Saturday, March 19, 2011

Smudges In Judges

Graphic from:
From Joshua to Judges, Israel changed its heart like Anakin Skywalker turned to Darth Vader.  Joshua was a book of victory and success (Joshua 1:8), Judges records the repeated moral failure of Israel and subsequent defeats.  Joshua was a book of faith where Israel proclaimed:  “The Lord our God we will serve, and his voice we will obey.”  Israel's heart turned from God when it was said of them: "Everyone did what was right in his own eyes" (Judges 21:25b). 

Spiritual Vision
Earthly emphasis
Fidelity to the Lord
Apostasy from the Lord
Sense of unity
Declension, anarchy
Sin judged
Sin lightly regarded
                  (From Merrill Unger’s The New Unger’s Bible Handbook, Moody Press, 1984, p. 129)

The 7th book of the Bible covers the period between Joshua and the Kings.

God would raise up Jedi-like Judges to deliver the people who continually fell into sin, fell into subjection to pagan nations, repented before God then delivered by a judge.

The Cycle In Judges:
1. Sin – idolatry, intermarriage
    · “so the children of Israel did evil in the eyes of the Lord”
     · “they forgot the Lord their God, and served the Baals and                 Asherahs” 
2. Subjection – God judges Israel’s sin by putting them under subjection to the people they were suppose to subdue
     · “the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and He sold them into the hand of __ for __ years” 
3. Supplication – realizing they need God’s help
     · “when the children of Israel cried out to the Lord”
4. Salvation – in response to Israel’s prayer, God sends a deliverer 

Judges In Rhyme:

Ch 1a     Judah and Simeon went to clear their Canaanite foes; when they caught King Adoni-Bezek they cut off his big thumbs and toes.
Ch 1b     When it came to driving out the enemies, they didn’t get the job done.  They didn’t trust in the power of God so they were on the run.
Ch 2a     God’s command to serve God alone should have been taken by Israel as vital, but after Joshua had died, they followed many a Canaanite idol.
Ch 2b     So Israel didn’t heed the Lord, in disobedience they would fail, they followed after pagan gods like Ashtoreth and Baal.
Ch 2c     The cycle of sin and servitude brought Israel into a downward spiral, but when repentant, God sent a judge to rescue them before it went viral.
Ch 3a     Following the gods of Mesopotamia brought slavery then repeal, upon their repentant heart, God send them first Othniel.
Ch 3b     Israel was overtaken by big King Eglon of Moab, when Ehud gave him a left-hand stab he got enveloped by flab.
Ch 3c     Then Israel was captured by Philistines who really hated God, God responded by sending Shamgar who will slay 600 with a cattle prod.
Ch 4a     Israel was captured by Sisera and his 900 iron chariots, Barak begged for Deborah to join him to take care of it.
Ch 4b     As Sisera faced defeat he went to Jael’s house to vent, when he rested she stabbed his temple with a peg of a tent.
Ch 5  God, as usual, would make things right after Israel would go wrong.  Deborah commemorated this event by writing God a song.
Ch 6a     Israel again did evil and fell to Midian, God would send a deliverer, a judge named Gideon.
Ch 6b     Gideon was conscientious and did not want to falter, in his dependence upon God He built the Lord an altar.
Ch 6c     When clearing out the Promised Land, no idol was to leave a trail, that’s why Gideon would tear down the altar built for Baal.
Ch 6d     Gideon would second-guess if God would use him to bring peace, so Gideon asked God for a sign twice by laying out the fleece.
Ch 7a     When God is fighting for you, you don’t need an army of large size, Gideon went from 32k to 10k then to 300 for a surprise.
Ch 7b     To select the top 300, who would Gideon tap?  When thirsty men reached water, Gideon took those who would lap.
Ch 7c     How could 300 men take on a larger army, one would have to figure?  Armed with trumpets, torches and pitchers, God made Israel seem bigger.
Ch 8a     Israel wanted Gideon to rule but he, and he made a golden ephod, but as usual Israel would fail and turned their back on God.
Ch 8b     Gideon died with a big family and at a ripe, old age.  But Israel would sin again and go right back in the cage.
Ch 9a     Abimilech wanted to be judge with no competition from others.  So he kills all 70 of his potentially competing brothers.
Ch 9b     In his desperation, his brothers he got rid, except for the youngest Dothan just because he hid.
Ch 9c     When attacking Thebez, to the tower the enemy fled, when Abimilech got there he got a millstone dropped on his head.
Ch 10     Tola served for 23 years keeping Israel fair.  Then the next 22 years Israel was judged by Jair.
Ch 11a   Jephthah’s illegitimate birth would, by his family, make him rejected.  But when Israel got in trouble again, Jephthah was selected.
Ch 11b   In dispute for Israel was the land of Gilead, he told the Ammonites for 300 years the land Israel has had.
Ch 11c   Jephthah made a foolish vow: first greeter would be sacrifice.  But it was Jephthah’s daughter who would end up to pay the price.
Ch 12a   Ephraim challenged Jephthah in a jealous battle of pride, Gilead defeated them and 42,000 died.
Ch 12b   When Ephraimites escaped, it would be to their detriment.  Israel asked them to say “Shibboleth” to see if they had a speech impediment.
Ch 12c   Then came the rule of Ibzan then followed by Elon.  Then a man with 40 sons ruled, his name was Abdon.
Ch 13     Manoah and wife were barren, but to their delight, God would give them a unique son, Samson the Nazirite.
Ch 14a   When it came to animals, Samson was quite strong.  But when it came to women, Samson got it wrong.
Ch 14b   At his wedding to the Philistine, he wasn’t serenaded by a fiddle, instead he challenged the Philistine guess to answer his fateful riddle.
Ch 15a   Samson wanted to be with his wife, her father put up a fight.  Samson responded by torching the Philistines by setting 300 foxes alight.
Ch 15b   Samson was arrested and got tied up in flax.  Then God empowered him to kill a thousand men using a jawbone for his whacks.
Ch 16a   While Samson was in Gaza, the people took no pity.  No problem, though, for Samson, he would go tear down the city.
Ch 16b   Delilah would entice him so his secret he would share, after fooling her twice about his strength, he told her it was his hair.
Ch 16c   Delilah sold him out and much to his surprise, the Philistines would catch him and then take out his eyes.
Ch 16d   Samson, in humiliation, was displayed just like a clown.  He asked the Lord for super strength and took the Phillies down.

