Hebrews has a steady message throughout it (as does this throwback song from my early youth group days) – Jesus is the answer. Before Jesus, God offered a variety of ways for people to be connected to him. The temple, the commandments, the law, covenants, sacrifices, and the list goes on…but then Jesus came. Jesus fulfilled the law. Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice. Jesus tore the temple curtain that created separation. Jesus is now all we need to be fully connected with God.
- 8-13 – This section mentions “profaning the Sabbath” as a way of dishonoring God. This is what the religious leaders in Jesus’ day thought he was doing when he healed on the Sabbath. But there’s a big difference. Jesus’ “work” on the Sabbath was to love and care for God’s people. “Profaning the Sabbath” is for one’s own gain.
- 15-17 – God did punish the Israelites by not allowing them into the Promised Land, but he could have, with justification, wiped them out right then. Instead, he simply made them wait to enter the Promised Land. The next generation was allowed in.
- 30-31 – The reason God says he won’t answer the Israelites’ inquiries is because they have spent their time crying out to every other god at every opportunity.
- 40-44 – The Israelites will have to endure punishment but the Lord promises to bring them back to himself and restore them.
- 11-14 – The Holy of Holies, which was once separated and humans couldn’t enter except the high priest once a year, was now permanently available through Christ. His blood was far more sufficient than animals’.
- 23-28 – It’s interesting that the word “copies” is used. This is helpful when we think that the law and the temple and sacrifices weren’t bad things. They were very helpful, but they were merely copies of the real deal – Jesus. Now we have the real deal and don’t have to rely on the copies anymore.
- 33-42 – It is a theme throughout the Bible that God brings the proud to humility and lifts the humble up. It is common for things that are commonly understood to be flipped on their head. This is clear through this passage and made most clear through Jesus’ ministry.
Have your sins ever impacted someone else? (The answer here is “yes”.) You cheated on a test and it messed up the curve for others. You stole from a store and the cashier got in trouble. You cheated on your spouse and it broke up your family. Our sins are not simply our own problem. As Israel and Judah are being rejected by God and destroyed by other nations, it’s hard not to remember Jeroboam’s selfish acts as he was taking over his portion of the kingdom. He chose to listen to bad advice and it hurt the Israelites for generations to come.
2 Kings 17:1-18:12:
- 6-18 – After a steady series of sinful kings and repetitive sinning by the nation, God allows the Assyrians to capture all the Israelites and take them to their country. This makes it clear that they are now separated from God because they no longer have their promised land or any of their identifying marks that were to set them apart for God.
- 21 – The split of the two kingdoms of Israel, the sinfulness of the country, and the eventual exile of both kingdoms (only one has happened so far) all trace back to Jeroboam’s sinfulness.
- 34-40 – The Israelites had been given every opportunity to choose to live faithfully. They continued to choose not to and broke every part of their covenant with God. Because of this, God allowed them to face the consequences of all their unfaithfulness.
- 1-4 – Hezekiah is king of Judah and chooses to live faithfully.
- In case you’re getting confused about Paul’s journeys – where he’s been and where he’s headed, here is a map of all his travels Oh, and who knew, but there’s a board game of Paul’s journeys as well, for some good old fashioned holy family fun.
- 7-12 – Peter was able to raise Tabitha from the dead and Paul raises this young man. It seems like it was the right thing to do considering Paul had literally bored him to death.
- 18-35 – Paul, on this his third of four journeys, knows his ministry on earth is coming to an end, but he is satisfied with his work and is willing to suffer persecution in order to share the gospel.
- In Romans 1:20, Paul explains that every part of creation testifies to God’s greatness somehow. This psalm seems to confirm that.
- A creative way of saying our mouths write checks our rears can’t cash.
The Psalms are full of David’s anguish, there is a whole book in the Old Testament called “Lamentations” and they do just that – lament. But can you think of anything more heart-wrenching than the God of the universe telling someone else, “They haven’t rejected you as their leader. They’ve rejected me.” God’s people, the Israelites, who he had care for and provided for, let him know they had a better plan than his. Let that sink in.
