Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Bethany Bullet - April 28, 2015

Rise-up & Follow Your Leader
The quintessential truth about sheep is that they are vulnerable if left alone.  Sheep need a shepherd.  Shepherds were the flock’s best defense from vulnerability.  So my question is this, “While a good shepherd might sacrifice himself to save a sheep,” in the long run if he is the only shepherd in the field aren’t the sheep worse off when he’s dead than they were to begin with?  Picture a flock that is threatened, the howl is not far off, the wolf is on the prowl; losing one sheep to a wolf is better than losing the whole flock to a hungry pack, right?  Frightening off the wolf is wise, but should the shepherd getting eaten in the process of trying to save one or two lambs – does he not put the other 98 or 99 in peril?

What kind of dead shepherd is useful?   I can only think of One.  One who won’t stay dead!  The prince of darkness howls in the night.  The grave is always on the prowl. 

Sin itself would devour us if NOT for a Shepherd! 
V  THE Shepherd 
V  The Good Shepherd Jesus Christ who laid down His life, only to take it up again. 

To secure you as a member of His flock, Jesus would go so far as to lay down His life; and to verify your status in the Shepherd’s fold He would take it up again.

As Shepherd to sheep, so your Lord is intimately concerned about you; the you who gets lost or has been led astray; the you who is in need or simply fails to recognize the need of others; the you who is injured or has caused injury, the you who is vulnerable or caused others to feel so.  HE is concerned and cares for YOU!  So He came NOT merely to watch over you but to expose Himself to vulnerability for you, and for the entire flock!  He let the wolf nip His heal.  He let the scoffers bay at the moon.  He allowed suffering to devour, the grave to gulp, and most horrid pain of all God Himself to forsake Him so that He would accept us into His flock.

As members of the flock of God we are called to Rise up and Follow our Leader.  In the ancient world sheep were the sacrifice, we’re simply called to make them!  We follow by:
1.       Listening to His voice and
2.       Caring for His Flock  

The Bethany Blueprint describes these two in the following manner:
                Worship Faithfully
                Form Spiritually
                Serve Passionately
                Give Proportionately
                Share Intentionally

May this be true of us so that through the care of His flock, others might hear His voice.

 -Pastor Kevin Kritzer

Monday, April 27, 2015

The One Year Bible- April 27th

As you heard me say before, “I love the book of Judges”. I have always thought they should make this into a movie. Who wouldn’t want to see the left handed Ehud taking care of the Eglon who was taking care of business on the “throne”, or Samson killing 1,000 Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey or tying 300 pairs of foxes together, lighting them on fire and setting them loose in the fields? And you can’t forget Gideon and the testing of God and the defeat of the Midionites with just 300 men. Or what about Samson…I think this would be a good task for Peter Jackson of Lord of the Rings fame or maybe even George Lucas, but I digress...... On to the study.....

Seth’s Thoughts:

The Old Testament
I hope you are enjoying the book of Judges as much as I am. Some people get depressed when they read the book because it looks as if the people just don’t get it. They always seem to do evil in the eyes of the Lord and they get handed over to some group and they suffer. But I don’t think that is the point. The point of the book is that God takes care of his people. He loves them so much and he will do anything to save them. We still don’t get the point today. Thank God for sending Jesus to save us.

I want to spend some time talking about Gideon and Samson today. First of all the book of Judges spends more time on these two guys then the others. An angel who seeks him out chooses Gideon. A bit of knowledge would help here. Gideon is hiding. How do I know that? He is in the bottom of a winepress (think big barrel) threshing wheat to hide it from the Midianites. The angel comes to him and calls him a “Mighty Hero”. Of course Gideon tries to talk his way out of it (sounds like Moses). Gideon asks for a sign and he hurries home to get an offering. The angel then burns up the offering and Gideon believes that it was an angel from the Lord. End of story right....not so fast. Gideon seems to be convinced but he tests his appointment two more times with God. Again the point here is not to show how untrusting Gideon was, but to show how patient God is, he patient with us in all things. The rest of the story continues on this theme. God delivers the people with only 300 men so the people would not brag that they did it all themselves. One of the other problems the people get into is that they want an earthly king. They ask Gideon to be their ruler and they have problems. After Gideon died, one of his sons, Abimelech tried to be the king. This only leads to problems because God is the only king the people need. The people lose sight of this and the cycle continues. Eventually God will allow a king but we are getting ahead of ourselves.