Ch 17         Micah stole from his mother and saw his wealth increased, he was a major idolater with his own Levite priest.
Ch 18     Corruption ran deep in Israel as evidenced by Dan, they stole from Micah and trusted his idols so they can get their land.
Ch 19     A concubine was wooed by a priest, but was victimized in Gibeah then ended up 12 piece.
Ch 20     Israel wanted justice, but in Benjamin the criminals store, this would be a major conflict in Israel’s civil war.
Ch 21a   Benjamin lost 25,000 lives, Israel helped them by giving them wives.
21:25     Israel turned from God as they would idolize, that’s when everyone did what was right in their own eyes.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Joshua Jive - A Rhyming Survey

Was Joshua the first orphan of the Bible because he was the "Son of Nun"? We do know he was born a Hebrew slave in Egypt, belonged to the tribe of Ephraim, and served as a soldier and spy.  He was about 85 years old (according to tradition) when he replaced Moses and led Israel into the Promised Land between 1405 BC to 1385 BC.  The conquest took about 7 years and Joshua would serve the 12 tribes until his death at 110 years of age (Josh 24:29).

Joshua's name means "God is salvation" and is the basis for Jesus' name.  Like Jesus, Joshua defeated enemies and led the people to a place of promise (Josh 1:15); Joshua gave rest to his people (Heb 4:8) and dispersed God's inheritance (Eph 1:11).

Ch 1a    
With Moses dead there was leadership transition, Joshua was elevated to his position.

Ch 1b     Joshua was apprehensive, overwhelmed he just might fold, God promised him His presence so Joshua would be bold.
Ch 2 Joshua sent two men to Jericho, the land they were to spy. Rahab had protected them even though she had to lie.

Ch 3a From the wilderness, Israel shifted out of “Park,” when crossing across the Jordon Israel would follow the Ark.
Ch 3b Now to enter Canaan where the Promised Land God would deliver, Joshua led the millions miraculously across the River.

Ch 4       Joshua went to each of twelve tribes to ask them for one member, to each take a stone from the midst of the Jordan so Israel will remember.
Ch 5a     God’s covenant with Abraham would also be memorialized by asking the men to be circumcised.
Ch 5b     God’s Commander appeared to Joshua to tell him Israel won’t lose, because this Man was God Himself Joshua took off his shoes.
Ch 6       Jericho was an imposing city buttressed by a surrounding wall, Israel would march around for 7 days in order for the wall to fall.
Ch 7a     Not everything was as easy as pie, Israel lost some men in the defeat at Ai.
Ch 7b When avenging Ai, no accursed thing was to be taken, but someone didn’t listen and the Lord judged covetous Achan.
Ch 8       Joshua was instructed to hold his spear up high, this demonstrated that it was God that helped them defeat Ai.
Ch 9       The Gibeonites feared Israel so they approached them in disguise, to make a treaty of protection though it would be based on lies. 
But Israel forgot to ask of God His counsel as they should, so oath-bound Israel spared them and made them carriers of water and wood.
Ch 10a   Adoni-zedek, King of Jerusalem, asked for help in his strategy, they attacked the Gibeonites hoping Israel would flee.
Ch 10b   But Joshua rescued Gibeon when God would send down hail, thus the plot of Adoni-zedek would be described as “FAIL.”
Ch 10c   In defeating the Amorites God would exert His will, He showed Him He was sovereign by making the sun stand still.
Ch 10d   The Amorite kings were executed, all other enemies shut their mouth (v. 21), Joshua went to lead Israel to clear the rest of the South

