This past Sunday we continued our trek through The Whole Story of the Bible, entering into the world of the Judges. This bit of the story contains stark contrasts.
On the one hand, we continue to marvel at God displaying his power on behalf of his people — lop-sided victories and a magic fleece (Gideon), bandits overthrowing kings (Jepthah), and an ancient superman whose strength breaks the backs of Israel’s foes (Samson).
On the other hand, every one of Israel’s deliverers is revealed as flawed and deeply imperfect, and both people and chieftains continue to devolve into ever-increasing acts of such darkness and wickedness that this tale would receive a parental-advisory warning, even by our culture’s standards.
This darkness is a display of the dehumanization of humanity. And in order to comprehend why this is so tragic, one needs rightly understand the image of God, and how we are meant to reflect that image. Our friends at the Bible Project have created a six-minute video (along with some other helpful materials) that will help you better understand this theological concept, and how it sheds light on the tragedy and significance of the story of Judges.
For further study on the book of Judges itself, I suggest you continue exploring, by means of the following resources:
- Review last week’s sermon on Judges.
- Click here to find a whole page of videos, milestones, study resources, and recommendations for further reading and study on this remarkable history, Judges.
One important note. This coming Sunday, March 11, we will take a slight break from moving through one book at a time in The Whole Story, as I will be out of the pulpit. But it is just a slight break. Tim Tomlinson, President of Bethlehem College and Seminary (my alma mater), will be preaching. His study and sermon will be on the 23rd Psalm.
So how is this just a slight break?
Well, for those of us reading each book of the Bible every week, as we make our way through The Whole Story (and using the Read Scripture app to do so), you have also been reading one psalm per day. This has been a helpful and encouraging practice, as the Psalter forms a strong foundation to our worship and prayer lives.
Therefore, Tim’s proclamation will serve as a very minor detour on our journey through The Whole Story. And, having spoken with Tim, and hearing how this familiar psalm has been captivating his heart, mind, and imagination in new and fresh ways, I am eager to sit in the gathering alongside you as he preaches. You won’t want to miss it family!
Finally, for those of you who might be a bit behind in your reading along with us book-by-book, the next two weeks afford a wonderful chance to catch up; especially as our next book of study will be Ruth (just four chapters long!). As always, please feel free to email me with questions or ideas for The Whole Story.
Looking forward to our Gathering on Sunday,
We Are Calvary
To say that we live in times of rapid change may be the very height of understatement. Our culture, and its norms, is changing at an unprecedented rate, making it increasingly challenging for the church to remain relevant—and faithful—in proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God, in a way that will bring about the expansion of that kingdom.
This past Sunday we (finally) made it out of the weighty, dark, somber, and serious writings of the Prophets of the Exile, and stepped into the Return from Exile of the people of God. Our first look into this aspect of the redemptive drama comes via three courageous servants of Yahweh—Zerrubabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah. There story is found in the book of Ezra-Nehemiah (although our English Bibles separate them, through the centuries the Jewish people have always treated them as one book; so we will too.)
Especially When You Don't Feel Like It
Sunday is just about my favorite day of the week (“just about”…because my day off each week, our family’s Sabbath Saturday, is a tie or really close second). I love getting up that morning, making my smoothie, sitting in my favorite chair in our fireplace room, and pulling my Bible onto my lap. I relish the time spent listening to my Father speak, and I delight in those moments spent talking with him about the morning’s ministry, the people in our gathering that I hope he will transform, as well as the eleven other pastors (and their congregations) on whom I pray his blessing every Sunday.
This past Sunday we completed our journey through the weighty, dark, somber, and serious writings of the Prophets of the Exile, focusing our study on Ezekiel. We discovered in Ezekiel a book filled with dark visions and confrontational language. And one of the visions (probably the central, controlling metaphor of the book) Ezekiel presents is Israel as a beautiful bride who turns against her bridegroom, God, and breaks all the stipulations of her covenant.
Day Thirty: Vistas of Wisdom
I am very near the end of this little writing experiment called “31 Proverbs.” While I’m unsure how helpful it has been to how ever many have read it, I know that the process of sitting down six days each week to read, ponder, and then ponder some more by plunking on a keyboard has helped me grow in my understanding of wisdom.
Day Thirty-Two: A Mother's Wisdom (part two)
Yesterday, we heard from what was likely King Solomon’s mother imparting worthy words of wisdom in the area of leadership. For the sayings of wisdom we find here are those “which his mother taught him” (Proverbs 31:1). And she now turns her attention to the search for a woman of virtue and noble character, suitable to be a wife and mother.
Day Twenty-Nine: Please—Quietly Hold Your Tongue
Anger. noun. “a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility.” (New Oxford American Dictionary) As I entered day twenty-nine of Proverbs this morning, and came to 29:11, it struck me that this book has quite a bit to say about anger, strife, wrath, quarreling, fights, and rage. It is a theme that Solomon keeps coming back to, probably because he knows that it is a theme woven through humanity and history. Sometimes the best way to see a theme is to pull on that string so all the wisdom he has offered comes together for our observation. The accumulation helps us feel the weight of it.