Thursday, February 9, 2017

February 9: Exodus 29-30:10; Psalm 31:19-24; Proverbs 8:22-26; Matthew 26:14-26:46


            Exodus: The Lord tells Moses how to consecrate Aaron and his sons to be priests. The ceremony requires one bull, two rams, unleavened bread, cakes, and wafers. They will be dressed in the clothes described in the previous chapter.
            The Lord specifies how the animals are to be sacrificed, which parts are to be burned on the altar, outside the camp, or eaten. The bull is a sin offering. The rams are food offerings. The process of consecrating the priests include pouring, throwing (ESV), and sprinkling the sacrificial animal’s blood in various places, at the base of the altar, against the altar, on Aaron and his sons (right ear, thumb, and big toe) and their garments.
            Aaron and his sons are to wave one loaf, cake, wafer, and some of the ram’s meat before the altar. At the end of the ceremony, the meat is boiled then Aaron and his sons are to sit down at the entrance to the tabernacle and eat it. Anything left over is to be burned and no one else may eat it because it is holy.
            All future priests must be ordained in the same way. The process is to take seven days.
            The Lord then specifies the regular daily offering of two one-year-old lambs with flour, oil, and wine. One lamb will be offered in the morning and one in the evening. It is a pleasing aroma, a food offering. The Lord promises that he will dwell there among the people.
            The altar of incense is then described along with how it is to be used. It is placed in the holy place before the curtain separating the holy place from the holy of holies. In the morning and evening the high Priest, Aaron, is to offer incense on it when he tends to the lamp. Once a year, he is to put some of the blood of the sin offering for atonement on its horns. This is to continue through all generations.
            Psalm: David praises God for his rescue as he express how God takes care of those who fear him. He saves from the plots of evil men and the strife caused by malicious words. When besieged, he had almost lost hope, but God heard his prayer and saved him. He admonishes us to love the Lord and take courage in him.
            Proverbs: The personification of wisdom continues. The Lord had wisdom before the world was made or anything in it.
            Matthew: Judas goes to the priests and gets thirty pieces of silver to betray Jesus. Later, the disciples ask where to prepare for the Passover and Jesus directs them to a person in the city who will provide the room. At the Passover, Jesus announces one of the disciples will betray him. All ask if he is the one. The one who dips his hand in the dish with Jesus will do it. He warns that it would be better for that on to have not been born. When Judas dips with Jesus and asks if he is the one, Jesus affirms it.
            Jesus then explains the Lord’s Supper. The bread represents his body and the wine his blood poured out for the forgiveness of sins. He will not drink it again until he does so in the Father’s kingdom.
            They go to the Mount of Olives and Jesus tells them that they will all fall away but after he is raised they are to go to Galilee. Peter and the other say they will never fall away but Jesus says Peter will deny him three times before morning.
            They arrive at Gethsemane and Jesus has eight of the disciples sit and wait while he takes James, John, and Peter a ways off and tells them he is distressed. He asks them to watch while he goes a bit farther to pray. Jesus prays to bypass the cup if it is possible, but submits to the Father’s will. He comes back to find the three sleeping. He repeats this two more times before coming back to wake the disciples and let them know he is about to be betrayed.

What Stood Out

            Exodus: “I will dwell among the people of Israel and will be their God” (Ex 29:45).
            Psalm: “In the cover of your presence you hide them from the plots of men; you store them in your shelter from the strife of tongues” (Ps 31:20).
            Proverbs: “Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth” (Prov 8:23).
            Matthew: “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt 26:41).


