ripple effect: vacaville

d212 72 Is a Magic Number
December 3, 2007, 4:20 pm
Filed under: abraham, david, esther, god, jesus, job, luke, moses, satan

Read Luke 10:1-24.

1. Thirty-six pairs went out as workers. Do you think there was any significance in the number? I mean, 12 was always a good number. And three was too. So…twelve times three with two together. Hmm…seventy-two is a magic number.
2. Interestingly, Jesus is telling these 72 workers to pray for more “workers.” What is the “harvest”?
3. Who would send a lamb into a den of wolves? Hmm…following Christ is definitely risky.
4. Why not bring any supplies? Why not say “whassup” to people you saw on the road? Is Jesus trying to emphasize something here? Urgency? Focus?
5. So…stay where you are welcome. Don’t stay where you are not. Pretty clear. The idea, also, is that they would take whatever was provided for them. This is where that “the worker deserves his wages” comes from. What is the “work” that’s being done?
6. Why do you think it was important to stay in the same house?
7. “Eat whatever is set before you.” No problem.
8. They were to heal the sick and preach about the coming kingdom of God. What does the “kingdom of God is near you” mean?
9. Whew…wouldn’t want to be the town that wasn’t welcoming. Let’s do remember that Sodom that was destroyed, and that would be more enjoyable?
10. Uh oh…and then we get this list of places that rejected Jesus: Korazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum. Jesus says that the pagan towns of Tyre and Sidon would have repented at the coming of Jesus, but they didn’t flinch. Uh oh…
11. It’s crazy to think that a follower of Jesus is like Jesus Himself in the regard that, if a person rejects him or her, they are also rejecting Jesus. And, if anyone rejects the actual call of Jesus directly to them…even worse, that’s like rejecting God Himself. I guess that’s why those towns had it so bad. They heard Jesus firsthand and didn’t respond.
12. I’d be stoked if I was casting out demons.
13. Jesus saw Satan falling from heaven because this new force was on earth, a force of people empowered by God to change the world. Awesome.
14. These guys were apparently impervious to poison (unless I’m being to literal here). God made it so that they could go around without fear of being “bitten.” I guess this is why there are those crazy snake-handling churches. I guess they think that they also have this same authority. That brings up an interesting question, though. Is that authority that God gave those 72 available to us today?
15. Jesus also reminds them to get over themselves. They should be thankful that they are going to be able to go to heaven. Christians do have a hard time getting over themselves sometimes (including me).
16. Jesus is full of joy because these guys are getting it done in His name. He is happy that these “little children” (maybe uneducated Jews) were changing the world.
17. It’s amazing to know that it is even a miracle to be able to recognize WHO Jesus is. And I still think that we don’t know God like Jesus does.
18. No doubt they were blessed. I feel blessed to read this. And I know people like Abraham, Moses, Job, Esther, and David would have died to see this happening!


128 About as Depressing as a Country-Western Song
August 27, 2007, 12:14 pm
Filed under: esther, god, haman, job, mordecai, satan, xerxes

Read Job 1:1-22.

[Stuff we’re skipping:

* The book of Esther wraps up with Mordecai taking over Haman’s house after Esther explains to Xerxes that he is her cousin. Esther is allowed to reverse the edict to kill the Jews. She actually writes it and the king signs off on it! After the edict had been reversed, people were converting to Judaism.

* The killing actually happened in reverse. On the day that the Jews were supposed to be killed, all those who wanted to have the Jews killed were killed (with support from the government). Even all of Haman’s sons were killed, along with 750,000 people who were against the Jews in the neighboring provinces. The holiday of Purim was inaugurated that day–a day to celebrate when disaster turned to rejoicing. In the end, both Mordecai and Esther were in powerful positions of influence to maintain the welfare of the Jews in Persia.]

