WEEK 12, 2018 – Reading thru the Bible, Getting to know God Better

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DAY ONE – Deuteronomy 4-7

The name of this book means ‘Second Law.’ That means that Yahweh God had to repeat everything He had said to Israel at Sinai, for it was their children who now stood poised, forty years later, to cross the Jordan into Canaan and carry out the conquest of those nations to be dispossessed by Israel. God willed it, for the Canaanites practiced the grossest wickedness and had become perpetually self-destructive. Left to them the race would surely fail. God, not willing that any perish, chose Abraham, then Isaac and Jacob, and finally their entire posterity to be His people and carry out His gracious plan to save the world. Moses’ great task was to help them understand the blessing and the gravity of being God’s special people. He laid out not only the commandments and statutes, but also the purposes and ways of God for them, reminding them of the fire and other signs on Mt. Sinai. The people commonly believed that anyone who heard God’s voice would die and not live, so they asked that Moses do the listening and then repeat it in their hearing. In this manner they supposed they would serve Yahweh God.

God gave Israel not a single glimpse of Himself, lest they be tempted to create and worship an image of Him. His voice was heard, but that is all. The signs and wonders were intended to instill God’s reverential awe in them so that they would always remember to do as He commanded. Multiple warnings were given by the Lord through Moses not to create any image at all, whether of God or any god; and not to look into the heavens to worship the sun, moon or stars, all created by the Lord. No wonder He laid out for them a complete religious system with its furnishings, sacrifices, ordinances and festivals. Their careful attention to the external means of salvation given to them would allow the Lord to cover their sins and remain in their midst until the day He could reveal His greater plan to save the world through His Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ. By sharing, repeating and writing and speaking Yahweh’s words over and over to their children and grandchildren, Israel was perpetuating that precious religion given life through their festivals and sacrifices.

If we think that grace removes all human responsibility in our relationship with Yahweh God (Yahshua), we are being deceived. Our human response to the divine initiative is what relationship is all about. No, we cannot effect the means of our salvation, but we do respond to the One who saves us. We can do nothing to add to or take away from what the Lord has done, but we can respond with our devotion, love and good works, as any spouse does to his/her loved one. No devotion = no love! Much love = much devotion. That is the Divine/human relationship, as even Jesus affirmed in Simon’s house. Even with the Holy Spirit working within us and in our world, the battle for ‘pure love and undefiled’ rages on until the day Jesus comes. Our faith saves us, but it is a faith expressed in pure devotion and obedience as we wait for the salvation to be revealed at Jesus’ coming. Human weakness is overcome by the in-working power of Holy Spirit, to whom we are ever surrendering and by whom we are being led.

DAY TWO – Deuteronomy 8-11

A short memory may well be the bane of every generation, when it comes to history. Someone has said, “The thing we learn from history is that we don’t learn anything from history!” Oral tradition is the passing from one generation to another all the stories of our forebears. The problem is that we forget to tell the truth about what their experiences should have taught us all. And it is happening again right now in our own culture, even though we have had both oral and written history handed to us. It’s called revision–that is, rewriting history to obscure inconvenient truth, and to make it appear to support our current social theory. Moses wrote down both the commandments and the instructions of the Lord so that even we can read and learn from them. In his encouragements to the younger generation, Moses called them to remembrance again and again–remember Egypt, remember Mt. Sinai, remember the miracles, remember the manna, the water, the scandals and even your sandals! Yes, your very sandals, for they lasted for forty years on your feet. Remember Yahweh’s words, His affection, His patience, His longsuffering, and yes, even His discipline. Remember it all, because your very life depends on it.

If we learn one thing from scripture, all of it, it is that God has always had a plan, has been working that plan through the recorded ages, and fully intends to finish all that He has started. It includes a people–a holy people, who have loved Him back and ordered their life around His plans; who have not sought to impede His plans but to help carry them out. This cannot be done impassively or without intention. Every person must answer for himself, to the extent that he has regarded the Lord and brought his passions into the pursuit of God. It is time to lay aside all carnal wrangling and surrender each day to Holy Spirit, to dig into the heart of God through His words, to fear any future without God! If this sounds too serious, I remind you it is in the same vein as that of Moses pleading with the young generation which was about to embark on the divine mission of settling their new land. Life and death are not random; they respond to God’s initiative in our world and our place in His great plans.

DAY THREE – Deuteronomy 12-15

If there is a prevailing theme in these chapters, it is that Yahweh God is a kind, loving and generous God. He is filled with blessing and greatly desires to bless those He calls His own. And so these chapters call Israel to become like God. When people act like God, they too become kind, loving and generous. That’s the secret! That is the way God was going to demonstrate to unregenerate mankind His reality, truth and Presence. They would witness His attributes through Israel. Perhaps then they would forsake their demon gods who held them in bondage and fear of death. Unfortunately Israel was also like the other nations and had had generations to learn the ways of the pagan Egyptians. So Yahweh had the arduous task of bringing them into a special and holy relationship that portended a glorious future with God and mankind, His special creation, together. Tiny little Israel was to be a holy nation and become the center of Yahweh’s covenant with all of mankind.

God spoke through Moses of all that He was about to do, in this manner: “When the Lord your God has…” or “When the Lord your God does…”  In so doing, Yahweh was preparing them with expectation. When they saw the fulfillment they would know the Lord had done it and they would then be pleased to continue to obey His commandments, ordinances and judgments. Over and over He warned them of the consequences of following the religions of the nations they were to dispossess from the land. It was the reason God called for annihilation of those nations–they had been reduced by religion to immorality and to offering their children in the fire to placate demon gods. Surely this would be the destruction of the human race unless divine intervention prevented it.

Our evil arch-enemy will stop at nothing to libel and reproach the True and Living God. His primary cover is religion that is permeated with evil deception so that Yahweh’s true attributes are obscured; and so that mankind will eventually blame God for all the evil in the world, not having understood the truth about the cosmic rebellion. To rebel against the commandments of our Lord for any reason is to join the cosmic rebellion unwittingly and to cast aspersions on the True and Only Source of lasting salvation. So Israel was instructed, warned and even threatened. Why? To make God feel powerful, so that He could dominate His creation? No, but so that God could demonstrate forever His love and generosity and desire to save mankind from his own ways, apart from God. Once we understand that to be apart, or separate, from God is eternal death, perhaps we have discovered wisdom. All the rules and observances given to Israel made an observable path to life in God, if only they would take it. Deuteronomy 6:5  You shall love Yahweh your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might. 

DAY FOUR – Deuteronomy 16-19

Another mystery about the nature of God is revealed in these chapters. Justice is weighed against mercy. As merciful as our Lord is, He is also righteous and just. In His mercy He has provided for every possible means of salvation for mankind. As Creator He has reached out in compassion lest He destroy His unfaithful creation. Having chosen Abraham in a covenant relationship He has redeemed Abraham’s descendants from pagan Egypt and brought them to Sinai where the covenant of Law has been instituted through Moses. It is one of the most comprehensive documents in human history and aptly displays God’s attributes of Justice and Mercy. Yes, sin could be covered by following rigid rules and offering plenteous sacrifices. Atonement could be made and judgment averted by keeping festivals and observing times and places for all religious activities. And remember that THIS religion was mandated by Yahweh Himself. It maintained the highest standards and required most strenuous observations. No exceptions were to be made. And when sin was uncovered or discovered, only strict carrying out of the rules would provide cover and forgiveness. Sin could not be undone, but God’s mercy was lovingly unleashed in an attempt to preserve the race until a permanent solution was revealed from heaven.

Honesty, integrity, truth, rightness, are attributes of God, and thus of the creation. The perversion of these is attributable to mankind alone. “God cannot be tempted with sin, neither does He tempt anyone.” So creation itself is soiled and spoiled by the humans occupying this created world. While there may be cosmic forces involved in the rebellion against God, only human beings can frustrate God’s plans to save everyone who comes to Him. The religion He gave was replete with mercy and salvation. And now the grace of salvation has been added so that we may actually flourish in His love and redemption. Justice may at times appear cold–“an eye for an eye…”–but in fact reflects God’s necessary discipline in order to save the race and the planet. That religion given to Israel at Sinai could have no flaws and no exceptions, if it was to survive and accomplish its work! And so it did. Unbending, it brought every person in creation to the just conclusion that God alone is right; that He alone makes the rules; and that He alone can provide atonement, forgiveness and redemption for human beings. None of us has ever or can ever claim to be right as God is right. According to that heavenly religion given by God, we must all acknowledge our sin and therefore our need to be saved. Only then can true Justice and Mercy work their miracle for us and in us. And only then can the creation be restored to its intended order by a loving Creator God.

