“Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding” 

Proverbs 4:6-7


  • January 1: Genesis 1-3


    Genesis opens with "In the beginning God". This indicates that the next 66 books we are about to read are His book. This is His story of redemption. God sets about making the heavens and the earth. He creates the sun, moon, stars, and earth. He creates all life on earth and then rests.


    The final creation is mankind. From there, man is given the command to name all of the animals. He is also given the command to be fruitful and multiply. Adam and Eve are in the Garden of Eden. It is a paradise, but they are still expected to work. They are given any tree to eat from. However, they are not allowed to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They are warned that if they eat from that tree, then they will die.


    The serpent is more crafty out of the animals. He approaches the woman and asks "did God really say?" Those four words today are still used to pull people away from God's word. Eve responds that if they eat it or touch the fruit then they will die. In my opinion, that is when the serpent knew that he was going to be able to get them to go against God's command. God had not said to touch it, just not eat it. There was an addition to His command. The serpent promises that if they eat the fruit, then they will be like God. So she takes it and eats it and gives it to her husband. Sin always over promises and under delivers. Now shame enters God's creation. The man and woman realize they are naked and hide as they hear God walking in the cool of the evening.


    Fellowship was broken between the man and the woman, and between mankind and God. God banishes the two from the garden, but promises that One will come from the woman's seed that will crush the head of the serpent.


    January 2: Genesis 4-7


    Having been banished from the garden, Adam and Eve begin having children. Their son Cain works the ground. Their son Abel becomes a shepherd. Abel makes an offering to The LORD and He finds it pleasing. Cain makes an offering to God, but He is not pleased with the offering. Cain becomes enraged. God confronts him and warms Cain that sin is "crouching at his door". Cain's rage seeks to control him. God explains that if Cain does what is right, then he will be accepted.


    Cain disregards this advice and deceptively leads his brother Abel into the field and murders him. Cain goes off and establishes a city. Lamech is the first person in the Bible to engage in polygamy. He is a spiteful and boastful person.


    Adam and Eve have another son named Seth. Seth's line produces Noah. God is upset with what has happened to mankind so He decides to wipe humanity off the face of the planet. However, God finds Noah to be a righteous man and orders him to build an ark so that his family could be preserved. Noah builds the ark and his family enters it. For forty days and forty nights, rain falls and floods the earth out. God wiped out every living thing that was on the surface of the ground.


    January 3: Genesis 8-11


    Noah and his family continued floating along on the water. The sources of the watery depth and the floodgates of the sky stop and the water begins to recede. The ark eventually comes to rest on Mount Ararat which is in modern day Turkey. Noah and his family debark the ark. God promises that He will never flood the earth again and gives the sign of the rainbow to remind us of this covenant.

    God tells Noah to be fruitful and multiply and fear the earth. Prior to the flood, humans were on a vegetarian diet. Now that the flood has receded and the world is changed, humans are now allowed to eat meat.

    Noah was the first man to plant a vineyard. He made some wine and drank it. Then he retired to his tent where he got naked. Ham, one of his sons, discovered his father's nakedness and reported it to his brothers. Noah pronounces a curse on Ham, the father of Canaan.

    The people are fruitful and they multiply. Because of their greatness, they decide that they want to build a tower so that they will be remembered. They set to make a tower that will stretch all the way to heaven. God sees what the people are doing. So, He goes to the land and confuses the languages. It is ironic that they built the temple with the intention of NOT being dispersed. However, it was that very decision that led to them separating.


    January 4: Genesis 12-15


    God calls Abraham telling him to leave his father's house and go to the land that He will show him. Abraham is faithful and leaves the land he knows at the age of 75. If we were in Abraham's position, would we be obedient?


    Abraham makes it to the site of Shechem at the oak of Moreh. At the time, the land is owned by the Canaanites. God promises this land to Abraham. Abraham responds by building an altar to the LORD. Famine strikes the land, so to ensure his survival, Abraham and his wife head to Egypt.


    Since Sarai is so beautiful, Abraham worries that Pharaoh will kill him to marry Sarai. Believe it or not, back in those days, even in pagan societies, adultery was a high offense and carried the death penalty. Abraham convinces her to tell Pharaoh that she is his sister. Pharaoh is confronted by God about his potential sin. Pharaoh then confronts Abraham about the lie and sends them away.


    Abraham, his wife, all he had, and his nephew Lot head out to the Negev. When they get there, Abraham gives Lot his choice of the land. Lot sees the lush green of the Jordan valley decides to head that way. After Lot and Abraham separate, Abraham goes back to live near the oaks of Mamre at Hebron.


    The land lot occupies is eventually taken over. Abraham launches an attack to defend Lot and his family. When they are brought back, God establishes His covenant with Abraham. Abraham is not happy about the covenant because he does not have any offspring to give the inheritance to. Instead of his flesh and blood, his wealth will go to Eliezer, his servant. God promises that Abraham will have a son. God eventually delivers on that promise. When God promises something, we can know that He will make it happen in His time. We must remember that God's timing is always best.


    January 5: Genesis 16-18


    Having been promised that a son is headed his way, Abraham approaches his wife with the good news. His wife says she is too old to give him a son, so she gives her concubine over to Abraham. While some would argue this is a lack of faith on Sarai's part, the fact is that it is a lack of faith on Abraham's part. He should have said something to the effect of, "No, our son will come from the two of us." However, he was all too willing to take the concubine Hagar to give him a son.


    Hagar becomes pregnant with Ishmael. Now Sarai has disdain for Hagar because she is carrying Abraham's child. Hagar is given back over to Sarai to do as she wants. She abuses the poor woman and she flees. Hagar makes it to a spring in the wilderness where she is approached by The Angel of The LORD. The Angel tells her to go back to her mistress. The child she is carrying will be a great nation.


    When Abraham is 99 years old, he is given the instruction to observe covenant circumcision. All males in his camp must be circumcised. All male boys that are born must be circumcised when they are eight days old. Ann Worley did some sleuthing and discovered that vitamin k helps to stop bleeding. Vitamin k is at its highest level on the eighth day after birth.


    The LORD appeared to Abraham at the oaks of Mamre. Abraham was sitting at his tent and approached the three men, imploring them to dine with him. As they are dining, they ask where Sarah is. The LORD says that He will return in one year and she will be pregnant. Sarah laughs at this news. When she is asked why she laughed, she denies it. But He replies, "No, you did laugh". As His people, we must make no mistake in thinking that we can hide things from God.


    The visitors announce that they are going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah for their wicked ways. Abraham makes a plea for them, but the only ones that will be spared are Lot and his family.


    January 6: Genesis 19-21


    Two angels enter Sodom and Gomorrah. Lot was sitting at Sodom's gate. His position indicates that he had worked his way up to be a leader within Sodom. Lot bows his face to the ground and asks that they would come to his house. He feeds them, but the spread is not nearly as nice as the one that Abraham had laid out for them earlier. The angels warn of the impending doom. Lot tries to warn his sons in law and others about what is getting ready to happen. Unfortunately, they all think he is joking and disregard what he is saying. Sodom and Gomorrah are destroyed, but Lot and his daughters are spared.


    Abraham travels to the Negev where he settles between Kadesh and Shur. He again claims that Sarah is his sister. He clearly did not learn his lesson the first time! Abimelech takes Sarah and is then warned in a dream that she is married. Destruction is headed his way.


    The LORD appears to Sarah just as He said He would. She becomes pregnant and gives birth to Isaac. When he was eight days old, Isaac was circumcised just as God had commanded. Unfortunately, there is sibling rivalry. This results in Ishmael and Hagar being sent away.


    January 7: Genesis 22-24


    The LORD approaches Abraham and tells him to take Isaac and sacrifice him. Abraham gets up early, takes his son, and two of his young men with him. When they get to Moriah, Abraham tells the two men to stay behind and takes Isaac with him. Isaac asks his father where the lamb is that they will sacrifice. Abraham explains that God will provide the sacrifice. Abraham makes up the altar, lays Isaac down on it, and is ready to plunge the knife into his son, when he is stopped by God. Abraham has shown that he loves God more than anything else and will not withhold anything from The LORD.