1 Samuel 8:1-9:27:
- 4-7 – Verse 7 is one of the saddest in all of Scripture. God’s plan was for him to be the king of Israel so they wouldn’t need a human king. God knew that this was the very best plan for them, but the Israelites rejected his plan and wanted to go with their own.
- 19-21 – God spent generations and generations trying to set the Israelites apart. The point was to have them be separate and dedicated specifically to God. Here they decide they want to be just like the other nations and operate as they do.
- 21 – This culture put emphasis on shame and honor. Someone from the smallest clan in the least of the tribes would not normally be honored by getting to eat with a prophet. Saul was surprised why he was receiving such an honor.
- 25 – Roofs were sturdy and used as an open second floor in many ancient, middle-eastern homes. It was quite common for people to sleep on the roof.
- 25-34 – Particularly in verse 29, the people question Jesus basically asking what’s special about him. Moses had provided manna in the desert for their ancestors. What could Jesus do? Jesus explains that the bread he provided was actually from God.
- 35 – Throughout the rest of John’s gospel, there will be a number of “I am” statements from Jesus. Each reveals a little more about his true identity as God’s Son, the Messiah, the Savior. This one speaks specifically to how Jesus provides for and fills us.
- 40 – This relates back to our reading on 5/8 in chapter 5 when it talks about a resurrection of all people when Jesus returns.
- 41 – Basically, Jesus is the way God will provide salvation and eternal life for believers.
- This portion of the psalm recounts the Israelites’ unfaithfulness in the Promised Land.
- 44-48 – Once again, we see God’s grace in rescuing his people when they cry out to him. Despite a series of sin and forgiveness, God continues to love and provide for Israel.
Today, in our reading from Luke, we encounter Herod…but in fact, it’s just one of several Herods involved in Jesus’ life at various times. Check out this resource, which will shed a little more light into the Herods.
- 8-10 – God reminds them of the good things he’s done for them and that they still disobeyed him. The Israelites seem to have a short memory when it comes to who is worthy of their worship.
- 13-14 – Gideon was young enough that he had not seen God’s power and miracles. Because of the Israelites’ unfaithfulness he had only seen Israel forsaken by God. He, understandably, struggled to trust that God could overtake the Midianites who oppressed them at the time.
- 24 – Many times in Scripture, when someone would experience God’s power or goodness, they would name that space after what they had experienced. Gideon names this “The Lord is Peace” or “Jehovah Shalom”.
- 28-31 – Gideon’s dad Joash makes a great argument. If Jerubbaal is truly a god, he shouldn’t need you to defend him. Certainly, this argument saved his son’s life.
- 36-40 – This may sound like Gideon was testing God, which we are not supposed to do. Gideon asks humbly for God to confirm that his plan is to save Israel through Gideon.
- 54-62 – Jesus predicted that Peter would deny him three times and though Peter was certain he wouldn’t, he did. Though Peter gets a bad wrap for this, note that he was the only disciple who followed Jesus to his trial.
- 66-71 – The church leaders were doing all they could to assure Jesus could be charged with blasphemy. Though he never called himself the Son of God in this passage, he says enough for them to jump on.
- 1 – Pilate was a low-level Roman leader. He was basically like the mayor of Longview, TX.
- 7 – This is not the same Herod that wanted to kill him when he was born.
- 6 – If you can’t think of a reason to praise God, simply praise him for creating you.
- 8 – The Israelites’ sins at Meribah and Massah both happened as they wandered in the desert. Most of the Israelites’ history and testaments tended to refer back to their 40 years of wandering.
- 10-11 – The Israelites sinned while in the desert causing them not to enter the Promised Land until later generations could enter instead.