DAY FIVE – Deuteronomy 20-23

In our fallen world war may be averted for periods of time; but it is sure that someone, somewhere, is going to start one! We know now, according to James, that war is already going on inside some souls, and those wars break out against other persons or nations. In Israel Yahweh God determined that the seven nations living in Canaan were to be permanently removed from existence, due to their destructive and abominable lifestyle. They had been  given an additional 400 years by God to reform (the time of Israel’s stay in Egypt); then their land was to be surrendered to Abraham’s descendants, that is, Israel. War was unavoidable in this case. So God informed Israel that He was going to fight against their enemies; they couldn’t lose. Nonetheless, there might be among the armies of Israel those who had just built a house and not lived in it; or those who had planted a vineyard and not yet eaten its fruit; or one who was betrothed and had not yet married his wife… they were released from battle, if they so chose, and could return home to their interests. What kind of God makes so many concessions to the common needs of mankind? Dare we accuse Him in any manner that slanders His great name and impeccable character?

Jesus confirmed that not even a sparrow falls without our Lord’s notice. How much more so, when a human being is slain and falls? Did anyone see? God did. Can the deed be kept hidden; can the perpetrator cover his tracks? For a time maybe; but divine justice will always be waiting. And so the Lord gave careful instructions to protect whole communities from innocent blood, slain but undetected. This was one of the kinds of evil that the Lord knew would eventually destroy a people. Other things included sexual immorality and idol worship, which were often intertwined. And not least was a belligerent child who could neither be controlled nor persuaded by his father and mother. All of these were to be resolved through capital punishment, so that the malignancy would not spread through a community or the nation. Yes, the Theocracy (God’s sovereign rule) in Israel had to be enforced at any cost if there was to be a Savior who would arise out of Abraham’s descendants and bring eternal salvation to humankind. Lord of Mercy; Lord of Justice–a God who loves without borders!

WEEK 11, 2018 – Discovering true God through His eternal Word, the Bible

This week we begin to see a transition in Israel as great as when Yahweh God brought them out of Egypt. Their Promised Land lies just ahead…

DAY ONE – Numbers 21-24

In our broken world conflict is inevitable. Wars are fought as nations rise against each other. But it also happens on a micro scale between individuals, even family members. James gave us the reason for this: James 4:1-3  Where do wars and fightings among you come from? Don’t they come from your pleasures that war in your members? 2  You lust, and don’t have. You murder and covet, and can’t obtain. You fight and make war. You don’t have, because you don’t ask. 3  You ask, and don’t receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. By the time Israel was approaching the end of their long journey of forty years, other nations in that part of the world were already threatening to end Israel’s existence. Those who tried perished; it’s that simple, because Yahweh God was forging ahead with His own plans to  save the world, and no one could stay His hand. An extreme example of this happened at Peor. Balak, King of Arad, was frightened out of his wits as he looked down from his heights at a people too numerous to be counted; their renown went before them. So Balak tried to hire Balaam, a seer/prophet to curse Israel; Balaam’s reputation was stellar, and he got results. But Balaam was a prophet of Yahweh God and could not just operate on his own. Twice Balak sent princes to hire the prophet, offering large sums of money; but Balaam refused on the grounds that Yahweh did not permit him to go. Yet because Balaam asked God  a second time what He wanted the prophet to do, the Lord told him to go ahead but say only what he was given. Balaam went, and wound up having a conversation with his donkey, who actually  saved his life from an angel of the Lord who blocked his way! And yes, the donkey talked to his master in a human voice. What follows are quotations from Balaam’s prophecies, uttered in three different locations, as King Balak became more and more frustrated and frightened. Each time the prophet built seven altars and offered sacrifices, and each time his prophetic utterance reaffirmed Yahweh’s full intentions toward Israel:


  • Numbers 23:8-10  How shall I curse whom God has not cursed? How shall I defy whom Yahweh has not defied? 9  For from the top of the rocks I see him. From the hills I see him. Behold, it is a people that dwells alone, and shall not be listed among the nations. 10  Who can count the dust of Jacob, or count the fourth part of Israel? Let me die the death of the righteous! Let my last end be like his!” 
  • Numbers 23:19-20, 23  God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should repent. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not make it good? 20  Behold, I have received a command to bless. He has blessed, and I can’t reverse it. 23  Surely there is no enchantment with Jacob; Neither is there any divination with Israel. Now it shall be said of Jacob and of Israel, ‘What has God done!’
  • Numbers 24:5-8 How goodly are your tents, Jacob, and your tents, Israel! 6  As valleys they are spread out, as gardens by the riverside, as aloes which Yahweh has planted, as cedar trees beside the waters. 7  Water shall flow from his buckets. His seed shall be in many waters. His king shall be higher than Agag. His kingdom shall be exalted. 8  God brings him out of Egypt. He has as it were the strength of the wild ox. He shall eat up the nations his adversaries, shall break their bones in pieces, and pierce them with his arrows.


And though Balaam’s utterances confirmed God’s blessings on Israel, Balaam himself is described by Apostle Peter as being among those who “walk after the flesh in the lust of defilement.” 2 Peter 2:15-16  forsaking the right way, they went astray, having followed the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of wrongdoing; 16  but he was rebuked for his own disobedience. A mute donkey spoke with a man’s voice and stopped the madness of the prophet. We must conclude that in the ‘madness’ of this broken world, God’s blessings and His Words must be sought by us; we must forsake our own folly to follow His plans for our life. For He is not a man, and He cannot lie. I will, then, receive His blessings and live in them; it is the only way.

DAY TWO – Numbers 25-28

Balaam could not change God’s blessings over Israel, so instead he ‘counseled’ Israel in how to get along with their new neighbors from Moab. As they remained in Acacia Grove for a time, men of Israel began to commit harlotry with the Moabite women. It started socially but grew into religious festivities in which Israeli men ate meals dedicated to Moabite gods, then joined in their indecent religious rites. It got so bad that one Israeli brought his Moabite lady right into Israel’s camp and took her into his tent. Offenders were hanged, and Phineas, Aaron’s grandson, took a javelin into the tent and thrust it through the man and the woman while they were thus engaged. His act stopped the plague that had already begun in the camp; yet 24,000 died in the process. For us it is difficult to comprehend the extreme circumstances that attended as Yahweh God sought to bring in His plan to save the world. Israel was just the ‘tip of the spear’ so to speak, of all that would come with the Kingdom of Heaven when Jesus made His appearance.

After the plague a new census was taken, and it was noted that the entire generation of those who came out of Egypt forty years earlier were gone, buried in the sands of Israel’s wilderness treks. Only Joshua and Caleb remained of the original congregation. As a result Moses began to retrain the new congregation who would soon enter their promised land and have a permanent home. Their first ‘need to know’ concerned the offerings and festivals that celebrated God’s Presence and rule in their midst. As that was being established, the matter of distribution of land was determined, so that the tribes and families would each have their own place of permanent dwelling. Note that Yahweh God always remained out of sight, in the background, visibly; but was always actually in the foreground, working through Moses, the priests, the elders and other chosen representatives scattered throughout the camp. The Theocracy was real, and it marked Israel as a unique nation among all the nations. They still are, to this day, in many ways. Their presence in the modern world creates the fulcrum from which God deals with all the other nations.

The New Theocracy that came in with Jesus is called the Kingdom of Heaven, or of God. From heaven God rules the affairs of men through the Holy Spirit and His Word. Visibility is limited to observation of His peoples, occasional signs and wonders, and the open proclamation of His great plans for earth’s future. We call this the Good News; we should call it God’s Good News to Mankind. And we should prayerfully consider that He is still in control of all of history, even before Adam and Eve. My prayer is that I will be a visible representative of His rule on earth, and that I will ultimately live by Him and for Him alone.

DAY THREE – Numbers 29-32

Remember the 24,000 who died in the plague after the people yielded to Balaam’s illicit counsel? Well, so did Yahweh God, and He instructed Moses to take vengeance on the Midianites for all that happened. So 12,000 Israelis, armed for war, went out against Midian and completely destroyed them, killing every male and plundering their nation. Balaam died too, God’s judgment on the wayward prophet. As to the plunder, all the Midianite women were taken alive, an alarming realization when the Lord reminded them that the pagan adult women were the stumbling block to Israel at Peor. That was quickly remedied, and only virgin girls were permitted to remain with Israel. Now it gets really interesting–Yahweh God oversaw the distribution of the plunder, something on this order…

  1. God’s portion was set aside first, in honor of His protection and provision for the people.
  2. Then the army’s portion was separated from what remained, and the warriors received their due.
  3. The priests and Levites were also rewarded for their part in the campaign.
  4. Finally, the latter half was distributed among the whole congregation, so that EVERYONE in Israel felt included in the campaign which was waged for the Lord.

In God’s family and in His order, everyone is cared for so that they recognize their place in the whole nation. Nobody is left out; nobody is left behind. It was discovered also that not one Israeli warrior died in the battle. Can’t we see that serving our Lord is a WINNING way in this world? It is as true now as it was then.

