In the first chapter of Judges, we read about Othniel. He had won the privilege of marrying Caleb’s daughter by conquering some land. Othniel was now both a nephew and son-in-law to Caleb. Had God been preparing Othniel for such a time as this? We hear “The Spirit of the Lord came upon him.” With the Lord’s help, Othniel was able to have victory over the King of Aram followed by 40 years of peace.
There doesn’t appear to be much to the story of Othniel reported beyond this. We do see the first instance of the 4-part pattern playing out here. God was listening for the cries of his people despite being angry with them. I think of a parent being on the alert to rescue their children at any age if there is a cry for help.
After our reading yesterday, I feel like the light switch was just turned on. Truly our mourning is turned to dancing. Psalm 30:11-12 pictures it like this. “You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!” Such a beautiful compliment the praise given here for judgment and salvation.
I had highlighted verse 1 along the way, and it’s good to see those “notes to self” in my Bible. I wish I had put a date on it – there was even a yellow sticker which signifies “God’s Plan and Promise.” I think that is a surprisingly good summation of what we have going on in this whole chapter. It was God’s plan, his will, and his intention, that his people would go through their time of desolation. For those who endured, the promise of salvation and a feast in his presence would come. “O Lord, I will honor and praise your name, for you are my God.”
What a beautiful passage to lift us up today. Verse 12 seems to close out the first section of oracles presented by Isaiah. We have already read about the destruction of Israel and Judah and how God was going to use the Assyrian power to do his dirty work. But there were also shreds of hope thrown into the message. What was missing was the people’s response.
It’s good to see how the people, the remnant, respond to God’s truth. They knew what God was going to do, and they stayed the course. They witnessed with their own eyes the horror. Now they say, “I will praise you, O Lord! You were angry with me, but not any more. Now you comfort me.” God did exactly what he said he would and came for them.
I was expecting the final trumpet to bring about something horrible. Weren’t you? Instead, there is rejoicing in heaven. God’s kingdom has fully come! We read, “The world has now become the Kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign forever and ever.” The Book of Revelation could end right here. Since it doesn’t we know there is more to come. What happens next?
The victory has been won! Will we see how the people on earth respond? Will those “of the world” finally repent? Will the faithful be rescued at last?
What a sharp contrast in today’s reading. Yesterday was doom and gloom, today is hope of salvation. We are witness to a festive scene in heaven once again! I thought it was interesting that one of the 24 asked John who all the people were. John’s response was priceless. “Sir, you are the one who knows.” It was almost as if it were a trick question. I know what it’s like to be asked a question I don’t know the answer to but what should be obvious to the one asking!
This abrupt shift is like putting a movie on pause. It had to happen. We needed to halt the momentum of the fiery judgments of God brought by the horsemen in our last reading. Time was needed to make sure the faithful on earth could be marked “safe” before the full unleashing of God’s wrath. It speaks to me that God is always looking out for our best interests and will make sure we have what we need to stand strong in times of adversity.