Today’s Psalm reminds us to look to our past to gain hope for our future. This may seem odd to those of us with troubled pasts, but we’re not looking for our own successes or failures, we’re looking for God’s faithfulness. When we see God’s faithfulness in our past, it reminds us that he will be faithful again and again.
- 1-19 – Moses clearly explains to the Israelites what is required of them and what the outcomes of both decisions will be. They can choose obedience and blessings or disobedience and curses.
- 20-68 – All of these verses describe the breadth of curses the Israelites will receive if they choose not to follow the Lord’s commands. Every aspect of their lives will be slowly destroyed.
- 17-23 – The people who accused Jesus of casting out demons by the devil’s power were simply trying to come up with any reason to explain away his abilities. Jesus explains how this can’t possibly be the case because why would Satan send some one who was constantly opposing his work. Jesus also requires that if these people call into question Jesus’ means of exorcism, they would need to call into question Jewish exorcists’ means as well.
- 27-28 – Jesus consistently redirects people to his main point. He’s not arguing that his mother should not be blessed, but instead redirecting this woman and the crowd to what he came to earth to teach.
- 29-30 – Jonah’s message to Nineveh was to repent or be destroyed. Jesus’ message was basically the same for the Israelites.
- This Psalm is a reminder to those who feel lost or forgotten by God to look back on his faithfulness in the past to give them hope that he is near and still faithful.
- 19-20 – God’s faithfulness to the Israelites in the desert seems to be the event later Israelites looked to the most as a sign of God’s faithfulness.
- Think about how true this has been in your own life. Careless words can be so hurtful and wise words so healing. This can be a reminder to us to choose wise words for others.
In today’s Deuteronomy reading, God knows the Israelites will be afraid to face their enemies who are bigger and stronger. He needs them to know that he is with them and he will make a way for them. He reminds them of the way he made away for them as they escaped the Egyptians. Our memories of what God has done for us previously can help is tremendously in trusting him with our next steps.
- It is difficult to read that entire people groups were destroyed by God’s command. We wonder where God’s mercy is, but verse 10 reminds us that his punishments were in return for people who hated and mocked him. In fact, God’s love and protection for the Israelites should be seen as an extension of immense mercy since they also often disobeyed God. We can also extend this thought that anything good that comes to us is an act of great love from God since we too disobey and mock him continually.
- 1-5 – Moses explains to the Israelites why they must wipe out the other people groups. God commands this in order to protect them from the temptations they will certainly fall to to worship other gods.
- 17-19 – God knew that the Israelites would be fearful to face those they were to fight, but they are reminded of God’s intervention with the Egyptians so they can have confidence that he will be faithful again.
- 3 – Though the Israelites were so worried about food throughout their time in the desert, God provided miraculously to help the Israelites rely on him, not food. Jesus also quotes this verse when tempted by the devil in the desert.
- 11-20 – A great reminder for us today that God is the giver of all of our gifts and we shouldn’t abandon him once we’re comfortable.
- 36-40 – Jewish custom, at the time, did not allow men to touch or speak to women they weren’t married or related to. It is also presumed that this woman was a prostitute, which added extra scandal to the mind of the Pharisee.
- 41-50 – This is not encouragement to sin more so we can be forgiven, but instead to be aware of our sinful nature and need for forgiveness so we can be grateful for the gift we’ve been given.
- 2-3 – Just like he focused on Mary’s perspective rather than Joseph’s in the birth narrative, Luke tends to include and highlight the participation of women in ministry.
- When David seems to be abandoned by everyone, he still has God to reach out to.
The law that Moses gave the Israelites was very just. If you sinned, you paid for it. If you sinned against someone, you had to give them back an equal amount. In our Luke reading today, Jesus introduces different ways to extend grace. Grace is like the greatest buy one get one free sale ever! You get far more than you deserve. If someone steals your cow, instead of asking for it back, give them another. It was revolutionary then and it still is today.
- Note that God had given specific land to people other than the Israelites, namely Lot and Esau. Esau was from the same family as the Israelites, but wasn’t included in the Promised Land because he gave up his birth right as a young man.
- As the Israelites were faithful in trusting God and respecting the borders he gave them, he was faithful in giving them what he promised.
- 13-16 – The full list of disciples. Most often they are listed with only a few of them together.
- 20-26 – Matthew’s account of the beatitudes only includes blessings while Luke’s records blessings and woes.
- 27-31 – God’s law given to Moses for the Israelites was based on justice. If you kill your neighbors cow, you give him one that’s just as good. But Jesus introduces opportunities to offer grace and to give people better than what they deserve.
- Much of Jesus’ teaching was countercultural.
- The Psalmist asks that God be gracious to him so that he can then make God more known. This should be the purpose for the blessings we request.
- If you look for trouble, you’ll find it.
Today’s Psalm reminds us how vast, great, and capable our God is. Is the God who set the earth in motion, raised the mountains to their heights, and created boundaries for the oceans overwhelmed by our problems? Of course not! He is able to care for you no matter what is going on.
- 50-56 – God actually gives an explanation here for why he’s asking the Israelites to drive other people out of their land. If people are left, they will hinder the Israelites.
- 2 – Earlier in Numbers God explained that the Levites would not receive an inheritance, but instead would receive what was offered to God. This command is another way God provided for the Levites.
- 11 – They had specific cities of refuge for people who accidentally killed people, but God makes it clear what defines an accidental death and who should not have access to the cities of refuge.
