Bible reading for July 3.
"And the commander of the LORD's army said to Joshua, 'Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.' And Joshua did so." (Joshua 5:15)
FIRST, WORSHIP. Again, the Israelites are in the promised land but they are not yet gearing up for battle, but rather, they are worshiping God. Circumcision was the sign of the Abrahamic covenant and also commanded under the Mosaic covenant, performed to indicate that they belonged to the Lord. (This was quite an act of faith for all the fighting men would be incapacitated for a week or more.) They also observed their first Passover in the new land. Do you see that they were unhurried about engaging in battle, since their first priority was to seek the Lord and be obedient to him? Would we learn today how important it is to take time to pray and seek God before we undertake any new project!
THE COMMANDER. Who was this man, or being (vv 13-15)? He appeared as a warrior with drawn sword, but he was more, since the ground around him was declared holy (v 15; cf Ex 3:5). It could have been Michael the archangel (Dan 10:13, 21; 1 Thess 4:16; Jude 9; Rev 12:7) or perhaps a theophany, that is, a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ. The main point, however, is clear: the warfare against the sin of the land was the Lord's own battle and it was not a case of "us" versus "them", in the sense that the Lord is choosing whose side he is on. Sometimes people act like the Lord is on their side, when the real concern should be, are they on the Lord's side? Canaanites and Israelites were all sinners, and the Lord judged the peoples in the land and chose in mercy (and faithfulness to the fathers) to give that land to Israel. It was not a matter of Israel being better or more righteous (read again Deut 9:4-6). We should never ever think that we deserve the salvation we have received or deserve to have the Lord give us his favor!
"Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!" (Psalm 133:1)
SONGS OF ASCENT. These three psalms conclude the Songs of Ascent (120-134). These psalms were traditionally recited or sung by Jews as they ascended to Jerusalem for worship. Like them, Christians are pilgrims on the way to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God (Heb 11:16; 12:22; 13:4). Author and pastor Eugene Peterson called these psalms, "A long obedience in the same direction." Each psalm had a particular theme related to being a pilgrim on the road to the holy city. The last three themes are dwelling, unity, and worship.
DWELLING (132). In the OT King David yearned to find a dwelling place for God, a place where he could be known and worshiped (vv 5, 7, 13). This is the city of Jerusalem and Mount Zion, where the temple was built. This has been the hope of all redemptive history, that man and God might dwell together (Lev 26:11-12; Ezek 37:27; 2 Cor 6:16). NT believers await the return of the righteous King, the Son of David, who will bring the dwelling place of God from heaven to man forever (Rev 21:2-4, 23). What makes future glory so glorious is the glory of Jesus!
UNITY (133). The unity of the Israelite tribes was found in the worship of the one true God, of whom Aaron was the first high priest. United worship in Jerusalem brought not only the tribes together, but also families and individuals. True unity is refreshing like the dew on Mount Hermon. We who believe in Christ, the eternal high priest, find in him a unity that he himself creates (1 Cor 12:12-13; Eph 2:15-16; 4:3-6). Our harmony in fellowship is a blessing like the dew from heaven, and we too need the shared strength of our fellow believers as we walk this road we're on.
WORSHIP (134). The pilgrims, having arrived in Jerusalem (perhaps in the evening), call upon the Levites who keep watch over the temple to bless (praise) the Lord even at night. And they express the wish (note: they are blessing) that the Lord would bless those servants who keep watch. That's a lot of blessing going on! The final psalm in this collection speaks of a city where praise is natural. Once we taste the joy of worshiping God, and of being blessed by God and blessed by his people, we long to be there forever (Rev 21:22-26). We need to savor the glimpses we have of God's new creation!
We are following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson.
Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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