God’s Glory & Forgiveness: Then & Now

1 Kings 8 & 2 Chronicles 5

1 Kings 8 11 NIV sgl

Once the temple was finished, they brought in the ark of the covenant.  It was brought into the inner sanctuary of the house, to the Holy of Holies.  When the priests (who had sanctified themselves) had come out, and the group praised the LORD, His glory filled the temple and the priests couldn’t perform their service because of His great glory.

That concept of how great the glory of the LORD is hard to comprehend for me.  On one of our Zoom calls for the youth group recently, we watched a video on holiness.  There were some interesting points in it, and a good analogy on how to better understand God’s holiness and why we can’t be too close (watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9vn5UvsHvM).  We cannot get too close to God because we are impure, and He is perfect.  People had to purify themselves to come into the temple.  And for the Holy of Holies, or Most Holy Place, separated by a veil, the purified high priest could only enter once per year on the Day of Atonement when the whole nation asked God for forgiveness of their sins.

The good news for us is that we live in a time after Jesus interceded.  When he died, that veil was torn, and we can now come to God instead of the high priest, and we can come without having to go through those same purifying rituals.  I forget sometimes what a blessing that is.  Because of Jesus being our mediator, we can go to God and receive forgiveness from our sins by request, not through sacrificial offerings.  We have never had to live in a time where it was different, but can you imagine it?  Thinking of this helps to remind me of how amazing Jesus’ sacrifice was.

If you haven’t already, you can stop reading in 1 Kings 8 at verse 12 and pick up there tomorrow to read a similar account in 2 Chronicles.

 

~Stephanie Fletcher

 

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Kings+8%2C+2+Chronicles+5&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be 2 Chronicles 6-7 and Psalm136 as we continue on our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

 

God is Present

1st Samuel 4-8

1 Samuel 4 3 NIV

If a tree falls in the forest, does it make any sound?

This is what I think of when I read 1 Samuel 4-8. The Israelites and Philistines seem to think that the presence of the ark of the covenant is equivalent to God being present and vice versa, if the ark is not anywhere around, God must be absent. The ark of the covenant is merely a physical and tangible symbol of God’s presence. And while it is true that some amazing things took place while the ark was in possession of the Israelites, it wasn’t always a guarantee that having it around would lead to a win. That my friends, is called manipulation. It’s honoring the thing rather than the Creator.
I feel like I might have shared this story with some of you before, but here I go again. Many years ago, I was out on the lake with some friends. It was a gorgeous day and we were wake boarding. I was out in the water waiting for the boat driver to circle around and I just started praying out loud, not loud enough for others to hear me, but it was obvious that my lips were moving. After I had gotten back into the boat, a friend asked me what I was talking about and I just responded, “I was praying”. And her response has stuck with me, “You can pray out on a lake?” She wasn’t kidding, when she asked me that question. She really wasn’t a church goer but she had gone through Catholic Catechism. She was so used to the act of praying being limited to certain environments that praying on a lake was a new concept for her.
It’s easy sometimes to compartmentalize our lives. If we’re not careful, we may find ourselves dressing, speaking, and acting one way at home, another way at church, and another way at school or work. We can become chameleons in our environments in order to cast a persona that works for our benefit, instead of being our real and authentic selves.
What 1 Samuel 4-8 can teach us, if we’re willing to pay attention, is that no matter where we are, what we are doing, or who we are with, God is present. And our ever-present God desires to be our authority, our protector, our provider, our friend. Should we ever be insistent on wanting something else to stand in his place, that is our choice, but that does not mean that God goes away. He will always be there, wherever we are, whatever we’re doing, and whomever we’re with, loving us just the same as always.
Bethany Ligon
Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Samuel+4-8&version=NIV
Tomorrow’s reading will be 1st Samuel 9-12 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

His Tabernacle

Numbers 7 cain

During the building of the tabernacle, the tools and utensils were not holy. Everything was normal cloth or gold material until they were consecrated. Once Moses anointed and consecrated the tabernacle and the things that went in it, they were no longer normal objects.  Instead, they were objects of God. If God can turn a simple lamp stand into a holy object, then what can He do with us? We can be made holy and set apart by God to serve a great purpose. As we have said many times, through the book of Numbers God seeks holiness for Himself and His people. This desire didn’t disappear when Jesus came into the world. God desires for us to be holy. Although we sin, God can redeem us just like He did with the tabernacle in Numbers 7.

