Monday, February 13, 2017

February 13: Exodus 35:10 – 36; Psalm 34:1-10; Proverbs 9:7-8; Matthew 27:31-66


            Exodus: The Lord commands all skillful workers to make the tabernacle, tables, poles, incense, oil, and priest’s garments. So people whose hearts and spirits moved them came. Some spun yarn while other brought contributions needed for the construction.
            Moses then reminds them that the Lord put skills into Bezalel and Ohaliab to do the construction and to teach other skilled people to work on the tabernacle. The craftsmen told Moses that there was more than enough material for the work, so Moses had to tell everyone to stop bringing more material.
            The details of making the tabernacle and the veil are described.
            Psalm: The superscript for the Psalm says David wrote this after he changed his behavior before Abimelech. This is a Psalm of praise to the Lord and David invites others to join him. The reason is God’s answer to his prayer. He challenges us is to taste and experience God’s goodness when we fear him.
            Proverbs: These two proverbs provide practical advice about confronting people.
            Matthew: On the way to Jesus’ crucifixion, the Romans force Simon of Cyrene to carry his cross. The details of the crucifixion are all laid out with emphasis on how the people mock him. Darkness covers the land and Jesus asks God why he has forsaken him. When Jesus yields his spirit, there is an earthquake, the temple curtain is torn in two, rocks split, tombs are opened.
            Women who followed Jesus watched the whole thing as well as when Joseph of Arimathea buries Jesus in his own tomb. The chief priests and Pharisees ask Pilate for a guard to make sure the disciples don’t steal Jesus’ body. So guards are posted and a seal placed on the stone.

What Stood Out

            Exodus: “And they came, everyone whose heart stirred him, and everyone whose spirit moved him, and brought the Lord's contribution” (Ex 35:21).
            Psalm: “Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed” (Ps 34:5).
            Proverbs: “Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse, and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury” (Prov 9:7).
            Matthew: “He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him” (Matt 27:42).


            Exodus: It is interesting that the Lord had already specified Bezalel and Ohaliab as the chief craftsmen to build the tabernacle and everything associated with it (Ex 31:2-6). After the first mention of these men, Moses went back up on the mountain and then the people sacrificed to the golden calf he came back down. Then Moses went back up on the mountain for forty days. God reestablished the covenant with the people when Moses came back down. It is important the people know the in spite of their great sin, the Lord is still going to use these two as leaders in the work.
            The lesson for us is that when we fail and fall into sin, the Lord restores us. Granted, sometimes, there needs to be a period of time in which we regain trust of people and show that true repentance has taken place. That doesn’t mean that we are permanently sidelined. The Lord can and does restore people to leadership roles after great sin.
            The Lord worked in everyone’s hearts to contribute to the tabernacle and everything associated with it. The ones who worked had to have skill but they also had to be moved to do the work. People who had the material also had to be moved in their spirits to contribute. This implies that some people had skills and material but were not involved because they were not moved.
            This happens in churches also. Some people don’t tithe or serve because they are not moved. Regarding giving, they quote 2 Corinthians 9:7 saying it is their decision and not compulsory. The want to be a cheerful giver and since they don’t feel cheerful, they aren’t going to give. Of course, they skip the previous verse, “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully” (2 Cor 9:6), not realizing that they are being foolish in the long run by not giving. They need to look back at the contributions in Exodus. These were freewill offerings (Ex 35:29), not a tithe. They were giving above and beyond what was required. They gave so much Moses had to stop them. People who don’t tithe or give generously don’t do so because their spirit doesn’t move them. Sadly, that reveals a spirit that isn’t in tune with the Lord.
            Psalm: The name Abimelech appears many times in the Old Testament. It is used for kings in Gerar during Abraham and Isaac’s lives as well as the times of the Judges. Therefore, David’s behavior was probably before a king; Abimelech is not mentioned during David’s reign. This is most likely the time David actually feigned insanity before Achish, king of Gath (1 Sam 21:12-13). The fact that he pretended to be insane is in contrast with his declaration, “Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed” (Ps 34:5). His fear of Achish led him to have a face that was anything but radiant or unashamed. His fear of Achish made him want to run from him. His fear of the Lord means he runs to the Lord and asks for deliverance. His praise is a result of being spared and acknowledging how good God is.
            He challenges us to taste and see that the Lord is good as well. However, we can’t take this out of context. Tasting and seeing that the Lord is good must be on God’s terms, not ours. We must fear him in the most reverent and loving way (Ps 34:7). People who want to “try Jesus” to get rid of all their problems don’t come to him in repentance and obedience. They come on their condition that their lives will become better. Don’t fall into the trap of telling someone they can try Jesus and then their lives will be better. They will be disappointed and so will you when they fall away because they face persecution or hardship.
            Proverbs: With all the political animosity going on in the country at this time, these two proverbs are really good advice. It doesn’t matter which side you take, right or left, democrat or republican, one is a scoffer in the other’s eyes. One trying to reprove the other only results in injury, abuse, and hate. Pick your battles; we don’t need to win every argument. If we are wise, we will listen, discus, and still love each other.
            Matthew: When Jesus was crucified, his crime was posted above him on the cross, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews” (Matt 27:37). It was obvious from the placard and what people were saying that they knew exactly who Jesus was and who he claimed to be. They knew his miracles and that he had saved many people from their physical ailments and even demons. They were aware of his claim to be the Son of God. So what do they do? They ask him to prove it by saving himself.
            They may have know many facts about Jesus, but it shows a total lack of understanding about the Messiah and what he was to accomplish. The miracles all proved who he is. Yet they want one more. Back in Matthew 4, Jesus was tempted to take the easy way out by worshiping Satan. Luke 4:13 records, “He [Satan] departed from him until an opportune time.” Two times are more opportune. In the Garden, his own human nature, his distress and grief tempted him to bypass the cross. On the cross the taunts and heckling from the people passing by as well as the criminals could have been Satan inspired temptation to come off the cross and show everyone the truth. But that wasn’t Jesus’ mission. Jesus had to pay the price for our sins. It cost him the horrible pain on the cross but also a separation from the Father. If we didn’t have Jesus’ death on our behalf, then we would always be separated from the Father (Isa 59:2) and have to endure the everlasting pain of hell.
            We seldom look at circumstances and see God’s answer to our prayers. The people asked for proof and at Jesus’ death, it was provided. The temple curtain being torn in two showed that the way to God was available to us all by the blood of Jesus. I’m not going to try to explain the resurrected saints. Commentaries also avoid speculating on this event. It was certainly a sign but some details must be emphasized. It appears from the text that the tombs were opened by the earthquake, but they didn’t come out of the tombs until after Jesus’ resurrection (Matt 27:53). So Jesus is still the firstfruits of those to be raised.
            The point of this is that there is ample evidence to the fact that Jesus really did die and that his sacrifice is sufficient to pay for our sins.


            Witnessing to people about Jesus can be as difficult as reproving scoffers. It is better to let them go than it is to argue with them. If I have the opportunity to share Jesus, then a method is to simply explain his miracles that point to his deity and his death to our redemption. Any small step towards bringing a person to belief is better than trying to push them all the way, especially with the “try Jesus” method.

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