Judges 11:1-12:15 ~ John 1:1-28 ~ Psalm 101:1-8 ~ Proverbs 14:13-14
Today is April 30th. Welcome to the Daily Audio Bible. I’m Brian. It’s good to be here with you the beginning of the new week, last day of the month of April. We get two shiny bright new days in a row. We get to start this week. We get to live this week. We get to choose this week. We get to start over tomorrow with a brand new month. So let’s dive in. Brand new week, we’ll read from the Holman Christian Standard Bible this week and we will pick up with the story of the judges in the Old Testament and when we get to the New Testament we’ll begin a brand new book. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Judges chapter 11, verse 1 through 12:15 today.
Introduction of a New Book (New Testament):
So, new week, new book in the New Testament. We have arrived at the book of John, which is the final of the gospels. Of course, the gospels are Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. As we were going through Matthew, Mark and Luke, we talked earlier about the fact that these are known as the synoptic gospels largely because there is a definite harmony to them. In many ways they cover very similar ground. They seem to be sharing the same traditions and stories. John, on the other hand, is quite a bit different. It is about 90% different, in fact. There is only about 10% of John that refers back to any of the material in the synoptic gospels.
John was one of Jesus’ disciples. There really isn’t any contention over who wrote the book of John. There are many compelling facts even in other church histories that John was the author of the gospel of John and that he wrote these things down after he moved from Jerusalem to Ephesus during his later years.
After Jesus died and was raised from the dead and ascended back into heaven, John went on to be a church leader in Jerusalem. He was known as a pillar of the church in Jerusalem, a core leader, but he did leave Jerusalem around AD 66. Then in AD 70, so just four years later, the Romans had just had enough of the Jews and the rebellion and revolt that had been going on, and they came and just leveled Jerusalem. It is believed that John left a few years before that happened and moved to Ephesus where he was a church leader there. There is quite a bit of historical evidence to prove this. Many young disciples of the older John went on to live lives after he died and wrote stories of his life and of the early church that still survive today.
John wrote his gospel in Ephesus later in his life and he refers to some of the other stories in the synoptic gospels, so it seems that he had knowledge of them and that this was the last of the gospels written. John knew the traditions of the faith, obviously. He was actually a disciple of Jesus. And he knew the stories because he was actually there. But he also knew what had already been written down and rather than retelling the same stories, he essentially wrote the rest of the story. This is important because whereas the other gospels were written to be a compelling story of Jesus and a reason to believe, John’s gospel was written to those who already believed. He wrote it to strengthen and deepen the faith of those who had already come to know Jesus and the way of his teachings.
You’ll notice as we go through that John has a specific and unique writing style. It’s not like this linear page-turner. Then this happened…then this happened…then this happened. It is not written A to Z. John may make a point that he comes back to later on. In fact, he does this a lot. If you’ll embrace this, you’ll find that the language is conversational and beautiful rather than just the facts, just an account of events. You’ll find that the spirit of the book of John is written with great passion and care and it’s beautiful to experience, especially following Matthew, Mark and Luke. John is intimately written and reading it gives us the sense of sitting at the feet of this old man who has been a saint in the early church as he recalls the stories that he actually participated in, stories that shaped his life for sure and had grown sweet with age, told by a great man who had experienced great things.
With that, we begin the final of the gospels, John chapter 1, verses 1 through 28 today.
We’ve launched our way into the gospel of John which is going to be epic and amazing and really, this is the last time we get to walk alongside Jesus because as we move away from John, we’ll be moving into the what comes next. Not that the presence of Jesus won’t be in the Bible and not that the presence of Jesus isn’t in our lives, I’m just saying it will be the last time that through our reading we’ll be following along in the footsteps of Jesus and so we want to pay attention, so we want to soak it up and we want to drink it in. It is so beautiful.