Ch 11     Joshua led on Israel through Canaan they went forth, after clearing the middle and South, they would go conquer the North.
Ch 12     The list of kings defeated by Moses and Joshua in Canaan, was historicized in Scripture so Israel would remember God was faithful again.
Ch 13     More land was to be conquered and the Philistines defied, then tribal land was specified.
Ch 14     God took care of Joseph’s family, and with Hebron Caleb was blessed, now the land was free from war and Israel was at rest.
Ch 15-16    Judah received its portion in a manner just the same, then the time for land assignment went to Ephraim.
Ch 17-19    Land was given to Manasseh and the other tribes, that’s the contents of these chapters and what it describes.
Ch 20     If a murder happened suspicions might fall on a man without justice due, Cities of Refuge were established to protect one as they flew.
Ch 21     Taking care of priests was not something to deny, God would give some cities to the tribe of Levi.
Ch 22     An alternative place of worship built by Manessah brought loyalty divides, Phinehas was sent to make sure people won’t take sides.
Ch 23     Joshua, when dying, gave his final speech, be faithful to the Lord was what Joshua did beseech.
Ch 24     Israel made a covenant at Shechem that their families would follow God, Joshua died and with Joseph’s bones were buried in the sod.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Questions We Ask Following An Earthquake

Tsunami Wave Height From Sendai, Japan Through The Pacific Ocean
Following the 8.9 magnitude earthquake near Sendai, Japan, which moved the Honshu island 8 feet closer to the United States, shifting the earth's axis 4" and causing a tsunami affecting continents thousands of miles away, we are left in awe and with lots of questions.  When reading about the cataclysmic events in the Book of Revelation, I often wondered how it could happen.  Now with video feeds of tsunamis running 4 stories high and pushing homes, vehicles and debris 6 miles inland, the imagination is sadly sobered.

1.  Why Are There Earthquakes?

The geologist will tell you earthquakes happen because of shifting tectonic plates on the earth (if you get my "continental" drift).  The news media has done a superb job explaining the physics, history and effect of an earthquake.  But are there biblical or theological reasons for earthquakes?

There are around 20 references to earthquakes in the Scriptures:
  • At Mt. Sinai when God gave the Law to Moses (Ex 19:18; Ps 68:8) 
  • In the wilderness swallowing up Korah and his fellow rebels as punishment for defying Moses (Num 16:31-35) 
  • With the Philistines when Jonathan and his armor bearer fought them in faith (1 Sam 14:15) 
  • With Elijah when God was speaking to him in his depression (1 Kings 19:11) 
  • During King Uzziah’s reign (Amos 1:1) 
  • When Jesus died on the cross (Mt 27:51-54) 
  • When Jesus resurrected (Mt 28:2) 
  • At Philippi when Paul & Silas were delivered from jail (Acts 16:26) 
  • In connection with the “Day of the Lord” (Ezek 38:19; Zech 14:4-5) 
  • During the Tribulation period (Mt 24:7; Rev 6:12-24; 11:19; 16:18) 
  • Perhaps when Jesus returns (Hag 2:6-7)
Earthquakes were used to emphasize an "awe"some event (giving law, Jesus' death and resurrection) and were, at times, used in judgment (Korah, Tribulation).  But what biblical correlation can we ascribe to the recent earthquakes in China, Haiti and Japan?

Earthquakes and other natural calamities remind us that:

a.  The earth is cursed because of man's sin.  When Adam was cursed in Genesis 3:17, God tells him "cursed is the ground because of you."  The effect of man's sin affected creation.  Not only do we see the advent of thorns and thistles, but earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes and tornados.

b.  As the earth groans because of corruption and longs for redemption in Christ, so should mankind (Romans 8:20-25).  As the earth is unwillingly subjected to futility and corruption (phthora – universe is running down and enslaved in an unending cycle), so is man.  John Stott uses four words to describe the corruption:  "decline, decay, death and decomposition" (Romans).  As this describes the state of the earth and the reason for its groaning, it also describes man and the reason why we should have that same objective of looking to the freedom (v. 21), redemption (v. 23) and resurrection through Christ.

