Wednesday, February 8, 2017

February 8: Exodus 28; Psalm 31:9-18; Proverbs 8:12-21; Matthew 25:31-26:13


            Exodus: Now, the Lord turns his instructions to the garment the priest are to wear while offering sacrifices and ministering in the tabernacle. As high priest, Aaron will wear a breastplate, ephod, robe, coat, turban, and sash. These garments are to be very ornate and crafted by someone with great skill. They will be made with gold, blue, purple, and scarlet yarn made of linen.
            The ephod will have two onyx stones on either shoulder strap. Each stone will have the names of six of the tribes of Israel in order of their birth. Aaron will bear the name of Israel on his shoulders.
            The breastplate of judgment will be worn on the outside of the ephod and connected to it. It will have four rows of three jewels each on it. The jewels are different and have the name of one tribe of Israel engraved on each. The description of the breastplate and the way it is attached to the ephod is about twice as long as the description of the ephod. Aaron will bear the names of the tribes of Israel on his heart when he ministers before the Lord. He bears the judgment of Israel before the Lord regularly.
            The robe is worn under the ephod. It has bells and pomegranates on the hem so that the sound will be heard as he goes in and out of the holy place, so he won’t die.
            The turban will have a gold plate hanging on it with “Holy to the Lord” engraved on it. It will be over Aaron’s forehead so that he will bear the guilt from the holy things Israel consecrates as holy gifts. This is so the Lord will accept the gifts.
            The coat is to be weaved with a checkered pattern worked into it. It will have an embroidered sash.
            Aaron’s sons will have coats, sashes, and caps. They are also to be made for glory and beauty as are Aaron’s garments. Then everyone gets linen underwear. If Aaron and his sons don’t dress correctly, they will die. The ordinance is for them and their descendants.
            Psalm: David is really down in the dumps today. He is emotionally and physically hurting and he tells the Lord he is. He relates the reason for his distress. He first mentions his inequities but also list his enemies, friends, and acquaintances are all keeping their distance or trying to get rid of him. Like most other times of depression, he rebounds with trusting the Lord and asking for relief from his enemies.
            Proverbs: Wisdom in its personification explains some of its attribute. It tells the results of rulers who have wisdom. Everyone who loves wisdom will find it and the benefits are better than riches; they are eternal.
            Matthew: Now, Jesus explains what the final judgment will be like. It will occur when Jesus comes in all his glory with the angels. All the nations will be gathered before him. He will place some on his right and some on his left. The ones on his right will be welcomed into his kingdom that was prepared for them before the earth was made. He tells them the reason for their selection and they don’t even realize they were doing what he wanted by taking care of Jesus’ brothers.
            The ones on his left will be thrown into eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. The reason is that they didn’t do what he wanted by taking care of Jesus’ brothers. They don’t realize they didn’t do this.
            After finishing his explanation of the end times, parables, and description of the judgment, he announces to his disciples that the Passover is two days away and he will be delivered for crucifixion. In the meantime, the chief priest and elders decide to wait until after the feast to secretly arrest and kill him.
            While eating at Simon the leper’s house, a woman anoints Jesus with expensive ointment. The disciples think it is a waste of money but Jesus says it was a beautiful thing. It was a preparation for his burial. He also tells them they can contribute to the poor any time but he won’t always be around. And true to his word, the woman is memorialized in the Gospels.

What Stood Out

            Exodus: “So Aaron shall bear the names of the sons of Israel in the breastpiece of judgment on his heart, when he goes into the Holy Place, to bring them to regular remembrance before the Lord” (Ex 28:29).
            Psalm: “My strength fails because of my iniquity, and my bones waste away” (Ps 31:10).
            Proverbs: “I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me” (Prov 8:17).
            Matthew: “Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her” (Matt 26:13).


