A New and Improved Covenant

Jeremiah 33 & 34 and Hebrews 8

Following God and obeying His will does not mean that we will have a life free of problems as we can see from so many of the stories in the Bible. It does mean that God is with us as we go through the hard times. Sometimes life is harder for us when we tell others what God wants them to hear.  As we read Jeremiah 33 & 34, we see that this is true for Jeremiah. Jeremiah is still imprisoned by King Zedekiah and Jeremiah is still obeying and trusting in God and telling them what God has told him to say. In Jeremiah 33:2-3a it says “This is what the Lord says, He who made the earth, the Lord who formed it to create it, He whose name is the Lord: ‘Call to Me and I will answer you,‘” Isn’t it amazing that the God who created the universe wants us to call out to Him, and it’s equally amazing that He WILL answer. We all have hard times that we go through, but we can call out to our Father and He will walk with us through the hard times. But He wants us (and the Israelites & Judeans) to know that there is a bright future when all the hardships will be over and we will live in joy and peace.

It says in Jeremiah 33:11b “Give thanks to the Lord of armies, for the Lord is good, for His mercy is everlasting,” God is a good God and His mercies are everlasting, and He has a great future in store for His children. God reminds them that a day is coming when His word will be fulfilled. In Jeremiah 33:14-16 we have a prophecy about Jesus and it says; “Behold, days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will fulfill the good word which I have spoken concerning the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch of David sprout; and He shall execute justice and righteousness on the earth. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety; and this is the name by which it will be called: the Lord is our righteousness.’

In Chapter 34 God tells Jeremiah to tell King Zedekiah that Babylon will come in and take over and he will meet King Nebuchadnezzar face to face, but he says that the king would not die by the sword but that he would die in peace. As we learn in the rest of the chapter that is exactly what happened.

We have all seen commercials about something that is “New and Improved,” which means that something was not as good as it should have been or there would be no need for improvement. Hebrews 8 is all about a new covenant that has been established through Jesus, our sacrificial lamb, and now our high priest. The reason there had to be a new covenant was because the first one was not faultless, but the new covenant is. Hebrews 8:1 “Now the main point in what has been said is this: we have such a high priest, who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, without fault.” Jesus was the perfect sacrificial lamb, without fault or blemish.  We have read some of these verses already because they were taken from Jeremiah 31:33. Anytime a verse is used in both the Old and New Testament, we should pay attention to what it says. Hebrews 8:10-11.  “For this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put My laws into their minds, And write them on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be My people.  And they will not teach, each one his fellow citizen, and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least to the greatest of them.” God is constantly working in our lives because He is a God of love, He loves His children, and He wants to be our God, and for us to be His people.  

-Sherry Alcumbrack

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway.com here – Jeremiah 33-34 and Hebrews 8

Better Days are Coming

Jeremiah 31 & 32 and Hebrews 7

Do you feel like many of us, and you want to hear some good news? I’m thinking that the Judeans may have been feeling this way. Can you remember times that were pure joy? I used to love summers, no school, visits with family, church camps, and family vacations. It was the best time of the year! Looking back we forget the bad times and just remember the good days. The chapters of Jeremiah 30-34 are referred to as the book of encouragement, it was the good news after all the doom and gloom. We get to read about the brighter days that are coming for Israel and Judah together again. There are better days ahead.

The Bible is a book about us having a relationship with God. Jeremiah is about a restored relationship with God. When we have a relationship with someone, we want to spend time with them, we talk to them, we ask them questions because we want to know everything about them. This is the kind of relationship God wants with His children. Jeremiah 31:1 “At that time,” declares the Lord, “I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be My people.”  And in verse 3 it says “The Lord appeared to him long ago, saying, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you out with kindness.” God loves us, with an everlasting love but he allows us to make the choice if we will return His love. Not only is He a God who loves, but He is also a God who judges. We have to decide if we will return His love, seek Him, and follow Him. Jeremiah 31:33 says, “For this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord: “I will put My law within them and write it on their heart; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” That is His deepest desire, that we be His people. At this time the nation of Israel and Judah were separate, Israel had been in exile for years, and Judah was going to be captured by Babylon in the near future.