c.  There are powers greater than us - fear God. We may be able to measure earthquakes, but we can't yet predict them. And we will never be able to prevent them. The earth is too powerful for us. Only the Creator has power over this created force. Fear Him!
  • Psalm 77:16-18  When the waters saw you, O God, when the waters saw you, they were afraid; indeed, the deep trembled.  The clouds poured out water; the skies gave forth thunder; your arrows flashed on every side.  The crash of your thunder was in the whirlwind; your lightnings lighted up the world; the earth trembled and shook. 
  • Psalm 114:6-7  O mountains, that you skip like rams? O hills, like lambs? Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob.
2.  Why Do Natural Disasters Seem So Random?
  • With so much of life out of our control, we need to trust in God who is in control.
  • Ecclesiastes 9:11-12 Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge, but time and chance happen to them all. For man does not know his time. Like fish that are taken in an evil net, and like birds that are caught in a snare, so the children of man are snared at an evil time, when it suddenly falls upon them. 
Why Japan, why now?  Why New Orleans?  Why Indonesia?  Though God is sovereign, from man's perspective "time and chance happen to them all."  Whether you are swift like Lou Gehrig, strong like George Washington, wise like Solomon, or intelligent like Steve Jobs - we never know when we might be stricken with cancer, hit with a heart attack, totaled in a car accident or crushed by an earthquake.  The key is to trust God in what we can't control - ultimate matters of life, death and eternity.

3. Is God behind the earthquake?
  • God permits evil and its results to occur, but God never commits evil. 
  • Job 37:9-13  From its chamber comes the whirlwind, and cold from the scattering winds.  10 By the breath of God ice is given, and the broad waters are frozen fast.  11 He loads the thick cloud with moisture; the clouds scatter his lightning.  12 They turn around and around by his guidance, to accomplish all that he commands them on the face of the habitable world.  13 Whether for correction or for his land or for love, he causes it to happen.
Elihu's assessment of God's sovereignty and God's purpose (v. 13 correction, land, love) accentuates the truth that God is never out of control.  But the critic is quick to challenge that when it comes to natural disasters or evil, that either God is not loving enough to prevent them or not powerful enough.  We must be reminded that evil is the opposite of what is good and exists only because good exists - so there must be a standard of good.  It can be demonstrated that evil could only exist if God exists.  Without God, there is no ultimate objective moral standard.  Our "moral" decisions would only be a result of chemical reactions, electrical impulses in our synapsis or survival of the fittest.  But we know that evil is a natural result of freewill and that God will ultimately defeat evil (Col 2:13-15; Heb 2:14-15).  Sin and its effect is evil.  If that is true, then what could or who could overcome sin and death?  The God who became a man, died for us and resurrected unto life eternal.

4.  Does An Earthquake Mean God's Judgment?
  • Though God has used earthquakes in judgment, we cannot presume this is always the case.  But we are reminded that repentance protects us from ultimate death and judgment.
  • Luke 13:1-5  1 There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? 3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
There are a hand full of religious  pundits who say Indonesia, New Orleans and Haiti were recipients of natural calamities because of their rebellion before God.  How presumptuous and arrogant to make a statement like that!  Jesus tells us that Pilate's Galilean victims weren't necessarily worse than other Galileans (2) or that the 18 victims of the fallen tower of Siloam were any worse than others (4).  In fact, Job's 3 friends were rebuked for making a non-evidential judgment that Job was being punished for a grievous sin, when he was not.  Jesus clearly states that specific judgment was not involved in these 2 events (v. 5 "No, I tell you").  There is the random effect of man's fall that will effect mankind (cf. Eccl 9:11-12).  Jesus has a bigger solution knowing that we will all face death - naturally, unnaturally or supernaturally:  Repent or perish.

5. Does an increase of earthquake frequency and intensity mean that we are closer to the end times?

  • Statistics do not demonstrate a significant increase of earthquakes, but in the end times there will be. 
Though doomsday prophets say there is an increase of earthquakes, the scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey say "NO."  See  Are Earthquakes Really On The Increase? (USGS).  Long term records show a consistent pattern of 20,000 earthquakes (50/day), 17 major earthquakes (7.0 - 7.9) and one great earthquake (8.0 or above) a year.  The difference is that there are more seismic stations (350 in 1931; 8.000 today) that are recording so many that we don't normally feel and that satellite and video technology that records these events are also abundant.  

