Reading #1 – Numbers 20
Reading #2 – Psalms 79
Reading #3 – Proverbs 19
Reading #4 – Matthew 15
Reading #5 – Revelations 2
Numbers 20 – The Waters of Meribah. It was at these waters that the people quarreled with Moses and Aaron because “there was no water to drink not even for the animals”. Moses was sent with one command, “speak to the rock” that is, “ask and it will be given” (Matthew 7:7). Unfortunately, we as humans are given to complaining and then blaming G_d for the lack of resources. Moses had led the people like a parent carrying their child into the new land. His failure to honor G_d by obedience disqualified him from stepping into the new land. Aaron died on mount Hor after being disrobed of his pontifical clothing and the mantle was passed onto his son Eleazar. Paul used the illustration of the “race” and encouraged the sinful church at Corinth to not disqualify themselves because of disobedience (1 Corinthians 9:24-27). In the heat of the moment, it is very easy to forget the commands of G_d and end up disqualifying ourselves from the gift of G_d. Edom, the inheritance given to Esau son of Isaac brother of Jacob refused Moses’ request to cross over their land. Jacob had been complicit in stealing Isaac’s blessing and then running for his life (Genesis 27). When Jacob came back from Padan Aram, he had the opportunity to make things right with Esau but didn’t (Genesis 33). This led up to the king of Edom denying passage even with Moses’ promise to pay for any water that was drunk by the nation.
Psalms 79 – Psalm of Asaph. This Psalm was written about the time of the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC. While prayer is beautiful and is heart-wrenching, there is an important part that is overlooked, and that is “what was our part in the destruction”? While the people of Judah didn’t have a hand in the physical destruction, they did play a part in the destruction by “self-destruction” and tearing the walls down from the inside. The Babylonians destroyed the physical walls and burned down the shell of the temple. In full view of this, why pray such a prayer? The answer is, our prayers start off looking at the problem and then at the solution. O LORD, how long will you be angry with us? Forever? How long will your jealousy burn like fire? Pour out your wrath on the nations that refuse to acknowledge you—on kingdoms that do not call upon your name. For they have devoured your people Israel, making the land a desolate wilderness. Do not hold us guilty for the sins of our ancestors! Let your compassion quickly meet our needs, for we are on the brink of despair (5-8).
Proverbs 19 – Wisdom’s Ways. Wisdom is a wonderful thing and an invaluable asset when we make room for it in our lives. Wealth also is a wonderful thing but it is temporary and can be taken away. The child of a wealthy parent may get the money from his parents but, wisdom is something that must be sought after. In the time of Daniel, Belshazzar was enjoying the fruit of his grandfather Nebuchadnezzar until the writing on the wall then, fear set in and then he asked for interpretation. In the end, Belshazzar and the nation of Babylon were destroyed by the Medes, and the Persians all of the wealth was given to the people who did not work for it. Get all the advice and instruction you can, so you will be wise the rest of your life (20).
Matthew 15 – Inner Purity. The Priests followed a prescribed method of washing their hands and there was nothing wrong with it. The problem was that the washing of hands was simply an “outward action for the world to see”. Inward purity, the part the world cannot see, is the actual key to walking in obedience to G_d. ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God (8-9 Isaiah 29:13).’ In the time of Moses, the command was given by the Lord concerning cleanliness (Leviticus 11-18, Numbers 5). While these practices staved off infection or disease, they would do nothing to stop the inward pollution. From our mouth, we speak what our heart is full of (Matthew 12:34, Proverbs 4:23, Proverbs 10:11). 7 “Anything you eat passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer. But the words you speak come from the heart—that’s what defiles you. For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander. These are what defile you. Eating with unwashed hands will never defile you (17-20).”
Revelations 2 – To the churches at Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, and Thyatira. In the closing years of the 1st century, the seven churches of Asia Minor that Peter and Paul had ministered to were in the crosshairs of Rome. The church at Ephesus had worked hard to root out issues that would cause problems in the church; yet, “I have this one thing against you (one thing to work on) “You don’t have the same level of love for me or each other as you used to do” (4). The church at Ephesus just like all of the other churches was under intense persecution so it was understandable from our viewpoint why “loving G_d and each other” became stretched to the point of breaking. This is the area that I will call “Elijah’s Waterloo” (1 Kings 19:18). The church at Smyrna had also endured great difficulties but had not bowed a knee nor caved in to the pressures. Pergamum and Thyatira had let a crack get into their foundation and it would be exploited when the church was not paying attention. “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. To everyone who is victorious, I will give some of the manna that has been hidden away in heaven. And I will give to each one a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one understands except the one who receives it (17).