Deuteronomy Reflections

These are notes collected from studying Exodus with Matt Lantz and Matt Roefer. Anything good comes from the Lord. Everything else is from us!

Deut 6

Deut 6 has been really speaking to me:

“These words that I command you today shall be ON YOUR HEART.
You shall TEACH THEM DILIGENTLY TO YOUR CHILDREN,
and shall TALK OF THEM WHEN YOU SIT in your house,
and WHEN YOU WALK by the way,
and WHEN YOU LIE DOWN,
and WHEN YOU RISE.
You shall BIND THEM AS A SIGN ON YOUR HAND,
and they shall be as FRONTLETS BETWEEN YOUR EYES.
You shall WRITE THEM ON THE DOORPOSTS OF YOUR HOUSE
and ON YOUR GATES…
“And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as we are this day. And it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to do all this commandment before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us.” (6:6-25).

So much could be said here! But let me give a quick take, rephrased for today:

Get God’s word in your heart. Actively teach them to your children (if you don’t someone else will teach them false things). When you sit, walk, lie down, and rise up–basically all parts of the day–talk about these words with your family and friends. Meditate on them, work them out, keep going back to them. Make it what you think about and what you work towards. Write them anywhere you can. On Slack channels…at your house…on pieces of paper…in your text messages…in your e-mails…everywhere. If you don’t, you will unwittingly end up taking in the words of the world and the Enemy…and before you know it you fell for Satan’s way of thinking about things, instead of God’s. And if you are careful to do all this…you will see goodness and be filled with life. You will walk in true righteousness.

Deut 13

“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of slavery, to make you leave the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.
Deuteronomy 13:1-5

What a contrast — God’s Scripture has authority over signs/prophecies, etc.!

“If your brother, the son of your mother, or your son or your daughter or the wife you embrace or your friend who is as your own soul entices you secretly, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods,’ which neither you nor your fathers have known, some of the gods of the peoples who are around you, whether near you or far off from you, from the one end of the earth to the other, you shall not yield to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him, nor shall you conceal him. But you shall kill him. Your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people.”
Deuteronomy 13:6-9

Gods word is greater even than close relationships! It’s greater than what those around us think/do.

Threes

There are some interesting things I keep coming across

  • why were there (3) cities for accidental murders?
  • why were men to go before God 3 times per year (at the 3 feasts)? 
    • what did they say/give an account of?
    • should we do this as elders of a community 3 times a year? 
  • Deut 14:28: “At the end of every three years…” – why 3 years?

Deut 14 & Tithing

Deut 14 speaks to different uses of our tithe (which I think speaks to all of our possessions this side of the cross):

  • feed ourselves
  • feed the helpless (widows, fatherless)
  • Feed guests (“sojourners”)
  • Feed those ministering Christ

I’m amazed at how much this parallels uses of the church’s funds in the NT!

I was also amazed and struck how much Deut. speaks of the sojourner. So very close to the heart of God! Guests could also include foreigners to our neck of the woods.

Deut 17

“And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, approved by the Levitical priests. And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them, that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel.
Deuteronomy 17:18-20

Boom!

  1. I find it amazing that God speaks prophetically about kings a couple hundred years before they came into being…and even when they came, it wasn’t how God wanted, but He was still willing to work with it.
  2. I love—again—the emphasis on knowing and meditating over EVERY word of God.

Deut 18

  1. love that those who minister the Lord (Levites) had no inheritance on earth, though their needs were met (dependent on their community, the fellow Israelites). What a picture for us!—being detached from this earth frees us to minister heaven (our true inheritance) to others
  2. the “prophet” who was coming like Moses seems to point squarely and ultimately at Jesus, Acts 3:17-26, though other (lesser) prophets did come first

Should Christians Follow the OT Law?

See Blog Post: Should Christians Obey the Old Testament?

Also, I see 3 general categories of law:

  1. RITUAL (eating foods, washing clothes, feasts, Sabbath, etc.) – these are external things that have been fulfilled in Christ; our faith in Him and being led of the Spirit means we fulfill all these and go beyond them in terms of righteousness before God. You can do them if you want, but it makes you no more righteous than the one who doesn’t.
  2. MORAL (sexuality, remove idols, don’t murder, don’t covet, etc) – these carry on for us today. But even these are lived into in a greater degree as we follow the Spirit within us, and obey these from the heart.
  3. GOVERNMENTAL (rules on murder; slavery; marriage-divorce; etc) – these can be helpful in making policies on a governmental/civil level, but aren’t meant for the church alone (for instance, I believe in capital punishment based on Scripture, but that would need to happen by elected officials of the State; it would be wrong for the church to kill anyone by their own decrees).

In ALL of these categories:

  • Jesus/ The Spirit within wants to lead us into a greater righteousness than what is communicated by the “letter of the law”
  • principles should be given more weight than the “letter of the law” see 1 Cor 9:8-10

Yes, the NT repeatedly differentiates moral from ritual of the OT. Hebrews, for instance, says we are in sin to look for a priest, temple, animal sacrifice, Sabbath observance, eating kosher, etc. as part of becoming righteous or sanctified in Jesus. Similarly, Paul says in Col 2 how we are not judged by the ritual anymore.

Yet Paul also quotes from 10 commandments in saying parents should obey masters (Eph 5), or we shouldn’t covet (Rom 7).

Mark 7:14-15, 17-23 says: “And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: 15 There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, 19 since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” ( Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

I think that passage shows this:

  • foods DON’T make you unclean (ritual)
  • wicked hearts DO make you unclean (moral)

“Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.” Colossians 2:16-17

This passage from Col 2:16-17 is another key one. Look at all the things we aren’t judged for anymore: eating, festivals, sabbaths.

Why not? Because they were all just temporary placeholders fulfilled in Christ (“shadows” if you will). We in Christ no longer need them. Further, we are told that each of these OT ordinances will have things pointing out and pointing toward Jesus and his sacrifice and his life in us. Now that is some exciting OT reading for us to discover all these treasures pointing toward Him! Dig in!! While knowing we fulfill them by believing on Christ and the gospel and being led by His Spirit.

See also The Old Testament Law – Jeff Durbin Critiques Andy Stanley.

Deut 20: Fear Is Contagious

And the officers shall speak further to the people, and say, ‘Is there any man who is fearful and fainthearted? Let him go back to his house, lest he make the heart of his fellows melt like his own.’
Deuteronomy 20:8

Deut 29 – Don’t Focus on Secret Things

“The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.
Deuteronomy 29:29

Stop fixating on “secret things”. Focus on the revealed things of Gods word that you could walk faithfully with Him.