And now…Job. This story is written by an unknown author and takes place somewhere around 2000 BC to 500 BC. Yeah, that’s a wide frame of time, but understand that this is a really old story, and it could occur anywhere from the time of Abraham to the time of the judges to the time of the kings to the time of the exile. Anyway, the story is definitely applicable to all who read…

1. So…first thing we learn about Job is that he had good character. Second thing…he had a lot of stuff.
2. It is obvious that Job loves God and loves his family. He blesses all his kids and offers sacrifices to God on their behalf. Good dad.
3. All of a sudden, the story gets zoomed way out to the cosmic level. We get to see an interaction between God and Satan! Whoah. This is rare.
4. From the interchange between God and Satan, we can glean some understanding of the role of Satan in the world. It appears that God has granted Satan permission to go “to and fro” on the earth. Also, it seems obvious that Satan is ultimately subject to God’s authority. What’s interesting, though, is that God “brags on” Job here. He seems like a proud Father, wanting to show off how cool his son is to Satan.
5. Satan doesn’t mess around. And it’s obvious that he doesn’t appreciate God’s way of doing things. He’s angry because Job is blessed. And he thinks that if that is taken away, Job will stop being so cool. First question: what do you think this “hedge” of protection God gives Job is? Do you think it’s some cosmic thing, or do you think it’s just the fact that Job doesn’t really want for anything?
6. So Satan thinks that Job is going to curse God if things stop going his way. He wouldn’t be the first or the last, would he?
7. God gives him permission to take everything away–just don’t touch him. I’m thinking this was an errand that Satan was looking forward to running.
8. Country song:

“The Sabeans sold mah oxens and donkeys;
Mah servants was hacked to death.
Far fell from heav’n and burned up mah sheep and shepherds;
Chaldeans stole mah camels and killed mah camel-riders;
But worst of all…
All mah chillins were havin’ a party
When a tornader swooped down and killed all of ’em.”

9. I think Hank Williams sang that song. Anyway…look at Job’s response! What would you do? Really, what would you do? Because, Job physically shows signs of mourning and WORSHIPS God!?!? What about you…really?
10. Then Job gets philosophical: born naked…die naked. Everything that is gained in this world is added by God, so when He takes it away, is it really like He’s stealing?
11. “Blessed Be the Name of the Lord.” A great song written by Matt Redman and his wife after the events of 9/11. And here it is…the source. Job’s heart chose to worship God anyway…when it didn’t make sense! Wow.
12. And look at the comment. Job didn’t sin. Man.

d127 Confronting Xerxes
August 26, 2007, 11:45 am
Filed under: esther, god, haman, mordecai, xerxes

Read Esther 6:1 – 7:10.

1. Did you know that Esther is the only book in the Bible where God’s name is never mentioned? He works behind the scenes throughout this story to save His people. Although God is subtle throughout this story, I think that this part begins with God’s not-so-subtle workings. It just so happens that Xerxes can’t sleep. It just so happens that he wants to read the chronicles of Persia. It just so happens that he reads the story of Mordecai saving him? Hmm…
2. It just so happens that Haman arrives at exactly the time that Xerxes has decided that something needs to be done for Mordecai? Hmm…
3. Interesting that Haman comes during the middle of the night to try to have Mordecai’s death sentence issued. Boy, he’s really chomping at the bit.
4. I love dramatic irony. We all know that Xerxes is asking about how to honor Mordecai, but cocky Haman thinks that he’s talking about HIM!?! I love it. So, Haman asks for the hookup. He’s goes for the gusto.
5. And then Xerxes says, “Yes, excellent…do all that for…(me, me, me)…MORDECAI?” You can imagine Haman’s response, “Yes…wait…what? Not me…who? No…argh!” I love it.
6. Imagine the crow that was being eaten by Haman that he actually had to lead the horse around and shout about how awesome Mordecai was. Beautiful. (Then again, the death issue has still been declared, so…I’m thinking that Haman is still licking his chops a little bit.)
7. Wives are great. Haman goes home to tell his wife all that has happened and she says, “You’re dead meat.” Love that loving encouragement.
8. Well, at least Haman gets to go to that exclusive dinner. He he he…
9. That feast was two days long! Can you imagine all the thoughts that were going through Esther and Haman’s minds?
10. Esther tells him that someone is plotting to destroy her and her people. Of course, the king is incredulous, and asks who… And she points the finger at Haman. In the words of Scooby Doo…”Ruh roh.”
11. Xerxes was angry, but he went away to think about what he should do. In the meantime, Haman starts tugging on Esther, trying to spare his life. And, of course, while Haman was “all over” the queen, Xerxes returns. Talk about confirmation! He thinks that he’s trying to kill her then and there!
12. They cover Haman’s head and seize him. I love that one of the eunuchs happens to bring up, “Oh, by the way, um, Haman’s got a new, never-been-used gallows beside his house. Oh, and he was going to use it to kill your new favorite guy, Mordecai!” He he he…no question who’s side this guy was on. You know, that’s two eunuchs who seemed to stand up for Esther. That’s got to say something about her as a person, that so many people stood up for her. Anyway…
13. They hang Haman on his own gallows. That’s what you call situational irony, kids.

d126 Give Him Enough Rope…
August 25, 2007, 11:22 am
Filed under: esther, god, haman, mordecai, xerxes

Read Esther 5:1-14.

