Good morning! We have five (!) chapters to cover today so I’ll try to keep my comments relatively brief. Today’s passage (Judges 12-16) tells the story of perhaps the most famous judge, Samson. His strength is legendary, but not enough to save him from those more cunning than he, including his last wife Delilah.
Good morning! In the ongoing saga of Israel’s tribal conflicts over the hundreds of years between conquest and established monarchy, we have two more episodes today in Judges 9-11. Both the stories emphasize the limits of raw power in defense of Israel when it is decoupled with righteousness. The first episode suggests that destructive means leads to destructive ends, while the second shows how a rash vow leads to heartbreak even in victory.
Good morning! Today in Judges 6-8 we read of Gideon, a meek man whom God uses to deliver Israel from the oppressive Midianites, and whose success then leads him to take on idolatrous power for himself.
Community United Church of Christ (St. Paul Park, Minnesota)
Scripture: Mark 11:1-11 and 14:3-9
Yesterday Javen and I went to the Twin Cities Auto Show. We saw the latest in top-of-the-line automotive gadgetry: electric engines, pre-collision braking systems, fancy interiors, wireless technology, everything except driverless cars. Marvelous examples of human ingenuity are coming soon to a highway near you. But you know one piece of technology that’s still limited in reach? Headlights. I wondered about this, so I asked some vendors how well their headlights worked. To my disappointment, it didn’t sound like there were any car headlights that could do what I was hoping. Even though we now have halogen and LED bulbs that are so bright they blind drivers coming from the other direction, none of them make it possible to see the whole way home in an instant.
Good morning! Chapters 4-5 of Judges today introduce us to the strong and memorable biblical women Deborah and Jael. Deborah’s righteous leadership and Jael’s brazen action liberate Israel from Canaanite oppression.
Good morning! Today we begin the book of Judges, which are a series of stories about the intervening time from the colonization of Canaan until the time of the prophet Samuel and his anointing of Saul, the first king. We see among these “judges” (who combine military and community authority) mostly good but some bad leaders, both female and male, all measured by how faithful they (and the people of their time) are to the covenant with God. Obedience and loyalty to God affects their success in battle. Overall, Judges presents a repeated cycle: from faithfulness to unfaithfulness, then divine judgment in the form of military defeat, then salvation at the hands of a judge, then a return to faithfulness (for a time). This general formula helps give shape to some of the most vivid yet overlooked stories of the Hebrew Bible.
Good morning! Today’s passage (Joshua 23-24) completes the book of Joshua with the leader’s closing exhortation, and a recapitulation of the need for perpetual faithfulness to stay on the “good side” of the God who has made so much success possible in Canaan.
Good morning! Today’s reading (Joshua 21-22) adds to the account of land designations by describing the cities from each tribe which belong to the Levites, then narrates a confrontation between the majority of Israel and those tribes who have settled on the east of the Jordan River.
Good morning! Today’s chapters from Joshua (18-20) finish describing the boundaries of the remaining tribes and then identify the six “cities of refuge” for those who unintentionally commit murder, as called for in Numbers 35.
Good morning! Today’s passage (Joshua 15-17) continues the listing of territories associated with various tribes. Those who are fans of ancient cartography could have fun mapping out the boundaries of these settlements, but I suggest just doing an image search online if you want a quick visual reference. Continue reading “Joshua 15-17”