Reading #1 – Judges 20
Reading #2 – Psalms 19
Reading #3 – Proverbs 26
Reading #4 – Acts 22
Reading #5 – 1 Kings 21
Judges 20 – Israel’s War with Benjamin. Of all battles involving Israel that could have been averted, this was the one. The people of Benjamin knew what they were doing was wrong and by doing so committed sin (Deuteronomy 22:13). When the people of Israel demanded that the Benjamites hand over the criminals, The problem is, if the leaders of Benjamin handed over the criminals, the leaders could have been implicated which means the leaders would also have had to be handed over and that is where wars begin. In the end, the town of Benjamin was destroyed and only a small band of men were left out in the cold.
1 Kings 21 – Naboth’s Vinyard. Naboth had a vineyard close to the palace. The ways of Jeroboam son of Nebat and Baasha son of Ahijah should have been all the evidence Ahab needed to convince him of what happens when the king gives himself over to sin. Ahab had been operating under the influence of Jezebel the daughter of IthBaal of Lodebar.
Psalms 19 – A Prayer of David. Seasons come and go but the Lord remains forever. The choice “to serve the Lord or not to serve the Lord” is in our hands. G_d shows his glory in the heavens by the changing of day into the night through continual years. How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults. Keep your servant from deliberate sins! Don’t let them control me. Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin (12-13).
Proverbs 26 – Choices in the Wind. Each of has choices to make and no one can make them for us. Of course, some choices must be made by the community like where to plant a tree or how to spend communal monies but, when it comes down to choices of “right or wrong, good or bad, laziness or diligence, those are up to us. The easiest approach is to blame someone else for our failures. Ahab could have blamed Jezebel for the mess he made in the kingdom and the death of Naboth but Ahab was the king and he was responsible for the kingdom. A child who learns wicked behavior from his or her parents and then perpetuate the behavior through their life and then blame the parents when they end up in jail. If you set a trap for others, you will get caught in it yourself. If you roll a boulder down on others, it will crush you instead (27).
Acts 22 – Paul Before the People. Paul was arrested on charges of starting a riot although it wasn’t him that started it any more than it was Naboth who started the whole quarrel with the king. Paul, of course, used tact when replying to the people to stop the violence. Then Paul said, “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, and I was brought up and educated here in Jerusalem under Gamaliel. As his student, I was carefully trained in our Jewish laws and customs. I became very zealous to honor God in everything I did, just like all of you today (3). When we refuse to answer people in tone for tone, the Devil loses his foothold on our life. The Devil loves nothing better than a fight between family members because, fights separate people, destroy all of the work that it took to build up a family. Paul risked the chance of losing everything he had worked hard to develop amid his family. Paul was respectful in his response but, he never apologized for his stance in the Lord Jesus nor did he back away from his calling just to “appease the people”. And I was in complete agreement when your witness Stephen was killed. I stood by and kept the coats they took off when they stoned him.’ “But the Lord said to me, ‘Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles!’” The crowd listened until Paul said that word. Then they all began to shout, “Away with such a fellow! He isn’t fit to live!” They yelled, threw off their coats, and tossed handfuls of dust into the air (20-23). In a way, this story is like that which occurred in Benjamin when the city was told to “hand over the criminals” but they didn’t and the only response was, “war”. Benjamin was ultimately destroyed as was Gibeon and it wasn’t necessary and nor were the events that unfolded after Paul’s imprisonment.