God’s Glory Revealed to an Idolatrous Nation

It seems odd that God chose the Jews and that He showed them mercy again and again. But do we have room for pride? Are we any different?

Note: Last week’s reading was Exodus 21-40.

In reading through Exodus we see the truth of that statement.: “How odd of God to choose the Jews.” They grumbled about water and food after crossing the Red Sea on dry land.  They became impatient with Moses and asked for an idol to worship.  Aaron produced a golden calf which they worshipped. God would have destroyed them and started over with Moses had he not pleaded with the Lord to spare them.

And God heard Moses.  The book ends with the glory of the Lord filling the tabernacle which was completed down to the last detail that God commanded (Exodus 40).

Yes, it seems odd that God chose the Jews and that He showed them mercy again and again. But are we any different?  Are we any less prone to fashion idols and trust in them over our God?  John Calvin wrote “The human mind is, so to speak, a perpetual forge of idols” (Institutes 1.11.8).  God’s mercy and grace was great to the Old Covenant Jews and also to us who come to Him only by the atoning work of His Son and our Savior Jesus Christ.

Reading or Skimming?

If you are like me, you find these long chapters with details about the tabernacle and its furnishings to be hard reading.  This week I was asked, “Is it disrespectful of God’s Word to skim through chapters 25-31 and 35-39 of Exodus?”  That is a question for which we will each have to seek God’s wisdom.  I do know God inspired the sixty-six books of the Bible.  He revealed them to us for our salvation and sanctification. We may not disregard them.  We are not being commanded to make a tabernacle or a temple in order to worship God today.  That was for Moses and ancient Israel.  Jesus Christ is our temple and we have come not to Mount Sinai but to Mount Zion and to Him who is our mediator (John 2:18-22; Hebrews 12:18-24).

This week our schedule takes us to the Epistle to the Hebrews which sheds much light on the purpose of the Old Testament priesthood and temple.  Meanwhile, when reading Exodus 25-31 and 35-39, we can get help from a good study Bible (like the ESV Study Bible) with illustrations of the tabernacle, the furnishings, and the priestly garments.  You might find yourself reading more than skimming. And you might find yourself saying, “how odd of God to choose me.”

This week’s reading: Hebrews and James.

 

What does it mean to die well?

We all must die, but will we die well?  What does that mean and how can we prepare to die well?  We can learn from biblical examples in today’s reading.

Today’s Reading

I Samuel 10-12; Luke 13:22-35

Selected Verses

Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way. I Samuel 12:23

And he said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course.’” Luke 13:32

Reflections

There is a point in the life of every person that his time on earth comes to an end.  Both Jesus and Samuel were looking at that point in their lives in today’s readings.  We can learn something about the art of dying well from both of these passages.

In what the ESV Bible calls “Samuel’s Farewell Address,” the prophet closes with the words above.  He promises to pray for the people of Israel and to instruct them in the good and right way.  This is a fitting summary of the work of all those called to shepherd God’s people: prayer and the ministry of the word (Acts 6:4).  For Samuel, dying well means continuing to pray for God’s people and to teach them about godly living until his last breath.

Jesus’ ministry was characterized by teaching and prayer.  In verse 22 we read, “He went on his way through towns and villages, teaching and journeying toward Jerusalem.”  Luke frequently reports on Jesus’ prayer life (Luke 5:16; 9:18, 28-29;11:1;22:32,39-46) .  The Lord is aware that He is about to finish His course.  Meanwhile, He teaches His way to Jerusalem where He will be crucified and made an offering for the sins of His people.

Think about it

As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are called to follow in His steps (1 Peter 2:21).  That would certainly mean a life of prayer, obedience to God’s word, and selfless service to others.  If that is the best way to live, it is also the best way to die.  Make every effort to live faithfully and practice a lifestyle worthy of maintaining until your final day.  Seek to die well.

Let’s Read the Bible in 2017

82e4cc3db5bed0533b92b4a47d4aedb8You are invited

Are you considering reading through the Bible in 2017?  Let me suggest a plan and invite you to join me here each day to share the reading journey.

Beginning tomorrow, I will post a reading assignment each morning (7:00 AM EST in the USA) which will take you through the Old and New Testaments simultaneously.  Keep on schedule by either reading from your own Bible using your preferred translation, or pull up this blog and click on the reading assignment.  You will instantly be taken to the daily assignment in the English Standard Translation from Bible Gateway.com.

What could be easier?

We, who are serious Christians or who are considering the Christian faith, should make Bible reading a regular part of our lives.  But if you have never read through the Bible, you will see that it is a massive undertaking.  It can be done and I have done it annually for many years.  I do not recommend attempting a faster reading.  I find it preferable to read daily at a steady pace taking time to reflect on a few of the verses.

