Friday, February 3, 2017

February 3: Exodus 17:8-19:15; Psalm 27:7-14; Proverbs 6:27-35; Matthew 22:34-23:12


            Exodus: The Amalekites attack Israel so Moses goes up on a hill with Aaron and Hur to hold up God's staff. While the staff is up Israel prevails. When Moses gets tired, Aaron and Hur hold his arms up. Amalek is defeated.
            Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, comes with Zipporah and Moses’ two sons. Moses greets Jethro and sits down to talk with him. Jethro observes Moses sitting in judgment of the people all the next day and advises him to get help. Moses then chooses leaders over tens, fifties, hundreds, and thousands to form a hierarchy of leadership.
            Jethro returns home and Israel moves on to Mount Sinai. God calls Moses up the mountain where he promises that Israel will be his treasured possession if they obey. Moses goes back down and relays Gods words to the people. He returns and reports what the people said. Then God tells Moses he will be coming down on the mountain in a thick cloud so the people will be able to hear what he says to Moses. He gives Moses instructions in preparation for his coming. Moses goes back down and tells the people to prepare.
            Psalm: David’s confidence in the first verses seems to take a dip in the last half of the Psalm. The tone changes as he asks God to hear his cry for help and asks that God not turn away from him because he has been seeking God’s face just as God wants. David looks to God for instruction and salvation from his enemies. He then reaffirms his faith and tells himself to wait for the Lord.
            Proverbs: Solomon outlines why getting involved with an adulteress is even worse that stealing. It’s like getting burned with hot coals. People will excuse a thief who steals because he is hungry. But A thief will have to make restitution and possibly loose all his possessions. But a man with an adulteress is going to pay with his life as well as being disgraced and losing honor. The jealous husband will not spare him.
            Matthew: The Pharisees try again to stump Jesus after the Sadducees are silenced. They ask what is the greatest commandment. Jesus replies that all the commandments can be summed up in loving God and neighbor.
            Then it is Jesus’ turn to question the Pharisees. He asks whose son is the Christ. They answer David’s. Jesus quotes, Psalm 110:1, “The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand” (Matt 22:44). He asks them how David could call his son (the Messiah) Lord. That stumps the Pharisees and they stop asking him any more questions.
            So Jesus turns to his disciples and the people and warns them about the Pharisees. While they should obey the Law that the Pharisees claim to obey, they should not do as the Pharisees do, which he lists in detail. In summary, they are all works that make themselves feel important and suppose they will please God with them. Jesus says that anyone who exalts himself will be humbled and vice versa.

What Stood Out

            Exodus: “You shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; 6 and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Ex 19:5).
            Psalm: “You have said, ‘Seek my face.’ My heart says to you, ‘Your face, Lord, do I seek’” (Ps 27:8).
            Proverbs: “He who commits adultery lacks sense; he who does it destroys himself” (Prov 6:32).
            Matthew: “If then David calls him [Christ] Lord, how is he his son?” (Matt 22:45).


            Exodus: I read about Jethro coming to Moses with Moses’ wife and it strikes me odd that he greets Jethro and talks with him but not one word is recorded about saying anything to Zipporah or his kids. While this may have been the custom then, I’m glad this isn’t the way we do things now. Moses’ treatment of Zipporah seems harsh. We have a better way now, “Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them” (Col 3:19).
            Jethro was the priest of Midian (Ex 3:1). During his visit with Moses, we can see that his knowledge of the Lord (Yahweh) was expanded as he announced, “Now I know that the Lord [Yahweh] is greater than all gods” (Ex 18:11). Then, when Aaron and the elders came to eat, it was Jethro who offered the burnt sacrifice to God. This shows that Jethro was indeed a priest of God and not the priest of some other God. That is important because the next thing he does is to advise Moses, the man who talks with God, about the way he is running the camp. He advises Moses to delegate responsibility over the people rather than trying to do all the judging work by himself. Moses listened to Jethro and did as he said. There are times in our lives when we need to recognize we can’t do it all on our own. We need others to help. Sometimes that person is the one who reprimands us for trying to do more than we should. We need to be careful not to take Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” out of context. Paul went on to describe how the Philippians had helped him in his ministry.
            Psalm: Even in the best of times, we can become discouraged and wonder how long it will be before we are rescued from our troubles. However, there are two things that stand out. When we seek God’s face and not just his hand, we will be blessed. When we wait for the Lord to accomplish his will, we will come out stronger when the final troubles have been resolved. That gives us courage (Ps 27:14).
            Proverbs: Don’t get sucked into adultery. While today’s culture barely acknowledges that it is wrong, a jealous spouse can cause a lot of damage. Even if there are no consequences, we are still accountable to God.
            Matthew: When we look at the Ten Commandments and other aspects of the Law, it is fairly easy to see the wisdom of loving God with all our heart and soul and mind sums up our first and primary goal. If we really love God, then all the Commandments relating to God are natural. We don’t even have to think about obeying them. The same goes for the horizontal Commandments. If we love others as much as we love ourselves then we treat people the way we should. The fact that the Pharisees didn’t have these in mind is demonstrated by their desire to trap him.
            Jesus’ ability to turn the tables on the Pharisees by questioning who David’s son was could also boggle our mind. If we don’t really believe that the Son of David, the Messiah is truly God, then we would be in the same pickle as the Pharisees. We must be firm in our convictions about the deity of Jesus. If Jesus is not true God, then his death for our sins means nothing. But Jesus is true God and so we know that his sacrifice has bought us freedom from sin.
            So, when it gets down to how we live, Jesus points to the Pharisees as the prime example of how not to approach our relationship with God or how to direct others. Outward show does not impress God. He looks at our heart. When we do things simply to get attention and exalt ourselves, God will not respond to that in a positive way. He will humble us. On the other hand, when we are humble before him, he will exalt us as Peter wrote, “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5).


             Doing things to impress others is always a big temptation. Even while writing this blog I’m tempted in this way. I pray that it doesn’t happen and that my personal walk with the Lord is strengthened as I do this. If you get something out of his that is a blessing, then may the Lord be glorified by it.

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