Homeland: Joshua, Samson, Judges and David & Goliath
Joshua, continuing Moses’ quest to secure the Promised Land, takes the city of Jericho. God’s promise to Abraham is finally being fulfilled. But after many years in their homeland, the Israelites find other invaders also want the land. Of all their opponents, the Philistines are the fiercest and to confront them, the Israelites need a new kind of leader. God sends them Judges, like Samson who is blessed with immense strength but who is tested when his strength is removed at the hands of his betraying lover Delilah, and he has to rely on faith alone to defeat the Philistines. The Israelites’ grip on their homeland remains precarious, and so the people ask the prophet, Samuel, to appoint a king to transform the homeland into a powerful kingdom. Reluctantly, Samuel chooses the charismatic warrior Saul. The ensuing power struggle between Samuel and Saul ends bitterly over a misplaced sacrifice, and Samuel abandons the new king, and searches for another. Finding young shepherd boy David, Samuel is told by God that this will be the next king of Israel, and Samuel duly anoints him. But anointing a new king whilst the current one still reigns is a dangerous move which threatens to throw the new nation into civil war...
Rahab is pushed against the wall. © Joe Alblas
Rahab is stopped by some soldiers. © Joe Alblas
Joshua. © Joe Alblas
The Commander of the Lord's Army visits Joshua. © Joe Alblas
Outside city wall Jericho. The Ark is being carried. © Joe Alblas
Joshua after the fall of Jericho. © Joe Alblas
Samson and his mother. © Joe Alblas
Abimelech and Phicol want Samson killed. Samson fights back with great strength. © Joe Alblas
Samson turns the corner. He meets Delilah. © Joe Alblas
Delilah is snipping away at Samson's hair. © Joe Alblas
Phinehas tells Samuel that his sons are corrupt. © Joe Alblas
Samuel. © Joe Alblas
The Prophet Samuel visits Saul. © Joe Alblas
Saul fights the Philistines. © Joe Alblas
Saul stares into his empty cup and talks to the Lord. © Joe Alblas
As he saw Moses do so many times when life was hard, Joshua climbs a nearby mountain to think. He carries a torch to light the way, but otherwise it's dark. A moon hangs low and full in the clear air of the desert sky. A wind blows, and Joshua sees dust in the pale moonlight. Joshua stands alone, remembering the way Moses always returned from the mountain with simple answers to complex questions. Hours pass. It's getting late, and Joshua is feeling old, doubting himself. The deep chill of the night air is settling into his bones. In violent exasperation, Joshua plunges his torch into the ground. Then he falls to his knees and prays. This, he remembers, is what Moses did constantly: pray. When life was uncertain, Moses prayed for guidance. When life was spectacular, Moses prayed words of thanks. When life was mysterious, Moses prayed for wisdom. Prayer was Moses' way. Joshua feels slightly foolish, because he's been standing up here alone in the darkness for hours, and this is the first time he's remembered to actually bow his head and talk to God. "Lord," he begins. "I was a slave when You showed me Your love and Your power...You gave me a new life, a life that I cherish, despite its daily hardships. You have brought us so far, but now these mighty city walls stand before us. What is Your will? What would You have us do?"
Out of the silence comes a whoosh of air. The flames of Joshua's torch burn sideways as a blast of wind levels them. Joshua has seen many things in his life-the plagues in Egypt, the parting of the Red sea, the drowning of Pharaoh's army, and the many miracles God performed during the Hebrews' forty years of wandering in the wilderness-great and awesome sights, all of them. Never, as long as he lives, will Joshua forget the sensation of walking between the great towers of water after the Red Sea was split.
But he will never forget this next moment.
A great and mighty warrior has appeared out of nowhere and stands before him now. A hood covers his head, but nothing hides his ramrod posture, broad muscular shoulders, and the great sword in his hand.
Joshua is terrified. "Who are you?" he asks very carefully.
The warrior is silent.
Joshua bows his head, overwhelmed. This warrior is mighty. He slowly looks up and asks, "Are you with us or against us?"
The warrior's face is dark, and his eyes unblinking. "I am with God," he tells Joshua. There is no affect to his voice, just power. "I am Commander of the Lord's Army."
Joshua bows his head. This is an answer to his prayer. As terrifying as the warrior might be, Joshua knows God is with him. "What does God ask of us?"