Sabbaths

Quick note (more for me than anyone):

  • Jesus was on cross 6 hours, then said it is finished, and now we enter His rest.
  • God worked 6 days, then people were created, and the 7th day was rest.
  • Feast of booths started 7 weeks after Sabbath of Passover (in month 1)
  • The 7th month held 3 feasts for sabbath (Lev 23)
  • The 7th year was supposed to be a year of rest
  • After the 7th of the 7th years you had Jubilee
  • 490 years = 70 * 7 years (see Dan 9)

God’s Justice

“All his ways are justice.” Deuteronomy 32:4

Compare with Isaiah 55 – “God’s ways are not our ways”

If we are serious about justice in this society it will come from looking at God and His word much closer. Our versions of justice will always be warped.

Deut 30 – God’s Blessing & Multiplication

Reflecting on how blessing and multiplication comes, according to God: “If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it.” Deut 30:16

Ultimately, only Christ is faithful like this, so I believe it comes firstly on trusting in Christ’s work and righteousness alone! But then He also gives us His Spirit and Word to walk in his ways.

Deut 31

And Moses commanded them, “At the end of every seven years, at the set time in the year of release, at the Feast of Booths, when all Israel comes to appear before the Lord your God at the place that he will choose, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing. Assemble the people, men, women, and little ones, and the sojourner within your towns, that they may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God, and be careful to do all the words of this law, and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God, as long as you live in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess.”
Deuteronomy 31:10-13

Yet another way to get this word in us and the  next generation.

Deut / Torah Reflections

I have really enjoyed reading the Torah in succession- it is really helpful to see the same themes continuing to emerge and how much the Lord continues to call the Israelites to not fear and follow Him. He provides over and over and over. They are pretty stubborn and stiff necked and this is so applicable to today! Unfortunately all too often neglected.

In Deut. specifically toward the end I was amazed how many times God called them to “purge evil from their midst.” It hit me how God’s sovereignty was ever present giving them the ability to choose Him over and over and His commandments which lead to life or to sin which leads to death. The same choice we have now. He calls us His treasured possession and says follow me-I desire you but ultimately it’s our choice.

Deut. 30: 19-20 “ I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore, CHOOSE LIFE, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying His voice, and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days.”

Numbers Reflections

These are notes collected from studying Exodus with Matt Lantz and Matt Roefer. Anything good comes from the Lord. Everything else is from us!

Numbers 1

  1. The largest counts came from Judah and Dan. I find this intriguing, because when you get to Judges, I believe it was Dan who brought the most bad things into Israel (e.g. idolatry) and Judah brought the best things (e.g. deliverance from enemy). Not 100% sure on that. But if it holds, then it shows that your strength can be used for great good or great evil (since they were the 2 largest tribes in Num 1)
  2. I love the attention given to the Lord and making sure He is pleased in Num. 1:47-53. Israel could have used many more troops from Levi, but instead, God wanted those men to ensure the Lord was properly worshipped. Likewise, all of our spiritual warfare will not be successful if we lose sight of pleasing the Lord and worshipping Him.

Num 1-4

I am challenged by the fact that they are making all these provisions for when/how to camp, when/how to move, and when/how to war…and the majority of the time is taken up with provisions for tending to the Lord and His presence in the tabernacle. How lopsided we’ve become when time tending to the Lord is a small piece or after thought.

Num 6 (with some Num 13 & 14 mixed in)

I have been struck first in seeing how God really sets apart people groups and people for him. First, the Levites (ch1-4), and then with the Nazarites and their vow (ch. 6).

I found it interesting the famous benediction “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace,” follows the Nazirite vow in ch. 6.

The point being here, God is calling His people to be set apart. To be Holy. The same calling He has for us today. Thankfully, without all the same rules and regulations but He is still looking for the faithful few. He found that in Caleb especially & also Joshua (Ch. 13 & 14). Caleb reminds me of Noah in this way. When seemingly everyone else was doubting he was faithful. Then God steps in and keeps him (and Joshua) as a remnant (14:38).

Num 11

See More Graves of Craving

Num 15

The Lord’s words to Moses in ch. 15:39-41 hit me hard:

“And it shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the Lord, to do them, not to follow after your own heart and your own eyes which you are inclined to whore after.** So you shall remember and do my commandments and be holy (there it is again), to your God. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God: I am the Lord your God.”

Num 16

I loved Num 16:46-48 – namely how they rushed to make atonement so he could stand “between the dead and the living” and the plague would be stopped (v. 48). I read that passage and saw this vision of God running to “interpose His precious blood” (from “Come Thou Fount” lyrics). And that He brought mercy to us sinners when we deserved death. This image of Him running to give us life (like Aaron did) was very touching.

Num 17

I have was really touched by Numbers 17!! Wow, that blessed me so much.
Consider:

  • they were trying to discern who was God’s appointed leaders. So what did they look for?
  • they took staffs (things that have no possibility of life growing from them, since they are cut off the root and have no fruit growing from them)…
  • then they put the staffs in the tabernacle, where they had to endure a cold, dark night…
  • THEN…God proved that Levi was appointed to minister before Him…HOW?…
  • By making the staff sprout “buds…blossoms…ripe almonds”. TOTALLY IMPOSSIBLE. This is a work of God alone! Further…
  • If you look at Exodus 37:18-19, almond buds and blossoms were part of the lampstand. AND…
  • If you look at Rev. 1:20, the lampstand is a picture of the church.

OK…I’ll try to connect all this…

The way I see it is that God looks especially for fruit to be produced in His chosen leaders/ministers. The sign of being a priest of God (which all the church is – 1 Pet. 2:9), is that we produce fruit. Further, we produce fruit that would otherwise be impossible to produce. A staff is dead at both ends. Yet it was able to produce fruit. This is impossible! Do you think you can manufacture love, joy, peace, patience, etc. … all the way to “self-control” (Gal. 5) by yourself?? Impossible!! You can’t do this. It is an act of God in your life, and it shows you are qualified to minister to Him if you do this (and only those with this special fruit of His indwelling Spirit will be able to minister to Him truly).

Further…it had to endure a dark, cold night (I guess I’m assuming it was cold) in the tabernacle. This fruit comes impossibly, and especially at dark times in our life. Fruit of Christ/Christ’s Love produced in dark times is probably the best indicator that someone is a true Christian (exactly what Rom. 5:3-5 indicates).

Lastly, this picture is not just on Aaron’s / Levi’s staff. It perfectly matches God’s design for His lampstand, which is a picture of His church (Rev. 1:20). That is, we are His light in darkness. So it gives further picture that this is what should happen in all of us. Can you make it happen by your will power and strength?! God forbid!! It has been and will always be impossible. That’s how we know it is God at work in you.

