Daily Bible Readings – Sunday, September 2, 2012

Prayer Psalm: 115

Prayer Point:   An idol is anything we trust for our security and significance outside of God. We all have them and without God’s intervention, we will become like the lifeless gods we serve. What idols have a hold on your heart? Confess them to God today and pray for the faith to believe that God will keep his promises and satisfy our souls.

Matthew 5:1-12

This passage, known as the Beatitudes, includes eight sayings that describe the virtues of a disciple in the kingdom of heaven. Each beatitude speaks of an inward quality of a disciple and a reward. What is the overall posture of a person who is called blessed according to these verses?  What is God looking for in a disciple or citizen of the kingdom? How is it different than the world’s understanding of a successful person?

Revelation 5:1-14

The Apostle John has been swept up into a vision of heaven which began in chapter four and continues in chapter five. God is seated on the throne with a sealed scroll in his right hand. The scroll represents God’s plan to restore Creation, rescue his people, and rid the world of evil once and for all. What in the vision causes John to weep? Who steps forward to open the scroll? What is interesting about this Lamb? Who must this Lamb be?

What do the four living creatures (representative of the reflection of God’s glory in creation) and the 24 elders (representative of God’s people, Israel and the church who have died and are in heaven) do once the Lamb opens the scroll? What do they sing about?

Throughout history God’s people sang “new songs” in response to a “new action” performed by God to save his people.

Like ripples on the water, worship of Jesus, the Lamb of God, begins at the throne and moves out to fill the whole universe. Who surrounds the 24 elders (God’s redeemed people – Israel and the church who have died) and the four living creatures (symbolic of the creatures of the earth)? What do they sing? Remember that God’s plan of salvation goes beyond saving people, but includes the restoration of all Creation.

Job 11:1-9, 13-20 – Zophar puts in his two cents worth

Zophar the Naamathite has been silent all this time. He now speaks up and makes up for lost time.

What is Zophar’s tone as he begins? (Zophar sounds both mocking and sarcastic: “You say to God, ‘My beliefs are flawless and I am pure in your sight.’ Oh, how I wish that God would speak, that he would open his lips against you and disclose the secrets of wisdom, for true wisdom has two sides.” (Job 11:4-6) and that is only the beginning.)

What is Zophar’s declaration to Job about some of his sin? (“Know this: God has even forgotten some of your sin.” (Job 11:6b NIV) The New American Standard version renders verse six thusly: “Know then that God 2forgets a part of your iniquity.” 2 is a reference to a literal translation which says: “causes to be forgotten for you”. [This expansion of explanation stems from a pet peeve of mine, namely, that God “forgets” anything. Forgetfulness is a “defect” in humanity. You forgot where you put the keys; you forgot your place in a book; or worse, you forgot your anniversary. This is a shortcoming of being human. God has no defects, no shortcomings: he forgets nothing! He does something more wonderful – he chooses not to remember. They are not the same thing. That is why I included that NASB version of verse 6. Forget here is better thought “causes to be forgotten for you”. That is perhaps the best rendering of this verse. – j.t.])
Chapter 11 verses 7-9 are questions which will extol the attributes of God: “Can you fathom the mysteries of God?” (Job 11:7 NIV) The limits of God are higher than the heavens; deeper than death; longer than the earth and wider than the sea. Pretty big!
According to Zophar how can we “lift up our face without shame” and stand without fear? (Devote your heart to him and stretch out your hands to him, and put away the sin that is in your hand and allow no evil to dwell in your tent. (Job 13-14))
What promises does Zophar connect with putting away the sin? (You will forget your trouble; life will be brighter; you will be secure and rest in safety; rest in peace (RIP!); many will court your favor. As for the wicked – “their hope will become a dying gasp.” (Job 11:20b NIV))

Let’s review.

Eliphaz (Chapters 4 & 5)
Eliphaz is happy to attribute to Job all of his problems. We all know that God does not afflict the righteous. If Job were as righteous as he claimed he was all this misery would not be visiting him. God’s blessings are denied Job because he must be at fault before him. It’s all Job’s fault.

Bildad (Chapter 8)
After Job has defended himself before Eliphaz and the others, Bildad questions whether Job isn’t lying – or isn’t being less than honest with himself. From Bildad’s perspective, Job doesn’t trust God and is, in fact, blaming him for all his troubles. If God does not reject a blameless man (v. 8:20) and since God has (apparently) rejected you, therefore you cannot be blameless. A great syllogism – but not true. In Chapter 9 Job then goes on to defend God to Bildad! “Though I were innocent, I could not answer him; I could only plead with my judge for mercy.” (v. 9:15) Does the innocent need mercy? In Chapter 10 Job questions whether God can “feel” like a man or see like one. Job does not think that God can identify with his misery.