There is a moment after the tabernacle is consecrated that the people of Israel begin to bring sacrifices and gifts.  Among the gifts are six carts and 12 oxen that are going to be given to the Levites. Carts and oxen make moving things easier.  This would be a pretty handy gift during the time of the wilderness as they move everything they have across the desert by hand! In verse 9, we see the sons of Kohath weren’t given any of the oxen and carts – what kind of rotten deal is that? Why didn’t any of the carts go to the sons of Kohath? The sons of Kohath were in charge of carrying the holy objects on their shoulders. Each heavy object in the tabernacle, including the Ark of the Covenant, was built with places for poles to slide into so that they could be carried by pole on the shoulders of the sons of Kohath. You may remember the story of Uzzah in 2 Samuel 6 when the Ark was going to be moved back into the city of Jerusalem after being gone for a long time. Notice in 2 Samuel 6:3 they placed the Ark, “on a new cart”. This was a big no-no. The Ark was not supposed to be put on a cart, but instead carried on poles like we see in the law. Then what happens? The Ark begins to fall off the cart on the way into the city and Uzzah, who was just trying to help by catching the Ark, died right as he touched it. God’s holiness can’t be infringed upon. Albeit easier, you don’t put the Ark on a cart. This is why no carts where given to the sons of Kohath. They didn’t need carts to assist in the moving of the holy objects of the tabernacle. Isn’t it interesting how the Bible connects in such unique places? Who knew that around 400 years after God gave the command to not move the holy objects on carts that Uzzah would learn the severity of breaking the command.

The rest of chapter 7 sound maybe like Pete and Repeat wrote it. These aren’t particularly exciting verses and the gifts of each tribe are the same. Between verse 10 and 83, the tribes, their gifts and their offerings are listed. After 12 days of offerings the total was: 12 silver dishes, 12 silver bowls (a total of 2,400 shekels of silver), 12 gold pans (a total of 120 shekels of gold), 12 bulls, 12 rams, 12 male lambs 1year old, 12 grain offerings, 12 male goats, 24 bulls for peace offerings, 60 rams, & 60 male goats for peace offerings (a total of 192 animals). The Israelites would have given a total of around $16,000 in silver and around $71,500 in gold. What a great out pouring from the sons of Israel to God in celebration and honor of the new tabernacle.

After the anointing of the tabernacle and 12 days of offerings, one of the coolest things I can imagine happened to Moses in verse 89. God spoke to Moses from above the Ark of the Covenant. Finally, after all the effort that has gone into getting the Israelites out of Egypt, God now has a place to dwell with His people. The time has come when God speaks to Moses from among His people. No longer does Moses have to travel to the top of a mountain to speak to God. God has moved even closer to His people today. We don’t have to travel to a temple in Jerusalem to be with God because, as we see in the New Testament, we are God’s temple (1 Corinthians 6:19). God can now dwell among us in a more personal way; He has moved into the hearts of His people. We have been anointed and sanctified by the blood of Jesus to become the new temple that God dwells in. We see an ever moving forward march by God to be closer to His people. It started with the tabernacle, then into the hearts of men in the time of the New Testament and now. In the future, we have the hope of God dwelling with us in person in the kingdom! He is with us now in the power of the Spirit that moves among us but, at the time of the restoration of all things, God is going to be with us like it was in the garden of Eden. Revelation 21 says that God is going to dwell among men. There is no part of the Bible without significance. All of it is connected because all of it is the word of God. God’s desires don’t change and He desires to be with us. The creator of the universe, the creator of the estimated 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars wants to be with you. To me, the realization of this fact is humbling and inspiring.  Thank you, God!

Josiah Cain

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Numbers+7&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s Bible reading will be Numbers 8-10 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

What Do These Stones Mean?

Joshua 4

Joshua 4-24

Thursday, October 12

As of yesterday’s devotion we left the Israelites consecrating themselves in preparation to see amazing things the Lord would do for them the following day.  And, when the people were prepared – God was certainly ready to do His part.  The last part of chapter 3 reads:

Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge,  the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (that is, the Dead Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho.  The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stopped in the middle of the Jordan and stood on dry ground, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.   Joshua 3:15-17

What emoji would you choose if an Israelite just texted you that update on how their day was going?  Surprise!  Shock!  Awe!  It is an incredible account, isn’t it?  When I read it I was sorry to hear that the Israelites crossing didn’t get to gaze upon the water that was “piled up in a heap” as that was about 20 miles upstream (NIV text note on 3:15).  Wouldn’t that have been awe-inspiring!  Why not, I thought.  Perhaps God had planned to share this awesome display with those outside of the Israelite community – “so that all the people of the earth might know that the hand of the LORD is powerful.” (Joshua 4:24)

In chapter 4 we also have the rest of the story on the waters of the Jordan that had instantly dried up when the priests’ feet touched the waters’ edge.  Could have been coincidence, someone might try to argue.  Lots of busy beavers just upstream?   But then Joshua 4:18 helps clear up any doubt: “And the priests came up out of the river carrying the ark of the covenant of the LORD.  No sooner had they set their feet on the dry ground than the waters of the Jordan returned to their place and ran at flood stage as before.”  This wasn’t the work of beavers or tides or circumstance.  At just the precise time needed the flood waters unexplainably stopped – and then re-started, also, at precisely the correct time.  This was the work of the Maker of Heaven and Earth and He was having fun doing amazing things for His consecrated people who had decided to be bold and courageous rather than cowering in fear and discouragement as their parents had.

