ripple effect: vacaville

d121 Feasting, Not Mourning
August 20, 2007, 3:27 pm
Filed under: ezra, god, joshua, nehemiah, sanballat, shemaiah

Read Nehemiah 8:1-18.

[Stuff we’re skipping:

* Sanballat and his boys tried to stop the building of the walls. First, they tried 5 times to get Nehemiah to meet him in the wilderness. Each time, Nehemiah said he didn’t have time. Then they invented a conspiracy in which Nehemiah was leading his people to rebel against the Persian government. But, Nehemiah just called them out and said it was a lie. Their last attempt to get at Nehemiah was through a guy named Shemaiah. This guy lied that he heard the “locals” were coming to get Nehemiah and that he should hide in the Temple. This was exposed as a lie, and Shemaiah was hired to get Nehemiah to do something disgraceful (like run and hide in the Temple).

* They finished the walls, and Nehemiah set up guard to watch the walls of the city. We also get a list of who was there at the time along with all the gifts that were given for this endeavor.]

1. Imagine this: Ezra reading the Law (more than likely Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) to all the people. Wow…and he preached from morning until midday! But, when you think about it, how else could everyone be on board? They didn’t have Bibles of their own to read. So…this is how they all heard God’s Word.
2. I bet this was a cool scene. Temple built. New walls built. And now it’s time to worship God.
3. The people wept, but they were encouraged to be filled with joy. Interesting. Why do you think they were crying? Why do you think that Ezra and Nehemiah didn’t want them to continue weeping?
4. Instead of mourning, they were called to feast with everyone. Hmm…that’s cool.
5. Then they decided to celebrate the Feast of Booths for the first time since the time of Joshua. It’s been a long time coming…

Isn’t it cool that God gave the Jews a chance to start over, and they took it?


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:


d65 Let’s Make a Deal
June 11, 2007, 1:17 pm
Filed under: god, joshua

Read Joshua 24:1-31.

This covenant with God must be an important thing because He keeps renewing it.

1. A nice summary of what God has done up to this point. The cool thing is this: if you’ve been reading the blog all this time, you know EXACTLY what God is talking about. I think that’s pretty cool.
2. So…this generation saw the parting of the Red Sea with their own eyes. Maybe they were children or teenagers, but they saw it.
3. All the stuff from the wilderness to defeating the kings after Jericho, we should be up to speed on too. This whole deal with the hornets is kind of interesting. He chased the kings away with hornets?
4. God did the fighting. God provided them with farms and vineyards that were already planted (by the bad guys). Talk about grace. Do you think these people deserved this? Why or why not?
5. A very famous passage, one that has made its way onto embroidered doilies and crocheted wall plaques across the nation, “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Does this go without saying? No. Because there are choices. They could go “old school” and worship the gods from Egypt. Or they could follow some of the newer fads and worship the local gods of the Amorites. We have a decision to make just like Joshua did. Maybe you don’t feel pressure to follow Ra or Baal, but you might feel pressure to worship the things of your past (things you’re ashamed of but just can’t let go). Or maybe something new is dangling in front of you that seems to stinkin’ sweet, and you want it…you know you shouldn’t…but you want it. You must make a decision, much like Joshua did. And I believe this is a daily thing. What do you think?
6. Do you think the people responded with naive enthusiasm or that they actually agreed to doing this? This reminds me of the end of a youth retreat: “Yes…I follow God wherever!”
7. Joshua checked them on their response, “Um…it’s nice that you are responding to this ‘altar call,’ but this is harder than it seems. Are you sure?” Joshua seems to know something here. What is it?
8. The people were accountable for their decision. What does it mean to be held accountable?
9. Then Joshua died. He was a good leader, in the sense that the people followed God as long as he lived. The implication is that they did so because they had all seen first hand what God could do. What do you think of Joshua’s leadership?

d64 Joshua’s Farewell to the Leaders
June 10, 2007, 1:52 pm
Filed under: god, joshua

Read Joshua 23:1-16.

[Stuff we’re skipping:

* Joshua kills the five southern kings, and Israel destroys their cities.

* Joshua attacks the northern kings (with a summary of the conquests).