Covenants are a big deal throughout Scripture. They are promises made between God and the people where both sides have a part to play. Today, we read about the covenant God makes with humanity through Christ and his blood. We are a part of that covenant. Our part is to accept the free gift of grace offered to us and God’s part is to offer us salvation.
- 10 – It was the job of the older generations to teach the younger generations the goodness of God. There are several times in Scripture where monuments are built or parents are instructed to teach their children the Scriptures. Clearly this generation had failed to do so.
- 11-16 – God instructed the Israelite to drive everyone out of the Promised Land when they moved in because intermixing would tempt them to worship other gods. The Israelites did not completely obey and God was right.
- 18-19 – The Israelites didn’t have any sort of all-encompassing leader or king. Instead, God raised up judges to try to help guide them.
- 7-11 – Sometimes we struggle to understand why God would allow bad things to happen to the Israelites, but this makes it clear the Israelites served another king for 8 years and worshipped his gods. But when the Israelites cried out to God, he raised up a leader and returned to them.
- 15-30 – An interesting story where it’s hard not to get distracted by the details. A couple of key points: 1) Ehud being left-handed allowed him to conceal his sword. Guards would have checked the left thigh for weapons. 2) When Israelites worshipped and honored God, he protected them and gave others over into their hands.
- 20 – There were several covenants between God and the Israelites in the Old Testament. This is the first found in the New Testament and is through the blood of Christ and is offered to everyone, not just the Israelites.
- 28-30 – For the first time Jesus offers his disciples a position in eternity.
- 31-34 – Peter is the most zealous disciple. He is committed to following Jesus anywhere, but Jesus knows that he even he has limits and weaknesses and he too will deny Jesus.
- 1-3 – It is crucial for us to give God thanks and praise for all the good things he has done and for how good he is. He deserves it and it reminds us of where our blessings derive.
Have you ever had to fill enormous shoes? Joshua, throughout the book, is presented as the next Moses – he even parts the Jordan River. But unlike Moses, he is able to bring people into the land they’ve longed for for 40 years. This video will explain all that and more.
In today’s Joshua reading, the Israelites probably thought they were having deja vu when God allowed Joshua to part the Jordan River so the people could cross into the Promised Land. Of course, God was showing that he was leading Joshua just like he led Moses and showing the Israelites that he would go with them into this new land just like he did into the desert.
- 3 – The Ark of the Covenant contained the 10 Commandments and represented the presence of the Lord. It is appropriate that it would enter the land before the Israelites representing God going before them.
- 7-13 – God established Joshua as the new leader so he could be exalted and respected like Moses. It is not insignificant that God proved himself and Joshua as leaders in the same way he did for Moses when they were fleeing from the Egyptians.
- 1-7 – God made it impossible for them to forget what he had done for them and the sign he had given to them that he would take care of them. He had them build a memorial so that even those, in future generations, who hadn’t seen the miracle, would ask and be told of God stopping the Jordan River and bringing the Israelites to the Promised Land.
- 7-11 – The ancient Israelites were a part of a “honor/shame” society. Every action and scenario as well as possessions contributed to your honor or shame. This instruction from Jesus asks his hearers to forego that norm and to purposefully put yourself in what would be considered a shameful position instead of trying to claim a position of honor.
- 12-14 – In order to receive honor, you needed to be associated with other honorable people. The poor, crippled, and lame were not people of honor. Again, Jesus calls us to forego the things that are elevated in our society.
- 15-24 – This parable describes how Jesus originally came to save the Jews but was rejected so his message and salvation was opened for all who would accept.
- 26-27 – Jesus uses strong language to help his hearers understand that they must offer full devotion to him. There devotion cannot be split.
- 33 – This is hard to hear, but often we try to be partially or minimally devoted to Jesus. We’d like to hang on to everything else that is fun or seemingly beneficial to us. Jesus reminds us that it’s not possible to do both.
- 4 – Because exile continued for generations, though they begged God to save them, the Israelites felt that their prayers went unheard.
