Many of us individually and all of us as a society are wealthy in comparison to the rest of the world. We, for the most part, have everything we need and many of the things we want. It is important that we do not begin to rely on these things as our hope our or salvation. Today’s Proverb warns us against this and shows us a better alternative.
- 1 – Listening and knowing what God calls us to do is good, but the doing is where faithfulness really comes in.
- 9 – The people of ancient Israel passed down information by telling stories. God’s faithfulness was remembered through an oral tradition.
- 25-29 – God knows that we will stray at times and he promises that when we discover the error of our ways and turn back and seek him that he will be there ready for us.
- 32-40 – Moses reminds the Israelites that there are no other gods like our God and that he has proven himself and his faithfulness to them in a variety of ways.
- 39-40 – We cannot lead others in things that we don’t know. We have to have faith in order to lead others to faith.
- 41-42 – It is far easier for us to recognize and address other people’s flaws than to admit and deal with our own.
- 45 – We cannot expect to do good work for the Lord when our norm is to fill our hearts with filth.
- 46-49 – Hearing God’s word and putting it into action prepares us for the difficult times.
- 1-10 – A couple of significant things about this passage: 1) The centurion is a Roman official and yet has faith that even amazes Jesus. 2) This is one of the few stories where Jewish religious authorities are painted in a positive light.
- 7-10 – So much of the Bible refers back to itself. This passage refers back to God’s provision for the Israelites in the desert. We too should seek comfort and build our faith on the goodness of God to people throughout history.
- Because we have so much, it is so easy for us to rely on our own wealth and abilities to take care of ourselves. This Proverb warns that this strategy will ultimately fail.
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.
In today’s psalm, David sounds like a man who would not let anything stand in the way of his pursuit of God. He hungered and thirsted for God. This relentless pursuit leaves me feeling both convicted, “I don’t think I have that kind of passion.” and inspired, “I want to pursue God with that kind of fire.” What about you?
- Killing the women and male children seems extremely harsh, but the Israelites were always tempted to mix with other nations when they weren’t completely wiped out. Moses reminds them of their indiscretions in Peor caused by their unwillingness to follow God’s commands completely.
- During Jesus’ temptation he is physically weak but is filled with the Holy Spirit. This can teach us a lot about what we truly need.
- Both Jesus and the devil use Scripture. Jesus uses it to remain faithful to God. The devil twists it to try to cause Jesus to sin.
- 18-19 – Jesus establishes his purpose throughout his ministry.
- 24-30 – Jesus’ words are offensive to those in the synagogue because he is suggesting that they will not be healed. They try to kill him but clearly his purpose wouldn’t be fulfilled through that death so he is able to escape from them.
- The fervor with which David seeks and longs for God is both convicting and inspiring.
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.
A lot of times we get caught up in how many times the people in the Bible screw up. We’re appalled! How can these people not GET IT! Today, in Numbers, we get to read about a handful of people who make faithful decisions. Pay attention to Eldad, Medad, Joshua, and Caleb today. Let them give you a little hope that faithfulness is possible.
- 26-30 – Eldad and Medad are examples of God using ordinary people who haven’t necessarily gone through all the expected requirements to be holy people.
- 12 – Clearly Miriam and Aaron, Moses’ siblings, were in the wrong for speaking against Moses, God’s chosen servant. It does seem odd, though, that only Miriam was punished.
- 25-33 – Of all the spies, only Joshua and Caleb believed they could overcome the inhabitants of their promised land. The others did not trust that God would give them what he promised because it looked impossible to them.
- 36 – A great example of how we should pray. We present all our requests to God, but always have an attitude of submitting to His will.
- 38 – Jesus’ words, “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” is true of us in a number of temptations we face. We intend to do God’s will and honor him, but often our ability to withstand it is too weak.
- 51-52 – The mention of this young man is found nowhere else in the Bible and has very little explanation.
- Those who seek salvation and/or security in anything but God will falter.
