Reading #1 – Numbers 19
Reading #2 – Psalms 79
Reading #3 – Proverbs 18
Reading #4 – Matthew 14
Reading #5 – Revelations 1
Numbers 19 – Water of Purification. The mixture of ashes and water, according to commentary, was not “magic” and there was no power in the water itself; the power was “obedience” or an outward sign derived from inward obedience. In the closing days of Jesus’ life, he washed the feet of his disciples. The water he used was nothing special just water from the well just like the “water of purification”. Obedience coupled with faithfulness purified or covered the filth. The purifying water was practical in that it cleansed away the germs that would cause infection. In the journey, illness would spread like a plague from one tent to another in rapid succession. For this reason, touching off a deadman would make the person unclean and if they refused the water, that person would have been removed from the camp (20).
Psalms 79 – Psalm of Asaph. This Psalm is likened to looking backward at our life. Israel had sinned repeatedly despite all warnings. While Babylon destroyed the outward shell, the inward or core had been in a process of destruction for over 500 years. The writer laments the destruction of the “Temple” the place in which Solomon finished what David had started (2 Chronicles 6 and 7). O God, pagan nations have conquered your land, your special possession. They have defiled your holy Temple and made Jerusalem a heap of ruins (1). In our churches, when the relationship with the G_d of the universe is severed because of sin, our practices become simple acts of “show and tell”. So when a storm comes through and destroys the building, the parishioners cry “Oh G_d your temple is destroyed” and forget that the building had long ago been destroyed by the mouse called “sin”. In the end, the invading armies were invaded when the nation became complacent. For Israel/Judah, G_d helped them to pick up the pieces of their fragmented life.
Proverbs 18 – The Quality of Life and Choices. What we do in life, that is our choices, will either bring us condemnation or acclamation. The choices we make will be accurately reflected by the outcome. What we say or commit ourselves to is also a source of trouble. The mouths of fools are their ruin; they trap themselves with their lips (7). We do have a strong foundation that we can go to in times of trouble. The name of the LORD is a strong fortress; the godly run to him and are safe (10).
Matthew 14 – The Death of John the Baptist. It is a funny thing about what we say because our words are either like “stink weed” or “sweet perfume” depending on the listener. For Herod had arrested and imprisoned John as a favor to his wife Herodias (the former wife of Herod’s brother Philip). 4 John had been telling Herod, “It is against God’s law for you to marry her.” 5 Herod wanted to kill John, but he was afraid of a riot because all the people believed John was a prophet (3-5). Jesus did not talk to Herod, nor did he have any interaction with him yet, “this John the Baptist” rang in his ears like fingers on the back of a chalkboard at close distance. Herod had put to death a man whose only crime was warning Herod about his illicit marriage.
Revelations 1 – The Prologue and Greetings to the Seven Churches. The book of Revelations, depending on the source, was written around AD 69 or AD90. The warnings to the seven churches of Asia Minor or “Turkey” were to warn and prepare the church. John was put on Patmos as a punishment for preaching in the name of Jesus. The name of Jesus like the name of John was like fingers nails to the back of a chalkboard in the ears of the government of the time. Today, the church faces the same judgment as to the seven churches of the 1st century. When we preach in the name of Jesus, it reminds the world that there is still a plum-line by which we will be judged. When I turned to see who was speaking to me, I saw seven gold lampstands. 13 And standing in the middle of the lampstands was someone like the Son of Man. He was wearing a long robe with a gold sash across his chest. 14 His head and his hair were white like wool, as white as snow. And his eyes were like flames of fire. 15 His feet were like polished bronze refined in a furnace, and his voice thundered like mighty ocean waves. 16 He held seven stars in his right hand, and a sharp two-edged sword came from his mouth. And his face was like the sun in all its brilliance (12-16).