Perritte Memorial United Methodist Church

Faltering Promise: Day 18 of The Bible in 90 Days
June 18, 2012, 12:08 pm
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The Bible in 90 Days

Day 18: Judges 3:28-15:12 || Read the CEB online

“Gideon had seventy sons of his own because he had many wives. His secondary wife who was in Shechem also bore him a son, and he named him Abimelech. Gideon, Joash’s son, died at a good old age and was buried in the tomb of his father Joash in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.” (Judges 8:30-32)

There’s so much we could talk about in the book of Judges, but I’ve got to save some things for the sermon Sunday! Let’s focus on Gideon for just a moment. He’s a hero, right? Well, he shows some promise, certainly, at the beginning of the story. God uses him as a military and political leader to save the Israelites, just as God raises up other leaders throughout the cycles of judges we’re reading. But…he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed, let’s be honest. He argues with God about how many men he needs to defend the Twelve Tribes. That should be our first clue. After his victory (in which his arrogance and pride manifests itself several times), he makes more mistakes.

Not only does Gideon (also named Jerubbaal) ask for a whole lot of money and marry many women (this doesn’t ever go well), he also leads the Israelites away from God’s intention by setting himself up as a priest. Right after his death, everyone stops worshipping God. And–although he declines to be named king–he names his son Abimelech, which means in Hebrew: “Son of the king.” Abimelech turns out to be pretty rotten too. So much promise from Gideon, and it went largely unfulfilled. This happens to many of our Biblical heroes–even David and Solomon.

What does it take to live your whole life faithfully?
Why do we forget about how potential heroes like Gideon fall away?

Share your thoughts in the comments below,
and don’t forget to pray for Doug, Jared, & Haley as the head to Haiti early tomorrow morning!


Covenant Loyalty: Day 17 of The Bible in 90 Days
June 17, 2012, 7:01 am
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The Bible in 90 Days

Day 17: Joshua 15:1-Judges 3:27 || Read the CEB online

One of the things that’s strange to our ears is the idea of covenant. Aside from the theological differences between a covenant and a contract, there was also a difference in purpose. In the Ancient Near East the Israelites inhabited, many covenants were in force. These were treaties between a high king or emperor (called the suzerain) and a lower king or noble (called a vassal). Such treaties consisted of about half a dozen specific pieces assembled in a specific way, like this:

Preamble: Identifies the parties involved in the treaty;
Prologue: Lists the deeds already performed by the Suzerain on behalf of the vassal;
Stipulations: Terms to be upheld by the vassal for the life of the treaty;
Provision for annual public reading: A copy of the treaty was to be read aloud annually in the vassal state for the purpose of renewal;
Divine witness to the treaty: These usually include the deities of both the Suzerain and the vassal;
Blessings if the stipulations of the treaty are upheld and curses if the stipulations are not upheld;
Sacrificial Meal: Both parties would share a meal to show their participation in the treaty.

Does this look like anything we’ve been reading? In fact, God used this form of a treaty, with which the Israelites would have been familiar, to help make their responsibilities & God’s promises recognizable. A brief example is found in the last chapter of Joshua, where people make an agreement (literally “cut a covenant”) with God … which Joshua is skeptical they can uphold … By pledging their loyalty (see Joshua’s famous statement in verse 15 about whom he will serve). It ends with some binding words & a strange action:

“The people said to Joshua, ‘We will serve the LORD our God and will obey him.’ On that day Joshua made a covenant for the people and established just rule for them at Shechem. Joshua wrote these words in God’s Instruction scroll. Then he took a large stone and put it up there under the oak in the sanctuary of the LORD. Joshua said to all the people, ‘This stone will serve here as a witness against us, because it has heard all the LORD’s words that he spoke to us. It will serve as a witness against you in case you aren’t true to your God.'” (Joshua 24:24-27 CEB)

Even the creation–represented by a rock and a tree–is deputized as witness. This wasn’t a perfunctory handshake agreement; this was a watershed moment tying Israel to God in the bonds of hesed: often translated as “lovingkindness,” but better understood as faithfulness in relationship to God. A kind of “treaty loyalty” or “covenant love.”

We’ll be talking about the blessings (and curses!) of such a covenant this morning in worship as we read Deuteronomy 30:15-20, & the significance of the choice between the two–I look forward to seeing you there!

What kinds of things does God want from us?
What do we expect of God?

Share your thoughts in the comments below,
and don’t forget to pray for Doug, Jared, & Haley as the head to Haiti early tomorrow morning!

Rahab: Day 16 of The Bible in 90 Days
June 16, 2012, 3:13 pm
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The Bible in 90 Days

Day 16: Joshua 1:1-14:15 || Read the CEB online


Following on from Moses’ farewell speech of Deuteronomy, the Israelites charge across the Jordan and make quick work of most of those who occupy the land they were promised to receive from God, Jericho most famously.

Not all died at the hands of the Israelites: some show providential benevolence towards these fierce nomads swarming out of the desert, such as Rahab. Now she’s not exactly practicing a profession upon which God looks kindly. Yet, perhaps because she occupies a marginal place in society, she offers hospitality to Israelite spies, shows allegiance to the LORD, & saves herself & her extended family from destruction.

Rahab’s story still surprises me: God makes no mention of her work as a prostitute at all, offers no command to change her ways, sets no condition upon her salvation. She even makes an appearance in the lineage of David which leads to Jesus, according to Matthew. There are many such stories in God’s family, of people who are distasteful, repulsive, or otherwise incredible to us…yet still a part of God’s mighty acts of salvation.

“Joshua let Rahab the prostitute live, her family, and everyone related to her. So her family still lives among Israel today, because she hid the spies whom Joshua had sent to scout out Jericho.” (Joshua 6:25 CEB)

Have you witnessed God use surprising figures to advance his mission?

Are there conditions on those whom God will save?

Share your thoughts in the comments below,

and don’t forget to pray for our U.M. ARMY team coming home from West Monroe, Louisiana!