In Jeremiah 32 King Zedekiah has had Jeremiah shut up in the palace guard prison because the king wanted Jeremiah to quit prophesying that they would be captured by Babylon. But this is what God told Jeremiah to tell His people and it is exactly what will happen. God tells Jeremiah, the children of Israel and Judah have done evil for years, they have turned their back on me, they have followed other gods, and they have burned their children as sacrifices to Moloch. They have done evil things. But when they call out to God, He will bring them back to their land and verse 38 once again says “And they shall be My people, and I will be their God!” When we call out to God, He always accepts us back.

Hebrews 7 is about a new covenant, in the first covenant the Levites were the priests for Israel. Jesus was not a Levite he was from the line of Judah. He was made our high priest not because of his lineage but because he led a perfect life that made him worthy of being a priest. Hebrews 7: 26-28 “For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens; who has no daily need, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because He did this once for all time when He offered up Himself.For the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak, but the word of the oath, which came after the Law, appoints a Son, who has been made perfect forever.” When Jesus, our High Priest, returns to set up the kingdom, our better days will be here to stay. What a glorious day that will be.

-Sherry Alcumbrack


Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to here at BibleGateway.com – Jeremiah 31 & 32 and Hebrews 7

What can we learn from a 7 year old king?

Evil Won’t Stop God’s Covenant

2 Kings 11-12


Have you ever thought about how absolutely insane it is that somehow, David’s lineage made it all the way to Jesus? Through 14 generations, 490 years, and an abundance of disappointingly disobedient kings, God kept his promise to David (2 Samuel 7). As we read through the Old Testament, it becomes clear that God’s people are not always godly people. We watch as countless kings mess up, disobey, lose their faith, forget God, and pass their bad habits onto the
next generation. But God’s covenant prevails. Nothing could break it, no matter the odds.


In today’s reading, Athaliah, the mother of the late King Ahaziah, sets out to end the house of David, killing Ahaziah’s entire family in a cruel effort to keep a firm grip on the throne. Miraculously, however, she fails. Ahaziah’s courageous sister, Jehosheba, safely hides away one of her brother’s sons, Joash, and keeps him hidden for six years until he can be anointed and crowned King of Judah. Athaliah is put to death, and the young Joash grows into a good and righteous king.


God didn’t let go of the promises He made to David, even when it seemed all was lost. Through both wicked kings, like Ahab and Ahaziah, and good kings, like Jehoshaphat and Joash, the royal line of David continued on, all the way to Jesus Christ. God had a plan, He made a promise, and He followed through. And this was a large-scale plan, spanning over 400 years. So we never need to doubt His plan for us. Jesus will return, he will establish God’s Kingdom, and if we
believe, we will live there forever in eternal fellowship with our Heavenly Father. No matter how lost the world may seem, no matter how hopeless we may feel, our God will carry out His promises.

-Isabella Osborn

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 2 Kings 11-12 and Proverbs 10

Dem Bones…Can They Live?

Ezekiel 35-37


It would probably be blasphemous to suggest God asks silly questions, so I won’t. But I would imply that the creator of the universe makes inquiries which His creatures wouldn’t. I don’t think most of us, upon seeing a valley full of human bones, dried out by years of the sun beating down on them, would think to ask: Can these bones live? No, I think the first question would be: “What on earth happened here?” Followed by: “What’s the quickest way out of this place?” But that is not what happens in chapter 37 of Ezekiel. No, Ezekiel doesn’t get to ask a question, instead, one is posed to him by God, “Can these bones live?” And he responds with either the biggest cop-out of an answer there is or the wisest: “Only God knows.” I would lean towards wisest. God’s not trying to learn something from Ezekiel; He is trying to reveal something to the prophet so Ezekiel can relay it to the people of Israel, which is why he doesn’t try to guess at an answer. Ezekiel doesn’t care to have his opinions heard by God; he wants to know what God has to say. We would do well to learn this trait from the prophet–you could say it would be quite profitable (sorry!).

