Impact on Jesus Week 14
I have been so blessed seeing these moments of #Impact on Jesus in the Old Testament.
34 They did not destroy the peoples
as the Lord had commanded them,
35 but they mingled with the nations
and adopted their customs.
36 They worshiped their idols,
which became a snare to them.
37 They sacrificed their sons
and their daughters to false gods.
38 They shed innocent blood,
the blood of their sons and daughters,
whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan,
and the land was desecrated by their blood.
39 They defiled themselves by what they did;
by their deeds they prostituted themselves.
40 Therefore the Lord was angry with his people
and abhorred his inheritance.
41 He gave them into the hands of the nations,
and their foes ruled over them.
42 Their enemies oppressed them
and subjected them to their power.
43 Many times he delivered them,
but they were bent on rebellion
and they wasted away in their sin. Psalm 106:43
I love how the Lord directs days in seeing how I am behind a couple of days in my reading through the Psalms, yet I read this today as I was reading Judges 2.
Joshua has passed away and an THE Angel of the Lord (emphasis on THE) comes and scolds the people for giving up to quickly on removing the people from the land. In Judges 2:2 he says "You have disobeyed me! Why have you done this?"
Their lack of obedience led to the people being a thorn in their side and a snare to them. In the matter of two generations, the people had not implanted the law of God on the hearts of their children and they turned away and followed Baal and other gods. God then quit fighting for them and they were in constant distress from their enemies. The nation who once was untouchable because God was with them, now is in distress because God quit fighting for them because they had not obeyed.
Judges 2 ends by saying. "Therefore, the Lord was angry with Israel and said, 'Because this nation violated the covenant that I laid down for their forefathers and has not listened to me, I will no longer drive out before them any of the nations Joshua left when he died. I will use them to test Israel and see whether they will keep they way of the Lord and walk in it as their forefathers did." Judges 2:20-22
Disobedience led to disaster. The one who proclaimed this to the people was none other than The Angel of the Lord. Many who know much more than I do have said this Angel was the pre-incarnate Jesus. The one who would one day read these stories, who carried the same Hebrew name as Joshua, and would learn from the mistake of those who had not obeyed the Lord. This young Jesus would see the disaster of not fully obeying. Then he would read that these nations and their gods were left to test Israel to see if they would obey!
This same Jesus, who learned these history lessons would be the one who would one day face the test. He was sent to finish driving out the enemy. Not nations of people, but the greater Enemy, the one behind all these foreign gods, Satan. He would be tried, he would be tested, to see if he would fully obey the Lord, even if that obedience meant death on a tree, being cursed by God. Because Jesus was impacted by this story in Judges, he saw what disobedience would bring, and he knew obedience would bring about God fighting for His people and driving out the enemy fully.
Today we have an empty tomb and Torn Roman Seals from the grave as evidence that Jesus learned from the mistakes of those who had gone before, and he choose to obey! And today, our God fights for us, not because I am worthy, but because Jesus Is!
I love Judges 4, the story of Deborah the judge. Also in this passage, another lady is spoken of, Jael. This is a story of the first woman judge of Gods people mentioned in Scripture. It is also the first time we see an enemy slain at the hand of a woman.
Why was this story so important to have it written down for Jesus to read, memorize, and learn from?
In the day Jesus lived, woman in that culture were despised, looked down on, and considered as less valuable than men. It was a sad reality, but reality none the less.
Yet here, Jesus reads of a woman who judged the nation and because of the victory described in Judges 4-5, Israel lived in peace for 40 years.
Jesus would see great value in the women that followed him. He lifted them up and treated them with great kindness and tenderness. He did not treat them as lower than men, but taught them as equals. He saw in his mother, Mary, another Jael, who through her obedience and willingness to give birth to him, she played a role in driving a stake through the temple of the enemy and defeating Satan for good, bringing peace to Gods people.
He saw in Mary Magdalene another Deborah, who after seeing Jesus risen from the grave, delivered a song of good news to the disciples who were in hiding and afraid.
What a Savior, who loved as his Father loved. Who redeemed the entire story, the one in which Eve was considered less and treated less for taking the first bite, but Jesus redeemed all of it and he calls us all, men, women, boys and girls, to all come and follow him, equally tasting the goodness of his love!
I have been pondering the story of Gideon in Judges 6-7 today and thinking about Jesus and the impact it had on his life.
Israel had again betrayed God and worshipped others gods. They were now under oppression from the Midianites who came every year and literally consumed the crops and livestock of the Israelites.
Gideon is hiding in a wine press threshing wheat when again "The angel of the Lord" (Jesus pre-incarnate) shows up. The Lord called Gideon a "mighty warrior" and saying "The Lord is with you." That was a strange thing to say to a man who is hiding.
Gideon responds with asking, "How is the Lord with us? Where are the mighty works we heard about? It appears to me the Lord has abandoned us!" 6:12-13
The Lord tells Gideon to go deliver the people of Israel, asking "Am I not sending you?"
Gideon answered again with excuses, claiming to be the "weakest" member of his family.
God however, through "The angel of the Lord" was not deterred and once again told Gideon to go with these words as a promise, "I will be with you."
