Reading #1 – Deuteronomy 15:12-18
Reading #2 – Psalms 30
Reading #3 – Lamentations 5
Reading #4 – John 14:15-31
Reading #5 – 1 Samuel 4:12-22
Deuteronomy 15:12-18 – Treatment of Slaves. When it came to the treatment of slaves, the owner was to hold the person to indentured service for a maximum of six years (12). On the seventh year or the Sabbatical year, the person was set free and with a reward for their years of service (13-14). An important caveat to this is, “treat the individual the same way you would want to be treated” (15, Luke 6:31). The servant who didn’t want to leave his/her master would have an awl put thru their ear leaving an indelible mark so that they would not be re-enslaved (16-17). Letting the servant go free should not be done begrudgingly (18).
Psalm 30 – Joy Comes with the Morning. Time and faithfulness had changed the course of Israel. Egypt was Israel’s “Sheol” or “abode of the dead”. When Israel left Egypt, they wore the clothes they had on their back, dough for baking bread along the way, Egyptian treasures, and hope for a better future (1-3, Exodus 12:33-36). Fast forward 320 years to the day of the Temple dedication, and the nation is now rich, well-fed, and has a temple built to worship the Lord who brought them out of Egypt. This was a day of rejoicing and dancing (11-12). The thing is, without the Lord’s favor, what they possessed could all be taken away (6-7).
Lamentations 5 – Restore Us to Yourself, O Lord. The nation’s “strong mountain” was lost (Psalms 30:6). The once fluid nation now had to live in shanties instead of homes. The bread, wood, and water that once was free now had to be bought at a price that would eventually bankrupt the nation (1-6). The problem was that the innocent was paying the price for their fathers’ sins (7). The nation, in essence, became slaves again something the Lord had no desire for them to be (8-14). The joy of the Lord which was expressed in dancing, singing, and playing music was banished from the land (15-18). Because the Lord lives forever, as long as we are alive it is entirely possible to be restored. The thing is restoration means starting over again from NOTHING! Restoration is not an “immediate event” (19-22). How long does it take to be restored? The answer, “as long as it takes”.
John 14:15-31 – Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit. As I have said previously, Jesus was the Apostles’ leader, teacher, and friend for 3.5 years. Keeping the Father’s commandments when the teacher was alive was one thing but, the real test was when he was no longer in the picture (15-17). Jesus’ statement had to invoke fear in the disciples’ hearts. This, I believe, was the reasoning for stating “I will not leave you as orphans” or “caught in the cross-fire”. When Jesus came back, it was in the form of the same spirit that guided the Father’s building program and the same one that was at the heart of Jesus (18-21, Proverbs 8:22-31, Genesis 1-2). The thing is, the Holy Spirit did not descend on everybody in Jerusalem that day only on the 100 in the upper room (22-24, Acts 2:1-4). From the beginning of his ministry, Jesus pointed the glory to the Father. During the three and half years, Jesus had many “groupies” following him but by the end, the number dwindled down significantly (John 6:66-67). Jesus said these things while he was present so that the disciples would know it came from him and not some false prophecy (25-31).
1 Samuel 4:12-22 – Death of Eli. For forty years Eli led the nation and protected the Ark of the Covenant. Eli’s Achille’s heel was his boys. The boys, just like the Sanhedrin, were wicked men presenting themselves as “the Lord’s priests”. When Eli got word that two sons were killed in the battle and the ark they were supposed to protect was taken, he fell off the fence and died (12-18). Phinehas’ wife was now a widow and pregnant. When his wife gave birth to a boy, it should have been a joyful time but without her husband, it was tragic. For this reason, she named the child “Ichabod” which meant “the glory the Lord has departed” (19-22) which is like calling him “the devil”. For the rest of the child’s life, and we are not told what happened to him, he would be a physical reminder of the events that unfolded.