Joshua feels the smooth blade of the warrior's sword press against the bottom of his bowed chin. But instead of harming him, Joshua feels the warrior press upward, forcing him to look up.
"The Lord parted the water for Moses-but for you..." The angel thrusts the blade of that great sword deep into the ground. Instantly, the earth begins to crack. The fissure widens and widens, spreading out around Joshua, but never harming him. "...He will split rock. This is what you must do..."
Joshua listens closely to what the angel tells him. Very closely.
A Story of God and All of us
Rahab - Stephanie Leonidas
Joshua - Andrew Scarborough
Samson - Nonso Anozie
Samson's Mother - Sharon Duncan-Brewster
Deliah - Kierston Warring
Samuel - Paul Freeman
Saul - Francis Magee
The Fall of Jericho (Joshua 6)
6 Now the gates of Jericho were securely barred because of the Israelites. No one went out and no one came in.
2 Then the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. 3 March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. 4 Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. 5 When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in.”
6 So Joshua son of Nun called the priests and said to them, “Take up the ark of the covenant of the Lord and have seven priests carry trumpets in front of it.” 7 And he ordered the army, “Advance! March around the city, with an armed guard going ahead of the ark of the Lord.”
8 When Joshua had spoken to the people, the seven priests carrying the seven trumpets before the Lord went forward, blowing their trumpets, and the ark of the Lord’s covenant followed them. 9 The armed guard marched ahead of the priests who blew the trumpets, and the rear guard followed the ark. All this time the trumpets were sounding. 10 But Joshua had commanded the army, “Do not give a war cry, do not raise your voices, do not say a word until the day I tell you to shout. Then shout!” 11 So he had the ark of the Lord carried around the city, circling it once. Then the army returned to camp and spent the night there.
12 Joshua got up early the next morning and the priests took up the ark of the Lord. 13 The seven priests carrying the seven trumpets went forward, marching before the ark of the Lord and blowing the trumpets. The armed men went ahead of them and the rear guard followed the ark of the Lord, while the trumpets kept sounding. 14 So on the second day they marched around the city once and returned to the camp. They did this for six days.
15 On the seventh day, they got up at daybreak and marched around the city seven times in the same manner, except that on that day they circled the city seven times. 16 The seventh time around, when the priests sounded the trumpet blast, Joshua commanded the army, “Shout! For the Lord has given you the city! 17 The city and all that is in it are to be devoted to the Lord. Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall be spared, because she hid the spies we sent. 18 But keep away from the devoted things, so that you will not bring about your own destruction by taking any of them. Otherwise you will make the camp of Israel liable to destruction and bring trouble on it. 19 All the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron are sacred to the Lord and must go into his treasury.”
20 When the trumpets sounded, the army shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the men gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so everyone charged straight in, and they took the city. 21 They devoted the city to the Lord and destroyed with the sword every living thing in it—men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys.
22 Joshua said to the two men who had spied out the land, “Go into the prostitute’s house and bring her out and all who belong to her, in accordance with your oath to her.” 23 So the young men who had done the spying went in and brought out Rahab, her father and mother, her brothers and sisters and all who belonged to her. They brought out her entire family and put them in a place outside the camp of Israel.
24 Then they burned the whole city and everything in it, but they put the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron into the treasury of the Lord’s house. 25 But Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute, with her family and all who belonged to her, because she hid the men Joshua had sent as spies to Jericho—and she lives among the Israelites to this day.
26 At that time Joshua pronounced this solemn oath: “Cursed before the Lord is the one who undertakes to rebuild this city, Jericho:
“At the cost of his firstborn son
he will lay its foundations;
at the cost of his youngest
he will set up its gates.”
27 So the Lord was with Joshua, and his fame spread throughout the land.
© New International Version (NIV)
Samson and Delilah - The Death of Samson (Judges 16)
Samson and Delilah
16 One day Samson went to Gaza, where he saw a prostitute. He went in to spend the night with her. 2 The people of Gaza were told, “Samson is here!” So they surrounded the place and lay in wait for him all night at the city gate. They made no move during the night, saying, “At dawn we’ll kill him.”
3 But Samson lay there only until the middle of the night. Then he got up and took hold of the doors of the city gate, together with the two posts, and tore them loose, bar and all. He lifted them to his shoulders and carried them to the top of the hill that faces Hebron.
