Week 12

What a strange week it was last week as Joshua led the Israelites into battle. The land was claimed, but not completely. The enemies were defeated, but not completely. Israel obeyed God, but not completely.

Moses’ last words were “Choose life, so that you and your descendant may live well in the land.” Joshua’s last words were “Choose this day whom you will serve…But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD!” Now Israel is on its own in the land, struggling with the animosity and influence of its unconquered neighbors. As you can probably imagine, they do not hold up to the temptation very well, which sets of a cycle that repeats through Judges like the chorus of a song:

“Israel is happy in the land and in its comfort forgets God. Israel begins to wander to other gods, doing whatever seems best in their own eyes. God withdraws His protection. Israel is attacked by its neighbors. In misery, they cry out to God for help. God raises up a judge to deliver them militarily. Israel repents and renews their covenant and lives at peace.” Sometimes, God’s choices for a deliverer are few and God makes the best use of whoever is available. I think you may find Samson to be an unlikely instrument of God. Then of course, in the comfort of peace, the cycle starts all over again.

I find Judges to be a very depressing and disturbing book. If many of us were disturbed at the actions of God last week, we will be disturbed at the actions of Israel this week. The book ends with what is perhaps the most disturbing story in the entire Bible. It is rated “R” so if you have children reading along with you be prepared for chapter 19. It reaches the blackest depth of human sin. However, the message of hope continues throughout this strange book. Turn to God, despite your sin, and God will deliver you. Confess, repent, and begin again. That’s good news.
Keep reading! I’ll see you in the Bible!

WEEK 12 Reading Schedule:
Mar 19 Judges 3-5 Deborah and Barak, Rise of the Judges
Mar 20 Judges 6-7 Gideon’s Protest and Tests
Mar 21 Judges 8-9 Gideon’s Idolatry, Abimelech’s Coup, Parable of the Trees
Mar 22 Judges 10-12 Jephthah
Mar 23 Judges 13-15 Birth and Rise of Samson
Mar 24 Judges 16-18 Samson and Delilah
Mar 25 Judges 19-21 Hell on Earth: Violence and Civil War