Re:Verse reading–Romans 3:21-31 (day three)
“We uphold the law.” The law of God sums up, in terms human minds can understand, the way the universe actually works, physically and spiritually. The universe still works in the same way, and the law is still God’s word about those workings, Paul says. It has not stopped being true. It enabled the formation of a people–the nation of Israel–but the law was never going to be scalable to the kind of future God designed for the human race. Through Christ, who came from that nation, God subjected himself to his own law–and lived where all others would have died. God spoke to Israel through his law, and it is the truth. God has now spoken to Israel and to the whole world through Jesus Christ, and he is the truth. Hear him. Believe him.
Re: Verse reading–Exodus 20:13-17; Leviticus 19:16-18; Zechariah 7:8-10; Matthew 5:13-16 (day four)
From the very beginning of the nation, God had given instructions to Israel on how to treat their neighbors. They were not to covet any of their possessions, they were not to take advantage of their weaknesses, and they were not to share in their sin. For generations, Israel did not obey God. They had not loved their fellow countryman and had taken every advantage of their neighbors for greed and self-gain. At the time of Zechariah, God was pronouncing judgment on His people. His command to “Dispense true justice and practice kindness and compassion each to his brother; and do not oppress the widow or the orphan, the stranger or the poor; and do not devise evil in your hearts against one another “…had gone unheeded. Their hearts were like flint and they would not hear the law. We often believe we can ‘get away with disobedience’. We ignore God’s commands or seek to reinterpret His truth to suit our needs. There will be a day of judgment though for certain. Ask God to search your heart and restore your relationship with Him.
Re: Verse reading–Ephesians 5:21-33 (day three)
“‘…And the two will become one flesh.’ This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.”
Man and woman marry, and the children born to that union are one flesh from the two. This is how the human race goes on. And God participated in that fleshly union when he joined himself to human flesh in the womb of Mary. Without human marriage creating and perpetuating the nation of Israel, Christ would have not entered human history—and without Christ, there would be no church. Therefore, even our salvation was made possible by flesh (Christ’s flesh) that came from the long history of the union of man and woman. When we use sexuality rightly—through the union of man and woman or through celibacy—we declare with God that his creation is good.
Re: Verse reading–Exodus 39:32, 42-43; 40:1-2, 16-17, 32-38 (day two)
And when the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys: But if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the Lord was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys. (Exodus 40:36-38 KJV)
When the Lord was calling me to full-time ministry this part of the Exodds story spoke the most to me. Whatever the season of life, career, family you may be in when the Lord moves, it’s time to go. What gave me the most peace about this is that the Israelites may come to a wonderful oasis on their journey where they felt they could stay indefinitely, but when the cloud moved they knew it was time. It is rarely about our comfort or convenience, but always about his plan. I didn’t have a cloud to see, but I relied on the Holy Spirit to guide me, the Word to instruct me, and the assurance that God heard my prayers for guidance. Wherever he leads, I’ll go.
Re: Verse reading–Exodus 39:32, 42-43; 40:1-2, 16-17, 32-38 (day one)
“So the cloud of the Lord was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel during all their travels.”–40:38.
At the end of the day, it is our only advantage, the only thing that distinguishes Christians from other people. The Lord is with us! Not because we are good. The golden calf settled that. Not because we are strong. Years of slavery gave them (us) nothing to offer. Rather, because He called us to Himself in covenant, because He has given us His name. Not fail safe! Not something that anyone should take for granted! Years later God would remove His glorious presence from the temple and nation. Even now, there are “Christians” who by grieving and quenching the Holy Spirit, live without any evidence of His nearness. Protection. . . Identity. . . Guidance. . . All these are ours when God is with us.
