Oh that God would Reveal Himself

Psalm 119 Part 2 (verses 41-80)

Do you ever think about just how amazing this blog is?

First, humans have languages all across the world. Then, in some places, human societies developed in such a way that business transactions needed to be written down. Then, they decided they could write about more than business transactions and began to codify spoken word into written words, then those words develop for centuries. New technologies like the printing press and then the internet allow those words that express the concepts of all language to reach wider and then near global audiences. The reason human society was able to be where it is now is not just because humans are smart, but because we are able to take the best of the best ideas and pass them on in written format. That’s what allows our massive growth of collective knowledge to be used by and benefit future generations. 

In around 1400 BC, a community of slaves, leaving behind literate, powerful, imperial Egypt, write down, in words and letters, their story of the beginning of all things, how they got out of the mess their people were in, and what they were going to do about it. These people write “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” It was at this point that the Jewish people, an enslaved community, became a community focused around words. They were not just focusing on what their hands could produce, but on what these words said. Because the words were not simply words. 

How can we know the mind of another person? 

We can know their actions, know what they say. In legal proceedings, the prosecution and defense will try and show both the action a person took but also the state of mind behind the action. But we can’t know, we can only deduce and guess. 

Unless, we can trust someone and they tell us exactly what they were thinking. 

I don’t trust people to guess the mind of God. Too many people through the years have said “God wants it to be this way” to me in the midst of pain, and their words rang hollow. Too many people said “This is the judgement of God” and their words feel cruel. 

I only trust what is going on in the mind of God if God tells me. 

THAT is the beauty of the words of the Torah. A bunch of slaves leave Egypt, taking the money, the power, the labor force that made Egypt a superpower of it’s day. Moses writes about the experience in the Torah, and the Jews believed and believe that it is the word of God given to know his mind, his heart, who God is. 

Reason shows that God is probable. 

Intuitions about justice and beauty shows God makes sense. 

History shows that God is powerful. 

But the Torah gave the Jews something beyond general truths about God. It showed the Jews the best way to live. The way to live in accord with the God of the universe, to keep themselves pure and holy. All in words written down on a page so that generations upon generations could read them. 

We will talk more about the way that the author of psalm 119 writes about the Torah tomorrow, but I want you to realize that God did not have to reveal Godself. God reveals his desires as one trustworthy and tells us exactly what he means. We don’t have to guess, because we wouldn’t get him right. The Jews experienced the fire of God on the mountain, and trusted that what Moses received was the word of God. David believed that, as did the prophets, as did John the Baptist, as did Jesus. 

As amazing as this blog is, isn’t it even more amazing that God in his goodness and grace would reveal himself to humans. What a gracious gift to know the mind of the Lord. May we continually remember that as we read Psalm 119 this week.

-Jake Ballard

Today’s Bible reading plan passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway.com here – Ezekiel 27-28 and Psalm 119:41-80

Delighting in the Law of the Lord

Psalm 1

For most people, these next two weeks are the most difficult to continue doing your Bible reading plan. These next two weeks deal with the book of Leviticus, which is chock-full of descriptions of sacrifices and offerings that seemingly no longer apply to us today, and many people wind up either skipping it or quitting their Bible reading plan altogether. However, my goal this week in these devotions is to hopefully build your appreciation for this crucial book in the story of Israel’s history and what it can possibly mean for us. This is one of my favorite books in the Bible, possibly because I’m either just weird or like to research things that other people don’t. I do want to give a brief shout-out to Professor Bob Jones at ABC for developing my appreciation for this book; if you want to get excited about the Old Testament, go speak with him and you will never be the same again.

Before we dive into this difficult book, I want to tap into Psalm 1 for this week. The psalmist states that there are two different kinds of people: those who are wicked and sinful, and those who delight in and meditate on the law (Torah) of YHWH. God doesn’t judge people by race, gender, or nationality, but on their devotion to Him and His laws. The psalmist states that God protects those who love His laws and causes them to prosper; however, those who reject His commands are already condemned and are on their way to destruction. Which group of people do you want to be a part of?

What the psalmist is referring to as “the law of YHWH” are the commands found in the first five books of the Bible, otherwise known as the Torah, or Books of Moses. I want you to notice that one of the books that is included there is Leviticus; we are supposed to delight in and meditate on Leviticus! Unfortunately, this book has a bad reputation in our culture today, as it speaks out specifically against all types of sins that people love to enjoy. However, it is a powerful testimony of the love, patience, and mercy of God in the midst of our struggles, and a clear reminder of the ways that we are supposed to live.

My hope and prayer is that you will be as excited about Leviticus as the psalmist was and as I am. There is so much information found in there that is still relevant to us; it just needs to be carefully dug out and discussed. Let’s look forward to this book and try to find God’s voice in it!

-Talon Paul

Links to today’s Bible reading – Exodus 39-40 and Psalm 1-3

It’s Always Been About the Condition of the Heart

Micah 5-7


Tuesday, April 18

The latter half of Micah includes passages about judgement, God’s frustration with the people of Israel, and a prophetic utterance about the future king of Israel coming from a tiny blip-of-a-town, Bethlehem. Among these three chapters, we will look at Micah 6.6-8. Despite a common misconception that the Old Testament is concerned solely about external obedience to Torah (the Jewish law) and that it says nothing about the heart issue, our passage speaks directly about the heart.

Starting in verse six Micah asks a rhetorical question, ‘What should I bring to God”? Should it be burnt offerings? How about yearling calves? What about a thousand rams! The answer is none of these. We can find a similar message in Hosea 6.6. Micah tells the Israelites plainly “He [God] has told you, O man, what is good” (Micah 6.8). What is good in the sight of God are not sacrifices and mere external obedience but exacting justice, loving kindness, and walking or obeying God humbly, all of which are impossible to do without a transformation of the heart. The remedy to the corrupted leadership in Israel we looked at yesterday is found in here in verse eight. Israelites, return to God with all your heart-fully devoted to him, upholding justice, loving kindness, and obeying God, this is good in the sight of Yahweh!

You and I can read this passage and think ‘silly Israelites of course God doesn’t want your sacrifices, he wants your heart’! However, just because we’re removed from the historical context, doesn’t mean we don’t struggle with the same problems. For example, some of you reading this may keep up with the ‘look’ of a Christian, yet have let your heart linger far from him. You attend church, youth group, and camps. You instagram your Bible readings and caption verses on your selfies. These are not wrong or bad, however, if this is the extent of your Christian faith, God is longing for something much deeper and significant. He wants your heart. Have you surrendered in your heart completely to the will of God and what he desires for you? In the words of Micah, do you uphold justice? Do you love kindness and see people as God sees them? And lastly, do you humbly obey and walk with God? We all can return to God in some area of our lives and give our heart back to him.

-Jacob Rohrer

(photo credit: http://www.godswordimages.com/wallpaper/gentleness/micah-6-8/)

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