Israel was now ready to cross over the Jordan River into their promised land; the time was close. What interesting times those must have been, for both God and the people of Israel. Israel was chosen and cared for by God Himself, and the people underwent a great retraining program by Yahweh to disabuse them of their slave mentality and to make them  aware of God’s plan to save the nations through them. Though they misunderstood the Lord’s purposes and continued to falter at every turn, Israel can be seen today in that same land they were given in the days of Moses, speaking the same language and still a part of our Lord’s overall strategy to save the world and have a permanent, eternal family for Himself.

DAY FOUR – Numbers 33-36

Rest. The travelogue of Israel’s wanderings in the wilderness for forty years lists every trek they made and every place they camped. Of course, it was all by Yahweh’s leading and determination. When the cloud rose up they broke camp, and when it rested, they rested. So they learned from Yahweh the ebb and flow of life; and they also learned the price of rebellion. What could have been accomplished in less than a month took four decades, in order to prepare the second generations to inherit what the first generations rejected. In all of this, Yahweh God did not abandon His plans but patiently held them in abeyance until the right time.  It is obvious now that the Lord will accomplish whatever is in His heart to do. Our learning curve may be contracted or stretched accordingly as we learn to obey and be thankful.

Borders. Who is to determine times and places? As Israel learned under the Theocracy, the Lord controls all that He does in order to fulfill His predetermined wishes–not capricious wishes, mind you, but carefully laid plans that include the salvation of all men and the exaltation of the worlds to come. So the borders of Israel were decided and established by God and announced to Moses to give to the people. Then their tribal allotments were specified, as were the future homes of the Levites. Not receiving an allotment, the Levites were to be given cities within every tribe’s jurisdiction in order to carry on Yahweh’s work among the nation. So the nation is numbered, they have enjoyed their first conquests and settlements, and they are poised for the great campaign that lies ahead. But Moses has one last and great task–the reeducation of the nation by giving them the ‘second law’–Deuteronomy. Their parents now gone, these 600 thousand-plus men with their families need their own opportunity to recognize and honor God’s covenant with the people. All of them under forty years, they  mustn’t settle in without knowing surely that the Lord is God and that their welfare lies in their acceptance of His commandments and ordinances. It will all be repeated in their hearing, and Moses at 120 years will complete his leadership among them. Only then will they be ready for campaign.

DAY FIVE – Deuteronomy 1-3

These first three chapters of Deuteronomy are a history lesson. Moses recounts in brief what has transpired over the last forty years. An interesting side note to this history involves Seir, Moab and Ammon. Do we remember that the main objection the spies had to settling Canaan was the giants (Anakim) who were there? Well, Moses now informs the people that during their journeys, they were not permitted to set foot in any territory previously given to the descendants of Esau, or Lot. Mt. Seir, Moab and Ammon were territories already spoken for, and the urge to colonize areas that belonged to someone else was forbidden by the Lord. Interestingly, those lands also had been occupied at one time by giants who were left over from earlier days; but God destroyed the giants at the hands of those to whom he gave those lands. The implication is that giants weren’t new, nor were they impregnable. They had been defeated before, and they would be once again. Reminding the people why they had been consigned to their wilderness experience, Moses made it clear that he, too, would not be going into Canaan, would not be leading them any further than their current position, due to the fact that the Lord was angry with him on account of the people’s rebellions. Moses disgraced himself and the Lord when he angrily struck the rock to bring water. God certainly forgave him, but his future was permanently altered. Pleading with Yahweh was to no avail–Moses was told to not bring up again whether he would cross the Jordan into the promised land. It was not going to happen. So Joshua was prepared to take command of the people when Moses’ time was up. And now here they are.

We have seen as we have followed Israel from Sinai to this location that the Lord’s wisdom and power are synchronized in His plans. He proposes and He disposes. He explains and insists that His ways are the only ways that work. For us to question Him, complain against Him, rebel at His authority is so self-destructive, so not the way to respond! Because our Lord has our welfare at heart, to obey Him and follow Him in good faith and good humor is completely justified and makes absolute sense. As we contemplate Israel’s history and God’s divine leadership, may we conclude in our own heart to trust Him with our whole life so that we inherit the promises He has for us.

WEEK 10, 2018 – Welcome to Getting to Know God Better through the Bible

Remember, the journey of a thousand miles always begins with the first mile. As we go through the Bible, enjoy the journey!

DAY ONE – Numbers 3-5

When commanded by God to do so, Moses numbered all the males in Israel, twenty years old and upward, men who could be conscripted for war. The Levites were excluded. Over six hundred thousand males populated Israel. Now Yahweh instructed that the Levites be numbered as well, and that all the males be presented to Aaron and Moses for service in the Tent of Meeting. It would be their job to package and transport every single item in the structure of the tent whenever Israel made a move. They would also be responsible for the maintenance of the tent and its utensils. Literally they were to be given to the priests for the service of the Tent and its activities among the Israelis. In appointing them, Yahweh made a claim upon the Levites, declaring that they belonged to Him, that they would serve Him–not in priestly service but in the maintenance of all that was so dedicated. The Lord’s claim on the Levites was in exchange for the firstborn of every male child and animal. They would forever belong to Him in their special purpose.

Two things stand out here: 1) Yahweh was in charge; Israel was His possession, and He fully intended to make His Name known among all the nations as the Almighty Creator God, through these special people. 2) Every single person in Israel counted; everyone had a place, a purpose and a service to render. So the nation stood out in every way as special and even different from all the others. God was there. God was leading… and God was blessing them as no other people had been blessed since the days of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Of course, the blessing was contingent since it was based on covenant offered by Yahweh to the people. They didn’t make the rules that were prepared for their benefit and blessing. God did. God made the rules to enable a semblance of heaven on earth–as much of heaven as could be sustained among humankind who were alive to God only through all the external ceremonies and behaviors spelled out in their law. The Lord wanted to bless them, intended to bless them, and slanted everything in their direction to be ABLE to bless them! This is called Mercy… and Grace. It is still God’s way, even with us.

DAY TWO – Numbers 6-9

Evidently individuals were allowed to consecrate themselves to the Lord voluntarily for a period of time. It was called a vow–the vow of the Nazirite. The only well-known example of this was Samson, whose great strength was from Yahweh, to whom he was consecrated a Nazirite from birth by his parents. When Samson defiled himself  by being near a dead thing, his vow was nullified; and he was delivered over into the hands of the Philistines, who made sport of Samson by shaving his hair and imprisoning him. Only after his hair grew back did Yahweh allow his vow to activate once again; and Samson destroyed a host of Philistines on the day he died. Given the added   instructions from King David, who says, “Pay your vows to the Lord.” While vows no longer carry the weight of the Law of Moses, it is still understandable when one wishes to consecrate himself in some special way to the Lord. Only be very careful… and very faithful, trusting His mercy and grace to help you in all you do.

God’s revealed name to Israel is Yahweh (sometimes rendered as Jehovah). Numbers 6:27  “So they shall put my name on the children of Israel; and I will bless them.” The Lord then gave to Moses and Aaron the priestly blessing which we can appropriate for ourselves through Yahshua (Jesus), our Savior. Numbers 6:23-26  “Speak to Aaron and to his sons, saying, ‘This is how you shall bless the children of Israel.’ You shall tell them, 24  ‘Yahweh bless you, and keep you. 25  Yahweh make his face to shine on you, and be gracious to you. 26  Yahweh lift up his face toward you, and give you peace.’ That is a wonderful blessing; use it well, and use it often.

Having been at Sinai for a year, it seemed Israel was about to begin their journey. God instructed them to now keep the second Passover on its appointed day; everything was in readiness, and they would soon decamp to begin their trek to a Promised Land. He even revealed how their movements would be initiated:  Numbers 9:15-18  On the day that the tabernacle was raised up, the cloud covered the tabernacle, even the Tent of the Testimony: and at evening it was over the tabernacle, as it were the appearance of fire, until morning. 16  So it was continually. The cloud covered it, and the appearance of fire by night. 17  Whenever the cloud was taken up from over the Tent, then after that the children of Israel traveled; and in the place where the cloud remained, there the children of Israel encamped. 18  At the commandment of Yahweh, the children of Israel traveled, and at the commandment of Yahweh they encamped. As long as the cloud remained on the tabernacle they remained encamped. Dear Ones, we too are so blessed; God’s Presence in Holy Spirit is Present in us at all times if so that we have been regenerated in our spirit through Jesus’ name. So take heart and keep aware of His Presence, continually building relationship through your obedient response to Him. And one other thing: can we just TRUST Him a little more, especially as we see things around us growing bleaker by the day?

DAY THREE –  Numbers 10-14, Psalm 90

It took a year at Sinai for Yahweh to establish the Theocracy–that is, a nation whose God is Yahweh and who are led and ruled over by God Himself. However, we learn later that God’s people, at least ten times, tested the Lord and His word in the wilderness for a period of forty years. They eventually finished the trek however, and were led to permanent settlement by Joshua, God having graciously fulfilled every promise He uttered over the people. Unfortunately the entire generation of those who were delivered out of Egypt died in the wilderness without seeing the promise with their own eyes. Only their children, for whom they were afraid of the supposed terrors that were up ahead, completed the trip and were settled into the land through miraculous intervention.

