Archive for : February, 2018

2/28/2018 — Numbers Chapters 11-13

I was struck as I looked at several commentaries on these Chapters by a summary offered by Coffman on the very first verse:

Numbers 11:1  — “1 Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the Lord …”

Coffman writes: There is hardly any other word that more effectively describes Israel during their wilderness sojourn than this one. The people appeared to be totally unwilling to accept any kind of inconvenience or hardship in order to achieve their liberty and independence, overlooking completely the fundamental truth that freedom, prosperity, and power simply cannot appear automatically as a bestowed privilege, but must be won by diligent work and faithfulness

As a nation — our freedom was not given but has been won and preserved through the dedication, work, and often the sacrifice of our nations heroes.

As believers our liberty and freedom from the greatest conqueror, sin, is not just bestowed upon us.  This freedom required the sacrifice of the very Son of God. We can remain faithful through the grace that comes for the Lord & His love.

 

2/27/2018 — Numbers Chapters 8-10

As I read these passages I am reminded of just how the Lord cares for His people and their connection to Him.  For example in Chapter 9:9-12   we see the Lord establish conditions for Israelites wh0 are “unclean or on a journey” to still participate in the Passover.

And in Chapter 9:15-23 the Lord leads and controls the pace of their journey via His own presence in the “cloud” above the camp.

His care for His people today has not changed. — John 10:28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.

2/26/2018 – Numbers Chapter 7

A couple of facts about these verses:  First, we see in verse 1 that the construction and consecration of the Tabernacle is completed — what a time that must have been for the Israelites!

Then, we begin to see the offerings brought for the dedication of the alter.  I have always found it interesting that verses 18-83 show that each leader brought the same items for their respective offering.  The chapter certainly would  be shorter if the Holy Spirit had guided Moses to summarize these in a single paragraph.

I think Coffman captures the reason for all of this repetition when he writes:   One may wonder why God so elaborately repeated the enumerations of all these gifts, and the answer appears to be that God always reckons good works upon the basis of what each individual did, rather than reckoning upon a collective, or community basis. In Jesus’ parable of the talents, it will be recalled that the reckoning involved each one. Jesus did not say, “Well, you fellows have done pretty good; I gave you eight and you produced seven more!.” No, he called unto him each one. It is not merely what a church or congregation is doing, but what each one is doing, that counts with God.

2/25/2018 Numbers Chapters 5-6

Among all of the instructions in these Chapters — from maintaining the purity of the “camp,” — to the test for an “unfaithful wife,” — to the instructions on how to be a Nazarite the passage that always captures my thoughts is at the very end —         Chapter 6:22-24

“The Lord bless you
    and keep you;
25 the Lord make his face shine on you
    and be gracious to you;
26 the Lord turn his face toward you
    and give you peace.

What a way to begin a day by reciting these verses!

 

2/24/2014 — Numbers Chapters 3-4

In Chapter 3:5 Moses is instructed by the Lord to Bring the tribe of Levi and “present them “to Aaron the priest to assist him. One commentary wrote: The Hebrew word “bring near” is a sacrificial term, denoting the presentation of an offering to God; and the use of the word, therefore, in connection with the Levites, signifies that they were devoted as an offering to the sanctuary, no longer to be employed in any common offices. 

Then continuing in Chapters 3 & 4 we see the designation of duties for the Levites.  They were “set apart” by God from the rest of the tribes to do His well.

I am reminded that the Greek word for church is ekklesia, literally that we are also “called out” of or set apart from the world. 

2/23/2018 Numbers Chapter 1-2

The following overview of the Book of Numbers is taken from Matthew Henry’s commentary:  This book is called NUMBERS from the several numberings of the people contained in it. It extends from the giving of the law at Sinai, till their arrival in the plains of Jordan. An account is given of their murmuring and unbelief, for which they were sentenced to wander in the wilderness nearly forty years; also some laws, both, moral and ceremonial. Their trials greatly tended to distinguish the wicked and hypocrites from the faithful and true servants of God, who served him with a pure heart.

As you read remember that is only the men of “military age” counted at this point.  So while the final “tally” of 603,550 (not including the Levites) is impressive just think of how many people were actually led my Moses and guarded, fed, organized by God.