    Sarah lives to the ripe old age of 127 and then passes away. She is buried in the cave of Machpelah. Though the landowner offered to give the cave to Abraham to bury Sarah, Abraham is adamant about paying for the cave.


    Abraham is getting on in years and decides to find a wife for Isaac. He sends a servant to select a suitable wife from his land, not the land of the Canaanites. As the servant goes to find a wife for Isaac, he prays that God will identify who the woman should be. Before the servant even finishes praying, Rebekah approaches him and offers to draw water for his camels. The servant approaches Rebekah's father about marrying Isaac. The father allows it and Rebekah goes back immediately.



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  • January 7: Genesis 22-24

    The LORD approaches Abraham and tells him to take Isaac and sacrifice him. Abraham gets up early, takes his son, and two of his young men with him. When they get to Moriah, Abraham tells the two men to stay behind and takes Isaac with him. Isaac asks his father where the lamb is that they will sacrifice. Abraham explains that God will provide the sacrifice. Abraham makes up the altar, lays Isaac down on it, and is ready to plunge the knife into his son, when he is stopped by God. Abraham has shown that he loves God more than anything else and will not withhold anything from The LORD.


    Sarah lives to the ripe old age of 127 and then passes away. She is buried in the cave of Machpelah. Though the landowner offered to give the cave to Abraham to bury Sarah, Abraham is adamant about paying for the cave.


    Abraham is getting on in years and decides to find a wife for Isaac. He sends a servant to select a suitable wife from his land, not the land of the Canaanites. As the servant goes to find a wife for Isaac, he prays that God will identify who the woman should be. Before the servant even finishes praying, Rebekah approaches him and offers to draw water for his camels. The servant approaches Rebekah's father about marrying Isaac. The father allows it and Rebekah goes back immediately.


    January 8: Genesis 25-26


    Abraham takes another wife, Keturah, and they have some children together. These children do not have the same inheritance as Isaac. At the tender age of 175, Abraham takes his last breath. Isaac is a dutiful son and buries his father in the cave of Machpelah near Mamre with Sarah.


    We read an account of Ishmael's descendants. One thing is for sure, God delivered on His promise that Abraham would have descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky. Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, three of the largest religions in the world, trace their lineage to Abraham. God delivers on His promises!


    Isaac's wife Rebekah has trouble conceiving. Isaac prays to The LORD on her behalf. God promises to give Rebekah twins. However, their struggle with one another will begin in the womb. When it came time for birth, Esau comes out first, but Jacob emerges right after, grasping Esau's heel.


    Later in life, Esau gives his birthright to Jacob for something to eat. Esau stood to inherit the most out of Isaac's offspring, but he gave it up because he was hungry. He was not looking to the future, but looking at his immediate need. That led him to make a terrible decision. My hope and prayer is that we do not make decisions just based on the immediate. Instead, I hope we see how a simple decision will affect the future.


    A famine breaks out in the land. Isaac takes his family to Gerar where he falls into the same trap as his father. Because he is concerned about losing his life on account of Rebekah's beauty, he tells the men of Gerar that she is his sister. After their stay in Gerar, Isaac and his family go to Beer-sheba. God appears to him there and promises to bless him and multiply his offspring. Isaac builds an altar to The LORD.


    January 9: Genesis 27-29


    Isaac is getting on in years. He calls for Esau to give him his blessing. Rebekah knows what is about to happen, so she schemes with Jacob to steal Esau's blessing. Isaac liked the taste of game, so he sends Esau out to kill something for him. Rebekah takes some goats and makes them into a delicious meal. She has Jacob wear Esau's clothing and makes coverings of hair for his arms, hands, and neck (since Esau was a hairy man).


    Jacob enters Isaac's tent, pretending to be his brother. Isaac does not believe it at first. He had weak eyes at this point, but he identifies the voice he hears as Jacob's not Esau's. However, Jacob smelled like Esau since he was wearing his brother's clothes. This was good enough for Isaac and he proceeds to give the blessing to Jacob.


    Esau returns and finds that his blessing has been stolen. To preserve his life, Isaac and Rebekah send Jacob away to Paddan- Aram to Rebekah's father. Jacob is instructed to find a wife from there.


    Jacob meets Rachel and falls madly in love with her. Jacob and Laban, Rachel's father, come to an agreement. If he works for seven years for Laban, he can have Rachel as a wife. Jacob dutifully works the seven years and they pass quickly. On the wedding night, Jacob is shocked to find that he had not been given Rachel as a bride, but instead, he got her older sister Leah. (I know that sounds crazy in our modern context, but it was feasible since women wore veils back then). Jacob uncovers the deceit, Laban excuses it away, and promises that he can have Rachel if he works another seven years.


    The deceiver had become the deceived. 


    January 10: Genesis 30-31


    Rachel is Jacob's favored wife, but she is not having any children. She becomes envious of Leah, who has already provided Jacob several sons. Rachel demands children from Jacob, but he is quick to tell her that he is not in God's place. God is the One that has shut her womb, not him. Rachel gives her slave Bilhah to Jacob as a wife, expecting to have children through her. (This was a relatively common practice in these days). Bilhah conceives and gives birth to Dan and Naphtali.


    Leah sees that she is no longer having children, so she gives her slave Zilpah to Jacob as a wife. Zilpah gives birth to Gad and Asher. Leah begins having children again and gives birth to Issachar, Zebulun, and a daughter named Dinah.


    Poor Rachel! But God remembers her and she conceives Joseph. In the Hebrew, this name is actually a prayer. His name is a request that God would give her another son.


    Jacob works with Laban's flocks. We read an interesting case of animal husbandry with the speckled and spotted sheep. There is no scientific explanation behind it. Jacob's flocks multiplied because God was doing the work. Do not get me wrong, Jacob a fair amount of work, but God blessed the work. God does not expect us to be lazy. We can't just pray for a hole in the ground and then lean on the shovel.


    Jacob leaves Laban's land and begins to head home. Laban chases after Jacob and his family. Laban is upset that Jacob was deceitful in his departure. The two make a covenant and set up a stone as a marker. They took stones and made a mound around the stone and called the mound Jegar-sahadutha.


    January 11: Genesis 32-34


    Jacob continues on his way. However, since he has left the protection of his father in law, he will have to deal with his brother Esau. Remember that the last time he had any dealings with Esau, Esau was ready to kill him.


    Jacob is smart and sends a messenger ahead of him to Seir. He has the messenger explain that Jacob has been delayed, he has many possessions, and has sent the messenger to seek Esau's favor. The messenger comes back with news that seems horrifying upon first hearing it. Esau is on his way with 400 of his men to meet Jacob.


    To assuage Esau's anger, Jacob divides his wealth to give some to his brother as a peace offering. He sends his servant ahead of him with a bunch of livestock for Esau. Jacob and his family cross the Jabbok river. That night, he is by himself when he wrestles a man. The man sees that He cannot defeat Jacob, so He strikes Jacob's hip socket and dislocates it. Jacob refuse to let Him go until he is blessed. Jacob receives a new name. He is no longer going to be Jacob, instead he is now Israel because he has struggled with God and with men and has prevailed.


    Esau and Jacob meet. Esau holds no ill will toward Jacob. He too has been blessed tremendously by The LORD.


    Jacob travels on to Shechem where his daughter goes out to see some of the young women in the area. Odds are that since she was one daughter out of so many brothers, she was looking for female friends! Unfortunately, the son of Hamor sees her, becomes infatuated with her, and assaults her. He demands that his father get Dinah for him as a wife.


    Hamor approaches Jacob about giving Dinah to his son as a wife. Jacob's sons had heard about what happened, so they agreed to allow Dinah to be given in marriage. However, all of the men of Shechem had to be circumcised. The men of the land go through the procedure and while they were still sore, Simeon and Levi slaughter every male in the city. Jacob is distraught with his sons and he admonishes them.


    They ask whether their sister should have been treated like that. The answer, of course, is no. 


    January 12: Genesis 35-37


    God tells Jacob to return to Bethel and build an altar to God there. Jacob tells his family to get rid of their foreign gods. They are to change their clothes and purify themselves. Jacob explains that he is going to build an altar to God and that God has been with him everywhere he has gone.


    God again appears to Jacob and renames him Israel. He also tells him to be fruitful and multiply and that an assembly of nations will come from him.