Trouble brewed quickly. As Israel decamped and journeyed for a few days, following the cloud of God’s glorious Presence, a group of people raised up a cry for meat, craving the pots of Egypt and embracing their past. Angry over their rejection and rebellion, the Lord sent them quail from the sea in such quantity that they soon ate their fill and gagged at the thought of more meat! So the first lesson came home to them as a few thousand died of a plague that came with the meat! It’s kind of like, what part of being thankful for God’s blessings don’t you understand?

Then Miriam and Aaron, Moses’ siblings, spoke against him because of his foreign wife. God really didn’t like that. Numbers 12:5-8  Yahweh came down in a pillar of cloud, and stood at the door of the Tent, and called Aaron and Miriam; and they both came forward. 6  He said, “Now hear my words. If there is a prophet among you, I, Yahweh, will make myself known to him in a vision. I will speak with him in a dream. 7  My servant Moses is not so. He is faithful in all my house. 8  With him, I will speak mouth to mouth, even plainly, and not in riddles; and he shall see Yahweh’s form. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant, against Moses?” Is there a lesson somewhere in here? When Yahweh left the scene, Miriam was covered with leprosy and, even though the Lord healed her, she had to be shut out of the camp for the next week before she could return, according to their new laws. And the whole nation had to remain during her recovery.

They were so close to their destination that Yahweh told Moses to select a man from each tribe to be sent up into the land of their fathers to spy it out and bring back a report. Forty days later the report was bad…almost. Not that Canaan wasn’t a desirable place; it was everything God said it would be, but there was a problem–giants lived there, and the spies felt dwarfed in their presence. So they discouraged the people with their report and caused another grave injury against the Lord and the Theocracy. Only two of the spies–Caleb and Joshua–spoke up for God and said, “We can do this!” So Moses more or less freaked out and told the Lord, “I can’t do this! How can one man lead six hundred thousand men with all this going on? Lord, it’s too much for me; just kill me before I see myself in worse shape than this!” Well, God intervened, and another lesson about the Theocracy was gained with great difficulty. Can we see that saving a nation, and then the world, is what our God is all about; and can we see how much we put Him through as we trek through our own history? Oh, to just be thankful and to bless His Great Name for all that He has done.

So this is the end of the prayer that Moses, the man of God, spoke out about this time:

Psalm 90:13-17  Relent, Yahweh! How long? Have compassion on your servants! 14  Satisfy us in the morning with your loving kindness, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. 15  Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, for as many years as we have seen evil. 16  Let your work appear to your servants; your glory to their children. 17  Let the favor of the Lord our God be on us; establish the work of our hands for us; yes, establish the work of our hands. 

DAY FOUR – Numbers 15-16, Psalm 95

Challenges to the Theocracy: When God rules among men, what is the extent of His sovereign authority? And what does it mean when He is referred to as ‘Lord’?  Through the gracious entreaties and intercessions of Moses and Aaron, who repeatedly fell on their face before God when their authority was challenged, Yahweh spared the nation, though not without severe discipline on the rebellious and complainers.

  • After the rebellion of the spies, 40 years of wilderness experience were levied on Israel, one year for each day the spies were out gathering their information.
  • The rebellion of Korah and Dathan with their cohort against Moses and Aaron, brought the most severe and spectacular response from Yahweh to date: they, along with the 250 elders, their families and all their belongings, fell into a pit that opened beneath them and then closed over them. The Levites who were offering incense with fire in the censers perished when fire came out from the Lord and consumed them.
  • When the congregation formed a conspiracy of complaining and blaming the next day, a plague erupted and moved quickly through them, stayed only when Aaron ran between the living and the dead with incense burning before Yahweh. Over 14,000 died in the plague, in addition to the destruction of the others.

If you were God, what would you do? Is it reasonable for Yahweh to go to such extreme measures, considering that the entire future of the human  race is at stake? Should mankind be left to themselves to do whatever we think is right, regardless the circumstances on society as a whole? Does God have a right to intervene in human affairs in order to preserve the race and save those who will ultimately be part of an eternal family that has been purged of evil?

Psalm 95:6-9  Oh come, let’s worship and bow down. Let’s kneel before Yahweh, our Maker, 7  for he is our God. We are the people of his pasture, and the sheep in his care. Today, oh that you would hear his voice! 8  Don’t harden your heart, as at Meribah, as in the day of Massah in the wilderness, 9  when your fathers tempted me, tested me, and saw my work. 

DAY FIVE – Numbers 17-20

Who gets to lead? Why are there even leaders? Why can’t everyone simply do what he wants to do and live without leaders? The book of Judges more or less answers that. Its thesis is that “everyone did what was right in his own eyes,” ending in bondage and confusion. So in today’s reading Yahweh, wishing to end the complaints in Israel about who is chosen for this or that, instructed that the rods (carved from tree branches) of all the heads of house in Israel (that would be twelve in number) were to be brought before the Lord. Moses collected them and placed them before the Ark overnight. The next morning, Aaron’s rod had budded, blossomed and had ripe almonds on it! The rest were plain. So God demonstrated who was chosen as high priest and had Aaron’s rod placed inside the Ark of the Covenant as a permanent witness.

The conspiracy of complaining and blaming against leaders is rampant in our culture today. Could that explain some of the chaos and confusion erupting around us almost daily? Does God notice; does He care? Someone will always be chosen to lead; and whether he likes it or not, his leadership will carry a built-in burden as a result of those who complain and carp about the way things are done. If people want to live in peace, their recognition and support of leaders, to the best of their conscience, will improve the atmosphere in which leaders do their job. Will this be utopia? Never. Humans interacting with other humans will always leave unanswered questions and problems; but accepting and working together with our leaders will bring the best circumstances at the moment.

And remember that human government as first established by God in Israel was merely a mechanism for His own leadership among the people, in order that He alone might ultimately rule among them, in order to bless them and give them a future. Remember Jeremiah 29:11-13  For I know the thoughts that I think toward you,” says Yahweh, “thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you hope and a future. 12  You shall call on me, and you shall go and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13  You shall seek me, and find me, when you search for me with all your heart. So any difficulties we experience with leaders at any level should cause us to first call on God and bring our requests before Him. Is there a time and place to discuss issues with leaders? Yes, but not until we have done this: Philippians 4:4-7  Rejoice in the Lord always! Again I will say, “Rejoice!” 5  Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. 6  In nothing be anxious, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. 7  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus. The Lord ultimately wants to rule over us for our own good. To display our will against His as revealed in Scripture and by the Holy Spirit is to cause loss that sometimes cannot be undone. May we all pray for our leaders and trust God to continue His sovereign leadership among us. And may we pray the prayer every day that Jesus taught us to pray: “Your kingdom (your rule) come, your will be done, in earth, as it is in heaven!” If our hearts are tuned to that godly desire, we will do well no matter what happens.


  1. God wants to ultimately be our leader and rule over us for our good.
  2. He works through human leaders and government, even those who are imperfect or evil.
  3. If we reject authority and leadership, we reap the inevitable chaos and confusion that results.

WEEK 9, 2018 – Getting to know God through His Word, the Bible

DAY ONE – Leviticus 11-14

Hygiene and healthcare: preventing infectious diseases and properly treating them in the event a plague should develop. Yahweh Creator God knows all the human weaknesses of fallen mankind. Just so, He prescribed proper eating habits and foods that were healthful rather than harmful. Among all the animals and creatures some could be safely eaten, while others were considered ‘unclean’ and should be abstained from at all times. Dead things were to be avoided studiously; and should one come into physical contact he was to wash with clean water and socially absent himself temporarily.  Should infection break out, whether on one’s person or in one’s physical surroundings, there were proper procedures to be followed to appeal to God for healing and to demonstrate that one had truly been cleansed and healed. These all contained religious rites and offerings to God. The priests were the judges of what was infectious or benign. In all of this Yahweh God indicated that the spiritual and physical are interminably intertwined and cannot be separated, leading us to conclude that He is the author of health and healing; and that we will always need Him for our life in this world. We were never intended to live our life apart from God, or to separate from Him if we wish to enjoy His blessings in this sphere.

DAY TWO – Leviticus 15-18

These are some of the most powerful and important chapters of the entire worship book, for they deal with the strongest passions of mankind. The sexual impulse, at least for men, adds strength and fortitude to the whole person when channeled properly. When the boundaries of sexual propriety are breached, no greater potential for destruction to the race exists. When one accepts and permits impropriety, the results cannot forever be hidden or evaded. When an entire social culture embraces and permits sexual perversion, damage and mischief of the most extreme kind threatens future generations. The pleasure of sex is a poor substitute for the power of love–a committed love that honors God and His creation.