The plan I am suggesting begins in Genesis in the Old Testament and Matthew in the New Testament. By the last day of the year we will finish with Malachi and Revelation.

Other Options

  1.  Through the Bible in two years.  If you prefer to read at a slower pace you could opt to read only one of the readings each day and complete the entire Bible in 2 years instead of one.
  2. Cover to Cover.  Maybe you would like to read the Bible straight through  in one year but only reading in one place each day. If so, please consider using the schedule provided in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 Days.  Click here for to order a copy in either kindle or print format.

Which ever option you choose, the important thing is to get started and keep going. Let’s meet here again tomorrow.

John Carroll

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references on this blogsite are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Trusting the Bible

Today’s reading:

Matthew 12:15-13:46

My Selection:

 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah:

 “Behold, my servant whom I have chosen,
    my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased.
I will put my Spirit upon him,
    and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.
 He will not quarrel or cry aloud,
    nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets;
 a bruised reed he will not break,
    and a smoldering wick he will not quench,
until he brings justice to victory;
 and in his name the Gentiles will hope.”  Matthew 12:17-21

One of the reasons I trust the Bible is that the unity of the message can only be explained by the presence of an eternal God who revealed that message to His prophets and apostles from Moses to John.

Trust the Bible

Matthew makes many connections with the Old Testament and the person and work of Jesus Christ.  Jesus fulfills hundreds of prophecies written centuries before His birth. One of those prophecies given by Isaiah said that the Messiah would bring justice to victory.  How reassuring it is to have confidence that our Lord has triumphed over Satan.  The serpent’s head was crushed. Trust the Bible. The coming of God’s kingdom is assured. In Christ He has brought justice to victory for Jews and Gentiles worldwide.

For more reflections on today’s reading, see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

 

 

August Daily Bible Readings

  Week of               Readings
August 1-6 Isaiah 28 to 50
August 7-13 Isaiah 51 to Jeremiah 11
August 14-20 Jeremiah 12-33
August 21-27 Jeremiah 34-Lamentations 2
August 28-31 Lamentations 3-Ezekiel 13

For technical reasons, I have not been able to link the above assignments to BibleGateway.com.  I apologize for the inconvenience. Please click here to access the Bible online.

Mary and I are taking August for vacation and family time.  See you again in September.

For more on these passages see Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 Days available on Amazon in either Kindle ($4.99) or print format ($12.99).

Weekend Bible Readings

Saturday’s reading: Genesis 41:37-43:34

Sunday’s reading: Genesis 44:1-45:28

Monday’s reading: Genesis 46:1-48:22

Here are our assignments through Monday. I hope you will enjoy each reading. See you again on Tuesday.

 

NOTE: Your thoughtful comments and respectful criticisms are welcome below. Please allow a day or two for approval to see your reply on line.

[For more reflections on these passages see the January 16, 17, and 18 readings in Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

Ending Well

While there’s life, there’s hope, but there’s also danger. Will you be ending well?

Today’s reading: Ezekiel 17-19; Hebrews 13

The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself. 21 “But if a wicked person turns away from all his sins that he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is just and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die.                                                    Ezekiel 18:20b-21

Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.                 Hebrews 13:7

In Ezekiel’s day, the people had a saying ‘‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge” (18:2). The Lord told them that this proverb was going to be eliminated from their discourse. God said that each person held responsibility for himself as to his obedience or disobedience. Whatever path a person chose, righteousness or sin, was his own and he would enjoy the blessings or suffer the consequences. A parent’s sin could not make his child incur guilt, nor could a parent’s obedience merit forgiveness to a sinful child. Each one stands alone before God with his own record.

But change is possible. No one is locked into a lifestyle of sin or righteousness based on choices in his youth. It’s how you end up that matters. The repentant thief on the cross pleaded for mercy and found forgiveness at death’s door after a life of crime (Luke 23:39-43). It is also possible that one might prove to be unfaithful at the end of life. It’s how you end up that counts. It is never too late to repent, but it’s also never too late to rebel.

The writer to the Hebrews gives his readers an assortment of commands in light of all he has written. Several of them have to do with their relationship with their spiritual leaders, those who had taught them God’s Word (vs. 7, 17). They must observe the outcome of those godly lives and imitate their faith. How did those men’s lives turn out? If they were faithful to the end, the outcome was good. If not, one ought to be forewarned that even those who at one time show some signs of true faith and obedience to God can veer off and prove to be unbelievers. This does not mean that anyone can lose his salvation. It does mean that anyone can act like a Christian for a time and then fail to endure to the end [See Matthew 7:21-23; 13:1-23; 2 Timothy 4:10a; 1 John 2:19].