While Ezekiel doesn’t provide a yes or no answer to the question, God does: yes, these bones will live again. These bones, representing the house of Israel, who have been cut off from their land, and whose hope is gone, will live again. God’s people who, time after time, have rebelled against Yahweh and received mercy only to rebel further, will once again experience the grace of God and return to the Promised Land. This vision, like all those received by the prophets, is first for the Jews. It concerns God’s People and it is for God’s People, but there is much for us, as Christians, to learn from the words of the prophets today.

A few things we should recognize from this particular revelation and meditate on are (1) God’s relentless love for His people, despite their blunders, foolishness, and obstinate ways (to put it mildly). (2) That God can (and does) redeem those who have been abused, discarded, and forgotten. (3) We can (and should) have hope and trust in Yahweh, despite any and every problematic, perilous, or pernicious situation we may be in. The God we serve does not cower at death, does not withhold second chances, and does not fail to love the unlovable. Neither should we. 

– Joel Fletcher

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – ht

tps://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ezekiel+35-37&version=NIV

Tomorrow we will read Ezekiel 38-39 as we continue on our

Standing in the Gap

Ezekiel 22-23

Ezekiel 22 30 NIV sgl

 

Within chapter 22 of Ezekiel we see different messages that God is trying to send to us through His prophet that are about Judah and Jerusalem.  We see all the ways that they sinned and that God is going to punish them because of their sins.

 

“‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: You city that brings on herself doom by shedding blood in her midst and defiles herself by making idols,  you have become guilty because of the blood you have shed and have become defiled by the idols you have made.” (Ezekiel 22:3,4)

 

In many ways our society does these same things.  The violence against minorities and the bloodshed in our streets in recent times has gotten to the point where many cannot take it any longer, and it is starting to rip our society apart.  The continued war against the unborn has cooled down compared to decades past, but continues to claim hundreds of thousands of innocent lives per year.

 

Our society also excels at creating new idols and finding things to worship besides God.  We have gotten so good at it that we dedicate whole tv shows to it.  Covid has helped to highlight some of the idols in our lives.  If the loss of a season of football or the delay of a tv show has you devastated, then that might be an idol for you.

 

In the day of Ezekiel God looked through the land for a person who could intercede for Israel before him, like Moses did when God saw the Israelites making the calf to worship and wanted to wipe them out.  Sadly this time God did not find such a person, Ezekiel was only there to record God’s word and pass it on to the people, so God’s judgement was poured out on the people when the Babylonians invaded.

 

 “I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one. So I will pour out my wrath on them and consume them with my fiery anger, bringing down on their own heads all they have done, declares the Sovereign Lord.” (Ezekiel 22:30-31)

 

All of the Israelites welcomed sin into their lives and did not try to fight it, and in many ways our society today welcomes sin and chases after it.  If we follow their example and do not fight against sin then we will end up on the wrong side of things when God again pours out his wrath on the earth because of the overwhelming sin and corruption on earth. This is a call to action for us to stand firm on the battlements, even if we are alone, and fight against idolatry and evil, so that when Jesus returns he will find some righteous people left.

Chris and Katie-Beth Mattison

 

 

Today’s Bible reading passage can be read or listened to at the Biblegateway site by clicking here – Ezekiel 22-23

Tomorrow’s reading will be Ezekiel 24-27 as we continue on our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