- 16 – We often think we’re too busy to pray or spend time with God. This is clearly an indictment on that because Jesus needed to teach and heal crowds of people and yet he made a point to get away and pray.
- 22 – The scribes and Pharisees had not audibly expressed their concerns, but Jesus knew them anyway. They must have been a little thrown off when Jesus addressed their unspoken criticisms.
- 26 – When we see God move, whether in our lives or someone else’s, we are moved and amazed.
- Seeing God’s power, creativity, and control in nature can remind us of what he can do in our lives. What can be so big in your life that the God who built the mountains and controls roaring seas can’t handle?
Did you know that the same person who wrote Luke also wrote Acts, the first book after the gospels? There are all kinds of fun tidbits to learn about Scripture that are great conversation starters at cocktail parties…well…maybe. Anyway, enjoy the beginning of Luke! It’s a great one!!
- 1-19 – Here we see something sacrificed being used later to cleanse and restore an unclean tent.
- 3 – The Israelites always seem to recall events that they once complained about as better than their current circumstances. It most commonly is tied to lack of provisions or fear of danger.
- 6-13 – The older Israelite generation had already been forbidden from the Promised Land. Now, because he did not obey the Lord completely, Moses and Aaron are also forbidden. Moses was told to strike the rock once but he struck it twice. He also tried to take credit for what the Lord would do by providing water. He said, “Shall we bring water” when it was only the Lord’s work.
- 28-29 – Even though the Israelites complained and rebelled a lot, clearly they loved Aaron.
- 1-4 – The writer of Luke is an intelligent, orderly person intent to write a logical, organized version of the story of Christ’s life. He also addresses his letter to Theophilus.
- 9 – Only one priest entered the holy of holies at a time. An extensive cleansing ritual occurred before the priest entered.
- 17 – John the Baptist was often considered the second coming of Elijah.
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.
Verse 5 of today’s Psalm is powerful. “There they are, in great terror where there is no terror!” We fear so many things that have absolutely no power over us. We fear that people will not accept us, or that our children will not get into the right kindergarten, or that we won’t be able to maintain the standard of living we hope for. We create terror where there is no terror. God is good and is in control. Fear not.
- 1-4 – When things get scary, we often revert to whatever was comfortable even if it was bad for us. For the Israelites it was Egypt.
- 18 – As Moses appeals to the Lord to forgive the Israelites for their continued unfaithfulness, he uses a phrase that people will repeat throughout the Bible, “the Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love…”.
- The Israelites’ unfaithfulness results in them not getting to enter the Promised Land. Caleb and Joshua get to and later generations get to, but those who have continually been unfaithful despite God’s provision, are punished.
- 61-63 – This is the first time Jesus openly calls himself the Son of God. He normally followed people’s questions about his identity with a question. The chief priests believed this gave them grounds to charge him with blasphemy.
- 66-72 – Peter was convinced he would never deny Jesus. His denial and the fulfillment of what Jesus said gives Peter great grief.
- We allow ourselves to fear so much in the world that truly can’t harm us. God is in control and takes care of us.
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.
I’m not going to lie to you, this week’s Numbers readings are filled with God giving the Israelites a chance, the Israelites complaining about what they’ve been given or what they think they should have been given, and the Israelites longing to return to their slavery in Egypt. Two mistakes we make when reading about the Israelites are to:
- Judge them too harshly – What idiots these folks are! They have access to the living God and yet they fail, complain, and lack trust. Get it together, Israel. Now that I have that out there…don’t we do the exact same thing? Don’t we also make the same mistakes over and over? Don’t we fall into the same sin traps?
- Assume God is mean – God gives the Israelites laws and covenants to protect them from the things that might harm them. The Israelites break the laws and forget their covenants and thus opening themselves up for consequences and attack. God does not desire for them to have these consequences. He set them up to never have to face them.
This week, the first full week of Lent, we also read another account of Jesus’ last week of life. It is a familiar story and yet should never become old hat. Let yourself imagine what he felt, what you would have thought and felt if you were a believer at that time, and how the sequence of events would have effected your faith.
One of our psalms this week is also particularly appropriate for this season. On Wednesday, note that Psalm 51 was written when David had been confronted by Nathan with his sin. It is filled with heartfelt repentance and can help us repent of our sins.
Happy reading! Let God’s Word bless your week!
Math jokes. Good clean fun. Today we start the book of numbers where, appropriately, we’ll count the Israelites. They counted the number of war-ready males so they could be prepared for any upcoming battles. Don’t get too stuck on the numbers listed, they were most likely translated incorrectly.
Leviticus 27:14-Numbers 1:54:
- 32 – The total number was most likely translated wrong. It is pretty much impossible that there were 603+ thousand men and approximately 2 million people total. If you want to hear more about it, check out our podcast from earlier this week.
- 2 (Numbers) – The Israelites are counted by their tribe – the 12 tribes of Israel – the 12 sons of Jacob (also named Israel).
- 3 – The census was to determine how many men Israel had who were eligible for war.
- 27-54 – The Levites were not counted because their job was to take care of the tabernacle.
- 9-10 – “Hosanna” means “Save us!”
- 15-18 – This passage is often sited when describing Jesus’ humanity and how he felt real human emotions.
- Seek God when you need strength and protection.
- 10 – A concept foreign to us – “be still” – particularly when things are going wrong.