Friday, May 25, 2012

Luke 13:6-9: Year 1 (Judges)

This afternoon (4/29/12) I was thinking about today’s Sunday school lesson and how the time period of the Judges represented year 1 of the 3 + 1 years referenced in Luke 13:6-9.  My mind also went to back to Mark 11:13 – Jesus cursing the fig tree that had leaves but no fruit.  We see in Judges 2:4 that the Israelites wept after being called out by the Angel of the Lord.  The repeated cycle throughout the book of Judges was sin which led to oppression causing the people to cry out.  Then God would raise up a judge to deliver His people.  Deliverance brought peace – at least until the people were ensnared (Jdg 2:3 reference) by sin again.

The distressed cries of the Israelites were like leaves on the fig tree in Mark 11.  Jesus came looking for fruit on that tree because the leaves could be seen from far away (in fig trees its leaves and fruit appear at the same time).  The same was true of the Israelites in the time of the Judges.  When they wept (recorded 6 times in the book of Judges) and cried out (recorded 10 times in Judges), it was like leaves showing up on the fig tree, and along with leaves, there should have been fruit –the fruit of repentance (Matt 3:8).  Unfortunately Judges 2:16-17 reveals what God – “the man” from Luke 13:6 – saw when He came looking for fruit on His tree: 
“But the Lord raised up judges, who delivered them out of the hands of those who robbed them.  And yet they did not listen to their judges, for they played the harlot after other gods and bowed down to them.  They turned quickly out of the way in which their fathers had walked, who had obeyed the commandments of the Lord, and they did not so.” (Amplified Bible)

Year 1:  the Judges – no fruit
As humans, we would naturally feel disappointed coming to a dearly loved tree that isn’t producing fruit, but we can’t forget that God is not human (Num 23:19).  His knowledge is timeless.  He knew from the beginning how time would unfold and yet He made us … He chose us … He loves us anyway.  He says it this way through the prophet Jeremiah, “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.’” (Jer 29:11).

1 comment:

  1. The Bible emphasizes over and over the importance of remembering the journey on which God has led you. In that same spirit, last week (5/6/12) we took a step back to see how far we’ve come in our study of Luke 13:6-9. When we look at Scripture in individual snapshots, it can seem as if God has been throwing noodles at a wall to see if anything will stick. He “tried” the Garden of Eden … the Law … the Judges … Nothing worked – at least not for very long. God reminds us through Isaiah that He declared “the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done…” (Isaiah 46:10, Amplified). Although we can and do look at individual people and stories, students of the Bible – which we now are – must continually keep in mind that common threads hold all of Scripture together – not the least of which is God’s timeless knowledge.

    So again in review, …
    Luke 13:6-9 gives us a picture of a man (God) with a tree planted in a vineyard. A tree that a vinedresser (Christ) was involved in caring for, whether actively or inactively. My suggestion is that the tree is an illustration of nation of Israel, so we went first to Genesis to see God’s promise to Abraham to plant his descendants as a vineyard in the land Abraham knew as Canaan. We then saw how Moses and Joshua were used by God to bring the people out of Egypt and back into Canaan.

    Once planted, the nation of Israel took root and began to grow. Unfortunately they failed to follow God’s instructions to (1) drive out the inhabitants of the land as they conquered it and (2) to break down any altars honoring the gods of those peoples. Year one, the “man” comes looking for fruit on His tree but finds none. Let the pruning begin – if the people were going to worship other gods, then God was going to let them have their way.

    When the other gods ended up oppressing them … Whoa, I just had a new thought! I mentioned a few weeks ago that we, too, have a Promised Land that God desires for us to enter and possess. His instructions for us are the same as those for the Israelites: (1) drive out the inhabitants of our land and (2) completely destroy altars to foreign gods. Any altars we leave standing, we will (or our children will) end up worshiping. When we choose other gods alongside or instead of the One True God, like the Israelites, God will give us a chance to see the other gods save us. And like the Israelites, no foreign god can or will lead to salvation. In fact, they lead the same place each and every time – oppression!

    … Back to review … God allowed the people to experience the consequences of their unfaithfulness to Him – oppression under other peoples of the land. But when the Israelites finally (after decades … a generation or more) cried out to God, He raised up judge after judge whose purpose was to deliver His people from their oppression (Judges 2:16-19).

    With year one – the time of the judges – under our belts, we look forward to year two – the time of the kings.

    As I said at the beginning, it may seem as if God was throwing noodles at the wall hoping that something would stick and His creation would be salvaged, but this was not the case. God may have thrown some noodles at the wall, but it wasn’t to see if they would stick. It may have been to show us that they wouldn’t. Remember Isaiah’s words, God knows – has always known – everything. The Israelites had no idea how their lives and experiences fit into His plan. Let alone that we in the year 2012 could learn from them. Likewise, I’m sure that we don’t know how our lives fit into His plan! But just like the Israelites, God knows, and “all things work together for good to and for those who love God and are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).