Reading #1 – Joshua 5
Reading #2 – Psalms 130
Reading #3 – Proverbs 26
Reading #4 – John 3
Reading #5 – 2 Samuel 6
Joshua 5 – Crossing the Line. The nation had crossed the line through a dry river bed that was normally at high levels. This singular action caused the kingdoms and kings to lose heart. They probably had boasted about an easy defeat of this “slaved nation that was now free”. It is the very same thing that happens in our life when we are freed from slavery to whatever thing that held us bound. The process of circumcision while painful was also a defining difference between the heathen nations and the people of G_d. When G_d opened the way for Israel, he also sent someone to lead them in the conquest. When Joshua was near the town of Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a sword in hand. Joshua went up to him and demanded, “Are you friend or foe?” “Neither one,” he replied. “I am the commander of the LORD’s army.” At this, Joshua fell with his face to the ground in reverence. “I am at your command,” Joshua said. “What do you want your servant to do? The commander of the LORD’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did as he was told (13-15). For Joshua to lead the people, he must first be in full obedience to his commander.
2 Samuel 6 – Moving the Ark to Jerusalem. The placement of the ark symbolized the “one place of worship”. Jerusalem was the center of David’s kingdom. When Uzzah reached out his hand to steady the ark, the power of G_d broke out against him and put him to death. Because of this incident, David had the ark moved to Obed-Edom’s home; during that time, Obed-Edom was richly blessed by G_d. The second attempt to move the ark was successful and David rejoices in dance and song during the ark’s voyage to Jerusalem. Michal, daughter of Saul, sneered at David and ridiculed him for acting “unkingly”. David did not bow down to Michal rather, he stood his ground. David retorted to Michal, “I was dancing before the LORD, who chose me above your father and all his family! He appointed me as the leader of Israel, the people of the LORD, so I celebrate before the LORD. Yes, and I am willing to look even more foolish than this, even to be humiliated in my own eyes! But those servant girls you mentioned will indeed think I am distinguished 21-22)”!
Psalms 130 – A Song of the Pilgrims journeying to Jerusalem. Jerusalem was the “one place of worship” where it had been since the time of the late great king David. The pilgrimage was most likely the return of the nation to Jerusalem following the exile. Time and distance from the House of G_d compel people to live like the people that surround them. Going back to Beth El means coming to grips with our failures, misgivings, hurts, pains, and sorrows. It would seem to me that the easiest thing in the world would be to think “I’ll just go back home and live in the lap of luxury”. Yet, it is not that easy. In G_d’s house all bow before him and worship in Spirit and truth (John 4:24). Sin will always keep us from worshiping G_d by reminding us of our failures. From the depths of despair, O LORD, I call for your help (1-2). The prodigal son (Luke 15:11) had walked away with his inheritance and lost it so coming back home was not an easy journey as each step towards his father’s house was a reminder of the mess he had made. Hear my cry, O Lord. Pay attention to my prayer. LORD, if you kept a record of our sins, who, O Lord, could ever survive? But you offer forgiveness, that we might learn to fear you (3-4). The sentry desires the dawn because then the enveloping darkness will be gone in the same way, when we are facing great difficulties we desire the light of His presence to remove our spiritual darkness.
Proverbs 26 – How we carry ourselves will either bring us reward or disdain. IF we chose to be lazy in our approach to life, the reward will be unwelcome and we’ll despise what is in our hands. From our perspective, we are always doing a spectacular job but the fruit will speak the truth.
John 3 – Jesus and Nicodemus. Nicodemus was a respected Jewish leader who had come to speak with Jesus in the wee hours of the morning. The purpose of the visit was to find out about Jesus’ message. It is entirely possible to be so spiritual that you are of no earthly good. For Nicodemus, it was like being slapped in the face because he wasn’t given any more special attention than the crowd that surrounded Jesus. Like the rest of the crowd, he had to go through the baptism of the spirit or he would not understand what Jesus was saying. “You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don’t understand these things? I assure you, we tell you what we know and have seen, and yet you won’t believe our testimony. But if you don’t believe me when I tell you about earthly things, how can you possibly believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ever gone to heaven and returned. But the Son of Man has come down from heaven. 14 And as Moses lifted the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted, so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life (10-15).