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May 14, Day #135 – Living in Desperate Times

In Judges 16-17, we see that, although Samson was sort of a strongman, today we see how weak he really was. In fact, Samson had many weaknesses. Apparently, he married his foreign wife on the singular strength of seeing her (cf., Judges 14:1-3). That’s a little risky right there! In this chapter, he also “sees a prostitute” with whom he “spent part of the night” (verses 1-3) – even riskier – I would add. Had he not left early, the Philistines would have been on him like a bear on honey. Here we see that Samson is playing with fire - seeking the company of Philistine women – enemies – in enemy territory. The spiritual implications of such behavior are enormous for us today. How easily his enemies duped him, and even though he is somehow included in God’s hall of faith (c.f., Hebrews 11), nevertheless Samson is just an example of God’s divine use of a poor role model. Again, we see that Samson repeats this foolish nonsense with his downfall – Delilah – who easily and steadily works her charm on the big fellow who has no resistance. How strong is that? “So he told her everything” (verse 17), and from that point on – it’s downhill for Samson. “He did not know the LORD had left him,” and literally, “the Philistines took him down to Gaza …” (verse 21). In the words of Charles Swindoll, “this is a picture of sin’s increasingly ill effects – it blinds; it binds, and it grinds,” and for Samson, it did this to his death. Next, in chapter 17, we are introduced to one of the Bible’s strangest stories and people – Micah – with his stolen silver, his homemade shrine, his homemade gods, and his home-installed priest. Wow! Micah has it all under control, and he says, “Now I know the LORD will be good to me, since this Levite has become my priest.” But we really need to be careful not to miss verse 6: “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.” This is God’s assessment of Israel during the entire period of the Judges, and we will see it again.

In Psalm 60:1-4, David states that his people were living in “desperate times” (verse 3), which God had brought upon them. Today, we too live in “desperate times” that God has measured out to us - for all our individual, national, and global sins. All over the world, we see people living in “desperate times.” Nowhere on earth are the times not presently desperate. Could it be that “desperate times” correlate with snowballing levels of sin and godlessness? People are increasingly unfavorable toward God, and God is moving the world toward His consummation of all things - which includes His judgment. However, David says, “But for those who fear you, you have raised a banner to be unfurled against the bow” (verse 4). We live under the banner of Christ, and He alone is able to protect His people from the bow.

In John 7:45-8:11, we read the continuation of what we saw yesterday – what the people knew about “this man” (verse 46). We note that, “No one ever spoke the way this man does” (verse 46). As a point of fact, what these Jews don’t realize is that their discussions actually assert and unwittingly verify His claims to fulfill all the Old Testament prophecies about Himself. That some of them understood Him to be their unique Messiah is enough to convict the whole lot of them about this truth. Then, in John 8:1-11, we see “the teachers of the law and the Pharisees trying to trap Jesus as a basis to accuse Him about the woman caught in adultery” (verses 3-6). After “writing on the ground, Jesus says, ‘If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her’” (verse 7). One by one, they all depart, and Jesus forgives her (verse 11). However, her sin is not the real issue; the main problem here is the sin of those who set her up for this confrontation - the teachers of the law and the Pharisees. Unlike her shame and humility, their haughty arrogance and pride kept them as distant from His forgiveness as the east is from the west, and by their treatment of Nicodemus (verse 52), we see how easily these leaders of Israel could turned against their own. These wicked men were never going to give Jesus a fair hearing.

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