Reading #1 – Genesis 46
Reading #2 – Psalms 28
Reading #3 – Proverbs 14
Reading #4 – Ezekiel 46
Reading #5 – Romans 1
Genesis 46 – Jacob Moves to Egypt. Jacob is moved to Egypt at the bequest of his son Joseph who he had thought was dead based on his sons’ story 16 years earlier. Jacob stopped at Beersheba and offered sacrifices to the G_d of his father Isaac (1). In the middle of the night, G_d spoke to Jacob telling him to not be afraid to go to Egypt, his son Joseph would close his eyes, that the same G_d that brought him down to Egypt would be the same G_d that would bring him out (2-4). Sixty-six people went down to live in Goshen. When Joseph met his father, they held each other tightly and wept in joy at the sight of each other. Israel’s message to Joseph would be the same model that would be spoken about Jesus (30, Luke 2:25-32).
Psalms 28 –. This prayer is the background for the word spoken to the church at Philippi (Philippians 4:6-7). The Holy of Holies was the place where the footstool or the Ark of the Covenant was placed (2, Leviticus 16:2-34). For David to lift his hands towards the Holy of Holies was a personal commitment to honor G_d in all that He did so the trouble David faced could not have been self-inflicted. To not be “dragged away with the wicked” meant “don’t lump me in with the wicked” (3). David was the leader of the Israelites the one who led the nations into and out of conflicts so what he did and how did it spoke well or ill of the nation. As the judge for the nation, David understood the importance of judging the situation or the person’s sin and not lump in that person’s whole family (4-5, Ezekiel 18:20). David was not helped because he was the “King” nor that he studied the scriptures, memorized the laws, and/or went to Temple during the feasts. David was helped by the LORD because his heart was clean and when he judged, he did it out of reverential fear of the LORD. Because “fear of the LORD” was an ingrained behavior, he was confident that the LORD would come through for him (7-9).
Proverbs 14 – Contrast the Wicked and the Upright. Fearing the LORD has its own rewards (Proverbs 22:4) but they are not always readily apparent or have “instant gratification” (1). Working to fulfill our needs and that of our family requires perseverance, patience, and hope (4). In times of trials, we might tend to believe G_d has forsaken us but, nothing could be further from the truth (15). G_d will never forsake the righteous even when everybody else has (22, Psalms 27:10, Psalms 94:12-15).
Ezekiel 46 – The Prince’s Offering. The G_d we serve is a “G_d of order and discipline”. The people would come into the Temple in one direction and leave by another, the Prince would enter in one direction and leave by another. The reason for this is to alleviate “mass pandemonium” (9-10). The entire community was responsible for bringing supplies for the service so that one or two people would not be responsible for the whole service. The Prince or cleric was responsible for providing the “burnt sacrifice” (12).
Romans 1 – Laying the Foundation. The church at Rome began around 46 AD or about 12 years after Paull’s conversion. Some 2nd-century theologians say the church was planted by Peter and others by Paul but as Paul would say later, “it doesn’t really matter as Jesus is the Head of the church (Colossians 1:15-20). As an Apostle called to preach to the Gentile nations, Paul’s responsibility was to build up the church and establish the correct doctrine. In the 1st century, the religious leader was Emperor Ceasar so any church that did not recognize Ceasar as “G_d” was put to death or evicted from Rome. So, the fledgling church struggled with the pressure to conform or die. For this church to succeed against the odds, it had to have a solid foundation (1 Corinthians 3:11). Having a seed of faith is good but growing it through trials and temptations is a whole other battle. Paul could not be in Rome physically but was prevented by spiritual and physical forces which would normally cause people to think “I have been abandoned and once that seed had been planted, the fruit would grow and would be disastrous (13-15). Because Paul was “absent in the flesh”, he used these Pauline writings to fill in the missing pieces like, “was Paul ashamed of what he taught while present” (16-17)? Rome was a sinful community but it did not give the Christian church license to surrender to the void (18-20). So, the church was held to a higher moral standard than the church of the world. The struggle the Christian church faced was nothing new because it had been around since the beginning of mankind (21-23). The reason Ceasar was allowed to get away with his crimes is that the people could see the fruit and make wise choices about the direction they wanted to take (32).