The Throne and the Temple

1 Kings 9 and 2 Chronicles 8

1 Kings 9 3 NIV sgl

In today’s passage, the temple in Jerusalem has been built along with the palace and throne of Solomon. David wanted to build the temple for God, but he was a man of war and bloodshed. Therefore God used David’s son, Solomon. In the passage from 1 Kings 9, we read God making a covenant with Solomon. We know about the Abrahamic and Davidic Covenants, but here we have the Solomonic covenant. There are lots of warnings in it, but there are two main verses I want to focus on. Each hold promises that I want to focus on today; two things that should interest us in this Older Testament text after the revelation of Jesus Christ.
First, in 1 Kings 9:5, God promises that, according to verse 4, if Solomon is righteous, then “you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.” Though the children of Solomon did turn away and not follow God with their hearts, we can see that God stays true to the promise he made to David and Solomon. Christ, the son of Solomon (Matthew 1:6-7), will rule on the throne of David and Solomon. He will sit on the throne of the New Jerusalem over the Kingdom of God on the earth. What a glorious day that will be. We can trust and hope that during these uncertain times, we have the certainty of Christ reigning among his people in the future. God has declared it, he has promised. If He speaks it, He will fulfill it. (Numbers 23:19)
Secondly, a metaphor for Christ is the “chief cornerstone” (1 Peter 2:4-8). It’s a building term; it was the most important stone in the entire project. The whole building was measured off the cornerstone. If the cornerstone was strong and level, the whole house would stand. If it was crooked or wrong, it would fall. Christ is the cornerstone, and we are stones in this holy building that God is building. And this building is not just any building! In both 1 Corinthians 3:16 and Ephesians 2:21, it is clear that the people of God collectively are the NEW TEMPLE OF GOD. God promises in 1 Kings 9:3 that he consecrated a house where he will dwell, that he put his name there forever, and His eyes and His heart will be there perpetually. But the house where God dwells now is not a building in Jerusalem, but in the community of the redeemed. When the people who have been saved gather together, God’s eyes are there, God’s heart is there, and His name is put into us forever.
Praise be to God that through Christ our Lord we have been given a savior who will rule on the throne of David and Solomon, a savior who builds his people into the temple where God dwells.
Jake Ballard
Tomorrow’s passage will be Proverbs 25 & 26 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

A Time-Out

Psalm 43-45, 49, 84-85 & 87

Psalm 85 8c NIV

Sometimes when I am reading through the Psalms I just get this weird feeling that someone must have copy and pasted a new verse into my Bible while I was sleeping – and there it is for me in the morning.  It is so relevant and timely and hits me where my heart is.  Surely this wasn’t written 3,000 years ago, was it?  Just think of all the differences from their society to ours: architecture, technology, transportation, languages, clothing, careers, and entertainment, just to name a few.  How could that ancient book speak to me today in 2020?  And yet, the most important things have not changed at all.  God – and human nature.  He is still the Almighty.  And we are not.  But as His created beings, even thousands of years later, we still have all the same emotions, fears, desires, weaknesses, hopes, pride, and insecurities.  So thus, these ancient words, were written for me, today.

One such verse that stuck out to me in today’s reading is Psalm 85:8.  Read it a few times.

“I will listen to what God the Lord will say;

he promises peace to his people, his saints —

but let them not return to folly”

So much in this verse:  The importance of listening to God – He is talking but am I listening?

God promises peace.  We know trouble comes, expect it, deal with it, knowing that God gives His Son – and peace – to his people.  (John 16:33)

Be His people – His saints.  Strive for righteousness – it’s what His kids do.  Be His people – His saints – to get the peace (see above).

And – today’s kicker – “But let them not return to folly.

As we sit today in Covid-19 isolation and everyone is chomping at the bit to return to “normal”,  I wonder, how much of “normal” would God call folly?

I checked the dictionary to see what exactly is the definition of folly.  Lexico.com defines folly as “lack of good sense; foolishness; a foolish act, idea, or practice.”  Sounds like a good thing to avoid.  There was another definition for folly that I found interesting and perhaps strangely fitting: “A costly ornamental building with no practical purpose, especially a tower or mock-Gothic ruin built in a large garden or park.”  What type of structure was our previous  “normal” building?  What are the dangers of spending our time and finances and priorities on a life/building that looks really good on the outside, but lacks any “practical purpose”? That would be folly, indeed.  What practical purposes would God want us to pursue?  Where did our priorities lie?  What did we always want to do – but never had time for?  What did we do with the majority of our time?  What about our finances?  What role did the pursuit of wealth play in our old normal?  A lot is said about that in another one of today’s passages, Psalm 49.  Make sure you give it a read and see what it says about “riches without understanding”.  How much of our life was a beautiful outside,  but lacking a purpose – folly – foolishness.  

I pray we don’t go back to “normal”.  I pray I don’t return to folly.  I pray through this time we evaluate our purpose, even better yet, God’s purpose.

