Saturday, December 28, 2013

Moms in the Bible - Zeruiah

Chapter 22 – Zeruiah

Zeruiah was an exceptionally strong and important woman in the Bible. Her name is mentioned 25 times and yet we know nothing about her. The conclusion that she was so influential comes from the fact that where other men are identified by their fathers, her sons are always listed as “the son of Zeruiah” and that is why she is mentioned so often.

Zeruiah was the older sister of King David and the mother of Abishai, Joab and Asahel. To draw conclusions about her we can only examine the lives of her sons. All three sons of Zeruiah held leadership positions in David’s army. Sometimes they did things that were of questionable ethics.

Abishai daringly and with great bravery went into the enemy’s camp with David. He was ready and willing to proceed with military cunning and “extreme prejudice” against King Saul, but David overruled him. 

Asahel was “fleet-footed” and chased after Abner, pursuing him even when he should have turned aside to avoid a political catastrophe. Had he not refused to give up the pursuit he would have saved his own life, since Abner grew weary of him and thrust the butt of his spear into Asahel’s stomach and out his back.

David had sent Abner away in peace, but Joab went after Abner and took him aside as though to speak with him privately. Then, to avenge his brother Asahel’s death, he stabbed Abner in the stomach and killed him. Joab was also a conniver, aiding David in his adulterous affair with Bathsheba, having Bathsheba’s husband killed and then holding his knowledge of David’s actions over David in something of a crafty blackmail. Joab also took clever measures to manipulate David into bringing back Absalom from his banishment.

Studying these men I've found much to dislike in their worldly and evil ways. Since all three sons exhibited “wickedness” I’m going to give the thumbs down to Zeruiah’s parenting skills.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Advent Candles - the Christ Candle

Christ candle:

We light four candles to prepare for the coming of Christ: the candles of hope, love, joy, and peace. Today we light the Christ candle. In Christ alone is our hope; he is love; he brings us joy; and through him we know peace.

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world: he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” The flame of the Christ candle represents his eternal presence.

For centuries God’s people longed for the promised redeemer. God kept his promise. The waiting and longing for a savior was fulfilled in the birth of the baby Jesus.  

O God, we praise you for the joy of his birth. Our hope of a savior is realized through him. Help us walk in love and let your peace rule in our hearts. Through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Moms in the Bible - Tamar

Chapter 21 – Tamar

There’s more than one woman named Tamar in the Bible. I want to look at the one whose story is told in Genesis, chapter 38. Her story is scandalous by our standards but strangely lawful in Old Testament times.

She was married off to the Er, the oldest son of Judah (one of the 12 sons of Jacob), but Er was wicked in God’s sight and God slew him. According to the law, if a man died leaving a widow without a son to carry on the line then his brother was to marry her and produce an heir. This was not incest, and the relationship was only to produce an heir; thereafter the brother would no longer have sex with her or else that would indeed be considered incestuous. Therefore Tamar was given to Judah’s second son, Oman. Apparently Oman enjoyed Tamar so much that he didn't want her to get pregnant and thus lose bedroom privileges. His responsibility was to produce a child, but he practiced a certain form of birth control (see Genesis 38:9) which in this case angered the Lord. God slew him for his wickedness.

Judah had one more son. He sent Tamar back to her father’s house to stay until son number three, Shelah, was old enough.

She waited and waited. When Judah did not honor his promise to marry her to Shelah, she took matters into her own hands. According to the law she needed to have a child through Judah’s line. If there were no more sons, then the father-in-law himself should perform the “duty”. She knew this. She covered her face, sat at the side of the road (where widows and virgins wouldn't be hanging out) and waited for Judah to pass by. With her face veiled she was unrecognizable to her father-in-law. He propositioned her and she took advantage. He slept with her, but, oops, he left his wallet at home. She took his ring, bracelets, and staff as pledge against payment.

There’s more to the story (and it’s fascinating), but the end result of Tamar’s deception was that she conceived, as she was meant to, to produce a son for Judah in the line that flowed from Abraham to David to Jesus Christ.

Next Saturday – Zeruiah

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Advent Candles - the Candle of Peace

Every year we light candles as we prepare for the coming of Christ. More and more candles mean more and more light, as we watch and wait for Jesus, the Light of the World.

The first candle represents hope; the second candle signifies love; the third candle stands for joy. We light the fourth candle, the candle of peace, and rejoice in the coming of our Savior.

Romans 5: 1 says “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

God of Hope and Love and Joy, come into our restless lives, renew us and give us peace. Let us follow after the things which make for peace, the things with which we may edify one another.

O God, help us abound in hope, walk in love, experience the fullness of joy, and let your peace rule in our hearts.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Moms in the Bible - Sarah

Chapter 20 – Sarah

I've known quite a few women in their nineties (relatives and ladies at church). So when I think of Sarah’s story – learning that she’s pregnant at such an impossibly advanced age – I totally get her irreverent laughter. Nevertheless, she did become pregnant and she gave birth to a healthy boy that Abraham named Isaac, meaning “he laughs”.

As a mother Sarah was happy right away and said,

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Advent Candles - the Candle of Joy

Every year we light candles as we prepare for the coming of Christ. More and more candles mean more and more light, as we watch and wait for Jesus, the Light of the World.

The first candle represents hope; the second candle signifies love. We light the third candle, the candle of joy.

The birth of Christ gave the greatest of joy to a world lost in sin. When the Magi saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

Psalm 35: 9 says “And my soul shall be joyful in the Lord; it shall rejoice in his salvation.”

O God, help us abound in hope; let us walk in love; and in Your presence, O Lord, may we experience the fullness of joy.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Moms in the Bible - Ruth

Chapter 19 – Ruth

We know more about Ruth as a daughter-in-law than as a mother. After her husband died she chose to go back with her mother-in-law, who was also widowed, to a strange land with strange customs and a different religion. Ruth must have seen something in her mother-in-law, Naomi, that she wanted for herself. Ruth is remembered for her pledge of total devotion and loyalty to Naomi. She clung to Naomi even at the cost of renouncing her people and her gods in favor of Naomi’s people, the Israelites, and Naomi’s God, Yahweh: "Your people will be my people and your God my God". And Ruth extended her commitment still further, beyond death itself: "Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried”. You often hear Ruth’s words of devotion repeated in wedding ceremonies.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Advent Candles - Candle of Love

Every year we light candles as we prepare for the coming of Christ. 

The first candle represents hope; we light the second candle, the candle of love, and rejoice in the coming of our Savior.

God’s love reaches to the heavens. How priceless is his unfailing love. John 3: 16 says “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Our God is the God of Hope and Love. Let us love one another as He has taught us.

O God, help us abound in hope and let us walk in love.