In today’s Luke reading, Jesus talks about David’s relationship to and knowledge of the Messiah in a similar way that we have celebrity endorsements. It gives validity to choosing All Spice, Oil of Olay or Ford for us. For the Jews, associating something with King David gave it automatic clout.
- 21-29 – The tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half of the tribe of Manasseh were on the opposite side of the Jordan from the rest of the tribes. They feared that this physical barrier would eventually cause the other tribes to disown them. The altar they built was not intended to compete with the true altar, but as a reminder that they too worshipped God.
- 12-13 – God’s desire was to separate the Israelites from other people groups because he knew if they intermingled, the other groups would turn the Israelites to other gods. His desire was to protect them. If they chose not to follow his directions, he could not protect them from the consequences he lists.
- 27-40 – Once again, Jesus goes beyond the Mosaic Law. He doesn’t discount it, but moves beyond it. Where the Sadducees, who were known for putting a very heavy emphasis on the Torah (the first 5 books of the Bible), were focused on the details of the law, Jesus shifts to what it will be like during the resurrection. At the time, the issue they brought up will no longer be an issue.
- 41-44 – David was a highly respected legend to the Jews of Jesus’ time. Here, because of their admiration for David, he makes it clear that even David submitted to the authority of the Messiah.
- This Psalm reminds its readers of the covenant made with David that his line would be on the throne of Israel for all generations. This Psalm is most likely written for the Israelites while in exile. They were most likely questioning the validity of God’s promise.
- 19 – This reminds us that it can quickly become apparent what kind of company you keep depending on whether or not they consider your attempts to turn away from evil an abomination or not.
Some things just don’t make sense…to us. In today’s reading in Joshua we read a verse that we could read over quickly and never think about it again. It says, “And the Lord gave them rest on every side.” The context, however, is that they had just taken over lands from other nations and normally this would have caused an uprising somewhere. The other context, though, is that God promised them peace, which trumps everything. God makes crooked paths straight.
- 1-3 – The Levites, which were the priests, were given no inheritance by God, but they were instructed to take what was given to God as theirs. The Israelites pony up cities and pasturelands to fulfill this stipulation.
- 44 – Nations were at war over borders, property, and power constantly. It is very unusual that Israel would have taken land from a number of nations and then had a time of complete peace.
- 45 – We can trust that the promises God makes us are true. He does not fail.
- 1-6 – Joshua commends these tribes for obeying God’s commands well and clearly the tribes are blessed because of it. God’s requests of us are simple, but it is up to us to choose to follow or not.
- 16 – The sin they’re referring to building an altar that would compete with the one God commanded. God had designated where he wanted to receive offerings and this was not it. Though the Israelites may have built it with good intentions, they did not seek God in their decision.
- 1-8 – Jesus frequently answers a question with a question to avoid falling into the traps of religious leaders.
- 9-18 – This parable represents God sending multiple prophets to try and bring the Israelites back to God, but each was rejected. Finally God sends his Son, Jesus, and he is not only rejected but killed.
- 21-26 – Jesus shows that Caesar’s image was on the coin so it’s fine to give Caesar the coin, but God’s image is on each of us so we are to give ourselves fully to him.
- 3-4 – David’s throne through all generations was fulfilled when Jesus, from the line of David, filled the throne forever.
- 16 – This is reminiscent of the saying, “If someone tells you they’re crazy, believe them.”
First off, HAPPY EASTER!!! I hope you feel the love of Jesus throughout your day!
This week we have a number of noteworthy verses, passages, and events to read. For starters, in Joshua, there is a really powerful verse that we should all claim for our families. “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). Joshua has done everything possible to lead the Israelites towards faithfulness and yet they are easily tempted by the presumed glamour of other nations’ gods. So he draws a line in the sand and tells them all to choose who they’ll serve. But he doesn’t have to choose, because he already has.
And this week in Luke we begin reading his account of Holy Week, beginning with the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. As you read through Jesus’ last week of life (it will extend into next week’s reading) remember all that we just remembered and celebrated. I don’t want to spoil anything for next week, so I’ll just leave it at that.
We also get to see a cool way that Scripture all ties together. In Friday’s psalm, the psalmist reminds us of the covenant God made with David and how God promised that David’s line would be on the throne forever. As was affirmed in Matthew and Luke, Jesus’ line runs directly from David. When Jesus dies and resurrects, which we know he’s about to do, he becomes the everlasting king. David’s line truly does remain on the throne forever.
To us circumcision is something that happens and basically is never spoken of again. To the Israelites it was an outward sign of their commitment to the God of Israel. In today’s Deuteronomy reading, Moses takes it a step further. He asks the Israelites to circumcise their hearts and get rid of their stubbornness. He lets them know that an outward symbol is no longer enough, there commitment to God must be in their hearts as well.