Joshua followed the LORD’s direction to have each tribe take part in creating a rock tower to commemorate what the LORD did at the Jordan.  This was done to keep the memory alive and spark conversation, down through the generations, of how Almighty God had provided just what they needed at just the right time.  Joshua said their children would ask, “What do these stones mean?” (Joshua 4:6,21).  It would be a great opportunity to tell of God’s power and provision for His people.

In what miraculous ways have you seen God at work?  Perhaps on your own behalf, or someone you know, or even someone you read about – Biblical miracles still count today! What reminders do you have displayed for you and your family?  What opportunities do you have to overflow with stories of God’s power and faithfulness?  We must not forget God’s power.  We must remember – and tell others.   When we fear Him, we can be strong and courageous.

-Be Strong and Courageous – Marcia Railton

 

Dedicated to a Sacred Purpose

Joshua 3

Joshua 3-5

Wednesday, October 11

601,730 – that was the number of fighting men counted in the second census conducted in the wilderness, just before Moses passed along leadership to Joshua (see Numbers 26).  Add to this number: women, children and older men.  Now, picture yourself in this massive crowd.  Three days ago you all travelled the very last leg of a trip that has lasted more than 40 years!  At last, here you are at the shores of the Jordan River – the boundary of the Promised Land you have heard so much about.  This is the same Promised Land that your parents aren’t here to see because their fear, discouragement, and lack of trust in God led to their death in the wilderness.  What are your thoughts and feelings as you stand on the shore?  How big is your faith in God?  What are your greatest fears?  How do you combat them?   Are you ready to see amazing things?

How do you combat your fears?  The people were told to watch the ark of the covenant and follow it.  This was their physical connection and tie to the Almighty.  Inside the ark was the precious Word of God as well as evidence and reminders of just some of the miracles God had already performed on their behalf.  How well are you following the Word of God and remembering His miracles.   God’s Word has the power to take you where you have never been before – into a deeper and deeper relationship following the Almighty.  And remembering His miracles deepens your faith and combats your fears.

How do you prepare yourself to see amazing things?  “Joshua told the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you’ ” (Joshua 3:5).  Consecrated – to be dedicated to a sacred purpose.  What purposes are you dedicated to?  Work, family, friends, vacation, finances, fun, fame?  What consumes your time and your thoughts throughout the day?  Those are the purposes that you are dedicated to.  In Joshua’s day they proved they were consecrated by following ceremonial laws for washings and other outward evidences that they were set apart for God’s purposes first and foremost.  Do you have evidence that you are consecrated to Him?  Is your bank account, your calendar, your thought life dedicated to Him?  Is your Bible well worn?  Does your family, neighbors, co-workers, and peers know that you are consecrated to Him?

God has some amazing things waiting for those who are dedicated to His purposes.  Prepare yourself to see them – CONSECRATE yourself to Him.

Go With God – all day long – Marcia Railton

Yahweh, God of Angel Armies, Knows My Name (I Chronicles 24-26)

Tuesday, November 22

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For the past year we have heard all about “fly over states”. I Chron. 24-26 could be called fly over passages in the Bible. You know what I mean. The lists and lists and lists of names that leave you wondering what inspiration of God those chapters hold. But just like all the people living in those fly over states want their voices to be heard, God lets us know he is watching and listening and involved with lives. This “memory-ing” that God walks us through gives a glimpse of the order that went into the tabernacle and how involved he was in the process, knitting it all together so it could bridge lives back to their roots. Back to an understanding that God was ever present and they were his children.

I diligently read through the list of names hoping to find a Jabez crying out to God in prayer to redeem his name and make him more than everyone believed him to be (I Chron. 4:10). And there in chapter 26, among the list of doorkeepers, I was rewarded with Obed-Edom. God makes a point to say that he had blessed him and his family of 62 doorkeepers. Doesn’t sound like the greatest position in the world, but these were men ready to serve and blessed of God to do so.

Through a set of unfortunate circumstances the Ark of the Covenant resided at the house of Obed-Edom for three months. David was attempting to move the Ark to Jerusalem and when the cattle carrying the Ark stumbled, Uzzah reached out to steady it and fell over dead.

Obed-Edom took a huge risk and must have had great faith in God along with confidence in his children to live alongside the Ark. When David decides months later it is time to take the Ark to Jerusalem, Obed-Edom could have stayed at home, but he decided to go and continue to serve. His love of God and desire for others to know that goodness had cast out all fear.

