OT: Judges 9:22-10:18
9:25--Here we have the first example of what I consider "terrorism." Terrorists like to kill random people as a way of "hurting" some other, less accessible person or position. Here, the citizens of Shechem take to robbing random passers-by as a way to hurt Abimelech. Good plan, guys.
9:26--Abimelech isn't great, but Gaal doesn't sound like a winner, either. As such, I didn't really care who won in this sordid ordeal. I didn't have a dog in this fight.
9:28--Gaal kind of pulls the same stunt that Abimelech did earlier by appealing to the people's blood relations and loyalty. He tells the townspeople, "Serve the men of Hamor, Shechem's father!" This statement helped nail down a point of confusion for me. You might recall ol' Shechem, son of Hamor from Genesis 34. He was Dinah's rapist, who unleashed the wrath of Simeon and Levi. Apparently, the town named after him has not made great strides in civility since then. Ironically, it is supposed to be a city of refuge for the Ephraimites. Needless to say, it doesn't do a great job fulfilling that role in today's reading.
9:46-49--Well, I was wondering if Abimelech could be a bigger loser, and apparently he could. Here, he burns down the tower of Shechem, killing the last 1000 survivors of the town. That reminded me of a particularly haunting scene in The Patriot, which is one of the few scenes of that movie I can still recall with any clarity.
I'm also a little confused on how the Shechem ordeal affected the rest of Israel. Is Abimelech king over all Israel? I would really like the author to "zoom out" at some point and show us how this fits in with the rest of Israel. Unfortunately, he doesn't. I also think it's kind of weird that he lingers so long on this sordid tale, but then tells us nothing of Issachar and Jair, the next two judges.
This is going long, but I'm going to throw in my favorite line of the OT reading. Regarding God, the text says, "And he could bear Israel's misery no longer." I liked that little glimpse into the divine nature.
NT: Luke 24: 13-53
Man, I would love to hear all of that conversation on the way to Emmaus! I love the idea of Jesus "open[ing] the Scriptures to" the two disciples. I love that those two had an opportunity to have God explain everything, to make everything make sense to them. How wonderful would that be!
And then Jesus repeated it all with the rest of the disciples. Luke 12:45 says, "Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures." Lord, please open my mind! I have felt that You have done just that at several different points this year, but I long for more vision. For instance, Jesus says, "This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem" (46). Where is that written? I'm sure His statement is an amalgamation of Scriptures, and I want to know them all...
More fun praises to God. I really do love every verse here, but perhaps my favorite is verse 3: "Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture." That verse is both comforting and humbling. It is so comforting to know that God is God, and we are not. And it also humbles me to remember that He does not owe me any answers.
"There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death." I used to love this verse, but I have also seen how it can be misused. Basically, you can tell this verse to anyone who disagrees with you, citing their opinion as an example of what Solomon is saying here. I saw that recently in the comments on a Christian blog, and it kind of opened my eyes at how easily this verse could be misapplied.
I still like it, though.