- 4-5 – Self-righteousness is always a struggle for people who consider themselves “good people”. The Israelites could have easily started to see they’re blessings as based on their own skill and righteousness instead of because of God’s faithfulness.
- 6-21 – Moses recounts the unfaithfulness of the Israelites in making a golden calf as God was making a covenant with them through Moses up on the mountain.
- The Ark of the Covenant, which the Israelites carried around with them, contained the 10 Commandments tablets.
- 12-13 – A good goal for anyone who wants to follow God.
- 16 – The Israelites used circumcision as an outward sign of their connection with God. Moses now calls them to an inward commitment to God.
- 1-18 – The parable of the four soils is told and then explained to the disciples. We will all hear the good news of Jesus, but each of us will receive it differently.
- 10 – Jesus quotes Isaiah here. This sounds as if Jesus told parables so people wouldn’t understand. Instead, Jesus told parables to give people opportunities to search for the truth, like the disciples, if they wanted to. For those who didn’t care to try, they didn’t receive the condemnation of willfully disobeying God’s instructions because they simply did not understand.
- 16-18 – When we hear and understand the good news, we share it.
- This Psalm seems very vengeful, which does not seem like it fits with God’s loving character. Remember, though, that this is David, a human, writing to God. This shows how honest we can be with God.
We have been tainted by a very small group of people who take advantage of peoples’ faith, asking them to give money in order to prove their faith. These faithful folks are promised more financial blessings if they go ahead and give from what they have. Though today’s Proverb may sound like it’s saying the same thing, our blessings can come in a variety of forms and many blessings we receive are far more valuable than money.
Numbers 36:1/Deuteronomy 1:46:
- The Book of Numbers was about counting the tribes, establishing rules to live and function by, and getting the Israelites to the Promised Land.
- 9-18 – Until now, Moses was the Israelites leader, judge, and connection to God. In this statement he spreads the power amongst leaders and judges of the individual tribes.
- 30-31 – It’s helpful to look back at God’s faithfulness in our past so we can be assured that he will continue to be faithful.
- 39 – God kept his promise to give the Promised Land to the Israelites. He did not give it to the older generation because they were unfaithful, but saved it for the younger generation.
- 29 – Tax collectors were some of the most despised people in this society. They were known for charging way too much for taxes and gaining wealth at the expense of others.
- 29-32 – This is true of us today as well. Jesus wants people who are willing to admit their failures and recognize their need for a Savior. He grants the wishes of those who believe they can handle things on their own and don’t need help.
- 36-39 – Jesus’ new ideas and ways of practicing faith did not fit into the Pharisees’ older ways of thinking. Old practices were cherished and had value in that society, so bringing in a new way of acting/thinking was threatening.
- 1-5 – Jesus uses David as an example because he was such a well-respected figure.
- 1-11 – Jesus’ point was not to dishonor the Sabbath. He realized God’s desire for us to rest on the Sabbath was for our good. If some action was necessary for someone’s wellbeing, that trumped the need to rest.
- It is important to celebrate the good things God has done in order to share his goodness and faithfulness with others.
- This should not be mistaken for “the prosperity gospel” that God wants to make all the faithful people rich. Vs. 24 might sound like this, but often we go richer and things far more important than money when we choose to trust God with our finances.
Sheep and shepherds are a big deal in Scripture. Like in other passages, today’s Numbers reading refers to the Israelites as “sheep without a shepherd.” Sheep without a shepherd are pretty hopeless. They can’t protect themselves or take care of themselves. The shepherd is crucial. When we get to John, Jesus refers to himself as “the good shepherd.” I wonder if there’s any correlation?
- 1-11 – All inheritance was passed down through male offspring until this story. This was probably shocking to the Israelites because women were seen as property, not landowners.
- 17 – In Matthew, Jesus looks at the people of Israel and has compassion on them describing them then too as “sheep without a shepherd.”
- Joshua becomes Moses successor. He also becomes the first official judge of Israel.
- John the Baptist was a fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy that there would be one to prepare the way for the Lord.
- 7-9 – John is speaking to Jews who relied on their heritage as their means to righteousness and connection with God. John is explaining that their lives should reflect repentance and living for God.
- 10-14 – John’s teaching sounds a lot like things Jesus would say. He is teaching how to be honorable, generous, and humble.
- 22 – God’s confirmation of Christ’s identity.
- Beautiful imagery of God’s protection. David describes him as a “rock higher than I”, “refuge”, “strong tower”, “shelter of your wings”.
- This verse is problematic in that the Proverbs usually teach that unrighteous behavior leads to our downfall, but here it follows that suit except when speaking of violent men.
As special as Buddy the Elf’s song for his dad is…there are some really cool songs people in the Bible sing for God based on a specific experience. Today, we read Mary’s Magnificat, or her song of praise to God for choosing her to be the mother of Jesus. What would you write your song to God about?
