War and peace….truth and lies

30 05 2011

DAY ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY FIVE : Judges 20 v. 1 – 21 v. 25; John 8 v. 31 – 59; Psalm 61 v. 1 – 8

JUDGES 

so to the last day of reading the book of Judges, and the Israelites are definitely headed for further disasters, unless Godly kings / rulers are raised up soon….

Israelites Fight the Benjaminites – in response to the horrendous acts of chapter nineteen, all Israel gathers before the Lord in Mizpah. 400,000 men armed with swords, demanding to know how these things had happened. The Levite explains how his concubine had been raped to the point of death. He tells how he cut her body to pieces…‘because they committed this lewd and disgraceful act in Israel….Now, speak up and give your verdict’.
So, all Israel prepares to attach the territory of Benjamin (as the Benjamin clans refuse to surrender the wicked men of Gibeah to them), and Gibeah in particular. It’s a bloodthirsty few days – Benjamin winning day one, slaying 22,000 Israelites; Benjamin winning day two, slaying 18,000 Israelites. Before each day, the Israelites sought God’s guidance in Bethel (where the ark of the covenant was to be found), weeping for their loss of life. After the second day, they wept, fasted and offered sacrifices (like the good-old days). The following day, they succeeded in ambushing the town of Gibeah, and defeating the Benjaminites – 25,000 falling to the sword, and many towns set on fire. Six hundred Benjaminites flee to the desert. 

The final chapters of Judges see Israel at war with itself…so much for the peaceful land, flowing with milk and honey…it’s like the creation and the fall all over again !!

Wives for the Benjaminites – the Israelites weep at the loss of one of the tribes, and seek to provide wives for the Benjaminites who had fled, as they don’t want to lose that tribe for ever.
They attack Jabesh Gilead, a city which had not sent anyone to the gathered assembly, and take their virgin daughters to offer as wives to the Benjaminites, but there aren’t quite enough of them. So they arrange for the remaining Benjaminites to take a girl each from the dancing procession from the annual festival at Shiloh.
This is what they do, and the Benjaminites return to their devastated towns and cities to rebuild their tribe.
Oh, and by the way….
‘In those days, Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.’


JOHN
Children of Abraham –
Jesus challenges those Jews who are putting their trust in Him :
‘hold on to my teaching to be my true disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.’
They claim to be descendants of Abraham, therefore already ‘free’ people, never being slaves to anyone. Jesus teaches that everyone who sins is a slave to sin, but that He, as Son, will set people free to become full members of His family.
‘If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.’
They start disputing whose sons they are – sons of Abraham, but Jesus suggests they are more like sons of their human fathers, and not like Abraham’s sons for not listening to Him, and even wanting to kill Him.
‘We are not illegitimate children’, they protest, ‘The only Father we have is God Himself.’

The Children of the Devil – again, like the argument that they are Abraham’s sons, Jesus knocks down the suggestion that they are sons of Father God, by claiming they are acting more sons of the devil, twisting, lying and plotting murder:
‘You belong to your father, the devil…he was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. He is a liar and the father of lies….’
‘The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.’ and ‘He who belongs to God hears what God says.’

The Claims of Jesus About Himself – so Jesus is now accused of being Samaritan (outsider) and demon-possessed. Isn’t that the truth ?
Jesus says He is not demon-possessed, He honours His Father (unlike these Jews), seeking God’s glory; He says ‘if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.’
The Jews again speak of Abraham and the prophets – how dare Jesus claim to spare people from death, when even Abraham and the prophets died. Is Jesus claiming to be greater than them?
‘If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me.’
He speaks of Abraham looking forward to Jesus’ day, and rejoicing in it now. How can Jesus claim to know / have known Abraham?
‘I tell you the truth, before Abraham was born, I AM!’

Wow, the audacity of Jesus! The great name ‘I AM’, reminding the Jews of the name of God at the calling of Moses, spoken of Himself.
No wonder, the Jews took up stones to kill him.
Jesus plays hide and seek, and disappears from the temple grounds.

PSALM – a beautiful psalm set to stringed instruments
‘Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer….
From the ends of the earth I call to You…
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, for You have been my refuge.
I long to dwell in Your tent for ever, and take refuge in the shelter of Your wings’

and the psalmist prays for the king – the length of his days, and the blessings of God’s love, faithfulness and protection

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