Thursday, February 25, 2010

Project 4:4--Day Forty-Eight

Day Forty-Eight, Deuteronomy 10-11

Today we have the end of Moses' second speech to the people of Israel. In this, he really brings home the point that I believe is major. God cares about a person's heart. He cares more about the heart than the outward actions. Moses says, "To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it. Yet the Lord set His affection on your forefathers and loved them, and he chose you, their descendants, above all the nations, as it is today. Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer. For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing. And you are to love those who are aliens, for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt. Fear the Lord your God and serve him. Hold fast to him and take your oaths in His name. He is your praise; he is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes. Your forefathers who went down into Egypt were seventy in all, and now the Lord your God has made you as numerous as the stars in the sky. Love the Lord your God and keep His requirements, His decrees, His laws, and His commands always."

Moses ends this speech by letting the people know that the choice to obey God is theirs, and that there would be blessings if they made the right choice, but there would be consequences if they made the wrong choice.

"See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse--the blessing if you obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today; the curse if you disobey the commands of the Lord your God and turn from the way that I command you today by following other gods, which you have not known."

Brothers and sisters, as children of God, we have the same choice today.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Project 4:4--Day Forty-Seven

Day Forty-Seven, Deuteronomy 4-8

On this next day, we have yet another address from Moses to the people of Israel. He shares more of his wisdom with the people, and I may have to end up posting some portions of this address here, because it's just that good.

First of all, he urges the Israelites to obey! He reminds them of their blood covenant in which they agreed to obey the Lord's commands. First and foremost of this command, he reminds them, is, "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength."

He stresses the importance of remembering God's laws and decrees so that they are not just known in mind but are impressed upon the people's hearts. He says, "These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates." It's obvious that the Lord wanted His law the be constantly before His people. I thing He desires the same for us as His people today.

Lest the Israelites feel a sense of self-pride, he reminds them that they are not the Lord's chosen people because of anything they've done, but simply because the Lord loves them. He says, "The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numberous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath He swore to your forefathers that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefor that the Lord your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands. But those who ate him, He will repay to their face by destruction; He will not be slow to repay to their face those who hate Him. Therefore, take care to follow the commands, decrees, and laws I give you today."

Moses also reminds the people the purpose of the Lord's laws, that they are to teach the people how to live and to discipline them. He says, "Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his sons,s the Lord your God disciplines you." Reminds me a little of a passage from my favorite book of the Bible (did I mention that I love Hebrews???), a passage that reminds us that we are His children.

The Hebrew writer says, "Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?...we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live!...No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."

How great is the love the Father has lavished upon us, that we should be called children of God!

Project 4:4--Day Forty-Six

Day Forty-Six, Deuteronomy 1-4

In today's reading, Moses recaps all that the Israelites have been through over the past forty years. He reminds them of some of their times of grumbling and complaining that have led to their having to wander for forty years. However, he also reminds them that through it all, God has been with them and has provided for them.

He shares with them how desperate his desire was to be able to lead them into the promised land. But he was unable to because of his own mistake. In fact he begged God until God was tired of hearing about it from him.

In the same way that there was a consequence for Moses' action, he reminds the Israelites that after they go into the land promised them, there will be consequences for their actions. The strongest warning he repeats to them is about idolatry. He warns them repeatedly not to fall into the trap of worshiping the other gods of the people that they are to conquer.

Moses finishes this address, however, by reminding the people of who they are as God's chosen nation. He asks them to remember the signs and wonders they have seen, to acknowledge and take to heart that the Lord is God and there is no other. If they obey Him, it will go well with them in the land the Lord their God is giving them.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Project 4:4--Day Forty-Five

Day Forty-Five, Num. 27, 32, Deut. 4, Num. 33, Deut. 25, Num. 34-35

Yeah, I know, the scripture references for today seem rather do my thoughts on today's reading. Several different things cross my mind...

I love the fact that although Moses must have been broken-hearted that he would not be allowed to lead the Israelites into their promised land, he had the humility to think more of his people than of himself, as he asked the Lord to appoint a leader over them to take his place, "so that the Lord's people will not be like sheep without a shepherd." I love that as a leader, Moses cared about his people the way the Lord does. For when Jesus walked this earth and saw the crowds of people coming to Him, "He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd."

Joshua, who had been Moses' aide, and in whom was the Spirit, was chosen as a successor to lead Israel. Important to note here that our leaders should be people who are led by the Spirit.

In this reading, the Israelites are preparing to cross over the Jordan and conquer the land there. There is a request made for a couple of tribes to stay east of the Jordan, and some confusion there by Moses on behalf of their request, but they get that all settled, and so it's just refreshing to see these people, who 40 years ago said, "No, we can't," making preparations to go!