    The family departs Bethel. Rachel had been pregnant and begins to give birth on the way. Her labor is difficult and she dies while delivering her son. With her last breath, she names him Ben- oni which means "Son of my Sorrow." Jacob buried Rachel on the way to Ephrath and set up a marker.


    We read the records of Esau's family. Esau, though he lost his inheritance and blessing, still becomes a great nation and has many descendants.


    Jacob and his family are living in Canaan. Joseph, the first son born from his favorite wife, is clearly his favorite child. Joseph has dreams that indicate he will hold position over his brothers. It was not the smartest move, but he tells his brothers about these dreams. They become so upset, they decide they want to kill him. However, they decide it would be smarter to make some money by selling him into slavery. They go back to Jacob to tell him that his favorite was killed by a wild animal. Meanwhile, Joseph becomes Potiphar's slave. The brothers believe they have seen the last of Joseph, but God is working out something very different.


    January 13: Genesis 38-40


    We take a detour on the Joseph narrative in Genesis 38 to learn of Judah and Tamar. Judah settled and found a wife from among the Canaanites named Shua. She conceives and gives birth to a son named Er. She bear another son named Onan. Judah gets a wife for Er named Tamar. Er was evil in The LORD's sight and is killed because of his evil. Judah tells Onan to sleep with Er's wife so that Er will have descendants. This practice was common in the Ancient Near East. Onan protests since the descendants will not be his. He sets a course of action to ensure that he will not get Tamar pregnant. God finds his actions evil and Onan dies.


    Tamar dresses as a prostitute. She asks him what he will pay her and he promises to send her a goat from his flock. However, she will not agree unless he leaves his signet ring, cord, and staff. He gives them to her. She becomes pregnant. Judah sends the young goat, just as he promised, only to find out there is no prostitute there. He decides to not make a fuss over it and figures that he will never see his ring, cord, and staff again. He did not want to make a big deal about it or he would have brought attention to his sin. However, when Tamar starts to show that she is pregnant, he accuses her of sinfulness and demands to know who got her pregnant. She presents the ring, cord, and staff of Judah.


    Joseph makes a name for himself in Potiphar's house. He is so loyal that there is nothing that Potiphar withholds from him. He is a strapping young man and Potiphar's wife takes a liking to him. She tries to seduce Joseph, but he denies her advances. He asks how he can sin against his lord. In one encounter, as he tries to flee, she grabs his outer garment and accuses him of attempted rape. Joseph is thrown into jail where he interprets the dreams of Pharaohs baker and cupbearer. The baker is executed, but the cupbearer is restored to his position.


    January 14: Genesis 41-42


    Two years after the cupbearer had been released from prison, Pharaoh had odd dreams, but none of his men cold interpret the dream. The cupbearer remembered Joseph and told Pharaoh about him. Joseph was brought before Pharaoh to interpret his dreams. Joseph explains that he cannot interpret the dreams, but God can. As believers, we should not be quick to take credit for God's power. God can do a lot of great things through us, but it should be for His glory, not our own.


    Seven years of good times are ahead. Egypt is going to do quite well. There will be abundance for seven years. However, after that seven year period, things are going to be so bad for the next seven years that the people will forget the times of abundance. Joseph recommends that they take this time of excess to prepare for the famine. Pharaoh is pleased with this proposal and puts Joseph in charge of this effort. Joseph marries and begins having children. Joseph had a difficult life, but he remained faithful to God and The LORD blessed him.


    Meanwhile, Joseph's brothers are back home and they are starving. Israel tells his sons to go to Egypt and get them some food. All of the sons departed for Egypt with the exception of Benjamin. When Joseph sees his brothers, he treats them like strangers since they do not recognize him. He begins a plot that will result in his father and the rest of his family will come to settle in Goshen. He allows all of them to go back to Israel with the exception of Simeon. Simeon is put in prison. Joseph promises to release him if they bring back their youngest brother. The boys take this news to their father. Israel is upset and throws a tantrum saying that "everything always happens to me!" Israel has done quite well for himself despite his deceitful acts. However, he forgets all of those blessings and instead focuses on one problem. As believers, we should strive to regularly remember our blessings even in times of struggle and despair.


  • JANUARY 15: GENESIS 41-42


    Two years after the cupbearer had been released from prison, Pharaoh had odd dreams, but none of his men could interpret the dream. The cupbearer remembered Joseph and told Pharaoh about him. Joseph was brought before Pharaoh to interpret his dreams. Joseph explains that he cannot interpret the dreams, but God can. As believers, we should not be quick to take credit for God's power. God can do a lot of great things through us, but it should be for His glory, not our own.


    Seven years of good times are ahead. Egypt is going to do quite well. There will be abundance for seven years. However, after that seven year period, things are going to be so bad for the next seven years that the people will forget the times of abundance. Joseph recommends that they take this time of excess to prepare for the famine. Pharaoh is pleased with this proposal and puts Joseph in charge of this effort. Joseph marries and begins having children. Joseph had a difficult life, but he remained faithful to God and The LORD blessed him.


    Meanwhile, Joseph's brothers are back home and they are starving. Israel tells his sons to go to Egypt and get them some food. All of the sons departed for Egypt with the exception of Benjamin. When Joseph sees his brothers, he treats them like strangers since they do not recognize him. He begins a plot that will result in his father and the rest of his family will come to settle in Goshen. He allows all of them to go back to Israel with the exception of Simeon. Simeon is put in prison. Joseph promises to release him if they bring back their youngest brother. The boys take this news to their father. Israel is upset and throws a tantrum saying that "everything always happens to me!" Israel has done quite well for himself despite his deceitful acts. However, he forgets all of those blessings and instead focuses on one problem. As believers, we should strive to regularly remember our blessings even in times of struggle and despair.


    January 15: Genesis 43-45


    Joseph’s brothers stretch their provisions as far as they possibly can. They run out of food and finally make the decision to go back to Egypt for more. I am curious what would have been going through Simeon’s mind. We do not know exactly how long they went back and stayed at home, but we know for sure that they did not return immediately with Benjamin so that he would be released!


    Judah takes responsibility and Israel finally allows Benjamin to travel back to Egypt with his brothers. They packed up gifts to take to Joseph. Upon their arrival, they were immediately taken to Joseph’s house. This caused terror to fall upon all of them. Joseph is friendly toward them, asking how their father is. They then settle in for a huge meal.


    Joseph orders that their sacks be filled with as much food as they can carry. He also has his silver cup placed into Benjamin’s bag. When the morning light came, the men set out. Now, I am not a smart man, but I think that after the last incident with the money I would have checked my bags before leaving. Joseph’s brothers do not. Joseph’s steward pursues them and overtake them.


    They are brought back to Joseph’s house where he inspects their bags. Judah pleads for Benjamin when the silver cup is found in his bag. He offers himself up to be Joseph’s slave if he will just allow Benjamin to return home.

    Joseph cannot take it any longer and confesses to his brothers that he is Joseph. They are all shocked. Joseph is not concerned with punishing his brothers. Instead, he is concerned with how his father is doing.


    God had sent Joseph ahead of them to Egypt so that their lives would be preserved. The brothers certainly acted evil toward him, but God used their actions for good.


    January 16: Genesis 46-47



    God appears to Jacob and tells him not to be afraid of going to Egypt. It sees odd that he would be worried about going to Egypt since he has learned the fantastic news of Joseph’s high position. However, I try to put myself in Jacob’s shoes and how I would have felt if I was presented such a story. He has believed his favorite son Joseph has been dead for a very long time. He had worked through that grief already, but now he finds out that his son is alive, well, and is an official in Egypt. I am sure it was a lot to take in all at once. God tells him to go and He will make him into a great nation. Jacob is obedient and takes his entire family with him.


    Judah had gone ahead of them to prepare for their arrival in Goshen. When Jacob (aka Israel) arrives, Joseph presents himself, throws his arms around Jacob, and weeps for a long time.


    Joseph tells Pharaoh that his family has arrived. He takes five of the brothers and presents them to Pharaoh. They are given the land of Goshen to live in since they were shepherds. Shepherds were detestable in the eyes of the Egyptians. Pharaoh also puts his flocks in their care.


    The years pass, the famine does not stop, nor does the need of the people. They sell their possessions and then their land to buy their food. Pharaoh winds up owning all of Egypt.

