There is some good stuff in Deborah’s Song, so we’ll unpack it slowly over the next few readings. There is no reason to rush through a chapter when we can take time to savor how it is speaking to us. I’ve known people who have studied for months, even years, on just a few verses! God’s word is alive, and it always brings new messages when the time is right.
We now start to imagine the victory chants that took place when Deborah’s words, actually God’s message to Deborah, came true! They had defeated their foe, and even the earth trembled. That speaks to me of the great communion of God with his creation. When God’s will is being accomplished, we can expect to witness a movement taking place.
Jude is pretty clear on what we should do. “But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love.” Don’t we all want to be “safe.” In the world today that could be safety from the pandemic. In other places, it is safety from war or other crimes. Our destiny is safe when we place our trust in Jesus.
The book of Jude is small and mighty. We don’t visit it too often; and preachers don’t often preach from it. But this message was blessed and included in our Holy Scripture for a reason. Since our brains are designed to keep us safe, verses 20 and 21 (above) should really resonate with us. Being “safe in God’s love” sounds to be the safest place we can be.
The story really has a happy ending for everyone. Joshua has his work cut out for him in his conquests of the land. From the sounds of it, his neighbors are less than thrilled to have the Israelites in their midst. “These kings combined their armies to fight as one against Joshua and the Israelites.”
But before Joshua has to contend with them, the Gibeonites showed up seeking mercy. They certainly didn’t come right out and ask. They feared the Lord and felt like they had to hide their intentions in deception. I have to admit that had they waltzed into Joshua’s presence with a plea of safety, they would probably have been laughed at! Joshua knew what his role was, and befriending close neighbors was not part of it.
Do you prefer to receive gifts or give gifts? The older I get the more I enjoy giving. But aside from gifts, I love to give my time and experiences that will make a lasting memory. For gifts are often set aside and ignored. I can remember many a Christmas morning when the children would spend hours playing with new toys only to several days later see those same toys left abandoned in the corner.
Paul is warning us to be careful not to ignore God’s gift to us. God’s kindness, to me, is referring to his grace, mercy, and unfailing love for us. We don’t deserve such splendid gifts. We are sinners. We are selfish beings focused on instant gratification and being served. Many will take for granted this beautiful gift. Have we left it abandoned in the corner?
This may seem very similar to verses we read in the last chapter when Jesus fed 5,000 men (plus women and children). These are two distinct happenings. We see the number of people following Jesus expanding. In Jesus’ own words, “I have compassion for these people.”
For three days the people have stayed. Jesus has healed many. People were amazed and gave praise to the God of Israel. They understood that much, where the power came from. So what about the disciples? Having already seen a miraculous feeding, where was their faith?