There is a short paragraph in Deuteronomy, only three verses that seem largely insignificant, but to me they have significance now because I am nearing the end of Beth Moore's study on Esther. Esther is a long way from where we are now, with the Israelites in the desert, but at the beginning of Beth's Esther study, she points to this passage:

"Remember what the Amalekites did to you along the way when you came out of Egypt. When you were weary and worn out, they met you on your journey and cut off all who were lagging behind; they had no fear of God. When the Lord your God gives you rest from all the enemies around you in the land He is giving you to possess as an inheritance, you shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven. Do not forget!"

This passage seems somewhat important to me now, because it seems that the Israelites DID forget; they did not completely blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven. Because of that, years down the road, they face possible annihilation, brought on by an Amalekite.

That still may not have much significance for the average reader, but for this student of the Word, I love being able to see the bigger picture that He's painting. When one passage/event is able to connect and make sense with another seemingly-unrelated passage/event, I start to understand a little bit more of that picture, and can seem to remember things better. That's just how I learn.

Thanks for reading.

Project 4:4--Day Forty-Four

Day Forty-Four, Numbers 26

In sharing my thoughts on this year-long Bible study, can I be honest with you all here?

Today's reading was a little shorter one, only about three pages or so. But it was three pages full of groups of people too numerous for me to really imagine, and with names too difficult for me to pronounce.

That's it. That was today's reading.

God commanded Moses and Eleazar to take another census of the entire Israelite community by families. This census would form the basis for how the land would be divided once the Israelites crossed over the Jordan into the promised land, with, of course, larger families receiving larger portions of land and smaller families receiving smaller portions.

Sorry I don't have anything insightful that we can learn from today's reading.

But I'm glad that you can at least appreciate my honesty. :)

Project 4:4--Day Forty-Three

Day Forty-Three, Numbers 25, 31

In this day's reading, the Midianite women seduced the Israelite men into worshiping their idols rather than the one true God. Because of this, the Lord said that all the men that worshipped the Baal of Peor must be put to death, and the Midianites are to be treated as enemies and be destroyed. God's punishment highlights once again the importance that He is holy and His people are to be holy and no sin is to be tolerated in Israel.

What I loved most about this reading is that Phineas, the son of Eleazar was praised and rewarded because "he was zealous for the honor of his God and made atonement for the Israelites."

I pray that we all may be zealous for the honor of our God.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Project 4:4--Day Forty-Two

Day Forty-Two, Numbers 22-24

In this day's reading, we have the story of Balaam, a GREAT flannelgraph story from when I was a kid. Balak, a king of the Moabites was afraid of the Israelites, so he summoned Balaam to come and curse the Israelites, and he promises to reward Balaam handsomely. At first, the Lord tells Balaam not to go. After Balaam asks again, however, the Lord grants him permission to go. But He is angry with Balaam, so he sends an angel to destroy him as he is on the way.

Well Balaam is going along his merry way, when the donkey he is riding sees the angel and keeps turning off the road, refusing to go ahead. Balaam doesn't understand what's wrong w/his stupid donkey, he keeps beating her, trying to get her going back on the road. After about the third time, the donkey finally speaks to him. Yeah, that's right, a talking donkey. (You thought that only happened in Shrek, didn't you?) I guess this gets his attention, because then his eyes are opened to see the angel.

The angel allows Balaam to go on ahead, but warns him only to do/say what the Lord tells him. So Balaam goes on to meet Balak, and three times he attempts to curse the Israelites. And three times, he instead blesses them, with words such as, "How can I curse those whom God has not cursed? How can I denounce those whom God has not denounced?...The Lord their God is with them; the shout of the King is among them...Their king will be greater than Agag; their kingdom will be exalted...May those who bless you be blessed and those who curse you be cursed...A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel..."

Indeed...a Star has come out of Jacob...the One who was and is and is to come.

I'm grateful for Him.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Project 4:4--Day Forty-One

Day Forty-One, Numbers 20-21, 33

In today's reading we have some more history recorded of the Israelites' wanderings in the desert. Yet again, the Israelites complain, and they are murmuring, and again the Lord is angry with them.

He sends venomous snakes among the Israelites, and the people who are bitten are dying. They cry out to the Lord, so He instructs Moses to build a bronze snake and lift it up on a pole. Those who are then bitten by the snakes, the Lord says, if they will look upon the bronze snake, they will live.

I just love the parallelism here, as we see another example of the foreshadowing of our Savior. He Himself compared Himself to this bronze snake, as He said "Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life."

