Bible Reading Blog

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David Administered Justice

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

BIBLE READING: 2 Samuel 8, 10

“So David reigned over all Israel. And David administered justice and equity to all his people.” (2 Samuel 8.15)

War was par for the course in ancient times (2 Samuel 11.1). But not all war was selfish and power-mongering. By faith, David’s war efforts in 2 Samuel 10 secured the land God had given them (2 Samuel 8.3, 6). But these efforts also executed justice for those who had been shamed by this enemy (2 Samuel 10.4-ff). David would not allow those under his watch to be treated as such without coming to their defense; and his actions were blessed and commended by God (2 Samuel 8.6, 14).

We need to understand how motivated God is by justice. Justice held a central place throughout Jesus’ teaching and ministry. For Jesus, a lack of concern for the marginalized is not a minor oversight but reveals that a person is at odds with God. This is illustrated in the parable of the sheep and goats where the true sheep are those who have a heart for the hungry, the stranger, the poor, the sick, and the imprisoned (Matthew 25.35-36).

This is an important yet challenging dynamic of faith. Because faith cares about what God cares about, it also acts to preserve what is right and good. By faith, David administered justice (2 Samuel 8.15; Hebrews 11.33). This is not a call to arms but rather to act for the good of others according to what is righteous and holy. Christians cannot be ambivalent to the need for justice in our world for it is the reason Christ died for my sins (Romans 5.8). Therefore, how we “do justice” (Micah 6.8) is a direct reflection of how we view God’s mercy and grace towards us. For us, justice can be administered in many ways. When we teach our children right and wrong, we are preparing them to do justice. When we serve those rejected and abandoned by society, we are showing justice. When we act according to God’s word to combat wrong thinking and actions, we are promoting justice. As we look at our world, we must be people motivated to do justice: to help the helpless, defend the weak and provide for those in need. Not for the sake of creating societal equality – that is never the point of justice! – but to show the same concern God shows for all humanity.

There will always be those who are helpless and marginalized. And while we seek to serve them, we must always point them to the justice we all receive from Jesus. In him, God is not only “just but the justifier of those who have faith in Christ” (Romans 3.26-27). In what small ways we can, let us honor him by seeking to “do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our God” (Micah 6.8).

“Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the LORD understand it completely” (Proverbs 28.5)

"…learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause” (Isaiah 1.17)

Not Those Who Shrink Back

Tuesday, December 06, 2022


Samson is one of the most difficult of the judges to understand and evaluate. He had certain glaring weaknesses of character which are made prominent in scripture, and we tend to think of him poorly. It is easy to regard him as a person from whom to learn negatively rather than positively. But we should be carful about judging him too harshly. After all, he is in the hall of faith for a reason…

A key event regarding his faith occurs in Judges 15. With just the jawbone of a donkey Samson killed 1,000 Philistine men (15.15). Afterwards, Samson acknowledged it was God who gave him the strength for this victory (15.18). Sure, he had a personal vendetta (15.11), but Samson knew his calling and strength were given on purpose, from God (see 13.25; 14.4-6; 15.18). Although obstinate and proud in many ways, from the start, Samson credited God with his strength and power, even calling on God to continue supplying him (15.18-19).

Samson was resolute about God’s power even when the odds were against him. Consider the events leading up this victory. His own countrymen freely handed him over to the Philistines (15.10-14). They were afraid of the trouble he would cause them. I think we can understand that on a human level. But their actions showed cowardice rather than faith. Samson’s strength was evident but the people were more inclined to let the enemy win. Perhaps they didn’t know of Samson’s calling and saw his actions as rash. Obviously they had a spirit of fear that was thoughtless of God’s power or presence. Either way, unlike other judges, Samson’s countrymen didn’t support him  (15.11-12).

Certainly this would be a challenge to anyone’s faith. Imagine, being surrounded by 3,000 Christians (some who you went to church with) and being told not to stand against false teaching. The people who ought to encourage you to trust more are calling you to back down and let the enemy win. This was Samson’s test of faith. Many would fold in this situation.  The pressure and weakness of others can cause us to distrust God’s promises. But Samson didn’t fold and instead he subdued the enemies of God. Sometimes by faith we need to stand where no one else stands. Sometimes we need to show our brethren that it is God who fights for us and who will prevail if we trust in him.