02/22/2018 — Leviticus Chapters 26-27

As we read the final two chapters of Leviticus I reflect on three aspects of Chapter 26.

(1) The first is God’s blessings for obedience including the promise in Leviticus 26:11-12 11 I will put my dwelling place among you, and I will not abhor you. 12 I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people.

(2) The second is God’s punishment for disobedience detailed in Leviticus 26:14-39

(3) And lastly the eternal grace of the Lord and the redemption of sinners who truly repent in Lev. 26:40-42:  40 “‘But if they will confess their sins and the sins of their ancestors—their unfaithfulness and their hostility toward me, 41 which made me hostile toward them so that I sent them into the land of their enemies—then when their uncircumcised hearts are humbled and they pay for their sin, 42 I will remember my covenant with Jacob and my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land.

Our God is an awesome God!

 

 

02/21/2018 — Leviticus Chapters 24-25

A couple of Observations:

The first:    Have you ever read Leviticus 24:5 and noted that each loaf of bread was to be made from two-tenths of an ephah 0f the finest flour.   When you look at the footnote – that equates to about 7 pounds of flour per loaf.  I never realized that the loaves would have been that large.

My second observation — Leviticus 25 presents the concept of the “Year of Jubilee” — which should have occurred every 50 years once the Israelites “entered the land I am going to give you.”

I think commentator William Bauer captures the elements of the Jubilee Year when he writes:

Thus there are three distinct factors constituting the essential features of the Jubilee Year: personal liberty, restitution of property, and what we might call the simple life.

1. Personal Liberty:  The 50th year was to be a time in which liberty should be proclaimed to all the inhabitants of the country.  The law was intended to benefit all, the masters as well as the servants. They should never lose sight of their being brothers and citizens of theocratic kingdom. They owed their life to God and were subject to His sovereign will. Only through loyalty to Him were they free and could ever hope to be free and independent of all other masters.

2. Restitution of Property:  The crowning feature, though, was the full restitution of all real property in the Jubilee Year. The primary object of this regulation was, of course, the reversion of all hereditary property to the family which originally possessed it, and the reestablishment of the original arrangement regarding the division of the land.

3. The Simple Life:   The Jubilee Year, being the crowning point of all sabbatical institutions, gave the finishing touch as it were to the whole cycle of sabbatic days, months and years. It is, therefore, quite appropriate that it should be a year of rest for the land like the preceding sabbatic year. It follows, of course, that in this instance there were two years, one after the other, in which there should be no sowing or systematic ingathering. Nobody can deny that this afforded ample opportunity to develop the habit of living within very limited means. “What shall we eat the seventh year?” The answer is very simple and yet of surpassing grandeur: “Then I will command my blessing upon you,” etc. Nothing was expected of the people but faith in Yahweh and confidence in His power, which was not to be shaken by any doubtful reflection.

 

02/20/2018 — Leviticus Chapters 22-23

As you read I am hoping you will “flag” Leviticus Chapter 23.  This chapter summarizes the “festivals of the Lord.”  When we read the New Testament we will see Jesus and the apostles still remembering and participating in these festivals.

For example in Luke 2:41-42  41 Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. 42 When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom

We will also see how Jesus used these festivals to underscore His own mission to seek and save the lost.

.

 

2/19/2018 — Leviticus Chapters 19-21

As we continue reading the Law given to the Israelites we see the Lord providing specific laws for taking care of the ones we would consider the “downtrodden.”

Leviticus 19:9-10 —  9 When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10 Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the Lord your God.

Leviticus 19:14 — 4 Do not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block in front of the blind, but fear your God. I am the Lord.

The Lord has no greater respect of the rich and powerful — His grace and love crosses all social and economic lines.

2/18/2018 Leviticus Chapters 16-18

Often as I read I have to go back to basics.  Like — in Leviticus Chapter 16 what is the meaning of the word atonement?  The dictionary definition is:

  • reparation for a wrong or injury. “she wanted to make atonement for her husband’s behavior.
  • (in religious contexts) reparation or expiation for sin.  An annual ceremony of confession and atonement for sin”
  • Christian Theology
    the reconciliation of God and humankind through Jesus Christ.
    noun: Atonement; noun: the Atonement

    This definition certainly helps me understand Leviticus Chapter 16.  Through the ceremony Aaron was to not only making amends for the wrong his family had committed (reparation) but also for the sins of the Israelites.  The ceremony was to be repeated each year.

