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.
No, we do not condone breaking the law. As we begin Leviticus, we will discover that there were a lot of laws for the Israelites, 613 to be exact. We will also discover that they broke the laws a lot. It’s important to understand that the laws were not meant to be fun-ruiners. Instead, laws are meant to protect and prosper people.
- We obviously don’t sacrifice like this for our sins anymore. Instead of ignoring this because it’s not relevant, it might be helpful for us to think about how much more seriously we’d take sin if we always had to sacrifice something valuable for it.
- For other ways Leviticus is relevant to our lives, check out this week’s sermon.
- 34 – Begin to notice the frequency with which Jesus commands people and spirits alike not to tell of what he’s done or reveal his identity.
- 35 – Jesus frequently secludes himself and prays.
Other than the golden calf story, you may never have known that the second half of Exodus exists, but there’s plenty to learn here.
Really Israelites? Did you really, so quickly, believe that Moses wouldn’t come down from the mountain? Really? And had you really already forgotten the whole parting the sea incident? Really? I mean, come on. A golden calf? Really?
- 1-6 – When the Israelites feel abandoned, they are quick to demand some form of god. Aaron, the head priest, and brother and right-hand-man of Moses, obliges.
- 11-14 – Proof that God does listen to prayer.
- 18-20 – Moses must have been so disappointed. He had put in so much effort to lead these people from slavery and eventually to the Promised Land. It must have been like a parent finding out their teenager is on drugs.
- 24 – A lie. Vs. 4 explains that Aaron fashioned the calf with tools.
- 11 – Seeing God face to face is pretty incredible considering the glory of the Lord was so great that most of the Israelites weren’t even allowed to touch Mt. Sinai when God met with Moses on the top of it.
- 16 – It is God’s presence with them that makes the Israelites distinct.
- 19-23 – Even though it’s just his back, Moses is the only person to actually see God.
- 69-75 – Even after being warned, Peter denies Jesus 3 times. On the flip side, though, Peter is the only disciple who goes to where Jesus is despite the danger.
- 3-8 – Judas feels regret to the point of returning the money and killing himself.
- 14 – Jesus did not respond to allegations. This was to fulfill a prophecy.
- The first Psalm not attributed to David.
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, they wandered for 40 years, but what happened during those years and how did God and the Israelites remain on speaking terms after the debacles that ensued?
Certainly you’ve heard the story of Moses before, but this will explain the details you didn’t learn from Charlton Heston…or Disney.