1. After three days of praying and fasting, she probably feels strong spiritually but weak physically…I bet she almost feinted walking in to the court with Xerxes on his throne.
2. Whew…the scepter. Yet another reason to almost faint?
3. The whole, I’ll give you half my kingdom thing was probably a figure of speech. Maybe this is where divorce attornies got the idea from? Either way, Xerxes is in a giving mood. Oh…isn’t he a nice “god-king”?
4. I love the subtlety of Esther’s approach. She doesn’t come straight out with the news and her plans. She’s stealth about it. First step, throw a party for Xerxes and Haman. What does Xerxes like to do? Come on… Party!
5. See…to me, this is kind of a risky thing. Allowing Xerxes to get a little tipsy off wine is rarely a good idea. Oh…and I bet Haman thought he was the junk to be invited to this “private” and “exclusive” party.
6. Xerxes is still in a giving mood. What does she want? Again, Esther says she would like to throw both of them another feast. Man… She’s really buttering them up.
7. I bet Haman did feel like the man. And nothing wrecks that euphoric feeling of feeling like you’re on top of the world more than realizing that you’re NOT on the top of the world. Seeing Mordecai refuse to bow or tremble probably infuriated him.
8. Looks like Haman’s trying to remind himself that he IS on top of the world. Throwing a party to remind everyone how awesome he is? Hmm… Oh, and he’s all over being the only one invited to eat with the king and queen.
9. He’s so mad that he can’t recognize all that he has. One little thing is about to cause a world of hurt for him. Isn’t it interesting that everyone else comes up with the plan to construct the HUGE gallows to hang Mordecai from?

How are we feeling about Esther’s approach here?
How about Haman’s issues?

d125 Esther’s Wake-Up Call
August 24, 2007, 3:48 pm
Filed under: esther, god, haman, hathach, mordecai, xerxes

Read Esther 4:1-17.

I just preached on this passage a couple of weeks ago. It was basically about how you can’t lead without being willing to lay down your life for those who you lead…

1. Mordecai didn’t care who knew. He was mourning in public. Isn’t it sad how often we hide what’s going on inside us? I love how raw Mordecai is here. And he did go up to the gate of the king. That’s still pretty bold.
2. I can’t even imagine how the Jewish people would have felt to have a death edict on them. I mean, think about it, all that we just read about the Temple being rebuilt, the wall being rebuilt, and the people turning their hearts to God–none of that would have happened if the Jews were destroyed at this time. Remember, this all took place between 2 Kings and Ezra.
3. Interesting that Esther wanted to give Mordecai clothes to cover his sackcloth. Hmm… At this point, is Esther’s priority seeing things from God’s perspective or not getting “caught” by Xerxes or Haman?
4. So…Esther sends Hathach to figure out why Mordecai is doing what he is doing.
5. Mordecai wanted Esther to use her influence to talk to Xerxes. Only problem was that this was not a safe thing to do. Xerxes considered himself a god…you can’t just apprach him whenever you feel like it. Besides, they hadn’t “been” with each other in a month. The bottom line is that their marriage wasn’t exactly strong…
6. Now, we always look at Esther as this super-awesome servant of God; but let’s not ignore her fear…and let’s not ignore the fact that Mordecai had to actually “threaten” her with the truth. The truth was that she could either help or not help…but if she didn’t help, she’d die somehow and God would bring a deliverer from some other place. Mordecai had faith in God to not let his people die, but he didn’t want Esther to rest on that vague hope and do nothing because that would have been sin.
7. “For such a time as this.” Great words of the Bible. You know, God orchestrates all sorts of events to occur and collide at different moments. That’s part of Him being sovereign. I am where I am “for such a time as this.” You are where you are “for such a time as this.” Do you believe that?
8. Esther then got serious. It was time for everyone to hit their knees. And, if she died, she died. Notice that she’s not certain that she’s going to get out of this…and she goes anyway…that’s faith.

So…what do you think about Mordecai’s role in this?
What do you think about Esther’s hesitency?
What do you think about her final decision?

d124 An Ego-Driven Holocaust
August 23, 2007, 9:45 am
Filed under: agag, esther, god, haman, mordecai, xerxes

Read Esther 3:1-15.

