’ll find out about this child, Sampson, bringing him up in the admonition of the Lord G_d would not guarantee a life free from trouble.
1 Kings 14 – Ahijah’s Prophecy Against Jeroboam. Jeroboam’s son became very ill. Jeroboam sent his wife in disguise to the one man who might be able to help him. Jeroboam’s actions had brought the nation Israel to the point of its demise. Jeroboam’s son was the “Crown Prince” the next king of Israel but Jeroboam’s family line would come to an end. I will bring disaster on your dynasty and will destroy every one of your male descendants, slave and free alike, anywhere in Israel. I will burn up your royal dynasty as one burns up trash until it is all gone. The members of Jeroboam’s family who die in the city will be eaten by dogs, and those who die in the field will be eaten by vultures. I, the LORD, have spoken (10-11).’” Rehoboam King of Judah, son of Naamah an Ammonite woman, had not followed the ways of his grandfather David and his kingdom too was in ruins. During Rehoboam’s reign, the people of Judah did what was evil in the LORD’s sight, provoking his anger with their sin, for it was even worse than that of their ancestors. For they also built for themselves pagan shrines and set up sacred pillars and Asherah poles on every high hill and under every green tree. There were even male and female shrine prostitutes throughout the land. The people imitated the detestable practices of the pagan nations the LORD had driven from the land ahead of the Israelites (23-24). In the fifth year of Rehoboam’s reign, King Shishak of Egypt looted the temple and took everything including the gold shields Solomon had made. This left the people with a shell of a temple (Future writing: “In Name Only”).
Psalms 12 – A Psalm of David. David’s prayer addresses a couple of key points: first the “godly are fast disappearing” but they have not completely vanished because “I am still alive”. Second, to the ones struggling, G_d is still alive and is still active in the hearts of mankind. The LORD replies, “I have seen violence done to the helpless, and I have heard the groans of the poor. Now I will rise to rescue them, as they have longed for me to do.” The LORD’s promises are pure, like silver refined in a furnace, purified seven times over (5-6). There is a common lament among mankind “I am all alone in my struggle”. Yet, when we read G_d’s promises, we learn that we are not “all alone” (Future writing: Our Lament VS G_d’s Answer). Therefore, LORD, we know you will protect the oppressed, preserving them forever from this lying generation, even though the wicked strut about, and evil is praised throughout the land (7-8).
Proverbs 19 – Two Types of Treasures. There are treasures that we can inherit which gives us the wherewithal and there are the treasures of wisdom which must be mined. To acquire wisdom is to love yourself; people who cherish understanding will prosper (12). Fathers can give their sons an inheritance of houses and wealth, but only the LORD can give an understanding wife (14). Like the “Stone that builders rejected” (Psalm 118:22), we overlook G_d’s word and power for our life by refusing to listen to our spouse “Because they just wouldn’t understand”.
Acts 15 – The Council at Jerusalem. As with any move of G_d, there will always be someone who will try to stir up problems. In the early church, the argument was over the “law of Moses concerning circumcision. Paul could have most certainly squashed the whole argument but chose instead to seek the counsel of Elders at Jerusalem. The group consisted of the many segments of belief including the Pharisees. The case was fully discussed considering all points of view including what G_d had done in the case of the Roman Centurian who came to faith. By sending a letter and two witnesses with Paul and Barnabus, it removed the possibility of the letter being a “forgery”. “And so I judge that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead, we should write and tell them to abstain from eating food offered to idols, from sexual immorality, from eating the meat of strangled animals, and from consuming blood. For these laws of Moses have been preached in Jewish synagogues in every city on every Sabbath for many generations (19-21).” This simplistic approach to coming to Christ Jesus brought about growth and joy and peace. And there was great joy throughout the church that day as they read this encouraging message (31).