Friday, February 3, 2017

February 2: Exodus 15:19-17:7; Psalm 27:1-6; Proverbs 6:20-26; Matthew 22:1-33


            Exodus: After the congregation sings of the Lord’s conquest over the Egyptians, Miriam, Aaron’s sister leads the women in a dance and song of the conquest.
            The people journey into the wilderness for three days and find only bitter water at Marah. They grumble against Moses. The Lord has Moses throw a log into the water and it is purified for drinking. The Lord test them telling them that he will not bring any of the diseases on them that he brought on the Egyptians if they will listen to him and keep his commandments.
            They continue on to Elim and on into the wilderness of Sin for a month. Then they grumble against Moses and Aaron wishing the Lord had killed them in Egypt where they had plenty to eat. The Lord tells Moses and Aaron that he will feed them with bread from heaven in the morning and quail in the evening. The quail were so many they covered he whole camp.
            There were regulations for gathering the bread from heaven, which they called manna. It came with the dew and melted away when the sun got hot, so they had to gather in the morning six days of the week. They could not keep any for the next day except for the Sabbath because they were not permitted to work on the Sabbath. If they kept any for other days, it would have worms and stink in the morning. When they gathered a lot or a little, they always had just the right amount. They could boil it or bake it. It looked like white coriander seeds but tasted like wafers made with honey. They ate this for forty years until they came to the border of Canaan (Ex 16:35).
            They moved on to Rephidim but there was no water. The people grumbled again, claiming Moses took them out of Egypt only to kill them with thirst. So the Lord told Moses to strike a rock and water came out for them all. The called it Massah and Meribah because of the quarrelling and testing the Lord.
            Psalm 27: David praises God for taking care of him when he is attacked by enemies. Because of his trust, he is not afraid of them, knowing God will take care of him so that he will be able to worship and praise God in his sanctuary. His one prayer is to dwell in the house of the Lord all his life. He is confident that God will answer that prayer.
            Proverbs: Solomon advises his son to keep his words and his mother’s teaching. The words and teaching lead, watch over, are a light, and reprove and discipline. By them, he is able to avoid the snare of an adulteress.
            Matthew: Jesus tells another parable about he kingdom of heaven. This one is about a king who has a wedding feast for his son. The original guests refuse to come or were too busy. Some even beat and killed the servants who went to invite them. The king killed them and burned their city. He then sent servants to invite anyone they could find, good or bad. One man came but didn’t wear wedding garments. He was tied up and tossed into outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. Many are invited but few chosen (Matt 22:14).
            The Pharisees wanted to trap Jesus so they asked him if it was legal to pay taxes. Jesus knowing their duplicity asks for a coin. The coin has Caesar’s image on it so he tells them to give to Caesar what belongs to him and to God the things that belong to God (Matt 22:21).
            Next, the Sadducees come trying to trick him. They use the Law about a brother being required to marry his brother’s wife if the brother doesn’t have any heirs when he dies. They present a case where a woman is married to seven brothers and all die. They ask who she will be married to in the resurrection. Jesus tells them they don’t know Scripture or God’s power since there is no marriage in heaven. We will be like angels. Also they don’t know about resurrection because God is the God of the living, not dead, based on the present tense of the words from “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (Ex 3:6).

What Stood Out

            Exodus: “Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day's portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not” (Ex 16:4).
            Psalm: “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple” (Ps 27:4).
            Proverbs: “For the price of a prostitute is only a loaf of bread, but a married woman hunts down a precious life” (Prov 6:26).
            Matthew: “For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matt 22:14).


