We require clear instructions. Otherwise, we tend to find ways to mess up. Though they may seem tedious, God gives the Israelites very specific instructions on how to construct the Tabernacle. This was basically a portable temple, or place of worship, that they could pack up and move whenever they needed to wander to a new location in the desert.
- 15 – Feast of Unleavened Bread is Passover
- 1-7 – These were special offerings requested so the Israelites could build a tabernacle for God.
- 8-9 – The Tabernacle was God’s mobile house. The Israelites couldn’t build a temple yet because they were still nomadic.
- 9-40 – Like with Noah, when building his ark, God gives Moses very specific construction instructions.
- 34 – This tends to be problematic for people because clearly all the people in that generation have since died. Some people interpret it to mean that the Jews will still be in existence until the second coming. Others believe that fulfillment simply requires the beginning of the age and not the full second coming. Of course, no one knows for sure.
- 40-42 – verses like these are where ideas for things like the “Left Behind” series come from
- 44 – Jesus’ warning is for those of us who know the truths of Jesus. He warns us not to neglect those truths but be faithful even as we wait and don’t know how long we’ll be waiting.
- 5 – Encouragement that trouble is always temporary
- 11-12 – Beautiful imagery of God’s restoration through our trials. What if we all were so aware of God’s part in our getting through difficult times?
This week, it all comes full circle. Last week, in Exodus, we read about God releasing the Israelites from slavery and saving their first-born children through the Passover. This week, we’ll read about the Last Supper, which Jesus offered to his closest companions, the disciples, just before his arrest and death.
Do you see the connection? Is it starting to become clear just how carefully the story of God’s love and redemption for humanity has been in the works over time?
In Exodus the Israelites experience the first Passover and make unleavened bread so they can leave quickly if needed. In Matthew, Jesus eats the Passover meal with his disciples. In Exodus a flawless lamb’s blood could save you from the death of your first-born. In Matthew, Jesus offers up his own blood to save us all. In Exodus God makes a way for his people to receive freedom. In Matthew, he does the same.
The first Passover directly connects to the Last Supper and Jesus’ death, which directly connects to our experiencing Holy Communion on Sundays. This is not just a series of unrelated stories, but one centuries long story of God continually working to achieve our redemption.
Don’t get bogged down in the details of how to build the tabernacle – they can get tedious. Think of the tabernacle as a traveling temple. The Israelites wanted a home for God that they could pack up and move as they wandered. The tabernacle was the solution. Practical, eh?
Yes, we’ve been waiting for over 2,000 years and, who knows, we may still be waiting for a while. Many people have tried to find clues and solve equations to figure out when Jesus is coming back, but the truth is, God said no one knows. We are instructed, however, to always be ready, which means to remain faithful in all circumstances.
- This section of reading is a variety of rules for living in society.
- 22-24 – Throughout Scripture, widows and orphans get special protection.
- 29-30 – Often we give from what we have left over after we’ve spent as much as we want. We are to give from our first and best.
- 1-7 – Many people try to predict the end of the world based on various Scriptures and what they perceive to be the fulfillment, but Scripture says no one knows the timing.
- 27 – We don’t need to believe folks like David Koresh who come and say they are the Messiah. Scripture says we’ll all know when Jesus is back.
- Sin and temptation are attractive, constantly available, and trying to draw us in at all costs.
Each of us, to some degree, fear and dread rejection of all kinds. In verse 10 of today’s psalm, David talks about God welcoming him in when he was rejected even by his parents. Like it may be to you, this was real for David. When Samuel came looking for the next king, David’s father, Jesse, marched his other seven sons in front of him, but not David. Even in painful rejection, we can know God’s love and acceptance.
- 8 – Since when were they at war?
- 9 – Joshua begins as a war hero and becomes Moses’ right-hand-man
- 10-13 – Moses, with the help of Hur and Aaron, play a major role in defeating the Amalekites
- 15 – The Lord is My Banner – or Jehovah-Nissi – is one of the many names Bible characters give God based on their experiences with him
- 13-23 – Jethro encourages Moses to create a system of government – to delegate and form a type of disciple
- 1-11 – God promises to make the Israelites his most treasured possession if they obey his commands. They agree. They would even hear God speak with Moses.
