Tuesday, January 31, 2017

January 31: Exodus 12:14-13:16; Psalm 25:16-22; Proverbs 6:12-15; Matthew 20:29-21:22


            Exodus:  God gives Moses the specifics of future Passovers, memorials of the day the Lord passes over the Hebrew homes. It is to start with seven days of eating unleavened bread starting on the 14th day of Abib, the first month. If anyone eats leavened bread during this time, he is to be cut off from Israel. The first and seventh days are holy assemblies and no one may work on those days. It is to be kept forever.
            Moses calls the elders and tells them to kill the lambs and put the blood on the doors. This rite is to be a statute forever for them. When future generations ask, they will be told what it means, when God passed over the Hebrew homes and killed the firstborn in the Egyptian homes.
             At midnight, the Lord killed the firstborn in Egypt passing over the Hebrew homes. Pharaoh calls Moses and Aaron and tells them to go with all the people and animals. The Egyptians are glad to have them go because they fear they will all be dead if the Israelites don’t leave. The people take all the goods that the Egyptians gave them. There are 600,000 men, not including the women, children, and animals. They don’t have time to prepare food so they take unleavened bread. It was exactly 430 after their ancestors arrived in Egypt.
            Moses gives more instructions about the Passover. Only circumcised people may eat it, so a foreigner must first be circumcised if he wants to join in the feast. The lamb must be completely eaten in the house and no bones broken.
            Moses then explains that all the firstborn of Israel people and animals belong to the Lord because he spared them during the Passover. Now, they must be dedicated to the Lord that means animals are sacrificed or killed. They may substitute a lamb for a donkey. All firstborn children must be redeemed. This is to be explained to future generations as well.
            Psalm 25: David asks God for grace because he is lonely and afflicted. He asks God to consider all his troubles and to guard his soul. He adds all Israel to his request for deliverance.
            Proverbs: This is a description of a worthless person and his calamity.
            Matthew: Jesus leaves Jericho and heals two blind men on the way. He later come to Bethphage and the Mount of Olives. He waits there after sending his disciples to get a donkey with her colt. When they get back, Jesus rides the donkey into Jerusalem as crowds spread their cloaks and branches on the road. They essentially proclaim Jesus as king.
            He then goes to the temple and drives out the people selling inside the temple. Then blind and lame came to the temple and he healed them. Then children cry out, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” (Matt 21:15). The chief priests and scribes try to get Jesus to stop the children but he affirms their praise is appropriate.
            Jesus leaves the temple and goes back to Bethphage. The next morning he sees a fig tree without fruit so he curses it and it withers. The disciples are amazed. Jesus says that if they had faith without doubting, they can do the same thing or move mountains. They will receive what they ask in prayer if they have faith.

What Stood Out

            Exodus: “The Egyptians were urgent with the people to send them out of the land in haste. For they said, ‘We shall all be dead’” (Ex 12:33).
            Psalm: “Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me!” (Ps 25:20).
            Proverbs: “Poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man” (Prov 6:11).
            Matthew: “And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them” (Matt 21:14).


            Exodus: I covered the Passover yesterday and how it relates to Jesus being the Lamb of God. So today, the focus is on the leaven. Whether the Hebrews identified leaven with sin at that point in their history is not mentioned in my commentaries. However, it must have soon become obvious as sacrifices with anything made with leaven was prohibited (Ex 23:18). The baked sacrifice is most holy and must not have leaven (Lev 6:17). An exception is made for a thanksgiving wave offering of bread taken from their home (Lev 23:17, Amos 4:3).
            Jesus compared leaven to the sinful teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees (Matt 16:12). Paul also alluded to sin as being leaven when he referred to boasting, malice, and evil and that we are to be unleavened in Christ (1 Cor 5:6-8). However, leaven isn’t always used as a synonym for sin. Jesus used it to describe the kingdom of heaven permeating everything (Matt 13:33).
            The reason bread was unleavened for the first Passover is because of the haste in which the Israelites had to fee from Egypt. However, when describing the seven days leading up to the memorial of the Passover, there is a correspondence of unleavened bread with preparation for the Passover. It is so serious that anyone having leaven is to be cut off. Cut off often means killed or if not that, excommunicated. Either way, this means that the person can’t be part of the sacrificial system that is required for the forgiveness of sins. It would then be correct to view leaven as synonymous with sin. Removal of leaven and repentance would be synonymous. This fits with the preparation for the Passover being a symbol of our salvation through Jesus’ sacrifice. Without repentance there can’t be salvation. However leaven is a symbol and not the reality. So don’t think that we must get rid of our sins before we can be saved. We get rid of our sins because we believe in our hearts when the Holy Spirit regenerates us. The thanksgiving offering (not sacrifice) can be presented with leaven because the sins are covered by the sacrifice. That means that we, who are forgiven through the sacrifice of Jesus can still come to God with thanksgiving even though we still sin.
            Psalm: When we are lonely or the world just seems to come tumbling down on us, this is a great passage to read. David is feeling all the trouble and distress along with loneliness (Ps 25:16-19). He turns to God and asks for his soul to be guarded before being delivered. (Ps 25:20). When depressed and feeling in the pits, this is what we need. We need God to guard our soul. Our innermost being, emotions, and thoughts are bombarded by the world so that we despair. But when we are immersed in our Lord, he will guard our soul and protect us. If we slip and give into them, we can trust him to restore and deliver our souls from that emotional pit.
            Proverbs: There is a parallel between the lazy man of yesterday’s reading and the worthless man of today’s reading. The lazy man had sudden poverty and the worthless man will have calamity suddenly. We may think we can sin and escape the consequences, but when they come, it seems sudden and without resolution.
            Matthew:  It is always amazing to read about fulfilled prophecies. Jesus knew the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9 that the Messiah must come into Jerusalem on a donkey’s colt. It would be great to look behind the scenes to know if Jesus had previously arranged for the donkey and colt or if this was part of his omniscience, knowing where they would be tied and that the owners would willingly let them go. Maybe the owners recognized the disciples and followed with the crowd. However God did it, it happened and those who were familiar with Scripture knew that Jesus was declaring himself to be the king of Israel. They cried hosanna. According to Strong’s Concordance, it is an exclamation of adoration, a synonym for worship. No wonder the chief priests and scribes were so upset. The crowds and the children were worshiping Jesus. Calling him the Son of David, was designating him as the Messiah. The Pharisees and scribes had been fighting this all along. To them it meant the end of their superiority over the people. To the crowds it meant an end to foreign dominion. To us, it means our Savior has arrived as hosanna also means “Oh save!” (Strong’s).
            It is interesting that Jesus heals two blind men as he leaves Jericho. They join the crowd and follow him. Is it possible that this crowd followed him all the way from Jericho to Bethphage and into Jerusalem? Then, after clearing out the temple, more blind and lame people come to Jesus for healing. It shows that our King and Savior isn’t like the world’s kings, especially now. Security would be so tight that they couldn’t get near him. He would be so busy he wouldn’t have time to stop. It’s good to know our Savior cares for each of us.
            I’ll leave comments about the fig tree for the next time we encounter it in Mark 11:12-14, 20-25.


             Thinking about the fact that leaven is removed before subsequent Passovers reminds me that the exodus from Egypt is a symbol of salvation. That would mean that removing sin is what we do during our lives after we are saved. Rather than only doing it once a year as a memorial, I need to be careful to work on keeping sin out of my life, the ones that can spread. These are often the “little” ones.

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