ripple effect: vacaville

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?


d73 Bringing Down the House
June 19, 2007, 10:32 am
Filed under: god, judges, samson

Read Judges 16:22-31.

1. Like I said in the previous post, I like the cliffhanger in verse 22, “But the hair of his head began to grow again after it had been shaved.” In the words of Scoob, “Ruh roh.”
2. Dagon. What a name for a fake god. Daggone, why won’t it rain? Daggone, why I can’t I have a girlfriend? Daggone, why are the Mets slumping in June?
3. Boy, those Philistines sure were pumped about capturing Samson. Wouldn’t you be?
4. OK, so Samson isn’t as dumb as we think he is (he plays that boy by telling him that he needs to “lean” on the pillars).
5. Note the people at this party. We are talking about all the important officials of the Philistine government and military, along with 3,000 people just going crazy on the roof. Big house.
6. Now, this story is definitely an interesting one because it involves a “suicide” of sorts. Samson prays to God for strength so that he would be “avenged for his eyes.” He’s not even really doing this for the right reasons, but God uses him anyway. He kills all these people in killing himself, more than he did with that donkey jawbone or any of his other exploits. There are only a few suicides in the Bible, and this is one of them. So…what do you think of God allowing Samson to die in this “kamakaze mission”?
7. In the end, God used Samson (a totally flawed human-being) to put a big time hurting on the Philistines. What do you think of Samson as a person? Do you think there are any lessons that we can learn about God from the story of Samson’s life?

d72 I’m Not Saying She’s a Gold Digger…
June 18, 2007, 10:54 am
Filed under: delilah, god, judges, samson

Read Judges 16:1-21.

1. Hmm…does going to a prostitute seem like the actions of a judge of Israel? And then he tears open the gates. The gates were big…”Don’t make the Hulk mad!”
2. Delilah was a gold-digger…no doubt. And, um, she must have been distractingly seductive (or Samson had to be awfully dumb) to ask Samson about what his weakness was and him not catch on. “Hey baby, how can I make you weak and tie you up?” Maybe he thought it was foreplay?
3. Nope…she wasn’t THAT pretty because Samson lied about the source of his strength. So…maybe Samson is smarter than we think?
4. OK, so…um…after take two of “I tell you a lie, and then you do it, and then Philistines attack me,” I think I would catch on that there might be a “mole” in this relationship. After three, I’d be certain.
5. Then she pulls the “how can you tell me you love me” card. Oh no! That’s like a red card in soccer…just leave the field! The game is over! But…he sticks around and tries to “prove” his love (or maybe it was because she was nagging him relentlessly).
6. OK, so apparently Samson has dread locks. Notice it says he only had seven “locks.” Jah mon!
7. Do you feel sorry for Samson?
8. Do you feel like it is ironic that his EYES were destroyed?
9. I like that there’s a little suspense at the end…but…his hair was…bum bum bum…growing back!

d71 Creative Ways to Use Foxes and a Dead Donkey
June 17, 2007, 3:12 pm
Filed under: god, judges, samson

Read Judges 15:1-20.

Alrighty then…

1. Nothing says love like bringing a young goat. Apparently, that’s a Philistine aphrodisiac? Unfortunately, Samson’s booty call goes awry when he realize that his wife was given to someone else.
2. Samson feels wronged by the Philistines so he burns their fields with his fox technique. Niiice. Then the Philistines retaliate by killing the dad and his daughter. Then Samson beats them again. He’s an aggressive young lad.
3. They knew where to get Samson where it hurts–his people. So, they pretend to tie him up (in new ropes) and bring him out to meet the bad guys.
4. Samson’s like the incredible Hulk when he gets filled with the Spirit. He pops off them ropes, and kills 1,000 men with the jawbone of a donkey (carcass!!!) Impressive.
5. Then Samson calls out to God (in a seemingly rude tone) and gets water to come out of a rock. Anyway, Samson judges Israel for 20 years.

What do you think of Samson at this point (maybe beside his physical exploits)?

d70 Dead Mufasa
June 16, 2007, 3:03 pm
Filed under: god, judges, samson

Read Judges 14:1-20.

Samson grow up to be a nut…

1. Philistines are the bad guy. It shouldn’t have mattered how good looking she was– she’s on the wrong side. And this ain’t “Romeo and Juliet” where it’s arbitrary to hate people from the other side–this is about obeying God. Philistines do not worship God. What do you think about dating people who are not Christ-followers?
2. I like how God is going to use this opportunity anyway. Does that mean that God intentionally caused Samson to sin?
3. Samson tore up a lion with his bare hands because “the Spirit of the Lord came upon him”? Whoah…is this like those guys who bend steel bars in the name of Jesus?
4. Why didn’t tell his parents that he got the honey out of the lion’s carcass? Maybe the same reason that we don’t know what’s in a chicken nugget? He he he… Or maybe it’s because he stuck his hand in a carcass!!! Dead body. Nazirite vow violation #1. Uh oh…
5. Is it just me or is Samson’s riddle kind of impossible?
6. I like how the Philistines threaten to burn Samson’s woman. Nice guys.
7. OK…so…Samson’s woman manipulates Samson by throwing a tear-fit. That never happens…
8. “Plowed with my heifer!” Samson’s a poet. He he he… Um…she’s a heifer?
9. Samson beats the tar out of 30 guys to pay back his riddle debt. Then he gives the woman to his best man. That Samson’s sure got style. Sounds like a holy man, doesn’t he?

d69 The Birth of Samson
June 15, 2007, 12:34 pm
Filed under: abdon, abimelech, asherah, baal, elon, gideon, god, ibzan, jair, jephthah, jotham, judges, manoah, samson, tola

Read Judges 13:1-25.