Project 4:4--Day Forty

Day Forty, Numbers 16-18

In this reading, we have the story of a man named Korah, a leader of the tribe of Levi, who led a rebellion against Moses. He claimed that the entire assembly was holy, and he believed that Moses had gone too far, in setting himself up as the leader of all the Israelites. Well, needless to say, God made it abundantly clear to all the people that HE was the one who placed Moses in that position of leadership, and the rejection of His leadership would not be tolerated.

The one thing about this reading, and the rebellion that Korah led, that seemed most ridiculous to me was the fact that Korah and his men blamed Moses for their own mistake. He accuses Moses of leading them out in the desert to die, says, "You have NOT brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey..."

HELLO??? Really??? Seriously?????

Just yesterday, we read of Caleb and Joshua begging the entire assembly (which I assume included Korah and his men) to go up and take possession of the land. I'm not sure how much time had passed since this had happened, I'm sure they couldn't have forgotten already.

Or was their memory really that short.

Project 4:4--Day Thirty-Nine

Day Thirty-Nine, Numbers 12-14

A couple of things in today's reading that stand out:

1. God makes it clear that He has a very special relationship with Moses, who is the leader of His people. When Aaron and Miriam, his own brother and sister, grumble against him, God lets them know this. He says, "When a prophet of the Lord is among you, I reveal myself to him in visions, I speak to him in dreams. But this is not true fo my servant Moses; he is faithful in all my house. With him I speak face to face, clearly and not in riddles; he sees the form of the Lord." Also recorded in this episode is the fact that Moses was the must humble man on the face of the earth. I can't help but wonder if this is the reason He had such an intimate relationship with God? Because he knew his place in the relationship. After all, His Word tells us to humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord, so that He may lift us up.

2. Today's reading also included the account of the report of the spies that were sent into the land of Canaan. Ten of the men came back saying that the land was wonderful, but that the people would be too powerful for them to overcome. Two men, however, Caleb and Joshua knew that the Lord was with them. They fell on their faces and begged the assembly of Israelites to listen to them and believe in the Lord. Unfortunately, they did not, so the Lord did not allow them to enter the promised land. I just wanted to point out how important our perspective and our focus is. Because the people had the wrong perspective, they missed their opportunity to take hold of God's blessings. They were comparing their strength to the strenght of their enemies, rather than recognizing the strength of their God. And when they did try to go into the land, it was too late. They had missed their opportunity, because the Lord was no longer with them.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Project 4:4--Day Thirty-Eight

Day 38, Numbers 10,9,11

In this reading, the Israelites are about to begin their journey from Mount Sinai and toward the promised land. Moses asks his brother-in-law to go with them, to assist in guiding them through the desert. I love Moses' statement that "the Lord has promised good things to Israel." Let me just say again that God keeps His promises. Always. Can I get an 'Amen'?

As the Israelites go, His presence leads them and guides them. However, they complain to Him because they are tired of the manna He has provided, and they want meat to eat. The Lord becomes angry with them, and He tells them He will give them the meat they desired, enough for an entire month, so much that they will be sick of it!

Moses tells this to the people, but I love seeing that even a great leader like Moses has his doubts. After telling the people what the Lord has said, Moses goes back to God and says, "But Lord, are you sure about this??? Do you know how much meat it would take to give all these people meat for a month???" Gotta love God's response to him. "Is the Lord's arm too short?" The Lord gave them all the meat He said He would, as He sent them quail. But then He also brought a plague on them for grumbling to Him.

Also, in this reading Moses cries out to God that his task of leading all these people is too great. God tells him to choose seventy elders from among the people, upon whom God will place His Spirit, to assist Moses in his job.

When Moses' aide Joshua hears a couple of those elders prophesying, he tells Moses to have them stop. Moses' reply is an attitude worth paying attention to. He says, "Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the Lord's people were prophets and that the Lord would put His Spirit on them!"

Amen to that.

Project 4:4--Day Thirty-Seven

Day 37, Numbers 3-4

Today's reading covers the duties of the Levites. They are divided into clans, and each clan is given a particular job and, again, specific duties. Also interesting to me was that because God had originally intended for each firstborn to be His, but He took the Levites in their place,a nd there were more firstborn than Levites, He required a certain amount of money be collected as a redemption offering for each number of firstborn persons over the number of Levites.

Project 4:4--Day Thirty-Six

Day 36, Numbers 9,1,2

In this reading we see the Israelites celebrate the Passover for the first time since their deliverance from slavery in Egypt. Interesting to me that being able to celebrate a feast to the Lord memorializing what He has done for them was more important to Him than rules about ritual cleanliness.

Also, we have a census of the people, adn we see that God is still giving them very strict instructions, even about where to live.

