We have the ability and propensity to turn good things bad. In other words, things that God has given us for good, we tend to corrupt and pervert or make them into idols. In today’s Jeremiah reading, we find that the Israelites have begun to rely on the temple instead of using at as a tool that connects them to God, as God intended it. What are the temples in your life? Service? Family? Work?
15-30 – Jerusalem will soon face disaster.
1 – Jeremiah’s sermon in the temple begins.
4 – Though this phrasing may not sound like a problem, the reason they are deceptive words is because the people of Jerusalem felt that having God’s temple was their ticket to salvation. Like meaningless sacrifices, having the temple meant nothing if you weren’t following God.
8-15 – God planned to destroy the temple in order to destroy the peoples’ false sense of security. They were relying on it for an automatic connection to God but living unfaithfully.
13-15 – Whatever it is that we were trusting in before Christ is taken away.
16-23 – No one else gets to tell us that Christ has not accepted us or that we are unacceptable to him. Of course, we are called to lovingly call out one another’s sins, but ultimately it is Christ who justifies us.
5-8 – The testimony in Jacob was designed to teach younger generations about God. God does great things in our lives in order to bless us and then calls us to tell others about it.
9-20 – The Israelites continually had reason to trust in God and yet continued to question his faithfulness.
Honesty is a blessing and is as pleasant as a kiss.
Exodus begins in medias res with a listing of the names of the children of Jacob. (Jacob is also called Israel, and so his children are called the “Israelites.” The Hebrew name for the book we call Exodus is “Names,” taken from the first word of the Hebrew text of Exodus.) But who is Jacob, how did he have so many children, and how did they all end up in Egypt? To learn all that, you’ll need to read Genesis….
A few notes about Exodus 1:
The Israelites are an immigrant people to Egypt, but the Egyptians, who initially welcomed them, begin to fear them because they grow numerous.
The Egyptians decide to start oppressing the Israelites, but their oppression has the opposite effect (v.12): “The more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread.”
Pharaoh then commands the death of all the Hebrew baby boys. In other words, Pharaoh plans to commit genocide. Some things never change….
In Exodus 1, we already see what will be the main theme of the first half of the book: a struggle between Pharaoh, the divine king of Egypt, and the Living God. Things will get interesting.
Leave thoughts or questions in the comments below.
Genesis is hard enough as it is; here are three things NOT to do when reading the first book of the Bible (and to keep in mind as we read the rest of the Bible). [This post first appeared on my blog, www.andrewforrest.org, 1/19/15. I thought it might be helpful as we wrap up reading Genesis. –AF]
8-11 – Jacob expresses his excitement and gratitude for not only seeing his long-lost son again, but also for getting to meet his grandchildren.
14-22 – In an interesting twist, like in his own life, Jacob assures that the younger brother receives the greater blessing. Manasseh was the older brother, but Jacob blesses his Ephraim with carrying on the line of Israelites.
21 – Jacob assures Joseph that his family will not always remain in Egypt, but will return to the land God gave them. This won’t happen for a while, but will happen.
1-28 – Jacob, before dying, offers specific blessings to each of his sons. Though he blesses the actual sons, their blessings come to, in part, define the tribes they will become.
29-31 – We often want to receive recognition for the good things we do. Jesus did miracles in order to give God glory. When we recognize where our strength and abilities come from, it is easier to give God the glory since it is his already.
32-39 – A very similar story to the feeding of the 5,000. It would seem that the disciples should have assumed Jesus would perform another miracle and yet they still seem to look for logical solutions from him.
1-4 – The religious leaders ask Jesus for a sign to prove his identity even though he has just healed, exorcised, and performed a variety of miracles.
4 – The sign of Jonah relates Jonah’s story with Jesus’ upcoming plight. Jonah was in the whale for 3 days and Jesus will be in the tomb for 3 days. Both exited.
5-12 – Once again, the disciples are somewhat dense. They’ve just seen Jesus feed multitudes with meager amounts of food and they’re worried about his provisions for them. Jesus, in the midst of this, warns them against a greater danger, the Pharisees’ and Sadducees’ teachings.
7-8 – Where this verse lists horses and chariots as things they trusted in over the Lord, we could probably fill those blanks differently. Verse 8 reminds us who is forever in control.
These wise words sound like the verse of every parent giving sound, solid wisdom that could keep their children away from a multitude of heartache. Like the hearers of this proverb, we too struggle to take them at face value.
2 – Once again, a servant of God hears his voice and responds, “Here I am.” It should be an aspirational goal that we begin to respond to God’s callings with “Here I am.”
26-27 – Now all of Jacob’s family moved to Egypt where Joseph was in control.
9 – This is an interesting admission. Though Jacob clearly served God in a variety of ways and was blessed abundantly. Jacob should not be viewed as a moral role model, but an example of God using flawed people for his grand purposes.
23-26 – Because of Joseph’s shrewdness, the Egyptian government is able to sustain all the people through the famine and gain all the land. He then implements a 20% tax to ensure the Pharaoh will have enough grain forever.
27 – This is how the Israelites ended up in Egypt, which eventually put them in slavery. Check out the full explanation here.
1-9 – Once again, The Pharisees are tied to the law to justify themselves. They continually seek out ways to questions Jesus’ actions, but Jesus rarely answers to them. Like now, he calls them out for their own sins. Here Jesus recognizes the Pharisees denying their elderly parents’ financial support in order to gain wealth while saying their giving to God.