As a parent and day-care provider for over 20 years I have sat many a cute little behind in the all-powerful time-out chair.  And it is always with the hope that when the time of isolation and consideration is past the offender will walk free – but not to return to their former folly.  The purpose of the time-out chair is to ponder – what is my real purpose?  Do I want to get that prized toy, regardless of how it might hurt my friend?  Will anger, sulking and a bad attitude make my day better?  Are my wants and wishes the only ones I should consider?  And, so often, the preschool time-out chair shows its worth in returning a child, not to normal or to folly, but to a fresh purpose – be the best I can be.

We have been given a little time-out.  Let us use our time-out wisely.  Consider our past folly.  In what ways are we beautiful outsides – with no practical purpose?  What part of “normal” will you work to avoid?  What can we do today, and how can we plan for tomorrow, to concentrate on seeking God, His purposes and His peace.

With Much Love and Prayers,

Marcia Railton

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+43-45%2C49%2C+84-85%2C87&version=NIV

Tomorrow we read some more of the family reunion genealogies from 1 Chronicles 3-5 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan.

Seek.   Grow.   Love.   

Over and over and over

Monday – Judges 3-5

Judges Devotions (1)

Judges reminds me of the movie “Groundhog Day”—the one where Bill Murray, the local weatherman, relives the same day over and over and over. While not a single groundhog makes an appearance in Judges, the book does repeat itself over and over and over. You see, the Israelites are in a downward spiral, stuck in a vicious cycle of sin. In the reading for today, Judges 3-5, we see this cycle play out three times, once under Othniel, again under Ehud, and finally under Deborah. Today, we’ll take a closer look at this cycle using the example of Othniel:

1. SIN – “The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD; they forgot the LORD their God and served the Baals and the Asherahs” (Judges 3:7). The Israelites neglected to kick out all the bad people from the Promised Land, and they often find themselves tempted by the Canaanite’s sinful ways. Their temptation leads to habitual sin, tearing themselves further from God.

2. OPPRESSION – “The anger of the LORD burned against Israel so that he sold them into the hands of Cushan-Rishathain king of Aram Naharaim, to whom the Israelites were subject for eight years” (Judges 3:8). I think, perhaps, God uses oppression as a tool to bring His people to their knees. His people become so desperate with no other choice but to turn to Him.

3. REPENTANCE – “But when they cried out to the LORD…” (Judges 3:9a) In their newly humbled position, the Israelites cry out to God. They recognize their sin and run from it, towards a God whose arms are always open.

4. DELIVERANCE – “He raised up for them a deliverer, Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother, who saved them. The Spirit of the LORD came on him, so that he became Israel’s judge and went to war” (Judges 3:9b & 10a). God works for His people through His people. He fills people with His Holy Spirit to accomplish His work.

5. PEACE – “So the land had peace for forty years” (Judges 3:11a). With a newfound trust in God and a godly leader to follow, the Israelites find peace. Unfortunately, after Othniel passes, this peace leads to complacency which leads right back to sin.

As a soon-to-be English teacher, this literary structure of the book of Judges is impressive. As a follower of God, this repetition is alarming. Why do the Israelites keep finding themselves back in a stage of sin? Why am I a repeat offender of the same sins?

Temptation and habit.

First, just like the Israelites were tempted by the corrupt and wicked ways of the Canaanites dwelling in the Promised Land, we, too, are surrounded by temptation. Set healthy boundaries from whatever may be luring you towards sin because the more distance we give between ourselves and temptation, the less likely we are to fall into sin.

Second, the Israelites were caught sinning over and over and over—their sin became their habit. Recognize the power of your habits and work diligently to set healthy rhythms that honor God. Ever since I read this quote, I’ve been convicted of the power of my own habits: “People do not decide their futures, they decide their habits and their habits decide their futures” -F.M. Alexander

Let the boundaries and habits you set lead you away from sin and towards God.

 

Mackenzie McClain

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Judges+3-5&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s Bible reading will be Judges 6-7 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan.  Reading God’s Word daily is one healthy habit to pursue.  Keep at it!  It has the power to determine your future.

