Sunday, February 12, 2017

February 12: Exodus 34 – 35:9; Psalm 33:13-22; Proverbs 9:1-6; Matthew 27:15-30


            Exodus: Moses has to cut two new tablets of stone and take them up the mountain. When he arrives, the Lord passes before him and declares his name explaining his attributes of love, mercy, grace, faithfulness, and justice. Moses worships and asks God to be in their midst, confesses their sin, and ask him to forgive their iniquity.
            God renews the covenant he previously made in chapter 23. He will do marvels among them, driving out the inhabitants of Canaan. They are to destroy all their means of worship. They are not to worship any other gods because he is jealous. They are not to intermarry with them.
            The Lord reviews the ordinance for the Sabbath, Feast of Weeks, Firstfruits, Feast of Ingathering, and Passover.
            Moses is on the mountain for another forty days fasting and writing what the Lord said. The Lord wrote the Ten Commandments on the stone tablets (Deut 10:4). When he came down his face was shining. The people were afraid to come to him but he called them to himself. After relating God’s words to the people, Moses put a veil over his face. Each time he went into the tent of meeting to talk with God he would remove the veil, come back out, and tell the people what the Lord had said. He would then veil his shinning face.
            Moses tells the people to keep the Sabbath or they will be killed. Then he relates the Lord’s command to contribute the material needed for the tabernacle and the priest’s garments.
            Psalm: The Lord’s omniscience and omnipotence is described in this portion of the Psalm. He fashions our hearts and see our deeds. Salvation doesn’t come from armies or horses. His love and salvation is for those who fear him. Our souls wait for the Lord and we are glad.
            Proverbs: Wisdom is personified as a person with a magnificent house. He has set up a great banquet and then sends his female servants out to invite people into the feast. Partaking of the feast means life and insight.
            Matthew: Pilate is no dummy; he knows that Jesus has been turned over because of their jealousy. He tries to free Jesus by offering to release Jesus, as is the custom. The chief priests incite the crowd to ask for a notorious prisoner, Barabbas. Even Pilate’s wife intercedes because she had a dream about Jesus. Because he fears a riot, Pilate yields. He proclaims his innocence and releases Barabbas and has Jesus flogged then crucified.
            The soldiers mock Jesus with a robe and crown of thorns. They abuse him then put his own clothes back on him and take him away to be crucified.

What Stood Out

            Exodus: “As he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God” (Ex 34:29).
            Psalm: “The Lord looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man” (Ps 33:13).
            Proverbs: “Leave your simple ways, and live, and walk in the way of insight” (Prov 9:1).
            Matthew: “What shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” (Matt 27:22).


            Exodus: When God speaks his name to Moses and passes before him, he provides us with a brief list of his attributes of love, mercy, grace, faithfulness, and justice. We see these attributes in the way he deals with the nation of Israel and their unfaithfulness. He is merciful because he didn’t treat them all as their sins deserved. Yes, he killed many and that is often the consequences of sin. But many who joined in the sin were spared. The Lord is gracious as seen in his continued provision for them. Just because they sinned, he didn’t stop providing manna. We see God’s grace in Jesus dying in place of us. His grace to Israel is also seen in going with them into the Promised Land. His steadfast love is also seen forgiving them and us. He is also slow to anger. He didn’t kill everyone all at once, he didn’t have to send Moses down to stop them. Peter explains it well, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). If God were quick in anger, we wouldn’t exist today. He is faithful and demonstratives that in renewing the covenant with Israel. They broke the covenant and he was not obliged to renew it. However, God’s justice is also seen in that the guilty face consequences for their sin. I mentioned before that going to jail is a consequence of sin. The one that we should all be very concerned about is the consequences that our sins have on our families. They often repeat the same sins they have learned from us.
            Psalm: Not only does God see all that is going on with every person on the earth, but he fashions our hearts and see what we do as a result. How do we respond? Do we trust in armies or horses for our salvation? Do we trust in politics or technology? Worse yet, do we trust in our own strength or goodness? The only true salvation comes when we fear God and place our hope in his steadfast love. “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8). When we trust in his love for us in Jesus, we know we have salvation, “he is our help and our shield” (Ps 33:20).
            Proverbs: These verses are an encapsulation of Jesus’ parable of the king who set up a wedding banquet for his son (Matt 22:1-14). Those who come in find salvation when they come dressed in the clothes that the king provides. So in these proverbs, the ones who come in and partake of the feast that is provided to them without charge find life.
            The passage is also a contrast to previous proverbs we’ve read that warns against adultery. The young women in these verses are doing the exact opposite of the adulteress. They go out to lure the simpletons in to death and destruction. These young women invite everyone in to gain life and wisdom. Since worshiping anything other than God is a form of spiritual adultery, then it also fits that getting God’s wisdom leads to eternal life.
            Matthew: Looking back on history, we can be very judgmental about Pilate or the crowd. Pilate could have easily freed Jesus before a crowd showed up. He could have had his battalion disperse the crowd. We can imagine all sorts of scenarios that would have freed Jesus. But we forget that God is in control when we think this way. The Psalm reading just said, “He who fashions the hearts of them all and observes all their deeds” (Ps 33:15). God knew Pilate’s heart and he knew his fears. He knew his deeds even before he did one of them (Ps 139:2-3). Pilate may have been a weak man or he may have been a shrewd man who knew what was politically expedient at the time. He may have known that saving Jesus would have cost the lives of many in the crowd and perhaps some of his soldiers. He didn’t know that crucifying Jesus would bring eternal life for us all.
            However, we are not in his place and we have to answer the question for ourselves. “What shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” (Matt 27:22). This is the most important question that every person must answer in his or her lifetime. We can be like the battalion of soldiers and mock him. Some call him a good teacher, some call him a lunatic, but unless we call him Lord and confess that he is the Messiah, God incarnate, and the one who saves us by his death, we are no better or worse off than Pilate or the crowd. There will be a day when every knee will bow before him and every tongue will confess that he is Lord (Phil 2:9-11). If we haven’t made up or minds before then to do it voluntarily, it will be too late. Our eternal salvation depends on what we do with Jesus.


            For me, I confess that Jesus is Lord and that means daily seeking out his wisdom and guidance for my life. I believe eternity is far more important than this life so the choices I make now need to be better as I grow older. I pray for that and submit myself to Jesus.

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