Friday, February 10, 2017

February 10: Exodus 30:11-31; Psalm 32; Proverbs 8:27-32; Matthew 26:47-26:68



Overview

            Exodus: When a census of Israel is taken then every person twenty years and older must pay a half-shekel tax. The tax is atonement for them so that there will be no plague. The money is to be used for taking care of the tabernacle.
            The Lord specifies a bronze basin for priests to wash their hands and feet before going into the tent of meeting or the altar. If they don’t wash, they will die.
            The Lord also specifies the formula for making the anointing oil and incense. The oil is used to anoint the tent of meeting, ark, altar, utensils, and priests. When consecrated, the articles are holy and whatever touches them becomes holy. The incense is to be placed before the testimony where God will meet with the priest. No one may use these formulas for their own use or they will be cut off from Israel.
            The Lord also explains that he has filled Bezalel and Ohaliab with the Spirit of God so that they will understand and be able to make everything that God had specified.
            The Lord clarifies the meaning of the Sabbath and why it is so important. It is a sign between God and Israel for all generations. There will be no work done on the Sabbath and if anyone does, they will be put to death.
            When the Lord finished talking to Moses, he gave Moses the testimony, the two stone tablets written with the finger of God.
            Psalm: David recounts how blessed it is to be forgiven of sin. He explains his anguish while hiding his sin. Then he confessed and was forgiven. He advises that we pray while we are able because God will deliver. God replies by letting us know he will instruct us in the right path and that we shouldn’t fight it. The wicked have sorrows but the righteous can rejoice in the Lord.
            Proverbs: God’s attribute of wisdom is displayed in creation including the way it is sustained. It calls for rejoicing and keeping God’s ways.
            Matthew: Judas brings a crowd with swords and clubs to seize Jesus. He betrays Jesus with a kiss. When they grab Jesus, Peter whacks off the ear of the high priest’s servant. Jesus rebukes Peter explaining that he could have called a legion of angels for protection, but then prophecy would not be fulfilled. The disciples flee.
            They take Jesus to the high priest, Caiaphas, and the Sanhedrin. They bring false witnesses but they don’t get anywhere accusing Jesus. Finally, Caiaphas ask him if he is the Christ. Jesus says he is and that they will all see him seated at the right hand of God and coming on the clouds of heaven. They label that blasphemy, deserving of death and begin to abuse him.

What Stood Out

            Exodus: “I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship” (Ex 31:3).
            Psalm: “Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you” (Ps 32:9).
            Proverbs: “Rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the children of man” (Prov 8:31).
            Matthew: “All this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled” (Matt 26:56).