* Joshua defeats the kings to the east of the Jordan.

* The land gets divied up to all the tribes with special cities called “cities of refuge” set aside.

* The tribes that are to live east of the Jordan end up going home, but they also build a memorial.]

Battles and land. Interesting stuff if you’re a soldier or in real Israeli real estate. Not so much for us…

1. Imagine being in Joshua’s sandals. He wandered for years. Then he fought and fought hard. And now…peace and quiet in the promised land. Good times. But, old man Joshua has some parting requests…
2. Follow God. Don’t mingle with the people who will draw them towards other gods. Seems simple enough.
3. What a cool image: “God fights for you.” So…love Him. Do you see God this way?
4. Joshua does warn them. Don’t marry the people from the other tribes. This isn’t a “racism” thing as much as it is a “following God” thing. If they married people with different beliefs, what could happen?
5. Every promise God has made has come true. I once had a book that had all of the promises in the Bible. There are a lot. And, so far, there are no “nos.” They are all “yesses” and “not yets.” Do you believe this?
6. So…mark it down: “If they worship other gods, they will get the boot.” OK…let’s see what they do…

d63 The Day the Earth Stood Still
June 9, 2007, 1:40 pm
Filed under: achan, god, joshua

Read Joshua 10:1-15.

[Stuff we’re skipping:

* The Israelites go back and beat Ai (now that Achan is dead).

* God renews His covenant with the Israelites.

* The Gibeonites convince Joshua that they are not locals and end up getting to be allies (instead of being killed by the Israelites.) It’s actually a strange story.]

OK…so with the beatdown of Jericho and Ai under their belts, let’s see what other damage the Israelites can do in Operation: Clear Out the Promised Land.

1. The king of Jerusalem (yes…that Jerusalem) was scared about Israel’s beat down resume. So he got some other kings together to form an alliance against the Israelites (Jerusalem + Hebron + Jarmuth + Lachish + Eglon = A lot of bad guys). So…the “alliance” decides to take on Israel’s friends, the Gibeonites. Uh oh. I smell trouble.
2. So the “bat signal” goes up for the Israelites to save the day. And, God tells Joshua that it’ll be no sweat. You have to love it when God does that. OK, controversial question of the day…do you think that our country should defend “weaker” nations or that we should just mind our own business? Why or why not?
3. OK…so not only do they get beat down, but God also sends a hail storm! God was definitely in control? What the HAIL!
4. God had the sun stand still for an entire day. Well…techinically that’s not that hard, since the sun doesn’t move (we revolve around it). But, then again, that is still pretty crazy if we catch the drift here. This is an example of “phenomenal language,” by the way, which is language to describe something in the best way that they knew how back in the day. Yeah, the sun doesn’t set or rise (although we still say that it does); but that’s how we describe it. So…if we take this from a scientific perspective, that would mean that Joshua caused the earth to stop rotating for a day. Wow. Now, I know someone would say that the magnetism of the earth would be thrown off then; and everything would get freaky…but, to that, I say that this is the God who parts rivers, sends hail stones, and does whatever else He wants. And, apparantly, this is what He did on that day. OK, so we don’t have the “Book of Jashar” anymore to verify this (maybe it had pictures); but we also know that there aren’t going to be any other days like it to “prove” that is possible either. Oh, well, God is big. I am small. What do you think about all of this?
5. Also, I know that there was some email SPAM going around a couple of years ago saying that scientists had “proven” that the earth stood still sometime back in the day. God is big, but you would only embarass yourself if you read a SPAM letter and believed it without looking at the facts. No one “proved” it. Does that mean it didn’t happen? Not necessarily. But, it also won’t get you beat down in an argument with someone who knows the facts. It’s alright to believe in God–and Christ-followers shouldn’t have to lie to make the Bible seem more believable. I, for one, believe that all science and faith in God can be reconciled. God made science. God made physics. God can suspend them and bend them. There is no law in science that says that “laws” humans identify have to be followed by the creator of those “laws.” Humans try to take control of something that they are really only observing. Heavy, I know.

