Friday, October 5, 2018

EmmDev 2018-10-05 [Wherever I am...] God's compassion includes our need for justice.

Week 1: Seeing God's Heart for the World.

God's compassion includes our need for justice.

I must confess that I find the book of Judges slightly heavy going. The characters are complex and often violent. Othniel, a nephew and son-in-law of Caleb, was a Gentile convert who joined the tribe of Judah. Ehud was a left-handed Benjaminite who personally killed king Eglon of Moab. Shamgar, who was also probably not a Jew, possibly the son of a mixed marriage, killed 600 Philistines with an ox goad. Deborah, a prophetess and a judge, challenges the ancient entrenched patriarchy by leading the people in victory over Sisera at the Battle of Kishon near Mt Tabor. Gideon was a coward who became a hero and then led the people into idolatry. Jephthah swore a foolish vow that probably cost him his daughter's life. Samson had a fatal fondness for Philistine women, when he wasn't making poor choices in women, the rest of his life seems to be characterized by chaos, destruction, death and violence: he killed a lion with his hands; he killed 30 Philistines at Ashkelon, and a "thousand" with a jawbone of an ass. He used 300 foxes to burn the gain fields of the Philistines and carried off the city gate of Gaza. Samson was eventually conquered by a Philistine woman, Delilah, and he was blinded and imprisoned at Gaza. He called out to God who allowed his strength to return. He pulled down the Temple of Dagon killing himself and about 3,000 Philistines.

In addition to the odd assortment of characters, the narrative is sometimes difficult to follow. It seems disjointed with very long gaps between some judges and the others who seem to overlap with one another.

So why then would this be regarded as inspired by the Holy Spirit and included in the Canon? There are many possible answers to this, but I wish to suggest two. The first thing is one that the writer of the book suggests in our text for today, and it a vital consideration in our missional journey: that God is deeply moved to compassion by the pain-filled cries of the people of God. Second, this book teaches us is that God chooses to use sinful, fallible, broken and imperfect persons to accomplish God's purposes in the world. Let the people of God never stop crying out to God and let us be aware that God might use the most unlikely as the answers to our prayers.

Whenever the Lord raised up a judge for them, he was with the judge and saved them out of the hands of their enemies as long as the judge lived; for the Lord relented because of their groaning under those who oppressed and afflicted them.      (Jude2:18)

Peter Langerman is husband to Sally, father to Jaimee (and father-in-law to Tim), Natasha, Emma and Gabby, loves to walk, cook, read, shout at the TV when the Boks are playing and serves the saints at Durbanville. Peter is the current Moderator of General Assembly

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