I am not the Old Testament scholar by a long shot, but I thoroughly enjoy teaching the Old Testament to college freshmen. In my setting I teach to students in a Christian college, many of whom probably grew up in church. Yet… they don’t know the Old Testament.
Where I have the most fun (besides Song of Songs) is Judges. It’s perverse, I know. But for me it beats any Quentin Tarantino movie by a long shot.
Judges 19 is the kicker. If I haven’t seen them freak out over Ehud stabbing the Jabba the Hutt character, or get a little queasy over Jephthah and his weird vow that cost him the life of his own daughter, the story of the Levite carving up the concubine usually does the trick.
The biggest question I get: “Why is this in the Bible?”
My biggest question back: “Why do we IGNORE this stuff?”
My answer is this: “We like our Jesus meek and mild. When Jesus mean and wild shows up, we get turned off.”
There are other answers to explore, and I know I’ll get them on Facebook as soon as I hit “post” on this blog. No problem.
I just want to register my absolute pleasure at teaching the Old Testament.
Gideon is a great example of what happens when the people of God lose the vision of who they are in God.
They were called to take out the inhabitants of the land. That was the command from God. They simply did not obey.
Oppressed, we find Gideon hiding out. To grind grain, he was using a winepress to fool the Midianites into thinking he didn’t have enough grain for them to steal (Judges 6:11).
When God came calling, he just flat out blamed GOD for their troubles (Judges 6:13).
When called by God to lead the people, he simply gave excuse after excuse (Judges 6:15), and then wanted a “sign” (Judges 6:17).
Given a task, he did it at night out of fear (Judges 6:25-27).
When he finally obtained victory over the Midianites, he led Israel right back into idolatry (Judges 6:22ff).
Gideon is a picture of what happens when the people of God lose sight of just who they are.
The CHURCH needs to learn from Gideon. Not from what he did, but from what he shows in how NOT to live in the Kingdom.
We hide from an enemy we preach doesn’t even exist. We blame God (or his church) for all our troubles. When God calls us to Kingdom business, we give excuse after excuse, then ask for signs to “confirm,” and often STILL don’t move. Every once in awhile we get “lucky” with a victory, but then go back to our default programming.
Don’t be Gideon.
The Book of Ruth should be read when you read the Book of Judges. The biggest advantage is realizing that among the blood lust of Judges there is a beautiful story of redemption.
Reading Judges will be a tough read. Realize it’s not about the book telling us what is “right.” It is giving us a story of what is desperately wrong.
But read Ruth and be refreshed in the story of redemption among the rubbish heap of degradation.