4 Some time later, he fell in love with a woman in the Valley of Sorek whose name was Delilah. 5 The rulers of the Philistines went to her and said, “See if you can lure him into showing you the secret of his great strength and how we can overpower him so we may tie him up and subdue him. Each one of us will give you eleven hundred shekels of silver.”
6 So Delilah said to Samson, “Tell me the secret of your great strength and how you can be tied up and subdued.”
7 Samson answered her, “If anyone ties me with seven fresh bowstrings that have not been dried, I’ll become as weak as any other man.”
8 Then the rulers of the Philistines brought her seven fresh bowstrings that had not been dried, and she tied him with them. 9 With men hidden in the room, she called to him, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you!” But he snapped the bowstrings as easily as a piece of string snaps when it comes close to a flame. So the secret of his strength was not discovered.
10 Then Delilah said to Samson, “You have made a fool of me; you lied to me. Come now, tell me how you can be tied.”
11 He said, “If anyone ties me securely with new ropes that have never been used, I’ll become as weak as any other man.”
12 So Delilah took new ropes and tied him with them. Then, with men hidden in the room, she called to him, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you!” But he snapped the ropes off his arms as if they were threads.
13 Delilah then said to Samson, “All this time you have been making a fool of me and lying to me. Tell me how you can be tied.”
He replied, “If you weave the seven braids of my head into the fabric on the loom and tighten it with the pin, I’ll become as weak as any other man.” So while he was sleeping, Delilah took the seven braids of his head, wove them into the fabric 14 and tightened it with the pin.
Again she called to him, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you!” He awoke from his sleep and pulled up the pin and the loom, with the fabric.
15 Then she said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when you won’t confide in me? This is the third time you have made a fool of me and haven’t told me the secret of your great strength.” 16 With such nagging she prodded him day after day until he was sick to death of it.
17 So he told her everything. “No razor has ever been used on my head,” he said, “because I have been a Nazirite dedicated to God from my mother’s womb. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as any other man.”
18 When Delilah saw that he had told her everything, she sent word to the rulers of the Philistines, “Come back once more; he has told me everything.” So the rulers of the Philistines returned with the silver in their hands. 19 After putting him to sleep on her lap, she called for someone to shave off the seven braids of his hair, and so began to subdue him. And his strength left him.
20 Then she called, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you!”
He awoke from his sleep and thought, “I’ll go out as before and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the Lord had left him.
21 Then the Philistines seized him, gouged out his eyes and took him down to Gaza. Binding him with bronze shackles, they set him to grinding grain in the prison. 22 But the hair on his head began to grow again after it had been shaved.
The Death of Samson
23 Now the rulers of the Philistines assembled to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god and to celebrate, saying, “Our god has delivered Samson, our enemy, into our hands.”
24 When the people saw him, they praised their god, saying,
“Our god has delivered our enemy
into our hands,
the one who laid waste our land
and multiplied our slain.”
25 While they were in high spirits, they shouted, “Bring out Samson to entertain us.” So they called Samson out of the prison, and he performed for them.
When they stood him among the pillars, 26 Samson said to the servant who held his hand, “Put me where I can feel the pillars that support the temple, so that I may lean against them.” 27 Now the temple was crowded with men and women; all the rulers of the Philistines were there, and on the roof were about three thousand men and women watching Samson perform. 28 Then Samson prayed to the Lord, “Sovereign Lord, remember me. Please, God, strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.” 29 Then Samson reached toward the two central pillars on which the temple stood. Bracing himself against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other, 30 Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived.
31 Then his brothers and his father’s whole family went down to get him. They brought him back and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of Manoah his father. He had led Israel twenty years.
© New International Version (NIV)
The Lord Rejects Saul as King (1 Samuel 15:1-35)
The Lord Rejects Saul as King
15 Samuel said to Saul, “I am the one the Lord sent to anoint you king over his people Israel; so listen now to the message from the Lord. 2 This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. 3 Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.’”
4 So Saul summoned the men and mustered them at Telaim—two hundred thousand foot soldiers and ten thousand from Judah. 5 Saul went to the city of Amalek and set an ambush in the ravine. 6 Then he said to the Kenites, “Go away, leave the Amalekites so that I do not destroy you along with them; for you showed kindness to all the Israelites when they came up out of Egypt.” So the Kenites moved away from the Amalekites.
7 Then Saul attacked the Amalekites all the way from Havilah to Shur, near the eastern border of Egypt. 8 He took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and all his people he totally destroyed with the sword. 9 But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs—everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed.