Num 20

I just read chapter 20 and it’s crazy! I know many of us know the story of God keeping Moses out of the promised land but when you really think about it being for striking the rock 2x, and then the fact not only did he not enter, but Aaron dies soon after for being an accomplice in this. Basically, they are severely punished because of their unbelief and this is how seriously God takes this. See Ch.14:11 and God saying “how long will they (Israelites) not believe in me?”

Just crazy when you really think about all that Aaron and Moses actually did in faith and for the Lord that they both died without seeing the promised land.

A powerful symbolism here (to shed some new light):

  • At first, Moses was told to strike the rock so water would flow out (Ex. 17).
  • 1 Cor. 10 tells us “that Rock was Christ” (v. 4).
  • And John 7 has Jesus indicating that the water that came out was His Spirit (John 7:37-39).
  • So the rock was struck and water was given in Exodus 17, just like Jesus was crucified and the Holy Spirit poured out to us.

….BUT IT GETS BETTER…

  • In Ex. 17, the Hebrew word for “rock” is a “sunken rock”. In Num 20, the word is an “exalted rock”. So Ex. 17 you clearly have a picture of Christ’s humiliation and crucifixion (as the rock was a type of Him). But in Num 20 you get a picture of Him as now exalted.

So…How do we receive His Holy Spirit today, now that He is exalted? We speak to Him, and ask Him for this (Luke 7:11).

What was Moses told to do in Num 20? Speak to the rock!! The picture holds really tight.

But when Moses struck the rock, the picture shows him metaphorically “crucifying Jesus” all over again. In Hebrews 6:6 we read of people unable to come to God’s promised land because they would be “crucifying the Son of God all over again”. These are people who, I believe, are guilty of blaspheming the Holy Spirit and totally turning away from God without repentance.

Anyway…

It shows that, sadly, the picture is consistent of Moses “striking the rock” when it was already struck in Ex. 17, and thus, metaphorically, crucifying Jesus all over again, which means he can’t come in the Promised Land.

OK… all of that picture doesn’t mean God had no heart for Moses, though it does show that God does not show favoritism (similar to Exod 4 when God threatened to kill Moses if his son wasn’t circumcised).

But take a look at Matt. 17:3 – “Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus [in the Promised Land!]” …God brought Moses there after all, just not as quick. 

Num 30

Quick thing:
I love Num 30!!!
It gives me so much confidence in prayer. God is my Father, Christ is my husband. Thus we can pray to God: “Lord, please trump what I plan to do here. Be my husband and Father to say, ‘that’s not a good idea’…veto my bad plans like they were commanded to do in Num 30.”

I just don’t trust myself but am glad God is there to speak for or against my plans like a safety net that keeps me from error.

Num 32

Num 32 challenges me in this way:
Though the 2.5 tribes found rest for themselves already (East of Jordan), they still were going to work and sacrifice their lives for the other tribes to find rest, too (West of the Jordan).

I think of us who are Christians as those who already found rest for our souls. It’s easy to think we should just sit back and relax. Instead, may we labor, war, and sacrifice our lives so that many others will come to rest in Christ as well!

Num 35

Before advancing to Deut, I wanted to share a quick thing that touched me from Num 35 ~
In this chapter, I was reflecting how we could do such better as a society if we adopted these standards of justice (versus imposing our own warped standards that originate from us). Namely (in no particular order):

  • intent DOES matter – even when dealing with murder, it is a world of difference if they intentionally meant to murder or if it was an honest accident. I think of this in some of the “new rules” of racism, if I may call them that. Namely, you are guilty if you offend others, regardless of your intent. Not true according to God’s word.
  • look for 2-3 witnesses to establish fault – it’s not enough to have 1 person give their “read” on the situation; we need 2-3 independent sources to recognize where the fault truly is
  • we should make provisions to protect people who hurt others without intending to do so (like they had cities of refuge for the one who killed without intending)
  • simultaneously, it is good to give space when such hurt happens, because the feelings are so raw in the other ones involved
  • and, if the unintentional offender violates giving such “space” between them and the one who was hurt, then it’s kind of on them if those hurt seek revenge (at least in 1 sense, because they weren’t careful to keep distance when they knew raw emotions were at play)
  • finally, if the intent was indeed to cause hurt (murder, in this case), they are clearly guilty and should be judged as such (thankfully – even when we are guilty of such things, Christ died for that too, so we can repent and receive the death penalty via Christ taking it for us…blessed be the Lamb!)

I know I’m taking some liberties in what it actually says, but I’m trying to consider some of the principles at play. And I do think if we started adopting more of these principles it could bring radical change for the better in our current divisive society.

We Are One Body (Song by Earl Washington)

From the late (and great) Earl Washington (with Matthew Ward of 2nd Chapter of Acts accompanying):

“We Are One Body” by Earl Washington (4 min, 25 sec)

Lyrics

We are one body,
Whether slave or free.
How can the eye say to the ear, 
"I'm no good;
"I'm no good"?

God has placed many members
Just as He has desired.
How can the eye say to the hand, 
"You're no good; 
You're no good," ?

CHORUS
Jesus,
We all need each other.
When one suffers, 
We all suffer.
 Father, 
We all need each other,
When one's honored, 
we are honored.

In the congregation,
Are lowly ones ignored?
Do we receive the ones who are small
And rejoice?
Rejoice?

Repeat Chorus multiple times; fade out

Leviticus Reflections

These are notes collected from studying Leviticus with Matt Lantz, Matt Roefer, and Neal Karsten. Anything good comes from the Lord. Everything else is from us!

