Reading #1 – Numbers 8
Reading #2 – Psalms 68
Reading #3 – Proverbs 6
Reading #4 – Matthew 3
Reading #5 – 2 Peter 2
Numbers 8 – Preparing for Service. The Levites were considered the “substitution” for the firstborn of the nation like being put in military service, the people were put in the service of the Lord G_d. In the time of Samuel, his parents dedicated him to the Lord in thanksgiving for the privilege of giving birth to a child in their old age (1 Samuel 1:21-28). 6 “Of all the people of Israel, the Levites are reserved for me. I have claimed them for myself in place of all the firstborn sons of the Israelites; I have taken the Levites as their substitutes. 17 For all the firstborn males among the people of Israel are mine, both of people and of animals. I set them apart for myself on the day I struck down all the firstborn sons of the Egyptians. 18 Yes, I have claimed the Levites in place of all the firstborn sons of Israel. 19 And of all the Israelites, I have assigned the Levites to Aaron and his sons. They will serve in the Tabernacle on behalf of the Israelites and make sacrifices to purify the people so no plague will strike them when they approach the sanctuary (16-19).
Psalms 68 – The Mighty Procession. Zondervan’s commentary says, “This is one of the most difficult psalms in the Psalter both to translate and to interpret.” When I first read this Psalm, I would have completely agreed with it. Yet, after reading the Bible all of the past 15 years, I think the Psalm is a “Patchwork quilt” because it brings in pictures from Israel’s past up to the time of David. I think I am going to save this for a later writing as I feel that G_d has a powerful message for his people and for the world at large. But let the godly rejoice. Let them be glad in God’s presence. Let them be filled with joy. Sing praises to God and to his name! Sing loud praises to him who rides the clouds. His name is the LORD— rejoice in his presence (3-4).
Proverbs 6 – Lessons of Daily Life. How we live our life is as important as what we put into it. Abraham Lincoln once said in a speech to the Young Man’s Lyceum “ If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide (January 27th 1838.” The writer of Proverbs 8, Solomon, was speaking to a child about the values of life as well as the pitfalls. My child, if you have put up security for a friend’s debt or agreed to guarantee the debt of a stranger— if you have trapped yourself by your agreement and are caught by what you said—follow my advice and save yourself, for you have placed yourself at your friend’s mercy. Now swallow your pride;go and beg to have your name erased (1-3). What Solomon said in this chapter were not “mere words” because, he learned from his father David about the things that cause men problems. These values will be a guard even to this day. Societal norms and values will always change and a set of values in one time period are not always the same in the next.
Matthew 3 – John Prepares the Way. John was the prophesied Elijah (Matthew 11:14). His message was, “He is a voice shouting in the wilderness,‘Prepare the way for the LORD’s coming!
Clear the road for him (3:3)!” When the King was coming, messengers would go ahead of him to open a road for him to travel on. The spiritual road is our heart and this message calls people to repentance. If a person is not a citizen of a local community, the norms of that community have no affect on him or her. The citizens of the kingdom know who their King is and bow down before Him. The people of the 1st century knew that a man called the Messiah of G_d was coming but had no idea who he was just that he would be called “A Nazarene”. 1 “I baptize with water those who repent of their sins and turn to God. But someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not worthy even to be his slave and carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 12 He is ready to separate the chaff from the wheat with his winnowing fork. Then he will clean up the threshing area, gathering the wheat into his barn but burning the chaff with never-ending fire (11-12)!” When Jesus came to be baptized, one would have thought “this king could do what ever he wanted to do” yet, he said “it should be done, for we must carry out all that G_d requires (15). As children of the Living G_d we too must carry out all that he requires.
2 Peter 2 – Dangers of False Teachers. But there were also false prophets in Israel, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will cleverly teach destructive heresies and even deny the Master who bought them. In this way, they will bring sudden destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their evil teaching and shameful immorality. And because of these teachers, the way of truth will be slandered. 3 In their greed they will make up clever lies to get hold of your money. But God condemned them long ago, and their destruction will not be delayed (1-3). As Paul put it, “a little leaven leavens the whole lump (Galatians 5:9). False teaching spreads quickly and people glom onto it because, “it sounds about right”. People in the first century didn’t have a composite Bible in their homes in fact, many could not read. Today, we have access to every know translation of scripture and many thousands of commentary ducuments at our disposal. Yet, we will rely on what one person says without one time seeking the Word of the Lord. The movie Elmer Gantry speaks to what happens when a con man sells Christianity and the problems that occur; I will address this in a later writing.