Reading #1 – Deuteronomy 16
Reading #2 – Psalms 111
Reading #3 – Proverbs 3
Reading #4 – Luke 3
Reading #5 – 1 Samuel 13
Deuteronomy 16 – Passover and Festivals. The Passover celebration commemorates the nation’s release from slavery. The people ate their meal in a hurry to be ready to leave when the signal was given. The celebration was carried out even today. The purpose of it was so that the people would never forget their origins. “You may not sacrifice the Passover in just any of the towns that the LORD your God is giving you. You must offer it only at the designated place of worship—the place the LORD your God chooses for his name to be honored. Sacrifice it there in the evening as the sun goes down on the anniversary of your exodus from Egypt (5-6). Passover, like all of the celebrations, was organized, methodical, and steeped in tradition. The reason for “tradition” was so that the people would not forget who it was that got them out of slavery. It is the same for our daily tradition of Bible reading, praying, and seeking the face of G_d for our day. When stop doing that or become slack in our ways, we forget why we did it and then piece by piece our lives are dismantled, and a pseudo-religion is put in place. The festivals were away showing what G_d had done in the people’s lives and to give evidence of his provision.
1 Samuel 13 – Continued War With Philistia. Johnathan and small contingent won a minor skirmish which caused a bigger issue. The battle plan was poorly put together and so the men were afraid. Saul, the king, should have led the people in the fear of the Lord but. He didn’t and so the men started to run away from the battle. The funny part is that the Hebrews only sought G_d when the war was against them. Honoring G_d implies, “I will follow all of the regulations so that I can show by my actions who I trust.” When we refuse to honor G_d, he will appoint someone else to replace us. “How foolish!” Samuel exclaimed. “You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you. Had you kept it, the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom must end, for the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart. The LORD has already appointed him to be the leader of his people because you have not kept the LORD’s command (13-14).” These words were spoken long before David entered Saul’s camp and defeated the giant foe, Goliath. The implication was that Saul’s kingdom would end with him and that his son would not become king of Israel/Judah.
Psalm 111 – Praise the Lord. Commentary titles this Psalm as “The Truth Appropriated”. When I consider all that G_d has done, I am humbled. The good things in the land are not because of my prowess for gardening nor am I strong enough to fight against the enemy of my soul on my merit. Everything he does reveals his glory and majesty. His righteousness never (3). The Bible contains G_d’s promises and it shows man’s utter contempt for Him and the saga of man’s failures. Today, that saga continues and exacerbates. Because G_d made this world, He knows what it takes to manage it. All he does is just and good, and all his commandments are trustworthy. They are forever true, to be obeyed faithfully and with integrity. He has paid a full ransom for his people. He has guaranteed his covenant with them forever. What a holy, awe-inspiring name he has! Fear of the LORD is the foundation of true wisdom. All who obey his commandments will grow in wisdom (7-10).
Proverbs 3 – Wisdom’s Framework. Everything we do must be driven by the G_d’s commands. Our wisdom is insufficient as it relies solely on our understanding. Because we do not know “everything”, we misunderstand why others act as they do. My child, never forget the things I have taught you. Store my commands in your heart. If you do this, you will live for many years, and your life will be satisfying (1-2). How we treat others is a direct reflection of how we treat G_d. My child, don’t lose sight of common sense and discernment. Hang on to them, for they will refresh your soul (21-22). Stuff and self-importance will never satisfy the desires of our hearts because their importance will shift over time.
Luke 3 – John’s Ministry. John’s message and focus of ministry were “Preparing the pathway for the King.” It is important to note that no one was better or more revered than the other. The religious teachers were not elevated above the commands of G_d. When the crowds came to John for baptism, he said, “You brood of snakes! Who warned you to flee the coming wrath? Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God. Don’t just say to each other, ‘We’re safe, for we are descendants of Abraham.’ That means nothing, for I tell you, God can create children of Abraham from these very stones. Even now the ax of God’s judgment is poised, ready to sever the roots of the trees. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire (7-9).”