Sunday, November 13, 2011

We Belong to God

Twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost

Judges 4:1-7 and 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

• The book of Judges is a history of the transition from the generation after the Exodus to the time of God’s appointed King, first Saul, then David. It tells of a time where there was no central leader of the people of Israel, and the people bounced back and forth between faithfulness to God and doing “what was evil in the sight of the Lord.”  The “Judges” were leaders that God raised up to lead the people, restore faithfulness, get ‘em back on the right track. Depending on how you count ‘em, there were something like a dozen judges over about 300 years.
• “After Ehud had died, the Israelites again did things that the Lord saw as evil.” (4:1)
This was the cycle of the Israelites: faithfulness, leader dies, fall into faithlessness, conquered by enemies, cry out to God, God raises up leader, who brings to faithfulness.
                                                                                                         People do evil things. They always have. No matter when we are in history, there are people doing evil.

“So the Lord gave them over to King Jabin of Canaan...” (4:2)
Seems from time to time God lets people eat the fruit of their evil. The result of people not walking with God is powerplay, abuse, and oppression. It affects evildoers and innocent as well, for it can last for years or generations.

“The Israelites cried out to the Lord because Sisera had 900 iron chariots and had oppressed the Israelites cruelly for 20 years.” (4:3)
This verse indicates for us the strength of Israel’s oppressors. Fast and powerful warriors.  No small foe.  Also we have the people crying out to God...

• “Deborah, a prophet, was a leader of Israel at that time... and the Israelites would come to her to settle disputes.” (4:4-5)
In the midst of oppression and troubled lives, people seek help from Godly people, and Deborah belonged to God. (If you belong to God and live accordingly...)
Deborah belonged to God: She discerned God’s call to Barak (4:6) to face mighty foe,    and she joined in the fray.
The people gained victory over their oppressors because they had leaders who were plugged in to God, and leaders and people stepped out together with God against fearful forces.

• A little fast-forward over to 1 Thessalonians.... Paul calls people to public lives of faithfulness (live as children of the light, wearing faithfulness and love)... dovetails with example of Deborah...
Paul calls us to public lives of faithfulness to equip us during dark times, times of facing powerful foes, to stand as light in the darkness and to bear that light that hope of salvation that healing balm into the fray. We belong to God.

• Hymn insert  God Be With You Till We Meet Again

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