Reading #1 – Exodus 26
Reading #2 – Psalms 58
Reading #3 – Ecclesiastes 8
Reading #4 – Joel 3
Reading #5 – 1 Corinthians 15
Exodus 26 – Curtains of Linen. The linens that covered the sacred tent or, “set apart”, not only blocked the entrance but provided privacy and protection for the Ark of the covenant. The linens came from Egypt, the goat hair was from the animals that the people possessed or killed while in the wilderness. Moses was tasked with this massive undertaking and the tabernacle was to be built according to specifications meaning, “Don’t add to it and don’t detract from it” and this would be the same for our walk with the Lord (Revelations 22:17-19).
Psalms 58 – Prayer for the Punishment of the Wicked. When we see the condition of the world, we want to believe that G_d can see the mess and He does. The problem is, often people decry an injustice and demand “justice” only to find out that he/she is part of the problem which is the reason, I believe, for the most important question (1). The thing is when we are part of the problem, which end does G_d judge? The answer is, “Judgment begins at the House of G_d” or in the lives of his children (2-3, 1 Peter 4:17-19). When our life is riddled with the poison of bitterness, envy, hatred, and ignorance, how will we ever expect to minister to anybody without the potential of injecting the poison from our heart (4-6). The snail, like the slug, and earthworm while they don’t serve a purpose, are part of the natural balance (gardener’s guide). The same can be said of people who come into our lives and serve nothing more than to leave slime. To remove these people would cause issues in the group and our lives because we could lose an essential element. My point is, while King David prayed this prayer as have many others, it doesn’t mean that G_d grants the request in the words it was written (7-9). Yes there is a reward for “Righteousness” but it is not by “destruction by the hand of G_d” but by the fruit that comes both the righteous and the unrighteous (10-11).
Ecclesiastes 8 – Obey Rulers. As the King of Israel, Solomon understood the importance of “order in the Kingdom”. In the kingdom, there are righteous and unrighteous people, and the difference is often blurred depending on the quality of that person’s vision. If the person judging others has a blurry spiritual vision, the righteous person will be seen as “unrighteous” and vice versa. The king conveyed to the people “listen to what I tell you and be obedient” without exception (5-13).
Joel 3 – Nations Will Be Judged. Before the exile, the Prophets warned the nations surrounding Israel what would happen when they criticized Israel for its failures. The reason for this is that many in the kingdom were righteous and would construct the “remnant” and return to Jerusalem. There were nations, besides Babylon, who sought to destroy the children of Israel and rejoiced when the Temple was destroyed (Ezekiel 36-37). When the Temple was rebuilt, albeit much smaller and less imposing, some people rose up in judgment and were the chief critics of the remnant. When the nation was carted into exile after losing a lengthy and very bloody war with Babylon, it looked like the nation Israel would disappear into the annals of history. Yet, there were people in all of the remaining tribes whose hearts were still white-hot for the Lord and never lost faith in Him and this was a “turning point in the battle”. The people who returned to rebuild the city and the temple were under G_dly leadership and the hearts of the people were moved, not commanded, to come and be a part of the project (Ezra 1:2-6). The size of the kingdom or its importance had nothing to do with how righteous or good it was, Tyre and Sidon were important cities in the near east at that time, the two cities are located in Lebanon and are just a shell of what they once were just Israel and the USA (4-8). When we come to the end of our resources and our plans fail, only then do we realize who is G_d and who is not (16-17). Many kingdoms have come and gone since the Old Testament, Jerusalem or the City of David continues to exist. In its history, Jerusalem has been destroyed twice, besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times, and captured and re-captured 44 times (Timeline of Jerusalem) (19-21). The control for Jerusalem requires people to seek the Lord and never lose hope in Ha Shem for this, its occupants and all those whose hearts are moved must seek to pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalms 122:6).
1 Corinthians 15:1-17– The Fact of Christ’s Resurrection. For me, this chapter boils down to a key point and that is, “live your life to please the Lord by obeying His precepts and commands”. The good news that Paul preached was about this man Jesus who forever paid the price for whatever sin, complaint, anger, or frustration you and I face is forever resolved at the face; this requires “Faith” (1). Our theologies, differences of opinion, and traditions will never save us nor preclude us from being attacked, criticized, and/or decimated; when we rely on these, we are believing in vain. I testify that “Christ has risen” but don’t really believe it or live it, that “testimony” will be in vain and it will be the grounds for which people will claim “G_d doesn’t exist” (3-6). Paul is outlining how he knows that the resurrection is true because there are living witnesses to this truth. Paul was an apostle because he had seen the Lord and repented and became the man he was because of the transforming power of the cross. The issue is that if we are not transformed from the person we were or we go back to that life, by again repenting and believing the world’s testimony of who we are, the cross will be meaningless (9-11). Obviously, there were Pharisees in Corinth dispelling the “myth of the resurrection” and worldly Prophets debunking what Paul is preaching (12-17).