There is probably more evidence of moral decay that we are closer to the end times than there is in earthquake evidence.  Jesus states in Matthew 24:3-8 that there will be plenty of earthquakes when it is time.  We're better off letting the Scriptures speak and science speak than making opinionated estimations

6. How can I be safe from earthquakes, tsunamis and other disasters? 

  • Ultimate safety can’t be found in this world of sand, but in the bedrock of Jesus Christ.

  • Luke 6:46-49 46 “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? 47 Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: 48 he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. 49 But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”
The local news ran an earthquake preparation story that says that the Big One will come one day and we are in greatest danger if we don't prepare for it (e.g. earthquake kit, knowledge of how to turn off the gas, food supply, know the safest place to go).  Just as we are all appointed to die, then be judged, we are at the greatest danger if we don't prepare for death.  Make sure we are right with our Creator, dependent upon Christ's death on the cross and His resurrection for our salvation, having put our faith in Him.  Christ is the bedrock in our "faulty" (pun intended) world.  Don't be "All Shook Up" when it comes to your faith.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Do Deuteronomy - A Rhyming Survey

The fifth book of the Bible is first in impact on the rest of Scripture.  Louis Goldberg states: “Deuteronomy has a greater impact on the Old and New Testaments than any other book of the Bible."  (Deuteronomy, p. 9).  Eugene Merrill points out that it is "the heart of the Old Testament theological witness."  (Deuteronomy: New American Commentary).  The Hebrew title for this book is "these are the words."  But the name used in our English Bible comes from the meaning of "retelling the law."  Moses reemphasized the law to remind Israel of God's faithfulness and the need for them to be obedient to God's law as they prepare to enter the Promised Land.

Ch 1           As Israel finally neared the Promise Land entrance, they were reminded of their faithless obstinance.
Ch 2-3a      To calm Israel’s anticipatory fears, God’s faithfulness is recounted in the wilderness years.
Ch 3b         The Promised Land was determined by its border, Moses couldn’t enter because of divine order.
Ch 4           The temptation of idols in Canaan will expose many a flaw, thus Israel was warned to adhere to God’s law.
Ch 5           Reiteration of God’s Top 10 stressed the importance of commandments, God also highlighted the presentation with voice, fire, cloud and dark accompaniments.
Ch 6           The commandments were not given by a cruel despot from above, the law detailed an obedience to show the Lord our love.
Ch 7           When entering into Canaan, every idol’s to be destroyed, then upon obedience, God’s blessings would be deployed.
Ch 8           By remembering the past, you know that God is near.  So when you look forward to the future there is no need to fear.
Ch 9           Remembering the rebellion and why Moses prayed, only by God’s mercy was their punishment delayed.
Ch 10         Written on the tablets, what’s so important ‘bout rules?  Because failure to fear and follow God would make us look like fools.
Ch 11         Obedience or failure was Israel’s simple caution, results were either to enjoy God’s blessing or face the cursing option.
Ch 12         Worshipping God solely was prescribed as Israel’s way, they were to go and destroy every Canaanite idol tray.
Ch 13         There will come miracle working prophets who entice another path, follow only the Word of God and avoid God’s wrath.
Ch 14         What to eat, how to give, even instructions on mourning.  Everything is per God’s instruction – that is His loving warning.
Ch 15         Debts were forgiven on every seventh year, even go to help the poor and give servants a cheer.
Ch 16         Instruction on the Passover, Feast of Weeks and Tabernacles; then God gave the basis for justice and when to put people in shackles.
Ch 17         Justice involved recompense and a blood offering, the next part of the chapter gave the instructions for a king.
Ch 18         Priests and Levites would be meted out their portion, then there were rules to avoid magical distortion.
Ch 19         Innocent till proven guilty would protect a stooge, those involved in murder could wait in the Cities of Refuge.
Ch 20         God will fight our battles so fear nothing that is livin’, now fight for and possess what God has graciously given.
Ch 21         Rules were given to conduct a murder investigation and also for foreigner integration.
Ch 22         More laws were given for Israel’s security, and even more laws for sexual purity.
Ch 23         Rules also governed who would be in the congregation and for the army when warring against a nation.
Ch 24         In certain situations God would permit divorce, God also protected victims because He’s merciful, of course!
Ch 25         How to mediate conflicts and the penalty that crimes carry, also when a husband dies his brother the widow should marry.
Ch 26         When living in the Promised Land full of milk and honey, give God your firstfruits from your harvest and your money.
Ch 27a       Commandments were reprinted on large stones whitewashed with lime, they shall be preserved for generations all throughout their time.
Ch 27b       Before the tribes of Israel Moses gives us some more verses, these would all be negative because they contained His curses.
Ch 28         But only when you disobey would lives become big messes, as long as we would obey God your life is what He blesses.
Ch 29         A covenant for servants with the Big Boss you see, failure to heed it is considered apostasy.
Ch 30         Even if you fail, that doesn’t mean you’re going to burn, God opens His arms to the repentant whom to their God return.
Ch 31         Joshua gets appointed to be Israel’s new head, a replacement was now necessary because Moses will be dead.
Ch 32         Remembering that God was right and what Israel did wrong was the subject of the lyrics of Moses’ famous song.

