Prayer Psalm: 145
Prayer Point: “Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise … one generation will commend your works to another, they will tell of your mighty acts.” Take ten minutes to sit quietly and take stock of the things God has done in your life. Remember to thank God and pray that God will give you the opportunity to tell these stories to your children, co-workers and whoever God puts in your life. May God raise up new worshipers of himself today.
Becoming a disciple or student of a Jewish rabbi in Jesus’ day was like getting into Harvard. Many applied but few were accepted. Prospective disciples underwent a rigorous examination by the rabbi and if he believed that the applicant had the character and the intelligence to become like himself, he accepted him the words: “Come follow me.” Imagine Philip’s shock when Jesus without introduction greets him with the words, “follow me.”
What does Philip do in response to Jesus? Who does he recognize Jesus to be? What causes Nathaniel to declare Jesus to be the Son of God and the King of Israel? What greater thing does Jesus say Nathaniel will see?
John 1:51, See heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending recalls the story of Jacob in Genesis 28 (see esp. v. 12). Jesus will be a greater way of access to God than the heavenly ladder on which angels traveled between God and Jacob (Gen. 28:12; cf. Heb. 10:19–20), and wherever Jesus is, that place will become the “New Bethel” where God is revealed. Jesus is not merely “a son of man” (an ordinary male human being), but he repeatedly (over 80 times in the Gospels) calls himself the Son of Man, suggesting the greatest, most notable son of man of all time. [ESV Study Bible Notes].
The church receives opposition from the Jewish authorities who controlled the temple. What happens in verse 4 despite the jailing of Peter and John?
The next morning Peter and John are brought before the teachers of the law and the high priest who demand to know by whose power they had healed the cripple. Who gives Peter the power to speak boldly? Compare this to the promise Jesus gave his disciples in Luke 21:12-15.
Who is the power source of the healing according to Peter? Compare this explanation to Acts 2:22-34 and Acts 3:12-16. What is found nowhere outside of Jesus?
Judges 8:22-35 – Gideon is not seduced by power
What do the people offer the (perceived) victor over the Midianites? (“The Israelites said to Gideon, ‘Rule over us – you, your son and your grandson – because you have saved us out of the hand of Midian.’” (Judges 8:22 NIV))
What does Gideon tell them? (“But Gideon told them, ‘I will not rule over you, nor will my son rule over you. The LORD will rule over you.’” (Judges 8:23 NIV))
What is the one request Gideon makes of the people? (“I do have one request, that each of you give me an earring from your share of the plunder.” (Judges 8:24 NIV))
What did Gideon make with all this gold he collected? (“Gideon made the gold into an ephod, which he placed in Ophrah, his town.” (Judges 8:27 NIV))
What was the ephod? From the ESV Study Bible Notes p. 454 “8:27 The original ephod was an ornate ceremonial garment worn by the high priest (Exodus 28; 39). It was made of choice materials ornamented with gold and onyx stones. According to the Mosaic law, there was to be only one ephod in Israel, and it was to have a “breastpiece of judgment” (Ex. 28:15-30). The ephod was used to inquire of God (cf. 1 Sam. 14:3; 23:9; 30:7). By setting up another ephod in his own city, Gideon may have been making it his own to use, at his own whim. Ultimately, it became a snare to Gideon and his family, echoing Judges 2:3 “… and you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall break down their altars. But you have not obeyed my voice….”
Continually throughout the book of Judges the nation found itself in a cycle of unbelief. What do the people do to this ephod in Ophrah? (“All Israel prostituted themselves by worshiping it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and his family.” (Judges 8:27b NIV))
As we began our look at Gideon, he was chosen by God to deliver Israel from the oppression of the Midianites. From the ESV Study Bible Notes p. 448: “Common Cycle for Each Judge – God’s sending of judges to Israel repeatedly followed a fourfold cycle: (1) apostasy: the Israelites do what is evil in the sight of the LORD; (2) servitude: God allows the nation to be conquered and oppressed by a neighboring nation; (3) supplication: the people cry out to God; and (4) salvation: God sends a judge to deliver the Israelites. The cycle then repeats after the judge dies.”
As Gideon was on the rise, the apostasy of Israel involved Baal worship and Asherah worship – clearly false gods. Gideon starts off nobly but by the end of his life he has led Israel on a course of idol worship of a different kind: worshiping an ephod. This rut Israel finds itself in stems chiefly from not, as Deuteronomy Chapter 6 says, “…binding them [the law] as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (Deut. 6:8-9 ESV) The law (and in our case, the gospel) is not effectively handed down to our children as something to be written on our hearts.
How long was there peace during Gideon’s lifetime? (There was peace for forty years.)
Why was the son of Jerub-Baal’s (Gideon’s) concubine recognized? (Abimelech is mentioned because he will figure in Israel’s saga next.)
What happens upon Gideon’s death? (“No sooner had Gideon died than the Israelites again prostituted themselves to the Baals. They set up Baal-Berith as their god and did not remember the LORD their God, who had rescued them from the hands of all their enemies on every side. They had also failed to show gratitude to the family of Jerub-Baal (that is, Gideon) for all the good things he had done for them.” (Judges 8:33-35 NIV))