How do you imagine perfection? Not just partial perfection or perfection in one person, but full, true perfection? God’s kingdom fully on earth is what true perfection looks like. The end of Revelation depicts what the new Jerusalem will look like. It is the return of what God intended for earth. This is something we should long and pray for.
1-5 – The words love and hate could be exchanged for “chose” and “did not choose”. God chose Jacob to set up his people. He did not choose Esau. Not only did Esau forego his blessing and birthright, but his descendants often fought against the Israelites. They brought God’s curse upon themselves.
6-14 – The Lord denounces the blemished offerings the priests put before him. These half-hearted offerings showed their lack of devotion to God.
1-9 – The priests had been given special authority. God asked that they honor him and lead the rest of the people in spiritual practices. Here he rebukes them for failing to do so.
10-16 – Scholars disagree on whether this is actually talking about marriage and marrying foreign women or metaphorically speaking of idolatry. Either way, the Judeans were practicing things God did not approve of.
1-7 – This scene depicts God’s kingdom officially and completely coming to earth, like we pray in the Lord’s prayer.
9-27 – The scene depicts the new Jerusalem where God will dwell negating the need for a temple, any other source of light, and presumably many other things necessary in our current construct.
1-5 – So many of the psalms instruct us to praise God and a large percentage of those instruct us to praise him specifically with songs. It is important that we, as a people, do not get out of this habit.
10-24 – These verses describe an excellent wife. Her characteristics include productivity, generosity, care for others, integrity, and preparedness.
Salvation is a free gift. We can’t earn it. That is so freeing…but…it should free us to do more good, live more like Christ, and serve more. It should not, in our minds, give us free license to sin more because, hey, what’s the harm? Be grateful for your free gift and act accordingly.
18-25 – These festivals and others are spelled out in Numbers 23.
1-18 – The prince had special instructions on how to handle offerings and other rituals in the temple.
1 Peter 1:13-2:10:
14-21 – Our call is to live like Christ. Because he lived a holy life, we are to do so as well. We know this is a worthy call because he died and rose again.
1-3 – We are to turn away from our sin and long for God’s goodness and guidance.
9-10 – We should take it seriously and act upon it that we were saved.
36-37 – A difficult prayer to pray because it might mean we actually have to turn from our selfish ways and live for God.
It’s interesting how our reading lines up today. We’re reading about Ezra trying to reestablish the function of the second temple and reading a psalm helping dedicate the original temple. But this kind of thing can be confusing at times because the Bible is not chronological. Which temple are we talking about when? Who were contemporaries? Etc. Here is a timeline of some of the major biblical events this will hopefully be helpful.
1-6 – When Ezra showed up, it had been 58 years since the dedication of the temple.
11-20 – The king gives all the priests permission to go back to Jerusalem with Ezra and to equip the temple with everything it needs.
25-20 – Ezra is appointed to begin to rebuild the structure of authority within Jerusalem as people head back to settle there.
1 Corinthians 4:1-21:
6-7 – We are not to boast in our gifts or good fortunes because all of it was given to us by God.
9-13 – Though Paul’s description of what it’s like to be an apostle of Christ doesn’t sound incredibly appealing, it is well worth it when we get to share Christ with others and bring them to him.
16 – This is the goal! We want to be so active in our faith that we can encourage others to live like we do knowing that will help them live more like Christ.
This would have been written for the first temple dedication, not the one we just read about in Ezra. It very well may have been read at the second dedication too though.
5 – A reminder that there is always joy to come.
11-12 – These verses, as well as the majority of the psalm, are clearly transitioning out of a time of pain into a time of great celebration. The dedication of the temple would have been such a time of hope for the Israelites.
Today we finish up Romans and you’ll notice Paul ends by trying to connect believers together. In most of his letter conclusions he attempts to connect the churches with other believers he’s worked with. We should take a note here. It’s important, as believers, to be connected with other believers.
2 Chronicles 33:14-34:33:
1- Strangely, Josiah is not the youngest king to ever start his reign. Joash started ruling at age 7.
8-13 – Unfaithful kings tended to let the temple fall into disrepair. Both boy kings took the offerings of the people to put it to temple reparations.
27-28 – Even though the people had been evil, the king still had love for them and would have been pained to see them suffer.
8-16 – In Paul’s conclusion to the Romans, he is doing his best to connect the believers with others they might encounter.
17-19 – Satan does not like it when people are faithful and make faithful decisions. He tries to deceive and turn them with things and people who seem holy-ish.
2 – This is a pretty scary prayer to pray. This is inviting God to look into all the part of us we normally try to hide.
Often the person who tells you great gossip will tell yours as well. Better not to associate with them at all.
People joke that there’s no instruction manual for parenting or for general life. Seemingly, the toughest things we have to do get the least amount of instruction. That’s only partially true. God doesn’t just plop us down in life and tell us to figure it out. Like today’s psalm explains, everything we need to know for salvation and successfully navigating life is available us through Scripture and the Holy Spirit.
