April 9, 2015

I Samuel 10-12 - Then Samuel took a flask of oil, poured it on Saul’s head, and kissed him. He said, “Do you see what this means? God has anointed you prince over his people.

“This sign will confirm God’s anointing of you as prince over his inheritance: After you leave me today, as you get closer to your home country of Benjamin, you’ll meet two men near Rachel’s Tomb.... “Leaving there, you’ll arrive at the Oak of Tabor. There you’ll meet three men going up to worship God at Bethel.... “Next, you’ll come to Gibeah of God, where there’s a Philistine garrison. As you approach the town, you’ll run into a bunch of prophets coming down from the shrine, playing harps and tambourines, flutes and drums.... 

Before you know it, the Spirit of God will come on you and you’ll be prophesying right along with them. And you’ll be transformed. You’ll be a new person!  “When these confirming signs are accomplished, you’ll know that you’re ready: Whatever job you’re given to do, do it. God is with you!... Saul turned and left Samuel. At that very moment God transformed him—made him a new person! And all the confirming signs took place the same day....

When those who had previously known Saul saw him prophesying with the prophets, they were totally surprised. “What’s going on here? What’s come over the son of Kish? How on earth did Saul get to be a prophet?” One man spoke up and said, “Who started this? Where did these people ever come from?”...

When Saul was done prophesying, he returned home. His uncle asked him and his servant, “So where have you two been all this time?”....But Saul didn’t breathe a word to his uncle of what Samuel said about the king business.

Samuel called the people to assemble before God at Mizpah. He addressed the children of Israel, “This is God’s personal message to you:
“I brought Israel up out of Egypt. I delivered you from Egyptian oppression—yes, from all the bullying governments that made your life miserable. And now you want nothing to do with your God, the very God who has a history of getting you out of troubles of all sorts.  “And now you say, ‘No! We want a king; give us a king!’  “Well, if that’s what you want, that’s what you’ll get! Present yourselves formally before God, ranked in tribes and families.”

After Samuel got all the tribes of Israel lined up, the Benjamin tribe was picked. Then he lined up the Benjamin tribe in family groups, and the family of Matri was picked. The family of Matri took its place in the lineup, and the name Saul, son of Kish, was picked. But when they went looking for him, he was nowhere to be found.  Samuel went back to God: “Is he anywhere around?”  God said, “Yes, he’s right over there—hidden in that pile of baggage.”...

Samuel went on to instruct the people in the rules and regulations involved in a kingdom, wrote it all down in a book, and placed it before God. Then Samuel sent everyone home.  Saul also went home to Gibeah, and with him some true and brave men whom God moved to join him. But the riffraff went off muttering, “Deliverer? Don’t make me laugh!” They held him in contempt and refused to congratulate him. But Saul paid them no mind....

Nahash, king of the Ammonites, was brutalizing the tribes of Gad and Reuben, gouging out their right eyes and intimidating anyone who would come to Israel’s help.... But seven thousand men had escaped from the Ammonites and were now living safely in Jabesh....  The town leaders of Jabesh said, “Give us time to send messengers around Israel—seven days should do it. If no one shows up to help us, we’ll accept your terms.”

The messengers came to Saul’s place at Gibeah and told the people what was going on. As the people broke out in loud wails, Saul showed up. He was coming back from the field with his oxen....The Spirit of God came on Saul when he heard the report and he flew into a rage. He grabbed the yoke of oxen and butchered them on the spot. He sent the messengers throughout Israel distributing the bloody pieces with this message: “Anyone who refuses to join up with Saul and Samuel, let this be the fate of his oxen!”  The terror of God seized the people, and they came out, one and all, not a laggard among them. Saul took command of the people at Bezek. There were 300,000 men from Israel, another 30,000 from Judah.
Saul instructed the messengers, “Tell this to the folk in Jabesh Gilead: ‘Help is on the way. Expect it by noon tomorrow.’”...

Long before dawn the next day, Saul had strategically placed his army in three groups. At first light they broke into the enemy camp and slaughtered Ammonites until noon. Those who were left ran for their lives, scattering every which way.
The people came to Samuel then and said, “Where are those men who said, ‘Saul is not fit to rule over us’? Hand them over. We’ll kill them!”  But Saul said, “Nobody is going to be executed this day. This is the day God saved Israel! Come, let’s go to Gilgal and there reconsecrate the kingship.”  They all trooped out to Gilgal. Before God, they crowned Saul king at Gilgal. And there they worshiped, sacrificing peace offerings. Saul and all Israel celebrated magnificently.