    Jacob lives 147 years. When the time of his death draws near, he sends for Joseph. He makes Joseph swear an oath to him that he will not be buried in Egypt, but will be taken back to the family burial place near Hebron in the cave at Machpelah.


    January 17: Genesis 48-50


    Jacob has Ephraim and Manasseh, Joseph’s sons, brought to him so that he can bless them. He gives the greater blessing to Ephraim, the younger son. Joseph, of course, tries to get his father to give the greater blessing to the older son Manasseh. Jacob refuses. Manasseh will still be great, but he will not be as great as his brother. It was certainly the social norm for the older son to receive the greatest portion of the blessing. However, throughout all of the Bible, we will often see the younger son grow in stature and prominence throughout Israel’s history. All that to say, God will do what He is going to do.


    Jacob gathers his sons and prophesies about their future. Upon giving them their suitable blessings, he once again reiterates that he does not want to be buried in Egypt. Instead, he wants to be buried in Hebron. With the last of the instructions given, Jacob dies. Joseph mourns. He has the physicians embalm his father for the journey to Hebron. Typically, the embalming was done by the Egyptian priests, so there is a significance in him having the physicians do it. Joseph does not follow the gods of the Egyptians, he follows the One True God. Jacob’s funeral procession consists of Pharaoh’s servants, the elders of his household, and all the elders of Egypt along with Joseph, his household, and his father’s household.


    Now that Jacob is gone, Joseph’s brothers are worried that he will mete out his retribution against them. They thought that he had only spared their lives because of their father. They send a messenger to plead for their lives. Joseph simply asks if he is in the place of God. They had meant their act for evil, but God used it for good. Joseph lives to a ripe age of 110. He is embalmed and placed in a coffin in Egypt.


    My friends, we are not in God’s place. When someone wrongs us, do we have a heart like Joseph? Or do we let the flesh take over and seek retribution?


    January 18: Exodus 1-3


    Exodus opens with the sons of Israel. We learn that the Israelites arrived in Egypt very few in number, but they have been fruitful and multiplied in the land of Goshen. Joseph and his brothers died and a new Pharaoh came to power that did not know Joseph. There is a shift in how the Israelites are viewed. It is most likely that Joseph came to power when the Hyskos


    Pharaohs were ruling Egypt. The Hyskos invaded Egypt and took control. At the time of Exodus one, the Hyskos have been thrown out and the ruling Pharaoh is Egyptian. He uses fear tactics to get his way. He warns his advisers and the others that the Israelites might get to be so powerful that they will overthrow Egypt.

    Pharaoh orders the Hebrew midwives to kill any sons born to the Hebrew women. The females are allowed to live, most likely because they would grow up and be married to Egyptian men. The midwives disobey Pharaoh’s command since they fear God more. Pharaoh summons them and they tell him that the Hebrew women are stronger and deliver the boys before they can get to them. The midwives are blessed for their obedience to God. However, Pharaoh now orders that the Hebrew boys be thrown into the Nile.


    A Levite man marries a Levite woman. She has a son and keeps him as long as she can. When she cannot keep him hidden anymore, she makes a little ark to put the boy in and float him down the Nile. Just as God had saved humanity with Noah’s ark, He will save the Hebrew nation through this little ark. Moses is sent down the river where Pharaoh’s daughter finds him.


    Having grown up in the Egyptian court, but knowing his Hebrew background, Moses had a sense that he was supposed to do something for his people. Unfortunately, he does not consult The LORD and takes matters into his own hands. When he sees an Egyptian abusing an Israelite, he kills the Egyptian and hides the body. The next day he sees two Hebrews fighting and intervenes.


    They ask if he will kill them the way he did with the Egyptian. Moses flees because he knows that Pharaoh will execute him when he finds out what he did.


    Moses flees to Midian where he finds a wife. He is tending to his father in law’s sheep. Moses had grown up in the royal court of Egypt and now he is tending sheep for his father in law. Let’s not miss the irony: Shepherds were abhorrent to the Egyptians. While he is working, Moses sees a bush burning, but it is not consumed by the fire. Moses approaches the bush where he is told by The LORD that he will return to Egypt and free the Israelites from Pharaoh’s hand.


    When Moses asks what he should say God’s name is, He responds, “I AM WHO I AM.” God always has been and always will be. He has no beginning and no end. He is the Great I AM.


    January 19: Exodus 4-6


    Moses is understandably reluctant to go back to Egypt and go up against Pharaoh. He asks what if they do not believe him. God explains that He will give him miraculous signs to show that he has been sent by God. God tells Moses to take his staff and throw it on the ground. When he does, the staff turns into a snake. However, when Moses picks it up, it returns to being a staff. God tells Moses to put his hand in his cloak. When he pulls his hand out, it is white and leprous.


    Despite these signs, Moses is still reluctant and asks that God would send someone else. He is concerned because he thinks he does not have the ability to speak well. God asks Moses who made the human mouth. God will equip Moses to do what He has called him to do. When God calls us to do something, God will equip us for the task! So when God tells us to go, we should obey Him and do His will. No need to fear, He will take care of us.


    God appoints Aaron, Moses’s brother, to go with him to be the spokesman. Moses unites with Aaron, and he goes willingly. I always find it incredible that Moses was talking with God that night and he pushed back, but when Aaron is told by his brother what God has tasked them to do, he willingly goes along with it. In this sense, Aaron shows more faith than Moses!


    Moses and Aaron go to Egypt where they gather the Israelites and explain what is about to happen. There is much rejoicing. Aaron and Moses confront Pharaoh, telling him that he must let the Israelites go so that they can worship Yahweh. Pharaoh asks who Yahweh is that he should obey Him. In those days, Pharaoh was believed to be a god himself. As far as Pharaoh is concerned, there is no one more powerful than him. He will not let the people go.


    Pharaoh has a problem on his hands now because the Israelites are expecting to be freed from their labor. To counter this desire for freedom, he imposes new challenges to their jobs. They must continue to make the same amount of bricks, but now straw will not be provided. The Israelites do not blame Pharaoh for their new plight. Instead, they turn their ire to Moses.


    Moses consults The LORD about it and He once again promises that they will be freed. It’s going to happen, but there will be struggle prior to their release.


    January 20: Exodus 7-9


    Moses and Aaron are commanded by God to confront Pharaoh and demand that he let the Israelites go. Pharaoh demands that Moses perform a miracle. Aaron takes his staff and throws it on the ground. It becomes a serpent. Pharaoh called his wise men and sorcerers and they are able to turn their staffs into serpents through their occult practices. Aaron’s serpent eats all of the other serpents. However, Pharaoh’s heart is hardened and he will not relent.


    The LORD sends Moses back to Pharaoh. Moses again warns him to let the people go, but he will not. So Moses turns the Nile to blood. All of the freshwater, even the water stored in containers turns to blood. However, Pharaoh calls his wise men and they are able to turn the water to blood themselves. Pharaoh’s heart remains hardened. The obvious question is: Where did they get the fresh water? Exodus 7: 24 answers that question. It explains that the Egyptians dug around the Nile to get their fresh water.


    The blood in the Nile lasts for seven days. God sends Aaron and Moses back to make His demands. Again, Pharaoh refuses, so God sends frogs upon the land this time. The frogs are everywhere! The last plague did not necessarily affect Pharaoh, however, this one causes him some inconvenience since he has to deal with frogs in his royal chambers. Pharaoh’s magicians are able to do the same thing. However, I have always been curious why Pharaoh did not have them remove the frogs. Pharaoh tells Moses and Aaron to ask God to remove the frogs. Moses asks when he wants them gone. When Pharaoh provides his answer, Moses assures him that the frogs will be removed at that time. The frogs all die and there are so many that they are in heaping piles throughout the land. With the nuisance gone, Pharaoh goes back to his old ways and will not let them go.


    God then sends gnats to the land. Pharaoh’s magicians are unable to produce gnats themselves and tell Pharaoh that this is “the finger of God”. After the gnats, God sends flies to the land. After that the Egyptian livestock all die suddenly. The Israelite livestock all remained. Despite this fact, Pharaoh’s heart still remained hardened.


