Category Archives: Bible study

Joshua 18-21; The Donut Hole

I’m the type of person who usually needs to see something in order to understand it. So reading these chapters concerning the division of the Promised Land among the tribes of Israel is like trying to read Chinese or something. It’s meaningless. The map in my study Bible didn’t help much. It had the tribal names in the right places, but it didn’t show the borders. It kind of all ran together for me.

Then I found a map on biblestudy.org that not only drew in the borders, they color-coded the different tribes! Now I get it.

But what is it I get? I’m not one to spend a lot of time studying the material components of Scripture. I don’t have a burning desire to visit that area of our world we call the Holy Land. But because God inspired the recording of the details concerning this property survey, I figure it must be important. So I pulled out my commentaries.

Didn’t get a lot of insight. But Matthew Henry did connect some dots. Like telling me Mount Carmel and Nazareth were in Zebulun’s territory. The tiny area allotted to Issachar is where Ahab’s palace was, where Sissera was beaten by Deborah, where Saul and Jonathan were killed. It was a happening place! Anna, the prophetess who hung out at the temple until she could hold baby Jesus, came from all the way up north in Asher.

I’ve spent all morning dot-connecting. I found it very interesting. But is the reason why these chapters are included in Scripture so that we can get to know a piece of dirt that will perish with the rest of the world some day? I put my commentaries aside, and asked God if there was something He wanted to say to me.

I stared at the map on my computer screen for a while and my eyes kept going to the southern most part of the Promised Land. It’s where Judah received their inheritance, and it’s one of the largest portions of land. But right in the middle, like a donut hole, is Simeon’s land. Simeon, who had disgraced himself, and who was cursed by his father Jacob because of his sin, was placed right in the middle of the territory given to his brother Joseph’s family.

The black sheep of the family was surrounded by the family Savior.

Now there’s a lesson!

I think this is a beautiful picture of how we are to handle it when a brother or sister in Christ sins. So often, we turn our backs on them. We shun them. We talk about them behind their backs. But God, painting a beautiful picture here, puts that sinner right in the middle, surrounds them with the strongest believers.

I notice that the map I have of this area during the time of King David, identifies that area simply as “Judah.” My research tells me that by that time, most of the tribe of Simeon were assimilated into Judah. I LOVE THAT!!!!

The New Testament tells us that when a brother sins, we are to confront him, talk to him, take one or two others with us to do everything we can to bring that person back into the fold. Yes, there may come a time to disconnect. But that should never be our first response.

So the next time you become aware of someone in your family or your church fellowship  who is falling away, remember you are the donut. Surround that person, embrace that person, love that person back to the Lord.

I hope your family will do the same for you.

 

 

Deuteronomy 21-24; God Makes Sense

As Moses teaches God’s Law to the young Jews ready to take the Promised Land, I am struck by the sense and sensibility of it all. (I just watched that movie on TCM this week)

Oh sure, we could dissect the verses concerning divorce, or agriculture, or fashion, parenting, or even using the latrine. But don’t all these chapters fall under the Greatest Commandment Jesus talked about in Matthew 22? Love God, love others? Don’t these verses in Deuteronomy fit under the umbrella of the Golden Rule?

I think our world is in the state it is in because we aren’t living with the good sense God gave us. Love Him. Worship Him only. Be kind. Have integrity. Be honest. Have compassion. Eliminate sin. Don’t think of yourself more highly than you think of others. It just makes sense.

God makes sense.

Deuteronomy 7&8; Obedience= Blessing (Not The Other Way Around)

Five times in these two chapters, God makes a direct link between obedience and blessing. Verse after verse describe the Promised Land with all its abundance. But God is not handing the land over to His people without some strings attached.

Clearly He says, all the blessings of Canaan are theirs, IF. Then three times He tells them what will happen if they disobey. First, in 9:14 He warns them they’ll forget Him, then in verses 19, and repeated in 20, He tells them disobedience will lead to destruction.

For myself, I know that when I am blessed by God, it encourages me to obey Him again and again. But I think the Bible is consistent in saying God does not bless disobedience. In fact, there are severe consequences for disobedience.

Sometimes I think people believe God chose Israel (and perhaps the Church) to bless them above all nations, when in reality God chose them (and the Church) to worship Him before all other nations and people, to demonstrate how much He blesses a people who obey Him, in order to draw unbelievers to Himself, so that they can believe, worship, and obey Him, be blessed, and continue to reveal Him to others, and so on, and so on, and so on.

God delights in blessing His children. But obedience comes before blessing, and disobedience comes before a fall.

