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Showing posts from May, 2020

bible reading june 1

Bible reading for June 1.  Deuteronomy 5.  "You shall be careful therefore to do as the LORD your God has commanded you. You shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left." (Deuteronomy 5:32) COVENANT RENEWED. Before entering the land this new generation of Israelites needed to know (and renew) their covenant with God. There are four observations I make in this chapter: A) These are the same Ten Commandments as in Exodus 20 some forty years before. God has not evolved in his thinking from a wandering desert deity to an enlightened city god. His moral nature, and his moral law, do not need updating or revising in keeping with different cultures (Matt 5:17-20). B) The foundation of the covenant consists in words given , received, believed, and obeyed. As God he makes his promises and reveals his standards. C) A mediator is necessary . There is Moses. There are priests. There will be prophets. There will be kings. But only One will come as the fully-sufficien

bible reading weekend may 30

Bible reading for weekend May 30-31.  Deuteronomy 3-4.  "You shall not fear them, for it is the LORD your God who fights for you." (Deuteronomy 3:22)  A BIG FIGHT (3). The Rephaim, or Rephaites (Gen 14:5; Deut 2:11), were related in some way to the Anakim (Deut 1:28; 2:10, 11, 21). The Canaanites, and associated people groups, were formidable. They were technologically superior and at least some of the warriors were of unusual size. In a few instances God commanded total extermination. Why was this "ban" (or, being "devoted to destruction") necessary? It was a unique and unrepeatable historical event for Israel. I've posted before on this, but here are some considerations by Markus Zehnder at Biola: "Violence against the Canaanites in Deuteronomy and Joshua Reconsidered" , (Biola blog, September 18, 2019).  HEARING BUT NOT SEEING (4). Moses reminds the Israelites that at Sinai God was not seen, but rather, he was heard. There is

bible reading may 29

Bible reading for May 29.  Deuteronomy 2.  "And the time from our leaving Kadesh-barnea until we crossed the brook Zered was thirty-eight years, until the entire generation, that is, the men of war, had perished from the camp, as the LORD had sworn to them. For indeed the hand of the LORD was against them, to destroy them from the camp, until they had perished." (Deuteronomy 2:14-15)  MOVING AHEAD. Moses continues his review of Israel's wilderness travels and their recent victories. This travelogue should remind us that the life of God's people has a direction, a progression, and a goal. Our life has purpose, as determined by the Lord. Christians can answer the ultimate questions: who am I? where did I come from? And, where am I going?  Note also that Israel's inheritance was not unqualified. There were boundaries and exceptions: they were not to possess the lands of Edom, Moab, or Ammon. Israel's advance was not to be in the form of imperialism or

bible reading may 28

Bible reading for May 28.  Deuteronomy 1.  "'The LORD your God who goes before you will himself fight for you, just as he did for you in Egypt before your eyes, and in the wilderness, where you have seen how the LORD your God carried you, as a man carries his son, all the way that you went until you came to this place.' Yet in spite of this word you did not believe the LORD your God..." (Deuteronomy 1:30-32) RECAP. This book is the second (" deutero -") giving of the law ("- nomos "). Moses will explain the Law again to the people, being a new generation (1:1-5). What could have been a two-week trip has taken forty years (v 2). God provided for them leaders (vv 9-15) and judges (vv 16-17). The judges especially were charged to be righteous, impartial, thorough, and careful: "for the judgment is God's" (see post on Psalm 82 below). Moses gives a recap of Israel's travels, with specific commendations to Caleb and Joshua.

bible reading may 27

Bible reading for May 27.  "This is what the LORD commands concerning the daughters of Zelophehad, 'Let them marry whom they think best, only they shall marry within the clan of the tribe of their father.'"  (Numbers 36:6)  Numbers 36.  We come to the conclusion of the book of Numbers. Congratulations on reading this far!  Related to the issue of land inheritance for daughters (see Num 27), is the decision that land cannot be transferred outside of the tribe to whom it was designated. The wording of v 8 reminds us of Paul's words: "A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord" (1 Cor 7:39).  Marrying within the tribe and preserving the inheritance continue in principle in the New Testament as marrying "in the Lord". Believers and unbelievers represent two different tribes (2 Cor 6:14), with two different destinies and two different inheritances (

bible reading may 26

Bible reading for May 26.  Numbers 35.   "These six cities shall be for refuge for the people of Israel, and for the stranger and for the sojourner among them, that anyone who kills any person without intent may flee there." (Numbers 35:15)  WITH STOPS ALONG THE WAY. Previously in Numbers: chapter 33 records the locations of Israel's wilderness camps over forty years. Chapter 34 gives directions on dividing the land once they enter and possess it. Chapter 35 tells of the cities to be set apart for the Levites, along with pasture lands. Six of these cities will be designated "cities of refuge ", where those who were guilty of manslaughter (without premeditation or malicious intent) could flee for safety from those who would want to avenge the death. In a world where vengeance was common and courts were few, this was a step forward in justice , by providing fair hearings in a neutral city, time to cool off, and protection for those who did not intend