Project 4:4--Day Thirty-Five

Day 35, Numbers 3,8,7

Here we have the Levites chosen for service, and we have offerings brought to the Tabernacle from each of the tribes.

Again, not a lot to comment on here, except that everything had to be purified/consecrated, because the Lord is holy. And the Levites had to make atonement for the Israelites, so that they wouldn't be struck with a plague even when going near the sanctuary.

Project 4:4--Day Thirty-Four

Day 34, Leviticus 8-10

Today's reading contains the very detailed instructions for the ordination of the priests. Today the New Testament tells us that we are "a chose people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light." (I Pet. 2:9)

This reading also has the story fo Nadab and Abihu, who were destroyed by the Lord for disobeying His command. With this, we are reminded that above all, the Lord is holy. For He said, "Among those who approach me, I will show myself holy; in the sight of all the people I will be honored."

Project 4:4--Day Thirty-Three

Day 33, Exodus 39-40

This reading describes the garments to be worn by the High Priest and priests.

It also describes the completion of the Tabernacle, upon which God's glory filled the Tabernacle. Aren't you glad that today His Spirit dwells in us, as we reflect His glory!

Project 4:4--Day Thirty-Two

Day 32, Exodus 35-38 This day's reading included many details about the actual construction of the Tabernacle and its articles. Like the previous readings, it was very long and difficult.

However, one thing of interest is that the Lord asked for a freewill offering from the people for the things needed, and they openly gave. In fact, they gave too much! They gave so much, in fact, that the guys in charge had to go to Moses and say, "Moses, you've gotta get these people to stop bringing stuf! They've already given too much!"

Can you imagine that happening in church today? For the people to be told to stop giving because they've already given too much???

Oh, for a heart that generous!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Project 4:4--Day Thirty-One

Day Thiry-One, Exodus 32-34

In today's reading we see the Israelites rebel against God while Moses is on the mountain receiving instruction from the Lord. Moses has been gone for forty days and forty nights, and the Israelites, becoming restless, ask Aaron to make them a god to worship.

The most interesting thing I got out of this reading was that God is a God who listens to us. He is willing to take into account the things that we say and perhaps change His mind about doing something. For when the Israelites rebelled, the Lord was angry and was ready to destroy them completely and start over with Moses, making Moses into a great nation. But Moses pleaded with the Lord, asking Him to remember His covenant with their forefathers. He asked God to spare the people Israel for their sake and for the sake of the Lord's own glory. So the Lord relented and did not destroy the Israelites.

Also in this reading is Moses' request to see the glory of the Lord. God told Moses that no one may see him and live, but God agreed to let His glory pass by Moses and let Moses see his back after He has passed by. I love what God chose to proclaim about Himself as He allowed Moses to see His glory, "The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet He does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and grandchildren for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation."

Finally there is the detail given that Moses meets with God in a tent outside the camp and talks with Him "face to face, as a man speaks with his friend." Afterward, his face glows, so he covers it with a veil so that the Israelites won't stare at it. The Apostle Paul, however, states that we, as Christians under a better, more glorious covenant, should with unveiled faces reflect His glory, as we are being transformed to be more and more like Him by His Spirit which lives in us.

Project 4:4--Day Thirty

Day Thirty, Exodus 29-31

This reading is more of what we had yesterday, more instruction for the Tabernacle and articles in it. Here we have instructions for the ordination of the priests, a special sin offering a special burnt offerng, the ram of ordination, the ordination week activities, continuous burnt offerings, the altar of incense, the census offering, the bronze laver, the anointing oil, and the incense.

However, also in this reading, God names two men, Bezalel and Oholiab, as two workers to build the Tabernacle. He names them as skilled craftsmen, men that He as given the ability to do all that the Lord has commanded.

I just love the reminder that in the same way that the Lord calls us to do His tasks, it is also the Lord that gives us the ability to complete them.

Project 4:4--Day Twenty-Nine

Day Twenty-Nine, Exodus 25-28

These four chapters are four very long, detail-oriented chapters about the tabernacle and the priests. For a non-visual person such as myself, it makes for some difficult reading as God gives very specific instructions about how to construct the Tabernacle, with the veil for the Most Holy Place, the altar of burnt offerings, the outer court, the oil for the lamps, and the garments for the priests.

That's a lot of detailed instructions, which at first doesn't interest me much. Until I turn to my favorite book of the Bible, the book of Hebrews, which, in speaking of the tabernacle and the high priests, says, "They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven." Really good stuff.

If you, like me, are having trouble getting through the detailed instructions about the tabernacle and Old Testament worship, do yourself a favor and flip over to Hebrews. Read chapters 8,9, fact don't stop there, read on through 11 and 12! You won't regret it.