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Showing posts from April, 2020

bible reading may 1

Bible reading for May 1.  Numbers 8. "...Aaron shall offer the Levites before the LORD as a wave offering from the people of Israel, that they may do the service of the LORD." (Num 8:11) DEDICATION OF THE LEVITES. The Israelites are wrapping up a year at Mt Sinai and preparing to hit the road.  The tabernacle has been consecrated for service, as were the priests, and now those carrying the tabernacle are dedicated to that service.  NO RETIREMENT?   I've often heard it said that the concept of retirement is not biblical.  I would respond to that -- yes, and no.  No, we never stop loving the Lord, walking with him, serving him, serving others, and generally, being useful to God and community.  But our usefulness varies with life stage and ability . There are seasons to life and ministry.  Verse 25 says, "And from the age of fifty years they shall withdraw from the duty of the service and serve no more." These men could serve guard duty, but would not

bible reading apr 30

Bible reading for April 30.  Numbers 7. "And the LORD said to Moses, 'They shall offer their offerings, one chief each day, for the dedication of the altar.'" (Numbers 7:11) A HOLY HOUSEWARMING. This passage reminds me of a kind of wedding shower, where gifts are provided in matching sets for the new couple.  Here, God's house is being dedicated and each tribe brings offerings -- sacrifices to be offered on the altar and matched utensils for ongoing service.  Twelve tribes on twelve days bring valuable gifts.  Judah is first (Gen 49:8) and then each following day the pattern is repeated -- of dedication, sacrifice, and feasting.  It was both solemn and celebratory. If you remember, the peace offerings were shared with all gathered at the tabernacle. So, it was twelve days of consecration to God and a community celebration at the same time.  MY TAKEAWAY.   This may seem random, but in considering the public solemnity and joy of dedicating God's hou

bible reading apr 29

Bible reading for April 29.  Numbers 6. "The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace."  (Num 6:24-26)    Nazirite vow (6:1-21).   A man or woman could set themselves apart for special service to the Lord for a length of time. These were called "Nazarites" (not to be confused with Nazarene, a resident of Nazareth). This period of service was a time of complete dedication to the Lord.  Known examples of life-time Nazarites were Samson, Samuel, and John the Baptist.  Read more about this here. Benediction (6:24-26). You may be familiar with these words as a closing benediction in many church services. The context here is that the priest of the tabernacle, by offering sacrifices on behalf of people, is able to pronounce God's blessing upon them. It's the proclamation of a restored relationship with God. This benediction ("good word

bible reading apr 28

Bible reading for April 28.  Numbers 5. "Speak to the people of Israel, When a man or woman commits any of the sins that people commit by breaking faith with the LORD, and that person realizes his guilt, he shall confess his sin that he has committed..."  (Num 5:6-7)  The water of bitterness. This chapter continues with the theme of holiness among the people of God. One ceremony is described in detail, that for a husband who suspects his wife of being unfaithful . Both the OT and the NT condemn adultery outright for both men and women (Lev 20:20; Mark 10:11-12; Heb 13:4). This particular ceremony is for a suspicious husband who is accusing his wife of infidelity. If the woman is found innocent, it provides a public vindication for her. Read Constable's notes on this chapter in the NET Bible online for help in understanding this passage.  This passage highlights to us the perennial problem of unfaithfulness and jealousy in people, both men and women.  Marr

bible reading apr 27

Bible reading for April 27.  Numbers 4. "According to the commandment of the LORD through Moses they were listed, each one with his task of serving or carrying." (Num 4:49) The movers are here.  The other job that the Levites had was taking down and carrying the Tabernacle, which was a mobile sanctuary for the nation on its journey to the promised land. Heavy lifting was involved, but also maturity -- the men on duty were between the ages of 30 and 50. These workers had to be careful, for the holiness of the tent and its furnishings needed to be guarded .  In all of this there was a plan and division of labor (see Eph 4:15-16).  Again we see that God is a God of order. And the Lord was specific in how the work was to be accomplished.  Francis Schaeffer once preached a sermon entitled, "The Lord's Work in the Lord's Way," and that certainly is the idea in this chapter: God's work needs to be done in God's way .  He tells us not only wh

