Judges - The Texture of Failure: Week 7

By Jacob Toman

These will be our last two weeks in Judges. We’ve seen the lives of 5 previous major judges; now we see the life of the final and perhaps most famous judge in the entire book: Samson. Many have heard of Samson in wider cultural references, as he, in many ways, fits the stereotypes of the tragic Hero.

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Read Judges 13:1-25...

How long have the Israelites been oppressed at the time of Samson’s birth? (Hint: See 13:1)

What other biblical births does Samson remind you of?

What are the attributes of Samson as a leader? Is he a strong relational political thinker? Is he a warlord? Is he of noble birth?

 

Read Judges 14:1-20...

Who does Samson desire for his wife? (Hint: See 14:2)

Where are Samson’s wife’s loyalties? (Hint: See 14:15)

How does Samson speak to those he’s in relationship with? Would you describe him as a patient listener? How would you describe his manners of speaking?

How does Samson overcome his enemies? (Hint: See 14:19)

 

Read Judges 15:1-20...

On whose authority is Samson acting in this chapter? (Hint: See 15: 3)

Why are the Philistines angry with Samson? Why is Samson angry with the Philistines?

Who in this chapter does Samson feel betrayed by? (Hint: See 15:1-2, 11-12, 18)

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Samson often finds himself embroiled in heated moments of life or death peril. Despite all his individual abilities, he keeps finding himself surrounded by foes. In our own lives, are we seeking to avoid the obstacles, challenges, and trials by which God is growing us? Do we see our various obstacles, challenges, and trials as moments when we can uniquely focus our faith and dependence on the Lord? What are the trials surrounding you in your life? Finances? Health? Relationships? Loneliness? Purpose? Are these things you are trying to avoid or escape from?

Samson’s failures are often a result of his determination to follow his own desires, rather than depend on the Lord. Samson’s successes are the result of the Lord’s determination to love his people.

Consider if, in your trials today, you are following your own determination, or depending on the Lord for his strength.

The Dignity of Gamers

By Ben Kieffer

I’ve been a part of Gospel & Gaming for over two years now and I’ve learned a lot about gaming and gamers.  The goal of Gospel & Gaming, like with any ministry, is to meet people where they are and share the Gospel with them. In this day and age, ‘where they are’ is playing games.

I grew up in a church that supports missionaries and we often heard about their work in other countries. I thought it was amazing how they went to another country to serve people and tell them about Jesus, but our pastor and many of the missionaries who came to our church would always tell us how the work of sharing the Gospel is not just for them, and you don’t have to go overseas to do it. They encouraged the adults to talk to their coworkers about Jesus, and led Bible studies and Sunday school classes on ministry in the workplace. In youth group they told us to be praying for our classmates, that we could tell them about Jesus and invite them to the church.

It made so much sense. Adults spent their days at work, kids spent their days at school; so, tell people about Jesus where you meet them.

The model was great but it left a gaping hole in the area of our lives known as “free time” or “recreation.” This is the time we fill with movies, TV, coffee, naps, meals, and of course…games. We play board games, card games, video games, online games, mobile games. With technology today, we have the opportunity to play games in every little gap of free time we have, and many people do.

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Gamers need the Gospel because gamers are people. People are gamers because, well, it satisfies many of the desires we have. As humans we all have desires to explore, to accomplish things, to create things, to work with others on a team, and to develop relationships. Games provide us with the opportunity to do all of this in a relatively low risk environment. We can triumph in battle without actually getting shot at, we can design a car that in real life would cost an impossible amount of money, and we can connect with people over a shared passion who we might never meet otherwise.

So, when we say we are seeking to talk about Jesus and why he matters with gamers, we’re saying we want to minister to people: people made in the image of God with all the dignity that affords them, and living in a fallen world with the depravity that comes with it.

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There are some people who have made an idol of gaming, like there are those who have made idols of money, alcohol, food, or gambling. That does not mean that when a foodie comes to Jesus, we convince them to stop eating. We seek for them to know Christ, and help them orient the other aspects of their life around him. They will still eat. Gamers will still play games. It is good for us to enjoy food and games in recreation. The question is whether or not it is done to the glory of God. There are people who idolize food, and there are also people who live healthy lives. A healthy life, I think, means that our priorities are in order. God does not have a problem with us finding joy in his creation; he himself called it ‘good’. But our main source of joy is to come from him, and what we do in our lives (including recreation) will then be put in the proper order.

Some people view all gaming as an addiction, a waste of time and potential. While it is true that there are people who dive into a game and rarely come up for air, there are other well adjusted, productive members of society who enjoy their games in their free time. I would say that anyone, regardless of their work, their recreation, or their addictions, is made in the image of God and can benefit from knowing him more.

Judges - The Texture of Failure: Week 6

By Jacob Toman

How do you feel when someone lies to you? What emotions and reactions are stirred up within you the moment you realize you’ve been deceived?

In Judges 10-12 we see the life of Jephthah as one that is a picture of God’s relationship with his Old Testament people. Jephthah's life is full of conflict and he lived in an age of broken promises; similarly, God’s relationship with his people is marked by their broken promises and broken vows of love.

 

Read Judges 10:6-18...

Who are the characters (people) involved in this passage? (Hint, lots of “ites”)

In Judges 10:7 we’re told God became “angry”. What explanation is given for why God is angry? (Hint, see 10:11-14)

How does Israel respond to God’s critique of their life choices? (Hint, see 10:15)

What will the reward be for leading the attack against the Ammonites? (Hint, See 10:18)

 

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Read Judges 11:1-11...

How is Jephthah and his family lineage described? (Hint, see 11:1-2)

How would you describe Jephthah’s relationship with his brothers?

What is the promise of the elders of Gilead to Jephthah? (Hint, see 11:8, 10)

 

Read Judges 11:12-28...

How does Jephthah address the Ammonite King?

What power does Jephthah appeal to in his message to the Ammonite king? (Hint, see 11:23-24)


 

Read Judges 11:29-40...

What are the terms of the vow Jephthah makes to God? (Hint, see 11:30-31)

 

One of the repeated themes throughout the story of Jephthah is that of faithfulness to vows. The people of Israel were unfaithful to their vows to the Lord by serving false gods (10:6). The father of Jephthah was unfaithful in his marriage to his wife (11:1). The brothers of Jephthah were unfaithful to their kin (11:2). The vow of the leaders of Gilead to make Jephthah ruler is questionable as seen by Jephthah’s initial concern of their insincerity (11:7).

The sad irony of the story of Jephthah is that there are many parties who break their vows and are dishonest, yet when it comes to the murder of his own daughter, Jephthah keeps his vow! Oh the tragedy! The one person who should have been unfaithful to his vow!

How does Jephthah's leadership of Israel end? (See 12:7)

Think today on the promises you’ve made. Are there promises you regret making? Are there promises you ought to keep but haven’t followed through? If you’re a believer in Christ Jesus, then trust in this promise from Jesus:

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

- Matthew 28:20b

 

Despite all the unkept promises, deceit, and broken vows in our own lives, our God is a faithful, promise keeping God who is with us and never forsakes us.