To be clear: Samson’s pride and sensual nature are nothing to be praised. But when it came to trusting in God, he was unwavering. He acted with the belief that God’s strength would be accomplished through him. We don’t have the physical enemies of Samson, but we live in a time where godless agendas not only have a voice but significant support and momentum. Our belief system is seen as narrow-minded, outdated and hateful. Many will stand against us from the outside. Sometimes even those we know and love will be our “enemies”. But this is nothing new. Like Samson we must learn to be resolute in our faith, being firmly rooted in the power of God. By faith, “let us hold fast our confession of hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10.23), for “we are not those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.” (Hebrews 10.39).

Confident in Weakness

Tuesday, November 29, 2022


“And Gideon said to him, “Please, my lord, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all his wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us, saying, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?’…” (Judges 6.13)

Gideon was the youngest son from the weakest clan. When the enemies were near, he was hiding. When approached by the angel of the Lord, he questioned and cowered. Even after being called by God, he was scared to act publicly. Not exactly the face of someone you would expect to be the next leader of the people. 

Fast forward a short time and this same man would tear down the idols in Manasseh, lead Israel to victory over the Midianites, and lead the people for 40 years. Based on the initial picture we have of Gideon, I wouldn’t have guessed he was the man for the job. But we’ve seen from Hebrews 11 that faith is not defined by conventional wisdom or worldly standards. Instead, it is deeply rooted in trusting God.

That’s what we see in Gideon. Despite his faults and fears...

  1. Gideon knew about God. The nation was in a God-forgotten period (Judges 2.10), but his family hadn’t forgotten God. They recounted God’s wonderful deeds in Egypt, which had an obvious impact on Gideon’s life and belief (6.13). This information prepared him for his encounter with the angel and encouraged him as…

  2. Gideon acted in faith. He tore down the altars just as God had instructed. He culled his army down to 300 and followed God’s battle plan. Sure, he had some concerns, but he didn’t shrink back or make excuses.

We must never underestimate the power we have to prepare the next generation. The efforts of Gideon’s fathers to tell him about Egypt impacted Gideon even though he saw a very different world. It motivated Gideon to look for God to work and trust him more deeply when his world seemed to be going to pot.

Future generations need to know how dependent we are on God. But more importantly, they need to know the power of having God on their side. Throughout these events, God encouraged and supported Gideon. God gave him a new identity (Judges 6.12), supported by God’s presence (Judges 6.16). God patiently responded to Gideon’s request for confirmation. At every turn and in every weakness, God was present to help Gideon do what he had been called to do. 

We can have this same confidence. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46.1). God is near the broken-hearted and humble (Psalm 34.18, James 4.6). “When the righteous cry out, the Lord hears them and delivers them out of their trouble” (Psalm 34.17). But notice these are all predicated on humble submission to the power and prerogative of God.

I relate to Gideon a lot. I don’t see myself as a person of significance or extraordinary talent. I have concerns and doubts about my own abilities. When things get hard, my natural inclination is to hide. I know my failures and limitations very well. But I also know the God I follow. He has been strong, dependable, and consistent for his people in the past. He makes good on his promises, and he supports those who faithfully walk with him. Despite my insufficiencies and weaknesses, I am confident God will be with me if I walk in faithful obedience. Let us hold fast to God in hope and flee to him for refuge in our times of strength and weakness.

A Discipline of Priority

Monday, November 21, 2022

BIBLE READING: Hebrews 11.30
“By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days.”

“And the LORD said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and mighty men of valor.” (Joshua 6.2). That surely was encouraging, but the battle plan was unconventional. The men of Israel were armed for battle (Joshua 6.9), but instead of storming the walls, God had them march around them (Joshua 6.3). "Blow the trumpets and yell and the city will be yours" (Joshua 6.5). Sounds like a good intimidation tactic, but how was this going to work? I’m sure there were some who had concerns, but by faith they marched, raising no weapon. After 7 days of faithful obedience, the walls fell, and they took what God had given them (Joshua 6.20-21).

