March 25 Judges 2-5
March 26 Judges 6-9
March 27 Judges 10-13
March 28 Judges 14-18
March 29 Judges 19-21
March 30 Ruth 1-4
Wow! What a depressing beginning to our week of readings. We started by learning that everyone who first entered the Promised Land had now died. Within one generation, the people didn’t know God or His deeds. Do you think that was because the parents didn’t model God in their own lives, or do you think that the people heard about God but chose to go their own way instead?
At any rates, Israel was turned over to marauders because they abandoned God and chose to worship other gods. Then, when the people groaned because of their punishment, God took pity on them. We find the answer for why the Israelites didn’t drive out all the people when they took the Promised land: they were a test of Israel’s faithfulness, and over and over, Israel failed the test!
As I read through these verses, it reminded me that I’m not any different than the Israelites. In times of peace and safety, I find it easy to trust God, to rest in His arms, to fall into “easy obedience”. When times get tough, my first reaction is to run around and try to “fix” the problem myself, which means that I’m turning away from God and His promises. Do you find yourself repeating this pattern, too? It’s easy to look at the Israelites and tell ourselves that we would never turn to other gods, but how true is that? Do we turn to the god of “friends” to gossip about someone rather than to the God Who hears our prayers? When we’re laid off, do we run around frantically looking for another job, or do we pray first? Do we find it easy to keep God’s commandments during the week, or do we put Him in a box marked “Sunday”? When things are good, do we take the time to thank God for His provision and mercy, or do we get cocky and think that it’s our actions that are maintaining us? We are told –
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Cor 10:31 (ESV)
Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thess 5:16-18 (ESV)
Do you eat, drink, and live for the glory of God, praying and giving thanks for everything in your life, whether good or bad?
Later in the week, we read the story of Gideon, a young man commissioned by God to deliver Israel. Like Moses before him, he told God that he was inadequate. How many times have you felt the prompting of God and told Him no because you felt inadequate? The mightiness of God is made even more manifest by the weakness of the vessel He chooses!
Next, we hear about Samson – and His call from before birth. We don’t hear much about his life, except the stories of his exploits with women. He was the strongest man ever, yet his strength went from him when he bowed to the pressure of his wife (who was being led by her people). Instead of keeping himself for God, he chose to tell his “secret” to his second wife – and is ultimately killed. He became weak when he took his eyes off the prize – his Nazarite vow. How have you become weak when taking your eyes off the prize of Christ Jesus?
At the end of the week we hear the beautiful story of Ruth. Ruth was the grandmother of David. She showed great faithfulness to her mother-in-law, saying:
But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. Ruth 1:16-17 (ESV)
What faith! These women were all alone because they had no husbands, sons or brothers to protect them. Ruth and Naomi travel to Bethlehem. Ruth gleans (follows behind and picks up what the workers left – a commandment for the Israelites).
“When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. 10 And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God. Lev 19:9-10 (ESV)
She works through two harvests and catches the attention of Boaz. He tells her that she is well known because of the faithfulness she showed to Naomi. She is protected by Boaz as she continues to glean, and eventually he becomes her kinsman-redeemer – and her husband. Ruth, the faithful one, becomes the mother of Obed and the grandmother of David.
It’s a beautiful story that shows God’s faithfulness to those who are faithful to Him. David, of course, is a part of Jesus’ lineage.
As we finish this week and look toward the beginning of Holy Week, take a moment to thank God that even when we are unfaithful, He remains faithful. As you look toward Palm Sunday and Easter celebrations, think of those you know who do not yet know the Savior. Ask a friend to come to church on Easter – it’s one of the “easy” days to get a friend to attend. If you’ve not been able to attend in a while, it’s a great time to come back!
May God bless you throughout your week, and whether you are struggling with life’s problems, or on the mountaintop and experiencing God’s blessings, may you choose to say: