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Feb 8, 2015

90 Day Challenge – Day 39

Sarah Christmyer

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Bible Time Period: Conquest and Judges

You led Israel triumphantly into the Promised Land. They failed to teach their children, and instead did what was right in their own eyes: Help me to keep my eyes on you and teach others what is truly right.

Reflection

If you didn’t read yesterday’s reflection regarding the cycle that Israel goes through during the time of the Judges, go back to Day 38 and read it before you go on. Gideon and his son Abimelech, who you will read about today and tomorrow, form the central account in the repeating cycle. Together they represent the best and the worst among leaders.

Throughout Judges, notice the influence of the pagan nations and false gods upon Israel (these people and the worship of these gods were allowed by Israel to remain in the land they conquered).

Today’s Reading

Judges 5-8

Today’s Question

What do chapters 6 and 7 tell you about the ways of God in “impossible” situations?

Join the discussion below!

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  • This is my first post as I am an amateur at Bible Study & I have been absorbing & learning much from everyone! I appreciate everyone’s comments which reflect my thoughts & more most days. Chapters 6 & 7 again show God’s patience with us when we ask for “proof” of “Him” and that when we trust & do as he tells us, all things are possible.

    I’ve “jumped back into” my faith again in the last few years with the influence of my family & have learned that trust & love is all God wants from us which includes obedience to his laws. ThIs is very hard in our culture as it has always been, just with different temptations. However, great things do happen if we recognize them and don’t expect that they are always things that make us “happy.” I am also starting to recognize that as the people of Israel in the OT have “reaped what they sown” for their actions & choices, that I do as well. I don’t like to look on that as God punishing me, rather it is the consequences of my free will. Not everyone believes that & seem to blame God or others when they should be acknowledging that it is normally due to the choices (sometimes from many years earlier!).

    I am constantly working to trust God & can actually say I’ve felt that pure joy of his love in some of my most down times! I hope you all have too!

    • Nice post, Judy! Thanks for contributing. I get frustrated with the society of victims we live in; and recall with some shame the times I have bought into it. I have discovered peace when I actually take responsibility for my own actions, particularly when I give my heart in prayer and God helps me carry the burden of my penance. He is our strength in times of need!!

    • I agree with you Judy. I often blamed God for many “problems” in my life. Many of these problems were the consequences of my (free will) decisions. But not all of my “problems” were a result of any consequence (at least that I know of).
      My husband and I have a son who has been challenged his entire life with severe autism. I often saw the sometimes insurmountable challenges this presented to us as a “problem,” and because there was no real solution, I blamed God. I was angry and sometimes purposely distanced myself from God. But He was always there, waiting for me to come running back into His loving arms. I see now that I was often like the Israelites, going it on my own, until the current challenge became so unbearable, I had no where to look but up – to our Father. He would show me the answer, I’d praise Him and all was good … for a while. Then I’d fall back into my old pattern of relying on myself, until the next unbearable challenge came along. You’d think I’d have learned, just like many of us are thinking about the Israelites and how often they fell into old, destructive habits. But then I remind myself that if this life of ours was made easy, would we really rely on God each and every day?
      I want to believe that I’ll always rely on God when challenges arise, but I know that satan is always there trying to fill my mind with lies. So I take it one day at a time. I pray more, am involved in my discipeship groups, partake in studies like this (with all you wonderful brothers and sisters in Christ), attend Mass as often as I can throughout the week and avail myself of the sacraments. I pray I won’t fall back into my old, destructive habit of going it alone. I want to be an Israelite like Moses and Joshua, not like Abimelech.
      I thank God for all you wonderful people who are willing and courageous in sharing your knowledge, insights and experiences that help us on our journey and tie us all together as sons and daughters of God!

      • Amen, Janet… we never stop having the challenges. You’re right, some of these “problems” (like autism) are not the consequence of our decisions. While I agree to some extent to the general belief that sin causes a lot of the problems and evils in the world, medical deficiencies are not evil, therefore they’re not a consequence of sin. They just happen.
        Let me flip to the other side of the coin… I think your son is so blessed and fortunate to have you as his loving mother. May you be forever blessed for rising to the challenge of raising your son in spite of the difficulties it entails.

        • Thank you for the kind words, Marianne. All of my children, but especially my son with autism, are blessings to me. Our challenges with this disorder are so slight compared to what he lives with every second of every day. I’m not thankful for the disorder, but I now thank God for the trials of dealing with it. God can take anything tragic and use it for His glory. This cradle Catholic might still be in the cradle, so to speak, instead of out toddling around were it not for these “blessings” and the grace He’s given me to finally see them for what they are. May God bless your day, Marianne!

  • God can do great things with the smallest and weakest of us. Gideon is able to defeat a much larger army with only three hundred men. I think the message is that we too can do great things if we but trust in God.

  • Through God all things are possible – and He is gracious enough to meet us where we are and offer affirmation of His providence, patiently and unequivocally.
    I am struck by the behavior of the Israelites, including Gideon. I find it no less disturbing or disheartening than that of Christians today. The expression that comes to mind is this: If we don’t stand for something, we will fall for anything. These OT people succumbed again and again to the false gods of the pagan cultures because they would not purge them from their midst and proclaim the truth.
    If we today would break the culture of silence and stand up for what we know to be true, working collaboratively with, instead of mutely for, our overworked and well-meaning shepherds, the Church would be a better instrument of God’s mercy. It would be a true beacon of hope with strength to overcome the darkness in the world.

  • I noticed that God was very patient with Gideon. Gideon was humble obviously Gideon believed in the one true God, he was quick to offer sacrifice in private. But ,when commanded to destroy the alter of Baal, he did that in secret at night. Gideon was clearly a reluctant servant. By the end of today’s readings he gives everything to God including being king.

  • It seems that in a difficult situation, God again chooses an unlikely person to lead the Israelites. Moses wasn’t very good at public speaking and now we have Gideon who is unqualified and so unsure that he puts God to the test twice. As someone else said, he wasn’t brave to be open about his offering and subsequent pulling down of the altar. He was also humble. Yet God took this improbable person and made him a strong leader. He also acknowledged Gideon’s timidity by giving him the opportunity to listen in on the enemy.

    As for the battle, that was totally illogical in a secular sense, to let go most of the army and then to only take 300 soldiers against a superior force is crazy. Yet God willed it so that these stiff-necked people would not be able to take the credit. One of the many wonderful facets of God is that nothing is Impossible if we trust and follow in Him. Another beautiful facet is that God knows and loves us, so He understands our timidity and other weaknesses and guides us in the same way He guided Gideon e.g. with gentle patient loving care.

    • Actually, it is not as illogical to release the extra number of troops as you might think. God knew the exact number he needed. Gideon believed enough to listen and trust. Too many people in battle can cause confusion. Gideon had a force mutiplier-the great noise of the trumpets and the breaking of the jugs. It made it seem there were more soldiers against the enemy than Gideon’s three hundred. God Himself of course was the Great Force Mutiplier. Trust and believe!

      • It certainly proves that all things are possible with God and if He says all we need is 300 (or something else) then that is more than sufficient. I just can’t get over the combination of the reinforcement of some facets of God and the revealing of new aspects. It seems, in a wonderful way, a never ending voyage of discovery.

        • I wish God would clue our Generals as to the logistics of troop movement It seems we have too many in some spots and too few in others and all in the wrong places.

  • What wonderful comments today and welcome Judy! Gideon reminds me of the young of our Catholic Faith (teens) and how many question their faith and God and how they worship in secret rather than “out loud” for a variety of reasons. You see this reluctance in many and without the right guidance (from God or other church leaders/parishioners), they quickly fall out of faith. Let us all be like God was with Gideon to the young or reluctant members of our faith. Let us help them see how great God is and to live life as a Catholic member out loud!

    • This is particularly hard for them when there are Catholics in high positions telling them that is exactly what they are not to do. It makes me very angry when I see Catholics in government and in the media telling Catholics to leave their principals at the Church Door.

      • There is a gift given to us by God called ‘free will’ which we are all given. It is easy for them to forget their principles because they want to be with the in crowd. Being Catholic is about worshiping God in the one true church.

    • Mark you are so right some of us are afraid to say we are catholics in the workplace and elsewhere. Sometime ago I had a banner on my car ‘Proud to be Catholic’, a lot of people thought – you’re brave. Not so at all, I saw the banner and bought it because I’m passionate about my faith.

      • I agree. At work, I have a I have my calendar from my Church up with monthly scripture. I also keep my copy of Word Among Us in my work bag. While I don’t go around professing to others I do use these to remind me to live and breathe the teachings we follow. When I am having a hard day at work it is a nice reminder to pause for a moment and take a step back.

  • Even though Gideon felt he was not strong enough or respected enough to lead but that is what God intended as He showed through Gideon that it really was God acting on their behalf. Gideon certainly rose to the occasion after he, under cover of night, destroyed the sacred pole and altar to baal. The people gave him a new name, Jerubbaal. “let Baal take action”. I think the people wondered if their god (Baal) would act. When the Lord kept parring down the troops to only 300 loyal men, even then it wasn’t until Gideon overheard his enemies giving him credit for destroying them that he was able to take his men and do as the Lord wanted him to do. Finally, Gideon shows his character when the Israelites want him to rule over them. He says, “I will not rule over you, nor shall my son rule over you. The Lord must rule over you”. He had it right! The Lord must rule over us, so the world knows who the Lord is.

    • I see in your comments how God grew and expanded Gideon’s self-esteem and it remained self-esteem not pride. There are times when I trust God to do all He says He will do just not for me. I see Gideon growing out of this attitude. At first Gideon trusted that God would raise up a leader, just not him.

  • Hi All, I am so enjoying this 90 Day Challenge with you! I enjoy the intimacy of learning with a small group of friends in someone’s home, but it is also amazing to discover kindred hearts and souls in cyber space … we won’t meet each other but we are coming to know each other.
    I feel like if these Israelites could put in an appearance today they’d be like “Really?? You guys are still stuck right where we were?” I guess it’s just the human condition, being the fallible, broken creatures that we are, and I am brought to my knees in gratitude for the endless patience of our loving God! True surrender is the journey of a lifetime, isn’t it? What I’m trying to understand about myself is why, when it feels so good to do it, do I try to take it all back?

    • You are so right Ann. I was thinking that myself. Only they would tell us that we have no excuse because we have the fulfilment of the promise. the Holy Spirit and the Sacramemts

  • What wonderful comments! I too am new to Bible Study and I am humbled by the knowledge of all of you. Thank you so much for opening my eyes as I have a tendency to think in the literal sense. I have made a few comments in these discussions and it must have been the Holy Spirit giving me that courage and telling me you can do this Sue! Thank you for opening my eyes to the greatness of The Lord.

    • Welcome aboard Sue, it took me a while too before I posted any comments. This bible
      study course is great – I am learning so much and it is also fun.

  • In my faith journey I am continually struck and comforted by certain themes that I see over in over. Trust in God. Don’t worry. I am with you always. With God, all things are possible.

    Gideon’s story is yet another example of God working miracles in the most unlikely, impossible ways. David and Goliath. Moses and the Red Sea. God takes the seemingly insignificant to fulfill his giant plans. The examples are endless, in the Bible, and even today in our own lives. Hopefully we have the wisdom and appreciation to recognize it when it happens.

    I came across the saying “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” (Walt Disney) I love it! And all the credit goes to God.

    BTW, here’s another cool “impossible” quote: “Never tell a young person that anything cannot be done. God may have been waiting centuries for someone ignorant enough of the impossible to do that very thing.” (G. M. Trevelyan)

    There are two passages that stood out to me in today’s readings. One is “The Lord answered him: You are safe. Do not fear. You shall not die. So Gideon built there an altar to the LORD and called it Yahweh-shalom.” (Judges 6:23-24) The footnotes explain that Yahweh-shalom is a reference to the Lord’s words, “You are safe” which literally means, “Peace be to you!”

    The second passage I liked is, “And Gideon was clothed with the spirit of the Lord…” (Judges 6:34) This is a beautiful expression. The footnotes explain that the Lord’s spirit “comes upon” them and they are transformed into effective leaders.

    We can take comfort in knowing that we are clothed in the Spirit ourselves, and we are safely under God’s protection.

  • So the Israelites are released from Egyptian bondage with a promise from God of the Promised Land. Little did they know once they arrived at the boundary of the Promised Land they would have to go to battle, hand to hand combat, and rid the land of its inhabitants. Can you imagine this?

    What are we to make of this? What are we to make of the brutal scenes of battle and victory?

  • It is still so hard to get past all the ruthless killing and to find the message. Deborah sings of the plunders of war and each man taking women etc… they weren’t supposed to intermarry and yet this was ok? The interpretative message for me is still one of ridding yourself of sin, and these recent readings speak directly to habitual sin. Clearly these were very different times. Paul writes of doing the thing he does not want to do – the one he knows he shouldn’t, underscoring flawed human nature and then to speak to all this killing -Jesus comes to tell us; “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. Matthew 5:43-45 NIV

  • If you live to serve the Lord, the Spirit of God will always take possession of you. God is Forever forgiving and forever just. We always reap what we sow. Again as we see no leadership the people stray to sin. Sin then leads to servitude, servitude leads to supplication, supplication leads to salvation, and salvation leads to peace… Then the whole cycle repeats itself, and God is always right there. Always ready WHEN WE ARE to assist us and bring us back into the fold. Through free will he allows us to stray as far as we venture but he’s ALWAYS ready to show us the correct path, punish our misgivings (and justly) and save us once again.

  • There are no impossible situations for the Lord; as the Israelites continue their cycle of failure to worship, God is continually searching for the one or few that believe and obey him. In these readings, we see once again the willingness of the Lord to forgive the many because of the good acts of the few.

  • St. Jerome Emiliani pray for us! (1481?-1537) At first irreligious and a soldier, he had time to think in prison. He learned to pray. he escaped and returned to Venice. He educated his nephews and studied for the priesthood. Plague and famine in northern Italy. He cared for the sick and the poor. He devoted himself to abandoned children, founding three orphanages, a shelter for penitent prostitutes, and a hospital. His Clerks Regular of Somasca is dedicated to the care of orphans and the education of youth. He died in 1537 of a disease he caught while helping the sick. He is patron of orphans and abandoned children. Another place all over the world that takes in children off of the streets and cares for them is Covenant House.

  • In these chapters I came to the conclusion that God painstakingly used many leaders to guide the people to understand the necessity of their faith and belief of the one God instead of false Gods they worshipped. I learn more as I continue to follow this 90-day challenge how loyal and patient God is to love. It is only through the love for the people that rewards or consequences are because of their own doing. I wish the society of human nature would just learn, practice and live the laws of God.

  • Again and again Israelites fall off track and follow false gods. It was not until the death of Zebah and Zalmunna that they ask for Gideon to be their leader. He asked them to follow The Lord as a ruler (follow the path of God) Again. Bey is it so easy to see that God truly is with us? It is not until we are in desperate need that we come begging to our one and only – God to spare us the hurt, shame, humility and grief. Why can we not always believe in him ALWAYS – lack of love , faith and trust in God.

    For some time, with the leadership and presence of Gideon, life was fine again. After the death of Gideon, Israelites again abandoned themselves to the Baals of Berith their god and forget the Lord, the God who delivered them from the power of their enemies all around them.

    Oh God, continue assisting us to strengthen our lives all for the purpose of life with you eternally someday. Give us the strength, your word, gifts, and protection from any false gods and believers. amen!

    Gideon dies, and shortly after his death

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