Leviticus 1-7 – FIVE BASIC SACRIFICES

  1. BURNT OFFERING – this is BY FAR the most common sacrifice mentioned in the Bible, and seems the base of other sacrifices. Abraham offered up Isaac as burnt offering. Noah offered this up to appease God’s wrath from judgment. This is a sacrifice given totally to the Lord for our atonement (= covering) of sins. This clearly points to the death of Christ given over to God to satisfy God’s wrath toward our sin. Note that it was celebrated by a male animal without blemish in the prime of his life. BOOM! Sound familiar?
  2. GRAIN OFFERING – in John 12:24, Jesus reveals that a seed going into the ground is like a seed dying and being buried. BUT, when it comes up, it’s like resurrection. Hallelujah! We also read of the firstfruits as a symbol of resurrection (see 1 Cor. 15). The grain offering incorporates the firstfruits – no death is involved in the sacrifice. It is clearly pointing to resurrection of a perfect life. BOOM! Sound familiar? We are just beginning Leviticus and we already have Christ’s death and resurrection as the starting point!
  3. PEACE OFFERING – this was an offering you bring before God to celebrate the peace you already have with him. It is something you’d eat with others. Part of it is given to God (the fat and blood), and part of it is for you. It is a meal shared with you, others, and the Lord to celebrate that you have peace with God. BOOM! Sound familiar? Our communion is this…it extends the death of Christ to be a provision of unity with others (compare 1 Cor. 11).
  4. SIN OFFERING – this is a sacrifice you present after you sin. It’s interesting to note the sins mentioned there. A lot deal with your words: did you speak hastily, or did you not speak when you should’ve because you knew the truth in a matter (ouch – that resonates!). But, the sacrifice of a perfect offering in the prime of his life atones for this sin. BOOM! We have provision in Jesus when we sin against God (see 1 John 1).
  5. TRESPASS OFFERING – this is a special kind of sin offering. It is still a sin that requires atonement by an unblemished sacrifice. But it is when you hijack something for yourself that belongs to another (goes back to Exodus 20 – do not steal). When you do this, you need to restore what you took PLUS add 1/5 to the value (think of it like paying interest for the time it was away). An amazing thing to think about here is that when lepers are restored to God, they have to present a trespass offering. Why?! What property was taken that belonged to another?? Well…the leper himself/herself belongs to God to be used by him. The leprosy took them away from being used by God. When they become clean they can go back to being used by God! Amen – all for His glory!! We belong to Him. Sin isn’t just a bad thing for us to experience (though it is that). Sin is “falling short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). We think of sin as falling short of a good life we can experience. Not quite…it’s better to think of sin in terms of what God loses. He gets less glory in us. Look at Luke 15. The lost coin, the lost sheep, the lost son. All point to what the owner loses when there is sin, and what the owner gains when sinners are restored. Owner = God!

Chapter 2:13 stood out as well. That the offering needed to have salt. Just thinking that is as an offering we are to be seasoned with salt as well. “You shall season all your grain offerings with salt. You shall not let the salt of the covenant with your God be missing from your grain offering; with all your offerings you shall offer salt.”

LEVITICUS 8-10 – CONSECRATION FOR MINISTRY

I find Lev. 8 a very moving picture to consider for us in our own ministry. We are all called to be priests (1 Pet. 2:9), therefore we should find application in priestly service and consecration for all Christians. And boy oh boy do we ever, IMHO!I believe Lev. 8 shows the picture of what Rom. 1-6 points to:

  • Romans 1-5 = Jesus’ blood atones for our Sins // Lev. 8 begins with the priests doing a sin offering, where the blood atones for their sins
  • Romans 6a = Jesus’ crucifixion renders us dead to sin // Lev. 8 continues with the priests offering a burnt offering where the whole animal is consumed for God, “crucified unto the Lord”, you could say. So not only are the priests’ sins covered by the blood of another life, but they join with the death (burnt offering) of the animal, just as we join with the crucifixion of Christ (see Rom. 6:1-6)
  • Romans 6b = our new life in Christ is now purchased by his blood so that it belongs to God, not sin…God is our new Master, purchased by His blood…therefore our life belongs to Him alone // Lev. 8 continues on with blood being applied to the tip of the ear, hand, feet – I believe this is a sign that our hearing, doing, walking no longer is up to us, but belongs wholly to the Lord (to the outermost parts of that…not 1 bit of it is for us anymore)

Lev. 10:1-2 should be a sobering warning for all of us. Zeal and passion can be deadly if it isn’t coupled with truth and knowledge: “Desire/Zeal without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way.” (Prov. 19:2). Sincerity, passion, and zeal can all lead to hell if it is not based on God’s word/truth/way. Thankfully we’ll see the contrast of this in Leviticus 16 where the Day of Atonement is set as a contrast to this tragedy of fire killing Aaron’s sons. In Lev. 16 we see GOD’S WAY. And when we see that truly, then our passion and zeal can be applied to that, and it will be well pleasing and lead to life before the Lord.

I’d also add the value of them being clothed/covered first in Lev. 8. This is a theme we’ve seen from Adam and Eve onward in the Bible. And it’s definitely a big deal in the N.T. (with us being covered/clothed in Christ and his righteousness). In fact, the N.T. letters seem to begin with first establishing this truth: you are clothed in Christ’s finished work, made perfectly righteous in Him. Then it proceeds from there in how to walk out this new life. Similarly, Lev. 8 shows the priests first being clothed, and then the rest of the procedures follow that.

“I Put a Case of Leprous Disease”

“When you come into the land of Canaan, which I give you for a possession, and I put a case of leprous disease in a house in the land of your possession,”
Leviticus 14:34

I PUT — definitely challenges some people’s concept of God… but the rest of the chap shows provisions for dealing with it…so He puts the sickness (which is all ultimately part of our own fall to sin back in the garden) but also shows how to remedy it

LEVITICUS 11-15 – PURIFICATION

  • Ch 11 – becoming unclean by something outside you entering inside
  • Ch 12; 15 – becoming unclean by something from inside you going outside
  • Ch 13-14 – discerning uncleanness from something on you (if it comes from inside you, it’s unclean)

Lots to unpack here…for another time (:

Love Your Neighbor as Yourself

“You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.”
Leviticus 19:18

This is where the phrase “love your neighbor as yourself” originates in the Bible. The sad irony is how some have used the phrase for some people while incidentally they “take vengeance” and “bear a grudge” against other individuals or groups of people. It’s no different than Pharisees who had a strict way of defining who their “neighbor” was so that they felt off the hook for loving all people. It is a complete disregard of the context of this verse. Lord help us all return to Your heart and Your way that comes from Your Spirit alone!