Samson is another judge that makes for good Sunday school stories. His great strength makes him a good hero. But as you read the story you find out that Samson has some personality issues. He has problems with women and his temper (good movie material). Eventually he is humbled and matures and God uses him to exact some judgment on the Philistines. At the center, these stories are about the mercy of God. He continued to show the people mercy when they did not deserve it. He shows it to us today as well.

The New Testament
We finished up the Gospel of Luke with the familiar story of the passion. The one thing that jumped out at me was in chapter 24. Jesus was walking on the road to Emmaus with some of the disciples and Jesus takes them to task about believing that Jesus was the Messiah. Jesus seems a bit impatient but in verse 27 it says, “The Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” What a great teacher. He knew that they still did not get it but he proceeded to teach them. His patience is amazing. In our readings for May 3rd, Nicodemus comes (at night because he didn’t want others to know he was there) to meet with Jesus. During their discussion Jesus mentions a story from the Old Testament. We read this story back in March. The people did not do what God said and he sent snakes into the camp. Moses made a bronze snake and put it on a pole and the people were saved. Jesus takes this story and gives some new meaning to it. “And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life.” And right after this is the famous John 3:16. You can’t tell me that the Bible is not one story!!

Bits And Pieces:
We will finish the book of Judges this week and read whole the book of Ruth. Here are the vital stats for the book of Ruth:
Purpose: To show that the Lord demonstrates His faithfulness by providing for Ruth’s family a redeemer, who secures the heritage among God’s people.
Author: Unknown. Some think it was Samuel, but internal evidence suggest that it was written after Samuel’s death.
Date Written: Sometime after the period of the Judges (1375-1050 B.C.)
Setting: A dark time in Israel’s history when people lived to please themselves, not God.
Law Themes: The frailty of life; God allows suffering; selfish disregard for family.
Gospel Themes: The Lord’s kindness; God welcomes the nations by grace; redemption; inheritance; the genealogy of Jesus, THE Redeemer.
Key Verse: “But Ruth replied, ‘Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.’” (Ruth 1:16)
Key People: Ruth, Naomi, Boaz
Key Places: Moab, Bethlehem

We will also start the book of 1 Samuel. Here are the vital stats for this book:
Purpose: To reveal the Lord’s faithfulness toward Israel in establishing His rule through Samuel, Saul, and David, despite the peoples unfaithfulness.
Author Most likely Samuel himself
Setting: The book begins in the days of the judges and describes Israel’s transition from a theocracy (let by God) to a monarchy (led by a king)
Law Themes: Barrenness; covetousness; neglect of fatherly duties; unfaithfulness; rejection of God’s rule; failure to keep God’s Word; rash vows; jealousy; divination.
Gospel Themes: The Lord provides leaders; the Lord promises an everlasting kingdom and priesthood; victory in the Lord’s name; godly friendship; blessings through the tabernacle; David’s mercy.
Key Verses: “And the LORD told him, ‘Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king....Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do’” (8:7,9)
Key People: Eli, Hannah, Samuel, Saul, Jonathan, David

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Bethany Bullet - April 21, 2015

Comfort food, comfort zones, a comfortable chair or cozy bed, they are all things we like to retreat to, to find peace and a respite from the chaos of life.  But today we will see that the Resurrection life is not really about retreating to our comfort zone, but by coming face to face with the One who brings true comfort.

In 2011 the beer company Corona introduced the “Find Your Beach” ad campaign.  There were quite a few commercials that showed people relaxing on the beach, or in the mountains, or by the pool with a lime topped cerveza.  They asked, “Where is your beach?” 

So, today I ask you, “Where is your beach?” 

Perhaps your beach has white sand or white powder; perhaps it comes with warm sun or a warm fire.  I’m sure you have a “beach” somewhere that you might call your comfort zone, a place you would like to retreat. 

It’s that familiar place filled with great memories, amazing comforts, and you long to return over and over again.  When the pressure is getting to you, when the stress of life or the sting of death is almost too much to bear, you long to find “your beach” and return to your comfort zone. 

