Perritte Memorial United Methodist Church


Wickedness and Faithfulness: Day 19 of The Bible in 90 Days
June 19, 2012, 5:07 pm
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The Bible in 90 Days

Day 19: Judges 15:13-1 Samuel 2:29 || Read the CEB online

“In those days there was no king in Israel; each person did what they thought to be right.” (Judges 21:25 CEB)

“Now Eli’s sons were despicable men who didn’t know the LORD.” (1 Samuel 2:12 CEB)

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The story of God’s people has reached one of the lowest points. Things are bad after Gideon; they get terrifyingly worse by the end of Judges; and the story of Samuel opens without a lot of hope in those who should be the most faithful to God. The story of Ruth is a brief interlude of hope, but it was likely written down later and for a different purpose than the trajectory begun in Deuteronomy, Joshua, & Judges and finished with Samuel & Kings.

On Sunday we’ll talk about the chief problem that arose after the Israelites entered the land, but for now, let’s think on the problem of our own sin & God’s faithfulness. Even when the means God established did not work as intended, there’s a plan B. The courage & unrelenting perseverance of Hannah mirrors the way other Biblical women faithfully bear fruit for God’s way, like Miriam, Deborah, & Mary who also praise God’s righteousness and justice in song.

Where is the Church now: at a low or high point?
Through whom has God worked out a plan B in your life?

Share your thoughts in the comments below,
and don’t forget to pray for Doug, Jared, & Haley in Haiti this week!

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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!