Lord give me also springs of ‘living water’…..

12 05 2011

DAY ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY FOUR : Judges 1 v. 1 – 2 v. 5; John 4 v. 1 – 26; Proverbs 11 v. 9 – 18

We begin a new book of the bible – Judges.
The book seeks to outline Israel’s exploits in the newly conquered promised land, after the death of Joshua. In the book twelve judges are mentioned (the judges are more like ‘charismatic military leaders’ rather than an image we might have of a judge), and there are seven cycles of oppression and deliverance – both the numbers 12 and 7 being symbolic of the completeness of an era.

JUDGES

Israel Fights the Remaining Canaanites – After Joshua’s death, the Israelites ask God who is to lead on fighting the Canaanites, and God sends the tribe of Judah first, and they invited the Simeonites to join them, which they did. They succeeded in conquering the Canaanites and the Perizzites, striking down 10,000 men, and capturing Adoni-Bezek, cutting off his thumbs and big toes (as a punishment for all the thumbs and big toes he’d cut off in his time) – he eventually ends his life in captivity in Jerusalem.
The men of Judah also capture Jerusalem, and then further advance through the hill county, the Negev and the west (Hebron and more).
There’s a reminder of the story of Caleb’s daughter marrying Othniel as a reward for capturing Kiriath Sepher (Joshua ch.15), and Achah’s request, ‘Lord, give me also springs of water’.
The men of Judah and Simeon attack Zephath, Gaza, Ashkelon and Ekron. ‘The Lord was with the men of Judah’, but they were not able to drive out the people who were from the plains because they had iron chariots. Although they had conquered Jerusalem, also, they were unable to drive out the Jebusites, so they remained, mixed in with the Benjaminites.
The house of Joseph attacks Bethel (formerly Luz), having used spies well, and rewarding a man and his family for helping them gain access to the city. A new city of Luz is built by this man in the land of the Hittites.
Manasseh failed to drive out the Canaanites from a number of regions, but gradually, as Israel gained strength, they became ‘forced labour’ for the Israelites.
The picture emerges of the tribes of Ephraim, Zebulun, Asher, Naphtali, and Dan also unable to completely conquer areas, and living for a time alongside Canaanites (Dan, in particular, faced strong opposition and was very confined, and will eventually move further north (ch.18)).

The Angel of the Lord at Bokim – God appears to the Israelites, in angelic / messenger form, to remind them of the covenant He’d faithfully kept with them, although they were proving themselves unfaithful by not breaking down their (Canaanite) altars, and by entering into covenants with them. This unfaithfulness was resulting in their inability to conquer so many places, God says. Rather, some of these regions and peoples will be like ‘thorns in your sides’, and their gods will be a real test / snare for them.
This news causes great weeping amongst the Israelites, so they call this place of encounter with God ‘Bokim’, meaning ‘weeping / tears’.
They bring sacrifices……

JOHN
The Samaritan Woman – oh, this is a glorious encounter. It firstly smashes all sorts of social taboos, that Jesus is engaging with a Samaritan, and worse still a Samaritan woman (and one with a rather colourful life, at that). Jesus chooses a route to Galilee which takes him through Samaria, a route many Jews would not have taken (rather going a long detour east of the Jordan).
There is opposition growing in Judea, as his ‘movement’ gains in number through many baptisms (the writer John points out that actually it is Jesus’ disciples who are doing the baptising, not Jesus Himself).
The whole context is around a well (none other than Jacob’s Well, providing a neat link through the history of God’s people in that place) – providing refreshment, and the necessity of good, clean water, for healthy living.
Through this encounter, the woman comes to a living faith in Jesus and many other Samaritans come to believe through her witness.

Jesus is tired and thirsty, and sits by the well, and He asks a women who comes to draw water if she will give Him a drink (if only she knew at this point who it was who was asking for water !!). She is astonished that a Jew would ask a Samaritan woman for a drink (wouldn’t that be breaking all sorts of social and religious purity rules?).
Jesus begins to lead her deeper in the reality of this life-changing encounter :
‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.’
The woman needs to know more, for Jesus has nothing to draw water with – what is this ‘living water’?
‘Whoever drinks the water I give will never thirst (again). Indeed the water I give  will become within you a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’
So, then, the request from the woman that Jesus give her this living water.
Jesus then opens up more of what He knows of this woman, revealing that He knows she has had five husbands and is now with someone else, but not married. This revelation causes the women to realise that she is in the presence of a ‘prophet’, and to ask a question about where true worship is to happen – on ‘this mountain’ (Mt Gerazim), as our fathers worshipped there, or in Jerusalem, where the Jews claimed God must be worshipped.
This theological questions draws the response :
‘Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and His worshippers must worship in spirit and in truth.’

a glorious statement which cuts across the Jew / Samaritan division about what true worship is, and where it should happen – rather, worship is about spirit and truth – relationship and honesty – knowing God (v.22) and the freedom He alone brings – a joy-filled, passionate, surrendered freedom….

Today’s reading finishes with the woman anticipating the coming of a Messiah to explain everything…Jesus says, ‘I am he’.
WOW !!

What a glorious chance encounter – and ‘living water’ is made available, life in all its fulness, for all people, across all cultural divides.

PROVERBS
When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices; when the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy.’
‘A man who lacks judgment derides his neighbour, but a man of understanding holds his tongue.’
‘A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.’
‘The wicked earn deceptive wages, but whoever sows righteousness reaps a sure reward.’

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