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May 15, Day #136 – Things Go from Bad to Worse

Yesterday, we stated that we needed to be especially careful not to miss verse 6 of Judges 17: “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.” We said that this verse summarizes God’s assessment of Israel during the entire period of the Judges, and that we would see this summary again. Well, notice that today’s readings in Judges 18 and 19 both begin with the same, abbreviated statement - “In those days Israel had no king” (verses 1). We also notice and wonder why the Danites, “who were seeking a place of their own,” had “not yet come into their inheritance” (Judges 18:1) for such a long period – after the other tribes had already settled into their land. Why, particularly when the land was “very good … lacking nothing” (verses 9-10)? Here, the Danites engage Micah’s priest to inquire of the Lord if their journey will be a success” (verse 5). As the story continues, an argument ensues, and then out of the argument, a war (verses 25-28). Eventually, the Danites settle in Laish of the land and continue to use Micah’s idols, “until the time of the captivity of the land,” employing Moses’ grandsons as priests (verses 28-30). Things go from bad to worse in Judges 19 – reminiscent of the two angels who visited Sodom (cf., Genesis 19). Chapters 17-19 of Judges reveal the lawlessness and the sordid, sickening level to which the human heart is capable of descending. Almost verse by verse, God is showing us how one outrageous atrocity leads to another. Truly, the story of the concubine’s end in Judges 19 is horrific and terrible to read. Did her husband not care about her at all? Why did they stay multiple nights at her father’s house? Why does her husband send her out into the night with those wicked men? There are no answers to this horrible event other than the total depravity of people and the hopelessness of living without God.

In Psalm 60:5-12, David was feeling like God had rejected him. Of course, this was untrue, for God will never forsake or abandon us, although sometimes we may feel alone. I understand loneliness now more than I ever did before, but God has convicted me of the precious value of His dear, eternal presence, and I know He is with me always. In this Psalm, we see David’s desire and plans, by God’s grace and help, to overcome his enemies “in triumph” and present them to the Lord – His “helmet, His scepter, His washbasin, His sandal, and His victory” over each national enemy (verses 6-8). Here, also, we have God’s remarkable revelation that “human help is worthless” (verse 11). Only God is faithful and reliable to help us “gain the victory” (verse 12), and every victory is won only by God’s intervention.

John 8:12-30 relates the sharp dispute between the Pharisees and Jesus, and it emphasizes their bitter accusations against our Lord. Here, Jesus says, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life” (verse 12). Out of their mounting hatred for Him, the Jews challenge His testimony – which He has validated over and over again by His actions and His miracles (not to mention the voice of the Father coming out of heaven – cf., Matthew 3:17; Mark 1:10-11; Luke 3:22). So it is obvious that they are moving toward killing Him. Jesus points out that His testimony is valid and consistent with the law (verse 18). In verse 19, the Pharisees ask Jesus, “Where is Your Father?” This question is designed as a direct assault on the Virgin Birth; claiming their pedigree to Abraham, the Jews are accusing Christ of being “illegitimate” (cf., John 8:40). Moreover, the Jews say that they “have never been slaves of anyone” (verse 23), by which statement they invalidate their own testimony; what were those 400+ years back in Egypt, if not servitude? Finally, we see here that Jesus contrasts God’s truth with man’s – in men’s ability to make judgments. Jesus clearly aligns Himself with the Father – ten times He reiterates the expression, “I am …” (verses 12, 14, 16, 18, 21, 23, 24, 28). Jesus is demonstrating that His testimony is valid based on the truth that He is never alone – “the Father” always stands with Him as witness. Although the Pharisees struggled to understand Him, yet “even as He spoke, many put their faith in Him” (verse 30).

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