bible reading weekend may 23

Bible reading for weekend May 24.  Memorial Day weekend -- I will be taking off a couple of days from posting on the Bible reading plan, and hope to resume writing next Tuesday. The OT passage this weekend will go up through Numbers 34, and the NT/Psalms passage will go through Psalm 78.   Numbers 32.    "We will not return to our homes until each of the people of Israel has gained his inheritance. For we will not inherit with them on the other side of the Jordan and beyond, because our inheritance has come to us on this side of the Jordan to the east." (Numbers 32:18-19) FIRST SETTLEMENT. The theme of inheritance is prominent throughout Scripture .  For the Israelites it was the Lord himself and the land he chose for them. For us, as followers of the Messiah, it is also the Lord himself and the land he chooses for us (2 Pet 3:13; Rev 21). Two and a half tribes of Israel request the land on the east side of the Jordan (where Og, Sihon, and the Amorites had dwelt)

bible reading may 22

Bible reading for May 22.  Numbers 31.   MIDIANITES DEFEATED. In a sense the invasion had begun, though the Israelites had not yet crossed the Jordan River. The tribes were located on the eastern plains opposite Jericho just north of the border of Moab (the Arnon valley).  This land would become the inheritance of the tribe of Reuben. It was a region that had previously belonged to the Amorites, then taken by the Ammonites, and then ruled by King Sihon, recently defeated in battle. The Midianites, a semi-nomadic people, were living there, as well.  The Moabites had recruited Midian to help stop the Israelite advance through idolatry and sexual immorality. This came in the form of an invitation to a peaceful, inclusive pluralism (also called religious syncretism). A people's ethnic identity would be embraced, but then their distinctiveness would be eventually lost. You remember all that we read about Israel needing to be separate and distinctive.    DOES GOD APPROVE OF GEN

bible reading may 21

Bible reading for May 21.  Numbers 30. "If a man vows a vow to the LORD, or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word. He shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth." (Numbers 30:2)  ON KEEPING VOWS. This chapter relates specifically to women and the vows they make. If someone made a vow -- or promised a gift in support of the Lord's work, or dedicated themselves to a time of service -- he or she was expected to fulfill those commitments. Qualifications were made regarding women , not because they were incapable of making and keeping promises, but because of marriage and family bonds, their vows needed to be affirmed by the head of the family. This related to underage women at home and married women, but not to women who were independent (widowed, divorced, unmarried). In the case of married women it was not good to make a vow independently from the family, as her time, work, and finances would affect the rest of the

bible reading may 20

Bible reading for May 20:  Numbers 29. "These you shall offer to the LORD at your appointed feasts, in addition to your vow offerings and your freewill offerings, for your burnt offerings, and for your grain offerings, and for your drink offerings, and for your peace offerings." (Numbers 29:39) SPECIFIC DIRECTIONS. The offerings are to be made "according to the rule" (v 6; cf Num 15:24; Lev 9:16).  Seven times in this chapter the term "prescribed quantities" is used. The Lord is specific in his instructions. "So Moses told the people of Israel everything just as the LORD had commanded Moses" (v 40). When we consider the laws that God gave Israel we are struck by their beauty, reflecting what a world of love and justice would look like.  At the same time, however, we see the burden which the law brings. Not only are there many commandments and many details, but also the very nature of the law provokes our sinful nature (Rom 7:9-14).   J

bible reading may 19

Numbers 28. REVIEW. It has been forty years since leaving Egypt, and Moses is nearing his death. In this chapter and the next Moses summarizes for the people the calendar of regular public sacrifices.  These daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly offerings needed to continue when they entered the land.  ================   Psalm 72. "May his name endure forever, his fame continue as long as the sun! May people be blessed in him, all nations call him blessed!" (Psalm 72:17)  LEADERSHIP. We may not always know what good leadership looks like, but we usually recognize bad leadership when we see it. From the despotic kings of the ancient near east, to all the dictators down through history, and even to the elected officials of the western world today, nations suffer when there is not integrity, consistency, justice, and compassion in their rulers.  It has been the story of humanity that so many peoples have labored under rulers who are corrupt, self-serving, and capriciou

bible reading may 18

Bible reading for May 18.  Numbers 27. "Let the LORD, the God of the spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over the congregation who shall go out before them and come in before them, who shall lead them out and bring them in, that the congregation of the LORD may not be as sheep that have no shepherd." (Num 27:16-17) CHAPTER 27. The Lord makes provision for the daughters of Zelophehad (and others) to inherit land when there were no male heirs.  This shows God's care for women (and mothers and widows ) under the law.  In the new covenant men and women alike inherit eternal life and the blessing of the Holy Spirit in this life (Joel 2:28-29; Gal 3:28).  Moses views the promised land from Mount Abarim and appoints Joshua as his successor. To have a "shepherd" was to have a leader to lead, guide, protect, and care for you (Ps 23; John 10:10-16).  God's people always have need for such leadership (John 21:15-17; Acts 20:28; 1 Pet 5:1-4). DO YOU THANK G

bible reading weekend may 16

Bible reading for weekend May 16.  Numbers 25-26. "These invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods." (Numbers 25:2)  CHANGE OF STRATEGY. Since the Moabites cannot face Israel in battle they resort to seduction. Satan has two main strategies in defeating God's people: a) outright hostility, accusation, or persecution (which engenders fear); or b) subtle deception, temptation, and enticement (which appeals to lust). In the ancient near east, the polytheistic religions were entwined with the rhythms of nature. To remind the deities to produce rain, crops, and fruitful reproduction, worshipers were allowed to celebrate with promiscuous sex. First, there would be offerings, then eating, drinking, and partying, and then pairing up with one another or with cult prostitutes. This may not be obvious in the text, but this is the reason one spear killed two people, being caught in the act (Num 25:8). As you can ima