Be on guard against the schemes of Satan. Do not be presumptuous of your ability to resist every temptation and trap. We all know some who have not. May you and I endure faithfully and finish by ending well. [For more on this subject click here.]

 

A Contrast in Sacrifices

Today’s reading: Leviticus 10-12; Matthew 26:1-19

1 Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, which he had not commanded them. 2 And fire came out from before the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. 3 Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord has said: ‘Among those who are near me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified.’” And Aaron held his peace. Leviticus 10:1-3

12 In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it to prepare me for burial. 13 Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.” Matthew 26:12-13

Here we have a dramatic contrast between people who sought to make offerings to God. In the Leviticus reading, we find two sons of Aaron offering unauthorized fire before the Lord. In Matthew, we find a woman pouring expensive ointment on Jesus. The former were punished with death; the latter was honored and is still honored for her faith and love.

What made the difference here? Why did God accept the actions of one and not the actions of the others? God is not capricious. He has made His will clear in His word. The sons of Aaron were careless and, maybe, arrogant in their presumption. They did what was not commanded in their priestly functions. God showed that worship and the offerings to Him were serious business. Above all, God was to be sanctified, set apart from the common and ordinary, and His worship would not be done casually or according to anyone’s personal preferences and whims.

Jesus was the Messiah, promised to Israel. One’s response to Him, whether in disbelief or in faith, was crucial. The woman, who anointed Jesus with ointment, showed faith which emanated from her love for Him.

What made the difference? The unnamed woman glorified Christ. Aaron’s sons did not. Will you glorify God today? Seek to lift Him up before the watching world.

Don’t Miss the Point

Today’s reading: Exodus 37-38; Matthew 23:26-39

Bezalel made the ark of acacia wood. Exodus 37:1a

37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! Matthew 23:37

There is a great irony between the events of these two passages separated as they are by many centuries.

In Exodus, we find Bezalel skillfully making the tabernacle and the furnishings which go in it. It will be the center of Israelite worship from the time of Moses until King Solomon builds a real temple in Jerusalem. The tabernacle was a temporary replica of Solomon’s temple which would be a temporary replica of the true temple in heaven.

Despite the terms “temporary” and “replica” there is a sense of excitement about the building of the tabernacle and, later, the temple. There is a hopefulness that these earthly constructions will point us to eternal truth and the one, true God. There is an anticipation of God-honoring worship which would be offered here.

But what happened to all this expectancy and hopefulness?

When Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah, came to Jerusalem and to the temple, He found not God-honoring worship, nor spiritually hungry people, but hypocritical Pharisees, descendents of their prophet murdering forefathers. They strained to appear righteous but failed to see that their hearts were no different than those who had gone before them. They missed the message that the tabernacle and the temple were meant to teach them: God is holy and unapproachable by Man in his fallen condition, a sacrifice is necessary, and God in His mercy will offer His own Son as the only final, acceptable offering for the sin of the world. Ironically, these same Pharisees along with the High Priest, the Sanhedrin, and Pontus Pilate were about to collude to crucify the Son of God proving the truth of Jesus’ words.

The Pharisees missed the point. Let us beware that we do not miss it, too.

Let’s read the Bible in 2015

In Psalm 119: 129-131, we read:

129 Your testimonies are wonderful;
    therefore my soul keeps them.
130 The unfolding of your words gives light;
    it imparts understanding to the simple.
131 I open my mouth and pant,
    because I long for your commandments.

Do you agree that God’s word is wonderful, gives light, and imparts understanding? Do you long for His commandments?  Are you considering reading through the Bible in the new year? If so, let me suggest a plan and invite you to join me each day here to share the reading journey.

Beginning tomorrow, I will post a daily reading assignment which will take you through the Old and New Testaments simultaneously. Keep on schedule by either reading from your own Bible using your preferred translation, or pull up this blog and click on the reading assignment. You will instantly be taken to the daily assignment in the English Standard Translation from Bible Gateway.com. A year from now we will finish up the entire Bible.

What could be easier? What could be more important for your spiritual growth and blessing?

We, who are serious Christians or who are considering the Christian faith, should make Bible reading a regular part of our lives. But if you have never read through the Bible, you will see that it is a massive undertaking. It can be done and I have done it annually for many years. I do not recommend attempting a faster reading. I find it preferable to read daily at a steady pace taking some time to reflect on some of the verses.

The plan I am suggesting here begins in Genesis in the Old Testament and Matthew in the New Testament.

If you prefer to read at a slower pace you could opt to read only one of the readings each day and complete the entire Bible in 2 years instead of one. Either way the important thing is to get started and keep going. I will be here each day with a fresh posting to encourage you along the way. I hope you will join me on January 1.

John Carroll