The elephant in the room in today’s reading is this judge named Jephthah and his vow. We got a little bit of his story, how he was cast away, he was the son of a prostitute. He wasn’t welcomed into his family. He was shunned from his family and he went away and kind of got a band around him, a band of guys, sort of a little militia and when trouble comes, the people come to get Jephthah and want him to be the leader. All that happened and as he’s going off into this battle, he just makes this vow, “Whatever comes out of my door when I get back victorious, if I’m victorious, I will sacrifice that to God.” Of course, when he comes back from the battle, his only child, his daughter walks out the door.
It’s a gut punch for him. He is obviously dismayed and then the girl kind of understands what is going on and asks for these two months. Then she comes back and it seems to happen. There is scholarship and some believe that she was given as a living sacrifice to God so she could never marry and never have children, was devoted to the service of the Lord, kind of like the function of a nun. That is much more palatable. But just a direct reading of the scriptures seems to indicate that she came back and she became a sacrifice.
So we get all this disruption inside of us, this kind of angstiness that comes up in certain stories of the Bible like this one and we’re like what is going on here? This person decided to sacrifice a human being to God, what is that about? What is going on here? This is a new level.
It’s in those times, especially as I’ve read through these stories so many times, they always bothered me until I decided one year that I was going to go into every single one of these places because I needed to understand kind of how these stories fit together with this broader picture of who God is. So in the case of this story, we find that the idea of sacrificing a human being to an idol or to a god, to the local gods or the regional gods or whatever, that is not a new concept. But God himself talks about this promised land and when he does talk about this promised land, before the children of Israel are there, he talks about what the people there are doing. They are sacrificing their children to the gods. And God says, “Something that had never even occurred to me, something that I didn’t even ever ask for, something that is detestable to me.” That’s God’s opinion of that sort of ritual and behavior. He said it himself. So what is absent from these stories that bothers us is God. Right?
So we read the story of Jephthah and God isn’t in that story or deigning that vow, asking for that kind of sacrifice, inviting that sort of behavior. So whether the daughter of Jephthah was given over to perpetual virginity and just the service of God as a living sacrifice or whether she was actually laid on an altar and her life was taken in sacrifice, neither one of those things God asked for. Which is one of the beautiful things about the Bible. It is not propaganda. It is not this glossed over version of an unachievable life made up of legend and myths. It leaves all of the grit and dirt and choices in. It leaves the story in there because on a larger scale the Bible is showing us our hearts, the hearts of mankind, and the kinds of decisions that we make from our hearts and where those paths lead, all the while revealing an ever-present Father who gets cut out of the story at times by the people’s choices, but never abandons. Then the Bible opens up because it is our story too.
Have you ever been facing something where you throw up that prayer “God, if you’ll do this, if you’ll come through for me here, I swear I’ll…” And then you name it, the bargaining chip, the offer of your good behavior in exchange for his blessing on something you want really bad, want to achieve really bad, something that you want to get away from that you’ve done that you think is really bad and so then the negotiation begins. That is pretty much what we’re seeing happen in the judge Jephthah’s life here. We’ve done the same things. Maybe not to that extreme, but the same kinds of things and it comes kind of from the same sort of place. “If I can appease this angry or irritated God into doing something nice for me, then he’s going to want something from me and what I’m going to give him is whatever I promised.” And you realize that doesn’t really look like a relationship. That is a transaction for sure, but it doesn’t really look like two people who are in love with each other. Then we realize, these things that bother me in the Bible, these stories that are sort of weird, God’s not really in tha t story. It is a picture of a person making these choices and we get to find out where they lead. In the case of Jephthah, they led to great, great loss.