Numbers 34-36; Don’t Do It!

Cities of Refuge interest me. They were cities in walking distance from anywhere in the Promised Land, assigned as safe havens for those accused of murder, if the death was a result of an accident. The dead person’s kinsmen’s avenger, determined to kill the killer, could not exact revenge while the guilty party was inside the walls of a City of Refuge.

But, should the accused step outside the city, the avenger of blood could take that ultimate “eye for an eye,” with no repercussions. I imagine the avenger camped outside the gate of the city, waiting, watching, hoping the accused will let his guard down and take just one step away from the city of refuge.

If you’ve been with me very long on this blogging journey of mine, you know that I am always looking for spiritual truths, and pictures of Jesus on the pages of this dear book we know as the Bible. It’s thrills me to see how God has woven Himself into every story, every verse. And He is certainly visible in the chapters I read today.

I am guilty. Like the accused murder I’ve just talked about, I have blown it. I deserve a death penalty. But I have found refuge in my Savior, Jesus. Not because I am not guilty, but because He forgave me. He paid my death sentence, shedding His blood on Calvary, dying and living again. I am safe in His Presence. He is my City of Refuge.

Because there is someone out there who wants me dead. Satan is camped outside the gate, waiting for me to step away.

When I think about the accused person hiding out in the City of Refuge, it occurs to me that person had to leave everything, and everyone behind in order to find safety. His home, family, career, savings account, lifestyle, friends, everything that was familiar to him, left behind. And I imagine, after time, the temptation would be there to go back just for a second, to see his old stomping grounds, to experience the fun of the past, to collect some keepsakes, to say “Hi” to the old gang.

And we, as a people saved by grace, might find the pull of our past lives tempting as well. The parties, the friendships, even unhealthy relationships, or the power or income or prestige that came with a compromised life, might draw us back.

Don’t Do It!

Satan would love nothing more than to pounce on us as soon as we let our guard down. Scripture tells us to guard our hearts for a reason. Paul tells us to put on the Armor of God, to study, to pray without ceasing. Remember Jesus said if we love anyone or anything more than Him, we aren’t worthy of Him (Matthew 10:37). God promises if we draw near to Him, He will come near to us.

I don’t want to take a step toward the gate that leads outside my City of Refuge, by entertaining thoughts about ungodly things, by watching things on TV that numb me to the ugliness of sin, by aligning myself to people who compromise the truth of Scripture in any way.

Jesus is my City of Refuge. May I be found living, loving, and serving under His umbrella.

And that’s my prayer for you, too.

Numbers 12; Without My Two Cents

Moses’ own siblings, Aaron and Miriam, were talking about Moses behind his back. They complained about his wife, and were jealous of his following. And, like most gossip, their complaints got back to Moses.

How did he react? The Bible tells us “Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.” (12:3)

Sounds like Moses “turned the other cheek.” There is no record that he defended himself. Oh, say something against God and Moses would be in your face. Say something about Moses, and he’ll either ignore you, or go to God about it.

As it turned out, God handled it without Moses doing a thing.

It’s unrealistic to think, especially for those of you in positions of authority, that everyone is going to love and/or agree with you all the time. (Ask President Trump). But I’ve found that often, when I react to gossip, or try to defend myself, I can make matters worse.

That’s not to say that there aren’t times when God will prompt us to speak up against gossip or slander or threats of some kind. Then, I believe, He’ll give us the words to say to bring about a solution that brings glory to Himself. But unless I know He is nudging me toward action, I’d like to react like Matthew Henry says Moses reacted: He, as a deaf man, heard not.

I want to learn from Moses’ example. I want to learn when to just keep my mouth shut. I want to learn that if God thinks it’s necessary to defend me, He’s able to do that without my two cents.

Leviticus 23; Jewish Feasts and Jesus (Part 2)

I shared earlier that I have been looking at the feasts God instructed the Israelites to observe, and seeing Jesus. It’s been a study that has blessed my heart and made me realize how intentional God is. Like my last post, this is not an extensive study on the subject. But I’d like to share what God has laid on my heart, beginning with the fourth feast.