So, if I may, I wanted to plunge in a little more to Leviticus 19. Mainly, I find this chapter important to look at carefully, because it gives so many examples of what it looks like to “love your neighbor as yourself”. As I said above, Lev. 19:18 is where that phrase originates. Though the same idea is found in Lev. 19:33 – “Love them [the foreigner] as yourself.” So if we look at the surrounding contexts of both of those verses, we can start to get God’s mind behind some of what this concept would look like:

  • As you reap wealth, leave some of it for the poor and needy (vv. 9-10)
  • Don’t steal from others (v. 11a)
  • Don’t lie or deceive others (v. 11b)…especially not when you are invoking God’s name in the matter (v. 12)
  • Don’t cheat others out of money/wealth that belongs to them (v. 13)
  • Don’t make deliberate obstacles for others, especially those with disabilities (v. 14)
  • Make judgments that are based 100% based on fact/actions, without giving special treatment to the poor OR the great (v. 15)
  • Don’t spread slander about anyone (v. 16a)
  • Don’t do things that could endanger others (v. 16b)
  • Don’t harbor bitterness or hate in your heart toward someone (v. 17a)
  • If you see someone doing wrong, tell them frankly and directly…don’t secretly resent or share this with others behind their back (v. 17b)
  • Don’t seek revenge against anyone. (v. 18a)
  • Don’t bear a grudge against anyone. (v. 18b)
  • Don’t mistreat anyone, especially foreigners or strangers to your area (v. 33)
  • Instead, welcome all people the way you would your own community (v. 34)

The last thing I might mention (though I think it’s obvious here)… Your “neighbor” is every single person. It’s the Conservatives and Liberals. It’s people of all beliefs. It’s the Police and the BIPOC. It’s the COVID vaccinators and anti-vaxxers. If they are people, they are your neighbors. It was the Pharisees who tried to redefine their “neighbors” to only the people who they had natural affinity towards (Luke 10:29).

In contrast, Jesus calls us to love neighbor (Luke 10:27), our enemy (Matt. 5:44), and our brothers and sisters in Christ with a special affinity/love that makes the world want to join the church (John 13:35; 15:17; etc.). All of this is impossible outside the Holy Spirit indwelling you and giving you His love for others, including that special love for the church (Gal. 5:22-23; 1 John 3:14), which is the sign that you are a true Christian (Eph. 1:13; Gal. 5:22).

I should probably add… We, as sinners, take things like this and immediately point to someone else who isn’t “living up” to this. I know because I am one! But I think that completely misses the point. Instead, ask God to search you on these things. And repent and ask forgiveness where He shows you you’ve missed the mark. I’m doing it with you. Then let’s walk together in that grace forward.

Jesus & The Gospel

But he shall not go through the veil or approach the altar, because he has a blemish, that he may not profane my sanctuaries,  for I am the Lord who sanctifies them.”
Leviticus 21:23 – 

Jesus alone can fulfill this on our behalf!

If it is to be accepted for you it shall be a male without blemish, of the bulls or the sheep or the goats.
Leviticus 22:19

Again…only Jesus fulfills!
He is the priest and sacrifice unblemished, male.

And whoever does any work on that very day, that person I will destroy from among his people.
Leviticus 23:30

This is in context of Day of Atonement where the high priest atones for their sins (Jesus fulfills this in gospel – see Heb 9). What a warning against us adding any of our works to the gospel. God will “destroy” us. See Gal 1:6-10.

“Bring out of the camp the one who cursed, and let all who heard him lay their hands on his head, and let all the congregation stone him.
Leviticus 24:14

This is sobering to consider. But, among other things, it shows that sin = death. Every time they killed an animal it was a reminder of this. It also shows the power of Christ’s sacrifice—if He without sin died; we with sin can live.

Giving Quality Offerings

Lev 27:14 stood out to me – “If anyone dedicates their house as something holy to the LORD, the priest will judge its quality as good or bad.” Simple concept, but it shows that God cares about the quality we offer to Him. It’s not enough to say we’ve just offered something.

Is your Christianity ‘progressive’?

Progressive Christianity generally means a version of Christianity that denies the true gospel, ultimate authority of the Bible, nature of God, and other biblical foundations (see Foundational Doctrine for 2020 (And Anytime)). Though it claims “progress” (hence the name), it deceptively leads people on the broad road that leads to hell (see Matt. 7).

Hence, we all should be aware of progressive Christianity where it lurks its sinister head.

Along these lines, Alisa Childers made a really helpful video to see warning signs of progressive Christianity. Here are the signals she alerts us to (as well as a link to the short video, below).

Signs of “Progressive Christianity”

  • They view the concept of Christ dying for your sins (the atonement, see 1 Cor. 15:3-4) as “cosmic child abuse”
  • They deny the Bible as God’s authoritative word, truth without error (see John 10:34-35). Instead, they see it as a study of people’s imperfect opinions about God and life at different times in history.
  • They deny biblical statements that we are all born sinners and have a sin nature from birth (see Rom. 5).
  • They deny that actual sin separates people from God (as Romans 1 teaches). Instead, they think it’s our own personal shame and feelings of “not being good enough” that separates us.
  • They see Jesus as a model to follow more than the Living God to worship (as Luke 24:52, and other passages, show)
  • They deny Jesus’ physical resurrection, or at least think it’s not important to believe that (in contrast, 1 Cor. 15 shows that if Christ didn’t physically resurrect we are hopeless and will die in our sins)
  • They doubt, ignore, and/or downplay the virgin birth (though Matthew and Luke’s gospels clearly teach it)
  • They doubt God being above and separate from nature, as 1 God in 3 Persons (Father, Son, Holy Spirit). Instead, they see God as part of nature (though Rom. 1 warns against blurring the lines of God as Creator and the creation He made).
  • They see Jesus as imperfect while living on earth (though 1 Pet. 1 teaches He was the “spotless lamb”.
  • They are favorable toward LGBTQ+ relationships and marriage (while God speaks strong words opposing it, see Rom. 1)
  • They doubt or deny hell (reasoning that a “good” God would never punish someone in hell), even though Jesus teaches on the reality of hell more than any other person in the Bible.
  • They embrace a critical theory / social justice gospel that sees your actions (particularly, your actions within an “oppressor/oppressed” framework) as part of the gospel, when the Bible is clear that you are saved by faith not works, and the gospel is a declaration of what has happened, not what is yet to happen (see Eph. 2; 1 Cor. 15; Gal; etc.).
  • They embrace pluralism that teaches all religions can coexist (when the Bible warns that those who receive a different Jesus and different gospel are condemned–see 2 Cor. 11; Gal. 1)

To be clear, Progressive Christianity is a sort of spectrum. If you hold any one of these views (but not all of them), you’ve chosen Progressive Christianity over true, biblical Christianity. It’s not too late to repent and come back to “the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people” (Jude 1:3).

See Is Your Favorite Pastor, Author, or Social Media Influencer a Progressive Christian? (9m):

Was Timothy a Pastor?

Guest Author: Britton Smith

Timothy is Called an Apostle, Not a Pastor

It is often assumed Timothy was a pastor.  But that title is never used of him that I can find.  He is called:

  • Romans 16:21   21 Timothy, my fellow worker, greets you; so do Lucius and Jason and Sosipater, my kinsmen.
  • 1 Corinthians 4:17  17 That is why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church.
  • 1 Thessalonians 3:2   2 and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s coworker in the gospel of Christ, to establish and exhort you in your faith,

In my humble opinion, which is just that…an opinion….I think the best way to describe Timothy was an apostle/missionary.  He is referred to directly as an apostle:

  • 1 Thessalonians 2:6   6 Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ.
    • I think the “we” here is the writers of the letter – 1 Thessalonians 1:1  Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace.
    • This appears to directly refer to Timothy as an apostle.