Another interesting thing about Obed-Edom is he wasn’t willing to rely on past efforts to be good enough. He had received blessing from God and wanted to stay in close relationship. By human standards leaving all you have to be a doorkeeper, that honestly wasn’t the flashiest of jobs, probably didn’t make sense to many. Obed-Edom must have agreed with what David said in Psalms 84:10, 12 – “For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the tent of my God than to dwell in the tents of wickedness… Blessed is the man who trusts in you.”

Take time today to draw close to God and know he will bless you for the effort you put into spending time with Him. Never doubt that our God of Angel Armies knows you by name and desires to make you known to future generations for your deeds of service.

Someone is counting on you living like you know you are a child of the Most High.

Keep Spreading the Light,

Glennis Walters

(photo credit –  http://www.theversesproject.com/verses/204/Psalm-84.10-11)

David’s Psalm of Thanksgiving (1 Chronicles 14-16)

Saturday, November 19

1chron16-8

In 1 Chronicles 16:8-36, we see a Psalm that David dedicated before the ark of the covenant after it was brought to Jerusalem.  Having the ark back where it belonged was a huge deal for Israel, and David wanted something to show Israel’s thanks to God for this.  Here is a small section, verses 8-10

Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name;
make known among the nations what he has done.

Sing to him, sing praise to him;
tell of all his wonderful acts.

Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.

Now this is retold after returning from Exile.  Once again there is a great reason to give thanks to God, and to praise his name.

Skipping to the end of this Psalm we see the following in verses 34-36

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
his love endures forever.

Cry out, “Save us, O God our Savior;
gather us and deliver us from the nations
that we may give thanks to your holy name,
that we may glory in your praise.”

Praise be to the LORD our God of Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting.

Again, this would have been very appropriate after returning from exile.  They were at risk of attacks from enemy nations, and this Psalm includes a request for deliverance from the nations.  They ask for deliverance so that they may praise God even more.

We also have many reasons to give things and praise the name of God.  We need deliverance from our spiritual enemies that attack us, so that we may continue to praise God.  What do you have to be thankful for today?  Let’s remember to praise God for all he has done, and the promises we know he will continue to keep.

-Andrew Hamilton

God’s Sometimes Heavy – and Always Righteous – Hand (I Samuel 4-7)

Sunday, October 9th – Start of Week 12

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By : Terrence Raper

The Philistines capture the ark of the covenant, and it seems like a huge symbolic victory, to accompany the actual victory over the Israelites. Except for the part where God begins to place His “heavy hand” on all those around the ark of the covenant. Steven Spielberg was not too far off with his portrayal of what trouble befalls those who mess with the physical symbol of God’s covenant. Several cases of tumors, and a crushed pagan deity, and now no one wants the ark in their town.

The ark in these few chapters reminds me of the anecdotal nature my parents used to talk about the prospect of my brothers and I being kidnapped. They used to say that they weren’t worried about anyone snatching up one of us. My parents joked that we would have been promptly returned to them due to how much trouble we would have caused. Also, that we would have annoyed the kidnappers so much that they would have risked being caught, and would have given up any hope of ransom just to return us home.

The return of the ark to the Israelites came with even more bloodshed. Some Israelites were killed for looking inside. I still find it hard to reconcile the God of the Old Testament, with the father of Jesus. It is hard to see the forgiving actions displayed by Jesus, connecting to the seemingly static commands of God. I believe God is omnipotent and all knowing. So I wonder sometimes if this is the way it had to be, or was this bloody history found in the Old Testament part of God actually changing his approach towards human kind?

Indiana Jones – Raiders of the Lost Ark

By Josiah Cain

josiah ark

Well if there is one thing you probably noticed about today’s reading, that is, it was repetitive. The amount of instructions were so long because every other sentence was like, do this exact same thing again on the other side. Besides all of the long winded instructions, what else was there? I actually think there is a lot of value hidden in these words.

The first thing I noticed was how specific the instructions got; it was just like yesterday’s reading where the situations that were described got really specific. I think this shows us that God really does have an exact way that He wants us to do things sometimes.

Also what a cool job it would be to build God’s tabernacle and His ark. The ark is such a historically important object that Hollywood even decided to make a movie about it. Also the tabernacle was the first place that God really calls His dwelling place, the first time we see God dwelling amongst His people since the Garden of Eden.

Another thought I had was how everything the ark and tabernacle were built out of was expensive. I think that material doesn’t really change the holiness points of structures but I think it did impact the Israelite’s view of the whole ordeal. The Israelites had to put some skin in the game if they wanted to really build the ark and tabernacle. All of the materials mentioned did not come cheap and easily, especially in the middle of the desert.

All in all, this might not have been the most thrilling section to read but it is still important because God put it there. I hope you did learn something about the tabernacle and the ark. It might have also made you appreciate the fact that God hasn’t asked you to build Him a giant tent in your back yard. Once again thanks for reading!