            Exodus: The reoccurring theme in this passage is the people grumbling against Moses and therefore, against God. God starts out by telling them he will test them. Each time they have difficulties, they grumble. They had seen the miracles in Egypt but don’t have enough faith to ask God to take care of them in the desert. We often do the same thing. When things are going good, we don’t take the time to really understand who God is and how he has taken care of us. When tough times come, we fall back on our own resources or grumble to or about God. Let’s face it. Grumbling isn’t just a negative outlook on life, it is a sin. When we grumble about our circumstances, we are maligning God’s sovereignty and calling him impotent. He is omnipotent not impotent. He is in control of the universe and it all hangs together by his powerful word (Heb 1:3).
            Since grumbling is a sin, there is only one thing that we can do with it. We must repent. Yesterday, we saw that all sins are an abomination to God. We must view grumbling with the same seriousness as we believe is the most heinous crime. If we don’t, it becomes acceptable and we will never be free from it. We must see it as an affront to God’s goodness.
            Psalm: What do we fear? David could have feared his enemies but he didn’t. The only reason he didn’t was because of his trust in the Lord to answer his prayer. He wanted to be with the Lord all his life. When trouble came he knew he would be able to go back to the tabernacle and view the beauty of the Lord and worship him. Do we have the same confidence that when trouble comes, the ending will be glorious? Do we have confidence that if we die, it is only the beginning of something better? David’s world revolved around the physical blessing for Israel and his life. We are promised trouble and distress but our world should revolve around being with the Lord in eternity. If we are confident in God, we can also say, “Whom shall I fear?” (Ps 27:1).
            Proverbs: The advice given to the son by father and mother is like the Word of God. We need to keep it close so that it will lead us and teach us. It will take care of us when tempted by the “evil woman” (Prov 6:24). That applies to all sorts of evil as well. But there is a strange passage here that compares a prostitute to an adulteress. While I’m sure it isn’t recommending a single man engage a prostitute, it does recognize that adultery destroys a life. Tomorrow’s reading will explain why.
            Matthew: The parable about the wedding feast for the king’s son is a very comprehensive image for the kingdom of God.
·         The king represents God
·         The feast represents the wedding supper of the Lamb at the end of the age.
·         Those invited represents the nation of Israel specifically and everyone else who rejects Jesus in general.
·         The reasons for rejection represent the reason that we don’t respond to salvation. It can be anything from apathy about God to being too busy with worldly passions.
·         The servants represent the prophets of the Old Testament as well as anyone who engages in evangelism. The latter should be all of us.
·         The harsh treatment of the servants represents persecution of God’s people through the ages, both before and after Christ.
·         The destruction of first invitees and their city represents the destruction of Jerusalem.
·         The servants going out to the roads to invite people represent the change in emphasis from Jewish evangelism to Gentiles. This is the times of the Gentiles (Luke 21:24).
·         The man without wedding garments represents all who have trusted in their own works for salvation and not on the gift of God.
·         The punishment of the man represents eternal punishment in hell.
            When we look at this parable, it becomes obvious that the Pharisees knew where they fit. It should also be evident where we fit. We can be too busy or simply violently opposed to the things of the Lord. We will be in the same situation as those who don’t get near the feast but are killed. The one who shows up without wedding clothes is the most dangerous position to have. Too many people in churches and other religions think they will be in heaven after they die because they are good enough. No, we all need to come to Jesus in faith and repentance trusting in his death for our sins and not our own works to earn salvation.
            Taxes, is this incident in Jesus’ life about paying taxes? No, it isn’t. The Pharisees thought they could trap Jesus because their law made it an offence to pay taxes to the Gentile rulers. If Jesus said yes, then they could blame him for siding with the Gentile rulers. If he said no, they could report him to the Gentile rulers. They thought they were cleaver. But Jesus is telling them and every one of us that we need to have our hearts in the right place, which is seeking his kingdom before everything else (Matt 6:33).
            The Sadducees didn’t believe in spirits, resurrection from the dead and a few other things. They were the secularized Jews of the day. So their trying to trap Jesus was different. They wanted to get Jesus stuck in a paradox between marriage and a resurrection trying to show that resurrection is absurd. We learn two very important truths in this passage. The first is that our heavenly existence isn’t based on marriages. That blows away the foundation of several cults in existence today as well as then. The second is that people who die are now alive and with the Lord. Then there is the truth that God’s word is accurate right down to the tense of the verbs. Jesus uses the fact that God refers to himself in the present tense as being the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to indicate that they are still alive. That also means that God is eternal because he is alive beyond their life spans on earth.


             It’s too easy to grumble. What about that tailgater who is scaring me? His headlights look like they are stuck on my back window. If I’m trusting the God of the universe then I don’t need to be afraid. I don’t need to swear and curse the tailgater. Or how about that person in front of me that is going so slow that I’ll never get to wherever I’m going on time. Riding that person’s bumper is a form of grumbling also. It is putting my need ahead of his and it is grumbling against God because he is in control of even the tailgater behind or the turtle in front. Of course, this applies to every little thing that happens that irritates me.

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