Tuesday, February 7, 2017

February 7: Exodus 26 – 27; Psalm 31:1-8; Proverbs 8:1-11; Matthew 25:1-30


            Exodus: The Lord provides a detailed description for building the tabernacle. This includes the tent covering over that it, the curtains for the entrance and the one to separate the holy of holies from the rest of the interior, the holy place. Moses was shown the complete pattern on the mountain. Then the description for building the altar, the court around the tabernacle is given. Then the people are told to provide olive oil for the lamp, which Aaron and his sons are to tend overnight forever.
            Psalm: This is another Psalm where David is in trouble and he calls to the Lord for help. He acknowledges that God is his rock and refuge and it is for God’s name’s sake that God helps. He has committed his spirit to God and God sees his affliction and delivers him from his enemies. He trusts in God and not idol worshipers.
            Proverbs: Wisdom is personified as it calls out to us. It calls out from all places. It calls to all people, including fools and simpletons. Wisdom’s words are like God’s word and reflect his attributed. This wisdom is better than the greatest riches.
            Matthew: Jesus tells two parables about the kingdom of heaven. The first is about five wise virgins and five foolish virgins who are supposed to meet the bridegroom when he arrives. The wise took oil along for their lamps and the foolish didn’t. When the bridegroom arrived, the foolish had to go buy more oil and missed going into the wedding feast.
            The second parable is about a man going on a journey. He gives three servants money according to their ability. One gets five talents, the second gets two, and the last gets one talent. The first two invest and double the investment. The last hides his in the ground. The man returns and rewards the first two and takes the one talent from the last and gives it to the first. Then the last servant is punished.

What Stood Out

            Exodus: “Then you shall erect the tabernacle according to the plan for it that you were shown on the mountain” (Ex 26:30).
            Psalm: “For your  name's sake you lead me and guide me” (Ps 31:3).
            Proverbs: “All the words of my mouth are righteous; there is nothing  twisted or crooked in them.” (Prov 8:8).
            Matthew: “For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away” (Matt 25:29).