Now, there is not anything inherently wrong with having a place to retreat to or to have a comfort zone.  In fact, it may just be necessary for most people.  But often times, places we think are safe, can get us into trouble.  When we retreat to these places of comfort we can lose sight of what is important and even lose track of who we are.  At times, the places we love to go are filled with temptations. 

Perhaps the lime-topped beer is just the start of the slippery slope of addiction.  Or what you think is your comfort zone leads to lust or distrust. 

And returning to the comfort zone over and over again soon spirals into sin and separation and you are right back where you started, with stress and grief, guilt and disease firmly fixed in your eyes. 

In an effort to find “your beach”, you have become shipwrecked by sin, shame and self loathing. 

The disciples returned to their own comfort zone as well.  They went from Palm Sunday and thinking they had conquered the world, to the depths of Good Friday thinking they had lost everything; to the shock and amazement of Easter Sunday and the knowledge that Jesus is risen, to the joy of seeing one who doubted join them in their confession –  to…the beach!

The disciples went back to fishing.  They went back to the craft that they knew, to their comfort zone.  Now, the text does not tell us exactly why, but allow me to speculate.  I think they needed a break.  The stress of the previous years had taken its toll.  They spent every moment with Jesus and in the confusion and chaos of the last few days; they were exhausted and needed to turn their brains off.  In so doing they lost sight of Jesus.  Peter says, “I’m going out to fish,” and the disciples said, “We’ll go with you…but that night they caught nothing.” (John 21:3) 

Have you lost sight of Jesus?  Is your life filled with confusion and chaos?  Would you like to just pack it all in, quit working so hard and just retreat to your comfort zone?  There are times I know I would!

But your comfort zone is not always as great as it’s cracked up to be. 

When the disciples retreated to their beach, Jesus sought them out.  Jesus was not waiting for them in the safety and security of the temple, just waiting for His followers to figure it out on their own, no, He goes to them and He finds them. 

It’s what our Lord is in the habit of doing.  Jesus left the comforts of heaven and came down to earth.  As True Man and True God, He lived with us, came to us, took our sin and wretchedness to the cross to bring true comfort. 
True comfort is found when we have been found by Jesus.  True comfort comes when Jesus seeks us out.  He still does this today.  Jesus comes all the way to us today.  He comes to you in His Word, spoken in this place.  He comes to comfort you in His meal that He has provided.  Your beach finds you, and it’s not a place but a person!!

When the disciples retreated to their comfort zone, Jesus appears to them and provides them with sustenance. 
The disciples retreated to what they knew…fishing, but in their encounter with Jesus they had been changed.  Jesus said it Himself, “And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.’” (Matthew 4:19)

In the presence of Jesus, their lives were fundamentally changed.  The same is true for you.  For it is in this place we find true comfort.  In this place we come face to face with Jesus who is in the business of changing lives.  Our Lord calls us not simply to be fishermen, but to be fishers of men.

Because of Jesus, you can Rise Up and get out of your comfort zone knowing that Jesus is already here.  When opportunity comes your way, when you have the chance to share the reason for the hope you have in Jesus, resist returning to your comfort zone and be comforted here in His comfort zone. 

Jesus comes to you today in this place to bind up your broken heart, to ease your pain of suffering, to announce to you that beyond a shadow of a doubt, your sins have been forgiven.  You are loved and that brings true comfort. 
Martin Luther once said, “No other comfort is to be found that that which is in Scripture and the Word of God…There can be nothing else which comforts the soul even amid the slightest temptations.  For whatever else exists by which a man wants to comfort himself, no matter how great it is—it is all uncertain.”

Because of the comfort that Jesus brings we can boldly step into the chaos of everyday life.  We can confront the pain of separation or sting of death and know that Jesus is with us. 

We also know that when we are comforted by Jesus, He enables us to bring His comfort to others.

The apostle Paul said it this way to the church in Corinth, “Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! He is the Father who is compassionate and the God who gives comfort. He comforts us whenever we suffer. That is why whenever other people suffer, we are able to comfort them by using the same comfort we have received from God. Because Christ suffered so much for us, we can receive so much comfort from him.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5)
 Jesus desires to have a relationship with you and to comfort you so that you can comfort others.  He is our true comfort zone. 

