ripple effect: vacaville


d82 That’s Saul, Folks!
June 28, 2007, 10:29 am
Filed under: 1 samuel, benjamin, kish, samuel, saul

Read 1 Samuel 9:1-21.

1. So a rich guy had a tall, handsome son named Saul. Geez. I guess he would be the poster king.
2. I love how Saul is looking for donkeys when he first meets Samuel. Weird. Not only that, Saul is planning on paying Samuel to tell him where his donkeys are.
3. Meanwhile, God had been working too–He tipped off Samuel that a young man was coming his way around lunch time and that he’d be the king of Israel. And, just like a juddge, he will save the people from the Philistines.
4. As if Samuel hadn’t had enough confirmation already, God told him at the moment that Saul arrived that he was the guy.
5. Samuel says to not worry about donkeys and eat with him because he is honored. This is kind of weird because, at this point, the people of Benjamin are pretty low in the eyes of the other tribes (remember the incident where they were all about to get wiped out???).

What do you think about Saul so far?



d74 Baby Ruuuuuuuuuth!
June 20, 2007, 10:21 am
Filed under: benjamin, chilion, dan, elimelech, god, judges, levi, mahlon, mara, micah, naomi, orpah, ruth

Read Ruth 1:1-22.

[OK…so we’re skipping the resolution of the book of Judges, but here’s a quick glance…

* We get a random story about a guy named Micah who build a shrine in his house and hired a Levite to be his priest. I guess the story is an example of how random the practice of worship had gotten during the era of the judges.

* OK…then, the tribe of Dan decides to steal the Levite from the house of Micah to be their priest. What’s weird is that they conquered some other people and did a “blended” worship with that Levite, Moses’ grandson, and some idols they had made for themselves.

* Then things get a little weird. A young Levite takes his concubine with him on a trip, but the men in a town (within the territory of the tribe of Benjamin) that they are staying in give him the “Sodom and Gomorrah” treatment. In his place, the Levite’s concubine gets raped and abused all night long. The next morning, she’s dead. So, the Levite cuts the woman into twelve pieces and mails them to all twelve tribes in Israel.

* This ends up being a battle cry that brings all the other tribes of Israel up against Benjamin. And, in a battle that suffers losses on both side, the tribe of Benjamin ends up getting decimated by casualties, having all the women and children and towns destroyed.

* Well, then the other tribes feel sorry for the tribe of Benjamin. And, although none of them would give their own women to them as wives, they didn’t want an entire tribe of Israel to go extinct. They then realized that the tribe of Jabesh-gilead hadn’t had any people fight in the battle, so they slaughtered the men of Jabesh-gilead and took all the virgins to give to the Benjamites as wives. They were also permitted to grab any dancing girls from Shiloh that they needed (kind of weird). Then everyone went home.

* Judges is left with the summary statement: “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”]

And now we are in the book of Ruth.

1. OK, so Elimelech had a wife, Naomi. They had two sons, Mahlon and Chilion. They were all from the tribe of Ephraim, but they lived in the land of Moab. Dad dies, and the two sons take foreign wives, Orpah and Ruth. (Incidentally, there is an African-American tradition of naming one’s child by opening up a Bible and picking the closest name to whatever you randomly point to. There is a famous person named after Orpah, but they switched the lettering around a little: Oprah Winfrey.)
2. After the men die, these women are pretty helpless. There weren’t many viable options for a woman back in the day. So, Naomi decides to go back to the land of Israel because she heard that God was blessing the Israelites. Also, there are parts of the Law of Israel that state that the poor should be shown grace.
3. She releases the girls to go back to their families. She can’t really do much to help them. Orphah goes with her head, but Ruth sticks around (maybe going with her heart?).
4. It’s hard to tell why Ruth sticks around. I think it’s funny that the verses in this first chapter are used a lot in weddings?!?! It’s about a daughter-in-law’s loyalty to her mother-in-law…not a husband to wife. Oh well. Christians are funny. Boy, people wigged out at my wedding, though, when my wife and I used the commands about marriage in the New Testament as our vows. I guess the ideas of submission and sacrifice just aren’t as cute. Woops…tangent.
5. Boy, if Ruth made her decision based on faith, it doesn’t appear that Naomi has. Naomi even changed her name to “Bitter” because she thinks that God has done her in.

So…I don’t know what questions to ask here. This is more setting the stage than anything else…

But, what do you think of…

1. Naomi?
2. Orpah?
3. Ruth?
4. Wedding vows?



d66 I Am Woman, Hear Me Stab

Read Judges 4:4-24.

[Stuff we’re skipping:

* To end the book of Joshua, the Israelites bury the bones of Joseph, and Eleazar (Aaron’s son) dies.

Then we get into the book of Judges…at the end of Joshua, everyone’s ready to stand up for God; unfortunately, that doesn’t last without Joshua’s leadership. The book of Judges is about the leaders who God used to rescue Israel from their enemies (even though their sin is what put them in the position to need to be rescued).