            Exodus: The process for ordaining the priests was detailed in some ways but not in others. It was to take seven days, yet it only takes a few minutes to accomplish everything described once the animals are butchered. The contrast between this and what we must do to be part of a chosen people, a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9) is significant. Peter tells us that our preparation was made possible by the blood of Jesus (1 Peter 1:18-19). Rather than performing an outward ceremony, we are to prepare our minds, be obedient, stop conforming to our evil desires, and be holy because God is holy (1 Peter 1:13-16). The ordination set apart Aaron and his sons so that they could be the mediators of the covenant. The high priest could come before God to offer the atonement sacrifice once a year. But Jesus is always on the throne interceding for us (Heb 7:25). What a difference!
            The altar of incense is also very interesting. In Revelation 5:8, 8:3-4, incense is described as the prayers of the saints or is mingled with the prayers of the saints. The high priest was to offer incense on the altar twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening, throughout all generations (Ex 30:8). Prayer is supposed to be a regular part of our day. We should start our day with prayer and finish our day with prayer.
            Psalm:  One thing that stood out in this section is Psalm 31:20. God’s presence in our lives does two things. It hides us from the plots of men. We know that Jesus warned us that persecution would be a way of life for those who follow him (Matt 5:10). So, being hid from their plots must be the fact that they will never be able to cause us to recant our faith in Jesus. They may try, but God will keep us safe. Look at Peter. Before he had the Holy Spirit living in him, he denied Jesus three times. But afterward, tradition says he was crucified upside down. We need to rest on God’s promises, come what may, we are secure in him. However, there are times when physical persecution doesn’t seem as bad as verbal maligning, slander, abuse, or gossip. David assures us that this is included in his protection so that we can endure this as well.
            Proverbs: Caution, cults use these verses to claim that Jesus is wisdom and that Proverbs 8:22-27 proves Jesus is a created being and not God. The logic they use ties John 1:3 where the Word (Jesus) is who made all things to Proverbs 3:19. It says, “The Lord by wisdom founded the earth.” Therefore, Jesus is wisdom and wisdom is a creation of God. But a closer look at Proverbs 3:19, shows that it also says, “By understanding he established the heavens.” Unless Jesus is also understanding the context does not support that Jesus is wisdom. Rather, wisdom is an attribute of God. Today’s reading also shows that this attribute of God not something that he created. Just as God’s other attributes are eternal, without a starting point, so is his wisdom. He refers to time before creation because we can’t really comprehend eternity past and that is the bes our language can describe eternity past.
            Matthew: Jesus’ deity and humanity are clearly seen in this passage. His deity is seen in the preparation of the Passover. Mark 14:13-15 contains more details. Jesus tells them to go into the city and look for a man carrying a water jar. They are to follow him and ask the master of the house where is the guest room where Jesus may eat the Passover. The man will show them a furnished room. He knew exactly how it would turn out. He also knew that Judas would betray him and he knew that his death was imminent as described in the broken bread. He knew that his blood would be the means of forgiveness for us as he gave thanks for it. He knew that he would rise and meet the disciples in Galilee. He also knew that all the disciples would flee and that Peter would deny him three times before morning.
            His humanity is seen in the garden when he expressed his emotions. Being sorrowful even to death is a very serious depression. That is not something coming out of his deity but his humanity. His desire to have his closest friends watch with him is a very human response.
            The disciples demonstrate their pre-Holy Spirit natures throughout this time as well. They are dumfounded at Jesus’ remarks about one of them betraying him. They seem to be clueless when he says it would be better for the betrayer to have not been born than to do what he is about to do. They think nothing of it when Judas leaves and doesn’t come back in time to go to the garden with them.
            In the garden, they fall asleep when Jesus specifically asks them to watch. How many parables and warnings did he give them about watching? They still fall asleep. Jesus’ statement to watch and pray is lost on them (Matt 26:41).
            It’s easy for us to look back on the disciples and see how oblivious they were, and not apply that to ourselves. We think that because we have the Holy Spirit living in us, we won’t fall into temptation. Yes, we do have the advantage of the Holy Spirit and we also have all of God’s Word written for us to study and guide us. So what do we do? We fall asleep while praying or reading the Bible. We often fall for temptations and sin. So we need to take this warning seriously.           


            I need to be more conscious of the temptations in life. Some of them are not to fall into blatant sin, but to be distracted from doing what is best by something that seems good but isn’t necessarily God’s will. Praying and watching are necessary to keep from temptation.

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