Judges 9-11

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.

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Jerusalem Journey

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.

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Judges 1-3

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.

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