* The tribe of Judah took on the inhabitants of Jerusalem and won, driving out the bad guys (and cutting off all the toes and fingers of the king?).

* Caleb offered his daughter, Acsah, to the man who would defeat another town. A guy named Othniel did, so he got to marry her.

* The tribe of Judah didn’t clear out the hill country because the men there had iron chariots.

* The tribe of Benjamin didn’t clear out the bad guys but instead decided to live with them.

* The descendents of Joseph didn’t kill one guy and his family because he helped them destroy a city.

* The tribe of Manasseh wouldn’t beat their enemies, so they let them stay as slaves.

* The tribe of Ephraim didn’t beat their enemies, so they let them live there.

* The tribe of Zubulun made slaves out of their enemies.

* The tribe of Asher did such a bad job of driving the people out, that the Canaanites dominated the land of Asher…same for the tribe of Naphtali.

* The tribe of Dan couldn’t even “move in”–they had to live in the hill country because of their enemies.

* An angel from the Lord told the Israelites that they had disobeyed God by not clearing out the land of their enemies and their false gods. So…God said they would have to suffer the consequences.

* A new generation came up that didn’t care about following God…they went with the locals and followed Baal and Ashterah. From that point on God fought AGAINST the Israelites in battle.

* Because God still had compassion on His people, when they cried out, He gave them a “judge” to lead them against their enemies. But the cycle of disobedience continued despite the efforts of the judges.

* First Judge: Othniel. He defeated Cushan-rishathaim, an evil king who had tormented Israel for eight years. After his victory, Israel had peace for 40 years. But then he died…

* Second Judge: Ehud. Israel got stupid again and was defeated by Eglon, the fat king of the Moabites, for 18 years. Ehud went to “deliver taxes” to Eglon and gave him a secret message, a dagger to his fat belly!!! Ehud then rallied the troops and brought peace for 80 years.

* Third Judge: Shamgar. He killed 600 Philistines with an ox goad. Wow.]

Why should the guys have all the fun…

1. OK, so the Israelites got dumb again and were under Jabin and General Sisera for 20 years. Why must the Israelites continuously disobey God?
2. So, Deborah is a judge; and she tells Barak to go to war with Sisera. He says only if she goes with him. Why?
3. Guy’s, there is no honor in letting a woman do the work that God calls YOU to do. In the midst of this story about the power of women, there is also a charge for manliness.
4. God controls the battle. He throws them into confusion. Why was God involved in this one and not the others?
5. I love Jael. That’s all I want to say. She gave him milk and stabbed him in the head with a TENG PEG!?! Yesss… And Deborah’s prophesy came true. She killed Sisera, not Barak.

What do you think about:

Deborah?
Barak?
Sisera?
Jael?



d30 Jacob’s Blessings
May 7, 2007, 9:46 pm
Filed under: asher, benjamin, dan, gad, genesis, issachar, jacob, joseph, judah, levi, naphtali, reuben, simeon, zebulun


Read Genesis 49:1-33

[Back to skipping some stuff…

*Joseph brings his family to Egypt.

*Jacob and Joseph are reunited.

*Jacob’s family settles is Goshen.

*Joseph makes Egypt very wealthy during the famine.

*Jacob ends up giving Joseph a double-blessing by blessing each of his two songs, Ephraim and Manasseh.]

OK…so here we go with the blessings of Jacob’s sons:

1. Reuben gets a weak blessing because he decided to have sex with one of his dad’s women. Big no no.
2. Simeon and Levi get a weak blessing because they retaliated against the men of Schechem when their sister was raped.
3. Judah gets the awesome blessing. The “lion” comes up here. Jesus is later referred to as “the lion of Judah.” Lion’s are king of the jungle. Um…and it also says that rulers will come out of Judah’s descendents. Yeah…later on, that’ll be David…and even later on…that’ll be Jesus. Do you think Judah “deserved” this blessing?
4. Zebulun’s people are sea-people. Cool…the pirates of Zebulun!
5. Issachar’s people will be in forced labor? Um…I don’t consider that a blessing!
6. I don’t get Dan’s blessing. He will be a viper and bite the heels of horses? Then it says that he will wait for God’s salvation? What’s up with that?
7. Gad would have liked Oakland because it seems that he will be a “raider” nation.
8. Asher’s people will have good food. Yesssss!
9. Naphatali’s descendents will apparently be good looking?
10. Joseph gets a cool blessing. It’s like he was hit at with arrows, but he always stood firm. It says that he will have blessings that surpass his father’s. I like that Joseph gets a lot of good in the end.
11. Benjamin is a wolf? Hmm…

Yeah…so…what do you think about these blessings? Rank who you think got the best/worst deals.



d29 Family Reunion
May 6, 2007, 9:24 pm
Filed under: benjamin, genesis, god, joseph