OK…so…I’m off to some graduation parties! Rock on. Who’s got the best food? We’ll see.

d62 Everybody Does NOT Like to Get Stoned
June 8, 2007, 10:57 am
Filed under: achan, god, joshua

Read Joshua 7:1-26.

First off, how do you pronounce “Ai”? Is it like Aye or Eh I? Hmm…don’t really know.

1. OK, so Joshua had commanded to set apart all the good stuff for God when they ransacked Jericho. Basic instructions. They got to keep a lot of stuff. So why would you keep stuff for yourself? But Achan did.
2. Now they spy out the little city of Ai, and they think that they can smoke them. They’re no big deal. They forgot something: if God doesn’t have your back, the battle is as good as lost. He didn’t, and they were routed. Do you think this was fair for all of those people to suffer because of one guy’s sin?
3. Joshua’s question is sincere (he doesn’t know why God allowed this to happen): “Did you bring us over here to get our butts kicked? What about You making Your name great? That’s not going to happen if we get schooled by our enemies!” I love Joshua’s honesty here. But, it’s because he remembered that it is all about the importance of God’s glory that his question is really exceptional.
4. God’s reply is simple: “Why all the fuss? Someone didn’t obey Me.” Until they destroy the stuff that was meant to be destroyed, it’s not going to get any easier. Oftentimes, things are pretty simple if we look at it from God’s perspective.
5. Wow…imagine this ceremony. I remember being a kid and making a mess, and my mom would say, “Now, who did this?” But this is a whole lot scarier. The punishment for being “it”– you get burned!
6. Interesting that, during his interrogation of Achan, Joshua says for Achan to “give glory to God by telling the truth.” Does God not get the glory if people lie about their sin?
7. So…he tells the truth, but then he gets punished anyway. Growing up in a society where all you’ve got to do is bribe your way out of stuff, “do time,” or say you’re sorry, it’s pretty harsh to imagine that they still went through with the punishment. But, this was the punishment. Do you think it was too harsh? Why or why not?
8. How about the fact that his sons and daughters (and his donkeys!) are killed too? What do you think about that?
9. Do you think God meant what He said about taking the promised land HIS way?

d61 The Fall of Jericho
June 7, 2007, 9:46 am
Filed under: god, jesus, joshua, rahab

Read Joshua 5:13 – 6:27.

[Stuff we’re skipping over…

* They cross the Jordan and build a monument with twelve stones. And 40,000 men, ready for battle crossed into the promised land!

* The Amorites heard about how they had crossed the Jordan and were scared to fight them.

* God told Joshua to circumcise all the Israelites. This new generation had not been circumcised yet (maybe because of their parents’ disobedience?).

* They also celebrated the Passover. They ate from the land–bread and grain. The need for manna was over.]

Here we gooo…

1. First off, I have to say that this is by far my favorite Veggie Tales movie. If you have never seen “Josh and the Big Wall,” you must. Not only does it tell this story in a cute way, but there are also many veiled Monty Python and the Holy Grail references.
2. Wow…the commander of the army of the Lord! This is historical recognized as Michael. I’d be shocked if I was Joshua. An angel with a sword. Joshua falls facedown in reverence. Good response.
3. He takes off his sandals. Reminds me of Moses and the burning bush.
4. If you want to think of Jericho, think of Troy during the war with the Greeks. A totally fortified city. Or how about that big ol’ green castle in Lord of the Rings?
5. What do you think about Michael’s strategy?
6. What would you have done if you were in Joshua’s position?
7. I know it sounds kind of fruity to march around and blow trumpets, but how do you think the men of Jericho felt, knowing what God had already done for the Israelites and seeing 40,000 of them marching around the city. Talk about mind games!
8. I love how Joshua remembers the good deeds of Rahab.
9. Maybe they all had high-pitched voices and the city was made out of glass? He he he…just kidding. Wow…this is hard to imagine literally. But, there is nothing in this passage that would suggest that it didn’t happen like it’s being described. Wow.
10. Why’d they kill the donkeys?
11. Not only did they spare Rahab, but they let her live amongst them. Oh…and here’s something that will blow your mind–she is the great-great-great…great-great grandmother of JESUS! Talk about an “insignificant” person taking on a huge role.