Father, we invite you into that, into that story, into what we’re thinking about, the ways in which we’ve tried to throw up these negotiating chips. You have something I want, I have something you may want, let me see here what can I throw out here? What can I do if you’ll do something nice for me? You died for us, so we’re kind of above that game. You came here and died here for us, so it can’t be that you just want us to throw our chips on the table and kind of offer a good solid week of not doing this or not saying that or not participating in that. You died for us. We’ve got to go beyond that. You died for us and so we live for you. You gave your all and that is what you expect. It’s not a bargaining chip. That is just how the relationship is shaped. That is how two people who have fallen in love live. So we’re sorry for the ways that we estrange ourselves from you like Jephthah, like that. We’re sorry for the ways that we estrange ourselves from you by reading stories like Jephthah and just thinking bad things as if somehow you are not good. Our opinion of you doesn’t change who you are. Our denial of you doesn’t change who you are. You are the Almighty God and you are good. Our judgement of that doesn’t change a thing. How arrogant! So forgive us, Lord, for the ways we have been arrogant, for the ways that we’ve tried to play games. We simply want to be in love with you and you have done everything you can possibly do to convince us that you are in love with us. So it boils down to a leap of faith into the loving arms of a Father. So we come and we jump into your lap and we love you. As we move through the book of John, the gospel of John, this last retelling of your human life, Jesus, may it be like we’re sitting on your lap and receiving kindness and love from your heart as you nurture us through your word. Come, Holy Spirit, we pray. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Www.DailyAudioBible.com is the website. It’s home base. It’s where you find out what is going on around here, so be sure to check it out. Check out the Daily Audio Bible Shop and the resources that are available there. Check out the Prayer Wall and pray along with those in need. Check out the different links to social media, connect with each other and us there. Yeah, just check it out. Browse around.
If you want to partner with the Daily Audio Bible, you can do that at www.DailyAudioBible.com. There is a link, It’s on the home page. Thank you for your partnership. It is how we are all able to show up every day, how we each, whether we’re listening or whether I’m reading, it is how it is that this connection is made. So thank you for your partnership. If you’re using the Daily Audio Bible App, you can press the More button in the lower right-hand corner or, if it is your preference, the mailing address is P.O. Box 1996, Spring Hill, TN 37174.
And, as always, we’re a family around here, if you have a prayer request or comment, if you’re carrying something that is too heavy for you right now, there are thousands and thousands and tens of thousands of us here and we have over the years become quite a beautiful picture of a loving family of God and we like to pray for each other. So if that’s you, you can reach out – (877) 942-4253 is the number to call.
And that’s it for today. That’s it for this month. Well done! We have made it through four months of the year already. And yep, for sure by now, if you’ve been in the rhythm every day this year, then yeah, the fruit becomes self-evident. You can see that maybe the circumstances of life haven’t changed, but something inside is changing. That is the beauty. So well done. We’ve completed our fourth month and we’ll look forward tomorrow to launching ourselves into the month of May. But that’s it for today. That’s it for this month. I’m Brian. I love you and I’ll be waiting for you here tomorrow.
Community Prayer Requests and Praise Reports
Hi family. This is Salvation is Mine. What I’m about to leave is in direct line to what Asia is going through right now with someone on the DAB. As I was driving yesterday, the Lord gave me an old TV show. I don’t know if anyone remembers the Twilight Zone, but there was an episode on the Twilight Zone where this man was about to be hanged. It was like 4 o’clock in the afternoon and it was pitch black. At the end of that episode it was determined that there was so much hate in the world that city by city by city was going black because of all the hate in the world. We need to fight hate. We need to fight people hurting each other. We as Christians need to stand up and say that we are not going to stand for it. Oh family, please, please don’t let this world go black. Please don’t let it be like that Twilight Zone episode that had the lesson that there is just too much hate in this world. Let there be love. Let there be light. Let your light shine. Show Asia that our lights shine for her, that we lift her up and that the person, whoever this was that misinterpreted what she said, that their heart has turned black and that we are praying for their heart or whatever is going on with them, that it will come back around to the light of what Jesus Christ is which is love and mercy. I will never, ever let anyone on the DAB or anyone else stop me from calling in to be a light for God and neither should you. Love one another. Keep one another. Hold one another. God bless you all. This is Salvation is Mine in San Leandro, CA. Thank you.