When you are tempted to retreat to that comfort zone, never forget that because Jesus has found you, you are forgiven and that is the most comfortable place to be!  In Him and in His Word we can Rise Up to comfort others and that is the power of the resurrection life. 

-Pastor Seth Moorman

Monday, April 20, 2015

The One Year Bible- April 20th

When I was in college I worked at Arrowhead Lutheran Camp for many summers as a counselor. Right out of college I was hired to be the program director at the camp. I was just a young kid but I had quite a bit of experience working with children. As a counselor I always struggled with finding ways to get my campers to go to sleep. Some other counselors told ghost stories or scary tales but those freaked me out too much. Quite by accident one night I began to read stories from the book of Judges. I started with Gideon. That took about two nights then I went to Ehud, Samson, Deborah and others. My young boys really enjoyed the blood and guts stories that weren’t too scary. I liked them because they also taught that God was in control. Some people have a tough time with the book of Judges because of its violent nature and that is fine, but if you look at the stories through the eyes of a 10-year-old boy you might get some understanding. The key thing to remember is that God has mercy on his people and shows his love to them by sending a judge. Not a judge that comes to condemn, but one that comes to save. Sounds kind of like Jesus doesn’t it? On to the study for this week……

Seth’s Thoughts

The Old Testament
As I have alluded to in the opening the book of Judges is all about God’s mercy. It seems like it is about his wrath with some blood and guts thrown in for good measure but when you really look at it you see a familiar pattern emerge with all the judges. We see this same pattern when Jesus is sent as the final Judge. Why was it necessary for the Judges to come anyway? Didn’t the people promise that they would be faithful to God? What happened to the promises they made? In the first part of the book we get the answer. “The LORD was with the men of Judah. They took possession of the hill country, but they were unable to drive the people from the plains, because they had iron chariots.” (Judges 1:19 NIV) The story was the same with the other tribes. Reading a bit further, “The tribe of Manasseah failed to drive out the people….” Then the tribe of Ephraim failed, then Zebulen failed, then Asher failed, then Naphtali. Then Yahweh (LORD in all caps) sent his angel (some think this may be the pre-incarnate Christ) to talk to the people. Judgment was to be upon the people. “Now therefore I tell you that I will not drive them out before you; they will be thorns in your sides and their gods will be a snare to you.” (Judges 2:3 NIV) This sums up the problems that the people will encounter the rest of the Old Testament. The people living in the land and their gods will cause major problems for the people. Remember this as we read the rest of the story this year. But the LORD (Yahweh) in his infinite mercy shows love to the people and sends help. The account of each Judge has a similar pattern. It usually begins with, The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, He turned them over to their enemies for so many years. Then the LORD raised up a Judge. The people followed this Judge and were saved. The land had peace for so many years. The Judge dies and the people return to their old ways and do evil in the eyes of the LORD. Get familiar with this pattern. This is some foreshadowing of the New Testament story of Jesus. We don’t have time to discuss each Judge (we will spend more time with Gideon next week) in detail so let me give you some highlights. Ehud is my favorite. He is left-handed. Why does the writer of Judges tell us this? He was able to smuggle his dagger into the presence of the king because, being left-handed he drew it from his right side. Most people carry their dagger or sword on the left side because they are right handed. Ehud was able to get close to the king and kill him because he was left-handed. You see, God uses all things for his good purposes. I also think it is funny that Ehud escapes through the outhouse in the kings chambers and the attendants are so embarrassed to disturb the king when he is in the bathroom. Some commentators even suggest that the king was actually sitting on “the throne” (the one in the bathroom) when Ehud stabs him (you see why young boys like this story?). The account of Deborah is good to show that God works through women as well. God raised her up as a Judge and she led the people in battle. In the story it was another woman, Jael, who took care of the evil Sisera. Talk about girl power (both the boys and some of the girls like this story). The story of Gideon is a bit longer and has some interesting insights for us. We will talk about him next week.

The New Testament
In our readings for this week we begin the story of the Passion. Luke makes an interesting comment about all the praise that Jesus is receiving on Palm Sunday. Some of the Pharisees tried to get Jesus to stop the celebration and Jesus says, “If they keep quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers!” (Luke 19:40) This is an amazing statement. We have read in the Psalms that all creation praises the Lord, but here is proof that it can happen. Can you imagine if no one would praise God and then the rocks start to cry out? What a sight that would be!

