March 30, 2015

Judges 10-12 Tola...was next after Abimelech. He rose to the occasion to save Israel... He judged Israel for twenty-three years....After him, Jair the stepped into leadership. He judged Israel for twenty-two years. He had thirty sons who rode on thirty donkeys and had thirty towns in Gilead...And then the People of Israel went back to doing evil in God’s sight...  They just walked off and left God, quit worshiping him. And God exploded in hot anger at Israel and sold them off to the Philistines and Ammonites, who, beginning that year, bullied and battered the People of Israel mercilessly. For eighteen years they had them under their thumb...,

The People of Israel cried out to God for help: “We’ve sinned against you! We left our God and worshiped the Baal gods!”
God answered the People of Israel: “When the Egyptians,...—oppressed you and you cried out to me for help, I saved you from them. And now you’ve gone off and betrayed me, worshiping other gods. I’m not saving you anymore. Go ahead! Cry out for help to the gods you’ve chosen—let them get you out of the mess you’re in!”

The People of Israel said to God: “We’ve sinned. Do to us whatever you think best, but please, get us out of this!”
Then they cleaned house of the foreign gods and worshiped only God. And God took Israel’s troubles to heart....

Jephthah the Gileadite was one tough warrior. He was the son of a whore, but Gilead was his father. Meanwhile Gilead’s legal wife had given him other sons, and when they grew up, his wife’s sons threw Jephthah out...So Jephthah fled from his brothers and went to live in the land of Tob. Some riffraff joined him and went around with him....the elders of Gilead went to get Jephthah... They said to Jephthah: “Come. Be our general and we’ll fight the Ammonites.”...

Jephthah addressed the elders of Gilead, “So if you bring me back home to fight the Ammonites and God gives them to me, I’ll be your head—is that right?”  They said, “God is witness between us; whatever you say, we’ll do.” Jephthah went along with the elders of Gilead. The people made him their top man and general. And Jephthah repeated what he had said before God at Mizpah.
Jephthah again sent messengers to the king of the Ammonites with the message: “Jephthah’s word: Israel took no Moabite land and no Ammonite land....—it’s been three hundred years now!—that Israel has lived in Heshbon and its villages,...why didn’t you try to snatch them away then? No, I haven’t wronged you....Today God the Judge will decide between the People of Israel and the people of Ammon.”  But the king of the Ammonites refused to listen to a word that Jephthah had sent him.

God’s Spirit came upon Jephthah....Jephthah made a vow before God: “If you give me a clear victory over the Ammonites, then I’ll give to God whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in one piece from among the Ammonites—I’ll offer it up in a sacrificial burnt offering.” Then Jephthah was off to fight the Ammonites. And God gave them to him...

Jephthah came home to Mizpah. His daughter ran from the house to welcome him home—dancing to tambourines! She was his only child. He had no son or daughter except her. When he realized who it was, he ripped his clothes, saying, “Ah, dearest daughter—I’m dirt. I’m despicable. My heart is torn to shreds. I made a vow to God and I can’t take it back!”
She said, “Dear father, if you made a vow to God, do to me what you vowed; God did his part and saved you from your Ammonite enemies.”  

And then she said to her father, “But let this one thing be done for me. Give me two months to wander through the hills and lament my virginity since I will never marry, I and my dear friends.”...  “Oh yes, go,” he said. He sent her off for two months. She and her dear girlfriends went among the hills, lamenting that she would never marry. At the end of the two months, she came back to her father. He fulfilled the vow with her that he had made. She had never slept with a man...

The men of Ephraim mustered their troops, crossed to Zaphon, and said to Jephthah, “Why did you go out to fight the Ammonites without letting us go with you? We’re going to burn your house down on you!”  Jephthah said, “I and my people had our hands full negotiating with the Ammonites. And I did call to you for help but you ignored me... 

So Jephthah got his Gilead troops together and fought Ephraim. And the men of Gilead hit them hard because they were saying, “Gileadites are nothing but half breeds and rejects from Ephraim and Manasseh.”... Jephthah judged Israel six years. 

After him, Ibzan of Bethlehem judged Israel. He had thirty sons and thirty daughters... He judged Israel seven years... After him, Elon the Zebulunite judged Israel. He judged Israel ten years...After him, Abdon... judged Israel. He had forty sons and thirty grandsons who rode on seventy donkeys. He judged Israel eight years... 

Mark 9:2 - 9:50 - Six days later, they did see it.  Jesus took Peter, James and John and led them up a high mountain.  His appearance changed from the inside out, right before their eyes...Elijah, along with Moses, came into view, in deep conversation with Jesus.  Peter interrupted and asked to build three memorials...He blurted this out without thinking, stunned as they all were by what they were seeing....Just then a cloud enveloped them and a voice stated: “This is my Son, marked by my love.  Listen to him.”  The next minute the disciples were looking around, rubbing his eyes, seeing nothing but Jesus, only Jesus.  Coming down the mountain, Jesus swore them to secrecy.  “Don’t tell a soul what you saw.  After the Son of Man rises from the dead, you’re free to talk.”

When they came back, down the mountain to the other disciples, they saw a huge crowd around them and the religion scholars cross-examining them.  As soon as the people in the crowd saw Jesus, admiring excitement stirred them.  They ran and greeted him following which Jesus asked what was going on.  A man in the crowd answered him explaining how he had brought his son who couldn’t speak but the disciples couldn’t assist him.  Jesus said, “What a generation!  No sense of God.  How many times do I have to go over these things?  HOw much longer do I have to put up with this?  Bring the boy here.”  The father explained how long this was happening to the boy and asked “if you can do anything, do it.  Have a heart and help us!”  Jesus said “If?  There are no ‘ifs‘ among believers.  Anything can happen.  No sooner were the words out of his mouth than the father cried, “Then I believe.  Help me with my doubts!” Following this, Jesus healed the boy.

After arriving back home, his disciples cornered Jesus and asked, “Why couldn’t we throw the demons out?”  He answered, “There is no way to get rid of this kind of demon except by prayer.”  Leaving there, they went through Galilee.  He didn’t want anyone to know there whereabouts for he wanted to teach his disciples.  

They then went to Capernaum.  When he was safe at home, he asked them what they were discussing on the road.  The silence was deafening--they had been arguing with one another over who among them was greatest.  He sat down and summoned the 12.  “So you want first place!  Then take the last place.  Be the servant of all.”  He put a child in the middle of the room.  Then, cradling the little on in his arms he said, “Whoever embraces one of these children, as I do embraces me, and far more than me--God who sent me.”  

John spoke up, “Teacher,we saw a man using your name to expel demons and we stopped him because he wasn’t in our group.  Jesus wasn’t pleased. “Don’t stop him.  No one can use my name to do something good and powerful and in the next breath cut me down.  If he’s not an enemy, he’s an ally...on the other hand, if you give on of these simple, childlike believers a hard time, bullying or taking advantage of their simple trust, you’ll soon wish you hadn’t...Everyone’s going through a refining fire sooner or later but you’ll be well-preserved, protected from the eternal flames.  Be preservatives yourselves.  Preserve the peace.”