Zophar (Chapter 11)
Zophar questions Job’s integrity – “Will no one rebuke you when you mock?” (v. 11:3b) Zophar thinks that Job is being proud. He then goes on to show that Job should be seeking wisdom in order to understand the events in his life. “Surely he [God] recognizes deceitful men; and when he sees evil, does he not take note? But a witless man can no more become wise than a wild donkey’s colt be born a man.” (11:11-12 NIV)
Remember that Job had lost everything he owned and all of his (10) children in one day – alas but he did not lose his wife who is famous for saying: “Curse God and die.” (Job 2:9 NIV)

Tune in next week to find out Job’s answer to Zophar.

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Daily Bible Readings – Sunday, August 26, 2012

Prayer Psalm: 147

Prayer Point:   Worshiping God is good for the soul, for it was for this reason that we were created. Psalm 147 lists many reasons to praise him.  Pick several that resonate with you and use them to offer God your own prayer of worship.

Mark 6:1-6

Jesus performed miracles to confirm even the smallest faith, but never to convince those who did not believe in him. Notice that when Jesus healed the woman who touched his robe he says “your faith has healed you” (Mark 5:34), but in this chapter he is unable to perform miracles in his hometown of Nazareth because of their unbelief. Why do the people of Nazareth fail to put their faith in Jesus?

Revelation 4:1-11

As chapter 4 begins, John’s perspective will be changed from the earth’s to heaven’s point of view. What does John see in God’s heavenly throne room? To make sense of what we are seeing keep a few of these interpretive principles in mind:

  • Numbers are highly symbolic in Jewish and Christian writing. For example, ‘seven’ means perfection.
  • John is describing a dream and in a dream images are symbols that refer to something else. How do you interpret these symbols? You look for other passages in the Scriptures that contain these same symbols.

From earth’s perspective it looks like Rome has all the power and Caesar, the Roman Emperor, will reign forever. Who is in on the throne from heaven’s perspective? How would this vision embolden John and the Christians of the seven churches, all of whom were being persecuted by an all-powerful Rome? Why are there seven lamps before God’s throne? What do they represent (think about our interpretive principles and see also verse 5)? Where have we seen rainbows in the Bible and what do they represent (see Genesis 9:12-15)?

The identity of the twenty four elders is a little tricky, but following our interpretive principles we can reasonably assume that the 24 elders represent God’s people who have died and are in heaven, made up of the nation of Israel (12 tribes) and the church (represented by the 12 apostles). (12+12=24). From earth’s perspective, God’s people look like a powerless and persecuted minority. What do God’s people look like from heaven’s perspective? What are God’s people doing? What do they do with their crowns? What aspect of God’s character are they responding to in worship?

“The sea of glass, clear as crystal.” (verse 6). Do you remember the story where Jesus calmed the sea in Mark 4:37-41? The sea was the most feared force in the ancient world and it was associated with evil. A sea of glass, is a sea that has been calmed, and serves as an image of God’s power and future destruction of all that is evil. Imagine how that image encouraged John, who witnessed Jesus calming the sea, and his seven churches.

Compare the description of the strange living creatures in Revelation 4 to the living creature Ezekiel sees in his own vision of God (Ezekiel 1:1-28) and Isaiah’s vision of seraphim (angels) in Isaiah 6:1-3. What are the living creatures doing? While interpreting visions in the book of Revelation is never an exact science, these creatures seem to represent creation and by extension the glory of the Creator.

In the perspective from below, the earth is cruel place where evil goes unchecked. But when we see the world from heaven’s perspective, we see our glorious future, where God’s people join with all creation worshiping around the throne of our God, who made us, sustains us and saves us. No wonder Jesus taught us to pray: “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Job 4:1-6; 12-21 – Eliphaz begins the discourse

What point is Eliphaz making in verses 1-6? (Evidently Job had been a paragon of virtue and hope for those who had no hope. Eliphaz wants Job to take his own advice. “Should not your piety be your confidence and your blameless ways your hope?” (Job 4:6 NIV) That is a question I think we should all examine.)