This annual ceremony is no longer needed as we have been graced with a sacrifice that lasts for an eternity.  Reading from 1 John 2:2:

He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

2/17/2018 — Leviticus Chapters 14-15

As I read through these chapters on cleansing from “skin diseases” I was reminded of a New Testament passage, Matthew 8:3-4 — Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy. Then Jesus said to him, “See that you don’t tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.

Jesus wanted the healed man to be obedient to the Law of Moses.

This, then reminded me of another reason we need to remain in God’s entire word.  Remember that in Matt 5:17-18 Christ stated:  Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.”

Due to God grace we are no longer under the Law of Moses.  But to better understand Christ’s mission should we not at least be familiar with the the fundamentals of the Law?

2/16/2018 Leviticus Chapters 11-13

As we read from Chapter 11 until roughly Chapter 15 we will see commandments on how the Nation was to remain “clean” by avoiding the eating or touching of certain animals & performing acts of purification.  Now, I had thought that these commandments were established as “sanitary/dietary” hygiene restrictions to keep the people healthy.

But my rationale was shown to be incorrect by several New Testament teachings, including the very words of Jesus from Mark 7:18-19 18 “Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them? 19 For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.)

So, how could food be unsanitary in the Old Testament and then suddenly be OK to eat in the New Testament?

In his commentary James Coffman clarifies the rationale for me when he writes: This definitely ties the whole “clean and unclean” meat question with God’s necessity, for a long period of time, to separate Jews from Gentiles. This undoubtedly means, therefore, that the thing which made one animal clean and another unclean to the Jews was the simple fact that God commanded one to be eaten and the other not to be eaten

As Job learned in answer to his many questions — you may not fully understand all things yet but trust that  “I am God and you are not.”

 

 

2/15/2018 Leviticus Chapters 8-10

Several thoughts entered my mind as I read through these chapters.  First, in Chapter 8 we realize the fulfillment of the instructions given Moses in Exodus 28:3-5 on the details of the clothing that would be used to ordain Aaron.  Moses remained obedient to the Lord’s instructions.

Secondly, In Chapter 9:23  “Moses and Aaron then went into the tent of meeting. When they came out, they blessed the people; and the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people.”  We see the Lord’s approval at the obedience of Aaron, his sons, and the people in providing the offerings for atonement.  The cloud signifying the Lord’s presence was replaced by the very glory of the Lord, Himself.

Lastly, in Leviticus 10:1-2 we see the impact of the non-obedience of Nadab and Abihu.  Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, contrary to his command. So fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord.

Our message:  Obedience and non-obedience to the Lord both have consequences.

2/14/2018 Leviticus Chapters 5-7

An element I see in these verses is that the Lord cares for His people, regardless of income.  Take a look at Chapter 5:6-11.  The initial “sin offering” is stated as being a lamb or goat.  However if they cannot afford a lamb the offering can be two doves or pigeons.  If they cannot afford the dove or pigeon the offering can then be the finest flour.

 

2/13/2018 — Leviticus Chapters 1-4

As we prepare to enter the inspired Word of God as written by Moses and recorded in the book of Leviticus, a couple of quick notes:

“The book of Leviticus was the first book studied by a Jewish child; yet is often among the last books of the Bible to be studied by a Christian.” (F. Duane Lindsey)

Chuck Swindoll also writes:  The overall message of Leviticus is sanctification. The book communicates that receiving God’s forgiveness and acceptance should be followed by holy living and spiritual growth. Now that Israel had been redeemed by God, they were to be purified into a people worthy of their God.  In Leviticus we learn that God loves to be approached, but we must do so on His terms.

I share these thoughts because I, personally, have found reading Leviticus to be challenging.  But as Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All scripture is breathed out by God …)  And it is our responsibility to read all scripture!

