Psalm 105:8-15; Judges 18; Luke 22:24-38

Psalm 105:8-15: The psalmist calls to all Israel–the “Seed of Abraham / sons of Jacob, His chosen ones”–to “Recall the wonders that He did, / His portents and the judgments He issued,” (6) but above all to remember the Covenant. God certainly remembers it: “He recalls His pact forever—the word He ordained for a thousand generations—”(8). Not only does God remember His vow, but He “He sealed with Abraham, /and His vow to Isaac,  and He set it for Jacob as a statute, /for Israel an eternal pact,.” (10) There are three aspects to this sacred covenant: it is sealed, (in modern terms, signed); it is set into law; and it is unbreakable (an “eternal pact.”)

For all the myriad ways that Israel went astray, it was never God who broke His promise. For us, God’s inviolable promise is in the form of the New Covenant. He will keep His side of its terms; will we? This is also why I do not believe that when we go astray or even think we’ve abandoned God altogether in favor of our own philosophy that we have not lost our salvation. For us, baptism is the sure sign that we have been “sealed with the cross of Christ forever.”

God’s Covenants, whether the Old or the New, mean protection: “He allowed no man to oppress them / and warned kings on their account: /“Touch not My anointed ones, / and to My prophets do no harm.”” (14, 15) Does that mean we will be protected physically from the evil rampant in the world? As we can see in the Middle East, no. But it does mean that whatever befalls to us physically, that eternal seal brings means we will always be in God’s care–forever.

Judges 18: Although the tribe of Dan had been allocated territory by lot in Joshua’s time (Joshua 19:40-48), it had been lost. This chapter describes how “five valiant men” of Dan come to Micah’s house and encounter the unnamed Levite priest. Wondering why he was serving in the house of a non-Israelite, the Levite answers,  “Micah did such and such for me, and he hired me, and I have become his priest.” (4) Apparently satisfied that the Levite can also speak with God, they ask if their battle will succeed. He replies ““Go in peace. The mission you are on is under the eye of the Lord.” (6).

The 5 men, together with another 600, eventually come back to Michah’s house and ask the priest to become a priest for the tribe of Dan. He agrees, and brings the idols with him. Micah’s people are upset; they run after the Danites, Micah exclaiming, ““You take my gods that I made, and the priest, and go away, and what have I left? How then can you ask me, ‘What is the matter?’ (24) The Danite leader replies, ““You had better not let your voice be heard among us or else hot-tempered fellows will attack you, and you will lose your life and the lives of your household.” (26). So Micah gives up and goes home.

What to make of this story? It’s pretty much straight history and its application is elusive. I guess we can say that the Levite priest needed work and that Micah was sensible to let the priest he had hired go with the Danites when confronted by 600 armed men. It also tells us that even in the midst of idols, men like the Levite can serve God.

Luke 22:24-38: These verses are Luke’s “Upper Room Discourse,” which takes up four chapters in John’s gospel. Jesus describes the unusual hierarchy in the Kingdom–so different from the Romans (gentiles): “But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves.” (26) And then he says, “But I am among you as one who serves.” (27) This is what true leadership is: the willingness to serve those who are led, not like “The kings of the Gentiles [who] lord it over them.” (24).

Jesus then makes a promise to them: “I confer on you, just as my Father has conferred on me, a kingdom, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (30) I have to wonder, though, if the disciples have yet figured out exactly what this Kingdom was, that Jesus is talking about. I know I wouldn’t have. We see an image of what Jesus is talking about, I think, in Revelation.

After the familiar passage about Peter’s denial, Jesus talks rather mysteriously about purses, bags and swords. I don’t think he’s advocating violence or that the disciples should take up arms, but confirming once again that he is about to be treated like a criminal as prophesied in Isaiah 53: “this scripture must be fulfilled in me, ‘And he was counted among the lawless’; and indeed what is written about me is being fulfilled.” (37) And when he says the two swords in the room are already “enough,” he is telling his disciples that they should not take up arms and is simply telling them, “this is enough; we’re done with this conversation.”

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