Eliphaz tell us that “A word was secretly brought to me, my ears caught a whisper of it.” (Job 4:12 NIV) What was this “word” which Eliphaz received? (“Can a mortal be more righteous than God? Can a man be more pure than his Maker?” (Job 4:17 NIV))

What is the fate of those in whom “God places no trust” … whom he charges with error? (“They are broken to pieces; unnoticed, they perish forever, how much more those who live in houses of clay [our bodies], who are crushed more readily than a moth!” (Job 4:18-19 NIV))

It seems to me that Eliphaz is cautioning Job that he should re-examine his life for his hidden sin.

Daily Bible Readings – Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Prayer Psalm: 119:145-176

Prayer Point:   We easily fall into sin when we are stressed, angry and afraid.  Take note of what the author of Psalm 119 does with his anxiety, anger and fear and pray for the faith to respond in the same way.

John 6:1-15

The Old Testament is full of events and images that are given their full meaning in the life and ministry of Jesus. The story of God’s rescue of Israel from slavery in Egypt (memorialized by the Passover Feast) and God feeding Israel daily with manna (daily bread) in the wilderness loom large in John chapter 6.

Why does Jesus put the responsibility of feeding the crowd on Philip and the other disciples?

The people exclaim after witnessing this miracle that Jesus must be: “the Prophet who is come into the world.” This is an allusion to the words of Moses:

The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your brothers. You must listen to him. (Deuteronomy 18:15)

When Jesus miraculously feeds 5000 people his popularity soars not only because hungry people were fed, but because the people saw Jesus as a second Moses. Moses had led Israel out of slavery in Egypt. In the desert God fed the people through Moses with manna, bread from heaven. With Jesus also performing a miracle feeding, the people began to wonder if he was the prophet that Moses spoke of. If Moses led Israel out of slavery, maybe Jesus will lead them out of Roman oppression. But Jesus has something else in mind and in the end many of his disciples will desert him.

Acts 8:14-25

Who arrives on the scene once news gets back to Jerusalem that the Samaritans are beginning to follow Jesus? Philip baptized the Samaritans who believed his message. What did these new believers receive when Peter and John arrived? How did they receive it?

Simon the Sorcerer witnesses the giving of the Holy Spirit and wants that power for himself. What does he offer for the ability to give the Holy Spirit? What according to Peter and John is the only way to receive the Holy Spirit?

There is an important difference between magic and the power of the Holy Spirit. Magic is an attempt to manipulate a god into doing what I want. The Holy Spirit came upon the apostles to accomplish what God wanted. It is the same with the gospel. We don’t live for God to manipulate him into giving us what we want. In gratitude we live for God because he has already given us everything in Jesus Christ.

This story concludes with Peter and John preaching in the Samaritan towns. Who took the initiative in this chapter in the first place? What does this tell you about the nature of the early church?

Judges 18:16-31  – The “kidnapping” of the “priest”

What do these armed and menacing men do to Micah’s personal property? (They remove the household gods, idols and the ephod.)

What do they do to the Levite when he protests what these thugs are doing? (They tell him to be quiet and to go with them to be their priest.)

What was the logic of the Danites to the Levite to go with them? (“Isn’t it better that you serve a tribe and clan in Israel as priest rather than just one man’s household?” (Judges 18:19 NIV))

It appears that the priest has a change of heart and willingly goes with this band of marauders. What does Micah do? How wise was he in doing it? (Micah and his neighbors pursue the Danites and overtake them. Then the Danites threaten to kill Micah and his whole family if he didn’t return home in peace.)

Once the Danites get to Laish they slaughter the inhabitants – “a peaceful and unsuspecting people”. There was no one to help the inhabitants of the city. Remember: “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.” (Judges 17:6 NIV) We can see that the people are losing their moral compass.

What do the Danites do once they conquer the city of Laish? (They re-name the city “Dan” after their forefather a son of Israel (Jacob).)

At last we find out who this Levite is. Who is he and who is his famous forefather? (The Levite’s name is Jonathan and his forefather is Moses. The tragedy here is that this apostasy has even reached into the family of Moses. (ESV Study Bible Notes p. 469) It must be obvious that the reading of the Law had been discontinued for some time.)

Daily Bible Readings – Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Prayer Psalm: 123

Prayer Point: Meditate on the image of the slave and his master and the maid and the mistress as it reflects the true state of our dependence on God. From this place of humility, ask God to provide us with our daily bread (what we need for today) and his mercy.

John 5:30-47

Only testimonies that were confirmed by two or three witnesses were admissible as evidence according to Jewish Law. Why does Jesus not need the testimony of John the Baptist, even though he was a worthy witness? Who or what are the two witnesses that bear witness to Jesus’ identity and mission? Why have the Jewish authorities not recognized the testimony of God the Father concerning his Son despite their devotion to reading the Scriptures?