    All of the Egyptians have painful boils break out all over. They are all in tremendous pain and agony. Pharaoh’s magicians cannot even stand before Moses. There are some theologians and medical folks that believe this outbreak might have been anthrax.


    The LORD tells Moses to go back to Pharaoh and tell him that hail is headed their way. If they want their crops and livestock to survive, they must bring them in or the hail will destroy them. The Egyptian livestock had been killed off earlier. Most likely this livestock was misappropriated from the Israelites. We see a shift in thinking. Some of the elders are starting to believe in God and they put their livestock away. Others are indignant and refuse to put their livestock and crops up. They have experienced all of these plagues, but they still refuse to believe God.


    January 21: Exodus 10-12


    Pharaoh’s heart is still hardened. Moses is sent with the message to let the Israelites go. Pharaoh again refuses and so locusts are sent to the land. All of the crops that had survived the hail are now consumed by the invasion. The land is invaded with more locusts than there had ever been or would ever be. They destroy all of the Egyptian crops. Pharaoh admits his sin to Moses, asks for his forgiveness, and asks that the locusts be taken away. Once the locusts have been removed, he goes back to his old ways. He paid lip service to get what he wanted, but once his needs were met, he went back to his old ways.


    After the locusts, God sends darkness on the land for three days. For three days one person could not see the other because it was so dark. To experience this kind of dark, we would have to lock ourselves in a room with absolutely no light source seeping in. Despite the fact that the Egyptians were covered in darkness, the Israelites had plenty of light. Again, eePharaoh summons Moses and Aaron. This time he says they can all go worship God, they just have to leave behind all of their livestock. Moses and Aaron explain that they have to take all of it with them since they do not know what they will use for a sacrifice until they get there. Pharaoh’s heart is hardened again, and he tells them to leave his presence. They will “not see” his face again.


    God tells Moses that He is going to bring the final plague on the Egyptians. After this plague, Pharaoh will let them go. At midnight, He will go through the Egyptian land and kill the firstborn male in the land. In order for the firstborn Israelite males to be spared, they are to tak an unblemished lamb and slaughter it at twilight. They are to take some of the blood and smear it on the two doorposts and lintel of the houses. When God sees the blood, He will pass over the house and the firstborn male will be spared.


    Just as God had said He would, at about midnight all of the Egyptian firstborn males were killed. In a fit of rage, Pharaoh kicked Moses and the rest of the Israelites out of Egypt. From there, the Israelites enter the exodus. They have finally been freed. It took a while, but God delivered on His promises. When God tells us He will do something, we can know that He will make it happen in His time.


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  • January 21: EXODUS 10-12


    Pharaoh’s heart is still hardened. Moses is sent with the message to let the Israelites go. Pharaoh again refuses and so locusts are sent to the land. All of the crops that had survived the hail are now consumed by the invasion. The land is invaded with more locusts than there had ever been or would ever be. They destroy all of the Egyptian crops. Pharaoh admits his sin to Moses, asks for his forgiveness, and asks that the locusts be taken away. Once the locusts have been removed, he goes back to his old ways. He paid lip service to get what he wanted, but once his needs were met, he went back to his old ways.

    After the locusts, God sends darkness on the land for three days. For three days one person could not see the other because it was so dark. To experience this kind of dark, we would have to lock ourselves in a room with absolutely no light source seeping in. Despite the fact that the Egyptians were covered in darkness, the Israelites had plenty of light. Again Pharaoh summons Moses and Aaron. This time he says they can all go worship God, they just have to leave behind all of their livestock. Moses and Aaron explain that they have to take all of it with them since they do not know what they will use for a sacrifice until they get there. Pharaoh’s heart is hardened again and he tells them to leave his presence. They will “not see” his face again.

    God tells Moses that He is going to bring the final plague on the Egyptians. After this plague, Pharaoh will let them go. At midnight, He will go through the Egyptian land and kill the firstborn male in the land. In order for the firstborn Israelite males to be spared, they are to tak an unblemished lamb and slaughter it at twilight. They are to take some of the blood and smear it on the two doorposts and lintel of the houses. When God sees the blood, He will pass over the house and the firstborn male will be spared.

    Just as God had said He would, at about midnight all of the Egyptian firstborn males were killed. In a fit of rage, Pharaoh kicked Moses and the rest of the Israelites out of Egypt. From there, the Israelites enter the exodus. They have finally been freed. It took a while, but God delivered on His promises. When God tells us He will do something, we can know that He will make it happen in His time.


    January 22: Exodus 13-15


    Moses and the Israelites are kicked out of Egypt. Before they depart, they collect jewelry from the Egyptians. God commands that every first born male be consecrated to Him. God gives instructions on eating unleavened bread for seven days and have a festival to The LORD on the seventh day. They are to do this so they can remember how God brought them out of their slavery in Egypt. As we go through life, it is good to remember all of the times that God has delivered us from our problems.


    God does not lead the people on the direct route to get to the Promised Land. He knew that if He led them on the road by the Philistines, then the people would want to go back to Egypt rather than face war. As a result, He takes them toward the Red Sea along the “road of the wilderness”. The irony is that they will still complain of hardship, even though God spared them from war.

    Pharaoh’s heart becomes hardened again and decides to pursue the Israelites. The Egyptians chase them with all of Pharaoh’s horses and chariots, his horsemen, and his army. The Israelites see this vast army coming after them. After briefly crying to God for deliverance, they turn to Moses and complain to him. As far as they can tell, it would have been better for them to stay in Egypt as slaves than to be killed in the wilderness.


    Moses tells them to stand firm and see The LORD’s salvation. The LORD tells Moses to have the Israelites break camp. Moses will take his staff, stretch his hand over the sea and divide it so that the Israelites could go through the sea on dry ground. Moses follows the command, the sea is divided, and the Israelites are delivered safely on the other side. When they were clear of the sea, God covered the path again, drowning the pursuing Egyptians. The Israelites sing a song praising God for His help. Three days later, though, they are complaining because they cannot find any water at Mara. God provides water for them. God just did this wonderful thing for them and suddenly, the blessing is forgotten. My hope and prayer is that regardless of what storm we are facing, we will focus on the blessings!


    January 23: Exodus 16-18


    The Israelites depart Elim and arrive at the Wilderness of Sin. At this point, they begin to grumble again. God provided them water, but now they are complaining about the lack of food. They bemoan the fact that they had what they needed while they were slaves in Egypt, but now they are going hungry. They would rather have died enslaved with full stomachs than free and hungry.

    God tells Moses that He is going to rain bread from heaven called manna. He gives the instructions on how they are to collect the manna. They can only collect what they need for the day. If they collect too much, then they will only have enough. If they collect too little, they will still have enough. If they try to save extra for the next day, then it will be bad. The only time they can collect more manna is the day before the Sabbath. Sure enough, those that tried to save some for the next day found that it had gone bad. Those that did not collect enough for the Sabbath the day before, went without. God is teaching them a lesson in relying on The LORD. It is no coincidence that when Christ presents the perfect prayer He asks that God give us the “daily bread”. The Israelites were learning how to trust and rely on God for daily provision.

    They leave the Wilderness of Sin. Though God continues to provide, the people get upset again and cry about not having any water. So, God tells Moses to take his staff and strike the rock to bring forth water.

    While they are at Rephidim, the Amalekites attack and fight against Israel. Moses, Aaron, and Hur go to the top of a hill to watch the battle. When Moses raises his hand, the Israelites begin winning the battle. When he drops his hand, the Amalekites begin winning. 


    Eventually, Moses gets tired holding his hands up. Hur and Aaron give him a stone to sit on and they prop his arms up. In our lives, we are going to run into situations where we need support. My hope and prayer is that everyone here has someone that will support them as we go through our battles.

    gets tired holding his hands up. Hur and Aaron give him a stone to sit on and they prop his arms up. In our lives, we are going to run into situations where we need support. My hope and prayer is that everyone here has someone that will support them as we go through our battles.

    Jethro, Moses’s father-in-law, shows up and sees all that Moses is doing. He warns Moses that he is doing too much, and he needs to appoint others to do some of the work. Otherwise, he is going to wear himself and the people out. We are NOT called to do it all on our own. There is no shame in asking for help as we go through life!