Ch 33         Moses gave final blessings to each individual tribe, “God would be good to them” is what Moses did describe.
Ch 34         After Moses gave his final words up there on ol’ Mt. Nebo, Moses died and then was mourned by his appreciative people.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Numb & Numbers

Why would the 4th book of the Old Testament be called "Numbers?" Why not "Alphabet" or "Do-Re-Mi?" Even though the Hebrew title for this book means "in the wilderness," the ancient Greek version of the Old Testament called it "Numbers" (arithmoi) because of the counting of the people of Israel in two censuses.

The book title could have been shortened to "Numb" because Israel grew numb to God's provision (so much complaining!) and God's promise of their own fruitful land.  They were afraid of Giants in the land - and it was understandable - they just won the World Series!

Here's a rhyming survey:
  • Ch 1 As the population started to mount, a census was taken to take account. 
  • Ch 2 Real Estate is all about location, each of the tribes had their designated station. 
  • Ch 3-4 Less you think they’re out of sight, God has a place and role for each Levite
  • Ch 5 To keep things holy and not get wild, Israel was to send out anyone who was defiled.
  • Ch 6 The Nazarite vow made one very rare, no touching dead things, red wine or hair.
  • Ch 7 Each tribal leaders would give a gift to help the Levites with a lift.
  • Ch 8 Levites were purified to be spiritually nifty, they can serve in the Tabernacle from 25 to 50. 
  • Ch 9 The Passover reminded Israel God is on their side, then pillars of cloud and fire would guide. 
  • Ch 10 To alert Israel to gather, feast or warn, the alarm would be sounded by a silver horn. 
  • Ch 11a Mumbling started to grow , the food was just to plain, so they cried to Moses and started to complain. (1-10)
  • Ch 11b As the pressure mounted, Moses began to crack. Seventy elders were employed to get them off his back. (11-30) 
  • Ch 11c God was still very merciful and He showed He’d never fail, so God sent to the whining nation a whole lot of quail (31-35) 
  • Ch 12 Complaining is contagious, Miriam & Aaron now chimed in, God would judge Miriam with leprosy because of her bad sin. 
  • Ch 13 Twelve spies deployed to Canaan to give account about the land, 10 said it was horrible while 2 said it was grand
  • Ch 14a Though God would lead them to the Promised Land, Israel whined against God’s plan.
  • Ch 14b Joshua and Caleb knew God gave land to own, but the rebel crowd grew angry and responded to them with stone
  • Ch 14c Moses prayed to God for mercy to not kill of the flock, so God would thin out naturally through a 40 year wilderness walk.
  • Ch 15 God spared the people and reminded them about what to do, offerings, laws, and Sabbaths and where a tassel of blue. 
  • Ch 16 There arose Korah the rebel, he said Moses had too much on his table. Though privileged by birth, he was swallowed by earth. 250 other leaders were disabled. 
  • Ch 17 Each tribe was to bring up an almond rod, the one that would bud would get the nod.
  • Ch 18 The Levites were chosen to represent Israel, the nation was to take care of the priests without fail. 
  • Ch 19 A red heifer was offered as sacrifice to symbolize Jesus would pay the price.
  • Ch 20     Moses got frustrated and hit the rock, he told if he needed water just speak to the rock.  It was already tough his siblings had died, but now entrance to Canaan would now be denied.
  • Ch 21 Israel complained and got snaked alive, those who looked up to the snake pole would survive 
  • Ch 22 Balaam was hired to play Israel in the wrong key, but God would rebuke Him by speaking through a donkey
  • Ch 23-24 After four prophecies well rehearsed, Balaam knew Israel couldn’t be cursed 
  • Ch 25 Though Balaam couldn’t hit Israel with a curse, to get them to sin was actually worse. 
  • Ch 26 After years in the wild the with struggles that were tensest, it was time to count Israel again with another census. 
  • Ch 27a Moses was approached by the daughters of Zelophehad, they wanted the inheritance from their dad. 
  • Ch 27b Moses prayed to God as an intercessor, God appointed Joshua as Moses’ successor. 
  • Ch 28-29 God gave Israel offering instructions to be given in routine, Saturdays, Holy Days, Feasting Days and other times in between. 
  • Ch 30 God takes vows seriously unless the authority overrules, this way passionate youths won’t impulsively look like fools. 
  • Ch 31 Israel had victory in Midian and took their stuff as booty, then divided it up as their God instructed duty. 
  • Ch 32 There was a lack of appreciation for land granted to Reuben and Gad, God got angry at them for not trusting God with what they had. 
  • Ch 33 A record of the wilderness walk was marked from place to place, now as Israel would enter Canaan they were reminded of God’s grace. 
  • Ch 34 God mapped out the Canaan border, so the nation would settle in order. 
  • Ch 35 In God’s mercy so sin would deluge, God established Cities of Refuge. 
  • Ch 36 Manasseh asked for a ruling on female inheritance, Moses approved that daughters can be in the will from their loving parents.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Living La Vida Leviticus (in rhyme)

