Sunday, February 5, 2017

February 5: Exodus 21:22-23:13; Psalm 29; Proverbs 7:6-23; Matthew 24:1-28



Overview

            Exodus: The Lord continues to give instructions for dealing with crimes. The first set range from injuries due to violence to an animal injuring or killing a person. The second set explains the restitution that must be paid when a person or animal cause injury through neglect or on purpose. The third set covers restitution or determination of guilt when things “go missing.”
            These are followed by a various regulation. They include seduction, sorcery, mistreating foreigners and orphans, lending money, sacrificing to the Lord, lying, helping enemies’ animals, and bribery.
            The last section deals with giving the land a rest on the seventh year and making sure everyone, including slaves and animals are able to rest on the Sabbath.
            Psalm: This Psalm is about giving glory to God. His glory over nature is seen as there are seven descriptions of the voice of the Lord. These echo his word in creation from being over the waters at the beginning of creation to the multiplication of animals on the earth. His glory is also over the floodwaters and that would include Noah’s. He is king forever and it finishes with a benediction to give strength and peace to his people.
            Proverbs: This long passage in Proverbs is a detailed account of an adulteress seducing a man. The ending is the man falling for it all and it costs him his life.
            Matthew: The disciples are really impressed with the temple buildings and wanted to tell Jesus about them. Instead, Jesus tells them it will all be torn down. After leaving Jerusalem and arriving at the Mount of Olives, they ask Jesus when it will happen along with the signs for the end of the age.  
            Jesus explains the beginning of the signs:
·         There will be false Messiahs leading many astray.
·         There will wars and rumors of wars.
·         There will famines.
·         There will be earthquakes
            He then explains what comes next, the end times:
·         There will be tribulation where Christians are persecuted.
·         Christians will be hated by all nations.
·         Many will fall away.
·         The ones that fall away will betray and hate each other.
·         False prophets will arise and lead many astray.
·         Lawlessness will increase.
·         Love will grow cold.
·         The Gospel will be proclaimed throughout the world.
            Then the end will come. Those who persevere to the end will be saved.
            Jesus then goes on to explain that somewhere along the line, there will be “holy place” and an abomination will be placed in it. When that happens, those in Judea are to flee to the mountains. It will be a bad time, but God will shorten the time so that the elect will be saved. He reiterates that there will be false messiahs and prophets will lead many astray. So don’t go looking for Jesus. When he comes back it will be clear to all.

What Stood Out

            Exodus: “You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt” (Ex 22:21).
            Psalm: “May the Lord give  strength to his people! May the Lord bless his people with  peace!” (Ps 29:11).
            Proverbs: “All at once he follows her, as an ox goes to the slaughter” (Prov 7:22).
            Matthew: “And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for  the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.” (Matt 24:22).

Insight

            Exodus: The regulations that God provides in these verses were the foundation for keeping an orderly society. We look at some of them such as the treatment of slaves and are shocked. Yet, even in these, there was a move from barbarianism to order that eventually become refined as we follow Christ and the elimination of slavery in most nations built upon a Christian foundation. Yet in these verses we can still see areas where we are not following the principles God laid down to deal with society. One of the clear ones is the concept of restitution. We have some manner of restitution in our law but it often takes a civil suit to have it happen. Criminals seldom pay back what they have stolen or damaged and there is hardly ever any penalty pay back.
            On the other hand, we often take some of these laws and hold up part of them but don’t heed it all. For instance, there is the concept that if someone breaks into my house, I have the right to shoot him. This is based on Ex22:2 but is only the first half of the regulation. The complete regulation is includes verse 3, “But if it happens in daylight, the one who killed the thief is guilty of murder” (Ex 22:2-3 NLT). Unfortunately, we only like the verses that uphold our right to shoot someone at any time.
            Here is a politically loaded one that we should observe. “You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt” (Ex 22:21). Who is a sojourner? It is a foreigner who is traveling or even staying for a long time in a foreign country. But look at why they were not to oppress sojourners. It is because they were once in the same situation. Jesus was really great about digging beneath the letter of the Law to the spirit of the law. I wonder how he feels about the spirit of the law in our country regarding immigration. I don’t imagine it is with a “well done my good and faithful servant.”
            Psalm: We often think of God’s word when it come to creation. God spoke, and things came into existence. We are to praise God and give him glory along with all the angels. But it shouldn’t stop there. The Psalm echoes his creation activity and also displays how his voice currently interacts in all aspects of his creation to keep it going. The Psalm is very poetic but the imagery reveals that God keeps things going whether it is controlling the waters (Ps 29:3), or over the forest (Ps 29:5), earthquakes (Ps 29:6-8), or the multiplication of animals (Ps 29:9). We must altogether cry out and declare his glory (Ps 29:9). Because he does all this, because he is king forever, we can ask his benediction for strength and peace. He is sovereign.
            Proverbs: This section of Proverbs reads like a bad soap opera. The woman’s husband is away so she goes through a lot to trap and commit adultery with a guy. In the end, he dies and she presumably does it again the next time her husband is out of town (Prov 7:26). This is the graphic description of how all the previous warnings are played out if we don’t heed them.
            Matthew: As I made the list of bullet points I noticed that the word, then, was inserted between the first signs and the last signs (Matt 24:9). The first signs are leading up to the end times but are not the end times. That is the now of our world. All of those things are happening now. Then is about our future, the end times. This is consistent with previous parables of Jesus return. Looking just at the explanation of the parable of the weeds (Matt 13:37-42), I see that at the end there will be both Christians and law-breakers. In the parable, the law-breakers are gathered before the Christians. In Jesus summary of the end times, after the word, then, Jesus clearly says that there are Christians at the end and they will be persecuted (Matt 24:9). He also says that Christians must persevere to the end (Matt 24:13). Jesus is talking to the disciples and he says, “You.” We can’t mistake this to mean someone other than us as we are his disciples. If not us then it is those who come after us. Christians must endure to the very end. This just keeps on reminding me that a post-tribulation rapture is more consistent with what Jesus said than a pre-tribulation rapture.

Application

             I need to be more aware of how I view the Law and its application for today. While some of the things there are definitely not the way we do things today, I shouldn’t want to go back to that way; there is still the spirit of the law that underlies them all that I need to obey. I need to have more compassion on those who are foreigners for one. After all, if I’m to make disciples, isn’t it easier to be kind to a foreigner who comes here than it is for me to go to a foreign country?

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