            Exodus: I have a problem reading the description of the tabernacle. I can’t really see it in my mind. If you would like to see some drawings, you can do so at the website in this footnote.[1] When searching the web for pictures of models, it becomes apparent that the tabernacle was about the size of a railroad boxcar. It was overplayed completely in gold so it was built to be assembled and disassembled then transported from one location to another. Each frame must have been extremely heavy.
            The intricacy of the design wasn’t something someone would dream up on a whim. This was God’s plan. Moses saw the plan on the mountain so he could make sure it was built correctly. The author of Hebrews says this was a shadow or copy of the heavenly tabernacle (Heb 8:5). The heavenly tabernacle was also revealed to John in Revelation 15:5 (NIV).
            The tabernacle is a representation of the separation between God and man. There was a curtain all around the courtyard. There was a curtain between the outer court and the inside of the tabernacle. The tabernacle had a curtain separating the inner room, the holy of holies from the outer room, the holy place. The symbolism of this shows the separation of Israel from the nations, the priest from the people and the high priest from the priests. It also shows the separation of God from all the rest. But that was then and this is now where Jesus has broken down the wall of separation (Eph 2:14) so that we are all in the family of God. We can come to God though Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins. We don’t need the priests to offer sacrifices. We come into the holy of holies by the blood of Jesus (Heb 9:12).
            Psalm: A very important principle is that God does things for his name’s sake. That means his glory. He will not do anything that will disparage his glory. To do so would mean making him somewhat less than what he is. It would make him less holy, less loving, less merciful, less just, less omnipotent, less omniscient. It would make him mutable and he doesn’t change. So, when we commit our spirit to the Lord as David did, we can be sure that the result will bring glory to God. Whether we are rescued from some affliction or not, the very best is worked out.
            Proverbs: The personification of wisdom makes wisdom synonymous with God. God calls out to all people. He wants everyone everywhere to be saved and come to a knowledge of him (1 Tim 2:4 NIV). No one need think he is an exception, whether a fool or simpletons. The attributes of God can be seen in the words of wisdom. We can trust true wisdom because it comes form God. “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere” (James 3:17 NIV). If we really have this kind of wisdom, then we will have more than anyone who has riches.
            Matthew:  These two parables are sandwiched between Jesus’ monologue about the end times and the judgment. The first is directly related to his teaching on his return and the second parable relates directly to his judgment. The best interpretation of them must be seen in context. Though many people use the parable of talents to teach about money management, this is not the primary purpose of the parable.
            The bridegroom in the parable of the virgins represents Jesus. I’m sure everyone will agree with that. The wedding feast is when he returns for his church. That is what the context of the previous passages. The virgins represent people waiting for Jesus’ return. These seem to be good analogies so far. The sticky part is the oil. Most people believe the oil for the lamps represent the Holy Spirit. If a person doesn’t have the Holy Spirit, he isn’t saved. If he does have the Spirit, he is saved. That is plain and simple. If oil is the Spirit then the foolish virgins had empty lamps when they went out, or they lost their salvation somewhere because their lamps were going out. This part of the analogy also falls apart because no one can go out and buy the Spirit. Also, when they did get oil and came back, why would Jesus keep them out? Remember the wedding supper of the Lamb is after the tribulation, not before it because there will be people saved during the tribulation. Revelation 19 is clear about that. Rather than trying to force the Holy Spirit into the oil, it is better to explain that the wise virgins are prepared for Jesus return and the foolish are not. Their preparation is knowing Jesus before he arrives. The wise have immediate entrance into the wedding feast. The foolish don’t because they are not prepared showing that there will be a time when it will be too late for a person to be saved regardless of the effort he has made. They are not prepared, even after getting oil because Jesus says, “Truly, I say to you, I do not know you” (Matt 25:12).
            Viewing the parable of the talents in light of the coming passage on judgment may not be in agreement with those who want to pull money management out of it because it reveals that the passage doesn’t really have anything to do with money. Yes the talent was a way of measuring money, but a talent was weight, not always money. It was an unspecified amount of money, which varied in different areas.[2] Because the English language has used the word talent to mean abilities, it reveals that for centuries the interpretation of this parable represented abilities given to each servant, not actual funds. This is supported by Matthew 25:15, which relates the number of talents to their abilities.
            The man represents Jesus who comes back to judge his servants. The servants who used their talents to gain more talents represent people who have used their abilities to enhance the man’ wealth. If it were money, it would mean that Jesus is interested in getting or having his disciples get more money. But it is clear that Jesus is more interested in getting more disciples (Matt 28:19-20, John 15:5). The investment is in people, not finances. It may be any kind of disciple-making activity, from witnessing to teaching to using the gifts of the Holy Spirit to build up the body of Christ (Eph 4:12). The reward is receiving back everything they gained. Paul explains how disciples we have helped are our reward, “For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy” (1 Thess 2:19-20 NIV). This is the positive aspect of the coming judgment.
            What about the man who buried his talent? It is evident that all people have some abilities. When they are used for Christ because we are Christians, we are rewarded. When they are not used for Christ because a person is not a Christian, they are wasted. They gain nothing for the kingdom. All their righteousness is like filthy rags (Isa 64:6). Nothing they do is rewarded in the kingdom. Their reward in the judgment is hell.
            The odd thing is that the first servant gets the last servant’s original talent. What truth is Jesus telling in this? It is possible that this represents the fact that anyone who doesn’t know Jesus will lose everything and that people who know him will inherit the earth and everything in it?


             I need to use the wisdom that God provides to use the talents he has given me to work for the kingdom. It may be writing this blog or handing out a tract at the gas station. My abilities are not the same as my pastor’s or the worship team at my church. I want to do my part and I want to be ready when Jesus comes back.

[1] This reference is provided strictly for the pictorial representations of the tabernacle. I cannot vouch for this website’s theological accuracy or positions, as it appears that they let any kook post to it. “The Tabernacle of Moses,” accessed February 7, 2017, http://www.israel-a-history-of.com/tabernacle-of-moses.html.
[2] S. Grimm and S. Wilke, New Testament Lexicon, Joseph Henry Thayer, ed., (Seattle: Biblesoft 2006), s.v. “NT: 5007.”

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