Insight

            Exodus: The Lord is merciful. All the details about the tent of meeting, the garments for the priests, and all the other things seem a bit sketchy. Sometimes, there is great detail but other times there isn’t. So God in his mercy fills two men with his Spirit so that they know and understand what to do. They knew exactly how many bells and pomegranates to put on the hem of the priest’s robe (Ex 28:33). They knew how big they should be. All of this couldn’t have come together if it were not for two Spirit-filled men. Since all Scripture is for our encouragement and instruction (Rom 15:4), then this mention of two men being filled with the Spirit has a lesson for us. I won’t get into all the different theologies about what being filled with the Spirit means in the New Testament, but I will note that the book of Acts records several instances when people were filled with the Spirit. Peter was filled more than once (Acts 2:4; 4:8, 31). When these occurred, great things happened, “They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:31). It is evident from this that God still anoints some people to do great works by the Holy Spirit. While we can be sure that all Christians have the Holy Spirit indwelling them, not everyone is blessed for special work above and beyond what we are all called to do in living a victorious Christian life. Even Moses didn’t have everything needed to accomplish the work. He needed two Spirit-filled men to complete the work.
            The explanation of the Sabbath is enlightening. There are many Christians who believe that they must observe the Sabbath, literally Saturday, or they are displeasing God. They have good reason to think this way, if they want to keep the whole Law. But this passage clarifies why the Sabbath is important. The first is that it is a sign between God and Israel for all generations. This sign between God and Israel is repeated three times (Ex 31:13, 16, 17). If you are Jewish, then you need to do this. And if you are to obey this law completely, then you must obey all of it or be guilty (James 2:10). So if you work on any Sabbath, you should be put to death. If you are a Gentile, then this is not a requirement. Now some claim that the church is Israel so that means everyone should be included in this requirement. That means we should all be put to death if we work on Saturday. However, Paul provides a more accurate picture of who we are, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28). It doesn’t matter if we are Jewish or Gentile, we are in the body of Christ and this is something new. Jesus said he is Lord of the Sabbath (Matt 12:8). In Jesus we are no longer under the Law but are sons of God (Gal 3:25-26). The sign between all Christians and God is the cross, which is foolishness to Gentiles and a stumbling block to Jews but the power of God to save both (1 Cor 1:22-4). So keeping the Sabbath or the other requirements of the Law are not binding on us. Rather we need to be following the spirit of the Law as Jesus recorded in the Sermon on the Mount.
            Psalm: We are abundantly blessed when we realize that we can be forgiven of our sins through the blood of Jesus and then actually confess our sins and receive eternal life. However if Ps 32:6 is right, then this promise isn’t forever. There is a time for us to turn to the Lord when he is near. Whether that means while we are alive or before we become so calloused by sin that we don’t want to have anything to do with God is a matter of debate. The Lord says he will instruct us, but we can’t be stubborn like a horse or mule without a bit. We need to hear his instruction and yield to him. The contrast is clear. The wicked have sorrow, and that means forever, while the righteous have joy, which also means forever.
            Proverbs: God’s wisdom is displayed in creation as well in the way he ordained the way it is sustained (setting limits). Everything in creation is held together by Jesus (Col 1:17; Heb 1:3). Think about what kind of wisdom it takes to create a universe that is so incredibly complex that we can’t completely understand how it all works. Many scientists think they know, but when they dig deeper and come up with a new theory, they run into problems explaining it. That’s one of the reasons they have theorized dark matter. It is a way of explaining the universe without acknowledging that it is God’s creation and that he is holding it all together. What is the result of this wisdom? It is an inhabited world where he is delighted with us. Our response is to listen to and be obedient to our creator (Prov 8:32).
            Matthew: Some people speculate whether or not Jesus really had a choice of going to the cross or not. Those who don’t believe Jesus is the Messiah believe he had a martyr complex and could have easily gotten out of it. But this passage reveals one of the reasons it had to happen this way. Scripture must be fulfilled. Jesus said it himself, he could have called on the Father to intervene and save him from capture. If he had, then it would mean that he wouldn’t have been the sacrifice for our sins and we would be lost forever. There is something worse than that. It would have proven God to be a liar. God said it had to happen and predicted it in many ways. Psalm 22 contains graphic description of the crucifixion. Isaiah 53 likewise tells of the crucifixion and Jesus bearing our iniquity. If these did not come true, then God was wrong, Scripture is false, and Satan won the battle. But it did happen the way God said it would. Peter voiced it precisely, “This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men” (Acts 2:23). Knowing that Scripture is true assures us that we are saved by faith in Jesus.
            Peter thought he would be able to save Jesus with a sword. The Jews thought they could convict Jesus with lies. The acts of men could not accomplish or change what God had ordained. Finally, Caiaphas asks Jesus the crucial question. It wasn’t their scheming that brought the answer from Jesus, it was the same question we all need to ask about Jesus. Is he the Messiah, the one who can save us from our sins? Is he the one who will come to judge us? Jesus affirms that he is. They crucified him, but we are just as guilty because he had to die for all our sins. If we were there, we would not have believed. Even though Peter had fled, he had more courage than we would have had. But we know the whole story so there is no excuse for us now. We must have faith in Jesus for salvation.

Application

            I need to be a witness for Jesus. I can do that by telling about Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins and that he has cleared out all the old regulations so that we are saved by faith in him. I can tell people about creation, which point to God and Jesus. I can talk about confessing sin and the forgiveness that comes with that. I can, I am able. There is nothing stopping me. So Lord, help me do it and not just talk about it.

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