There is a pattern that becomes very evident in this book and it is what we read in Judges 10:1 “The Israelites cried out for help to the Lord: “We have sinned against you. We abandoned our God and worshiped the Baals.” How many times does a nation have to walk around the wilderness to get the message that God is God and He will not share His glory with another? The patience of God is mind-boggling! And here we are in the 21st century viewing this same pattern and God is still patient with us today.
Judges 9-12 reveals that once again the nation started out correctly but soon diminished into chaos and idolatry. It is then that they come back to God in tears and repentance only to remain that way until the judge died and the people are left without a godly leader. Yet the patience of God is remarkable. He allows us to wallow in the mire but is ready to forgive and reinstate us to a higher state. How often are we like Thomas Jefferson when we come to chapters like these? When Jefferson found a passage he didn’t like he took scissors to it. But, we are not to be like that because God has placed these chapters in here for a reason that we might learn and apply biblical principles to our lives.
What lessons is God teaching you as you read this book?
Joshua 19-21 The Israelites still had not conquered all the land, so Joshua sent teams out to scout out the land, and to bring him their findings at the camp at Shiloh. The men journeyed through the land and mapped it and its cities out into seven regions on a scroll. Without maps, we would be spatially blind because they are an abstract image of locations. Thus the chapters in Joshua give us spatial relevance as to where the tribes were to claim land ownership as part of their inheritance.
Joshua parcels out their inheritance based on those maps. In this chapter, we find that Simeon was given land within the boundaries of Judah, thus fulfilling Jacob’s prediction that Simeon would experience dispersion because of his sin with Levi in the city of Shechem after their sister’s rape. Which brings us to the lesson we need to learn: your sin will find you out. God remembers and looks for us to admit our sin, but if we do not, He allows for sin to come to fruition before punishing. Jacob reminded both that their knives were weapons of violence, and thus both sons would be scattered. The Levites were foolish slaughtering foreigners but were zealous in defending God’s honor at the Golden Calf incident. Simeon is the only tribe not blessed by Moses and is later is placed in “protective custody” in the land of his brother Judah. Levi was later exalted not because of who he was or what he had done but only by God’s grace. Simeon’s curse remained because he did not seek God’s mercy.
God hates sin and its fruit. Let us learn from Simeon!
Grace and Mercy are free at the throne of God. Seek it!
Leviticus 16 “Nobody is to be in the Meeting Tent when he enters to make atonement in the Holy Place until he goes out, and he has made atonement on his behalf, on behalf of his household, and on behalf of the whole assembly of Israel.” Lev 16
Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement reminds us of the work of our Savior. He came, he lived, he died; was buried and rose again, just as 1Corinthians 15 tells us. The picture of that series of steps is seen in the Atonement when Aaron or the High Priest would alone perform each step. Alone, Aaron understood, more than any other time, the price paid for his sin and the sins of the people.
Alone he would enter and adjust the light from the Menorah and change the Shewbread on the Table. Alone he offered the incense on the altar as he prayed for himself and the people. Alone he would slaughter the animal and drain the blood. Alone he would take the blood behind the curtain and sprinkle it on the Mercy Seat. All of these steps were a picture of what Christ would do for us.
With each step, the High Priest was to be alone as a reminder that we must seek the face of God alone as we meet with God about our sin just as Jesus was alone as He paid for our sin.
Lev 5 God wants us to handle sin when it is revealed to us and more so: “even if we didn’t realize we sinned…” This is not talking about intentional rebellion, but those sins that we unintentionally commit and then realize. Sin brings guilt. You can ignore it OR confess it to God seeking His forgiveness and cleansing.
These Leviticus chapters were written to the Israelites to demonstrate the love and mercy of God upon these unintentional sins and how men can seek God’s forgiveness. In the OT, people had to do it over and over and over. But, Jesus paid it all on the cross, so we are forgiven once and for all. But, just as they did, so we also must seek God’s mercy the OT, people had to do it over and over and over. But, Jesus paid it all on the cross, so we are forgiven once and for all and his compassion. The lesson is that we all must fall upon our knees, seeking cleansing. God wanted them to realize that their sin was not just against a fellow citizen, but God Himself. God is right to condemn our sin because He is holy, and He calls us to be holy. We stand guilty before God.
We now have the indwelling Holy Spirit to speak to our hearts. We no longer need to take an animal’s blood to cover our sin for Jesus paid the price. What is required now is the same as it was then; confess our sin and seek forgiveness, trusting that He is faithful and righteous and will cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Do you need this today? Do not delay but listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
Leviticus 1 to 4 What a gift of smell God has given to us! It brings smiles, or it carries a warning to beware. As a teenager, I worked to pay my way through school by working in a bakery slicing fresh bread. I will bet that right now you recall those aromas vicariously. Or think of walking into an apothecary shop and being greeted with the smells of herbs and spices.
God loves aromas too, and they are soothing—or they are repugnant, and it all depends upon our heart and our mindset as we approach him. When God smelled the sacrifices Noah offered, he promised he would never flood the earth again. Jesus Christ was the fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Paul reminded the Corinthians that they were one of two kinds of aromas: a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life.
We are to be a fragrant offering to God, but what exactly does that mean? It means that when God, pardon the pun, smells us, He “smells” not our sin but our cleansed and perfect new creation; a soothing aroma to his nostrils. Our prayers of thankfulness soothe him as we seek His face for answers. He is soothed by our repentance when we fall short. And He is soothed when we offer words of wisdom, discernment, and the gospel message to others.