- 4-9 – One of the stranger stories in Scripture. Though it does fall in line with the overall themes of the Israelites relationship with God. The Israelites complain, God gets angry and punishes them, they cry out for mercy, and God offers mercy.
- Balaam consistently goes to the Lord for guidance before taking any action. He makes a powerful statement in vs. 18, “Though Balak were to give me his house of silver and gold, I could not go beyond the command of the Lord my God to do less or more.”
- Luke’s birth narrative is more from Mary’s perspective.
- 30 – “Do not be afraid” is a common greeting when people encounter God, God’s presence, or angels.
- 37 – Elizabeth’s pregnancy was used as a testament for Mary that nothing was impossible. Pregnancy in old age. Pregnancy in virginity. God is not bound by our human constraints.
- 38 – A powerful statement of submission to God’s will no matter what.
- 39-45 – Elizabeth and her unborn baby, John, both recognize the identity of Christ even before his birth.
- 46-55 – Like Hannah in the Old Testament and Zechariah, Mary praises God for her pregnancy through a song or poem-like piece. It is often referred to as “Mary’s Magnificat”.
- Though David is constantly up against major enemies, he continually finds ways to praise and rely on God in the midst of it.
This obviously isn’t Jesus. I’m pretty sure Jesus didn’t wear sweaters and sit on folding chairs, but Jesus was a little Jewish boy who learned the same Scriptures of the Old Testament we learn today. He even memorized the Torah as all Jewish children are required to do. Often it’s hard to view Jesus as a human, but when he quotes Psalm 22 while on the cross in today’s reading from Mark, it reminds us that he learned Scripture and turned to it when in agony.
- 22-26 – It might be weird for us to think about unintentionally sinning because we normally know when we’re making choices that probably aren’t pleasing to God. They truly might have worn something with mixed fabrics unintentionally or broken some other law that they made a mistake on. God made atonement for these sins fairly easy and universal.
- 15 – Normally Moses is defending the Israelites to God and asking for mercy. This time, Moses seems to have had enough of their complaining and asks God not to respect their offerings.
- 23-32 – Korah, Dathan, and Abiram got swallowed up by the earth as a sign that they truly didn’t follow the Lord.
- 15 – Key phrase – “wishing to satisfy the crowd.” We often do things to satisfy a crowd that hurts our relationship with Christ.
- 19 – Striking his head with the reed was intended to force the thorns deeper into Jesus’ head.
- 23 – At the last supper Jesus explained that he wouldn’t drink wine again until he drinks it with his disciples in his father’s kingdom.
- 35 – Jesus quotes Psalm 22 here.
- 38 – The temple curtain separated the holy of holies, where one could encounter God, from the areas where sinful people could be. Jesus’ death literally broke down that barrier.
- 39 – Not insignificant that it is a gentile who recognizes Jesus’ identity.
- David was in actual physical danger when he cried out to God with this Psalm.
We all fall short and choose sin at times. David did too. In today’s psalm, David has been confronted with his sin by Nathan. David is truly and fully repentant and cries out to God for forgiveness. Star this psalm for the times when you need to repent and ask for forgiveness. We’ll all need it at some point.
- 1-3 – You can imagine that God would grow tired and frustrated of hearing complaints from the people he was continually caring for and protecting.
- The Israelites continue to think they have better ideas than the Lord. They continue to doubt his provision for them.
- 3-9 – This story is also found in Matthew. One significant addition to Mark’s version is in Jesus’ response to the naysayers. He says, “whenever you want, you can do good for them.” It seems to suggest that they denounce this woman for not tending to the poor and yet they don’t either.
- Note that this is a Psalm written by David in response to Nathan rebuking him when he committed adultery with Bathsheba and then sent her husband to the front lines of battle to cover up his sins.
- This is a Psalm to read and pray when you are ready to fully repent of a sin you’ve committed.
- Note that David recognizes that God is not looking for a sacrifice or offering, but true brokenness and repentance from the sinner.
Now that we’re a week into Mark, you’ve probably noticed that some stories are repeated in multiple gospels while others are only in one. The reason something is or isn’t included in a gospel is based on whether the writer felt it was significant in explaining to people the identity and importance of Jesus.
- 9 – What it meant to be “cut off from your people” is uncertain. Some thoughts are that it entailed the death penalty, or a curse to die young and childless, or to be excommunicated from your people.
- 4-5 – The reason we should follow God’s laws is simple – because he is the Lord our God.
- 26-30 – The Syrophenician woman was a gentile. While Jesus’ statement sounds harsh, Jesus makes it very clear he came first for the Jews. Note that he still heals the woman’s daughter.
- Both Matthew and Mark record two large feeding stories, one of 4,000 and one of 5,000, which makes it more likely that it was not simply one event they were trying to emphasize.
- 4 – Was David’s sin not considering the poor? This makes sense considering the first few verses.