Although I have read through the Bible several times in my life, taught a Bible Survey course for several years at a Bible College and preached more than 2000 sermons based on the Scriptures, I am finding a new delight and challenge in the E100 Challenge. Apart from the discipline of setting aside the time, I am being really challenged by the broad sweep of the readings. We are not reading everything, just the one hundred most essential stories, but we are devouring huge chunks of the Bible Story each week and, for me, the challenge is putting it together into a 20 minute message for each Sunday.

This week our focus is on Judges but it covers the time from Joshua taking up the leadership of the people after the death of Moses right up to the story of Ruth who was, of course, the Moabite ancestor of King David. This is a period of about 400 years from 1400BC to 1000BC.

As I tried to summarise in my mind what the main feature of this time was about, it suddenly struck me that it was about God’s faithfulness. Of course, the whole Bible is about God’s faithfulness to His word and intention for creation and His people, but this section is supremely about that. We marvel at the story of Joshua and the miraculous taking of Jericho, we skip quickly through the courageous stories of Deborah, Gideon and Samson; we are touched by the story of Ruth and her discovery of true love.

But underneath it all is God unfolding His plan. Remember back to the beginning … God made everything just right, including giving freewill to those made in His image. God wanted a people to love and who would enter into a relationship with Him. Freewill was a necessity, for love must be freely given or it is not love. But Adam rebelled and became separated from God. God instituted the plan of reconciliation that included a flood, a scattering of the people after the Tower of Babel and the choosing of a family (in Abraham) to carry His name. There was a promise but also more rebellion, then exile in Egypt and finally a guided tour through the desert to the Land of Promise. People struggled with God, they rebelled (no water, no bread, no meat etc), they doubted (this is a land of giants!), they created idols … but all the while God was there patiently unfolding His plan, adjusting and tweaking continuously because of the rebellion of the people. He never gave up on them; He never gives up on us! God is ever faithful to His covenant. We read in 2 Peter 3:9 – “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” Further in 2 Timothy 2:11-13, the Scripture says, “Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.

Be encouraged! God IS faithful and He will restore grace and mercy.

Hallelujah, for the Lord, the Almighty reigns.

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