I want to encourage you to persevere in your ongoing readings this week. If you’ve fallen a bit behind the schedule, don’t worry – just continue going. This isn’t a race but rather it is my hope that as you read, you’ll not only learn the story of our salvation, you will also be able to build a habit of reading scripture daily. A ministry colleague often encourages her youth by saying “no Bible, no breakfast; no Bible, no bed” as a reminder to read first thing in the morning and last before she goes to bed.
The readings this week are a prime example of the ways in which the story of Israel is our story. First off, when you get to Joshua 23 & 24, you’ll read about Joshua giving his final instructions to Israel: challenging them to be faithful to the covenant and to serve the Lord. These are good words to read as though Joshua were speaking to each of us – a challenge that we, too, might choose to serve the Lord for the rest of our days.
Next, we’ll begin to read the book of Judges. We read early on that “…there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work which he had done for Israel” (Judges 2:10). In scripture, when we hear the word know, we’re meant to think of a certain closeness or intimacy. When Adam knew Eve (Genesis 4:1), they conceived a son, Cain. When a Pharaoh arose who no longer knew Joseph or what he’d done for Egypt (Exodus 1:8), all he saw was numerous Israelites (foreigners) living in Egypt with some of the prime pastureland throughout their nation. To know the Lord, and be close to Him implies a certain intimacy – and not knowing Him, as we are told here in Judges, means that Joshua’s generation failed to pass on the faith to their children, giving rise to what we’re about to see happen throughout Judges.
The key to understanding the book of Judges is found early on: Judges 2:11-23. These verses describe a cycle that will be repeated seven times in this book: Israel will sin (2:11-13), and things will start going badly for them (2:14-15). They will then cry out to God (2:15) who will bring a Judge to rescue or deliver them (2:16), but they will forget God and turn once again to sin (2:17-23).
And this is the second way in which these readings speak not just to Israel, but to you and I. Think about the ways in which we can repeat the same sorts of cycles in our own lives. Think of the fact we can go back to confession with the same sins over and over again, begging for God’s mercy. Thankfully, as we see in the story of the Israelites, God IS merciful. It also helps us understand why it was so important that Jesus be born among us, die, and rise again leaving us with the Holy Spirit: we needed someone who could break us out of these cycles and change our hearts.
Our readings this week are as follows:
- Monday: Joshua 21-22
- Tuesday: Joshua 23-24
- Wednesday: Judges 1-2
- Thursday: Judges 3-5
- Friday: Judges 6-7
- Saturday: Judges 8-9
- Sunday: Catchup on what you’ve missed or read the Sunday readings
God bless you all!