    January 24: Exodus 19-21


    The Israelites travel to Sinai where they set up camp. Moses goes up to the mountain to God. God gives Moses the words that he is to take back to the Israelites. This section begins the establishment of the Mosaic covenant. God promises them that they will be His possession out of all the peoples. They will be His kingdom of priests and His holy nation.

    Moses summons the elders and gives them the words of The LORD. On the third day, Mount Sinai is covered in a thick cloud. Lighting, thunder, and the sound of a trumpet is heard. All the people shudder. Moses goes up the mountain to receive the Ten Commandments. All of the people tell Moses that they will listen to him. They request that God does not talk to them because they know if He does they will die.


    God gives Moses additional laws about their conduct. If a Hebrew man is bought as slave, he can only be kept for six years. On the seventh year, he must be freed. God also gives instruction about personal injury. If someone strikes someone with malicious intent and the person dies, then the offender is to be put to death. However, if the person is killed by accident, then the person can flee to a sanctuary land where his life will be preserved.

    If a man’s ox injures another man’s ox and the ox dies, then the live ox must be sold and the profits shared. However, if the ox is known for goring animals and people, but the owner did not destroy the ox, then the owner owes full compensation to the person that lost his ox.


    January 25: Exodus 22-24


    If someone steals an ox or a sheep and butchers it, he owes more than he took. Instead of giving just one ox or sheep, the guilty party must repay five cattle or four sheep. If thieves are caught stealing money or goods, he must pay back double of what he stole.

    They are given instruction on how to treat the foreign resident. They are not to exploit them or oppress them since they were once foreigners in the land of Egypt. The widow and orphan should not be mistreated. If they are, God will hear their cry and His anger will burn against the guilty party. It is worth noting that care for the oppressed and less fortunate were God’s expectation of His people all along.

    They cannot spread false reports. They must be honest in all that they do. Honesty is important in the life of a believer. A person will not get in trouble for telling the truth!


    The people are given the command to use their fields for six years and on the seventh to give it a break. God has developed a restful period, not just for His people, but the land. As believers, it is important to take times of respite and rest.

    Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and 70 of Israel’s elders are commanded to go a distance with Moses and bow before The LORD. Only Moses is to approach Him. The people affirm that they will follow all of the commands that God has given them. Moses sets up an altar with 12 pillars for the 12 tribes. They offered burnt offerings and sacrificed bulls as fellowship offerings. Moses sprinkled some of the blood on the altar and some on the people. After the covenant ceremony, Moses goes up the mountain and remains there for 40 days and 40 nights.


    January 26: Exodus 25-27


    The LORD directs Moses to take an offering from anyone that is willing to give. The funds raised will go toward building the tabernacle. They need gold, silver, and bronze; blue, purple, and scarlet yarn; fine linen and goat hair. Though the tabernacle will be portable, it will also be ornate!

    God gives them directions on how to construct the ark that will house the two stone tablets with the Ten Commandments. On top of the ark, they are to build a mercy seat out of gold and put two cherubim facing the seat. This will be God’s throne.

    Moses is given specific instructions on how to build the tabernacle and the furnishings that are supposed to go in it. They follow them to the exact detail. When we want things to turn out right, we have to follow the directions exactly. When we deviate, we can expect that something will not turn out right!


    The tabernacle will be a center for worship and making sacrifice. This does not mean that God is contained to just the temple. God does not need a place to house Him. Likewise, we must remember that God is not contained to the church building. As believers, we shouldn’t put God in a box. Instead, He should inform how we live our lives throughout the week, not just for an hour or two on a Sunday morning.


    January 27: Exodus 28-29


    Aaron and his sons are identified as the ones that will serve as priests. He is instructed to make holy garments for them. They will have a turban or mitre, a plate of pure gold on the turban saying “HOLY TO THE LORD”. The shoulder straps for the breastplate are capped with two onyx stones with the names of Israel’s twelve sons in order of their birth. There are to be 12 gemstones on the breastplate bearing the name of the 12 tribes.


    From there, Aaron and his sons are to be consecrated to serve God as priests. Aaron is to put all of the priestly garments on. Then he and his sons are to bring a bull to the front of the tent of

    meeting, lay their hands on the bull’s head. Then they must slaughter the bull.

    What strikes me is that the priestly garments are very ornate and beautiful. Aaron and the other priests are to wear these beautiful garments while they are slaughtering the animals for sacrifice. Typically, if I am going to do any dirty work, I will put on clothes I do not mind getting messed up. I would not put on a suit to paint my house!


    Being a priest in those days was a bloody business since sacrifices had to regularly be performed to cover sin. Thankfully, Christ came to shed His blood once and for all. His blood removes the stain of sin and makes it look like it never even happened. He is the One that takes away our sins and reconciles us.


    January 28: Exodus 30-32


    Moses is given instruction on how to make the incense altar. He is also directed to take a census of the Israelites and register them. God directs Moses to make a bronze basin for washing and gives directions on how to make a special anointing oil. This oil is not supposed to be used for ordinary things!

    God commands Moses to observe the Sabbath. Then He gives Moses the two stone tablets containing the Ten Commandments.


    Meanwhile, down in the valley, the people are seeing that Moses is taking a while to get back. Rather than look to the mountain and see that God is still there, they decide that Moses must be dead. So they go to Aaron and demand that he make them a god to worship.


    Rather than do the right thing and tell them not to worry, that Moses is on his way, Aaron gives into the crowd. He tells them to take off their jewelry so that he can melt it down and create a god for them.

    I was reading a “deconstructionist” blog the other day. The individual was trying to say that there was no way that the Israelites would have had any jewelry with them since they were slaves in Egypt. Of course, we know that they did have jewelry and other nice things because they received precious metals and jewelry from the Egyptians before they departed Egypt. I bring this example up because on the surface, the deconstruction argument seems valid until we go back and see where they given this jewelry in Exodus 12:35-36. As believers, we need to know what all of the Bible says!


    Aaron takes the jewelry and makes a golden calf for them. The people begin worshiping this idol, giving it the credit for bringing them out of Egypt. All while Moses is just up on Mount Sinai. Moses comes back, sees the revelry being conducted because of the idol and becomes so outraged that he throws the stone tablets on the ground, shattering them. The Levites go through and kill 3,000 men that had worshipped the calf. Moses confesses the sin before The LORD and He inflicts a plague on the people for what they did with the calf Aaron had made.


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    January 28: Exodus 30-32

     

    Moses is given instruction on how to make the incense altar. He is also directed to take a census of the Israelites and register them. God directs Moses to make a bronze basin for washing and gives directions on how to make a special anointing oil. This oil is not supposed to be used for ordinary things! 

     

    God commands Moses to observe the Sabbath. Then He gives Moses the two stone tablets containing the Ten Commandments. 

     

    Meanwhile, down in the valley, the people are seeing that Moses is taking a while to get back. Rather than look to the mountain and see that God is still there, they decide that Moses must be dead. So they go to Aaron and demand that he make them a god to worship. 

     

    Rather than do the right thing and tell them not to worry, that Moses is on his way, Aaron gives into the crowd. He tells them to take off their jewelry so that he can melt it down and create a god for them. 

     

    I was reading a “deconstructionist” blog the other day. The individual was trying to say that there was no way that the Israelites would have had any jewelry with them since they were slaves in Egypt. Of course, we know that they did have jewelry and other nice things because they received precious metals and jewelry from the Egyptians before they departed Egypt. I bring this example up because on the surface, the deconstruction argument seems valid until we go back and see where they given this jewelry in Exodus 12:35-36. As believers, we need to know what all of the Bible says! 

     

    Aaron takes the jewelry and makes a golden calf for them. The people begin worshiping this idol, giving it the credit for bringing them out of Egypt. All while Moses is just up on Mount Sinai. Moses comes back, sees the revelry being conducted because of the idol and becomes so outraged that he throws the stone tablets on the ground, shattering them. The Levites go through and kill 3,000 men that had worshipped the calf. Moses confess the sin before The LORD and He inflicts a plague on the people for what they did with the calf Aaron had made.