The contrast between Jesus and the Jewish religious authorities is in whom they seek praise. Jesus does not seek nor accept the praises of men, while it is the obsession of his opponents. You can be moral, but unrighteous, if what motivates you is looking good. What has the religious leaders’ obsession with people pleasing prevented them from seeking?

Moses was the central authority in the Jewish religion. How does Jesus see himself in relation to Moses and his teachings?

Acts 8:1-13

Stephen has been stoned to death in an illegal execution, both in terms of Roman Law (the Romans reserved this right for themselves) and Jewish Law (Stephen was condemned to die without a trial). The Christians, as a result of the persecution, are scattered throughout Judea and Samaria and here we begin the second section of the book of Acts. Acts 1:8 serves as the outline of the book of Acts:

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses in:

  • Jerusalem (section 1)
  • Judea and Samaria (section 2)
  • the ends of the earth (section 3)

What is the only group that remains in Jerusalem? Should they have stayed? Notice who takes the lead in bringing the gospel to Judea and Samaria. According to Acts 6:1-5 Stephen and Phillip were both selected to do what job? What are they doing now?

Phillip is the first example of anyone in the book of Acts who preached to people who were outside of the Jewish faith. The Samaritans were an ethnic group regarded by Jews to be “half-breeds”. They intermarried with Gentiles and mixed the Jewish faith with local religions. Phillip crosses this cultural barrier, despite the hatred, and brings them the gospel. What does Philip preach? What signs accompany his preaching? How did the Samaritan crowds respond? Who in particular is captivated by Phillip?

Judges 18:1-15  – The Danites

Why were the Danites roaming through the territory of Ephraim? (“And in those days the tribe of the Danites was seeking a place of their own where they might settle, because they had not yet come into an inheritance among the tribes of Israel.” (Judges 18:1 NIV))

How do the Danites recognize the young Levite living with Micah? (“When they were near Micah’s house, they recognized the voice of the young Levite…” (Judges 18:3 NIV) My guess is that the young Levite had a peculiar accent which helped to identify him. – j.t.)

Where was the destination of the Danites? (They were headed to Laish which is miles north of the Sea of Galilee; more than a hundred miles from where they were.)

What do the Danites enlist the Levite to do for them? (“Then they said to him, ‘Please inquire of God to learn whether our journey will be successful.’ (Judges 18:5 NIV))

The Levite tells the Danites to go in peace, that they had the LORD’s approval. So a troop of six hundred men from the clan of Dan head off to Laish to claim their inheritance. Where do they stop off on the way? (“From there [Kiriath Jearim] they went on to the hill country of Ephraim and came to Micah’s house. Then the five men who had spied out the land of Laish said to their brothers, ‘Do you know that one of these houses has an ephod, other household gods, a carved image and a cast idol?’” (Judges 18:13-14 NIV))

“So they turned in there and went to the house of the young Levite at Micah’s place and greeted him.” (Judges 18:15 NIV)

Daily Bible Readings – Monday August 20, 2012

Prayer Psalm: 106

Prayer Point:  I hear echoes of the thief on the cross when I read this psalm. He is dying the death he deserves, but in faith he looks to Jesus and asks, “remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Luke 23:42; Psalm 106:4).  God does allow us to suffer the consequences of our sin, but he still hears us when we cry out for mercy.  Even when it is our fault. He answered the prayer of the thief, he answered Israel’s prayer and he will answer yours. With this knowledge, boldly lift your needs to God today.

John 5:19-29

How would you describe Jesus’ relationship with God the Father? Who takes the lead and who follows? How do they work together when it comes to raising the dead and giving eternal life?

What needs to happen for someone to receive eternal life from God the Father and God the Son?

The Son of Man is not a generic title for Jesus, but a reference to a vision the prophet Daniel received which is recorded in Daniel 7:13-14. In this vision there are two characters ‘The Ancient of Days’ (God the Father) and ‘one like a son of man’ (Jesus).

In my vision at night I looked and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away … (Daniel 7:13-14)

How does Daniel 7:13-14 shed light on Jesus’ identity and his authority? When will Jesus exercise his authority as a judge?

Acts 7:44 – 8:1

Stephen has been accused of preaching against the teachings of Moses which was the heart of the Jewish faith. Stephen, to show that Jesus’ teaching was in line with the law of Moses, recounts the history of Israel and Jesus’ place in it. Today’s reading is the dramatic conclusion of that courageous sermon which began in Acts 7:2.

