Category Archives: Judges

The Wash Cycle

LaundryHave you ever wondered what goes on inside a washing machine? Probably not. If you’re like me you throw the clothes in, put a bit of soap in and let the machine do the rest. Some of these machines can be complicated if you look at all the settings and cycles that are available. Each cycle (regular, permanent press, knit, delicates, light, medium and heavy, extra rinse, extra spin) have a purpose. Ultimately, if the machine is working as designed, when you reach the end of the cycle you have clean clothes.

When you read through the book of Judges you will find a pattern of events related to Israel’s continuous cycle of sin and restoration. If we were to label this cycle we could describe it like this: relapse, ruin, repentance, restoration, rest, relapse. God raises up 13 unique judges to bring his justice into the lives of the Israelites, 13 different cycles. Some of these cycles varied with intensity, in verses 3:7, 3:12, 4:1, 6:1, 8:33-34, 10:6, 13:1 (seven instances) we are introduced to the cycles of relapse and ruin with the words “The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord”. If we were to run these stories through the wash cycle we would choose “heavy, extra rinse and extra spin”. There were also times when you could categorize this cycle of life for the Israelites as “light” or “delicate”, a time when scripture does not record much about the actions of God’s people, presumably these could be the times of rest.

One of the highlights of reading through Judges is the picture of hope that we can see in God’s faithfulness, to forgive and provide for his people, a truth that still holds today. We see over and over the significance of the people coming before God (repentance) seeking his forgiveness and the power of God to forgive and restore them as a nation. Today we often fall into the same patterns of life like the Israelites, we tend to run amuck on our own, forgetting how God has complete control in the happenings of our lives. The illustration of the wash cycle always ends with fresh smelling clothes, clean and ready for work and play. When we put our hope and trust in God, when we come to Him in faith and ask for forgiveness, we are washed of those sins.

 

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Leadership… It is Important.

Leadership-PegsCulture: “The total of the inherited ideas, beliefs, values, and knowledge, which constitute the shared bases of social action; the total range of activities and ideas of a group of people with shared traditions, which are transmitted and reinforced by members of the group.” (Collins English Dictionary).

Our lives are strongly influenced by the cultures we live in; my life has been a “one culture” experience growing up here in Canada. Reading through the book of Judges made me think about the variety of cultural influences that shaped the lives of the Israelites. The type of government or kingship that was in power then and in our current time has largely defined how the cultures behave. For the Israelites this was a big part of the problem, they were wandering around like lost sheep with out a shepherd. They had no one to help keep them aligned with their inherited ideas, beliefs, values and knowledge. As we read in each account of Judges, God delivers the people from their problems by establishing a leader who calls them back to a shared understanding of God’s plan for them. The problem that resurfaces over and over again is once the leader is gone they fall back into their old ways and drift away from God, this is the repetitive action that follows their behaviour for many generations.

As I work to understand how culture plays a role in shaping who we are I know that as a leader in the church it is my responsibility to help people identify with beliefs and values that are counter to what our culture has defined. My lesson from Judges today calls me to be consistent; it calls me to be leading others to live a life that honours God through my actions and example of my own life. As I grow and learn I also realize that I need to be mentoring and training the next generation of leaders so that we don’t fall into a season of “wandering like lost sheep” like the Israelites.

Over and Over Again.

continuousThe book of Judges introduces us to a 410-year history of Old Testament culture that surrounds the people of Israel. Chapter after chapter I read what became a familiar and somewhat discouraging statement: “The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord.” I was thinking to myself, what is wrong with these people and why do they keep falling away from the Lord, when will they learn? Then I looked in the mirror and thought about the day and age that I am living in and had to ask myself a similar question, are we still doing this today?

During the time of the Judges there were multiple generations of people that lived within the ebb and flow of obedience to God’s law. Generations of families that passed on both the good and bad patterns of living in and around other cultures. Judges 2:12 tells us that the other people (cultures) around them heavily influenced the people of Israel, “they followed and worshiped various gods of the people around them”. The last part of verse 12 provides us with God’s response to their disobedience; it reads, “They aroused the Lord’s anger because they forsook him.” This anger resulted in God allowing them to suffer through turmoil, destruction and chaos. This brought them into a position of crying out to God for help resulting in the appointment a leader or judge that would help bring them back into the practices of His law.

We have to remember that all the stories of trials, temptations and restoration in Judges are real living examples of how life was for the Israelites. They are recorded for us so we can know the truth and reality of a loving and just God. In many ways today the diversity of cultures and people reflect the same dangers faced by the Israelites. We as Christ followers need to be continually pursuing a strong understanding of who our God is putting our faith and trust in Him. I am privileged and thankful that the generations that have passed down the living example of faith in Jesus Christ for my family and me. It is my prayer that I can continue to be bold and strong to continue that example for the next generation.

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