Wednesday, February 15, 2017

February 14: Exodus 37 – 38; Psalm 34:11-22; Proverbs 9:9-10; Matthew 28



Overview

            Exodus: Bazalel made all the items for the tabernacle along with Oholiab (and all the other skilled people as mentioned in the previous chapters). The construction of the Ark with the mercy seat and the cherubim on either side is described. Then came the description of the table’s construction. Presumably this is the table for the show bread. Next, the lampstand and altar of incense is described. Finally, Bazalel’s construction of the altar for burning sacrifices, the bronze washing basin, and the court of the tabernacle are all described.
            Moses required the recording of the amount of gold and silver collected and used to build the sanctuary. The gold came from the offering and the silver came from the census tax. Where all the silver was used for bases and other items is detailed. The bronze for the altar of sacrifices came from the offering. Where it was used is also explained.
            Psalm: This section of the Psalm is instructions about learning to fear the Lord. If we love life and want to do good, then there are many admonitions in this Psalm. There is also warnings about what happens to wicked people in contrast to the way the Lord takes care of those who are righteous. Of particular interest are his help for the afflicted.
            Proverbs: A wise man gets wiser with instruction and the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
            Matthew: On Sunday, Jesus is raised from the dead. The women who went to the tomb saw an angel. His appearance was like lightning and his clothes white as snow. It scared the guards and the women but he told the women not to fear, to tell the disciples that Jesus was raised, and to meet him in Galilee. On the way to tell the disciples, Jesus met the women and they worshiped him. Jesus repeated the instructions to go to Galilee.
            The guards went into town and told the chief priests what had happened. They were bribed to say the disciples stole the body while they slept.
            In Galilee, when Jesus met the disciples, he commissioned them to go and make disciples in all nations. He said he would be with them to the end of the age.

What Stood Out

            Exodus: “The cherubim spread out their wings above, overshadowing the mercy seat with their wings, with their faces one to another; toward the mercy seat were the faces of the cherubim” (Ex 37:9).
            Psalm: “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Ps 34:18).
            Proverbs: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight” (Prov 9:10).
            Matthew: “And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted” (Matt 28:17).

Insight

            Exodus: The Second Commandment forbids making a graven image of anything in heaven or earth (Ex 20:4). Yet, we find cherubim on the mercy seat. They are also depicted in other areas of the tabernacle. It would be easy to misconstrue the meaning of the cherubim and think that they were objects of worship. However, it is apparent from archeological finds that cherubim were not worshiped but were seen as guardians of kings in the Ancient Near East. King Hiram of Byblos (1200 BC) had cherubim on either side of his throne.[1] In various places in the Bible, the Lord is enthroned on cherubim (Ps 99:1; Ezek 10:1). 1 Samuel 4:4 specifically says that the Lord is enthroned on the cherubim of the Ark. In addition, cherubim are appointed to guard the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden (Gen 3:22).
            Unger relates the four living beings in Revelation 4:6-8 with cherubim. This, along with the description of God being enthroned on cherubim, their work in guarding the Tree of Life, and their place in other cultures, Unger surmises that they are connected with “vindicating the holiness of God against the presumptuous pride of fallen man.”[2] Indeed, when we see that they overshadow the mercy seat where the blood of atonement is sprinkled, it is evident that they are showing the way back to a relationship with God. Rather than protecting man from the Tree, they are pointing the way to a renewed relationship with God. When we recognize Jesus as the perfect sacrifice, his blood sprinkled on the mercy seat in heaven, we have eternal redemption (Heb 9:11-14).
            Psalm: The Lord knows what is happening in each of our lives. There are no surprises for him. He hears our cries for help and he knows when we are brokenhearted or crushed in spirit. When we trust in the Lord we will be saved. The ending promise is eternal and not just temporal, “None of those who take refuge in him will be condemned” (Ps 34:22). This is a major theme in the Bible. Call on Jesus and we will not be condemned. We will have eternal life.
            Proverbs: The way to become wise is to fear the Lord. However, there is more to it than that. That is only the beginning. It is the start, not the finish. As we are taught, we become wiser and when we are learning to be righteous, we then get insight. The end is the knowledge of the Lord. In some of Jesus’ parables, he says to people that he didn’t know them. They may have had a lot of fear of God, they may have had worldly wisdom, but they never really knew God.
            Matthew: Jesus’ resurrection was confirmed in several ways. The first was by the angel who told the women to look in the tomb and see that he wasn’t there. The next confirmation was by Jesus’ appearance to the women. Note that they worshiped him. This wasn’t an appearance of an angel. An angel would not have permitted worship.
            The next confirmation comes from the guards. They told the chief priests. Of course, they didn’t want people to know it so they bribed the guards to say the disciples stole the body while they were asleep. Now, Roman guards who lost their charge because the slept would have been immediately executed. However, they were paid and the chief priests had to guarantee them that they would not get into trouble. The story is ridiculous when you think about it. How could eleven disciples, some fishermen, tax collector, and other non-military men overcome Roman guards? But they spread the story and some people believe it even now.
            The last confirmation was Jesus’ appearance to the disciples in Galilee where he commissioned them. The interesting part is that they worshiped him there, but some doubted. We always think of Thomas doubting, but he soon changed his mind. So why did some doubt? If we look at the accounts in the other Gospels, it is evident that Jesus appeared to them while they were still in Jerusalem and that they didn’t immediately go to Galilee. Or, it is possible the appearances in Jerusalem happened after they went to Galilee? However the first option seems most likely. Still, it doesn’t answer why some doubted. The only reason I can think of, is that they had not yet received the Holy Spirit in power. They were still looking at the situation from a human perspective.
            We doubt as well. Sometimes, we have a twinge of doubt. Is this really true? Am I really saved? Did God really say? What do we do when the doubts hit? If we’re smart, we’ll look back at God’s word. We can examine the Scriptures such as the evidence for Jesus’ resurrection (see also 1 Cor 15:6). We will recount how and when we were saved and remember what we used to be before the Lord came into our lives. David did a lot of that in the Psalms.

Application

            When I doubt, I go back and remember the person I was before I was saved. I remember how the truth of the Bible lead me to believe in Jesus. I remember what salvation did to my thinking and my life.


[1] Merrill Frederick Unger, The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary, s.v. “Cher’ub,” (Chicago: Moody, 1988), Biblesoft.

[2] Ibid.

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