Samuel addressed all Israel: “I’ve listened to everything you’ve said to me, listened carefully to every word, and I’ve given you a king. See for yourself: Your king among you, leading you! But now look at me: I’m old and gray, and my sons are still here. I’ve led you faithfully from my youth until this very day. Look at me! Do you have any complaints to bring before God and his anointed?...  Bring your complaint and I’ll make it right.”...

Samuel continued, “This is the God who made Moses and Aaron your leaders and brought your ancestors out of Egypt. Take your stand before him now as I review your case before God in the light of all the righteous ways in which God has worked with you and your ancestors.... “So here’s the king you wanted, the king you asked for. God has let you have your own way, given you a king. If you fear God, worship and obey him, and don’t rebel against what he tells you. If both you and your king follow God, no problem. God will be sure to save you. But if you don’t obey him and rebel against what he tells you, king or no king, you will fare no better than your fathers.

“Pay attention! Watch this wonder that God is going to perform before you now! It’s summer, as you well know, and the rainy season is over. But I’m going to pray to God. He’ll send thunder and rain, a sign to convince you of the great wrong you have done to God by asking for a king.”  Samuel prayed to God, and God sent thunder and rain that same day. The people were greatly afraid and in awe of God and of Samuel...

Samuel said to them, “Don’t be fearful. It’s true that you have done something very wrong. All the same, don’t turn your back on God. Worship and serve him heart and soul! Don’t chase after ghost-gods. There’s nothing to them. They can’t help you....God, simply because of who he is, is not going to walk off and leave his people. God took delight in making you into his very own people....But I beg of you, fear God and worship him honestly and heartily. You’ve seen how greatly he has worked among you! Be warned: If you live badly, both you and your king will be thrown out.”

Mark 15 - At dawn’s first light, the high priests with the religious leaders and scholars, arranged a conference with the entire Jewish council.  After tying Jesus securely, they took him out and presented him to Pilate.  

Pilate asked him, “Are you the ‘King of the Jews’?”  Jesus answered, “If you say so.”  The high priests let loose a barrage of accusations.  Pilate again asked, “Aren’t you going to answer anything? That’s quite a list of accusations.”  Still, Jesus said nothing.  Pilate was impressed, really impressed.

It was the custom at the Feast to release a prisoner, anyone the people asked for.  There was one prisoner called Barabbas, locked up with the insurrectionists who had committed murder during the uprising against Rome... Pilate anticipated the request for a prisoner release and asked, “Do you want me to release the King of the Jews to you?  Pilate knew by this time that it was through sheer spite that the high priests had turned Jesus over to him.  But the high priests by then had worked up the crowd to ask for the release of Barabbas.  Pilate came back, “So what do I do with this man you call King of the Jews?”  They yelled, “Nail him to the cross!”  Pilate objected, “But for what crime?”  The crowd repeated their chant.  Pilate gave the crowd what they wanted, et Barabbas free and turned Jesus over for whipping and crucifixion.....

The soldiers took Jesus to the palace (called Practorium) and called together the entire brigade.  They dressed him up as a king then began their mockery...They banged his head with a club, spit on him, and knelt down in mock worship.  After they had their fun, they...then marched him out to nail him to the cross.

There was a man walking by, coming from work, Simon from Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus.  They made him carry the cross.  The soldiers brought Jesus up to Golgotha...They offered him a mild painkiller...but he wouldn’t take it.  And they nailed him to the cross.

They nailed him up at 9 am...along with him, they crucified two criminals, one on his right and one on his left.  People passing along the road jeered, shaking their heads in mock lament:  “You bragged that you could tear down the Temple and rebuild it in three days--so show us your stuff!  Save yourself.  If you’re really God’s Son, come down from that cross.  The high priests, along with the religion scholars were right there mixing it up with the rest of them, having a great time poking fun of him.  “He saved others, but he cannot save himself...We’ll all become believers then!”  Even the men crucified alongside him joined in the mockery.  At noon the sky became extremely dark.  The darkness lasted three hours.  At 3 pm, Jesus groaned out of the depths, crying loudly, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”....with a loud cry, Jesusgave his last breath.  At that moment the Temple curtain ripped right down the middle.  When the Roman captain standing guard in front of him saw that he had quite breathing, he said, “This has to be the Son of God!”{

There were women watching from a distance, among them Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of the younger James and Joses, and Salome.  When Jesus was in Galilee, these women followed and served him, and had come up with him to Jerusalem.  Late in the afternoon, since it was the day of preparation (Sabbath eve), Joseph of Arithmathea, a highly respected member of the Jewish Council, came.  He was one who lived expectantly, on the lookout for the kingdom of God.  Working up the courage, he went to Pilate and asked for Jesus body.... Having already purchased a linen shroud, Joseph took him down, wrapped him in a tomb that had been cut into the rock, and rolled a large stone across the opening.  Mary Magdalene and Mary, mother of Joses, watched the burial.