So, what do I see in these first four chapters? — that all offerings brought to the Lord by the Nation were to be “without defect and the finest.    The analogy to us is evident: all that we bring to the Lord — whether it be our service to a fellow believer, our monetary contributions, our support during a worship service must be the very best we can provide.

 

 

2/12/2018 — Exodus Chapters 39-40

What pops-out to me in these verses is the reality that for two Chapters the Israelites did something we have not seen them do very often:

Chapter 39:32  So all the work on the tabernacle, the tent of meeting, was completed. The Israelites did everything just as the Lord commanded Moses.

Chapter 39:42-43   The Israelites had done all the work just as the Lord had commanded Moses. 43 Moses inspected the work and saw that they had done it just as the Lord had commanded. So Moses blessed them.

Chapter 40:16  Moses did everything just as the Lord commanded him

And we see the results of this obedience in Chapter 40:34 “…the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle”  and Chapter 40:49 “So the cloud of the Lord was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the Israelites during all their travels.

I reflect on our promise in Matthew 28:20  “…and surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

 

2/11/2018 — Exodus Chapters 36-38

The description of the building of the tabernacle and all of the implements for worshiping the Lord is quite detailed, as are the talents and skills of the people leading the project.  Reading back in other chapters we see that the contributions of the people were “free will” offerings i.e., everyone who is willing and whose heart moved them” gave.

So, how much did they give? Chapter 38:24-25 tells us that the gold was “29 talents and 730 shekels” and that the silver was “100 talents and 1, 755 shekels.”  Using our measurements this is roughly 1 ton (2000 pounds, or 32,000 ounces) of gold and  3.75 tons (7,500 pounds or  120,000 ounces) of silver.

So, if we ever thought that the tabernacle and its contents were just a “big tent” in today’s dollars this relates to 42 million 720 thousand dollars of gold and 2 million 12 thousand dollars of silver.  And this does not include the cost of the wood and fabric and the number of “person-hours” needed for the construction.

I reflect … the Israelites gave freely and constructed this magnificent structure for the dwelling of the Lord

— and yet, today through the New Covenant and His grace he “lives within my heart.”

2/10/2018 — Exodus Chapters 33-35

Like so many of our readings these chapters contain an abundance of significant material — God’s relationship with Moses; God’s glory; Moses’s wisdom; the return of the Ten Commandments.  But as I read Chapter 33 the verse that captured me this time is Exodus 33:14:  The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

Two aspects of this verse are incredible to me.  First, the commentator Harry Orlinsky noted that one aspect of this statement is, “My Divine Presence (the [shekinah Glory] will go, namely, I will not send again any angel; I Myself will go.

The second aspect — “I will give thee rest ...” Coffman states “The true “rest” promised here was not the sabbath day, nor even their entry into Canaan, but “that God’s face would lead men to that rest in which unhindered communion and wholeness will become a reality.”

Finally, does this promise sound familiar?  How about the promise of Jesus for believers in Matthew 11:28:  “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

2/9/2018 – Exodus Chapters 30-32

Oh, what differences we see in these chapters — from continued instructions on how the nation of Israel was to worship the Lord (Chapter 30), to the conferring of special gifts to perform this work on Bezalel and Oholiab (Chapter 31) to the utter contempt shown the Lord by the Nation (Chapter 32.) And less we forget Aaron, the one who stood in the presence of God with Moses and was chosen as their priest, neglected his leadership role and, was, instead, lead by the people to participate in this travesty.

Sure Moses had been “away on the mountain” since Chapter 20 but it was only for 40 days and 40 nights (from January 1, 2018 until today)  I can fully relates to the Lord’s initial reaction in Exodus 32: 9-10 (& I would have wanted to do the same:)

“I have seen these people,” the Lord said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people. 10 Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.”

Note that the Lord was still going to fulfill His promise to Abraham, Jacob, and Moses to create a “great nation.”  But even more importantly stand in awe of the grace of the Lord following Moses’s plea:

Genesis 32:14: Then the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.

Moses interceded for the Nation of Israel.  Under the new covenant we are certainly blessed to also have an intercessor who will speak in our behalf before the Lord.

Hebrews 7:25 — “Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.”