- Becoming Worldly: The book of Judges shows Israel’s struggle to be faithful to God, but they seem to become progressively more worldly.
- Gideon makes a special ephod that leads to some idolatry, even though the law forbade such things, Judges 8:22-35.
- Gideon’s family has a power struggle after his death, even though the covenant provided for leadership under God, Judges 9.
- Samson married a non-Israelite woman, and was tempted by another, Judges 14-16.
- Micah started his own cultic group including idols, Judges 17.
- Dan steals Micah’s idolatrous religion, Judges 18.
- The town of Gibeah in Benjamin makes even the Canaanites look bad, Judges 19-20. See also Genesis 19. Benjamin is almost wiped out as a result, yet they are not excluded from the covenant, Judges 21.
- A key refrain of the book is, “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” Judges 17:6, 18:1, 19:1, 21:25.
- Gideon: He seems to resist recruitment like Moses and Jeremiah. God entertains his requests for confirmation. Note why the Lord narrows down the number of men. What do we learn from this? Gideon’s special ephod seemed to start some idol worship. What can we learn from this? Do we still have a tendency to elevate people whom the Lord uses mightily? And do they fall into error because of this elevation? Judges 7-9.
- Samson: Think about in what ways the story of Samson shows great failure? Does God ultimately accomplish His purposes? How did things go for Samson? For Israel? How might things have been different if Samson were more faithful? Judges 13-16.
- An honest history: Other historical accounts of ancient civilizations often edit their history to make the nation look great, but Israel’s history is brutally honest. We should try not to stand in judgment over these people, but honestly look for ourselves in these stories, for we all are subject to selfishness and foolishness. God uses imperfect people to fulfill His plans.
- Covenant: Notice what is playing out is clearly the blessings and the curses from Deuteronomy 27-28. God keeps His Word.
Betrayal: The plot against Jesus, Luke 22:1-6.
- The Passover Meal: Try to feel the weight of this scene. Look at the turmoil, and the intensity of the conversations. Luke 22:7-38. Note that this is the Passover meal at which Jesus announces the New Covenant. Four cups were traditionally passed during the Passover meal. One of these was poured out – and this is likely the one that Jesus poured out representing his blood.
- On the Mount of Olives: Jesus’ humanity recoils from what is to come, which in itself is not sinful. He ultimately obeys. This should not be understood as indecision or doubt, but as an expression of dread – true anguish. The intensity of the Passover meal seems to have been too much for the disciples as they are “sleeping for sorrow.” Luke 22:39-46.
- Injustice: Luke 22:47-23:25. Jesus is arrested at night by cowards, unfairly tried, betrayed by a friend, mocked, beaten, and then unjustly sentenced. Did all the suffering take place on the cross? Is it any wonder he is called the “man of sorrows”? Isaiah 53:3.
- The Crucifixion: Luke 23:26-56. What does Jesus’ conversation with the women show about his priorities? How about his prayer to forgive? Did you notice the irony of the inscription? Was the thief who defended Jesus saved? How do we know? What does this say about salvation?
- The Empty Tomb and Resurrection Appearances: Luke 24:1-49. Luke spends more thime on this than the crucifixion. This accords with Paul’s summary of the gospel in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8. What is Jesus’ attitude regarding the scriptures in Luke 24:25-27? What is the result in Luke 24:32-33? What signs did Jesus give that he was truly bodily resurrected?
- The Ascension: Luke 24:50-53. How is it important that the disciples actually saw Jesus go up?
- Commission: The position of the church is to be witnesses. Notice the trend – Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, etc. Notice the source of power.
- A replacement: It’s very important to note how the early church defined apostles. See Acts 1:21-22. Not having the Holy Spirit, they cast lots for him. This is the last mention of something like casting lots because the Holy Spirit gives them guidance after Pentecost.
- Peter’s sermon: Peter leans heavily on the Old Testament in this sermon. It’s important to notice what was most important to his proclamation. This gathering at Pentecost included Jews and Jewish converts from all around the empire. There would be many people there that were at the Passover just 50 days before. The response, “They were cut to the heart.” See Deuteronomy 10:16, 30:6; Jeremiah 4:4; Romans 2:29. Some people including the early Greeks recognized effective speaking as addressing three key elements in their audience – their mind (logos); their emotion (mind); and their will (ethos). Compare that to the response in Acts 2:37; the crowd “heard” (logos), “they were cut to the heart” (emotion), and they asked “what shall we do?” (will). Interesting? The Gospel affects the whole person.
- The early church: A synopsis of the early church priorities is found in Acts 2:42-47.
- Psalm 17
- Psalm 146
- Psalm 21