[Stuff we’re skipping:

* Gideon goes after the bad kings and ends up capturing and killing them along with some other people who talked smack along the way.

* Weirdly, Gideon makes an ephod (a religious item); and it says that it became a snare (maybe a sense of pride?) to Gideon. Even so, Israel had peace for 40 years because of Gideon.

* Gideon had 70 sons and ends up having a son through a concubine named Abimelech (popular name…this is like the 4th one). He dies; and, after that, people turn to worshipping Baal again!

* Abimelech conspires to be king of Israel by killing all of his brothers. He kills all but the youngest, Jotham. Jotham spoke out against this insurrection and fled.

* Abimelech had a rough reign, highlighted by desperate attempts to keep power (he burned a tower full of men AND women). He was going to do it again, but some lady dropped a stone on his head. Before he died, he made some boy stab him because he didn’t want to die because a woman killed him.

* Judge #6: Tola. All it says it that Israel was at peace for 23 years.

* Judge #7: Jair. He reigned 22 years, and had 30 sons on 30 donkeys!

* The Israelites served Asherah and Baal again, got beat down, cried out to God, and God gave them Judge #8, Jephthah. Jephthah was the son of a prostitute who left his home. He came back as a hero, though, and led the Israelites. He ended up cutting a deal with God, “If you let me win, I’ll sacrifice whatever comes out of my house first when I return.” He won, and his only daughter came out to celebrate. He ended up killing her. Whoah. Jephthah got invaded by Israelites too because he was from the Gileadites (who weren’t really from Jacob’s sons). They beat down all comers, though; and they could tell who was on their side by their accents. Weird. Jephthah only judged Israel for 6 years.

* Judge #9: Ibzan. He judged 7 years. Judge #10: Elon. He judged 10 years. Judge #11: Abdon. He judged 8 years.]

And that brings us to #12, probably the most famous judge…

1. So…Israel disobeyed and is oppressed by the Philistines now. Will they ever learn?
2. A Nazirite is someone who is set apart for God. They can’t eat anything from grapes, cut their hair, or come close to dead bodies. They also make three huge sacrifices in order to be set apart. This was a big deal because a Nazirite was considered holy. And this holy man will help them beat the Philistines!
3. Manoah doesn’t know the angel is an angel. He watches the “man” warp into heaven through the smoke from his sacrifice. Do you think he got it then?
4. So the cool wife gives birth to Samson. And he’ll be judge #12.

What do you think about…

Manoah’s wife?
The angel?

d68 The Real “300”
June 14, 2007, 9:19 am
Filed under: baal, gideon, god, judges

Read Judges 7:1-25.

Hey…no offense to the movie that came out about the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC. But…this story happened first. And, although we don’t have all the buff dudes and half-naked girls, this is still a pretty compelling story. Hmm…I wonder why Hollywood hasn’t thought of making this one.

1. I think it’s funny that they called Gideon “dude who messed with Baal.” Yeah…he messed with Baal– and didn’t die. So…um…what does that say about Baal? (Remember, Baal is the Moabite god.)
2. OK…so God wanted the glory on this battle. So He told Gideon to trim down his army. 32,000 became 10,000 after he asked if anyone was scared. Geez, that’s a lot of scared dudes. That’s got to tell you something about how tough the bad guys are. What do you think of God trimming down His forces?
3. God didn’t want that many guys. So he knocks it down to 300. How? By checking out the way guys drank water. He only kept the 300 who used their hands to cup the water. I’ve heard theories that this was because those guys always had their heads up, alert. The Bible doesn’t really say, but isn’t this crazy?
4. Gideon is a scared guy too. God says to go against the Midianites. But, He also says that he can spy on their camp if he’s scared. So…he spies on the camp. What do you think of Gideon’s faith in God?
5. He hears the bad guys talking about how they know they are in for a butt-kicking. This finally gets Gideon confident. Interesting that God’s word wasn’t enough, isn’t it? Then again, it’s also interesting that God made a way for Gideon to get with it.
6. When Gideon “got it,” his response was to worship. Do you think he sang…what do you think his worship looked like?
7. OK…strategy was to blow trumpets. What do you think about the battle cry: “For the Lord AND for Gideon”?
8. Once they blew the trumpets, it was over. The Midianites were petrified, confused, and ran like sissies. Finally, the other tribes came to help capture the enemy kings. Yeah…there might not have been all the stylized violence of a Frank Miller movie; but in that movie the Spartans lost–in this one, God people won! Yeah…the real “300.”