Read Genesis 45:1-28

And more of Joseph…

1. Joseph clears all the Egyptians out of the room before he tells his brothers his identity. But he cried really loudly… Wouldn’t you?
2. He asks them about his dad, but they are all dumbstruck and can’t answer. Yeah, I’d be too.
3. Joseph refuses to be a slave to bitterness. He lets his anger towards his brothers go and tells them not to hate themselves for what they had done. Would you have had the strength to do that?
4. Then he tells them that God used all of it for good–to save lives. That’s perspective! He goes so far as to say that God put him in the position that he was in. What a unique perspective. Are you comfortable doing that in your life? I think of the things that blatantly seem like other people’s fault: my dad leaving when I was three and old friends betraying my trust–and I think I could so easily blame my dad or my friend for the fallout of those things. But Joseph would say that God caused my father to leave for good. Wow. Maybe it’s so I can understand the value of being a father. Maybe it’s so I can minister to teenagers (especially young guys) who are in the same boat as me. Wow. I guess Joseph’s perspective opens so much up. What do you guys think about all of that? Do you have things in your life that just seem like they were “hard luck” or “for no reason”? Could there be a reason?
5. So…Joseph tells the guys to go get his dad, so they can live in Goshen (a part of Egypt) for the next 5 hard years. His impulse is to take care of his family.
6. Then he hugs and kisses and talk to ALL of his brothers. Wow. Can you imagine?
7. Pharaoh hears about the family reunion and says he will hook up Joseph’s entire family. Extreme Home Makeover: Egyptian Edition.
8. Joseph gave Benjamin more than his other brothers. At this point, what do you think about that?
9. Check out Jacob’s reaction: his heart went “numb.” What does that mean? Does he faint? Anyway, he obviously is very excited about seeing Joseph.

So…can you comprehend the level of forgiveness that Joseph gives to his brothers?
Why doesn’t he take revenge?



d28 Joseph Tests His Brothers
May 5, 2007, 7:35 pm
Filed under: benjamin, genesis, god, joseph, judah


Read Genesis 44:1-34

More of Joe and his bros…

1. Joseph pulled the ol’ money in the sack trick again, but this time he stuck the fine china in Benjamin’s sack. Why do you think Joseph feels like he has to be deceptive here?
2. So…the steward is sent out to “catch” them on the road with the cup. Weird little detail: Joseph says to tell him that he uses the cup for the practice of “divination” (maybe by seeing how tea leaves land in the cup). That was something they did back in the day to study the will of the gods, like tarot cards. Anyway, it’s kind of weird that this godly guy is behaving in a ungodly way and that he is basically saying that he uses the cup for horoscopes.
3. The brothers spoke too soon (kill the guy you catch with the cup) because Benjamin was set up. It says that the brothers tore their clothes (a sign of great mourning or anguish). Why do you think the brothers were so upset?
4. Joseph messes with their heads a little more, and he basically says that he is going to punish Benjamin. Then Judah steps up to the plate and tells why Benjamin is so special. He also explains why Israel’s heart would be completely broken. Then he asks to be a servant in Benjamin’s place. He steps up to take his punishment. And his motivation seems to be pure– it seems that he is most concerned with breaking his father’s heart.

What do you think about (at this point in the story)…

Joseph?
Benjamin?
Judah?



d27 A Change of Plans
May 4, 2007, 7:35 pm
Filed under: benjamin, genesis, jacob, joseph, judah, simeon


Read Genesis 43:1-34

More from the life of Joseph…

1. So…they run out of food, and Jacob (Israel) tells them to go and get more. Judah explains that they can’t go back without Benjamin. It’s all about the Benjamin.
2. Israel (yeah, they’re calling Jacob Israel now) then says that they basically should have lied and not said that they had brother #12. Think about it, though, what would have happened if they did that?
3. Judah steps up to the plate and pledges for Benjamin’s safety. He might have been in on the plot to get rid of Joseph, but he’s redeeming himself now.
4. Israel tells him to bring a bribe and double the money that they still had.
5. So…Joseph makes a feast for the brothers (because he sees Benjamin). I like what the brothers are scared of…he might “assault us…make us servants…and SEIZE OUR DONKEYS?!?” Random.
6. So..freaked out, they tell the truth about the money. Why is it that we sometimes wait until we are about to fall off a cliff to tell the truth?
7. The steward tells them it must have been a miracle because they got their money the first time. I guess he doesn’t know what Joseph has been up to or is he in on it?
8. So…all the boys are eating (Simeon is free), and they are preparing to butter him up with their gift. Hey, I like pistachios.
9. Bowing to the ground. Sounds familiar.
10. Joseph starts to lose it: he asks about his dad, he sees Benjamin and blesses him, and he goes off and cries. How would you feel if you saw Benjamin grown up, so many years later? Do you think they looked alike?
11. So…Joseph still plays some head games. He won’t eat with them (because Egyptians didn’t eat with Hebrews), and he served Benjamin 5 times as much as the older guys (normally, the oldest would get at least twice as much as the rest…not the youngest!)

So…what do you think about?

Israel?
Judah?
Benjamin?
Joseph?
The rest of the brothers?