Reading #1 – Joshua 23
Reading #2 – Psalms 148
Reading #3 – Proverbs 5
Reading #4 – Acts 1
Reading #5 – 2 Samuel 24
Joshua 23 – Joshua’s Final Words. Joshua was now an old man so he called together the elders, officers, and commanders of the people. His words were both encouraging and a warning. During his lifetime, the nation had conquered most of the Canaan land driving out the previous occupants and by war. There remained the parts of the land that had not been conquered and would be these people who would be a “snare and a whip” if they were not conquered. “But if you turn away from him and cling to the customs of the survivors of these nations remaining among you, and if you intermarry with them, then know for certain that the LORD your God will no longer drive them out of your land. Instead, they will be a snare and a trap to you, a whip for your backs and thorny brambles in your eyes, and you will vanish from this good land the LORD your God has given you (12-13). The people would not be able to rely back on previous victories to win future freedom, they had to serve the Lord G_d every day of their life going forward. If you break the covenant of the LORD your God by worshiping and serving other gods, his anger will burn against you, and you will quickly vanish from the good land he has given you (16).”
2 Samuel 24 – David and the Census. The “Lord” was the Devil. From the first day that David had an illicit relationship with Bathsheba, David had given room for Satan to get a foot-hold on the kingdom. When we open the doorway for the Devil, he does not leave as quickly as he came in. Once again the anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and he caused David to harm them by taking a census. “Go and count the people of Israel and Judah,” the LORD told him (1). David knew this was wrong and Joab had tried to change the king’s mind but it was to no avail. Holding a census, according to Mosaic law, required each person to pay a ransom for their life (Exodus 30:11). David was not conducting this census in honor of the Lord G_d, he was doing it in honor of himself thereby making the census unauthorized. After Joab had conducted the census, he reported back to David “There were 800,000 capable warriors in Israel who could handle a sword, and 500,000 in Judah (9).” After the census was taken, David felt guilty for his actions. So Gad came to David and asked him, “Will you choose three years of famine throughout your land, three months of fleeing from your enemies, or three days of severe plague throughout your land? Think this over and decide what answer I should give the LORD who sent me (13).” Neither of the choices was appealing so he chose by proxy to have “three severe days of plague upon the land” and 70,000 innocent people died because the King was prodded into taking a census. It was the same prodding that got David into trouble with Bathsheba, Amnon to rape Tamar, Absalom to kill Amnon and take the kingdom by force. When David saw the angel, he said to the LORD, “I am the one who has sinned and done wrong! But these people are as innocent as sheep—what have they done? Let your anger fall against me and my family (17).” David was instructed to build an altar on the threshing floor that belonged to Aranaugh; the man offered David everything the king would need to have a sacrifice “free of charge”. But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on buying it, for I will not present burnt offerings to the LORD my God that have cost me nothing.” So David paid him fifty pieces of silver for the threshing floor and the oxen. David built an altar there to the LORD and sacrificed burnt offerings and peace offerings. And the LORD answered his prayer for the land, and the plague on Israel was stopped (24-25).
Psalms 148 – Praise the Lord. Let all that is within me Praise the Lord. He has done all things for mankind. The fields of the world, the animals made for food, and the skies that produce the rain for the ground. The whole world works together in an unending Psalm of Praise the Lord G_d of the universe. Let them all praise the name of the LORD. For his name is very great; his glory towers over the earth and heaven! He has made his people strong, honoring his faithful ones— the people of Israel who are close to him (13-14).
Proverbs 5 – Avoid Immoral Women. In this context, it is the father speaking to his son; however, the reader could switch the context to the Mother speaking to her daughter or the father speaking to his daughter and come up with the same conclusion. The model speaks to sexual responsibility and being careful not to give away the one-time precious gift that can never be reclaimed. For the lips of an immoral woman are as sweet as honey,
and her mouth is smoother than oil. But in the end, she is as bitter as poison, as dangerous as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave (3-5). The immoral person’s speech is as smooth as oil because it is rehearsed and repeated. The unwise person will fall into the immoral person’s trap thinking “this person loves me”. The steps of the immoral person lead to spiritual death to steal the joy from the child and give him or her a lifetime of regret (5).
Acts 1 – Promise of the Holy Spirit. The book of Acts is a letter to Theophilus about the events of the Apostles following the time of Jesus. Theophilus is mentioned in Luke 1:1 as well so, the reader can assume the book of Acts was written by Dr. Luke. As in all of the books in scripture, the writer is a 3rd person or witness and is never mentioned who he or she is. In my first book, I told you, Theophilus, about everything Jesus began to do and teach until the day he was taken up to heaven after giving his chosen apostles further instructions through the Holy Spirit (1). Jesus promised the Holy Spirit would come after he left. The purpose of the Holy Spirit was to empower the Apostles and disciples to go out and minister. Once when he was eating with them, he commanded them, “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before. John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit (4-5).” After Jesus’ ascension, the people stood in amazement as Jesus was taken into the clouds. Then two angels proclaimed, “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go (11)” from this statement, we get the “second coming of Jesus.” By replacing Judas’ place of leadership with another individual, the disciples were fulfilling a biblical mandate “They say, “Get an evil person to turn against him. Send an accuser to bring him to trial. When his case comes up for judgment, let him be pronounced guilty. Count his prayers as sins. Let his years be few; let someone else take his position (Psalms 109:6-8).” Judas was not someone “so special that no one could replace him” and nor are we. In life, we are simply servants putting our skills to work to provide for needs and that of our family. Ministry did not stop simply because a key person, Jesus, was no longer around “physically.”