OT: Judges 13:1-14:20
In today's reading, we face the same conundrums we faced with Jacob and Jephthah. As with Jacob, God uses Samson's sin to accomplish His purposes, which is weird. Like Jephthah, Sampson is an idiot with God's Spirit, which in some ways is even weirder.
Samson marries outside his tribe, eats honey out of a dead animal (breaking his Nazirite vow), and is a murderous hothead. And God uses every one of those sinful choices to accomplish His purpose, which is to "confront the Philistines" (14:4). I guess that that is not a new concept. I've always heard and believed that God uses sinners and even sin itself to accomplish His purposes. He used the hard-heartedness of Pharoah; He used the brutality of pagan nations; He used the apathy of Roman leaders. It's just strange to me when the sinner is held up as a hero. But then again, does Judges hold these men up as heroes? The book certainly doesn't gloss over any of their flaws. Maybe God is the hero of Judges, and these men are nothing but His tools (and I choose that word purposefully).
And as far as intelligence, Samson seemed to get the short end of the stick, which is a little sad to me. After all, I really liked his parents. They seemed like earnest, godly people, who wanted to raise their son right. They were responsive to God's angel, and they eagerly sought God's instruction on how to raise the boy. It's almost like God wanted Samson to be dumb and impetuous. Again, it baffles me how God can use character flaws to His glory. It doesn't baffle me that He can, because He is God after all. It baffles me that He would. Does He really want to be associated with these people?
Interesting question. After all, why would God want to be associated with me?
NT: John 1:29-51
Just three quick questions for today:
1. Who was "the one who sent [John] to baptize with water" (33)? It seems obvious that it was either God Himself or an angel, but I just think it is interesting that there was a definite conversation there. And I think it is intriguing that the Christ was described to John as "he who will baptize by the Holy Spirit." That would not be the first phrase I would use to describe the Christ, but it is certainly an interesting concept. It is also interesting (I'm trying to phase this word out and am clearly failing) how prominently the imagery of baptism figures into all of this.
2. What did Philip mean when he told Nathanael, "We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law" (45)? I get that the prophets foretell of Jesus, which Philip also mentions, but the Law? I just read that thing! Does anyone else remember an allusion to Christ? I really don't, and I would love to know exactly what he is talking about.
3. Why is Nathanael so shocked that Jesus saw him under the fig tree? I get that it was a miracle, but if I were someone as skeptical as Nathanael ("Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?" and "How do you know me?"), I'm not sure that that would have completely convinced me. Couldn't Jesus have just seen him earlier, or couldn't Philip have mentioned the fact to Jesus at some point? I don't know. I love how Jesus is like, "You ain't seen nothin' yet" (50--I believe that's the NLT:)).
I think it is a good, healthy thing to embrace the difference between you and God, as the psalmist is doing here. As this psalm indicates, the "God is God, and I am not" attitude helps you get through the hellish times in life with minimal bitterness and rage. The man is suffering and crying out to God, but he doesn't become embittered, nor does he turn his back on Him.
"A prudent man gives thought to his steps" (15b). I love that idea, especially since I am a big fan of the question, "why?" (you may have noticed this). I just can't go through life without knowing why I'm doing what I'm doing at any given time. I have to have a point, a purpose to my actions. I like to think that that helps me to be prudent, rather than just a whiny navel-gazer:).