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.