Reading #1 – Deuteronomy 16:1-8
Reading #2 – Psalms 31:1-2
Reading #3 – Proverbs 1:1-7
Reading #4 – John 15
Reading #5 – 1 Samuel 5
Deuteronomy 16:1-8 – Passover. The month of Abib, which means “ear of corn” is July/August which is about the time of the first grain harvest. The feast of Passover is the first month of the Ecclesiastical year (Easton’s Dictionary). When the nation left Egypt after 400 years of slavery, they were introduced to Lord’s Passover. This feast, which is still held to this date, would be a visual reminder of where the nation came from (1-3). The bread was made without yeast. The reason was that yeast took heat and time to activate but the people had to leave in haste (4). The people were directed to hold the Passover sacrifice at the “One where the Lord puts His name” (5-6). For six days the people would eat the bread of affliction which was rightly named because it was flat and tasteless (I know I had some – yuck!). On the seventh day, the people held a solemn assembly which is a formal and dignified meeting (7-8).
Psalm 31:1-2 – Into Your Hand, I Commit My Spirit. When you consider Jesus’ life from birth till the fateful day on the cross, it was a story of “Obedience in the Fire”. Every event of his life was predicated upon the actions of his family, himself, and others that set the stage for the drama of Psalms 22. When we do what is asked of us, we can abide in His presence knowing there will be no incriminating evidence against us. When we are obedient, He will listen to our tears, hold us when the walls are collapsing in on us, and be a solid rock to stand on (1-2, Matthew 7:24-27).
Proverbs 1:1-7 – The Beginning of Wisdom. It is said, “Everything that has a beginning, has an ending. Make peace with that all will be well” (Jack Kornfield). The same thing can be said about “Wisdom and Folly”. The first sentence of the book admonishes us to “know wisdom”. The word “know” implies that you understand and apply the word to your life. When we apply the words to our lives and form our actions around them, we will have success. The Bible has multiple riddles all of which do not always present themselves as such and is part of the reason we often misunderstand it. Armed with wisdom and instruction, though, we can put the pieces together to understand what the Lord desires of us (1-7).
John 15:1-11 – I Am the True Vine. As I have said previously, the word “I Am” is the name of G-d. So, Jesus is speaking in the 2nd person or immersing himself in the character of “G-d” (Mirriam Webster). Because G-d is the true vine in which all vines stem, only He can dress the vines by pruning or removing. Unless we have armed ourselves with wisdom and knowledge of the Lord, we will not be able to effectively minister in the name of the Lord (1-6). It is true, we can go to church, read His Word, sing praise songs, and become teary-eyed when we hear the message and yet be a dead vine. We need the water of the Holy Spirit operating in and through our lives just as the vine needs the water from the root (7). G-d is not glorified by our actions so much is it by the heart we put into it. For the disciples, it meant “stick together, love one another despite their faults, and do what is asked of you” (8-9). Keeping the Father’s commandments in Spirit and in truth will bring about joy amid the sorrows and pains to come (10-11).
1 Samuel 5 – The Philistines and Ark. After the Ark was captured from the Israelite camp at Ebenezer, it was taken to Dagon’s Temple in Ashdod (1-2). This setup a strange period of retribution. The Lord’s punishment came about in a way that the Philistines would never forget. In the same way, when we take that which belongs to G-d and misuse it, we suffer punishment in the form of consequences. Dagon, the fish G-d, was the diety of choice for most of the area surrounding Philistia. When they placed Ark at the feet of Dagon, the anticipation was to make the G-d of the Hebrews subservient to the G-d of Philistia (3-5). When it comes to things of G-d, we want to believe that we are the “protectors” only to find out that it is G-d who protects us. If the nation Israel had mounted an attack to get the ark back, they would have had a fight on their hands. So, the Lord set in motion a string of events that decimated Philistia and forever cemented in their minds “who was G-d and who was an idol” (6-12).