10-11 – A common theme throughout the New Testament is that good trees bear good fruit. Jesus uses this again to explain that you can tell the heart of a person based on what comes out of them.
21-28 – This is a difficult passage. The unnamed woman is a gentile and Jesus originally denies her request claiming that his mission is strictly for the Jews. It is interesting that he says this while withdrawing from the Jews to a city filled with gentiles. It is possibly he was simply testing her faith because he doesn’t send her away like the disciples encourage him to do. Ultimately, her persistence and faith are rewarded.
7-11 – David delights in God’s commandments and the laws that govern him. The law is perverted by religious authorities, particularly in Jesus’ time, to allow them to withhold love, mercy, and goodness. When we delight in and see the goodness in the law, we don’t have that tendency.
14-15 – We often allow ourselves to get too close to temptation assuming we are strong enough to withstand it. The proverb wisely encourages us to avoid it altogether.
17-32 – As Joseph makes clear in yesterday’s reading in verse 16, Joseph is not responsible for the interpretation, God is. Joseph is just the vessel.
32 – As we’ve said before, when things are repeated, it means it’s important and should be paid attention to. This is no different with Pharaoh’s dreams.
37-45 – Joseph’s faithfulness in the midst of adversity pays off.
45 – Potiphera is not the same as Potipher whose house Joseph served in and was falsely accused in.
1 – This is Jacob, Joseph’s father.
4 – Benjamin was still young and Jacob had already lost the only other son of his favorite wife, Rachel.
6-10 – Joseph’s dreams that frustrated his brothers when they were young, were now coming true. Joseph recognizes his brothers but they don’t recognize him because there is no way they could have imagined this scenario.
12-17 – Joseph uses this ruse because he wants to see his younger brother.
24-30 – A very powerful parable! God could have destroyed all the people who did not believe in him at any point, but he chooses not to because the destruction of all of them would certainly damage the faith of many believers. We see this even in reading Scripture and feeling sorry for the wicked people in Noah’s day who were drowned. We wonder why God had to destroy them. So God allows believers and non-believers to prosper even if it might make it more difficult for believers.
31-32 – Mustard plants grow quickly and are wild plants.
33 – Clearly Jesus wanted to describe the many intricacies of the kingdom of God. The fact that there are three parables describing the same thing means he wants you to take special note of this.
44-46 – It is unprecedented for a theme to be repeated five times so quickly. The order of the kingdom of heaven was necessary to understand.
David attempts to describe the power of God and how he comes to our aid when we earnestly cry out for help.
Solomon doesn’t just ask the reader to take from his lessons, he too took the lessons from his father, David.
10 – God gave Jacob a new name and thus his 12 sons become the 12 tribes of Israel.
11-12 – God’s words to Jacob are very similar to those in his covenant with Abraham. This seems to be a reaffirmation of God’s covenant with Abraham’s family.
22 – This would have been like stealing.
Sometimes we get lost in the genealogy because, these days, who knows anyone further back then their great-grandparents? In Israelite culture, however, your lineage was a big part of your honor or shame. It could give you status and importance or take it away.
31 – The Israelites were designed not to have a human king but for God to be their only king. They didn’t get a human king until Saul many many generations later.
1 – According to Mosaic law, Jews were not supposed to do any work. Anything as simple as cooking, lighting a candle, etc. would be considered work.
3-8 – The Pharisees put their greatest stock in following the law and had no room for exceptions. In verse 7, Jesus, for the second time, quotes the prophet Hosea explaining that God’s true desire was for the faithful to show mercy to others, not to receive a rote ritual out of obligation.
6 – Jesus is referring to himself as the something that is greater than the temple.
9-14 – God’s law was written for our good, not to see if we could be good enough. When laws were followed over love of people, they ceased to be good.
17-21 – Matthew was intent on showing prophecies fulfilled. Here is another prophecy Jesus fulfilled.
2-5 – These give examples of what a blameless man, who would be worthy of dwelling with the Lord, would do.
Worry and anxiety are so common in our world, but this proverb reminds us that our hope and confidence are in the Lord. If that is true, we can rest peacefully.
24-32 – It is uncertain who exactly Jacob wrestled with. Some say it was actually God and others say it was an angel of God.
28 – Jacob, though he currently has 11, eventually has 12 sons. These 12 sons each eventually become a tribe. This name change solidifies why we call them the 12 Tribes of Israel.
1-4 – Jacob’s reticence to encounter Esau and Esau’s joy to see Jacob closely mirror the reactions of the Prodigal Son and his father in Luke.
2 – Shechem raped Dinah. In ancient Israel any type of sex before marriage, whether your choice or not, was a great disgrace on women.
21-22 – The Israelites were not supposed to inter-marry with Canaanites.
25-29 – Jacob’s sons never had any intention of giving Dinah to Shechem as his wife. Instead, they planned to kill and plunder them as revenge.
10 – Most Jews would have been familiar with prophecies. Jesus quotes a prophecy and begins to reveal both his and John the Baptist’s identities: the messenger and the Messiah.
13-14 – John was often seen as the second coming of Elijah. Prophecy said that Elijah would come back again before the Messiah.
20-24 – Tyre and Sidon and Sodom were all reviled cities by the Jews. They were cities full of gentiles and sinners. Jesus comments, though, that if they had had the same kinds of miraculous interactions with Jesus that the Jews had, they would have accepted it far faster.
28-29 – Beautiful words inviting us into God’s care.