Judges 8, Jeremiah 21

Today we’re reading Judges 8 and Jeremiah 21.

This devotional is about Judges 8.

Gideon was a very reluctant leader from the beginning of God’s call on his life. Although he stepped up to the demands of leadership in verses 1-21 of today’s chapter, he didn’t fundamentally change. After he did what God commanded him to do, he retired as Israel’s judge and committed Israel’s further leadership to the Lord (v. 23).

But, before leaving the scene, he accepted a large amount of gold from the jewelry taken from the dead Midianites Israel had defeated (vv. 24-26). Verse 27 told us that “Gideon made the gold into an ephod” which is a garment worn by the priests when serving the Lord or asking for Him to reveal his will. Our passage doesn’t tell us why Gideon did that, but it is very possible that Israel’s priesthood was not functioning well. In Judges 17 we’ll read about a man who hired a Levite to be his priest and in Judges 20 we’ll read about God’s people going to the ark to inquire of the Lord. That’s really about all we find of the formal aspects of worship in Judges. So Gideon may have made this ephod to assist his own personal worship of God.

Whatever his reason for making it, the ephod became an object of disobedient worship for Gideon, his family, and Israel. Verse 27c says, “All Israel prostituted themselves by worshiping it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and his family.” Instead of being something that honored the Lord, it became a means by which people broke the first two commandments.

This is why God commanded his people not to make graven images in the Second Commandment. Graven images can become “other gods” by which some people break the first commandment. Anytime we give more reverence to an object of worship than we give to God, we are in the territory of idolatry. It might be a cross on a pendant or hung on the wall, a painting or stained glass window of Jesus, water from the Jordan river, the elements of communion, the old Bible of a family member or loved one, or the writings of some Christian author that we study more carefully than we do God’s word itself.

Is there anything that started out as a reminder of God that has taken on too much reverence for you? Is there anyone who has become more authoritative in your life than God’s word? Are you more likely to ask for the advice of a trusted Christian pastor/teacher/friend than to ask God directly for wisdom? Don’t let tools for serving the Lord become more important than the Lord himself.

Leviticus 27, Ecclesiastes 10, Psalm 113

This devotional is about Ecclesiastes 10:8-10.

Many of these later chapters in Ecclesiastes contain proverbs. Some are similar to those we find in the book of Proverbs; others are unique. Here in Ecclesiastes 10:8-10, we find a few proverbs related to work. Verses 8-9 tell us that virtually every job has some kind of risk or hazard to it. Whatever you do that brings income and blessing to you and your household can also harm you if you’re not careful.

I believe that is the point of these proverbs. Solomon’s point was not just to observe that occupations have dangers to them. It was to warn every worker to be careful. If you spend a lot of time around pits that you’ve dug, or stones that you’ve quarried, or logs that you’ve split, you can become indifferent to the dangers they pose to your life and health. When you stop respecting the power of these things, you can get lazy with your safety habits and possibly injure yourself. A wise person never cuts corners on safety in his work; instead, he respects the inherent power of the things he works with and is careful to do his work safely.

Verse 10 pivoted to another aspect of work. That verse reminds us that you have to work much harder with inadequate tools than you do with proper tools. The person who says, “I don’t have time to sharpen this ax; there are too many trees to cut down!” is a person who doesn’t appreciate the power of well-prepared tools. Instead, according to the third line of verse 10, “more strength is needed.” That is, if you don’t understand the power of the right tool, YOU’LL be the one applying the power with your arms. The final line in verse 10 says, “but skill will bring success,” and this line suggests that this verse is about more than just sharpening your ax. A sharpened ax is literally more effective; it is also a metaphor for a more skillful way to work.

There is no virtue in using a handsaw when a circular saw is available. There is no virtue in churning your own butter (unless you like doing that for some weird reason, or think it tastes better) when you can buy a stick or a tub inexpensively. There’s also no virtue in learning by making mistakes when you could learn from others. A wise person is one who is trying to learn how to be more effective in less time at whatever he is attempting to do. God created you with the ability to learn and with the ability to think about your work creatively and innovatively so that you can be more effective and efficient at what you do.

The Bible is a book about God, not about time management, business best practices, or personal success. But it contains helpful information about these subjects because God cares about you and wants you to be effective and productive in addition to being honest and ethical.

Are there any areas of your work, or life in general, where you’ve been careless with safety precautions or where you’ve been working with a dull ax? Maybe it is time to stop working harder and start working smarter, just as God created you to do.

Mechanical Keyboard

I wrote recently about my 27-inch iMac.

Connected to that iMac is another tool I use: a mechanical keyboard.

Specifically, I use the Azio USB Mechanical Backlit Keyboard for Mac. That’s an affiliate link. If you click on it and buy one, I get a commission.

The iMac shows up with a great keyboard in the box. You can choose between a wired or wireless keyboard when buying the iMac. The iMac also comes with a great mouse.

But I enjoy typing on a mechanical keyboard.

There are webpages that claim that mechanical keyboards are better for your fingers. In other words, if you do a lot of typing, like I do, a mechanical keyboard will make it less likely that you have a repetitive stress injury to your hands. PBJ has not evaluated that claim for medical accuracy. It may or may not be true. It probably isn’t in fact.

There are also webpages out there that claim you can type faster and/or with fewer errors on a mechanical keyboard. Again, PBJ has nothing to say about that.

I just like typing on this keyboard. And, because it lights up, it looks really cool.

This keyboard is designed to be used with Apple products, like my iMac. If you write a lot, and like cool-looking tools, try this one out:

27 inch iMac

Designer workspace. Minimalistic home office. Blank screen desktop computer, Mockup desktop computer
Designer workspace. Minimalistic home office. Blank screen desktop computer, Mockup desktop computer, lamp, graphics tablet, keyboard, mouse, pen, succulent plant on white desk. Copy space.

In a world of smartphones and tablets, the desktop computer is becoming a dinosaur.

Or, as the late Apple founder Steve Jobs once said that computers “are going to be like trucks… used by 1 out of X people.” See Jobs say that for yourself:

I use a digital “truck” made by Apple called the iMac. It is a gorgeous, all-in-one desktop computer.

Specifically, I do most of my work on a 27-inch iMac. Here’s an affiliate link; if you buy one, I will get a commission.

In fact, I am writing this post on my iMac.

Mine is getting older. I bought it in 2017. But it still works great. I see no reason to replace it.

I use it for:

  • Bible Study
  • Video editing
  • Writing
  • Reading & research
  • Storing and retrieving files
  • Basic office tasks like email, spreadsheets, etc.

As an “all in one” computer, it is a simple object. You can (and I do) plug many things into it but the computer is built into the screen, so there are not a whole bunch of components strung together by wires.

Speaking of the screen, this iMac has a 27-inch, 5k retna display. It looks amazing. I have a bigger display at home that I will write about someday. That display is useful but it doesn’t look nearly as good as anything does on this iMac.

If you do a lot of your work on a computer, I highly recommend the iMac. You can get a smaller one than I have but get the big one. You won’t regret it.