Reading #1 – Numbers 17
Reading #2 – Psalms 77
Reading #3 – Proverbs 16
Reading #4 – Matthew 12
Reading #5 – 3 John
Numbers 17 – The Budding of Aaron’s Staff. Leadership in the Kingdom of G_d is assigned not assumed. After the death of Korah and his colleagues, G_d put an end to the grumbling about “who was in charge and who put them in charge”. Place these staffs in the Tabernacle in front of the Ark containing the tablets of the Covenant, where I meet with you. Buds will sprout on the staff belonging to the man I choose. Then I will finally put an end to the people’s murmuring and complaining against you (4-5). Placing the staff in front of the ark was a reminder to everybody, including the priests. No one was allowed access to the ark accept the High priest (Leviticus 16:2-34). So the people saw the staff once and then saw the personage of it in the High Priest and Moses. In the same way, when a parent tires of children arguing about “who’s in charge” the parent will pull the kids together and point out “this one is in charge”. Unfortunately, the miracle which was meant to convince and quiet the grumbling turned to fear about the pending destruction. Zondervan’s Commentary points out a crucial part of the problem: These are the last wailings of the great storm which had raged against Moses and Aaron, which had roared so angrily at its height, which was now sobbing itself out in the petulant despair of defeated and disheartened men, cowed indeed, but not convinced, fearful to offend, yet not loving to obey (12).’
Psalms 77 – A Prayer of Reminder. In our greatest moments of fear, doubt, and/or despair, we have a place that we can go to for encouragement. President Truman referred to this place as his “Fox hole” which is a small hole dug in the ground to protect the soldier from bullets. Coming to G_d or to the place where he dwells does not make the storms stop nor does it sweep you away; rather, He reminds us who is in charge like the budding of Aaron’s staff (Numbers 17). It was the events of the past that are recorded in the law, the songs, prayers of the past that encouraged Jeduthan. And I said, “This is my fate; the Most High has turned his hand against me.” But then I recall all you have done, O LORD; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago. They are constantly in my thoughts. I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works (10-12).
Proverbs 16 – The Pathways We Journey. We can make plans for our life as it gives us direction and helps us to align our choices so that we can accomplish them. Part of our planning needs to include G_d’s counsel. Amplified Bible Study Notes says, “roll your plans onto the Lord” or as Peter put it, “Cast your anxieties onto the Lord” (1 Peter 5:7). When we do not seek G_d’s counsel, as David found out, problems ensue because we see our goals in light of our “wants”. After David held the unauthorized census, the nation was decimated (2 Samuel 24). As humans, we are not prone to seek counsel because of a fear that we’ll be told “don’t do it” or, “only a fool would do ____”. The purpose of wisdom is that our eyes would be open to the pitfalls that await us if we are not careful. Unfailing love and faithfulness make atonement for sin. By fearing the LORD, people avoid evil (6). The word “fear” as it is used in this context is not “afraid” it is “respect”. The two great commands: Love the Lord thy G_d with all of your heart, mind, soul, and body” and “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:36-40) are brought into picture because, it is from these two “great commands”, that we will formulate our plans.
Matthew 12 – Jesus’ Actions in the Light of Proverbs. Whatever Jesus did or said was always in line with Torah (Law), Nevi’im, and Ketuvim. The reason for this is because any actions outside of what was already written would be seen as “heresy” and it could be proved. When Jesus healed the man with the shriveled up hand on the sabbath day, Jesus proposed the question, “is it lawful to heal on Sabbath” of course, he knew the answer. The Sanhedrin had taught that it was unlawful to heal on the “day of rest” so the ill and demon-possessed had to come back another day; which, is probably why the man sat so long at the healing pool (John 5:1-15). And he answered, “If you had a sheep that fell into a well on the Sabbath, wouldn’t you work to pull it out? Of course, you would. 12 And how much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Yes, the law permits a person to do good on the Sabbath.” Then he said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was restored, just like the other one 11-13)! Jesus was the proverbial “firestick” that light fires which the religious leaders had to keep stomping out and each fire became bigger than the last one so this “firestick” had to go (14). Then the Pharisees called a meeting to plot how to kill Jesus (11-14). Jesus never changed direction to please people because he knew who his Commander was/is. Ironically, the people the Sanhedrin feared, the Romans, were won over to Jesus by his actions and commitment (Proverbs 16:7).
3 John 1 – The Elder. Greetings and Caring for Others. This letter from John the Elder to Gais an elder within the church at Ephesus addresses the issues with Diotrephes who was spreading the wrong message. Gais is encouraged to follow the right path as he had been doing for quite some time (5-8). Dear friend, don’t let this bad example influence you. Follow only what is good. Remember that those who do good prove that they are God’s children, and those who do evil prove that they do not know God (11). Living a Christian life does not make us immune to the effects of the world nor does it stop us from becoming discouraged