     

    January 29: Exodus 33-35

     

    God tells Moses for them to get up and leave. They are to go to the land that He has promised them. This was always the plan. However, because of their sin with the idol, God will not go with them. They are stubborn and stiff necked. This might seem harsh, but God was doing this to protect the people, not to put them in harm’s way. Moses sets up the tent of meeting. When someone wanted to consult The LORD, they would have to approach Moses. When Moses went into the tent, the Glory of The LORD would come down in a cloud and cover the tent. Mose has an interesting request for God. He asks that God would teach him His ways if he has truly found favor in His sight. Moses also asks that if God’s presence does not go with them, that the people not go to the land. Moses also requests to see God’s glory. God will cause His glory to pass by Moses, but He forbids Moses from seeing His face. Moses cuts two more stones out and God again gives them the Ten Commandments. There is a covenant established between God and the people. This covenant is not unconditional like the one that He established what Abraham. Instead, this covenant is conditional. There are expectations placed on the people. They are not to make treaties with the other nations nor are they to make idols and bow down to them. Moses assembles the entire nation of Israel and gives them the command to work for six days and rest on the seventh. They begin building the tabernacle. I find that interesting. If I have a big project coming up, the last thing I am thinking about doing is taking a break before it is completed. However, breaks are built into their lives even during this period of construction. It took between 7-12 months to complete the tabernacle. All that to say, it is imperative that we take breaks even when there are deadlines. These periods of rest are so important that God commands them. It’s amazing what God does when we take a break!

     

    January 30: Exodus 36-38

     

    God placed wisdom to build in the hearts of some of the people. Others are bringing free will offerings for the construction project. All of the craftsmen came to Moses one by one to tell him that the people are bringing more than what is needed. As a result, Moses made a proclamation for everyone to stop bringing offerings for the sanctuary. Moses could have allowed the offerings to continue and kept the proceeds for himself and his family. However, he knows that is not right. The people stop bringing the offerings and there is still more than enough to complete the project!

     

    The skilled craftsmen build the tabernacle. From there they build the ark that will hold the stone tablets and act as God’s mercy seat. The text goes into detail on the measurements and how the tabernacle and its furniture were put together. They are following God’s orders to the letter when it comes to the direction He gave them. Do we follow God’s commands with the same level of detail?

     

    January 31: Exodus 39-40

     

    Chapter 39 details the priestly garments. They are fine and ornate. They are made the way that God commanded. These clothes are beautiful and covered with all kinds of gems and other precious material. Yet, these garments will also be worn while the sacrifices are made. The stain of sin will cover these beautiful garments, just like sin stains us. Thankfully, Christ came to atone for that sin. His sacrifice made it so that the stain of sin is taken away from us. 

     

    In the final chapter of Exodus, the tabernacle is put together. The cloud covered the tent of meeting and God’s glory filled the tabernacle. Whenever the cloud was gone, the Israelites would set out on their journey. If the cloud was not taken up, they would stay put. Their movement was based on God’s movement. My hope and prayer is that we will also base our movement on God’s direction. As an old friend of mine would put it, “Life’s a story, so give God the pen and let Him write!”

     

    February 1: Leviticus 1-4



    God gives commands about the offerings. The first offering mentioned is the burnt offering. There are five regular offerings that are to be made. The first three are voluntary. The burnt offering was made for the general sinfulness of the one bringing the sacrifice. The burnt offering is also referred to as the “whole burnt offering” because the entire sacrifice was consumed at the altar. 

     

    The grain offering was presented to acknowledge that God is the source of provision and prosperity. The one bringing the offering was to bring fine white flour for this offering. This offering typically accompanied animal offerings, but it could also be made independently. 

    The three types of fellowship offerings were thanksgiving, votive (fulfilling a vow), and free will. Part of the fellowship offering is given to The LORD on the altar. The animal offered can be either male or female. 

     

    The sin offering is mandatory offering. We could also call this offering the “purification offering” since it is meant to absolve the presenter of his sin. The sin offering addresses the consequences of sin. Sin rendered the sanctuary and its furnishings unclean. This meant that the relationship between the worshiper and God had been damaged. This offering permitted the sinner to receive God’s forgiveness and enter the sanctuary. 

     

    Sin costs us something. Sin over promises and under delivers.

     

    February 2: Leviticus 5-7

     

    The sin offering must be made when someone fails to respond to a public testimony. The fact that the word “unintentional” is not used most likely means that the failure could either have been intentional or unintentional. If someone touches anything unclean, the sin offering has to be made. If someone swears rashly to do either good or evil, the person must make a sin offering. The person must confess his or her guilt and bring a lamb or goat. If the person cannot afford an animal from the flock, two turtle doves or young pigeons can be brought. If the person cannot afford the turtle doves or pigeons, then two quarts of fine flour can be brought. 

     

    The last offering mentioned is the restitution offering. This offering is made when someone sins unintentionally in regard to any of The LORD’s holy things. 

     

    God then gives instructions for how long the various offerings are to remain on the altar. The sin offering is labeled as the most holy offering and the restitution offering is labeled as especially holy. 

     

    The Israelites are prohibited from eating the fat of an ox, sheep, or goat. Further, they are forbidden from eating an animal that dies naturally or is mauled by a wild beast. They are also told not to eat ay blood of any bird or animal. If they do this, they will be cut off from the people. A lot of these instructions make sense. If we came across an animal that died naturally, would we eat it? Probably not because we don’t know exactly what killed it. Later on there will be instructions on what birds can be eaten. The vulture and buzzard are on the list of unclean animals. Which begs the question; who looks a vulture and thinks, “that looks delicious”? Even if these animals did look appealing to eat, they are unclean because they feed off of dead animals.

     

    February 3: Leviticus 8-10

     

    Aaron and his sons are ordained to be priests in the tabernacle. The service is a public installation service for everyone to see. Aaron undergoes a ceremonial washing to show the moral purity that was required of priests. God's holiness demands the consecration of the tabernacle, the things in it, and the people that ministered before Him. 

     

    On the eighth day Moses summons Aaron, his sons, and the elders of Israel. He gives Aaron instructions on making sacrifice to God. Aaron approaches the altar and slaughters the calf as a sin offering for his sins. From there, he slaughters the animals that his sons have brought for their sins. As we read today, the sin sacrifice was a very bloody business. 

     

    Shortly after the ceremony, Aaron's firstborn son Nadab and his second son Abihu decided that they were going to play with fire literally. They took their firepans (a hand held censer that allowed transfer of hot coals) and incense (most likely from the altar of incense). They combined the coals and the incense and made a fire for The LORD. This fire was not authorized. God did not direct them to make this fire. As a result, He struck the both of them dead. This might sound harsh, but Nadab and Abihu were in a position of authority. Rather than approach that authority with solemn regard, they showed it off, going against God's mandates. If God could not trust them with the fire, then He certainly could not trust them with the other priestly duties. 

     

    What do we do with the responsibility God has given us?

     

    February 4: Leviticus 11-13

     

    God now begins giving instructions on what the people can and cannot eat. He gives a list of the clean and unclean land animals. He also tells them what fish they can and cannot eat. Looking at the aquatic creatures, the unclean are all "bottom feeders". They are a clean up crew in the waterways and there is no telling what they have ingested. It makes sense that God would forbid them from eating these things. 

     

    One thing worth noting is that in the original Hebrew tinshemet (תַּנְשֶׁמֶת) is used in Leviticus 11:18 for birds, but it is also used in Leviticus 11:30 discussing reptiles. 

     

    The Levitical Law is important because it shows how a holy and set apart people are supposed to live and interact with Yahweh. However, it can also be viewed as a health book. A lot of these instructions are given to protect people from eating something bad. It also gives instruction on how to determine if skin diseases are temporary or permanent. All that to say, the Levitical law was not given to the Israelites as a burden. Instead, it was given to them as a blessing! 

     

    How do we view God's word and commands in our lives today? Is it a burden or a blessing? 


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  • Bible Reading for the Week of February 4

     

    February 4: Leviticus 11-13

     

    God now begins giving instructions on what the people can and cannot eat. He gives a list of the clean and unclean land animals. He also tells them what fish they can and cannot eat. Looking at the aquatic creatures, the unclean are all "bottom feeders". They are a clean up crew in the waterways and there is no telling what they have ingested. It makes sense that God would forbid them from eating these things. 

     

    One thing worth noting is that in the original Hebrew tinshemet (תַּנְשֶׁמֶת) is used in Leviticus 11:18 for birds, but it is also used in Leviticus 11:30 discussing reptiles. 

