All ROADS LEAD TO JESUS
When we go through sunday school and the pastor asks you what the answer to a particular question is, the fail safe answer is always Jesus. We laugh about it now and make fun of it because as ridiculous as that sounds, it is actually true but somewhere along the line of us growing up we forget the fundamental truth that the answer often times than not is actually Jesus.
Q: Why are we Christians?
A: Because we experienced God and are disciples of Jesus
Q: Who can give me perfect satisication?
Q: Where can I find true peace of mind and heart?
A: A life in harmony with Jesus
Q: What is the reward for following Jesus?
Get the point? Paul gives a history lesson to his fellow brethren of Israel’s history and how the answer to the hope of the Old Testament is in fact Jesus.
NOTES ON THE TEXT
17 The God of this people Israel chose our fathers and made the people great during their stay in the land of Egypt, and with uplifted arm he led them out of it. 18 And for about forty years he put up with[a]them in the wilderness. 19 And after destroying seven nations in the land of Canaan, he gave them their land as an inheritance.
Paul explains that the Israelites became great in the land of Egypt in that they became a large nation that was set free from the hand of God. But the point of the history lesson is that it is in fact God who carries us by His grace so that a life apart from him is not the answer. In verse eighteen, it states that God “put up” with the Israelites when an alternate translation states God “carried” them. In Deuteronomy and the OT, there is mention that the wilderness experience was because of Israel’s failure to trust in God but the redeeming factor in that experience is that they were to learn how to trust in Him as He carried them through the wilderness that they put themselves in. He fed them and clothed them and eventually delivered them when they make it to the promised land.
When we make mistakes, don’t let your discouragement and guilt be the place where you set up tent to live but realize that the “promised land” for you is far greater than your expectation. Sometimes we think that we deserve nothing from God because of our sins, which apart from Christ is true because we get the punishment but in Christ our destination is not tears and guilt but joyful celebration filled with love in His presence. Repentance doesn’t end in tears, it ends in a restored relationship with Jesus, so don’t sit in your sadness but let it lead you to Christ.
20 All this took about 450 years. And after that he gave them judges until Samuel the prophet.
An interesting note about the book of Judges is that it was the wild wild west in the history of Israel. The Israelites get into the promised land but they have not fully possessed it because of their lack of ability to follow God. The time of the judges was a period where various leaders (or judges) will rise up to help lead the people for a time but most of them start strong but end terribly. The book starts and ends in a sad way where it depicts the heart condition of God’s people when it states that the people did whatever was right in their own eyes and thus because people determined what was right or wrong without consultation from God, it lead to chaos. This is to say that not even human rulers or even getting the blessing of the promised land is the answer to your desires! Remember, blessing apart from the blesser will quickly become the curse in our lives!
21 Then they asked for a king, and God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. 22 And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.
The people ask for a king and the reasoning was that they wanted to be like everyone else around them who had earthly kings so therefore they rejected God in the process. God gives them what they want and they get Saul but despite the glorious change that happened through him, he was a man that was far from the heart of God. After forty years with Saul as king, David comes unto the scene and is often times the contrast to Saul. Saul fails but David succeeds as king because he was a man after God’s own heart. What does this mean? If we were to look at the life of David and Saul, we can actually say in the eyes of man that David was the worst of the two in terms of the failures that they committed but what was the fundamental difference? Where Saul made excuses before God, David repented before Him. David let down his pride for the sake of his relationship with the Lord whereas Saul allowed pride to prevent him from knowing the Lord on a deeper level. We all mess up and that is a fact but how we respond to them is more important! Do we make excuses and run from God or do we own up to our mistakes and run to God? Remember repentance is to ultimately lead you to one place… into the presence of God!
24 Before his coming, John had proclaimed a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. 25 And as John was finishing his course, he said, ‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. No, but behold, after me one is coming, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to untie.’
John the Baptist was one of the greatest prophets on earth but even he knew that he was not the one that people should put their hope in. He pointed to the fact that He is less than Jesus and in the Gospels we see a true man who kept his word when he even told his own disciples to follow Jesus rather than him! No matter how great a man may be, they are never God.
Paul ends today’s section by telling the people that though the religious leaders knew the word of the law and prophets (scriptures), they still did not understand it. The scriptures were read in the synagogues constantly but they did not know who Jesus was. This tells us that the scriptures can be studied but they must primarily be read or heard so that we believe in them to the point of obedience to Jesus. Knowing the word is only half the battle but belief and obedience to Jesus is the other half that is most crucial to get! Paul tells them the history to show that no other system, person, desire, or religious exercise is the point of life but that the point of life is to be with Jesus and worship for all of scripture points to and ends in Jesus.
May your life today be directed in such a way where you find Jesus as the end goal of all that you do, say, think, and feel.