Dear Wife had to be next door to "watch" the Great-Niece half an hour ago. So we had an early alarm, and official sunrise was only a few minutes ago. She's going to try to do this: it was only a few days ago that we were sitting in an Emergency Room, fearing the worst. Which may happen again at any time, it's part of the life we live.
We are about to enter into April. Nice, huh? Sunshine, flowers, shorts, all that? Not exactly. Last night we saw 39°. Saturday night is predicted to hit a low of 34°! Might be some heavy frost on the windshield on Sunday morning. And a prediction for 36° for Friday, the 7th of April! Not my every dream come true, believe me. None of that awful snow stuff predicted, so far, but that could change: the area has frequently had snowfall in April. I remember those occasions all too well. Snow is evil.
This morning, we turn to a new section in the Old Testament. This is chapters 1 and 2 of the book of Judges.
When I was younger, I always thought of "judges" as being like the judge in the Court of Common Pleas, or the like. Someone in black robes in a high seat, looking down on everyone and pronouncing sentences, holding trials and hearings and all of that. That was colored at one stage in my life when my work had me in circumstances that allowed / forced me to observe some remarkably corrupt, dishonest persons holding the title of "judge", and to see some that had attained that title by virtue of political connections, some of whom were, and are, utterly unfit for any position of public trust.
"Judge" in the context of the Bible here, has another meaning, though there is some overlap. We lived for a period in a part of Arkansas. There, and perhaps in other places, they have an office at the county level called "county judge". They do, certainly, act as a sort of Justice of the Peace when called upon to do so. But they're more in the role of a county commissioner. They're not the chief executive of the county, but they have regular public meetings at which the citizens can raise issues, matters like zoning are addressed, and other matters.
The judges in the Old Testament acted in a somewhat similar matter, but also acted, when directed by the Lord, in ways similar to a general, or a spokesman for the Lord, or other matter. When directed. They wore no crown nor sat on thrones, but they were, generally respected. And the Lord both commissioned them and had high expectations.
With the deaths of Moses, and now Joshua, the regulation of the people was less personalized, and more focused at the level of the tribe, clan, and family. Some of those leaders were great. Many were not. We will see that, nearly immediately.
Remember the lesson here, when we hear exhortations to make "common cause" with false religions, such as Islam.
The New Testament reading before us today is verses 1-30 from chapter 7 in the Gospel of Luke.