Timothy Functions Like an Apostle

  • He follows up on churches that have been established – often after Paul – to correct, encourage, and teach.  Then he moves on to the next place.  This is apostolic work.  He doesn’t settle down long term to pastor.  That’s the job of the elders in a city.
  • He is sent to tend to Paul’s planting missionary work in a variety of cities:
  • Berea and Athens – Acts 17:14-15   14 Then the brothers immediately sent Paul off on his way to the sea, but Silas and Timothy remained there.  15 Those who conducted Paul brought him as far as Athens, and after receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him as soon as possible, they departed.
  • Macedonia – Acts 18:5   5 When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with the word, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus.
  • Macedonia – Acts 19:22   22 And having sent into Macedonia two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, he himself stayed in Asia for a while.
  • Corinth – 1 Corinthians 4:17   17 That is why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church.
  • Philippi – Philippians 2:19-20  19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you.  20 For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare.
  • Thessalonica – 1 Thessalonians 3:2   2 and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s coworker in the gospel of Christ, to establish and exhort you in your faith,
  • Thessalonica – 1 Thessalonians 3:6   6 But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love and reported that you always remember us kindly and long to see us, as we long to see you-
  • Ephesus – 1 Timothy 1:3   3 As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine,

Genesis 1-3 & God’s Foundations

Why So Difficult?

Right now in the Church, interpretations over Genesis 1-3 are hotly contested. This has been heavily influenced by many scientists claiming the earth is billions of years old, and evolution explains the created order.

But:

  1. Such claims are not made in the Bible itself.
  2. Such claims are not universally accepted by scientists. See Creation.com’s Creation scientists and other specialists of interest, Institute for Creation Research, Creation Research Society, Answers in Genesis’ Creation Scientists, etc.

In truth, I really don’t think Genesis 1-3 is that complicated to understand. I think it recounts a straightforward, historical account of the creation of the world that occurred over the span of 6 days, and happened roughly 6,000 years ago. I honestly don’t think it would be that complicated if Christians didn’t feel an unnecessary tension of harmonizing the Bible with old-earth / evolutionary concepts.


Start with Scripture

So here I want to focus on what Scripture says about Gen. 1-3. After all, any scientist worth his salt would agree that the most credible witness is the one who saw the matter first-hand…and thus, surely God stands as the most scientifically reliable witness of the creation of the earth: “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?” (Job 38:4). If we take the principle of letting Scripture interpret Scripture (cf. Matt. 4:7), I think we can come to some really sound conclusions on Gen. 1-3.

God’s Foundations

Though your view on evolution and the earth’s age is not (in itself) a foundational doctrine of Scripture, it does bump right against 2-3 foundational doctrines:

  1. The Gospel – wherein we are taught that since Adam sinned, we are all born sinners and inherit death that only repentance and faith in Christ and his atonement can absolve (see Rom. 1-5; etc.)
  2. The authority of God’s word – wherein we are told that every word of Scripture (and even each letter within each word) is trustworthy, authoritative, and binding on us (see Matt. 5:18; John 10:35; etc.)
  3. The knowability of God’s word – wherein, the best interpreter of God’s word is Scripture itself, alongside the witness of God’s Holy Spirit, which we must search out and receive with humble hearts (see “Loving & Knowing the Truth”)

These things are very important in God’s economy, and depending on how you view Genesis 1-3, you may be jeopardizing 1 or more of these foundations.


3 Major Views on Genesis 1-3

In an over-simplification, I’d say that 3 major views of Genesis 1-3 exist among evangelicals today (i.e. among those who claim they are holding to the true gospel and believe God’s word is infallible):

  1. Genesis 1-3 is not historical. Instead, it is allegorical, symbolical, archetypal, etc. For instance, see John Walton’s “Material or Function in Genesis 1?.
  2. Genesis 1-3 is historical, but allows for an old-earth and evolution. For instance, the “gap theory”, or “day-age” views.
  3. Genesis 1-3 is historical, and teaches a young-earth without evolution. This is the view I’m defending here.

Now, examining each view against the 3 Christian foundations named above will show glaring concerns over views 1 and 2.

The Gospel & Genesis 1-3

For starters, views 1 and 2 assume there is death before Adam. These views either claim that Adam never existed as a person, or there were animals/people before him who died. The problem is that the NT builds out the gospel beginning with Adam as the first man. In his sin, we all are sinners. In the death that came from sin, we all deserve God’s judgment. Consider passages like:

  • “just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people” (Rom. 5:12)
  • “the many died by the trespass of the one man” (Rom. 5:15)
  • “one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people” (Rom. 5:18)
  • “through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners,” (Rom. 5:19)

Further, Jesus is called “the last Adam” and “the second man” (1 Cor. 15:45-49). His death puts an end to what Adam started, and his resurrection brings people into a new humanity, so to speak, that begins with a regeneration of our spirit. This is the gospel.

Thus, any view that places sin or death BEFORE Adam, removes a really important peg in the gospel story. I see only view 3 as upholding this gospel truth, and give STRONG caution against tampering with this (see Gal. 1:6-10).

The Bible’s Authority & Knowability in Light of Genesis 1-3

Similarly, to see Genesis 1-3 as either mythical (my shorthand for all the views under viewpoint 1) or historical-but-with-gaps (viewpoint 2), does grave disservice to clear statements of Scripture related to Genesis 1-3. For instance:

  • “Adam made love to his wife Eve, and she became pregnant…” (Gen. 4:1). This is the verse immediately following Gen. 1-3. It is very clearly historical, recording their first child, the ensuing murder that would happen, and the places and people involved with the related events.
  • “When Adam had lived 130 years, he fathered a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth. The days of Adam after he fathered Seth were 800 years; and he had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days that Adam lived were 930 years, and he died.” (Gen. 5:3-5, where Adam is clearly seen as an historical father of humanity, with a chronology that follows from there)
  • “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God…For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” (Ex. 20:8-11) – here, the 6-day creation of Genesis 1-3 is set as a pattern for their own weekly sabbaths.
  • “Adam, Seth, Enosh…” (1 Chron. 1:1) – here is a shorthand of Genesis 5:3ff. It shows Adam as the father to all of Israel and all her ancestors.
  • “Jesus himself…was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph, the son of Heli…the son of Adam, the son of God.” (Luke 3:23-38) – here, Jesus is seen as descended from Adam, and Adam coming from God directly. Again, Adam is seen as the historical first parent of all humanity.
  • “‘But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.'” (Mark 10:6-7). Jesus is speaking this, and quotes directly from Gen. 1-3 as binding on God’s order for marriage and divorce. Even more, by saying “at the beginning of creation,” Jesus reveals that He sees the creation of Adam and Eve as happening, “at the beginning of creation.” I honestly can’t see how this spells anything other than a young-earth view of creation without really wrenching these words out of context.
  • Romans 5, as quoted earlier, assumes Adam as the first man and sinner who brought sin and death to humanity.
  • “man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man…for as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman.” (1 Cor. 11:8-12). This is a clear allusion to Gen. 1-3, where man was made first, and the first woman (Eve) came into being from Adam, but now the order is reverse (that is, men are now birthed from women). Paul points to this as a historical reference that plays into male / female roles in the church.
  • “I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” (2 Cor. 11:3) – here Paul refers to an episode of Gen. 3 and applies it to deception at the church of Corinth.
  • “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” (Eph. 5:31) – in the middle of Paul’s argument for husband and wife relations, he inserts a direct quotation from Gen. 2. He sees this historical example as binding on marriages today.
  • “Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.” (1 Tim. 2:13-14). Like 1 Cor. 11, Paul again hearkens to the historical narrative of Gen 1-3 and sees it as binding on church order.

Thus, Scripture outside of Gen. 1-3 speaks of Adam as:

  • the first human created by God
  • a husband and father who later died
  • part of God’s six days of creation
  • a forefather of Jesus
  • made with Eve at the beginning of creation
  • the one who brought sin and death into the world that we all suffer from
  • the person used to form Eve
  • not deceived as Eve was
  • etc.

And it does this all the while quoting repeatedly and directly from Gen. 1-3.

Remember, this is all outside of Genesis 1-3. Looking directly at Genesis 1-3 makes the case even stronger. Consider phrases such as:

  • “there was evening, and there was morning–the first day…And there was evening, and there was morning–the second day…” etc. Here we see that “day” is constricted to a literal “evening” and “morning”. God is not speaking in generalities, but specifics.
  • “These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created,” (Gen. 2:4). The word used for “generations” is toledot (Hebrew). It is used many other times in Genesis: “These are the generations of Noah,” “These are the generations of Esau” (Gen. 6:9; 36:1; etc.). In each instance it is recording historical record of an event (or sequence of events / generations).
  • “The name of the second river is the Gihon; it winds through the entire land of Cush. The name of the third river is the Tigris; it runs along the east side of Ashur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.” (Gen. 2:13-14). These are real, known rivers and lands.

My point is that Gen. 1-3 has certain markers of authenticity. It immediately follows (with Gen. 4:1) as a historical narrative. It then is recounted in Gen. 5 as a historical narrative that leads the way to many real, living descendants of Adam (with real ages, and everything). And then a lot of the Bible points readers back to the events as if they were real, living history.

At this point the reader who wants to challenge Gen. 1-3 as real, straightforward history is forced to make a choice:

  1. Discount the biblical text above as untrue.
  2. Claim that the biblical text above doesn’t quite mean all that.

If they choose path 1, they are dismissing a foundational doctrine: The Bible is the ultimate authority, truth without error. This is really serious, and completely disowns what our Lord teaches about Scripture (see Scripture’s Authority).

Or, if they choose path 2, they have to do a LOT of mental gymnastics to stitch all of those texts into a different pattern, and likely will have to appeal outside of Scripture to the “real” interpretation of Genesis 1-3. Such an approach is similar to the gnostics who are rebuked soundly by John (and elsewhere) for thinking people need something other than the Bible and Spirit to teach them God’s truth (see 1 John).

And at this point, I just ask, “Why?” Why go to such lengths to bring danger to the gospel and Scripture? Why not just see Genesis 1-3 as straightforward, historical account of Adam and Eve created roughly 6,000 years ago? My guess is you’ve allowed some other voices into this discussion. Meanwhile, God’s word stays there crying out to anyone who will listen to it.

Brian

Exodus Reflections

These are notes collected from studying Exodus with Matt Lantz and Matt Roefer. Anything good comes from the Lord. Everything else is from us!

Exodus = Our Christian Walk

I find Exodus one of the best pictures of our Christian walk:

  1. Start enslaved/oppressed by sin (= Israel enslaved by Egypt)
  2. Jesus comes on the scene to do signs and wonders pointing the fact that we should not dwell with sin (= first 9 plagues)
  3. Jesus’ blood covers our sins and finally make a break with the power of sin (= Passover / 10th Plague)
  4. We are baptized in the Spirit to begin our journey (= them baptized in the cloud before going into the Red Sea)
  5. We are baptized in water to walk out this break from our old sinful past (= Red Sea)
  6. This leads us to singing and praise (= Song of Moses and Miriam)
  7. We are nourished through the desert by God’s word (= Manna, see Matt. 4:4)
  8. We are nourished through the desert by God’s Spirit (= water from rock)
  9. When we seek more than God’s word and Spirit we fall into deception and sin (see Num. 21)
  10. We are being led unto God’s ultimate paradise: new heavens and earth (= Israel led by God in the wilderness, toward Canaan / Promised Land)

Also: see Moses Points to Jesus.

Exodus = A work of God, not us

I’m also really struck by how much Exodus was a work of God.

The work the people did:

  • put blood on the doorpost and feast (where God would save them)
  • ask Egyptians for goods (and God would give them favor)
  • walk through the Red Sea (where God would miraculously open it and blind Egyptians)
  • follow Moses

I think it can be summed up well in: “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Ex. 14:14).

Now think of the contrast scenario – when Sin/Egypt was the boss: they had to work, and work, and work some more!

God instituting Sabbath (which speaks ultimately to relying/trusting His work alone) was a contrast to Egypt where they had no option to rest. Now they have a choice: will you try to work it out or rest in God’s work? Before, they only could work because of the oppression of Egypt (symbolizing sin)

Too often we/me strive and strive. This message is counter to our culture but one we need to come back to often! To truly learn to be still before the Lord and let him fight for us and let Him fight our battles. Makes me think of when Israel defeats Amalek only when Moses holds up his hands- He is truly completely in control!

Exod. 7-8: Counterfeit Power

I found it really interesting how the magicians pulled off the first two plagues “by their secret arts” (Exodus 7-8). Thought this was interesting considering the new age and occult rising in popularity nowadays, and of course this is nothing new. Reminds me that there is truly “nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9)

This event is also recounted in the NT. See 2 Tim 3:8-9. But I love that even though false and counterfeit signs/wonders happen, Aaron’s snake still swallowed the other snakes. In other words…Gods signs/wonders always (eventually) show themselves more powerful than the counterfeit ones.

