JUDGES 1:1-2:9 | LUKE 21:29-22:13 | PSALM 90:1-91:16 | PROVERBS 13:24-25
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The possession and establishment of oneself in a new land cannot be accomplished overnight; nay, it takes a generation or two, as we see here in the opening chapter of a new book titled Judges I. Moses leads the children of Israel out of Egypt, and Joshua leads them into the promised land of Canaan and settles them there, but it will still take some doing for the Israelites to settle all the territorial details.
We see now a further detailed description of just which of the twelve tribes go to battle with the native Canaanites in the small towns and villages: to either conquer and uproot, or to conquer and subjugate. For the scholars of history and archeology, these passages are sure to be fascinating in that they provide much detail to seek out the evidence of these early inhabitants of these particular areas in ancient Palestine.
But despite Joshua’s strong exhortation before his death, we soon see an instance of apparent violation of the most fundamental of precepts that was to be observed by the Israelites: love of God and abhorrence of idols. And yet, there is apparently some form of idolatry that is being practiced by some, perhaps the influence of the local natives, and we see here a sharp admonition delivered by an angel of the Lord in a place called Bokim.
The angel says to them, speaking for the Lord, “I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land I swore to give to your ancestors. I said, ‘I will never break my covenant with you, 2 and you shall not make a covenant with the people of this land, but you shall break down their altars.’ Yet you have disobeyed me. Why have you done this? 3 And I have also said, ‘I will not drive them out before you; they will become traps for you, and their gods will become snares to you.’”
The immediate effect of this is a repentance and the offering of sacrifices—the only way the people knew how to make things right. It is, of course, to be seen how long this spirit of contriteness will last.
Turning to our reading from the book of Luke, we find Jesus continuing in his ministry of teaching, preaching, and healing. The text tells us that during the day he would be found in the Temple teaching his disciples and others who may have had the interest to stop and listen, including of course, the many elders of the Temple who were curious about this Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph, the carpenter.
And in the evenings, Luke tells us, Jesus would retreat to the mountains—the Mount of Olives, or the Mount of Gethsamane. During the day when Jesus is teaching in the Temple, his words are fascinating to the ordinary people who stand amazed at the things that they see and hear; but Jesus’ words are also fascinating to the elders of the Temple for more reasons than one.
Given that we know the full story now, we can safely surmise that these might have been the types of the thoughts in the minds of the elders of the Temple: What is he saying– this young upstart from Nazareth? What could all this mean? What blasphemy it is that he continues to proclaim himself as the ‘Son of Man’ and speak of these end-times, and alludes to himself as the purveyor of the future, nay, life beyond this life when he speaks of the Kingdom of God. Just who does he think he is? Does he not know that we know who exactly his father is—that carpenter called Joseph from Nazareth! What heresy within the walls of the Temple! What utter nonsense he continues to speak! Surely, something must be done to stop him before these simple people begin to imagine all these things that he is telling them to be true. Surely, we must plan to put an end to this at once!
And that is just what the leaders of the Temple do—they find in Judas Iscariot, one of Jesus’ disciples, the perfect strategy to have him identify Jesus in the dead of night on the Mount of Gethsamane. We shall soon learn about how all this comes to pass.
But in the meantime, we find that Jesus prepares to observe the Passover—the ancient Jewish feast established in the land of Egypt when the angel of death passed over (hence, The Passover) the houses of those who had the blood of a lamb applied to their doorposts. In remembrance of this great event that secured the life of the children of Israel even as all of Egypt wept at the death of their firstborn, the Passover was forever established as a token of annual remembrance.
Little do the disciples know that this is the greatest Passover of their lives that they will ever observe. In a few short days, their Lord and master, Jesus himself would be that slain lamb of the Passover, and it was in the shedding of his blood that rescue and redemption would be made available for one and all who might choose to apply his shed blood onto the doorposts of their hearts. The angel of death would indeed pass over their souls because it would have no power to claim it. This was one Passover that the disciples would remember forever indeed, because, in hindsight it would all make sense.
Our first Psalm for the day is one that is ascribed to Moses. It is a psalm with great overtones of humility in seeking the Lord’s mercies. These few verses are indeed ones that would behoove us to read, remember, and apply to our lives:
12Teach us to number our days,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
14 Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
The second Psalm for the day is an amazing one of praise that displays overarching confidence in the might and power of God Almighty to forever provide and protect. If Moses is the author of this Psalm as well, it is one that he has indeed written out of his own personal experience! And as for me, it is one that I committed to memory as a young child at the direction of my mother. To this day, I know it by-heart in its entirety, and reproduce it here in the King James Version (KJV) that I learned it in, and am most familiar with.
1He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
2I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.
3Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.
4He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
5Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;
6Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.
7A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.
8Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.
9Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;
10There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.
11For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
12They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
13Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.
14Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.
15He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.
16With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.
Finally, from our assigned reading of the verses in the book of Proverbs, there is one that is worthy of reflection despite being viewed controversially in these modern times. From my own perspective, the “rod” is not necessarily to be taken literally, but rather serves as a symbolism of an implement to offer correction. For all parents, the admonition is this:
24 Whoever spares the rod hates their children,
but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.
May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word. Amen.