            Exodus: In today’s world where people go to church in worn jeans, shorts, and tank tops or sport team regalia, this passage may seem very archaic. In some churches, the pastors don robes and in others, they preach while wearing tee shirts and jeans. In cowboy churches, they keep their hats on when they preach. So is all this just about cultural customs or is there some deeper meaning associated with it?
            First of all, we need to remember that this is the way the high priest and his sons dressed. It was not for the common people or the other priests. The second thing to remember is that this was all changed when Jesus became our high priest. Instead of being dressed in spectacular fashion when he ministered, Jesus was naked and came only with his own blood. However, if you want to see how he is dressed now, as he intercedes for us, read Revelation 1:12-16.
            There are several reason the Lord required this dress. The first is mentioned in Exodus 28:2, they are holy for glory and beauty. They are ornate and beautiful to reflect the holiness and beauty of the glory of the Lord. The next is that they represent all the people of Israel when the priest comes into God’s presences. This is seen by the names of the tribes of Israel on the onyx stones and the jewels. The last is the inscription on the gold plate on the turban signifying that the sacrifices are holy to the Lord.
            It isn’t that God needs to be reminded of these things but Israel did. They needed to be reminded that the one priest was representing all Israel. Just as we need to remember that the fulfillment of this is in Jesus. He intercedes for all of us. They also needed to be reminded that their sacrifices were holy when presented to the Lord. They took common animals and other sacrifices and gifts that became holy when presented to the Lord. Jesus takes common people, sinners, and presents us to the Lord as holy when we turn to him in faith and repentance. We don’t need to go through all the trappings of ornate garments trying to impress God when we come into his presence. However, it is a mistake to come so casually as to think that God is an ordinary person and not King of the universe, Lord of our lives, and Judge of our future.
            Psalm:  It is good to see David expressing his depression without blaming God for his problems. He asks for grace even though much of his problems are because of his own iniquity. This is quite different from some of the previous Psalms where David recounts his integrity. Now, he has everyone against him because of something he has done. This could have been at the time of Absalom’s rebellion. He sees that his own sin of the past has caused this. People don’t want to be associated with him, least they get caught in the middle of the fight. The biggest issue is that his health is affected by his sins.
            Today, we see many people blaming their circumstances for their so-called health problems instead of recognizing their sin has caused their problems and have driven their friends away. I’m not talking about cancer or heart disease, but addictions, anger, bitterness, and the like. These are sins that cause health problems and people to turn away. Fortunately, we don’t have to be slaves to those things and blame other people. We can live victorious lives in Christ when we repent of our sins. “It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones (Prov 3:8).
            Proverbs: Wisdom results in good counsel, insight, and strength. Wisdom is seeking good and not evil. Though many may associate wisdom with achieving wealth, the real result of wisdom is “enduring wealth and righteousness” (Prov 8:18). We know this isn’t worldly wealth because it is associated with righteousness and Proverbs 8:19 clarifies that it is better than gold or silver. If wisdom doesn’t result in godly living, then it isn’t true wisdom.
            Matthew: This judgment takes place after Jesus’ glorious return. There is no mention of a resurrection or rapture at this time. However, if previous readings are correct, then the dead and Christians have been raised to meet Jesus in the air as he comes back. So that creates quite a problem for determining who is being judged and when. The nations will be gathered for the judgment. If all the Christians have been raptured, then the only people left are not Christians. That fits with calling them the nations. Then they are separated onto his left and the right. The ones on the right are invited to come into Jesus’ kingdom that was prepared even before time began. That sounds like salvation by grace. However, Jesus then explains they are welcomed because of the way they treated Christians – Jesus’ brothers. There should not be confusion here. They are not described as Jesus’ brothers. They are dumbfounded because they didn’t even realize what they were doing by being nice to Christians.
            The others on the left are equally dumbfounded that they were any different from the ones on the right. They didn’t even realize they were ignoring or even harming Jesus’ brothers. So they get tossed into hell.
            This judgment must then take place at the beginning of Jesus’ millennial reign on earth. It described Jesus judging those who are still alive on earth when he returns. Christians are gone and the only people left to populate the earth for the millennium are not yet saved. He chooses those who have expressed kindness to Christians during the tribulation to inherit the earth. Those who were not kind to Christians are sentenced to hell.
            There are two problems with this analysis. The first is that the ones on the right are called righteous (Matt 25:37). The second is that the ones on the right are given eternal life (Matt 25:46).
            I can come up with a couple of ways around the last two problems but I would have to do what is called hermeneutical gymnastics. Rather than do that, I’ll simply state that whatever interpretation a person has regarding the end times, pre-trib, post-trib, pre-millennial return of Christ, post-millilennial return of Christ, or amillenial reign (no millennial reign), these verses or others will cause a problem. I think God has made the end times vague on purpose. He wants us to understand some parts clearly such as there will be a judgment for us that results in eternal life or eternal death and that we must be prepared for his return. If anyone thinks they have all the answers to the end times, then these passages are there to keep us humble.
            Then we have the plots of man versus the sovereignty of God. Jesus announces that he will be delivered up for crucifixion during the Passover and the Jews decide they will wait until afterwards. When God ordains something, it happens. When man plans are against God’s will, it never happens.
            Jesus also announced that the woman would be memorialized to the whole world for anointing him with oil. This is also recorded in Mark 14:6-9. While a woman anointed Jesus with nard in Luke 7:36-38, the timing is wrong to be the same occasion and not likely the same woman. So Mark and Matthew tell that the woman will be memorialized. Since John probably read the two accounts, it is possible that he included her name, Mary, to make sure everyone knew who it was. Of course, this was by the Spirit.


            Being kind to other believers is of vital importance. I need to think of and care for those who are in other countries as well as here. I think of 1 John 3:17, “But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?” But then I need to be that way to everyone because I don’t always know who is a Christian or might become one because of a kindness done to him.

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