In this season of social distancing for many, and shelter in place orders for others, as we all try to fight for faith in the face of COVID-19, I decided to share one thought a day from my daily devotional time in the hope of strengthening other’s hands in God (1 Sam 23:16), and encouraging friends forward in faith. You can subscribe at the bottom of the page to receive an email for each new post, and feel free to come back daily and share with anyone who might find them beneficial.
I use a reading plan that has me reading a few chapters in different parts of the Scripture for every day of the week, and so each day’s content will be dictated by the required daily reading of that plan. I will focus in on one unit of thought rather than trying to address the full scope of the day’s reading. I am trusting God that He will speak from different parts of His Word, as He always does.
Tuesday, March 30
Reading: Judges 8-11
Some sections of Scripture are just tough to read. There is no way around it.
Judges is a tough read. It is supposed to be. It speaks of the season between Joshua and Samuel and shows the consequences of an apostate people determined to adopt the cruel gods of the surrounding nations. It is a bloody and difficult book.
How then do we study books like this for our own personal edification? Well, there are many excellent hermeneutical tools out there which fall way beyond the scope of a small devotion, but here are some of the principles I adopt when I cannot make sense of a difficult text.
View what seems unclear through what is obviously clear in the rest of Scripture.
For example, Judges 10 speaks of God’s judgement over His people and says that the Lord was impatient with the miseries of Israel (Judges 10:16). That feels strange to me, and so I need to view it though the lens of what the rest of Scripture says about the nature of God, especially His patience and kindness. I choose to not let one reference that causes me doubt to overshadow hundreds that have given me comfort. So, I go back and remember,
“The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,” — Ex 34:6
That is a clear theme in the Scriptures and I can cling to that.
View what seems unclear through what is obviously clear in the life and teachings of Jesus.
Jesus teaches us to interpret the Old Testament in light of His life and work (Luke 24:25-27). So, when confronted with the violence of a leader like Gideon, for instance, we must not shy away, but rather we must look to Christ. The Bible is a violent book, there is no way around that, but it points ultimately to one upon whom the ultimate violence would rest, and He wouldn’t return it. He absorbed it. He took on Himself this constant raging of the nations for more blood. Everything east of Eden is bloody, but the good news is that Christ takes on the violence, so that His people don’t have to live that way anymore. He invites them back into a Kingdom of peace by accepting the violence wrought upon Him.
View what seems unclear through the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
When reading texts like this, I ask the Spirit to bring to mind teachings from within it that God has for me and for us. He is always faithful to speak from His Word, but we need to slow down and ask Him to guide us. In this text alone, I felt the Spirit strongly impress some principles upon me that I might have ordinarily missed.
- All leadership will contain questions and challenges from the people you lead. It doesn’t matter how good you are, or how desperate the people are (8:1-3).
- Sometimes the call of God means persistence even through exhaustion (8:4).
- Small compromises in godly leaders can lead to big consequences (8:27).
- Violence begets violence. Paranoia and suspicion begets more paranoia and suspicion (9:22-25).
- Pride and arrogance will be exposed by the seemingly weak (9:53-57).
- Exclusion and “othering” leads to life long bitterness and hurt (11:1-3).
There is so much more in there, but I sense these at the very least from this seemingly obscure and, at times, very strange text.
So, dear friends, trust the Word, and enjoy the Lord who is the Word.