So today, are you a fragrant, soothing aroma to God?
Genesis 44 God has used the separation of several years to soften the heart of Judah. Judah brought great grief to his father Jacob and no amount of consoling brought him relief. Jacob gave up all hope so when Judah wanted to take Benjamin to get more grain in Egypt it was the last straw. While that scenario was happening back in Canaan Joseph had sat in the dark of the dungeon until one day God intervened and now he sat second in command.
In each case, we can see by reading these stories that God is the one who orchestrates our days and our times so that He will get the glory. He will move heaven and earth to get Judah to repent and to use the dreams He gave Joseph to show Himself true. As bystanders in all of this, we listen with the brothers as Judah now stands before Joseph unaware that he is fulfilling Joseph’s dreams. His repentance is forthcoming and we weep with Joseph as our hearts are broken for Judah. But we also see how Joseph’s faith has not only strengthened him but gave him hope all these years. Truly we see the graciousness of God and the kindness in his heart. Years may have separated them but God has been at work in both of their hearts.
Judah stands perplexed as Joseph honors God: God sent me ahead to preserve you. Imagine Judah listening to all of this! The tears flow through the mind-boggling conversation. How could this be? Like Judah and Joseph, you may wonder how your present trial will turn out. Hangest thou in there; Romans 8:28 is true! “all things work together for good to them that love God.” God is patient and He will be honored in His time and place and through our circumstances.
ps Sometimes we see the end but sometimes only in eternity will see it. Give God praise for what He does reveal and do not hold bitterness in your heart for what He has not revealed.
Are those your words when you are flummoxed by an unbeliever who can’t or won’t believe in Jesus? Keep reading.
2Cor 3 Understanding Unbelievers—
One of the hardest things for a believer to understand and recall is how they were before they met Christ. Once spiritually alive all thoughts turn to share Him with those who are not yet “in the fold.” Yet, time and again we are met with indifference and often misunderstandings. We want them to live and fellowship with us but something is hindering them. What is the problem and is there a solution?
How many times have you read Paul’s words: whenever the words of Moses are read there is a veil over their minds and wondered what he meant? It wasn’t until one day when a neighbor, on her own and out of the blue asked me “Who is God?” In my mind, I saw an open door but Satan saw his opportunity to shut it, lock it and hide the key. Excitement built only to be shattered that very day. As we sat and I explained to her the answer it was like a “veil” came down and separated us. To this day I can see that glaze in her eyes literally falling down; it was the strangest thing but now I know from Paul that it was that veil. Several attempts later were all for naught yet I prayed and continue to pray for another opening.
The words of Hughes: “A veil of intellectual darkness hides the glory which has been deliberately rejected.” Did you notice what Hughes says? The glory has been deliberately rejected but why? The answer is this: Satan “has blinded the minds of those who do not believe so they would not see the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God.” [2Cor 4] Satan has had his hand in this veil.
Beloved, keep praying for openings. Don’t give up hope. Pray specifically that Satan would be bound and that God’s love pours through you to that unbeliever. And yes one more thing, pray for my neighbor that God would remove that veil.
Do you have that someone who needs prayer too? Share with me so we can covenant together for their salvation.
Zechariah 11 In Chapter 11, we find the true character of the shepherds. They did not pity the people and took them for granted. As a shepherd, Zechariah asked them how much he was worth to them. They mockingly said 30 pieces of silver. According to Ex 21:32, thirty pieces of silver was the amount paid for a slave gored by an ox. Fast forward to the NT and we see that Judas asked the Pharisees, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him up to you?” The thirty pieces of silver picture the price of rejection.
As broken and rejected in the potter’s field, we lay there until the Good Shepherd reached down and took us and repaired our brokenness. In Japan, Kintsukuroi is the art of Japanese mending broken pottery. They cover each flaw in lacquer resin laced with gold or silver; each golden seam becoming part of the new design. Our flaws become symbols of events in our life that He has broken and repaired.
The world only sees our flaws, but the Shepherd sees each as part of His beautiful craftsmanship. He may have been only worth thirty pieces of silver to the religious leaders but to us, He is worth more than all the silver or gold this world has to offer. He purchased us, mended our flaws and gave us an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading and reserved it in heaven for you.
Where are your golden seams that Christ has mended? Use them to tell your story of redemption from the pottery field.
Zephaniah 1-3 Although the Prophet Zephaniah writes a message of doom and gloom there is light at the end of the tunnel, as we say. Read the whole book so you can see it. The wonderful thing about Zephaniah is that he did not keep the message God gave him, as hard as it was, to himself. The reason he shared is that like nearly all messages given to the prophets of old it was to call the people to repentance. Perhaps that is why he called for the people to “be silent before the Lord.”
Why is Zephaniah so clear on God’s plan of vengeance? He responds that men’s hearts are stagnant. They say the Lord will not do good or evil. They had lost the glory and grandeur of the Majesty of God. God is no longer real to them. They needed a wake-up call. So he calls them to seek the Lord, seek righteousness, and seek humility. Like the first king of Nineveh said; perhaps the Lord will delay his wrath.
Zephaniah continues to tell the Israelites that God is righteous and he commits no unjust acts. Every morning he reveals his justice. Jeremiah reminded them that His mercies are new every morning, great is His faithfulness. When all is said and done God will leave in their midst a humble and meek people who will find safety in the presence of the Lord.
Have you found that place of safety? When was the last time you sat silent so you could hear the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking to you about your sin?