Reading #1 – Luke 10
Reading #2 – Psalms 78
Reading #3 – Song of Solomon 6
Reading #4 – Isaiah 56
Reading #5 – 2 Chronicle 4
2 Chronicles 4 – Furnishings for the Temple. Huram-Abi of Lebanon made the furnishings for the temple from gold and burnished bronze. The New Living Translation (NLT) notes the size of the furnishings in US measurements so that the reader can get an idea of how massive this temple was. Then he cast a great round basin, 15 feet across from rim to rim, called the Sea. It was 7½ feet deep and about 45 feet in circumference (1-2). The sea which was used by the priests to wash before and after service contained about 16,500 gallons of water and the structure was 3” thick all the way around (5). All of the utensils used for service were made out of solid gold. The tables and doors were overlaid with gold (22). Solomon used such great quantities of bronze that its weight could not be determined (18). I can only imagine how much some of the items, like the sea, weighed.
Psalms 78 – A Psalm of Asaph – What Can G_d Not Do? This parable as told by Asaph chronicles and reminds the people of their history and shines a light on their failures. From the time of Abraham to the final days of Jacob/Israel, the LORD had given Israel the privilege of being His elected people (Deuteronomy 14:2). The Jews were slaves in Egypt for 430 years (Exodus 12:40). This exodus came at a price and that was the death of the firstborn of Egypt. This remarkable exit should have been something that would not be forgotten, however, just as people die so the events would become lore, then myth, and then be forgotten. The problem is that when we forget what G_d has done in the past, we also forget what He is capable of doing presently. For this reason, Asaph wrote this parable. O my people, listen to my instructions. Open your ears to what I am saying, for I will speak to you in a parable. I will teach you hidden lessons from our past— stories we have heard and known, stories our ancestors handed down to us (1). The problem with our past is that also contains our failures and misgivings which gives rise to us receiving the judgment of the present people. The nation Israel had not even gotten out of Egypt before the grumbling began so the trip from Ramases to the border of the Sea of Reeds must have been like “fingernails on the back of a chalkboard”. Asaph does not whitewash the events to make the promised people look like “saints”. The Lord G_d that lead the Israelites out of slavery is the same Lord G_d who leads us today. When we follow Israel’s track into sin and rebellion, we receive the same judgment as the nation did countless times. When the LORD heard them, he was furious. The fire of his wrath burned against Jacob. Yes, his anger rose against Israel, for they did not believe God or trust him to care for them (21-22). Miracles however wonderful and pleasant they may be will never be enough to keep the people happy. In Jesus’ time, the religious leaders demanded a sign of Jesus’ connection to the father and the only sign they received was a man on the cross for no fault of his own (John 2:18-19). Magicians can perform signs that draw an audience when all it is, is “slight of hand” (Exodus 7:11). It is a funny thing about punishment and death that it humbles people just until the problem stops (32-33). But all they gave him was lip service; they lied to him with their tongues. Their hearts were not loyal to him. They did not keep his covenant. Yet he was merciful and forgave their sins and did not destroy them all. Many times he held back his anger and did not unleash his fury (36-38)! When a person sins, trouble befalls the community and the family unit, everyone is hurt by it. He allowed the Ark of his might to be captured; he surrendered his glory into enemy hands. He gave his people over to be butchered by the sword because he was so angry with his people—his special possession. Their young men were killed by fire; their young women died before singing their wedding songs. Their priests were slaughtered, and their widows could not mourn their deaths (61-64).
Song of Solomon 6 – Young Women of Jerusalem. How we serve the Lord will either compel people to know him or push them farther apart. The young woman asked for help finding the “one she loved” (SS 5:8). Where has your lover gone, O woman of rare beauty? Which way did he turn so we can help you find him (1)? When we testify about what Jesus had done in our life including our failures, misgivings, and the pit he lifted us out of, other people will want to serve him and follow him because they too have lived in the same pit. How we take care of ourselves is also a tall tale sign of our belief in him. You are beautiful, my darling, like the lovely city of Tirzah. Yes, as beautiful as Jerusalem, as majestic as an army with billowing banners (4). The LORD loves us unconditionally that is, no matter how tall or small, troublesome or not, and/or sinful or not; there is nothing that we have done, nothing that we will do, that will stop him from loving us.
Isaiah 56 – Blessings for all Nations. The blessings given to Israel are not just for Israel but all nations and all languages of the earth (3-5). What is required of us? Very simple, it is summed up in the two great commandments (Matthew 22:37-40). Blessed are all those who are careful to do this. Blessed are those who honor my Sabbath days of rest and keep themselves from doing wrong (2). When the diaspora returned to Jerusalem, foreigners also came to be part of the rebuilding some of them were foreign-born wives and children who were sent back to the country they came from (Ezra 10:3) which was not necessary; when we sin, whatever comes of it will remain part of us until our death and will alter the course of our family even if we send them away like what Abraham and the diaspora did. “I will also bless the foreigners who commit themselves to the LORD, who serve him and love his name, who worship him and do not desecrate the Sabbath day of rest, and who hold fast to my covenant. I will bring them to my holy mountain of Jerusalem and will fill them with joy in my house of prayer. I will accept their burnt offerings and sacrifices because my Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations. For the Sovereign LORD, who brings back the outcasts of Israel, says: I will bring others, too, besides my people Israel (6-8).”
Luke 10 – Jesus Sends Out His Disciples. The time had come for the disciples to become “missionaries”. Jesus had taught them for three years about the Kingdom of G_d, the power, and the authority of his Father. This, I think, was to prepare them for the time when he would not be around. The Lord now chose seventy-two other disciples and sent them ahead in pairs to all the towns and places he planned to visit. These were his instructions to them: “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields. Now go, and remember that I am sending you out as lambs among wolves. Don’t take any money with you, nor a traveler’s bag, nor an extra pair of sandals. And don’t stop to greet anyone on the road (1-4). Of course, the 72 would meet people who would not want to hear the good news because their hearts had been hardened and conditioned by the Sanhedrin. The reason the Devil ran from them (17) was due to their relationship with the G_d of the Universe and they offered true praise to Him and by their testimony resisted the Devil (James 4:7). “Yes,” he told them, “I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning! Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you. But don’t rejoice because evil spirits obey you; rejoice because your names are registered in heaven (18-20).” When Jesus was approached by an expert in the law, the man asked, “what should I do to inherit eternal life” (25). The parable of the “Good Samaritan” was given as an explanation (30-37). The “neighbor” was anybody this man met not those who aligned themselves with him.