The tabernacle and Solomon’s temple where places where God’s presence graciously lived with his people. How do we know that the tabernacle and the temple were only temporary, shadows of what was to come? What are buildings unable to do in verse 48?

The point Stephen is making is that real temple was Jesus. A temple is more than a building, it is simply the place where God’s presence lives. In Jesus, the fullness of God’s presence was not in a building made of stone, but a living, breathing human being. He was God in the flesh who had come down to live with his people. But the Jewish authorities missed it.

How does Stephen connect the crucifixion of Jesus to the Jewish prophets who were persecuted before him? Why do you think this enraged the crowd?

On earth, Stephen faces a mob so furious that they drag him out of the city and begin to stone him to death. What does Stephen see in heaven, despite what is happening to him on earth? What effect does this vision have on Stephen? Who does he remind you of? See Luke 23:23-46. Who does Luke, the author of Acts, note is standing there giving approval to Stephen’s murder? Look for this man to play a prominent role as this story develops.

In case you were wondering, “fell asleep” was an early Christian way of saying that he died. It emphasizes the temporary nature of death which we will be reversed at our resurrection when Christ returns.

Turn back and read Acts 1:8. How are Christ’s purposes for the church accomplished, even in the death of Stephen?

Judges 17:1-13  – Micah and his priest

What does this upstanding man admit to his mother? (Micah admits to his mother that he had stolen the eleven hundred shekels (about 28 pounds) of silver.)

What odd thing does his mother say to this? (“Then his mother said, ‘The LORD bless you, my son!’” (Judges 17:2 NIV) I promise you that would not have been my attitude! – j.t.)

What paradoxically hypocritical thing does this woman say next? (“I solemnly consecrate my silver to the LORD for my son to make a carved image and a cast idol.” (Judges 17:3 NIV))

What in verse six of this chapter explains why this woman did what she did? (“In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.” (NIV) Or as it says in the ESV “… Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” Again, the importance of teaching the scripture to our families cannot be underscored enough.)

What does Micah do with the silver? (Micah makes a shrine and installs one of his sons as his own priest. Everyone should have one! – j.t.)

As luck would have it a wandering Levite from Bethlehem stumbled onto Micah’s place. How fortuitous for Micah. What does Micah propose to this young Levite? (Micah offers to set him up in his household to be his personal priest. Since Micah was of the tribe of Ephraim his own son could never be a “real” priest. As it is we don’t know if this Levite could be a “real” priest because we don’t know which of the sons of Levi he came from. A “real” priest can only come from among the sons of Aaron of the family of Kohath. All priests were Levites but not all Levites were priests. Micah would have thought “close enough”. Remember, everyone did as he saw fit.)

How does Micah sound superstitious and his Levite seem like a talisman? (“And Micah said, ‘Now I know that the LORD will be good to me since this Levite has become my priest.’” (Judges 11:13 NIV) This is how we attempt to manipulate God. How successful will that be?)

Daily Bible Readings – Sunday, August 19, 2012

Prayer Psalm: 118

Prayer Point:   Psalm 118 is a song of praise welcoming the Messiah, the Savior, to the city of Jerusalem. It’s true meaning was not realized until the crowds sang it as Jesus rode peacefully into Jerusalem on his way to the cross. Praise God today because when we cried out for help, he sent Jesus to die for our sins. Give him thanks and remember that  because of Jesus’ righteousness his love to us endures forever.

Mark 5:25-34

Jesus is on his way to save the dying daughter of Jairus when he notices that power has gone out from him. Though people are crowding around him, he wants to know who touched him. The woman shrinks in terror because she is ceremonially unclean and had been for the entire 12 years of her bleeding. She shrinks in fear expecting Jesus to lambast her for defiling him. Can you imagine spending twelve years of your life with everyone you know avoiding your touch? What do you think is going through her mind when she steps forward as the one who touched Jesus? What according to Jesus has healed this woman?

2 Corinthian 13:1-11

The Corinthians demanded that Paul present his credentials before they will listen to him.  What does he give them?  What does Paul want the Corinthian church to do before he visits them?  What is his hope for them?  What is the purpose of Paul’s harshness in this letter?

Judges 16:1-14  – Women can make men do stupid things (Samson and Delilah)

Samson was definitely a man of great passion. We saw how he reacted when he was denied his wife. He enjoyed his sex. The opening verses of Chapter 16 tell us that he went to the home of a prostitute. What ill-fated plan did the Philistines hatch? (“At dawn we’ll kill him.” (Judges 16:2 NIV) Okay, not such a detailed plan.)