- God cares about the way we conduct business. He cares about the morals and ethics we show to the world.
Verses 16-24 of our Leviticus reading today are pretty disturbing. We have to remember that many of the laws, like how to divorce, and this one about not letting people with physical deformities be priests, were to put parameters around things people were already doing. In the ancient Israelite culture, great importance was put on physical appearance (we can probably relate whether we like to or not) and God was trying to get people out of their own way.
- Being separate or set apart was important. God’s holiness sets him apart from humanity. God set the Israelites apart from other nations as his people. Some foods and other items were set apart to be holy enough or worthy enough for his people.
- 1-9 – Priests had extra rules applied to them since they offered the sacrifices and had a special position.
- 16-24 – Definitely a confusing passage in our current context. Like it said in 1 Samuel when David was chosen king, God doesn’t look at outward appearances but people do. This law was established so that people wouldn’t be distracted by their own judgment during worship.
- Moses and Elijah were two heroes of the Jewish faith. The disciples would have been awestruck by seeing these distinguished men.
- 13 – John the Baptist was often compared to Elijah.
- 24 – Often our problem is unbelief. We may believe in God’s power and ability in certain areas of life, but in others we think we need to handle it.
- Note that in the story when the disciples don’t have enough faith to heal, Jesus does. Jesus often fills the gap when our ability ends.
- 29 – This is true of many of our earthly problems.
- 4 – Too often we ask for things of God and then fail to praise him for what he’s done.
Obviously not every minute of Jesus’ life could be recorded. Mark takes that to the extreme…as in, he doesn’t even record the birth of Christ. If you ever want to give someone a version of Jesus’ ministry they can read in a week, Mark’s your guy.
- The passage says, “as the Lord had commanded Moses” several times. It is significant that the Israelites obeyed God’s instructions exactly. We also saw this from Noah when he built the ark. He followed God’s plan, “just as he instructed.”
- 20-21 – The ark of the testimony or Ark of the Covenant represented the presence of God. It was, for obvious reasons, very valuable to the Israelites.
- 34-38 – God’s presence, in the form of a cloud, allowed the Israelites to know when to travel and when to stay put.
- 35 – Moses could not enter the tent while God’s presence was there because of his sins.
- Mark’s gospel moves much more quickly than any of the others. It is believed that it was the first gospel written around 70 AD. It was most likely written quickly because Christians were being badly persecuted during this time and the writer was just needing to get an account down.
- 2-4 – John the Baptist fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy about a precursor to Jesus who would prepare the way for him beginning some of his messages, particularly baptism and forgiveness of sins.
- 8 – Before John, there is not a lot of mention of the Holy Spirit.
- 9 – Note that Jesus appears in Mark as an adult. He tells nothing of his birth, childhood, or preparation for ministry.
- 11 – A powerful message from God to think about when people are baptized.
- 24 – Interesting that an unclean spirit is the first to recognize Jesus for who he is.
- David seeks revenge and God seems to grant it.
Moses spends 40 days in the presence of God, fasting the entire time. Jesus, too, completed a 40 day fast. Fasting is a fairly foreign concept to us American consumers. It’s not just about powering through the time and not eating. We are supposed to allow our desire for food, or whatever we’ve given up, to remind us of our need for God. As much as we want food, we want God more.
- 10 – God makes another covenant with Israel.
- God was very explicit not to leave any remnants of other gods in their land so they weren’t tempted to worship them.
- 26 – We are called to give to God off the top. Give to him first before we buy or pay for other things.
- 28 – Jesus also did a 40 day fast.
- 30-35 – It is believed that Moses’ face shone from the glory of the Lord.
- 15-23 – It must have been so hurtful to Jesus that the crowds asked for a criminal to be released instead of him.
- Crucifixion was already a humiliating punishment, but the soldiers saw to it that Jesus was even more humiliated than normal.
- 16-17 – Just like today, people of ancient Israel put their hope in everything but the Lord.
- Wisdom is something we can all gain if willing.
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.