It wasn’t because they people weren’t willing or able to fight. It was because God was making a point. Although liberated and more capable, victory came from God. They were God’s people because of his choosing (Deuteronomy 7.7). He had promised them this land, and nothing would stop that. The people in Canaan were no chumps – remember the report from the spies? (Numbers 13.28-29, 31-33) – but unlike the previous generation, these people trusted God at his word. He would make good on his promises. He only wanted them to trust and obey.

We are naturally geared to focus on what we bring to the table; and certainly, faith calls us to action. But many times, faithful obedience calls us to minimize our role to maximize God. Think about Gideon with his 300 soliders (Judges 6-7), mighty Naaman and his leprosy (2 Kings 5), and John the Baptist with Jesus (John 3.30). They had abilities but also significant limitations. In each circumstance, their limitations put the focus on God.

The same is true in our lives. If we were able to accomplish everything on our own, we would never have a need for God. We would overemphasize our ability and minimize our trust. Pride and self-sufficiency would rule where God ought to be. We need to keep our priorities in line.

God fights for his people. He is a strong deliverer, a mighty tower, a strong arm against our enemies. He serves his people in ways they cannot. He is near the broken hearted and afflicted. He is mindful of the needy and helpless. He is merciful, compassionate, and gracious. But his power can only be realized when we humble ourselves in obedience.

All people of faith must put their strengths aside at times to glorify God. It is a discipline of priority. We must never emphasize our ability or think-sos over God. He is Supreme and Sovereign. There is nothing too hard for him. He doesn’t need our help; he only desires our trust and obedience.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3.5-6)

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12.9-10)

Greater Than Moses

Thursday, November 10, 2022

BIBLE READING: Hebrews 3.1-6

If the bible had an all-star team, Moses would probably be one of the team captains. You would be hard pressed to find a page in scripture that’s not influenced by his life. He wrote the first 5 books of the bible. He delivered the law from God that would define the very lives of God’s people. Moses led Israel through one of the most challenging seasons in any nation’s history.

As you page through scripture, Moses is esteemed for his teaching and efforts. Even in the New Testament, he is cited for matters of judgment (Matthew 19.7). Religious groups were formed around his teachings and example (Matthew 23.2). His presence is nearly inescapable in the story of scripture. As such he was (and still is by many) treated with the utmost authority and respect. This is primarily because, in the biblical record, Moses is remembered as a man who was a faithful servant of God (Hebrews 3.2, 5). The refrain in Exodus 39-40 is that “Moses did according to all the LORD commanded him” (Exodus 39.1, 5, 7, 21, 26, 31, 42-43; 40.16, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 29, 32) ultimately finishing the work God gave him to do (Exodus 40.34). Moses was faithful in God’s house, so much that God would openly state his approval (Exodus 33.17).

Moses is a spiritual giant. But he’s not the one we follow. Why? There are obvious answers. He didn’t call us to do so. He played a very specific role in history. He didn’t die for us. In fact, he’s still dead, like every other leader in Israel’s history. Although prominent in the scriptures, the story doesn’t stop with him. There was always going to be someone greater than Moses. His faith serves to help us, and many others in history, see Jesus.

We should learn to emulate Moses’ faithful life, as well as others of faith (1 Corinthians 11.1; Philippians 3.17); but we must remember these are mere shadows of the perfect Christ. Even Moses knew this (see Deuteronomy 18.15-19). Moses was but a servant whereas Jesus is the son. Moses’ fell short of the promised land, but Jesus perfectly leads to the eternal promised rest. Moses had imperfections but Jesus did not. His faith paved the way for others to see the one God ultimately wanted us to listen to (Hebrews 12.25).

Here's what this means for us: Our faithfulness should always serve to elevate Jesus. Not only does this take significant pressure off us but establishes a clear goal with everything we do: point others to Jesus. I should practice faith to point to the one whose name “God has highly exalted and given the name that is above every name so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2.9-11). Our practice of faith must be about someone greater than just me. 

I can teach, help and serve others, but I am limited. I cannot change their hearts and I cannot save their souls. But I know the one who can. And by faith, I hope to show Jesus more clearly to the world.

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