No doubt this is why God’s Necessary Plan, as I sometimes call it, was so fraught with detailed instructions and the strictest prohibitions. In order for His plan to work, His people had to be reminded again and again the price of blood, the place of blood and its relationship to the revealing of our Lord’s mercy upon mankind. Blood sacrifice, accompanied and regulated as it was by laws and ordinances, provided access to God and covering for sin until the problem could be ultimately resolved.  We should always be grateful for a love that draws us to such a wonderful God. For it was in love that He created us, and it is in love that He teaches us how to live.

DAY THREE – Leviticus 19-22

‘Holiness’ has a different sound to it. When God says, “You shall be holy, for I am holy,” it raises all kinds of questions in our minds. The word simply means ‘set apart,’ something that is distinguishable from something else and has special purpose attached to it. These chapters go on to describe various laws and commandments which set Israel apart from the other nations. They dealt with community living–social and sexual relationships within and without marriage; spiritual boundaries which exclude all familiar spirits and practices outside of Yahweh; the land and its produce, especially how to honor the Creator with it; and other sundry areas of normal daily living. Once again, all of this appears as external and physical instructions which distinguish Israel from all the other nations. Yahweh specifically says that He destroyed the Egyptian religion with its gods and intends to plunder the Canaanites and destroy them by giving their land to Israel, so they are to remain ‘holy’ to Him to validate the Creator’s great power and purpose.

Since the days of Christ Jesus–His death and resurrection–holiness is measured and demonstrated by the Presence of the Holy Spirit in our life, whose influence and power within provide a constant spiritual growth and reformation that demonstrate the Kingdom of God–His rule and purposes. We may sometimes indeed look and seem different to the rest of mankind by our practices and lifestyle, but it is not to make us better than they; rather it is to shine a light on our Creator and bring Him into focus for the rest of the world. The primary witness of holiness will be faith, hope and love, these three described by Paul, for they testify of great inner workings accomplished by Holy Spirit in our life. Frequently in these chapters a reminder is given: “I am Yahweh;” sometimes is added, “who brought you out of Egypt.” Thus we always remember that all of this was initiated by God Himself; we are responders to His mercy and grace and the great work that He does in our behalf day by day. Given the severity and polarity of our social milieu, our world needs a clear picture of God, and true holiness comes closer to revealing His true nature and character than a world full of sermons and rules!

DAY FOUR – Leviticus 23-25 

Festivals, Assemblies & Convocations–specific and prescribed ways of honoring and obeying Yahweh God in Israel.  The Lord Himself called Israel to a lifestyle that punctuated their years with gatherings intended to keep them mindful of God’s place among them. The weekly reminder was called a Sabbath–literally a day of rest, no ordinary work schedules. Then there was the Passover Day, the annual ritual observing Israel’s redemption and deliverance from Egypt, followed by the Festival of Unleavened Bread. There was an annual Day of Atonement, special harvest celebrations of recognition and thanksgiving, and a Festival of Booths, reminder of their traveling days from Egypt to Canaan. Every one of these had special meanings, special instructions and sacrifices/offerings associated with them to test the patience, obedience and devotion to Yahweh among His people. The real test?  NOT WORKING! When people are engaged in enterprise of any kind from which they can begin to profit, not working, whether for a day, or a week, or whatever, disciplines their desire to improve their fortune. God promised special blessings to those who obeyed Him, but it nevertheless required them to trust Him to do what He said. Whenever we think we can do better than God at improving our lot, we will be tempted to violate both spiritual and common sense. And when we do, we will push the envelope of personal autonomy until we are no longer capable of following His leading in our life. At that point we are in crisis, whether or not we realize it. Israel often was awakened by the Lord’s strong hand to their destructive, wandering lifestyle that took them away from God’s care and provision. In those times they turned to other ‘gods’ to improve their lot through pagan appeasements, none of which worked.

Worship is a condition of the heart in which we delight in the Lord and desire to allow His work and oversight in our life. Delight…and Desire–this is MORE than just receiving His blessings! Therefore Leviticus is a book of WORSHIP. Let us never deceive ourselves into thinking that just because we ‘believe’ in God or have ‘received’ Jesus, that God’s blessings are automatic, or that He owes us anything. As children learn to take their place in a loving family and become responsible, participating members, so our place in God’s family is regularly tested by the discipline of our desires and proclivities. (pro·cliv·i·ty  — A natural propensity or inclination; a predisposition)

DAY FIVE – Leviticus 26-27, Numbers 1-2

With the Theocracy established by Yahweh in Israel, promised blessings encouraged them to live within God’s Creative Plan for them. It would come the closest to ‘heaven on earth’ that can be realized among a people. On the other hand, should Israel despise God’s rule among them and deface their culture, religion or land, Yahweh would stand against them to the degree that they rejected His rule. The evils they would face were common to other nations surrounding them, evils they could escape with the Lord’s mighty Presence and Protection around them. It was clear the Israelis had a choice–their power of choice would determine God’s Creative Plan, or Necessary Plan for dealing with all the nations of the earth. Our power of choice is not diminished by either ignorance or rebellion. We have responsibility to avail ourselves of the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ and to learn His ways on earth. His rule among us is by the Word and Spirit; and we exercise choice within those options. How BLESSED is the man who chooses the Lord as His God! How unfortunate are those who exclude themselves from the Lord’s grace and mercy as revealed and offered through the Lord Jesus.

With the law, commandments and religion in place, it was time to organize the new nation of Israel under a discernible government in which the Tent of Meeting remained center in the community. Three tribes were assigned by numbered census to each of the compass points around the Tent. The Levites, who were not numbered, camped around the perimeter of the Tent as a buffer between the common and the holy. So now the nation was ready to begin their journey, the cloud/fire of God’s Presence there to guide them toward the promise.

I continue to be amazed at the BIG PICTURE that emerges when we read through the entire Bible. This is not a race–more like a marathon! And it works best when you are running alongside a friend or partner. So settle into a pace you can sustain and let’s continue our journey.

Welcome to Week 8, 2018 – Reading thru the Bible, Getting to know God

As we start this new week together, let’s focus again on our main purpose for reading the Bible: to get to know God, our Father in heaven. We will always have questions, but the more intimate we become with Him, the fewer loose ends we tend to have. So enjoy. Grab your cup and let’s begin.

DAY ONE – Exodus 33-36

It was not without pain and shame that Israel was restored by God’s grace. In the aftermath of the chaos Yahweh dispatched Moses to lead Israel to the land promised to Abraham and offered to send an angel in His place to help them gain the land and settle in it. When Israel heard that Yahweh didn’t want to be among them, they mourned and stripped off all signs of celebration and gaiety. Moses continued to go outside the camp to commune with the Lord and intercede for the nation. He made two major requests that we all do well to emulate throughout our lives. Exodus 33:13  Now therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your way, that I may know you, so that I may find favor in your sight: and consider that this nation is your people.”  Exodus 33:18  He said, “Please show me your glory.” 


Moses learned at Sinai that this nation-developing was not gained easily, and that he was not properly qualified to continue the work without a fresh, God-centered education from Yahweh Himself. Hence, his requests. In both cases the Lord answered positively and acted accordingly, giving fresh revelation to Moses and preparing Him for the long journey and life ahead. In revealing Himself to Moses, the Lord announced: Exodus 34:5-8  Yahweh descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed Yahweh’s name. 6  Yahweh passed by before him, and proclaimed, “Yahweh! Yahweh, a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger, and abundant in loving kindness and truth, 7  keeping loving kindness for thousands, forgiving iniquity and disobedience and sin; and who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, and on the children’s children, on the third and on the fourth generation.” 8  Moses hurried and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshiped. In this manner they started over. God chiseled new engravings on the replacement tablets that Moses brought to the mountain; and when he came down, he gathered the people together and appointed the God-gifted men Bezalel and Aholiab to begin the development of the Lord’s sanctuary in the wilderness, commonly called the ‘tent of meeting’ or the ‘tabernacle.’  This entire experience demonstrates that God is merciful and gracious; that He hears and responds to intercessory prayer; and that He is willing to move forward with us as we humble ourselves in His Presence and seek His face earnestly and sincerely.  It is not an event but a way of life; may we learn God’s ways and mirror His true character to our generation.

NOTE: It appears from these encounters between Moses and Yahweh that God does not change His overall plans but is willing to change His mind as to how He will move forward with us.  Discipline is intended to humble us, not destroy us. When destruction does occur, it is among those who are rebellious and stiff-necked. In spite of that we may receive new mercies and learn more of God’s ways.

DAY TWO – Exodus 37-40

Exodus 39:42-43  According to all that Yahweh commanded Moses, so the children of Israel did all the work. 43  Moses saw all the work, and behold, they had done it as Yahweh had commanded, even so had they done it: and Moses blessed them.  Soon Moses set up the entire edifice exactly as Yahweh had instructed him, establishing a meeting place for Yahweh among the nation of Israelis. When it was done, Yahweh’s Presence came down upon the tent, appearing during the day as a cloud and at night as a fire. So intense was Yahweh’s Presence that Moses could not at first enter the tent. And now the nation of God’s people had their law, their culture, their religion and their meeting place–all given by Yahweh in order to set them apart and distinguish them from all other nations around them. This circumstance would remain for the next forty years, so long as they were on the journey to the land promised Abraham 400 years earlier.

