The Jesse Tree
Second Wednesday of Advent: The Judges
A Reading from the Book of Judges (3-4):
“Then the Israelites did what was evil in the sight of the LORD; they forgot the LORD, their God, and served the Baals and the Asherahs, and the anger of the LORD flared up against them. He sold them into the power of Cushan-rishathaim, king of Aram Naharaim; and the Israelites served Cushan-rishathaim for eight years. But when the Israelites cried out to the LORD, he raised up a savior for them, to save them. It was Othniel, son of Caleb’s younger brother, Kenaz. The spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he judged Israel. When he marched out to war, the LORD delivered Cushan-rishathaim, king of Aram, into his power, and his hold on Cushan-rishathaim was firm. So the land was at rest for forty years, until Othniel, son of Kenas, died.
“Again the Israelites did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, so he strengthened Eglon, king of Moab, against Israel because they did what was evil in the sight of the LORD. … But when the Israelites cried out to the LORD, he raised up for them a savior, Ehud, son of Gera, a Benjaminite who was left-handed. … So Moab was brought under the power of Israel at that time; and the land was at rest for eighty years.
“After him there was Shamgar, son of Anath, who slew six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad. He, too, was a savior for Israel.
“The Israelites again did what was evil in the sight of the LORD; Ehud was dead. So the LORD sold them into the power of the Canaanite king, Jabin, who reigned in Hazor. … At that time the prophet Deborah, wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel. She used to sit under Deborah’s palm tree, between Ramah and Bethel in the mountain region of Ephraim, where the Israelites came up to her for judgment. She had Barak, son of Abinoam, summoned from Kedesh of Naphtali. She said to him, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, commands: Go, march against Mount Tabor, and take with you ten thousand men from Naphtali and Zebulun. I will draw Sisera, the general of Jabin’s army, out to you at the Wadi Kishon, together with his chariots and troops, and I will deliver them into your power.’ But Barak answered her, ‘If you come with me, I will go; if you do not come with me, I will not go.’ … So Deborah arose and went with Barak and journeyed with him to Kedesh. …
“Thus on that day God humbled the Canaanite king, Jabin, before the Israelites; their power weighed ever more heavily on him, until at length they finished off the Canaanite king, Jabin. … And the land was at rest for forty years.”
Saving Father, You called Israel to faithfulness and guided them toward righteousness. Yet, they turned from You and did what was evil in Your sight. In Your justice, You caused their bodies to be enslaved to foreign kings, just as they had wilfully enslaved their souls to foreign gods. When they cried out to You from their sin, You sent a savior, again and again, to rescue them from their debasement and provide judgment. We, too, have sinned against You. In this season of Advent, we await the just Judge Who will rule the nations with justice and mercy. In Him is our only hope for salvation. Come, Lord Jesus! Amen.
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.