Gideon went forth, first with the need to purify his own village of Baal and the Asherah poles, which he did at night because he feared the people of his own town, and for seemingly good reason. They wanted to kill him. But Gideon's Father stepped in and basically said, "If Baal is a true god, let him defend himself"
The rest of the story is well known. The fleece, seeking reassurance from God. The shaving down of Gideon's force from 32000 to 300 so they would know God won the battle, not the strength of man. The fear of Gideon showing up again the night of the battle and him hearing the dream and interpretation of God giving him victory (7:13-15). Then the actual events, the sound of trumpets, the breaking of clay jars to reveal to torches, and the enemy turning on themselves and Victory!
As I meditated on this today, I thought of Jesus, who grew up in obscurity as a child. He was not well known other than called the illegitimate child of Joseph and Mary. He looked more like Mary than Joseph, as Joseph's DNA had nothing to do with the make up of his looks. Jesus was despised, hated, and even by his brothers (Psalm 69).
Then Jesus was sent to the Jordan, called to go into battle (as Gideon went to the Jordan to thin out the army). Jesus went as one man, no army in tow. His enemy, Satan and the religious traditions of the day, consumed all the spiritual growth of the people. Rome was seen as the oppressor, but lack of truth of God and his love were the real enemy.
I imagine, at times, in those alone times in the wilderness, Jesus might have wondered, Father, I don't feel like I can do this! I am struggle in my confidence because of being raised as a peasant, and my family doubts me, and the enemy is accusing me and showing me his oppressive power.
Then God would remind him of Gideon, and this story. Jesus would see himself in the "angel of the Lord" and these words "I am with you" is what would give him the strength and confidence and when he was in the garden, praying, "Is there another way" it was the realization the loaf of bread rolling down the hill and toppling the tent of the enemy was actually him, the bread of life, and it would not involve him fighting, but rather, it would involve him watching his Father fight for him as he shouted, "It is finished!"
I see Jesus receiving encouragement from this story, boldness, and confidence. He realized Gideon was a foreshadow of who he is and why he was there. He learned that the victory was found in allowing himself to simply obey the Lord, not in Numbers of fighters, or his own strength or power, but in trusting in the Lord.
I am glad Jesus was a man like me, who learned that for him to "win" he would have to trust in the power and strength of the words "I, the Lord your God, am with you!"
This mornings reading in Judges 8-9 comes as a solemn warning to all who read it, including a young boy/man named Jesus.
The battle is won, Gideon is asked to rule, but he declines saying "the Lord will rule you." Then he asked for one thing. One gold earring from each man's plunder. With it, he made an Ephod to commemorate the Lords victory over 135,000 Midianite soldiers thru the use of 300 men with torches and horns, and eventually swords.
Yet, over time, the Ephod became a stumbling block to Gideon, his family, and his village. They began to worship before it. Instead of saying "remember what the Lord did," they began to reminisce about what "Gideon had done." The glory of the victory was stripped from God and attributed to a man. Because of this, Gideon's family suffered and one of his seventy sons, Abimelech born to one of Gideon's concubines, killed all of his brothers on one stone and proceeded to try and rule the people.
It is a sad turn of events as even Abimelech lost his life in the end due to his pride and arrogance all born out of the act of his father Gideon and the people forgetting who was to receive the glory.
We know this had a huge impact on Jesus because he constantly was pointing to the Father as the one who was to receive the glory.
John 5:30, "By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me." He pointed the glory back to the One who was worthy.
"Jesus replied, "If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me." John 8:54 Jesus was not here to glorify himself, he knew the only glory he could receive would have to come from his Father.
Jesus knew if he was not careful, even one small "earring" collected for himself could become a stumbling block, not only for him, but for his entire family. One small fragment of a manger, and we might prostitute ourselves over his birth place. One small drop of the water turned to wine, and we might become drunk on our thirst for miracles. One small piece of the fragments of bread and we might hunger for physical satisfaction over our spiritual relationship to the Father. One nail, one thread of rope, one splinter from the cross and we might worship the cross over the One crucified.
Jesus learned from Gideon how easily a heart could turn from looking at the only source of hope and victory and begin the revel in its own abilities. Therefore, he lived his life with one goal in mind, His Fathers glory!
27“Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28Father, glorify your name!”
Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again." John 12:27-28
What impact this story of Gideon had on Jesus. May it also impact me so that my eyes are every on the One who has sent me and may my cry be "Father, glorify Your name!"
Today I have been pondering the story of Jephthah found in Judges 10-11. Israel has again forsaken God for the gods of the nations they failed to remove from the promised land. God has again sent oppressors to rule over them. The people, after crying out in misery and repenting, have reached His ears and God send Jephthah.
Who is Jephthah? In chapter 11 we are told he is the son of Gilead and his mother was a prostitute. As a young man, his half brothers ran him out of town claiming he would not receive any portion of their inheritance. But he was a mighty warrior, and in their time of need, the seek him out and beg him to come fight for them.