Counting in the Wilderness

 

Numbers 1 & 2 Cain

Do you ever feel like you’re in your high school math class reading through the book of Numbers like a timeworn Algebra 2 book? Rest assured there’s no Pythagorean theorem in this book of Numbers! The name ‘Numbers’ actually comes from an old Greek translation of the Old Testament called the Septuagint. The Septuagint translators gave the book that title because of the listing of the numbers of the tribes of Israel in the first four chapters. It is a shame that the title of this great book is defined by only a small portion of its contents. The Hebrew name given to the book is much more accurate to its true contents, בְּמִדְבַּר (bemindbar). The Hebrew word bemindbar actually means “in the wilderness” which is exactly what the book of Numbers covers. After a long-awaited return to the land, which was promised to their fathers, the Israelites can finally take the journey through the desert back to Israel. The trip from Egypt to Israel shouldn’t have taken more than a couple of weeks on foot, but somehow the Israelites found a way to make the journey last 40 years. There is a lot that happens in these 40 years.  This book is filled with rich history that is very dear to the Israelite people and events that would shape their faith and ours forever. If anyone has ever told you that Numbers is a boring book, I stand opposed. As we spend some time traveling though the beginning of this book I hope you see the importance that God has placed in its words.

The first words of the book are its name sake. “Then the LORD spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the tent of meeting.”  There you have it, these words literally are the title of the book. I want to point out something that can easily be over looked by long-time Christians, and that is the phrase “the LORD spoke to Moses”. When was the last time that God chatted you up to give you direct commands? It’s not every day that the Creator of the universe talks directly to people. Only a few times in the Bible do we see God in direct communication with people in this way. I think as Christians we become numb to the stories we read as if everything is a normal day occurrence when it isn’t. For the first time in history there is a place that God has designated to dwell among His people. For the first time in history God is setting up a nation to call His own. God literally creates the nation of Israel before our eyes in the book of Numbers. When you stop to think about it, what is happening here is a monumental shift in history, setting the world on a course for God’s redemption plan to take place.

We find the book of Numbers picking up the story of God’s people two years into their time in the wilderness. During this time God has made a covenant with His people and they have built the tabernacle. Then we find that God wants Moses to count the number of able bodied men that could fight. These are the numbers that we find in the first chapter. Remember these are just the men 20 years of age and up who can fight; this doesn’t include all the men unable to fight, women, and younger people. Just the fighting men numbered 603,550! No one knows the exact number of the Israelites, but many estimates put the total number of people at around 2-4 million. As we read all the numbers of the first chapter we might be tempted to drift off to sleep, but an interesting point to realize is just how accurate the numbers are. The accuracy and attention to detail, to me at least, is evidence towards the validity of the scriptures. These aren’t details that someone would make up. If you look at any mythology or creation story, you don’t frequently see detailed accounts with genealogies such as we do here in Numbers. The detailed records of the Old Testament are proof to God’s care and intent for truth. Even with counting, our God is faithful and true.

As we move into the second chapter we see a rehashing of the numbers of the tribes and explicit directions from God as to how the Israelites are to set up camp. Imagine a square with the tabernacle at the center.  Directly around the tabernacle are the Levites. On each side of the square we find three tribes. I think there are two things we can glean from Chapter 2 about how God chose to design the camp. First, I think we can see how orderly and intentional God is with His people. I think no small part of having the Levites around the center was to help maintain a health boundary around the tabernacle to keep it holy. Holiness is one of the most important things to God. We can see how seriously God treats His holiness when He strikes now Nadab and Abihu, Aaron’s sons, in Leviticus 10. I think another reason God laid out the camp like He did was so that not one tribe was favored by being closer to the Tabernacle than another tribe. Imagine the fights that could have started if the tribes were allowed to camp wherever they wanted. If Dan claimed a spot right next to the Tabernacle, Judah might have started a fight because they were closer to God that day. Although these might not be the most glamorous chapters of the Bible, they do show us that God set up a very good system for His people. The first two chapters of Numbers show us a glimpse into God’s intentionality and love for His people.