The 3rd book of Moses is titled after that which pertains to the Levite tribe (sons of Levi - it's in the genes - Levi genes).

Bill T. Arnold & Bryan E. Beyer: “Leviticus is one of the most neglected books of the Bible. This is true for two main reasons. First, the book seems quite strange to modern readers. The sacrificial worship it describes is so far removed from today’s believers that its very unfamiliarity prevents some from reading Leviticus. Second, Leviticus appears at first glance to interrupt the flow of events in the story of God’s people" …  “Yet Leviticus plays an essential role in God’s word and makes a vital contribution to our understanding of God’s relationship with humankind.” (Encountering The Old Testament, Baker Books, 1999, p. 118)

I told myself I wouldn't rhyme Leviticus, after surveying Genesis & Exodus in poem.  But I couldn't help myself (even after I taught the Leviticus class last week without it).

Ch 1-7        Before a holy God men falter, so 5 types of offerings went to the alter.
Ch 8-10      Priestly duties the Levite tribe would share in, the special duties went to the family of Aaron
Ch 10a       Nadab & Abihu bent priestly rules with coals from a strange fire, the consequences for Aaron’s sons were extremely dire.
Ch 11         Being ceremonially pure included what you eat, no pork, no reptiles or animals with uncloven feet.
Ch 12-15    Other laws for purity dealt with birth and leprosy, to be clean before you serve God takes seriously.
Ch 16         Once a year Yom Kippor is of note,
                   The High Priest goes to the Ark pure from head to coat,
                   Two goats are subject to a casting lot vote,
                   One animal’s sacrificed, the other a scapegoat.
Ch 17-20    Various laws of holiness govern how we relate, by this holiness is defined because God says separate
Ch 21-22    Priests had certain rules on what they must abstain, don’t touch the dead, bad girls, or shave and don’t be in open pain.
Ch 23         Israel remembers God through numerous a feast, Passover, Pentecost and Bread without yeast.
Ch 24         A man from Dan with got heated and cursed out with God’s name, Blasphemy & murder are punished by death, God isn’t playing a game.
Ch 25         What God prescribed was agriculturally best, after farming six years give the land a year rest.
Ch 26         God would bless you if He found that you were obedient, To rebel against His holiness wouldn’t be expedient.
Ch 27         You better think through and carry out whatever you may vow, God takes it seriously and to flake you’ll get a “Pow!”

The Tabernacle: Worship Matters

When growing up, we would spend dinner as a family watching "M.A.S.H." which stood for Mobile Army Surgical Hospital.  Because Israel was wandering in the wilderness, God instructed them to build a Mobile Worship Center.  Exodus 25-31, 35-40 might read like a Real Estate Appraisal Report and could possibly be boring unless we understand how each part of the Tabernacle is a type and symbol of the Lord Jesus Christ and His saving work.
Wilmington Guide To The Bible

Jesus Christ in John’s Gospel and Hebrews symbolized in Exodus:
1. The Door/Gate
2. The Sacrificial Lamb
3. The Water Of Life
4. The Bread Of Life
5. The Light Of The World
6. The Interceding High Priest
7. Our Access To God

 I. M. Haldeman writes:  “… no matter whether you take up the Framework, the Coverings, the Curtains, or the Hangings; whether you consider the Priesthood, the Priestly Robes, or the successive Offerings, you will find the Person, the Work and the Glory of Christ confronting you at every turn and the fullness of these facts inwrought, more or less, with every type of symbol.”  (The Tabernacle, Priesthood and Offerings, Fleming H. Revell Co., 1925, p.3)

The Tabernacle was in the center of the camp for Israel with 3 tribes positioned on each of the 4 sides of the 150' x 75' rectangle surrounded by a linen fence 7½’ high held up by 60 pillars of acacia wood covered with bronze.  The priests were hard at work performing sacrifices for around 500,000 families (population 2.5 - 3 million).