Luke does a good job keeping the action moving in the story but there are some rather significant things to see when you dig a bit deeper.  When Jesus is before the high priest and is asked point blank if he is the son of God he says, “I am”. OK you say? No big deal? But, the words Jesus used are very important. When he says “I am” not only is he answering in the affirmative, he also is using the name God used when talking to Moses in the burning bush. Remember that God said his name was, “I am”. No wonder the High Priest and the others wanted Jesus dead after he had said this. Jesus goes in there and uses the name of God that the Jews to this day will not even use! Jesus was saying in no uncertain terms that he was the Christ, the promised Messiah. When we get to the Gospel of John we will see seven big “I am” statements from Jesus. Remember them when you read and pour into them the Old Testament meanings. 

Bits and Pieces

We will finish the Gospel of Luke next week and we will start the Gospel of John. As a quick note, the first four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) are grouped together and are referred to as the synoptic Gospels. The basically have the same form and tell the same story. They probably leaned on one another for source material. John is its own animal all together. John is the only Gospel that mentions three different Passover celebrations, which is where we get the three-year ministry of Jesus. John does not have a standard birth story. John begins with creation, but more on all this next week. John also makes heavy use of metaphor. We will see Jesus referred to as the door, the lamb, the good shepherd, the gate, the way the truth the life, and others. 

Here are the vital stats for the book of John:

Purpose: To prove conclusively that Jesus is the Son of God and that all who believe in him will have eternal life.
Author: It is never actually mentioned but most agree that it is John the apostle, son of Zebedee, brother of James, called a “Son of Thunder”
To Whom Written: New Christians and searching Non-Christians
Date Written: Probably between A.D. 85-90
Setting: Written after the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 and before John’s exile to the island of Patmos
Key Verses: “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that by believing you may have life in his name.” John 20:30-31
Key People: Jesus, John the Baptist, the disciples, Mary, Martha, Lazarus, Jesus’ mother, Pilate, Mary Magdalene
Law Themes: Darkness; slavery to sin; condemnation; demand for signs; death; fleshly desire; unbelief; Judas’ example; spiritual blindness; unclean; command to love; the world’s hatred
Gospel Themes: Light; grace; truth; Baptism; Lamb of God; born or the Spirit; life; resurrection; Jesus’ flesh and blood; the Shepherd’s care; clean; forgiveness; God’s love; sanctification.
Key Places: Judean countryside, Samaria, Galilee, Bethany, Jerusalem
Special Features: of the eight miracles recorded, six are unique (among the Gospels) to John, as is the “Upper Room Discourse” (chs. 14-17). Over 90 percent of John is unique to his Gospel. John does not contain a genealogy or any record of Jesus’ birth, childhood, temptation, transfiguration, appointment of the disciples, nor any account of Jesus’ parables, ascension, or Great Commission.

Have a wonderful week!!!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Bethany Bullet - April 14, 2015

We label Thomas as a doubter, but in reality he is also demander! 
I won’t unless! 
Only if He does ‘x’ will I do ‘y’! 

Thomas is king of the ‘IF’
If He’ll…then I’ll!

Have you ever made demands on God?  Ever challenged the collective testimony of His flock?  Even when all the evidence goes against you, when all the confessions challenge your version  –  have you still found yourself clinging to your position and demanding God jump through your hoops?  Have you ever given God an “if”, “then” proposition?  If so…then you are in good company.

Note Jesus didn’t give in to Thomas’ demands.  But He did meet Thomas where Thomas was; and while He won’t give in to our demands, He will meet us where we are at!  The Lord does not require that we come to Him; rather He who came to us in the flesh, who journeyed to the cross on our account, comes to us in our doubting and demanding with His commanding love and mercy. The One who ROSE and still RISES UP to forgive our wrongs and enable us to admit we’ve been wrong.