They could see with their eyes all that God had done–

  • The miracles in Egypt that caused the Pharaoh to let them go as Yahweh commanded.
  • The miraculous parting of the Red Sea enabling Israel to cross on dry ground but drowning the Egyptians as they tried to pursue.
  • The unforgettable manifestations of God on Mt. Sinai when their Law was given by Yahweh.
  • The particular and minute specifications for the Tent of Meeting which point forward to the coming of Messiah–though at the time they had no clue!
  • And finally God’s fiery cloud to indicate that He was there, directing and watching over their future.

Their exodus is now complete, and their journey will soon commence. In a very short time God has built a nation–and it still exists with its original language, religion and relevance to the rest of the world!

DAY THREE – Leviticus 1-4

“Leviticus is a most interesting and important book; a book containing a code of sacrificial, ceremonial, civil, and judicial laws, which, for the purity of their morality, the wisdom, justice, and beneficence of their enactments, and the simplicity, dignity, and impressive nature of their rites, are perfectly unrivalled, and altogether worthy of their Divine Author. All the rites and ceremonies of the Mosaic law are at once dignified and expressive. They point out

  • the holiness of their Author,
  • the sinfulness of man,
  • the necessity of an atonement, and
  • the state of moral excellence to which the grace and mercy of the Creator have destined to raise the human soul.

“They include, as well as point out, the gospel of the Son of God; from which they receive their consummation and perfection. The sacrifices and oblations were significant of the atonement of Christ; the requisite qualities of these sacrifices were emblematical of his immaculate character; and the prescribed mode in the form of these offerings, and the mystical rites ordained, were allusive institutions, calculated to enlighten the apprehensions of the Jews, and to prepare them for the reception of the Gospel. The institution of the high priesthood typified Jesus, the Great High Priest, called and prepared of God, who hath an unchangeable priesthood, and is able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by him.” (Book Introduction from Treasury of Scripture Knowledge) The beginning of the book is all about offerings: who, what, how. The offerings are regulated by Yahweh, although they appear to be voluntary in nature. The regulations further allow discretion in the offering itself, determined perhaps by the person’s economic advantage and/or the kind of property he has. It might be from the herd, or the flock, or even a bird. In the end, it must represent a person’s ‘all;’ that is, all of the offering must be sacrificed on the altar. It must be burnt with fire, consuming that part which is specified by Yahweh, so that to Him it may be ‘a sweet aroma.’

From these chapters we discover things about God–His reasonableness, flexibility, willingness to allow personal choice, and the reasons behind whatever He prescribes. This is our God, bent on doing everything within His power to provide redemption, protection and a plan for future blessings–all descriptive of His character and purpose. God initiates, we respond; He instructs, we obey; He works, we benefit from all He has done and is doing. I love the Lord  and I pray every day that His kingdom will increase in my sphere of existence. May His kingdom come, His will be done here and now.

DAY FOUR – Leviticus 5-7

wor·ship – n.  — The reverent love and devotion accorded a deity, an idol, or a sacred object.  1) The ceremonies, prayers, or other religious forms by which this love is expressed:  2) Ardent admiration or love; adoration

v. — 1) To honor and love as a deity.  2) To regard with ardent or adoring esteem or devotion. (From <http://www.thefreedictionary.com/_/dict.aspx?word=worship&h=1&w10app=1)

Leviticus is primarily a book about worship, especially the worship of Yahweh God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Each of those men, upon discovering the favor that God was adding to their lives, and wanting to acknowledge His Creatorship, built an altar and offered sacrifice to Yahweh, often several times throughout their wanderings and journeys. Reverent love and devotion toward God is a response not easily developed, as God must always take the first step to initiate relationship and show His nature to the respondent. And so Yahweh took the first, second and additional steps to reveal His good plans and purposes; to demonstrate His excellent character; and to facilitate a reconciliation and redemption toward mankind in general. So He is certainly worthy to be worshipped.

These chapters in Leviticus show the preparations to be undertaken by Israel in the course of worship, in order to satisfy God’s holiness and be acceptable to Him. And the first observation we must make is the BLOOD…so much blood! The blood of every animal was to be poured at the base of the altar designed by God for animal sacrifice. Imagine that many people bringing their offerings to the Lord to be presented by the priests at the designated location of the altar. It was a virtual slaughterhouse as the priests were kept busy in their work before God. And the blood flowed, day after day; and the fire burned, day after day; and the mess had to be cleaned up, day after day; only to be repeated again. Any thinking person can see the liability that sin has placed upon us, and the necessity of worship to God who saves us according to His own grace and mercy. Leviticus 7:37  This is the law of the burnt offering, of the meal offering, and of the sin offering, and of the trespass offering, and of the consecration, and of the sacrifice of peace offerings; 38  which Yahweh commanded Moses in Mount Sinai, in the day that he commanded the children of Israel to offer their offerings to Yahweh, in the wilderness of Sinai. 

DAY FIVE – Leviticus 8-10

The previous chapters outlined the detailed instructions for the Theocracy–God’s rule and government among the Israelis. Now it was time to implement everything. Moses brought Aaron and his sons to the newly-assembled tent of meeting and carried out the CONSECRATION of the tent, of Aaron and his sons. And, of course, it involved the shedding of blood in copious amounts, along with burnt offerings, sin offerings, and consecration offerings. The manner, the place and the ceremony were all specified in minute detail. Moses carried out his part of the ceremony, then had Aaron and his sons copy his actions on behalf of the people–God’s congregation. So they were all consecrated that day–everything and everybody–to demonstrate that they now belong to God and they are ready to enjoy His holy presence. Theoretically, at least, God’s rule is in place and the people are going to demonstrate to the rest of the world how wonderful God is through His work in their midst. Don’t we wish…


WEEK 7, 2018 — Through the Bible, Getting to Know God

DAY ONE – Exodus 14-18

Israel is out of Egypt, and Pharaoh is a raving lunatic! How could he have allowed such a thing? The Israelis did all the heavy lifting for Egypt, and now they are gone; they must be brought back. So Pharaoh amasses his chariots, captains, army and whatever else to pursue and recapture Israel. Bad move. On their part Israel is freaked out; they can see the Egyptian army in close pursuit, and they are quickly running out of time. There is no way of escape–at least none visible; and they cry to Yahweh God while they rail against Moses and Aaron. The Israelis feel totally powerless after decades of slavery to resist their tormentors, let alone deliver themselves from them. But God IS in control… Exodus 14:14-18  Yahweh will fight for you, and you shall be still.” 15  Yahweh said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Speak to the children of Israel, that they go forward. 16  Lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go into the middle of the sea on dry ground. 17  Behold, I myself will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall go in after them: and I will get myself honor over Pharaoh, and over all his armies, over his chariots, and over his horsemen. 18  The Egyptians shall know that I am Yahweh, when I have gotten myself honor over Pharaoh, over his chariots, and over his horsemen.”  God has already gotten victory over the ‘gods’ of Egypt. They were no help to the Egyptians during the nightmares of the plagues. NOW God has determined to extend that victory over Pharaoh himself so that no doubt remains as to who the LORD is! Not only that, but Israel must also be retrained and brought to a new reality to go with her new status. Following the victory of the Red Sea, Moses led Israel in a song of praise to Yahweh… Exodus 15:11-13  Who is like you, Yahweh, among the gods? Who is like you, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders? 12  You stretched out your right hand. The earth swallowed them. 13  “You, in your loving kindness, have led the people that you have redeemed. You have guided them in your strength to your holy habitation. This is the REDEEMED nation, bought back from slavery by God to become a free people who live in the Presence of Almighty God! No one will be able to mess with them if they live in the relationship that God is offering them: “I will be their God and they shall be my people.” So the Red Sea incident is LIFE to Israel and DEATH to Egypt. It is the final rite of passage, as Paul also explains: 1Corinthians 10:1-2  Now I would not have you ignorant, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 2  and were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea… Redemption and baptism seal the deal. Israel now belongs to God and must learn to live as this newly recovered nation under the blessings of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God’s COVENANT is now in full effect for an entire nation of people who will never be the same as they live in the community of nations.  Their God sets them apart and makes the distinction in no uncertain terms.

So Israel’s song is our song, and it begs to be sung at regular intervals to remind us with Whom we are in relationship. Exodus 15:1-3  Then Moses and the children of Israel sang this song to Yahweh, and said, “I will sing to Yahweh, for he has triumphed gloriously. The horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea. 2  Yah is my strength and song. He has become my salvation. This is my God, and I will praise him; my father’s God, and I will exalt him. 3  Yahweh is a man of war. Yahweh is his name. We go forward; we have a destination; our God is leading us; He has always proved victorious and will again. What part of “don’t be afraid” do we not understand? It’s time, and it’s time NOW. The kingdom “suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.” Men and women of God, move forward in His Presence!

