Thursday, February 25, 2016

40 Bible Stories: Ruth

Ruth is another of those stories with many parts.  I want to talk about only one.

When you get to the end of the story, Ruth is the great-grandmother of King David.  This means that King David himself would not, by the strictest Jewish law, be considered Jewish, since it is the mother's line that determines that.

That is the major point of the story for the people who first read it.  Be careful who you exclude, because the greatest among you might not have come from the purest line.

The book was written at a time when the nation of Israel was debating inclusion and exclusion and purity and sin.

The point of the story was that it is always better to include (even the hated Moabites) then to exclude.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

40 Old Testament Stories: Samson

Samson is dedicated to God from before he is born he has kind of a wild youth.  He kills a lion with his bare hands, he marries a Philistine, and his wife loses him a bet, so he splits with her, he basically is what we would call today an out of control teenager.

His second wife betrays him and turns him over to his enemies, but in the end he regains his strength and defeats the Philistines.

This is another of those stories, like Gideon, God can use anyone.  Samson's life story does not read like that of a holy man, but he does what God tells him to do in the end.

It is not our holiness that makes us useful to God, it is our willingness to do His will.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

40 Old Testament Stories: Gideon

I love the story of Gideon - it is one of the great examples of God using unlikely people.

God finds him hiding in a pit so that no one will see him threshing his grain.  Basically, he is hiding.
So, what does God ask him to do?  To lead the army of course.  So the first thing that Gideon tries to do is to talk God out of it by explaining how unqualified he is.  When that doesn't work he sets God a series of tests.  He seeks sign after sign to avoid doing what God asks him to do.  But finally he gives in and then it is God's turn.

God sets test after test to the men that Gideon recruited to be his army, until Gideon is left with less than a tenth of what he started with.  They end up overwhelming the Midianites who had invaded Israel.

I think the point is that God can use all of us.  If God chooses you, God will equip you.  It wasn't Gideon's courage or vision that brought him victory.  It was his obedience to God.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

40 Old Testament Stories: Jericho

There is so much going on in the story of the fall of Jericho.

The spies find shelter in the home of a prostitute and in exchange for her help, promise safety to her and her family.

The spies report back.

The people cross the rive and march around the city and finally make a loud noise of praise to God and the walls fall down.

This is the moment when the people of Israel really arrive in land that God has promised.  They have come in, and they have brought down the most fortified city.  There are more fights and they have to establish which tribes get which land, but this is the point where the people begin to see that it is really going to happen.  They are really going to live in the land that God promised to Abraham.