The Outer Court

1.  The Single Gate was 30' wide.  There was a single access point.  Christ is the sole access to God.  (Jn 14:6; Jn 10:1-2)

2.  The Altar For Burnt Offerings (Ex 27:1-8) was 7.5' x 7.5' and 4.5' high.  "Altar" means "high place" giving us a picture of Christ being "lifted up" on the cross (Jn 3:14) when the animal without blemish was lifted to the high place to be sacrificed, have its blood sprinkled and to be consumed by fire.

Leviticus 17:11  For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life.  (cf. Heb 9:22)

3.  The Bronze Laver
(Ex 30:17-21) was a bronze basin with water where the priests would wash their hands and feet before the spiritual service.  The bronze, donated from the women's mirrors brought from Egypt, represented self-reflection.  The water brought cleansing.  Christ is the Living Water through whom we are washed from our sins.  The one time a year the High Priest would wash fully was on the Day of Atonement, otherwise the basin just washed hands and feet.

When Jesus washed the disciples' feet (Jn 13:1-10), Peter wanted a full bath.  Jesus stated that Peter is already cleaned (saved) and only needed his feet washed for service.  Christ cleansed us fully with our salvation.  We wash our hands and feet in being sanctified to serve Him.
The Holy Place

Worship in the Holy Place (30' x 15') was where the priests did the work before God on behalf of man (cf. Heb 10:19-22; 1 Pet 2:9).

1.  The Golden Lampstand (Ex 25:31-40; 37:17-24; 39:37) was the only source of light in the Tabernacle - Jesus is the only Light of hope for men (Jn 1:4-9; 8:12; 14:26).  Hammered out of solid gold, the lampstand symbolizes the Kingship of Christ (gold) and His suffering (beaten - Isa 53).

2. The Table Of Showbread (Ex 25:23-30; Lev 24:5-9) was made of acacia (hard, incorruptible wood grown in Sinai desert overlaid with gold (gold & wood picture the 2 natures of Christ). Six pounds of flour was used to make 12 loaves of unleavened bread, each representing the 12 tribes of Israel. The lack of leaven (yeast represented sin in Ex 12:8, 15-20; Mt 16:6) represented the sinlessness of Christ (2 Cor 5:21; 1 Pet 1:19). The bread is symbolic of Jesus being the Bread of Life (John 6)

C. The Altar Of Incense (Ex 30:1-10; 34-38) was 36” high, 18” square and made of acacia wood and covered with gold.  It was placed before the veil (Ex 30:6) where God’s presence was in the Holy of Holies.  The Priest took a censer filled with burning coals from brazen altar and prepared the sweet incense in the other hand by sprinkling it over the coals (Lev 16:12-13).  God loves the sweet savor of worship like I love the sweet aroma of barbecue.  We are to be a sweet savor of worship even through our witness (2 Cor 2;14-16).

Prayer was offered at the altar of incense by the purified priest (Heb 10:22) for the people.  Psalm 141:2 "Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice! "  The Altar of Incense is a picture of Christ as the ultimate intercessor (Heb 7:25 "he always lives to make intercession").

The Holy Of Holies

1.  The Veil (Ex 26:31-35; 36:35-38) literally means "separate" (Heb. paroketh).  It separated God from His creatures.  It was 30' (7.5' high) of fine-twined linen in blue, purple, scarlet (Ex 38:18).  During Christ's crucifixion, the curtain of the Temple was torn miraculously (Mt 27:51)

2. The Ark Of The Covenant (Ex 25:10-22; 37:1-9) was only seen by 2 people: Moses (Ex 25:22) who could approach God anytime, and the High Priest (Lev 16) who came once a year on Yom Kippor (Day of Atonement). The Ark contained 3 Items:
  • Manna (cf. Ex 16:33) – Christ is the Bread of Life (Jn 6:35ff) 
  •  Aaron’s staff that budded (Num 17:11) – Aaron’s priesthood was confirmed with this rod – Christ is the ultimate Priest.  The Rod blossomed with almonds picturing the resurrection of Christ.
  • Tablets of the Law (Dt 10:5) – Christ fulfills the Law (Mt 5:17)
3.  The Mercy Seat (Ex 25:17-22; 37:6-9) was constructed with gold cherubim angels on top.  During the annual Day of Atonement, the priest would give an offering and purify himself.  Then sprinkle the blood of the sacrificial goat before the mercy seat.  The word for "mercy seat" in Heb 9:5 is also used to describe "propitiation" which is the satisfaction God has when He accepts the sacrifice of Christ for our sins.

Don't let reading through Exodus be as boring as reading an appraisal report or real estate portfolio.  It is exciting to see Christ and our salvation in the Tabernacle.  After all, Christ is the Tabernacle.

Revelation 21:3  "And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God."