Hello Daily Audio Bible. My name is Pamela. I am calling from the San Francisco Bay Area. This is the very first time I’m calling and it is a very difficult call for me to do. I love the Lord so much and I have been walking with him. I’ve been a Christian for several years and I’m trying to hold myself from crying. This is hard because I do key things to myself and I thank you so much, Brian, for the introduction what to do and what to say when you’re leaving a message because this is so hard. But anyway, the reason why I’m calling is I am asking for prayer. I don’t even know how to express myself. I’m not comfortable speaking out what my needs are. I am one of those people who is more comfortable helping or stepping in, but I’m dealing with a lot in terms of just struggles of being a single African-American woman, college-educated professional in Silicon Valley. I love the Lord. I’m a Christian and I’m just so grateful and I’m thankful, but I am just going through a trial. It is a spiritual thing. I know God is working on me. I live here in Silicon Valley and I work really hard and have so many goals and I feel like I’m nowhere near where I’m supposed to be in my spirit. It just hasn’t happened. I’m single and I was trying to figure this thing out on my own and I feel like it’s a struggle. I was married back in 2000 and the marriage was short, but I’ve always longed for after that, not right after that, just recently and I don’t know. I feel like sometimes I’m thinking is this what God is __ me? Like you were married, you had someone who was successful, great and I just getting into what I wanted to do in terms of I finished…
Hi Daily Audio Bible friends. This is Lost in the Desert. I’ve called once or twice before, but I’m calling again. I’ve listened to so many of you call and I just lift you guys up in prayer every day. Just wondering if you guys could please pray for my husband? He desperately needs a Christian man to lead him. He needs a friend. If it is on your heart, please, please pray for him. Please pray for God to lead that man to him, somebody special. And also please pray for my oldest son. He’s just really struggling and can use some prayer. Thank you friends. Bye.
Hello Daily Audio Bible family. My name is Ginger from Mississippi. I have been listening for about eight years. I’m a first-time caller. I just want to say, first of all, I love the Daily Audio Bible family. Kind of a tongue twist, Daily Audio Bible __. Anyway, I’m calling really because my brother that lives in Michigan, his wife has been admitted into the hospital and on this morning, April 28th, they said that they suspect it could be cancerous ___, so I’m calling the Daily Audio Bible family just asking for your prayers. Isaiah 54:17 says no weapon formed against us shall prosper. I’m trusting that. I’m trusting that whatever she is going through, it shall not prosper. So I’m asking you to just pray with me for her healing, for her deliverance, and that this scourge of cancer ___ is not going to be a part of her life in any kind of way. And also I’m asking that… She is such a believer in Christ Jesus and she loves the Lord. Because of her stay in the hospital, so many people will become saved, delivered and set free, know Jesus did heal. Just going through whatever they are going through, that she can assist them, she can work while she’s receiving her healing. So I’m asking you just to pray with me. And I just want to say I love you guys so much. I love you so, so very much. You are just awesome. You truly are the prayers of the righteous that availeth much. God bless you. Thank you so much.
Hi fellow Dabbers. This is Joe the Protector from Georgia here. April 28th, about 8 o’clock in the morning. I haven’t called in a while, but I’ve heard some prayer requests over the last couple days and just wanted to call in with my prayers over them and thoughts. First one was Jake in Maryland I believe it was, having some issues in your marriage. Brother, I understand what you’re going through. I’ve been through a situation just like that. We just give it to God and just ask that you continue to love her through this situation no matter what the outcome. Annette A., boy, we heard the grief in your voice, just the pain, we just lift all that up to the Holy Spirit right now and just ask you to be overcome by that. Trying to think if there was another one. I’m sure I heard others, but those were the main two. Stanley in Maryland I believe it was called today on the 28th and man, what encouragement. Great encouragement for Jeff. Let’s just keep on doing that for each other, encouragement, lifting each other up. That is what the body of Christ needs. Alright, I think I’m about out of time, Dabbers. Love you all. Bye.