- 37-39 – one of the few times Jesus answers a question directly
- 2-3 – we should listen even to hypocrites, we just shouldn’t do what they do
- 5 – Phylactery – small box filled with Scripture men tie to their foreheads while they pray
- 5 – Fringes – Orthodox Jewish men wear a garment with 8 fringes and 5 knots that represent the 613 laws of Moses to help them remember to follow them
- 12 – The 2nd time recently to remind us that when we exalt ourselves we’re humbled but when we humble ourselves we’re exalted
- It is all of our hope that when we make the effort to seek God he will show up
- 10 – This was literal for David. When Samuel came looking for the next king, Jesse offered up David’s 7 older brothers but not him.
- 13 – During any struggle, this is a great promise. Despite horrible circumstances, you will see God’s goodness again.
- We cannot continually place ourselves in the way of temptation and expect not to fall
Today’s psalm is simply beautiful. Read verse 4 a couple of times. It’s worth it. Can you imagine if you had one and only one focus – and that focus was to be in the presence of God? How different would your life look?
- 24 – Just 3 days after God parted the Red Sea to protect the Israelites, they complain because of a lack of drinkable water
- 26 – God often offers us rules and limits to protect us. It is our job to decide if we will accept and follow or not.
- 3-21 – God provides food through quails and manna. He asks them to only take enough for a day. Many still don’t trust and take more to assure they’ll have some for the next day.
- 29 – God offers people a Sabbath. The 10 Commandments, which have 1 commandment about the Sabbath have not been written yet.
- 32 – Remembering things from generation to generation was frequent.
- Be sure to read the footnotes. They can be helpful.
- 1-14 – a parable explaining the peoples’ contempt for and rejection of Jesus’ message. The person at the end without the wedding garment represents the judgment of those who did not accept Jesus as the Messiah.
- 17-22 – Caesar’s image was on the coin. It belongs to Caesar. God’s image is on all of us. We belong to God.
- 29-33 – The Sadducees try to stump Jesus but he explains that there question is irrelevant because terms need to be redefined in light of the resurrection.
- 1 – One of the most comforting verses in all of Scripture.
- 4 – 1 thing – singular focus is seeking God
- 21-22 referring back to Deuteronomy 6
- This proverb offers encouragement to put in the time before you’re tested to know, trust, and believe God’s commandments will pay off
If you want a picture of God’s faithfulness, that’s it. Yep, Charlton Heston with arms spread. Ok, not exactly, but close. God rescuing the Israelites from slavery through plagues and the parting of the Red Sea is, by far, the most referenced example of God’s faithfulness to humanity in Scripture. If you find something better, take it up with Charlton.
- The dramatic story of God rescuing the Israelites through the parted Red Sea is the event most referenced to remind people of God’s enduring faithfulness throughout Scripture.
- 17-18 – God directed them away from the Philistines, an enemy of Israel to avoid fear and danger. He knows how to protect us before we know we need protecting.
- 21-22 – Pillar of cloud and pillar of fire represent God’s provision through the impossible.
- 11-12 – The Israelites had seen God’s power through the plagues and provision through the pillars and yet they’re terrified when they see the Egyptians approaching.
- 14 – we could all stand to hear this over and over
- 22 – Once again, God provides a way through the impossible – Red Sea parting
- 15:1 – people often sang songs to God based on what He had done for them
- 23-27 – Jesus often answered a question with a question
- 28-32 – obedience parable – who actually loves God? Those who’ve messed up but are seeking to be more and more faithful or the person who continually talks about their faith but doesn’t live it?
- 33-46 – the Israelites and religious leaders rejected multiple prophets trying to get them to straighten up and then they rejected Jesus
- 2-3 – Would I feel comfortable asking God to test my heart, mind, and faithfulness?