DAY TWO – Exodus 19-21

Living in a pagan culture has diminished Israel considerably. Being slaves to a nation of pagans has further eroded their sensibilities. Among other things, the sanctity of life is no longer understood clearly. So three months after God has delivered Israel from Egypt they arrive at the Mountain of Sinai, where the Lord intends to introduce Himself in a more personal demonstration. He has Moses sanctify the people and prepare them to meet God, after a fashion. On the third day a trumpet blast, long and loud, announces the momentous event, and the mountain begins to tremble as smoke and fire descend on the mountaintop. The blast continues, becoming louder and louder until everybody is trembling and wondering what’s next. With commands and warnings, God summons Moses and Aaron to the mountain and begins to speak. The discourse that follows is commonly called The Ten Commandments, although they are embellished with additional instructions and explanations. In essence, Israel is beginning over again, this time with Yahweh present and active among them to give them distinction and status among the nations. When the Lord is finished with the ceremony, Moses will possess two stone tablets with the 10 commandments etched in them by God’s finger (so to speak). A new understanding of life and relationships will grow out of these instructions, and a new measure of accountability will attend to them. A new degree of civilization will grow out of godly wisdom and training as they move toward their physical destination. It is understood that Yahweh God, who claims to be THEIR God, has done a wonderful thing and intends to see it through by remaining among them.

The instructions guide their relationship with Yahweh and with each other. They will learn the value of life and how to maintain civility in the culture. They will understand when and how to punish unacceptable behavior. Their sense of longevity will grow along with their knowledge and understanding of Yahweh. The end game is that they will procreate a long line of priests and kings who will accomplish God’s will on earth and further Yahweh’s future plans for mankind. For now, however, much of that remains obscure. There is too much to be grasped so soon, and coming generations will need constant reinforcement by Yahweh to keep from scuttling His long-range plans. God’s wisdom always has an invitation to go deeper into His wonderful nature and work with Him to sustain His efforts to salvage mankind and fulfill eternal purposes in His creation. We are privileged to receive His grace and mercy which results in salvation and a rich future with Him. The man of God wisely counsels– Psalm 90:12  So teach us to count our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. 

DAY THREE – Exodus 22-24

There are foundations upon which all societies are built. The Judaic tradition was pieced together from the instructions Yahweh gave through Moses to the people. It was a powerful beginning. First the plagues of Egypt caused the Pharaoh to release the entire nation of Israel to Moses to lead them away. Then at the Red Sea, with no place to go and the Egyptian army close behind, Israel saw the sea open and the water form two walls on either side of a dry passage through the sea. When the Egyptians tried to follow them across, it wasn’t dry anymore!  Now here they are at Mt. Sinai, and the top of the mountain is on fire! Moses is up there with God, and he has witnessed to the people all that God has told him concerning their new life as a free nation. God is a nation-builder, and He fashions the laws and customs of a land to reflect His sense of justice and righteousness, revealing in the process that He is a gracious God. It’s obvious that Yahweh God wants us to be like Him as much as possible. Foundations included property rights, how to live with and among each other, how to regard others fairly and righteously, and how to resolve differences without perverting justice. Once again it’s obvious that God doesn’t show partiality among those who are following and living by His precepts and statutes. He wants all to have a fair shake at life and enjoy the best we can. This is a good God. As Moses received from Yahweh all the ‘law’ for the people he wrote it down and preserved it for posterity. Soon the nation would leave Sinai and continue toward their destination which, four hundred years earlier, had been promised to Abraham and his seed. God is doing everything He said He would do. The people are asked only to fear and obey Him, especially the Angel He would send with them on the journey. When they arrive at their place, the Lord Himself will help clear out the land, remove the current inhabitants and purge the evil that has gone on there for generations. Then they may settle in peace and enjoy what God has done!

The whole Bible reveals the Creator God who made everything and has persisted throughout the millennia to save mankind from a disastrous end of everything. Salvation is everywhere we look, if we are looking for it. God is behind all that is good, if we are considering the good. The natural world isn’t natural; it’s spiritual, for it contains the stamp of God’s creative wisdom everywhere we look. He is All in All, and I take time each day to worship and give thanks. So our ‘journey’ continues into the known future.

DAY FOUR – Exodus 25-28

Religion is God’s gift to man. After Adam and Eve rejected God and were disconnected from their True Source of life, God said to them, “Without shedding of blood there is no remission (or, forgiveness).” That occurred when He had to kill an animal for its skin to cover the first couple, who now knew they were naked. That was the beginning of religion–God’s requirements  to create a bridge for mankind to come to Him. From that time to Noah, very little was revealed by God as to how religion would be carried out on earth. When Noah came out of the ark, he built an altar to God and gave thanks. In return, God added religious context by stipulating the blood theme in religious covenant. People were not to consume the blood of a sacrifice; it was to be poured out as an offering. They were not to eat meat strangled with the blood still inside; it was to be drained from the sacrificial animal. Why? Because ‘the life is in the blood.’ This is what God said. We can thus conclude that all religion that God approved was initiated by Him, not by people. And now we are at Mt. Sinai with the Israelites, and God is downloading to Moses the ONLY religion He ever gave to the world, which means that the hundreds of religions we see among the peoples of the world are the creations of men, not of God. Since all of mankind has historically maintained some worldview that includes God, or god, or gods, religion has proliferated among almost all societies and nations, even if in primitive form. But be clear: the ONLY religion given by God to men is Judaism, for in it is contained all the revelation of God’s salvation being offered through Abraham and his descendants. Religion is God’s way of preparing mankind for His salvation, and Judaism was the beginning of that revelation. It would culminate with Judaism’s replacement, which is salvation through a Person rather than a religion! Jesus would become THE BRIDGE God would offer the world to replace mankind’s efforts to placate God or find a way to come near to Him.

Since we live in a visible, external world, all the religious instruction contained in these chapters creates a visible representation of God’s requirements and can be carried out in a visible and perfunctory manner. So Yahweh God has created a means of access and reminder with repetitive actions that will hopefully keep His people in a healthy relationship with Him…and all of this without them ever really seeing God as He is. External religion will have to suffice until the next part of the plan unfolds. Faith and obedience were needed then, and they are needed now.

DAY FIVE – Exodus 29-32

There is always a beginning. These chapters describe the beginning of Judaism, God’s gift of religion to the descendants of Abraham. However, what is begun as represented in this story is to continue throughout the generations until and unless God Himself provides something better. We repeat with emphasis that Judaism is the ONLY religion ever given by God to the world. All other religions are imposters and attempts of mankind to appease God or be acceptable to Him.

The first noticeable action in this story is the killing of a bull. And that’s only the beginning. Animals will be slaughtered daily throughout the generations by the designated priests of Yahweh to demonstrate the deadly effects of sin on mankind. To also demonstrate the hope associated with their religious observances, Yahweh designates Aaron (Moses’ brother) as high priest, and his sons as priests who serve at God’s tent of Presence, commonly referred to as the ‘tabernacle.’ Their lineage will be successor priests in coming generations. An elaborate ceremony is instituted by God to initiate their priestly service. It is external, observable. The people will SEE what is going on and hear the meaning as explained by Moses.

  1. The priests of God will wear special clothes for their service.
  2. They will operate in a physical facility whose very design, materials and dimensions are specified by Yahweh.
  3. They will be cleansed and anointed in special ceremonies.
  4. They will carry out the sacrifices and offerings–many different kinds–as specified by Yahweh.
  5. They will be set apart from the other tribes as God’s representatives for service.

As to the sacrifices themselves, they will consist of animals, grains, oil, spices, etc. They will occur annually and daily. There will be incense and smoke. Lamps will be lit throughout the night. The sounds of animals being slaughtered may be observed every day. The sights and smells of offerings being burned and otherwise administered before God will be a constant reminder to the people of the consequences of sin and its deadly power over mankind. This wonderful, gracious God of Creation is applying a remedy to sin and offering a BRIDGE over troubled waters so that all mankind may seek Him and find Him. And the first step is to SEE the religion God gave them. It was the first step to experiencing a relationship with Creator God, to entertain His Presence and blessing in their midst; and to remove the threat of extinction that has always existed.

As a footnote to the unfolding of this dramatic story, before Moses could even come down from the mountain with the tablets of stone engraved by the finger of God, the people had made an idol–a gold calf–and held a debauched festival to celebrate their ‘god’ who brought them out of Egypt! Thousands died in that melee, but merciful God salvaged His plan and moved forward with Moses and the Israeli nation.

Are you keeping a journal or notebook? You might be surprised at the insights you are gaining. Your notes will bring you great blessings in the years to come! And if you get behind in the reading, don’t panic; just pick up at our current location and keep moving. You can always go back later. May God add abundant grace to you!

