Isaiah, chapters 29-33

“Jehovah is waiting patiently to show you favor,
And he will rise up to show you mercy. […]”
~Isaiah 30:18

God’s people had sinned against him time after time, yet he trusted some of them would see the error of their way and return to him. (Is. 31:6,7)
To those who listened, God promised rich blessings.
“The cattle and the donkeys that work the ground will eat fodder seasoned with sorrel, which was winnowed with the shovel and the pitchfork.” (Is. 30:23,24)
Sorrel is a tangy luxury herb used in salads for human consumption.
Grains which are winnowed have been refined and are also for human consumption.
These verses are therefore making reference to the richness of God’s blessings that await anyone who wholeheartedly repents and changes for the better.
Currently we can enjoy a strong relationship with our heavenly father, and in the future, perfect health in a peaceful, just world. (Is. 32:15-18; 33:24)

2 Samuel, chapters 9-12

Uriah replied to David: “The Ark and Israel and Judah are dwelling in temporary shelters, and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are camping in the open field. So should I go into my own house to eat and drink and lie down with my wife? As surely as you live and are alive, I will not do this thing!”

~2 Samuel 11:11

Uriah was a Hittite, a descendant of Canaan (2 Sam. 23:39).

Canaanites were the pagan inhabitants of the Promised Land that the Israelites were supposed to have exterminated (De. 20:16-18).

Still, Uriah’s house was close to King David’s (2 Sam. 11:2,3).

He was classified as a “mighty warrior,” (1 Chron. 11:26,41).

These facts, along with his conduct, indicate that he was also a Proselyte- a pagan converted to true worship.

The most outstanding thing we know of him is the zeal he had for fulfilling God’s law.

He went into war with the rest of his army, minus their commander-in-chief, King David.

Where was their leader?

Sleeping with Uriah’s wife (2 Sam. 11:4).

(I am leaving out a few details because the story is widely known.)

When Uriah’s wife became pregnant with David’s child, King David asked Uriah to come back home with the intention of making it appear as if the child were his (2 Sam. 11:5-10).

Uriah respected God’s law and considered his war mission to be holy.

To sleep with his wife while the rest of his army was in battle was unthinkable.

Furthermore, that would have prevented him from immediately joining them, because having a semen emission under God’s law made him “unclean,” (De. 23:9-11).

King David’s plan failed, and he sentenced Uriah to be killed in battle, sending the letter by Uriah’s own hand (2 Sam. 11:12-15).

Uriah had such a level of zeal for God’s law that it cost him his life, but the important thing is that he died faithful (2 Sam. 11:24).

David did not have to die for his own sin, but his son died as a consequence of it, and David did not know another day’s peace for the rest of his life (2 Sam. 12:9-14).

Uriah’s story leaves us with a thirst for justice that is not fully quenched and it helps us see that in this world, sometimes it does not matter how good or innocent we are, we are still subject to injustices.

There may at times be brothers in the congregation in important roles with many privileges who step all over one of the sheep they are supposed to care for (Acts 20:29).

The important thing for us sheep is to not judge or leave the congregation, but to continue serving God faithfully and leave justice in his hands (Rom. 12:19).

Joshua, chapters 21-24

“Today we know that Jehovah is among us, because you have not committed this act of unfaithfulness against Jehovah.  […]”
Joshua 22:31

The chieftains of the tribes that had settled to the West of the Jordan River were upset at the Reubenites, Gadites and half tribe of Manasseh on account of an altar these tribes had built on the edge of the river.

Even though they received their loyal help through the entire time Israel was fighting the Canaanites, these Western tribes were ready to go to war against their brothers as soon as they heard of about the altar.

It was never the Eastern tribes’ intention to separate in worship, however, as they patiently explained.

“If we were rebellious and unfaithful to Jehovah, do not spare us this day. […] No, it was because of another concern that we did this, for we said, ‘In the future, your sons will say to our sons: “What do you have to do with Jehovah the God of Israel?”‘” (Jos. 22:22-25).

The tribes of Western Israel heard out this reasoning and then proceeded ‘to praise God, and they said nothing more about going to war,’ (Jos. 22:33).

Thus we learn that it is always better to assume the best in others.
Even when we are thrown off by certain actions they decide to take, we cannot see what reasoning or underlying motivation they have.

Hence the wise words:
“Do not be quick to take offense, for the taking of offense lodges in the bosom of fools,”
(Ec. 7:9).

Genesis, chapters 25-28

Last week’s reading taught me about resolving conflicts through faith and mildness.

In Genesis ch. 26 verses 16 & 17, we see how the Philistines grow afraid of Isaac due to his ever-growing prosperity and so their king asks him to leave.

A·bim′e·lech then said to Isaac: “Move from our neighborhood, for you have grown far stronger than we are.” So Isaac moved from there and encamped in the valley of Ge′rar and began dwelling there.

As Isaac’s servants are working hard digging up his fathers’ old wells which the Philistines had stopped up, they find a new well.

And the shepherds of Ge′rar began quarreling with the shepherds of Isaac, saying: “The water is ours!” So he named the well E′sek [meaning: contention] because they had quarreled with him (Gen. 26:20).

Isaac decides to move on and they look for another well.

And they started digging another well, and they began quarreling over it also. So he named it Sit′nah [meaning: accusation] (Gen. 26:21).

Again, instead of arguing with the Philistines, Isaac moves his men elsewhere. This time he is successful.

Later he moved away from there and dug another well, but they did not quarrel over it. So he named it Re·ho′both [meaning: broad places] and said: “It is because now Jehovah has given us ample room and has made us fruitful in the land,” (Gen. 26:22).

As a result, the Philistine king who had kicked him out now seeks him out to form a pact of peace between them.

At this Isaac said to them: “Why have you come to me, seeing that you hated me and sent me away from your neighborhood?” To this they said: “We have clearly seen that Jehovah has been with you. So we said, ‘Let there, please, be an oath of obligation between us and you, and let us make a covenant with you that you will do nothing bad to us just as we have not harmed you, seeing that we have done only good to you in that we sent you away in peace. You now are the blessed of Jehovah.’” Then he made a feast for them, and they ate and drank. In the morning they got up early and swore an oath to each other. After that Isaac sent them away, and they went from him in peace (Gen. 26:27-31).

Isaac’s mildness is blessed again as while this is happening, his servants find yet another well.

On that day the servants of Isaac came and reported to him about the well that they had dug, and they told him: “We have found water!” (Gen. 26:32).

From this I see that when we make a genuine effort to foment peaceful relations with others, even when we know we are right and they are wrong, God does not abandon us and continues providing for our needs.