Exod. 19: A Chosen Nation; A Kingdom of Priests

Exod. 19:4-6 really jumped out at me… “You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles wings (which we have been talking about recently) and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples for all the earth is mine and you shall be to me a kingdom of priest and a holy nation.”

There interestingly seem to be a lot of if/then statements. The Lord has an expectation that IF Israel/we follow him and obey then He will bless them with a specific promise or covenant. See the same theme in the next chapter…

Exod 20:5-6 “You shall not bow down to them or serve them for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands who love me and keep my commandments.”

In some ways, without the totality of scripture if you only take these segments you could see how one could get quite a works based salvation…

Now open your Bible to 1 Pet 2:9. See anything similar to Ex 19:4-5?

It is restating those promises but now applying them to the church. And here’s the big point: it was conditional and Israel didn’t meet that condition. In fact no one does. Except 1 PERSON!! So 1 Pet 2 says that Jesus fulfilled the conditions perfectly. And we Christians are covered in Him, so we receive all the promises of Ex 19:4-5 on the basis of JESUS’ righteousness, not ours.

Exod 20: Love of God & People

In the 10 commandments, we have 2 groups: (Commandments 1-4 seem focused on direct ways to love God // Commandments 5-10 address how to love others, which indirectly also shows love for God). Thus, we can think more biblically about what it means to love neighbors.

Specifically, in Exodus 20:

  1. honor those in authority over you (parents, especially mentioned here)
  2. don’t murder (Jesus explains that it goes to the heart level and not even wanting harm to others – Matt. 5)
  3. don’t commit adultery (in other words, reserve sexuality to husband-wife…Jesus explains that this includes your thought-life…see Matt 5)
  4. don’t steal – this shows love to others by not taking from them what doesn’t belong to you (it also shows that it is implied God sees that we do have individual ownership of different things – which is one OF MANY reasons socialism ideas are not founded upon Bible)
  5. don’t lie to others – promote truth
  6. don’t covet other’s property — I think this is a big one today – we think it’s unfair we don’t have what others have…some have even falsely called this “justice” that all have the same thing…not true…we are to be content with what we have, and recognize that different people will have different things, some even better than what we have (again, this is contrary to socialism).

OK…so those are 6 concepts to help us think through some of what God means by loving our neighbor. Of course there is more (in fact, Lev. 19 gives a lot of good stuff on that…coming soon, Lord willing!). But I fear that so many can parrot the words “love your neighbor” but don’t look to the Bible to capture some of what God means by that.

If we started, for instance, with these things, and all sought to do this in a way to glorify God…we would have love of neighbors beyond our wildest dreams. Unfortunately, we go beyond these things, and sometimes neglect these, or re-define them. So now socialism, for instance, is related to “love of neighbors” but I believe the fundamental principles of socialism go against the concept of don’t steal and covet.

Let’s let God define the concepts, not us. If that makes sense.

Exod 21: God’s Governance

God’s governance and principles for governance are so much better than human ideals.

Consider:

  • Ex. 21:16: “Whoever steals a man and sells him, and anyone found in possession of him, shall be put to death.” – thus, God outlawed in the strongest terms a kidnapping form of slavery among his people (New Testament says something similar)
  • Ex. 21:27: “If he [a master] knocks out the tooth of his slave, male or female, he shall let the slave go free because of his tooth.” – in other words, God did not tolerate abuse in slavery.
  • The reason for slavery outlined in Exodus seems largely for economical reasons. Someone has no money to offer, so can sell himself (like an indentured servant). In fact, there are provisions for becoming a permanent slave if a slave thought his arrangement was good (see Ex. 21:6)
  • God allowed for justice (“eye for eye”) to ensure fairness. But Jesus shows how people’s corrupt hearts made this into “wanting” to exact revenge. We “get” to payback. Instead of we “should” have retribution to help curb bad behavior (Matt. 5:38-39)
  • I could go on…but there is so much wisdom in these principles. Thankfully, the founding fathers of America really took these principles seriously – arguably more so than any other country has (not that they got it perfect). But I think that has brought a lot of structure for blessing, because we have godly principles and concepts of governance. But we still miss it in U.S.! If only we went back to the principles of God’s word for governance.
  • To be clear – I brought up the slavery passages as an example that is a hot-button issue, and many people (wrongly) assume the Bible endorsed the Antebellum South slave practices of America. But when you read what the Bible actually says you see that it condemns such practices in strong terms, and does not endorse a kidnapping-of-people or abusing-people slavery in the least. And even what it does allow within slavery largely would fit into the category of “polygamy” – in other words, God allowed it and curbed the abuses, but never sets this forth as an ideal. God forbid. The ideal, instead, is found in Gen. 1-2. Notice: Adam was made to have 1 wife (not many). And Adam was to see animals and the land as under his dominion, not fellow human beings to become his slave. That’s the ideal.The thought about America following biblical principles in its founding was a separate thought. Not as specific to the issue of slavery (that’s a little more complex of a discussion, and obviously there is a good share of shame in America’s past on this). But on the way they thought through their founding documents. Studies have shown how many Biblical principles and Scriptures went into the formation of laws and ideals of American governance…many that people today are totally ignorant of, yet reap the blessings (for instance, the checks-and-balances structure of the 3 branches of government…based on Bible teaching that we are depraved and sinful and need checks and balances, as I understand)… even Frederick Douglas and MLK could point to America’s founding documents as ideals that are amazing in their concept, even though we haven’t lived up to them in some ways (and they urged Americans to live up to them more)
  • GREAT teaching on the subject of slavery and the Bible: https://youtu.be/EUOsBQYuZ9g

Exod 24: God’s Majesty

Exodus 24:17: “Now the appearance of the glory of God was like a devouring fire on top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel.” Let us stand in awe…

Exod 33: Moses’s Prayer

I was really inspired by Moses’s prayer in chapter 33…his genuine desire for God and to know His ways. Not much selfishness in this prayer, just wanting more of God and then you see how this is honored.

Moses: “now, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me your ways that I may know you and find favor in you.”

God: “my presence will go with you and I will give you rest”

Moses: “if your presence is not with us do not bring us from here.”

Moses: “please show me your glory.”  (Humble)

God: “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious and show mercy on whom I will show mercy.” (Sovereign)

Exod 34: The Lord’s Character

I am sure many of us are familiar with the common proclamation “the Lord is merciful, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” I was not aware God himself made this proclamation about His own character (Exodus 34:6-7)–really interesting!