April 3, 2015

Judges 17-18 - There was a man from the hill country of Ephraim named Micah. He said to his mother, “Remember that 1,100 pieces of silver that were taken from you?...Well, I have the money; I stole it. But now I’ve brought it back to you.”  His mother said, “God bless you, my son!”

As he returned the 1,100 silver pieces to his mother, she said, “I had totally consecrated this money to God for my son to make a statue, a cast god.” Then she took 200 pieces of the silver and gave it to a sculptor and he cast them into the form of a god.

Meanwhile there was a young man from Bethlehem in Judah and from a family of Judah. He was a Levite but was a stranger there. He left that town, Bethlehem in Judah, seeking his fortune. He got as far as the hill country of Ephraim and showed up at Micah’s house...Micah said, “Stay here with me. Be my father and priest. I’ll pay you ten pieces of silver a year, whatever clothes you need, and your meals.”  The Levite agreed and moved in with Micah. The young man fit right in and became one of the family. Micah appointed the young Levite as his priest. This all took place in Micah’s home.

Micah said, “Now I know that God will make things go well for me—why, I’ve got a Levite for a priest!”

In those days there was no king in Israel. But also in those days, the tribe of Dan was looking for a place to settle down. They hadn’t yet occupied their plot among the tribes of Israel.  The Danites sent out five robust warriors from Zorah and Eshtaol to look over the land and see what was out there suitable for their families. They said, “Go and explore the land.”

They went into the hill country of Ephraim and got as far as the house of Micah.  They camped there for the night. As they neared Micah’s house, they recognized the voice of the young Levite. They went over and said to him, “How on earth did you get here? What’s going on? What are you doing here?”...

The five men left and headed north to Laish. They saw that the people there were living in safety under the umbrella of the Sidonians, quiet and unsuspecting. ...They said, “Let’s go for it! Let’s attack. We’ve seen the land and it is excellent... God is handing it over to you, everything you could ever ask for.”  So six hundred Danite men set out from Zorah and Eshtaol, armed to the teeth. Along the way they made camp at Kiriath Jearim in Judah.... From there they proceeded into the hill country of Ephraim and came to Micah’s house....So they turned off the road there, went to the house of the young Levite at Micah’s place and asked how things had been with him.... When the five went into Micah’s house and took the carved idol, the ephod, the teraphim-idols, and the sculpted god, the priest said to them, “What do you think you’re doing?”  They said to him, “Hush! Don’t make a sound. Come with us. Be our father and priest. Which is more important, that you be a priest to one man or that you become priest to a whole tribe and clan in Israel?”  The priest jumped at the chance. 

They were well on their way from Micah’s house before Micah and his neighbors got organized. But they soon overtook the Danites... The Danites went on their way. Micah saw that he didn’t stand a chance against their arms. He turned back and went home.  So they took the things that Micah had made, along with his priest, and they arrived at Laish, that city of quiet and unsuspecting people. They massacred the people and burned down the city....The Danites set up the god-figure for themselves. Jonathan son of Gershom, the son of Moses, and his descendants were priests to the tribe of Dan down to the time of the land’s captivity.   All during the time that there was a sanctuary of God in Shiloh, they kept for their private use the god-figure that Micah had made.


Mark 11 - When they were nearing Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany on Mount Olives, he sent off two of the disciples with instructions: “Go to the village across from you. As soon as you enter, you’ll find a colt tethered, one that has never yet been ridden. Untie it and bring it. If anyone asks, ‘What are you doing?’ say, ‘The Master needs him, and will return him right away.’”  They went and found a colt tied to a door at the street corner and untied it.... They brought the colt to Jesus, spread their coats on it, and he mounted.

The people gave him a wonderful welcome, some throwing their coats on the street, others spreading out rushes they had cut in the fields. Running ahead and following after, they were calling out,  Hosanna!  Blessed is he who comes in God’s name!  Blessed the coming kingdom of our father David!  Hosanna in highest heaven!  He entered Jerusalem, then entered the Temple. He looked around, taking it all in. But by now it was late, so he went back to Bethany with the Twelve.

As they left Bethany the next day, he was hungry. Off in the distance he saw a fig tree in full leaf. He came up to it expecting to find something for breakfast, but found nothing but fig leaves. (It wasn’t yet the season for figs.) He addressed the tree: “No one is going to eat fruit from you again—ever!” And his disciples overheard him.

They arrived at Jerusalem. Immediately on entering the Temple Jesus started throwing out everyone who had set up shop there, buying and selling...  And then he taught them, quoting this text: My house was designated a house of prayer for the nations; You’ve turned it into a hangout for thieves.

The high priests and religion scholars heard what was going on and plotted how they might get rid of him. They panicked, for the entire crowd was carried away by his teaching.

In the morning, walking along the road, they saw the fig tree, shriveled to a dry stick. Peter, remembering what had happened the previous day, said to him, “Rabbi, look—the fig tree you cursed is shriveled up!”...That’s why I urge you to pray for absolutely everything, ranging from small to large. Include everything as you embrace this God-life, and you’ll get God’s everything. And when you assume the posture of prayer, remember that it’s not all asking. If you have anything against someone, forgive—only then will your heavenly Father be inclined to also wipe your slate clean of sins.”

Then when they were back in Jerusalem once again, as they were walking through the Temple, the high priests, religion scholars, and leaders came up and demanded, “Show us your credentials. Who authorized you to speak and act like this?”  Jesus responded, “First let me ask you a question. Answer my question and then I’ll present my credentials. About the baptism of John—who authorized it: heaven or humans? Tell me.”  They were on the spot, and knew it. They pulled back into a huddle and whispered, “If we say ‘heaven,’ he’ll ask us why we didn’t believe John; if we say ‘humans,’ we’ll be up against it with the people because they all hold John up as a prophet.” They decided to concede that round to Jesus. “We don’t know,” they said.  Jesus replied, “Then I won’t answer your question either.”