If you live in the Chico area, you are still invited to our discussion group which meets on Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m., 1137 Arbutus Ave. – Chico First Assembly (no meeting February 14)

WEEK SIX – 2018, A Journey thru the Bible

DAY ONE –  Job 37-39, Psalm 19

What Elihu and Job’s three friends had to say all had some truth, but they couldn’t know what was not yet known. Mankind’s disconnection from God left him, so to speak, ‘in the dark.’ Wisdom was tainted when mankind turned from the Creator to the creation to find answers to cosmic mysteries. All science is based on suppositions and theories, and even discoveries are precipitated by poking in the right places. So even though knowledge has increased exponentially, mysteries still abound. What we ‘know’ is what the Creator chooses to reveal. It would seem then, that people would want to foster a relationship with Creator in order to understand His creation!

Yahweh God finally weighs in on the conversations that have gone on for days. And when He does, He addresses only Job.  Where were you, Job? Yes, where were you when I did… well, fill in the blanks. God takes credit for the creation. He claims original wisdom for all that exists–how it got here, how it stays here, how it all works. You know so much, Job–were you there when I did this…and that? What do you have to say for yourself? Well, Job doesn’t have much to say, except: “I am vile; What shall I answer you? I lay my hand over my mouth. Once have I spoken, but I will not answer; twice, but I will proceed no further.”

And King David, after exclaiming over the creation, gains wisdom and prays, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.” (19:14) In Your sight… yes Lord, that’s my desire, to be okay in Your sight. It’s all that matters. Matthew 6:33-34  But seek first God’s Kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore don’t be anxious for tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Each day’s own evil is sufficient. 

DAY TWO – Job 40-42, Psalm 29

Job’s predicament has now reached crisis proportions. He is, as it were, face-to-face with God Himself. This is a private audience! And God now demands that Job answer Him; He proceeds to ask Job where He has been all the time God has been at work in creation. Using examples of behemoth and Leviathan, God suggests that Job stick to things he can manage and not try to go above his pay grade! Job 42:1-6  Then Job replied to the LORD: 2  “I know that You can do anything, and no one can stop You. 3  You asked, ‘Who is this that questions My wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me. 4  You said, ‘Listen and I will speak! I have some questions for you, and you must answer them.’ 5  I had only heard about You before, but now I have seen You with my own eyes. 6  I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.” 

Behemoth seems to represent strength and confidence. Leviathan suggests pride and invincibility. While both of these qualities are given to mankind as well, to enable us to conquer and rule, pride will destroy both us and our machinations. We need a clear vision of the Almighty God to keep us from exalting ourselves in a destructive manner. Psalm 29 is clearly the antidote to pride; it can be summed up in a simple command: Give God all the glory! Go to God’s temple (any place of worship, indoors or outdoors) and meditate on His glorious virtues and traits. Devour the Word of God with prayer for greater wisdom. Try a little dust and ashes, just to be different! God doesn’t want us weak, but He does want our pride under control for His greater purposes.

Conclusion: We may never fully understand the causes and reasons for suffering and pain, but we may be fully assured of God’s great love and care for us in any and all circumstances. Trying to speak for God is especially fraught with potentially risky results; better to simply quote the scriptures and let the Holy Spirit do the speaking for God! After all, He alone knows the mind of our loving Heavenly Father.

Summary: Having found Job’s faith and trust intact, in spite of the suffering the devil put Job through, Almighty God held Job’s friends accountable for their destructive religious philosophies which they piously spouted to Job, while blessing Job abundantly with double all he previously had! Who says Bible stories don’t have magical endings?

DAY THREE – Exodus 1-4

You would hardly call it an auspicious beginning, since Moses was born under a death threat (Auspicious means favorable, fortunate.) But then aren’t we all, since the wages of sin IS death? However, the scriptures are replete with God’s plans and efforts to bring us back from death to life. Here His plan to redeem Israel unfolds through a young Egyptian prince (actually a son of Levi) who has fled Egypt and lived another life until Yahweh God manifests through a burning bush.

Yahweh explains that He is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. All Israel is His son, his firstborn, by right of covenant. So Yahweh has watched over them carefully until this time.  Exodus 2:23-25  In the course of those many days, the king of Egypt died, and the children of Israel sighed because of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up to God because of the bondage. 24  God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. 25  God saw the children of Israel, and God was concerned about them. 

Exodus 3:7 -10 Yahweh said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. 8  I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey; to the place of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite. 9  Now, behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come to me. Moreover I have seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. 10  Come now therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh, that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” 

God’s favor often attaches to His purposes–hence, Moses is raised as an Egyptian prince, suddenly loses favor with the Pharaoh, flees for his life, only to be apprehended by a burning bush some years later when he is near eighty years old. From the bush Yahweh identifies Himself, remembers the patriarchs of Israel, acknowledges the great deliverance that is about to occur, and calls Moses to be a Deliverer. In the same manner, each of us is purposed and called by God to be part of His plans and efforts to redeem all of mankind. Where and how we serve depends on God’s favor over our life and the circumstances in which we have arrived.

Take heart, Dear One; our Lord remembers us in every situation and retains great plans for the future. As unlikely as it may seem, all suffering is temporary and cannot endure beyond this current physical existence. Our God, Yahweh our Savior, has created a Promised Land that is within reach through our faith. Whatever the Spirit of God is saying to you about your life, be encouraged. Trust Him fully to finish what He has started. You are in GOOD hands!

DAY FOUR – Exodus 5-9

The beginning of signs, wonders and plagues before Pharaoh by Yahweh, God of Israel– even though the Israelites had no faith in Yahweh, they were willing to go along with Moses until the Egyptians upped the ante and caused their toil to become severe, with torture. Now everyone in Egypt is waiting to see what the standoff between Yahweh and Pharaoh will produce. Moses and Aaron begin working the signs given them by God, and the Egyptians begin to suffer under the heavy hand of the God of Israel. The Egyptian gods mimic some of the signs through their sorcerers in order to harden Pharaoh’s heart. When it becomes apparent after several signs that Yahweh trumps all the gods of Egypt, Pharaoh’s sorcerers let him know they’ve done all they can do, because this is ‘the finger of God.’ Hardened by his early successes, Pharaoh continues to resist God. Tension mounts throughout the land, especially when Yahweh creates a distinction between the neighborhoods of Egypt and Goshen, where the Israelites live. The plagues stop at the border of Goshen! What will it take to convince the Pharaoh that he is not a god?

Indeed, what does it take to convince any generation that there is a True God, Creator of all there is? The world has created its own gods, fed by demonic doctrines and lies. Darkened and confused, mankind persists in his own ways, carelessly ignoring the pleas and overtures of our loving Heavenly Father. Hardness takes many forms, but maybe the sufferings of the present age will cause many to call out for help to a God they don’t yet know. We pray so.

DAY FIVE – Exodus 10-13

God made clear to Moses that by the time He was finished, all Egypt, especially the Pharaoh, would know for sure that Yahweh God, the God of Israel, was more powerful than all the gods of Egypt. A progressive destruction occurred under the plagues of Yahweh, consuming vegetation, crops, cattle, and everything valuable. As God had made the Pharaohs rich under Joseph in order to save all Israel in Egypt, now He decimated them, taking away their riches and their strength. During the siege Moses was elevated in the eyes of all the Egyptians. Egypt was destroyed, Goshen sat pristine and undamaged. The Egyptian people must have wondered how long the Pharaoh could hold out against Yahweh; they were all ruined.

But the ‘piece de resistance,’ the last plague, was the showstopper–God’s masterpiece of sovereignty. In preparation for that fateful night, every Israeli household slew a perfect lamb and sprinkled its blood on the doorposts of their dwellings. They roasted the lamb and ate it in Yahweh’s presence with the prescribed meal. They ate fully clothed and with their sandals on–a state of readiness for departure at Yahweh’s word. It was THAT night that the destroyer–the death angel–was coming. He would strike every household in Egypt, and the firstborn would die, even in the cattle stalls. But Yahweh was the Protector of the households in Goshen, where the blood was sprinkled on the doors. Yes, the death angel was coming, but Yahweh was covering the doorway and preventing the destroyer from harming any Israeli.

One more bit of divine justice–as Egypt prospered through and by the slavery of the Israelis, so God turned the tables. Frightened out of their wits, the Egyptians loaded their Israeli neighbors down with every kind of wealth–gold, silver, jewels, clothing, everything they asked for. Thus the Israelis received eighty years’ worth of back pay and left Egypt with excessive wealth to start a new life!

Creator God, Yahweh, is the father of all creation and the Father of all who put their trust in Yahshua (Jesus), God our savior. Because God is the same now as He was then, we can expect all the blessings of which we read in scripture, as children of the Covenant, the New Covenant of our Lord Jesus. As Jesus taught us to Pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, in earth as it is in heaven.” My heart and soul cry out for the works of God to be seen again in the land, for our children to see again the great signs and wonders of God Almighty, for His Spirit to again light up the body of Christ with His glory.


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