8 weeks down and 44 more to go! Yes, I'm still pushing forward with my Bible 365 challenge. If you recall, last week we ended the book of Joshua with the death of Joshua and the Israelites not having fully conquered Canaan. The Israelites were suppose to drive out the people, their idols and follow the commands that God had laid out for them under Moses and Joshua.
Now, we know the Israelites instinctive nature back then was to give up on God as soon as they were faced with hard times. So, with Joshua being dead and them not having a leader the Israelites tried to complete the takeover of Canaan but sadly as God had predicted to Moses and Joshua, the Israelites rebelled against God and didn't follow His instructions. Judges 2:1-2 say, "...I said, 'I will never break My covenant with you. And you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall tear down their altars.' But you have not obeyed My voice. Why have you done this?"
I've often asked myself why it was so hard for the Israelites to follow God's instructions too? I mean if you God were tell me that all I had to do to get a land following with milk and honey, abundance and easy living was to not make covenants with the enemy or take up any of their practices and that He was going to drive them out of the land before me, I would totally jump on that deal and not think twice. After all the miracles and curses they've seen God perform you would also think they would have a healthy dose of fear to keep them on the straight and narrow but alas "...the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord. So the Lord delivered them into the hand of Midian for seven years,..." (Judges 6:1).
Yep, back to slavery and servitude they went. After that God decided to deliver them from the Midianites and appointed Gideon to help them defeat the Midianites. And for that short time, the Israelites did ok, but as soon as Gideon died and they were again without a leader they turned their backs on God yet again. "Thus the children of Israel did not remember the Lord their God, who had delivered them from the hands of all their enemies on every side; nor did they show kindness to the house of Gideon in accordance with the good he done for Israel" (Judges 8:34-35).
Also, in the book of Judges we learn about Samson and how he came delivered Israel out of the hand of the Philistines. Samson was like almost like Conan the Barbarian. What do I mean by that? Well, this man tore a lion to pieces using his bare hands (Judges 14:5-6) and killed a 1,000 men using a donkey jawbone (Judges 15:15-17).
I imagine that Samson was the kind of man who made all the ladies weak in the knees. However, he was definitely not someone you wanted to cross or get on his bad side. But he did have a heroic downfall-women. And his attraction/fascination with beautiful women caused him to get captured by his enemies.
Yep, his woman Delilah turned on him for a boatload of silver. She got Samson to tell her the secret to his supernatural strength- his hair and then she had it shaved off in his sleep. Then the Philistines captured him, gauged his eyes out and kept him as their entertainment slave. Well, once Samson's hair started to grow back, he called on God to help get vengeance on the Philistines.
So, one day the Philistines decided have a party and bring Samson up to be their entertainment. They chained him between two pillars. God heard Samson's request and gave him his strength back. Samson toppled the temple by crushing the pillars thus killing the Philistines and himself (Judges 16).
The book of Ruth is about the best daughter in-law who ever lived. Her husband and brother in-laws die and when her mother in-laws announces to her and her other sister in-law that since she has no more sons for them marry and nothing to offer them that they can go back home to their families and move on, Ruth makes the brave choice to stay with her mother in-law. How many of us can say that we bonds like that with our in-laws?
Most of us would have been like Orpah, chucked up the deuces and went back home to our family, inheritance and another chance at true love. But I think that Ruth felt compassion for Naomi and didn't want her to be alone. And for that God blessed her and led her to Boaz. This love story is short, but sweet and just shows that when you let do what is right you will get rewarded.
In 1 Samuel chapters 1-3, we meet Samuel's mother Hannah, who is barren, but prays to the Lord to give her son and she will dedicate him to the Lord. God answers her prayer and Hannah keeps her end of the bargain and dedicates Samuel to God. And Samuel becomes the first child minister and receives his first prophecy from God regarding the punishment of the house of Eli.
Why were they being punished? Well, Eli's sons were wicked. They were laying "with the women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle of meeting" (1 Samuel 2:22) and Eli did nothing to really stop his sons from doing these bad things. Looks like another case of people not taking God's commands seriously. Overall, week 8 had some action packed reading. Definitely not dull moments.
Week 9 Reading
2/25- 1 Samuel 4-7
2/26- 1 Samuel 8-12
2/27- 1 Samuel 13-15
2/28- 1 Samuel 16-18
3/1- 1 Samuel 19-22
3/2- 1 Samuel 23-26
3/3- 1 Samuel 27-31