1. Some Jewish traditions say that the fact that Haman is an Agagite is significant. Remember, Agag was the king of the Amalekites, a culture that HATED the Jews and made life miserable when they were trying to settle in the Promised Land. So, if Haman was a Agagite, there would be reason for him to hate the Jewish people.
2. I have a hard time grasping having to bow down to nobles. Shoot, we’re the culture that says hateful things about our OWN president. God have mercy on us.
3. Of course, we know why Mordecai wouldn’t bow down–Haman wasn’t God!
4. Notice that the servants tattle-tail to Haman about this; and, of course, you know that this is going to be a problem because they are making it about following Xerxes (a king who considered himself to be a god).
5. Talk about racism, Haman wants to kill not only Mordecai but all his people as well. It makes it seem like he was just looking for a reason. Do you think he was bred to hate the Jews?
6. I’m not sure what the casting lots was about…
7. If you want to get at the Jews, the “they won’t worship, you, oh king” approach is usually a good one. Oh, and while Haman’s at it, he gives him tons and tons of money. Like more money that the king would get from exacting taxes on all the 127 provinces in a year.
8. Sneaky Haman also makes it look like this is all about helping Xerxes, when we know good and well what his real motives are. Then again, aren’t motives the easiest thing to fake?
9. Interestingly, Xerxes doesn’t take the money; but he still allows Haman do carry out the extermination of the Jews. Geez…this sounds like Nazi Germany.
10. The order was to completely annihilate everyone. Remember, this is all about one man’s ego. Oh, and they’ll take all their goods. I can’t help but flash back to my time at the Holocaust Museum in DC, seeing all the piles and piles of shoes taken from the Jews. The Nazi’s didn’t just take gold…they took hair to use. Sick.
11. How do you get ready for a day like that?
12. It says that the city was bewildered. I wonder if that means that this just seemed random–out of nowhere. Obviously it didn’t make sense to the common people for the Jews to be destroyed. Yeah…the plot definitely thickens…

d123 Miss Persia Pageant
August 22, 2007, 12:52 pm
Filed under: esther, god, hadassah, hegai, mordecai, nebuchadnezzar, vashti, xerxes

Read Esther 2:1-23.

1. So…um…does the king forget things when he’s mad?
2. I love how the wise men don’t help him find a solution to his “queen problem.” Instead, his attendants (who are probably young guys) make up their mind. Throw a beauty contest! Typical.
3. So, Hegai is going to be intrusted to take the most beautiful women in the province under his care. Hmm…he must be really loyal…
4. Does the king have his own opinions?
5. OK, so then we meet Mordecai; and you get some of the history. Mordecai was one of the Jews who were taken away by Nebuchadnezzar. He has a cousin named Hadassah (she’s later be known as Esther), who is apparently quite the looker. Mordecai raised her because both of her parents had died. Nice guy.
6. OK, so the guy in charge liked Esther…that’s good. He hooked her up with all kinds of stuff. Yet again…good.
7. Mordecai thought it best not for Esther to tell anyone where she was from. Probably a good idea. And he also kept close tabs on her.
8. Let’s not overly spiritualize this: when the girls went in to see King Xerxes, he could do whatever he wanted with them. You do the math. Can you imagine being dolled up with oil and myrrh for 6 months and tehn being dolled up with cosmetics and perfumes for another 6? Whoah. Anyway, I’m sure these girls looked their best.
9. OK, so understand that these meetings with the king were overnight. And, um, afterwards, they were taken to be concubines. Yet again…you do the math.
10. If the king liked the girl, he’d call for her again, “OK, who was that girl from last Tuesday?”
11. Esther was smart. She went to the king with what Hegai (who probably knew the king better) suggested. And from there…well, Xerxes wanted her. He was attracted to her, and he made her queen.
12. Then he threw a party. That Xerxes…
13. So…Esther is still keeping her heritage on the down low. It’s cool to know that she was obedient to her cousin (parent-figure).
14. So…a couple of guys decided they wanted to take Xerxes out, but Mordecai heard the whole plan. He told Esther. Esther told the king (giving Mordecai the credit).
15. Key plot point, after those guys were killed, everything was written down in the annals of the king.

So…any thoughts about this story? I mean, are we to assume that the king wasn’t gentlemanly when he was “checking out” Esther? If so, how does that make you feel about this heroine?