10 Then the word of the Lord came to Samuel: 11 “I regret that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.” Samuel was angry, and he cried out to the Lord all that night.
12 Early in the morning Samuel got up and went to meet Saul, but he was told, “Saul has gone to Carmel. There he has set up a monument in his own honor and has turned and gone on down to Gilgal.”
13 When Samuel reached him, Saul said, “The Lord bless you! I have carried out the Lord’s instructions.”
14 But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?”
15 Saul answered, “The soldiers brought them from the Amalekites; they spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the Lord your God, but we totally destroyed the rest.”
16 “Enough!” Samuel said to Saul. “Let me tell you what the Lord said to me last night.”
“Tell me,” Saul replied.
17 Samuel said, “Although you were once small in your own eyes, did you not become the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel. 18 And he sent you on a mission, saying, ‘Go and completely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; wage war against them until you have wiped them out.’ 19 Why did you not obey the Lord? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the Lord?”
20 “But I did obey the Lord,” Saul said. “I went on the mission the Lord assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag their king. 21 The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the Lord your God at Gilgal.”
22 But Samuel replied:
“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as much as in obeying the Lord?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
23 For rebellion is like the sin of divination,
and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
he has rejected you as king.”
24 Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned. I violated the Lord’s command and your instructions. I was afraid of the men and so I gave in to them. 25 Now I beg you, forgive my sin and come back with me, so that I may worship the Lord.”
26 But Samuel said to him, “I will not go back with you. You have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you as king over Israel!”
27 As Samuel turned to leave, Saul caught hold of the hem of his robe, and it tore. 28 Samuel said to him, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to one of your neighbors—to one better than you. 29 He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a human being, that he should change his mind.”
30 Saul replied, “I have sinned. But please honor me before the elders of my people and before Israel; come back with me, so that I may worship the Lord your God.” 31 So Samuel went back with Saul, and Saul worshiped the Lord.
32 Then Samuel said, “Bring me Agag king of the Amalekites.”
Agag came to him in chains. And he thought, “Surely the bitterness of death is past.”
33 But Samuel said,
“As your sword has made women childless,
so will your mother be childless among women.”
And Samuel put Agag to death before the Lord at Gilgal.
34 Then Samuel left for Ramah, but Saul went up to his home in Gibeah of Saul. 35 Until the day Samuel died, he did not go to see Saul again, though Samuel mourned for him. And the Lord regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel.
© New International Version (NIV)
Reading the stories of the Bible as we've been doing these past two weeks should lead to at least one nearly inescapable conclusion: Jesus shows up repeatedly.
We may know, theologically speacking, that the eternal Word of God was present in the Creation and the Exodus and the Conquest of Canaan, and so on. We may sometimes recognize foreshadowing in the stories of the Binding of Isaac and the Passover. But it is another thing entirely to see how our Lord and his salvation are prefigured in story after story. It can be a wonderful thing to contemplate how throughout biblical history, our salvation was planned and prepared for in so many other stories.
One of the messages we are clearly intended to take to hear is our Lord's willingness-determination, even-to ransom every human heart from slavery, as Rahab was rescued from Jericho and the Israelites from servitude to the Philistines. It should also be marvelously clear that he will use all means necessary to lead us to freedom-as he used a prostitute, a mercurial strongman, and an easily overlooked shepherd boy named David.
As you read and meditate on these stories, let it become apparent to you that Jesus is also likely to reveal himself in your story. Think back on the highs and lows of your life; do you see him there? Can you identify his presence and work in things that may not have seemed important at the time? Are there hints and signs that become clearer as you look back, like the scarlet rope Rahab hung in the window?
The Bible says, "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free" (Galatians 5:1). In other words, if you have been freed from sin, death, guilt, and shame by the work of Jesus Christ, he intends for you to remain free-to live free. And to show others around you what freedom looks like.
The Bible 30-Day Experience Guidebook © 2013 by Outreach, Inc.
Review is From The Bible 30-Day Experience DVD Study + Guidebook
In the face of Israel’s stubborn sin and rebellion, it is God and his stubborn faithfulness that shines through as the ultimate hero. He will not give up on his people—no matter what. Our lives, if we can see them rightly, is the story of God’s stubborn faithfulness to us even in the midst of our greatest sins. No matter what darkness we might be facing now, God has not abandoned us. His power has not left us. Indeed, it is made perfect in weakness.comments powered by Disqus