Samson escapes in the middle of the night thus foiling the Philistines’ plan (such as it was). Enter Delilah.

Poor Samson falls in love with Delilah. The rulers of the Philistines see here a weakness which may be exploited. What do they do? (“The rulers of the Philistines went to her [Delilah] and said, ‘See if you can lure him into showing you the secret of his great strength and how we can overpower him so we may tie him up and subdue him.” (Judges 16:5 NIV) Each of the leaders offers her 1,100 shekels (about 28 pounds) of silver. She can be bought.)

How many times will Delilah try to entice Samson to reveal the secret of his great strength? (Delilah tries three times to trick Samson into “spilling the beans”. He tells her (1) tied with 7 (!) fresh thongs; (2) tied securely with new ropes; (3) weave the 7 (!) braids on his head and tighten with a pin.)

Clearly none of these work because she must go back to him a fourth time. This is what I mean when I think Samson is stupid and proud. Because Samson was so blessed of God I find it difficult to think that he had no common sense, but, alas, he must have been all brawn. I should think that given the three attempts that Delilah had made on him that Samson would discern that she was out to destroy him (and to get the money).

Daily Bible Readings – Saturday, August 18, 2012

Prayer Psalm: 108

Prayer Point:   What better way to start the day than to begin with praise to God and call for him to save us. We all live in a world with powers that are beyond our control, but we need to remember that we serve a powerful and good God.

John 5:1-18

Sometime after the healing of the official’s son, Jesus returns to Jerusalem. This time he approaches the person in need of healing saying, “Do you want to get well?”

It is important to note that Jesus heals on the Sabbath. This is a direct challenge to the authority of the Jewish religious leaders who believed that the Old Testament Law prohibited healing on the Sabbath. One thing from the Sabbath Law is clear. Work was prohibited on the seventh day of the week (Sabbath day). What was unclear was what constituted work. The teachers of the law considered healing and carrying your mat to be work and so it was against the law. This brought the religious leaders to the absurd position that it is against the law to do perform an act of love on a day dedicated to the love of God.

What does the way Jesus healed this man tell us about His power to heal and His authority to interpret the Jewish Law? What is Jesus saying about His authority with respect to the authority of the Jewish religious leaders? How does Jesus respond to the man when he sees him again in the temple?

Why does Jesus exempt himself from the Sabbath Law? Why does he say that intensifies the Jew’s efforts to kill him?

Acts 7:30-43

Stephen continues Israel’s story that began back in Acts 7:2.  How would you describe Israel’s relationship to God? Is it marked by their faithfulness or betrayal? How did Israel treat God’s representatives (Moses for example)? Is God faithful to Israel? How? What specific promise does God make to Israel through Moses (verse 37)? Who do you think this promised prophet might be? Stephen is going to make the case at the end of chapter 7 that this promised prophet was Jesus.

Judges 16:1-14  – Women can make men do stupid things (Samson and Delilah)

Samson was definitely a man of great passion. We saw how he reacted when he was denied his wife. He enjoyed his sex. The opening verses of Chapter 16 tell us that he went to the home of a prostitute. What ill-fated plan did the Philistines hatch? (“At dawn we’ll kill him.” (Judges 16:2 NIV) Okay, not such a detailed plan.)

Samson escapes in the middle of the night thus foiling the Philistines’ plan (such as it was). Enter Delilah.

Poor Samson falls in love with Delilah. The rulers of the Philistines see here a weakness which may be exploited. What do they do? (“The rulers of the Philistines went to her [Delilah] and said, ‘See if you can lure him into showing you the secret of his great strength and how we can overpower him so we may tie him up and subdue him.” (Judges 16:5 NIV) Each of the leaders offers her 1,100 shekels (about 28 pounds) of silver. She can be bought.)

How many times will Delilah try to entice Samson to reveal the secret of his great strength? (Delilah tries three times to trick Samson into “spilling the beans”. He tells her (1) tied with 7 (!) fresh thongs; (2) tied securely with new ropes; (3) weave the 7 (!) braids on his head and tighten with a pin.)

Clearly none of these work because she must go back to him a fourth time. This is what I mean when I think Samson is stupid and proud. Because Samson was so blessed of God I find it difficult to think that he had no common sense, but, alas, he must have been all brawn. I should think that given the three attempts that Delilah had made on him that Samson would discern that she was out to destroy him (and to get the money).