bible reading apr 26

Bible reading for April 26.  Numbers 3. "They shall keep guard over him and over the whole congregation before the tent of meeting, as they minister at the tabernacle." (Num 3:7) A friend and I were attending a Hokies' basketball game at an instate rival university a few years ago.  Two men in front of us, noticing our colors, turned and said to us in a friendly way, but with no uncertain terms, "You're in our house now."  The rivals defended their arena well, and we went home chastened with our loss.   Guarding his house.  As I noted at the beginning of Numbers, the Levites were charged with guarding God's house and the people worshiping there.  This word [ shamar, "keep watch, protect", 8 times in this chapter] was the same word used by God to command Adam to "keep" the garden of Eden (Gen 2:15), that is, to preserve its holiness and to protect it from evil encroachment. (Adam failed.)  God's sanctuary in Israel

bible reading apr 25

Bible reading for April 25.  Numbers 2. "The people of Israel shall camp each by his own standard, with the banners of their fathers' houses. They shall camp facing the tent of meeting on every side." (Num 2:2)  Order and diversity. In this chapter the Lord specifies the arrangement of the tribes around the tabernacle.  Each tribal group, under its own banner, faced the tabernacle, which was the center of the nation.  This reflects a principle, I believe, of the orderliness of God: just as he divided and ordered creation in the first chapters of Genesis, so now he divides and orders his people.  However, all are faced toward the one true and living God as the center which unites them. There was unity and diversity at the same time . In discussing the spiritual gifts distributed among God's people, Paul spoke of a diversity of gifts coming from the same God (1 Cor 12:4-7).  Peter calls this the varied, or manifold, grace of God (1 Pet 4:10).  We see this un

bible reading apr 24

Bible reading for April 24.  Numbers 1. "Take a census of all the congregation of the people of Israel, by clans, by fathers' houses, according to the number of names, every male, head by head." (Num 1:2) Israel's emancipation from Egypt and their stay at Mount Sinai, reported in Exodus and Leviticus, covered about one year's time. The next book, Numbers, will cover about 40 years, basically, a period of one generation . It was a period of national testing, and generally, the nation did poorly. ( If you are a person prone to complain about things, then this is the book for you! )  It is an historical narrative of Israel's wilderness wanderings .  The title comes from the census that the Lord commanded Moses to take of the people (vv 1-3). It is "Numbers", as in, numbering the people.  The purpose was to organize the tribes and to determine military strength.   The total population of Israel at this point was about two-plus million people. 

bible reading apr 23

Bible reading for April 23.  Leviticus 27. "These are the commandments that the LORD commanded Moses for the people of Israel on Mount Sinai." (27:34)  Congratulations on completing the book of Leviticus !   Redeeming service.  In Israel people might dedicate themselves for a time or give possessions in support of the Lord's service in the temple. See, for example, the story of Hannah, who pledged her son Samuel to assist in the temple ministry (1 Samuel 1:11).  Vows toward God were taken seriously.  If people wanted to rescind their vow, they would need to pay a redemption price as fair exchange for the value of their labor or property. Adjustments were made for gender (sex) and age.  Why was the value of a woman less than a man ?  The valuation here was the relative value of labor within that society . Men and women were both created in the image of God, and capital punishment was the penalty for any person who murdered a man, woman, or child, regard

bible reading apr 22

Bible reading for April 22.  Leviticus 26. "And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people." (26:12)  Once again we are told of God's ultimate purpose for humankind : that we might dwell happily together with God. (Ex 6:7; Ezek 37:23-28.)  Walking together is a sign of friendship.   At the beginning of creation we hear that the first human couple "...heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day..." (Gen 3:8).   What then fell into shame (and hiding) by the sin of Adam is redeemed by Christ, the second Adam, and will be restored in a new creation (2 Cor 5:17; 6:16; Rev 21:3).  We need hide no longer from God . In the words of the Westminster Shorter Catechism our ultimate purpose is, "That we might glorify God and enjoy him forever."  This new creation was purchased by Christ, and we are to receive him by faith, and along with him we receive all good things: "He who did not spa

bible reading apr 21

Bible reading for April 21.  Leviticus 25. "And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you, when each of you shall return to his property and each of you shall return to his clan." (Leviticus 25:10) Holiness brings joy to God's community.   Chapter 25 gives instructions regarding the sabbatical year and the year of jubilee .  We see here God's concern for the poor, for the care of the land, for the redemption of slaves, for the release of debts, and for redeeming property.  Within the community, borrowing and lending were to be interest-free, and profit was not to be made at the expense of the poor. We will see a wonderful picture of how this worked when we come to the book of Ruth .    "The land is mine" (25:23). This is a point we often forget. The promised land belonged to the Lord, and he lent it out to the tribes as an inheritance to be enjoyed from