Judges 4:1-7 • Zephaniah 1:7, 12-18 • Psalm 90:1-12 • 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 • Matthew 25:14-30
This is a fantastic story, to really enjoy the fullness of it I suggest reading all of Judges 4. You are able to grasp the story without a lot of background. The Israelites are now living in the promised land but they are also facing constant trouble with their warring neighbors. God would often use these aggressive and violent neighbors often to confront and correct the sinfulness of the Israelites – which is where this story begins.
The antagonists of the story are the King of Canaan, Jabin, and his army commander, Sisera. The protagonists are Barak, a military leader of the Israelites, Deborah, a prophetess, and Jael, ‘a wife.’ Barak is often dismissed as a coward but I’m not sure. Deborah is a strong and confident leader, and Jael is ‘a wife.’ In the end, the glory goes to Jail – ‘a wife.’
See what you think about each of these.
Zephaniah 1:7, 12-18
Zephaniah prophesied in the Judah, the southern kingdom about 132 years after Amos prophesied in Israel, the northern kingdom. In between, the kingdom of Israel fell to the Assyrians.
Zephaniah and Amos both had the same calling as Jeremiah, Isaiah, and the other prophets who carried a message of repentance and a return to God – the people of both kingdoms were largely clueless that they had turned from God, they had not recognized their sin and therefore few listened. Now, we see Zephaniah and Amos (who we looked at last week) confronting the same intentional blindness of the people. The “Day of the Lord’ was their warning, but it was a difficult message because the people that envisioned the Day of the Lord as being a day of rejoicing, deliverance, and freedom. The reality was that the Day of the Lord is a day of judgement, and for some is brutal.
In his poem, ‘To His Coy Mistress’, poet Andrew Marvell writes from the perspective of a lascivious man who is attempting to selfishly woo his mistress into his bed using a strategy of urgency – the time is now, we should not waste it.
‘The grave’s a fine and private place, but none, I think, do there embrace.’
This thought of urgency, with a much more honorable goal, is the aim of this Psalm – it is seen, finally, in last verse (v.12). However, to get there is a brutal journey.
This aim, corresponds with the thread of our passage this week, and last week. To be ready, to do what needs to be done today for strength for tomorrow. You will see that Jesus is urging his followers (in the parable for this and last week) to work today to be ready for tomorrow.
We are inching our way ever closer to the cross – Jesus is about 30-40 hours away from his arrest. There continues to be an intentional urgency in what he is saying as well in the manner in which he is saying it. He tells a new parable aimed at his followers who were about to go through the trauma and anguish in the arrest and crucifixion. They are going to need to be aware of their skill, abilities, and talents to not only survive but to lead. They have surely noticed the tone of Jesus has grown in intensity over the days and hours, and now it must have seemed that his piercing eyes were burning through them. They were about to experience an unimaginable crisis moment. They were going to need to be prepared.
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
This is our last week in I Thessalonians – I encourage you to read the entire chapter for it is a great message. This passage is often preached and quoted, there are Christian speakers and writers who have made a lot of money with this passage. They have crafted a message of how and when of The Day Of The Lord, answering questions that scripture clearly tells us we are incapable of knowing answers. As is true of most eschatological (end times) messages, in focusing on what we cannot know we miss the very powerful message that is there. Paul is finishing this letter to this group who have worked in unity to have an amazing impact on their community and the surrounding communities – and they have done this in the midst of trials and persecution. So, he begins with verse one telling them that he does not need to say anything else, they already know how to not be distracted and, instead, to make the most of the time they have. Then, in the final verse of this assigned passage (v.11) Paul’s gives them their calling in a single sentence.