Re: Verse reading–Exodus 35:4-10; 20-35; 36:2-7 (day four)
Who would have ever known that the atonement of man would look like gold, silver, bronze, fine linen, and acacia wood? When God plundered the Egyptians as the Israelites left Egypt, gave Moses very detailed design instructions, and placed understanding, knowledge and craftsmanship in Bezalel and Oholiab…He had a specific plan for worship. The Tabernacle was to be the place of worship for Israel, but more importantly, it was a picture of Christ and His work of atonement. It was to be an exact picture…a shadow…of the true Tabernacle in heaven. To give an inaccurate picture of God’s plan for redemption was not an option. God rightly demanded an exact representation so that mankind would know the singular plan for redemption. God’s instructions are for a purpose…when He gives us directions in Scripture it is for a purpose. Our obedience is required to give an exact picture of the reality of heaven. Christianity is not just a list of rules…it is a relationship. We are to be a picture of our Creator God and His Kingdom work!
Re: Verse reading–Exodus 35:4-10; 20-35; 36:2-7 (day one)
“The people are bringing MORE THAN ENOUGH for doing the work the Lord has commanded. . .and so they were restrained from bringing more.”–36:5-6. Followers of Christ are often marked by extravagance, a reckless generosity that answers need with enthusiasm and call with over-the-top willingness. Real faith is not stingy. Our gospel is generous. Many examples of it in Scripture. Mary in John 12. She POURS perfume on Christ and is criticized for being extravagant. By everyone but Christ. He knew. True love doesn’t pinch pennies. Another example is the people of Israel in the collection for the tabernacle. They overgive! (is that a word? If it isn’t, it should be). They respond with such generosity that they have to be restrained. Hmmmm. . . too many teachers for Bible study, too many dollars for the projects we feel led to accomplish, too many ideas/ volunteers for reaching people. True mark of faith, ours is a generous gospel.
Re: Verse reading–Exodus 32:1-19, 30-33; 33:12-17; 34:1-7 (day four) They were an obstinate people. No sooner had they pledged their obedience to God, than they turned to idolatry and sin. Moses was careful to protect God’s reputation. He pleaded with God to forgive them and to hold His anger against them. Holding the tablets with God’s own handwriting on them, Moses was convincing to God not to be angry with the Israelites. God relented of his anger. Then Moses turned to go down to the people. In his hands were still the tablets with God’s writing engraved on them. When Moses came into the camp and saw what was going on, his anger burned. He threw the stone tablets down and shattered them. Had God made the offer again to destroy the people at that time, Moses might have taken Him up on the offer. By the next day though, Moses returned to his position of intercession. Moses was true to his call…God tasked him with leading Israel to the Promised Land and he was faithful to his responsibility. Moses held fast to God’s Word.
Re: Verse reading–Exodus 32:1-19, 30-33; 33:12-17; 34:1-7 (day three)
“His anger burned…” Moses saw the Israelites living the life they had learned over the last four centuries in Egypt: If your God is bigger than your own desires, your God is too big. Moses knew that to give up on God is to give up on reality, and death follows soon thereafter. Egypt itself was already dead; God had shattered that culture and taken the children of Israel out into the wilderness to rebuild a new culture powered by a new worldview—one based in reality, not in false perceptions of the universe. Now, the children of Israel had returned to a dead culture in all but geography. Moses’s anger called them back. They listened, and they returned. Are there Christian mentors or elders or leaders in your life tablet-smashingly troubled over your spiritual direction? Are you listening?
Re: Verse reading–Exodus 25:1-11, 17-18, 23-24, 31-32; 26:1-2, 7-8; 27:1-2; 29:43-46 (day seven)
“And let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell with them.” (v 8)
Does God have an address? A place where we can always find Him? At some level, the answer is, “no”. In 2 Chronicles 6:18, Solomon prays, “Will God indeed dwell with mankind on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain Thee; how much less this house which I have built?” At another level, however, God does dwell, stay, (can always be found) in the places He has promised to do so. He dwelt in the tabernacle. He met with Israel there. Christ, in similar fashion, promised to meet us in the gathered fellowship of His family. “Where two or three are gathered together in My Name, I will be in the midst.” (Matthew 28:20) God’s house, God’s address is His people when we gather in cooperation with His purposes. He lives there. It is where we will find Him.