Jephthah agrees and he secures the victory. As an act of worship, he declares to God that whatever comes out of his tent first to greet him when he would return home he would sacrifice to God. However, he was not prepared to be met by his only child, his daughter.
He weeps and so does she. She pleads for the opportunity to mourn not ever being married. She roamed the hills for two months with her friends, mourning her death to come.
As I read, I hoped there would be some twist and another ram caught in the thicket. But that is not how this story ended. Jephthah sacrificed her on the altar to God as an act of worship. I could not help but ask, "Why would God not stop this!"
Then I pondered this as a story Jesus would read. As a young boy, he heard his mother called a whore and prostitute for being pregnant with him prior to marriage. Unlike his siblings, he carried no resemblance to Joseph and so that would have heightened the tension for him. His own brothers and family despised him, considering him a half breed. We do not read of them being at the foot of the cross mourning his death. Only Mary is mentioned as being there.
Although despised, Jesus knew he would be called to fight a battle on behalf of those who "ran him out of town." Those who hated him would need him as their "mighty warrior" to secure victory over sin and Death for them. And he would rise and be lifted up for the occasion.
As Jesus read of this daughter of Jephthah, a girl with no name, how Jesus must have connected with her. Here he was, his Father was going to destroy the enemy, but on the altar of sacrifice he would be slain. As he cried in the Garden, he surely hoped there would be another way. However, like Jephthah's daughter, he did not cower away from his death, but rather embraced it saying, Father, not what I want, do what you must!"
And when this story was written, the women of Gilead still commemorated Jephthah's daughter every year by spending 4 days in the hills honoring her. And today, here you and I stand, still celebrating and commemorating what Jesus did when he willingly laid down his life before God!
Judges 13:24-25. "He grew and the Lord blessed him, and the Spirit of the Lord began to stir him."
This of course is speaking about Samson. Chapter 13 is the announcement of the coming birth of the one who would save Israel. A couple, unable to have children, then "the angel of the Lord" appears to the mother and informs her she will give birth. The child's father is not there so he ask God to send the messenger again so he could instruct them on how to raise this child, which is done. The "angel of the Lord" repeats his message and instructions and then ascends in the flames of the offering.
Manoah, the child's father is panic stricken as he realizes who he has seen. He declares "we are going to die because we have seen God." But his wife calms him by saying "if he were going to kill us, would he have accepted the offering?"
This is the beginning of a story and how I wonder how much impact it had not only on Jesus, but Mary and Joseph as well. So much of their story collides with this one.
Mary, told she would give birth, something no virgin would be able to do. Joseph, not there to hear the initial announcement, but is told later in a dream much the same message Mary received. How fearful those moments would have been for both of them, facing an angelic being. But how Joseph must have plead for wisdom and instruction on "how to raise this child" the one who was the Son of God.
How Jesus would have seen himself in this story. A child, not meant to be born, yet he is. A child whose birth was announced by angels. A child sent to save his people from the enemy oppressing them. A child sent to reunite his people with the God who loved them. A child meant to do great things, but all of it started with a child who "grew and the Lord blessed him, and the Spirit of the Lord began to move him!"
What a story Jesus (the angel of the Lord) wrote for himself so when he arrived as a baby, he could learn who he was, grow into who he was meant to be, and accomplish the task he was sent to do!
What a Savior.
"His parents did not know this was from the Lord. . ." Judges 14:4
Samson had gone down and seen a Philistine girl that pleased his eyes. He told his parents to get her to be his wife. His parents objected, asking if none of the girls in all of Israel would do. But Samson was undeterred, his heart was set.
That is where we find this verses stating that Samson's parents did not understand this was all Gods doings. God was up to something much bigger and this girl was a part of his plan. God was going to raise up Samson to liberate Israel from the Philistines, and this situation was going to be the spark to set Samson on fire.
In fact, on the way to introduce his parents to the girl, we read of the very first time that it is recorded that the "Spirit of the Lord came on Samson in power" and allowed him to tear apart a young lion with his bare hands. God intended to set his people free, using whatever it took to accomplish His purposes.
Jesus surely connected to this portion of Samson's story. How many times did something come along in his life that his parents did not understand or see that God was up to something bigger than what they could understand. How often did Jesus' parents, family, and friends try and deter him from going somewhere or doing something because they could not see God's bigger plans. (Mark 3:21, John 11:16, Matthew 16:21-22).
But like Samson, Jesus' heart was set. Not on a woman, but on a goal. Jesus set his heart to please his Father even if no one else understood God was up to something bigger. Jesus learned from this story to trust the will and ways of his Father, even if everyone else tried to deter him.
Because of the determination Jesus learned from the story of Samson, and because he set his heart to please his father, when the "roaring lion" attacked him, the Spirit of the Lord came upon him in power, and Jesus was able to "tear him with his bare hands" just like Samson did.
There is so much more here in this passage with the bride being given away to someone else. The men of Judah, Samson's own people, delivering him into the hands of the enemy. The cords (of death) that bound him snapping in two. And the defeating the enemy with the jawbone of a donkey (symbolizing the use of the word of God) to the crying out of the warrior after the battle is over "I am thirsty" and the water of life being supplied from a spring that still runs today.