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.
Families are a funny thing. In today’s Luke reading we find a different lineage for Jesus. Don’t worry though! This is Mary’s lineage even though it ends with Joseph. It was common for people to call themselves the “father” of a son-in-law. Now, go on and go take a family picture you’ll regret in 5-10 years.
Most of us tend to read through the explanations of offerings simply to get through that section. Today, try reading it as if you were an Israelite who actually needed to know the details in order to follow God’s law.
Burnt offerings are often followed with a description that it has a “pleasing aroma to the Lord.” Since we no longer offer burnt offerings, what do you think we offer that presents God with a pleasing aroma?
Considering the quantities of the feast that starts in vs. 12, the Israelites must have had massive herds.
Note that in Matthew we already read a lineage for Joseph and it was different than this list. Most theologians believe that this is actually Mary’s lineage since most of the birth narrative and beginning of the book focus on her.
Interesting that David, multiple times, says my soul waits for “God alone”. Too often, when under pressure, we’re not willing to wait for God but put our trust in anything and everything else.
Note that it may not be much comfort to us that good wins out in this verse. Though the wicked’s wages are deceptive, they still earn wages.
Why was Jesus important? Was it solely for him to come and die for our sins?
Obviously, that act of self-sacrifice was crucial. Jesus died, as the sinless Son of God, so that we could live eternally. This week’s readings will serve as a game show host or infomercial announcer saying, “But wait, there’s more!”
Jesus’ life mattered too! In Luke 4, Jesus gives his first sermon, which spells out his purpose for coming to the earth. He maps out his ministry basing it on a passage from Isaiah saying he was here to set captives free, give sight to the blind, etc. Then, in the rest of our Luke readings he shows us how we’re supposed to live, which, by no coincidence, is perfectly in line with his purpose for his own ministry.
This week we will also transition from Numbers to Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy is a type of farewell speech for Moses. He has led the Israelites for 40 years through a variety of highs and lows and now will be handing over the reigns. As we transition away from Moses, be prepared for the Israelites to begin to flounder through judges, good and bad kings, and a variety of successes and failures.
It seems that we’re starting a new book almost every week these days. I hope that is great encouragement for you to continue plugging away day by day. We’re doing great!! Keep it up!
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.
We all had an awkward adolescence…even George Clooney. Yikes! In today’s reading, we find the only story in the Bible about Jesus’ adolescence. Don’t get too nervous about the ending. No surprise, he finds himself in church.
The Israelites were meticulous with their record keeping.
41-45 – The pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the Passover would have been a journey of several days and whole extended families and friends would travel together. It is not unusual that Mary and Joseph would assume that Jesus was somewhere in the group. But can you imagine the panic they must have felt when they thought they had lost the Son of God?
51 – This verse is placed here to assure the reader/hearer that Jesus wasn’t unkind or disrespectful of his parents. He was simply engaged in his long-term call.
This passage is the only canonical recording of Jesus’ childhood or adolescence.
This is warning not to make promises you can’t keep and specifically not to promise something that someone else is intended to keep because you can never guarantee it.
Suffering is terrible. It is particularly hard when it comes by no fault of your own. Today’s Psalm is a good one to turn to when your suffering blind sides you and there was nothing you could have done to prevent it. Turns to God, not to despair.
3-9 – Through Balaam’s obedience to God, he is blessed with a greater understanding and insight to God’s plan, provision, and protection for the Israelites. He expresses this in this oracle.
1-5 – God takes idolatry and worship of other gods very seriously.
9 – A plague killing 24,000 people seems harsh, but God’s plan was to set the Israelites apart. When they intermixed with other nations, they often fell to the temptation of worshipping other gods. Clearly this Israelite who took the Midianite woman did so without regard to the congregation and interfered with worship in doing so.
8-15 – The first people to find out about Jesus’ birth are shepherds, one of the lowliest jobs in their society.
Simeon offers a special blessing for Jesus because it had been revealed to him who Jesus was. Notice that he also is described as having the Holy Spirit upon him. The Holy Spirit was active and working in people well before Jesus officially sent him to the disciples after his resurrection and ascension.
This Psalm is good for times when we suffer through no fault of our own. David calls out to God and trusts him to take care of him.
Today’s Proverb reminds us that flapping our gums is hurtful and unwise. It is too easy to break trust, tell secrets, and speak ill of others for our own gain. Unfortunately, these things have been problems for humanity for centuries, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to stop these tempting habits.
22 – It is confusing why God gets angry about Balaam going with the princes of Balak because God gave him permission. God’s permission, however, was to only do what God told him to do. Balaam may have acted in a way at some point that was not pleasing to God.
23-35 – Did you know this was in the Bible? Yep, a talking donkey. God truly can do all things! Note that God gave special sight to the donkey to see the angel and protect Balaam.
Balak continues to push Balaam to bend to his will instead of God’s. Balaam’s response is continually, “All that the Lord says, that I must do.”
68-79 – Zechariah’s song serves as both a praise song to God and a blessing for John.
It seems that we still have the same problems that ancient Jews did. They struggled with slander and trustworthiness and we do as well. The Proverbs are helpful for us even today.