There was a show on Nickelodeon called “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” in the 90s. I couldn’t watch it then and I feel quite certain I probably can’t watch it now. I hate scary things. But our psalm today reminds us how to conquer fear – seek the Lord. Elsewhere in Scripture it says, “perfect love drives out all fear” and frequently when messengers of the Lord show up they’re first words are “fear not”. So, what are you so afraid of?
- 22-31 – The Israelites conquer several nations and have large growth in their population. Both of these fulfill God’s promises to their ancestors.
- 32-33 – This third of a shekel was in addition to the taxes already put in place by former rulers. This was above and beyond.
1 Corinthians 9:19-10:13:
- 19-23 – Paul found ways to relate to all people so he could better present the gospel to them. This should not be misunderstood that he took on other people’s sins to relate to them.
- 24-27 – If athletes are willing to put their body through intense training to win a race, particularly when only one person wins the race, isn’t it worth it for Paul to discipline himself in order to share the gospel?
- 13 – This is the verse often misquoted and misunderstood as saying, “God won’t give you anything you can’t handle.” Read it again. That’s not what it says. This is regarding temptation and it simply says he will give you a way out of the temptation when you face it.
- 4 – Clear instructions on how to handle fear. Seek the Lord.
- 8-10 – We can see and experience God’s provision in so many ways.
- This sounds similar to the gospel story regarding Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16:19-31.
What are you afraid of? Once again, even though they’d already gotten in trouble and punished for it…not to mention that God had assured them there was no reason to be afraid, the Israelites are afraid of people inhabiting the land God promised them. Though are definitely scary things in life, please don’t ever be afraid of whether or not God will be faithful to his promises to you.
- 10 – The Canaanites were descendants of Noah’s son Ham who was sent away after he dishonored his father.
- 3-4 – In Numbers 26:33 and 27:1-11, Zelphehad’s daughters initiate an agreement so that they too can receive inheritance since their father had no brothers. This is that agreement being enacted.
- 14-18 – Yet again, the Israelites are fearful of the people who already possessed the land. God gave them authority to oust all the inhabitants, but the tribe of Joseph is afraid of the Canaanites because of their fancy chariots.
- 1-6 – The tribe representatives took account of what there was in the various territories of land still left to be distributed. Though casting lots is normally considered a bad thing, Joshua casts lots before the Lord to distribute the remaining land to the remaining tribes. Presumably, because it was done “before the Lord”, it’s an acceptable practice.
- 1-10 – Tax collectors were hated figures because they collected taxes required by the Roman government (already disliked) and added considerable charges on top of the taxes for their own profit. It felt like betrayal to the Jews for Jesus to befriend a tax collector. Note that an encounter with Jesus was all it took for Zacchaeus to change his ways and repent double and even fourfold.
- 11-27 – There is a lot going in this parable. A few key things to note are 1) The parable parallels the coming of the kingdom. Because the king goes away for a while, this explains that Jesus will be gone for a time and the kingdom of God will not be immediate on earth. 2) The nobleman represents Jesus. 3) All followers of Jesus are given callings/commissions and some day we will have to answer for what we did in those realms.
- 2 – Zion is the hill that Jerusalem was built on.
- Most often, wealth gained little by little takes time and effort to grow. This inevitably grows the wealthy person’s appreciation for it.
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.
As he did so often, in today’s Mark reading, Jesus takes one of the religious leaders’ questions and flips it on its head. The religious leader asks about whether or not he should have to pay taxes. Jesus responds brilliantly! If the image of Caesar is on the coin, sure, give it to him, but where is the image of God?
- Just like the homes were supposed to face the Tent of Meeting, certain Jewish prayers are supposed to be said in the direction of the place the temple was.
- 38 – Interesting that part of the priestly duty was to guard the temple. This seems like a strange task for priests.
- 44-51 – The Levites weren’t killed in exchange for the first born of each Israelite family, they were simply set apart for service to God and the Lord allowed that commitment to redeem the lives of all the first born.
- 27-33 – Jesus was adept at sidestepping the religious leaders’ attempts to incriminate him.
- 1-12 – This parable describes God sending prophet after prophet to the Israelites trying to get them to repent and follow him. Over and over the prophets were rejected. Finally God sends Jesus and Jesus too is rejected and killed.
- 13-17 – The image of Caesar is on the coin but the image of God is on us. We can pay our taxes as designed but give our lives to God.
- A reminder that we serve a God who can overcome anything and thus deserves praise.