I’ll admit, the first few chapters of this book aren’t the most exciting.  However, the book of Numbers holds many interesting stories and important lessons for us to learn as followers of God.  Many of the greatest teaching points for the prophets and apostles come from the stories in this book.  It is through the miracle of the exodus and the hardships of the wilderness that the nation of Israel is birthed.  I can’t wait to explore more of this book with you in the coming days!

Josiah & Amber Cain

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Numbers+1-2&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s Bible reading will be Numbers 3&4 as we continue our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

 

 

Making a Different People : Blessings and Curses

Leviticus 26-27

Leviticus 26 12 NIV
Chapters 26 and 27 of Leviticus makes it seem like the book ends twice. While the valuations of 27 help us understand tithes and how giving to the Lord means more than money, indeed EVERYTHING we have, it seems like 26 was the “original” ending. The author, editors, and priests who God inspired to write and work in this text ended, first, with a powerful section on blessing and curses.(See note below)
The narrative of the Exodus, that is, God crushing the Egyptians and their gods, leading his people out to worship him, and then bringing them into the promised land, is the climax of the Torah, and arguably the CENTRAL NARRATIVE of the Old Testament. That is why God has repeated something over and over and over again. I hope you caught it, as I noted that when something is repeated, God wants you to pay attention. Here it is in 26:13 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt so that you would not be their slaves, and I broke the bars of your yoke and made you walk erect.” Think about how many times you have heard something like this in the commands of Leviticus. God keeps grounding his commands in the beautiful reality that he has brought this people, the children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, out of the land of Egypt. He has redeemed them from slavery. Because he has done that, he wants them to walk in a way that is different and better than the nations around them. If they don’t walk that way but turn away, then he will allow the trouble of this world to overtake them, in order that they might cry out to him. However, if they do obey, then he will give them unending blessings and he promises, “I will also walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people.” (26:12)
I hope you see the parallel to our lives as we follow Christ. The CENTRAL NARRATIVE of creation is the Exodus led by Jesus, who broke us all out of the bondage and slavery to sin and has set us free. As Jesus brings us into the Canaan of the Kingdom of God, not just the future Kingdom on the Earth, but the present rule and reign of God, he looks to us and says, “there is a better way to live.” He gives us a holy way of life, grounded in his love and his sacrifice. But, better than before, we are able to become changed from the inside out because of the power of God flowing through us. No longer must we simply keep outward laws and regulations, but our hearts can become pure. God can change our desires and our destiny.  We are able to become children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and heirs according to the promise of God. If we follow the way of God, through the power of the Spirit of God, all the while redeemed through the Son of God, then one day we will see God. The metaphor of Leviticus, God saying “I will also walk among you” will become reality. We will be in the full, unmitigated glorious presence of God, in the Land of Promise, His Kingdom.
May you, my brothers and sisters, become a different people.
May the principles and practices of Leviticus shape you into a holy people.
May the mercy and justice of God be made evident to you in all of scripture, and especially in Leviticus.
May the blood of Jesus, a perfect lamb, without spot or blemish, cover you, redeem you, cleanse you of all sins.
May God, my brothers and sisters, bless you!
Jake Ballard
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Note : To be fair, this is a hunch, not a statement of fact or even a solid belief. If you disagree and believe that Moses, or whoever authored this book, wrote it this way on purpose as directed by God, then that is certainly an acceptable view. I just want to point out the fun, interesting quirks of books. This is similar to how John 20:30-31 is a good ending to the book, as well as John 21:24-25. Just some fun food for thought, but not the focus of the devotion. Keep reading above.
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(Jake Ballard is Pastor at Timberland Bible Church in South Bend, IN. He lives in the Michiana Area with his wife, daughter, and in the summer, two more little ones. If you’d like to say hi you can find him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/jacob.ballard.336  You can also hear more teachings at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCs_awyI1LyPZ4QEZVN7HqKQ  If you want to have an interesting conversation with him, just say “I don’t like the ninth guy in a blue police box.” God bless!)
Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Leviticus+26-27&version=NIV
We made it through the book of Leviticus and learned about God on the way.
Keep reading!  Tomorrow we begin the book of Numbers (chapters 1 & 2) as we continue on our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan
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