Along with the passage identified in the title of the post, I was reading from Timothy Keller’s Judges for You book which I purchased on Amazon. This is “the book” that I am referring to, unless otherwise noted.
What Did I Learn?
When Gideon is approached by the angel of the Lord, I was confused. I need to read some more, but I thought they were referring to God as the angel of the Lord and that he was speaking to the same person but they were switching names from “The Angel of the Lord” and “The Lord”… But by the end, I think I realized that the angel of the Lord came, he thought it was a man, and then he began to also speak to the Lord out loud. So there were three of them in one scenario.
I had no idea what it meant in Judges 6:26 when it said to cut down the Asherah pole. So I looked up what an Ashram pole was. It said on Google/Wikipedia:
An Asherah pole is a sacred tree or pole that stood near Canaanite religious locations to honor the Ugaritic mother-goddess Asherah, consort of El. (source)
So basically, its an altar to Baal and a pole to honor another idol and God is telling them to tear it down.
What Stood Out To Me?
The Israelites “did what is evil” and “so the Lord handed them over to Midian”… Then they cried out to the Lord and he said “You did not obey me”. Does this mean that God is punishing them? The term “handed them over” tells me it was an active thing that God is having this happen. Rather than the other argument that God does not punish, but merely allows natural consequences to happen because of your disobedience, which might be more of a passive stance. I’ve always struggled with this. I have always felt like there are many times in the bible where God actively punishes his people to teach them lessons. And yet, I hear over and over from Christian friends that God does not punish… and that when Jesus died on the cross all our punishment wait until heaven. I have trouble agreeing with this. Because that is saying that the God of the old testament is not the same God. Or that his ways have changed, which I don’t think they have. I think the way we are forgiven for our sins has changed, and that we don’t need to be bogged down by the old rules of the Old Testament in the same way, however, I don’t know if I agree that God never punishes his people, now that Jesus has saved us.
I feel like if God can, in a sense, choose to save his people then he could have chose to save his people before it happened. In which case, when he chooses to let his people have their consequences, or choose to not save his people, then, he is punishing us. Isn’t that punishment? Maybe people just don’t like the term punishment because they don’t like to view God as one that would allow hard things to happen to his people who he loves. Or people don’t want to come to terms with the fact that bad things happen to us for specific reasons. We want to blame someone else. But I don’t want to take away from the fact that God is completely Just and completely Good. And that we need to understand that first, before this whole thing is talked about.
I liked that Joash, Gideon’s father, is like “Baal is the one that should take care of Gideon, since he tore down Baal’s altar.” To me, it’s kinda funny.
Gideon asks God for not one but two signs. So I think that means that it’s okay to ask God for assurance that you are hearing him correctly, rather than just jumping into things without knowing for sure it’s God’s plan for you.
What is God Trying to Tell Me?
In the book, it says the difference between regret and repentance is that regret is when you feel bad because of the way it affects yourself. Keller says that repentance is when you are upset by the damage it causes your relationship with God. I was thinking of when I pray at night for forgiveness for being less kind or gentle or patient with my kids than I would like to be.
I know that God calls us to be kind, gentle and patient. I know that that is one of the main reasons that I want to be these things. But I also know that I want to be that way for my kids and that even if I wasn’t a Christian, I would want to be these things for my children. But I feel God saying that as hard as it seems to be sometimes to put God above my family, that I should first want to be the way God calls us to be because he calls us to be this way and that it hurts our relationship when I sin or fall short in anyway that God is calling us. And only second, should I desire to be a certain way for my children or family.
Another thing this book is bringing out, that the bible reading didn’t, is that sometimes, when you fall into the same ruts over and over and are not making true progress, it might mean that you are not repentful (in the way he described repentance) and are instead only regretful of your actions. This made me think of my problems with talking about people. I have a bad habit of talking about people. It sometimes creeps into the realm of gossiping, but other times is just to point out things that people are doing in a way that is not positive. I am very ashamed of this. It’s not okay. I know it’s not okay. Sean and I struggle with this because we do it together. I justify it in my head, that sometimes its okay when it’s just husbands and wives talking about things, and everyone does it. Sometimes we call ourselves “Statler and Waldorf” from the Muppet Show. We just sit back and make jokes. But I know it’s not right. I know that God is calling me to not be like this or talk like this. This lead me to make this meme: Which then led me to the Bible verse Romans 14:13, which led me to read the entire chapter of Romans 14. The parts that stood out to me said:
Romans 14:13 Let us no longer judge one another
Romans 14:3 Because God has accepted him
Romans 14:22 Whatever you believe about these things, keep between yourself and God.
In other words, God has accepted everyone, (especially Christians) but even non-Christians are made and created in God’s own image. He loves everyone and for me to judge others, or make fun of others or treat them wrongly, even if in my own head, or out of my mouth with my husband or close friends, it is still wrong and probably hurts God’s feelings. And I need to be keeping these feelings/judgements/jokes to myself. I’m trying to compare it to, us all being God’s children. And if I found out that someone was sitting around judging MY child or making jokes about MY kids, you better believe I would be not only hurt but pretty ticked off. Along with the fact that I am no where near perfect. What gives me the right to talk about people as if I think I am?