The Resurrection Life begins with so doing, Rising Up and admitting our guilt and receiving God’s greater grace; the grace for which Thomas was desperate.  Jesus knew what Thomas was going through!  He knew the turmoil and the tempest that was raging inside of him.  Jesus came to THEM (so records John) but I know where His eyes were directed and for whom He had come.  Looking directly at Thomas Jesus says, “Peace be with you!”  True confession is to be met with true mercy in the body of Christ.  Even as true mercy in Christ comes to those who rise up to admit they’ve been wrong for that is at the heart of the Resurrection Life.

-Pastor Kevin Kritzer

Monday, April 13, 2015

The One Year Bible- April 13th

I am not sure if I have mentioned this before, but I have been a big fan of the book of Psalms for many years. Remember, the book of Psalms was like the hymnal for the people of Israel. Unfortunately the tunes have been lost to history but the words are still there. I wish we had more time to dive deep into the Psalms and perhaps someday I will do just that, but every once in a while I want to highlight some things from this great book. This week I want to look at Psalm 86 (April 17). This is a Psalm of David and has some great words of comfort and also can serve to refocus us when things seem to going wrong. In verses 11 & 12 we read, “Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever.” I think that reading through the Bible from cover to cover is one way that God teaches us His way so that we might walk in the truth. There is just so much to learn from His word.
Lets get going....

Seth’s Thoughts

The Old Testament
Many of the readings this week were like a geography lesson. If you are like me it did not make much sense since the geography of the Holy Land is a bit of a mystery. The list of landmarks did not help me very much either. Please don’t get frustrated at this. The best thing to do is go to a map. I found this one on the Internet that shows how the land was divided. You may have one in the back of your Bible as well. For me this visually shows what we have been reading this week.

The geography of the Promised Land will be important later in the story. Eventually this land will become a kingdom under the rule of Saul. Things go well for a while but eventually the land is divided in two. The Northern Kingdom will have ten tribes, and the Southern Kingdom will have the other two (Judah, and Benjamin). Simeon will go with the North. This will be important later because the Northern Kingdom will be taken into exile never to return. A few years later the South will also be taken but some will return. This story points to Christ in so many ways but we don’t have the time to discuss this now. Trust me; we will discuss it later this year. One other note, the tribe of Dan will complain about their land and they will move out and head north to a city known as Dan. This is important because the city of Dan is in the far north of the kingdom and is part of a phrase we will see a number of times. When an Old Testament writer uses the phrase, “From Dan to Beersheba” they mean the entire land, since Dan is in the north and Beersheba is the city furthest south. Both places are on the map.

The New Testament
Jesus seems to talk a lot about money. To Jesus, money is something that can be used for good but it can also be used as something to be worshiped. Jesus said, "No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate (remember our discussion of hate from last week?) the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money." (Luke 16:13 NIV) This was a direct attack on the Pharisees who loved money. The point is that God wants us to be faithful with the monetary blessings that we have been given but they are not to rule us and in reality become an idol that we worship. When Jesus talks to the rich young ruler, money is again an issue. Jesus tells him to sell everything he has and give the money to the poor. This man was not ready to give up his money. We all struggle with money. How much should we give away? How much is too much etc. Many of us are afraid if we do not save money we will not be able to survive. We sometimes forget the wonderful words of Jesus, "What is impossible with men is possible with God." (Luke 18:27 NIV) God will take care of us, we should not have to worry about money because we can focus on money and it will rule us if we are not careful.

Bits and Pieces
We will finish up the book of Joshua this week and begin the book of Judges. Here are the vital stats on the book of Judges:

Purpose: To present Israel’s declining spiritual state and the Lord’s mercy, by which He forgave them and held them together.
Author: Unknown, possibly Samuel
Setting: The land of Canaan, later called Israel. God had helped the Israelites conquer Canaan. which had been inhabited by a host of wicked nations. But they were in danger of losing this Promised Land because they compromised their convictions and disobeyed God.
Law Themes: Israel’s failure to conquer the Promised Land; transgression of the covenant; cowardice; idolatry; unfaithful Levites; doing what is right in one’s own eyes.
Gospel Themes: The Lord provides saviors and judges; the Lord answers Israel’s cry for help; the angel of the Lord; the Spirit of the Lord.
Key Verse: “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.” (17:6)

Key People: Othniel, Ehud (my favorite Judge), Deborah, Gideon, Abimelech, Jephthah, Samson, Delilah Special Feature: Records Israel’s first civil war

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