- Avoid these things at all cost
In today’s reading, we see Jesus get angry and act out in anger flipping the tables of those selling birds for sinners to purchase and sacrifice. Sometimes it’s hard to see Jesus as a human because we focus on him as God and Savior. Today, don’t sugarcoat his anger. It was real just like the deep anguish he felt when his friend Lazarus died. If we can’t see Jesus as a human who felt like any other human does, we cannot fully comprehend the sacrifice he made on the cross.
- 14-17 – Passover – feast of unleavened bread – used as a remembrance of the good God had done in saving the Israelites’ first borns and leading them out of Egypt.
- 18-20 – Bread is unleavened because the Israelites had to get out of Egypt quickly and there wasn’t time for bread to rise
- 25 – God tells them about the Promised Land (land of milk and honey) but does not tell them it will take 40 years of wandering in order to get there
- 1-2 – Our offering to God should come off the top – firstborn
- 29 – Jericho – the oldest continually lasting city – over 10,000 years old
- 1 – Many times heading towards Jerusalem has been referenced thus far in Matthew, now they are finally arriving. This is done to show that getting to Jerusalem was a purposeful, planned event. Jesus was not surprised by what was to come.
- 7 – Some ancient Jews believed the Messiah would come as a military hero, yet he arrived on a borrowed donkey
- 9 – Hosanna means “Save us!”
- 12 – is often referenced when confirming that Jesus had human emotions
- 12 – Pigeons were being sold so people could use them to sacrifice. The religious authorities were trying to profit off of the sinfulness of their constituents.
- David not only asks for God’s protection and provision, but he also commits to integrity, uprightness, and waiting on the Lord to hold up his end of the bargain
Why did God choose the Israelites as his people and not the Egyptians or the Ammonites or the Philistines or any of the other people groups we’ve read about? I ask this question because this week, in our Exodus readings, we will see the stark contrast between the Israelites and the Egyptians. God continually makes it clear who his people are and who his people are not.
In general, this seems to be the way we ask questions about Scripture: why did God do it this way? Why didn’t God do it that why? Why does the Bible say this?
What if we spun our thoughts on Scripture to see a good, loving, and all-powerful God who actually knows more than we do? Instead of asking, “why did God send down the plagues on the Egyptians”, could we say, “wow, it’s incredible the lengths to which God went to save the Israelites from the Egyptians.”
Yes, some stories are more complicated than that, but what if our questions and comments sought to find the ways God redeemed, blessed, and protected his people? It would greatly alter our readings.
And make a note of this Biblical theme:
In Matthew’s parable on January 30th, a theme of righteous, purposeful inequality will continue. It’s one to think about and check ourselves on. Frequently, when those who have remained righteous see grace offered to someone who has failed or fallen short, they’re outraged. It’s not fair! I’ve been faithful and they haven’t! If we were truly righteous, wouldn’t we be rejoicing with God over the repentant sinner?
It is a common theme in Scripture for people to make promises to God and then completely abandon them. The Israelites do it over and over as they commit to living faithfully and then worship other gods. Today’s culprit is Pharaoh. Note in the next few days just how many times he promises to release the Israelites.
- 23 – what originally cause the Egyptians to be “not God’s people”?
- So often we disobey God’s laws and commands and yet we’re surprised and even think it’s unfair of God when we experience consequences
- 15 – Sometimes God hardens Pharaoh’s heart and sometimes Pharaoh hardens his own
- 8 & 28 & 28- How often have we bargained with God, and like Pharaoh, not held up our end of the agreement?
- 14 – childlike faith is praised several times in Scripture
- 16-22 – selling possessions could be interchanged with anything we hold to more tightly than God. What would you hate for Jesus to fill in that blank with?
- 30 – A countercultural thought. We, like ancient Israelites, try to get to the top. God calls us to humble ourselves instead.
- A musical version of this Psalm:
- Warning not to let others be in control of your life. Throughout Scripture, trusting others above God is a prominent sin of people