- 8-13 – The Psalmist asks why God would bother saving the Israelites from Egypt and allowing them to flourish only to later allow them to be devastated by other nations.
The Israelites were the chosen people of God. They were protected by him in war and provided for by him for all their needs. But then their sins led them to exile where they were rejected and alone. Today’s psalm recounts the Israelites’ experience in exile.
Deuteronomy 34:1-Joshua 2:24:
- 8-12 – As easily spooked as the Israelites were, you can imagine that Moses’ death would have had the potential to send them into hysterics wondering if God would still show up for them. In God’s great wisdom, he had already begun to raise a new leader, Joshua, into power so the Israelites could have someone to follow.
- After four books worth of wandering in the desert, the Israelites are finally about to enter the Promised Land.
- 5-9 – God’s initial instructions to Joshua tell him how to lead the people of Israel. He must follow all the commands Moses relayed to him from God. He must also be strong and courageous. This command is repeated 3 times in rapid succession. Any time something is repeated 3 times, it means it’s something you need to pay particular attention to.
- 1-24 – Rahab is unlikely heroine in the Bible. She is a prostitute and is not an Israelite. However, she cares for the Israelite and asks only for safety in return. Because of her kindness and protection of the Israelite spies, she is rewarded. She is even mentioned in Matthew’s lineage of Jesus. She is the mother of Boaz who marries Ruth, who has a book of the Bible written about her.
- 22 – As early as chapter 9, the gospel writer describes Jesus as heading towards Jerusalem. Here we see it again. This does not mean it is a ridiculously long journey that takes all this time. It is simply that Jesus, starting then, was on his mission towards the cross.
- 24-30 – Many religious folks wanted to rely on their devotion to the rules to buy their ticket to God’s kingdom. Jesus is letting them know that following the rules would not be enough and soon he would be gone and they would have missed their chance to have a place in the kingdom.
- 34 – Jesus was sent first to the Jews and Jerusalem was their hub. Unfortunately the Jews rejected Jesus over and over again and would not allow him to protect them.
- This Psalm refers to the Israelites’ experiences during exile. The Babylonians conquered them and all the nations assumed the Israelites’ God who normally protected them had disappeared.
- 13 – So often throughout the Bible the Israelites are referred to as the sheep of God’s pasture. They were God’s original chosen people and the original ones that Jesus came to save. Thankfully Jesus expanded his ministry to gentiles as well.
- Humans are, by nature, selfish beings. We often fail to think about how our actions will effect others. This Proverb reminds us that our actions can lead people into righteousness or lead them astray.
Throughout the gospels, being prepared for the coming of Christ is likened to “staying awake”. How do you think we become prepared for Christ’s arrival? The most obvious way is to live faithfully. Today’s reading reminds us that “staying awake” is an ongoing process.
- 32 – Sodom and Gomorrah were two towns in Genesis that God destroyed because of their egregious sins. They are often referred to when someone is trying to describe the worst of the worst.
- 28-43 – Moses’ song challenges those who have sought or relied on other gods. He assures the Israelites that Yahweh is the only God worth serving and that he will reign alone in the end.
- 50-52 – God commands Moses to see but not experience the land he had promised them. Moses was not allowed to enter the Promised Land because he was unfaithful when bringing water forth from the rock.
- 35-38 – Remaining awake alludes to believing in Christ and remaining faithful over time.
- 41-48 – Jesus knew he would soon be killed and would not be with his disciples or other followers anymore. His instructions were to continue to do what Jesus had taught them to do while he was present. He also describes the consequences if they were not faithful in this.
- 51-53 – The division Jesus brings is whether or not you will follow him. Some would choose to follow him while others would choose to stay in their old ways. This would cause division.
- The psalmist explains the rebellious actions that caused the Israelites to be exiled and how God allowed it to happen. He vacated his presence with them and he removed his glory so that the Israelites’ enemies would be victorious.
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.