2 Chronicles 30:1-31:21:
1-9 – It’s comforting that even when we fail to do what we’re supposed to do, when we choose to return to God, he accepts us.
18-20 – God’s extreme kindness shows here as people come and eat Passover without cleansing themselves. This harkens to the way Jesus handled the law. He always rewarded faith and always showed love even if the law had to be bent a little.
26-27 – It had been a long time since Solomon. Hezekiah’s commitment to restoring Passover, even though imperfect, was pleasing to God.
9-10 – Like when it was time to build the tabernacle in Exodus, the faithful Israelites bring more than enough offering.
5-7 – Just as Christ accepted us in our weakness, we are to invite in those whose faith is not as strong as ours. These are the folks we should not make stumble but should bring into the fold.
17-22 – Paul takes pride in the work God has done through him to bring those who had never believed in Christ to salvation.
8-9 – God does not fling us out into the world to figure everything out on our own. He shows us the way to him. Also, the early Christians were known as “The Way”.
13 – Laziness doesn’t pay. We have to work to take care of ourselves.
Is your faithfulness circumstantial? It’s not uncommon for people to be faithful when they need something and then, as things get easier for them, they don’t “need” anything anymore and feel no need to be faithful. Obviously other circumstances effect our faithfulness as well. In today’s 2 Chronicles story, Joash’s faithfulness seems to be dependent on his mentor. We should be faithful because of our love for and reverence to God. This doesn’t change with circumstances, but remains because God remains.
2 Chronicles 24:1-25:28:
5 – The temple had fallen into disrepair after a number of unfaithful kings. Joash wanted to raise money to repair the temple.
7 – Just like the Israelites were set apart for God, the temple and all its contents were set apart for worshipping God. It must have grieved God greatly when these items were used for worshipping other gods.
10 – People don’t normally rejoice when paying taxes, but this tax was to restore them with their God. This seems worthy of celebration.
15-22 – Jehoiada’s death is a major turning point for Joash. He switches from being faithful to totally abandoning faithfulness. He listens to the wicked princes of Judah and kills Jehoiada’s son Zechariah.
14 – The Israelites were often temped into worshipping other gods, but normally not as quickly and blatantly as Amaziah. God had just blessed Amaziah with a war victory, which to the people of that time, was a sign that the God of the victorious army was more powerful. It seems odd that he would immediately turn to a lesser god.
1 – This is one of the main reasons it matters how we take care of our bodies. Our bodies should be one of our offerings to God.
3-8 – As the Body of Christ, we come together with a variety of talents, skills, and opportunities to serve. None are more important than the other, they just present differently. This is why we are all necessary.
12 – My personal favorite verse of the Bible. Feel free to claim it as your own too.
14-21 – Powerful verses on how we should treat one another.
25-31 – These sound like what it will be like when the Kingdom of God is fully realized.
None of us can claim to have made our own hearts pure. Jesus is the only one who can do that for us.
There are a lot of different types of sacrifices and offerings mentioned throughout the Old Testament. Take a few minutes to learn the differences and various purposes of each. It should clear up some questions.
There are a lot of times when closing your mouth is beneficial…particularly while sleeping on a plane. Proverbs makes it clear over and over again that we are supposed to limit our words, think before we speak, and listen without trying to insert our opinions as quickly as possible. Who knew this was more than just a life skill? It’s an act of wisdom.
19-25 – If people offered animals with blemishes it was to keep the best ones in their herds and flocks. This meant they were not offering their best to God.
32 – “Afflict yourselves,” means for them to fast.
Many of the offerings happened at the appointed times of the festivals.
38-41 – Jesus makes similar comments multiple times regarding people who didn’t officially follow him. As long as they were serving others and not preaching a false message, Jesus felt like they were on the same team.
42-48 – Whatever it is that causes us to stumble, we should remove.
6-8 – We tend to try to trust in our own abilities and accomplishments, but it is God who should receive the glory for saving and empowering us.
Admittedly, our Old Testament readings have been full of tons of details recently. It’s important to recognize that these were specific details written for specific people. We no longer sacrifice animals or present grain offerings. This doesn’t mean we should discount what is written. God still cares about details and still deserves the respect and reverence required to put that much time and energy into following his instructions.
34 – The breast and right thigh were set aside by God as the Israelites’ payment to the priests.
Based on the detail of all the sacrifice instructions and the intricacy of the ordination ceremony of the priests, clearly ceremony was integral to this ancient culture. We don’t tend to be a ceremonial culture. Ceremony sometimes feels rote, but it indicates reverence.
31-35 – Many people read this as a slight towards Jesus’ mother and siblings. The more important aspect is that Jesus is equating faithfulness to God with being a part of the same family.
The parable of the 4 soils is explained by Jesus as the way various people react when having heard the word of God. For many, it will not take root.
21 – The inspiration for the song “This Little Light of Mine.”
People often try to get away with things and think they’re being sneaky with their evil, but the Lord sees and we often sabotage ourselves.