4. The Feast of Weeks (Rejoice). This feast is also known as Pentecost because it was to be observed seven weeks after the feast of First Fruits. That feast was held after the first barley harvest, and not only reminded them how blessed they were by God, it pointed to the risen Savior. Now, seven weeks later, the Jews were instructed to observe a feast to celebrate a second harvest, this time of wheat. Bread was made with new grain and yeast (yeast rises), then two of the loaves were waved before God. Some have suggested that the two loaves represent the Jewish nation AND the Gentile world after Jesus was raised from the dead. I like it! Because Jesus died once and for all, and that means me! Anyway, Jewish men would come to Jerusalem from all over the known world to celebrate. But it is also recorded that the Feast of Weeks was a time to celebrate the giving of the Law to Moses on Mt. Sinai. In a sense, it was celebrating the beginning of the Jewish nation. What I find so exciting is that the time frame between The Feast of First Fruits and the Feast of Weeks in the Old Testament, is the same time frame that occurred between Calvary and Pentecost, ushering in the beginning of the Church. Coincidence? I think not!

5. The Feast of Trumpets (Resolve). Trumpets were used to call people to worship. This feast was held to celebrate the Jewish New Year. It was announced by the blowing of a trumpet, a time to reflect on past sins and to decide to make changes in the coming year. A new beginning, so to speak. And isn’t that what we receive when we accept Jesus as our Savior? Old things pass away. All things become new. This feast is also said to look ahead to the second coming of Christ. At the sound of the trumpet, in the twinkling of an eye, Jesus will descend from the heavens to gather up His children. Even so, Lord Jesus, come.

6) The Day of Atonement (Repent). This feast was held the day after the Feast of Trumpets. This was a very solemn day for the Jews. They fasted and repented of sin. This was the day the High Priest dared to enter the Holy of Holies, the day the scapegoat would take on all the sins of the people and remove them from their midst. You don’t have to look very hard to see Jesus here. Jesus became our scapegoat when He took our sins to the cross. He died so we can be forgiven. Then, He ripped open the Holy of Holies and granted us access to the Father.

7) The Feast of Tabernacles (Revival). This was the feast where people took time to reflect on all God had done, how He provided. There was a water ceremony to thank Him for nourishing the ground the past year, and praying for rain for the next growing season. Jesus told us, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.” He told the woman at the well that whoever drank the water He gives will never thirst again. This feast was a time of rest and refreshing, to get strength to get out there and do the work God had for them to do. The same can be said when we allow Jesus to fill us, then we get out there to share the Gospel.

I know that my overview of the feasts doesn’t make a dent. But as I studied these from various sources, I was reminded that the Bible, all of creation, life itself is about Jesus. God does not want us to miss Him. You can find Him everywhere, including on every page of this precious book we call the Bible.

 

Leviticus 23; Jewish Feasts and Jesus

Wow! I’ve enjoyed looking into the feasts that God instructed Old Testament Jews to observe. Nothing God commanded His people to do didn’t point to Jesus. He is in every moment of every one of these feasts. And it’s so beautiful! I want to give you a little taste of the feasts (pun intended). What I am going to share is just a fraction of the truths that are connected with them.

Instructions concerning the Sabbath, although it isn’t usually counted as one of the feasts, begins this chapter. It was a day of Rest, like God modeled for us after six days of creating the universe. John tells us Jesus was with God before creation and, in fact, IS the Creator Himself. Jesus used the words, “I AM” (the name of God) in reference to Himself, like in John 8 when he said, “before Abraham was even born, I AM.” Then in Matthew 11 He clearly says, “I will give you rest.” Yes, Jesus is seen in the Sabbath.

  1. The Feast of Passover (Redeemed). Remember the blood of the perfect lamb protected the Jews from certain death. That lamb’s death bought the Israelites their freedom. And it’s Jesus’ blood, our own Perfect Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, that purchased our redemption, our freedom from the chains of sin. Jesus is seen in the picture of the lamb, it’s blood painted on the doorposts. When I look at the blood dripping down that wooden cross, I see my Redeemer.
  2. Feast of Unleavened Bread (Remember). This feast started the day after the Feast of Passover. They were to eat bread with no yeast and remember how God had provided the mana to His children in the desert. Didn’t Jesus tell us He is the Bread of Life? We who are His children by accepting His work on the cross, are provided with our daily bread. When He gave the bread to His disciples there the night before He died, Jesus said, “Take. Eat in remembrance of me.” We remember.
  3. Feast of First Grain or First Fruits (Risen!) This feast was to be held at the beginning of the harvest. They were to bring the first of what they reaped and give it to the Lord. Jesus said “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” (John 12:24) Jesus died, and lives again! His resurrection is still producing fruit today. The Old Testament Jews were blessed by the harvest. We are blessed by the risen Lord!

Ok. That’s enough for today. I’m going to keep looking into the remaining Feasts and share later. This is good stuff, y’all (to quote my dear pastor.)