     

    The Levitical Law is important because it shows how a holy and set apart people are supposed to live and interact with Yahweh. However, it can also be viewed as a health book. A lot of these instructions are given to protect people from eating something bad. It also gives instruction on how to determine if skin diseases are temporary or permanent. All that to say, the Levitical law was not given to the Israelites as a burden. Instead, it was given to them as a blessing! 

     

    How do we view God's word and commands in our lives today? Is it a burden or a blessing? 

     

    February 5: Leviticus 14-15

     

    The LORD gives instructions on healing skin diseases and what the afflicted must do. From our vantage, it might seem harsh that these people afflicted with these diseases would have to stay outside the camp until they were deemed clean. Unfortunately, that imperfection threatened the sanctity of the holy site, so they were separated from the rest of the people. 

     

    These instructions did not just apply to people, but also to other objects. Instructions are given about what to do with a mildew problem in the walls of a house. After the stones have been replaced and replastered, the priest comes to inspect. If the mildew has come back, then it is considered a harmful mildew and the entire house must be torn down. These imperfections had to be taken seriously because they threatened the ceremonially cleanness of the community. 

     

    Leviticus 15: 14-18 almost seems to infer that God considers marital intercourse sinful. However, that is not the case. This law is included to prevent intercourse from becoming a part of the sanctuary rites. This is a clear contrast to other Ancient Near East religions at that time that portrayed gods and goddesses engaging in relations and their followers imitating them as part of pagan temple worship. 

     

    In the case of all of these issues, offerings must be made to cover the sin. Thank The LORD for sending Christ to erase our sins!

     

    February 6: Leviticus 16-18


    God gives instructions about the Day of Atonement. God tells Moses that Aaron is not allowed to come into the holy place whenever he wants to. I am curious if things would have been different had Aaron’s sons NOT made the unauthorized fire, since the text leads with “after the death of two of Aaron’s sons”. Aaron will have to undergo a ritual cleansing before he can enter. He must bring a young bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. 

     

    After Aaron makes atonement for himself and his family, he will take two goats and place them before The LORD. He will cast lots to see which one will be slaughtered and which one will be set free in the wilderness. We come across the word “azazel” regarding the goats. There are three interpretations that have been offered for azazel: that it translates to “the one carrying away evil” where we get the term “scapegoat” from, it means “a rough and difficult place”, or it is the name of a demon that inhabited the desert. Most people agree that it means scapegoat. 

     

    God forbids sacrifices to take place anywhere outside the entrance to the tent of meeting. Sacrifice was to be made in one location. The people are also forbidden to eat the blood of any animals. Further, they are not to eat anything that died naturally or was mauled by another animal or wild beast. The reasoning behind this is that they could not tell if the animal was sick or not. There was a good possibility that the meat could be tainted. 

     

    Yahweh speaks to Moses and forbids them from following the pagan practices of the Egyptians and Canaanites. The forbidden practices that follow His command to keep His statutes give us an idea of what the Egyptians and Canaanites were doing.

     

    February 7: Leviticus 19-21

     

    The LORD gives Moses His command for holiness. The Israelite people are to be holy and set apart, different from the nations around them. They are to keep the Sabbath and not turn to idols. They are further instructed on charity and fairness. When they harvest their land, they are not to reap to the very edge of their fields so that the poor and foreigner can glean from the harvest. They are not to steal, lie, or act deceptively toward one another. They also cannot show favoritism to the rich or the poor when it comes to cases of law. This direction is not just directed at judges, but at the people in general. 

     

    God condemns the worship of Molech and giving their children to him. If someone does it, then he is cut off from the people. God also condemns those that turn a blind eye to the practice. He also forbids consulting any mediums or spiritists. God has the answers that they need. They are to consult Him and Him alone, they are to rely on Him and Him alone. Rather than look to other sources of help and hope, like the neighboring nations, the Israelites are to look to God Almighty. If they turned to the other gods of the other nations, that makes them no different than their neighbors. Do we try to live lives that emulate the world around us, or the one that God has called us to? 

    The LORD also gives guidance on the holiness of the priests. He is not to make himself ceremonially unclean for someone outside of his immediate family. Further, certain physical defects will prevent some of them from brining the sacrifices to God. However, God still provides for them.

     

    February 8: Leviticus 22-23

    The priests lead corporate worship, so they must be ceremonially pure. God gives a list of things that will defile them in order of severity. During Christ’s time the religious leaders became angry when He touched things that would render Him as unclean. However, when Jesus touched an unclean person, that person became clean. The leaders of Christ’s day could not understand that. Jesus is what makes someone clean. It does not matter how defiled or dirty we are, Jesus can (and will) make us white as snow, wiping away our sins like they never even happened. 

     

    God lists the acceptable sacrifices for the priests to bring Him. He also gives the list of the holy days. Out of the days listed, the Sabbath is the only holy day commanded in the Ten Commandments. During these holy days, they are not to do any work. Examples of work included plowing and reaping, kindling a fire, and gathering wood. As time went by, more restrictions would be placed on what constituted work, leading to the point that they could only walk 2/3 of a mile before it was considered “work”. 

     

    The tenth day of the seventh month was the Day of Atonement. On that day, they were not to do any work. They are to present a fire offering to the LORD and practice self denial. This day was a day of celebration, but it was the only day of celebration that called for fasting. The practice of fasting was supposed to be an expression of remorse over personal and corporate sin.

     

    February 9: Leviticus 24-25

     

    The LORD commands Moses to bring our oil from crushed olives to keep the lamp burning. Aaron is to tend to the lamp from evening until morning. The people then have to deal with a problem of blasphemy. A son of Shelomith, a daughter o Dibri from the tribe of Dan had blasphemed the name of The LORD. To blaspheme the name was just as bad as blaspheming God. His punishment is meted out and then The LORD gives further instructions about injury and restitution. If someone harms someone permanently, then he is to be injured in the same way. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. Jesus will later rescind this in Matthew 5: 38-42. 

     

    God then gives instructions on the Jubilee and Sabbath years. A field can be used for farming for six years. On the seventh year, it is given rest for a year. After fifty years, they will celebrate their Jubilee. God also gives directions on how they are to engage in business during the Jubilee year. During this year, people that sold themselves into slavery are to be granted their freedom.

     

    February 10: Leviticus 26-27.

     

    Leviticus 26 marks a conditional covenant God makes with the people. If they follow His statutes and faithfully observe His commands, He will give rain at the right time, ensuring that the land gives good produce. However, if they turn from God, make idols, and chase down the detestable things He has warned them against, then He will discipline them seven times for their sins. Their strength will be used up and their land will not yield any crop. 


    Chapter 27 deals with vows made to The LORD. People would dedicate their children to God's service with a vow. If they wanted to redeem the person they dedicated, then they would have to pay a fee. If someone dedicated their house to The LORD, they could redeem it, but there would be a fee. The firstborn could not be consecrated to The LORD because the firstborn already belonged to God. The practice may seem odd to us today. However, it does show us that they took their vows VERY seriously.

     

    February 11: Numbers 1-2

     

    Numbers opens at Mount Sinai and ends at Mount Nebo. Nebo is 4,000 feet above the Dead Sea and gives excellent views of the surrounding areas. 

     

    God commands Moses to take a census of all the males, one by one. Those that are 20 years or older are to be registered by their military divisions. Moses and Aaron are dutiful and register 603,550 fighting men from the tribes of Reuben, Simeon, Gad, Judah, Isssachar, Zebulun, Ephraim, Manasseh, Benjamin, Dan, Asher, and Naphtali. The men in the tribe of Levi are not registered for the military since their duties consist of taking care of the tabernacle. Their duties included putting it up when they settled to camp and taking it down when it was time to move. 

     

    The LORD directs them on how they are to set up their camp.  When we sketch out how the camps would have surrounded the tabernacle, it looks a lot like a cross! 


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  • February 11: Numbers 1-2

     

    Numbers opens at Mount Sinai and ends at Mount Nebo. Nebo is 4,000 feet above the Dead Sea and gives excellent views of the surrounding areas. 

     

    God commands Moses to take a census of all the males, one by one. Those that are 20 years or older are to be registered by their military divisions. Moses and Aaron are dutiful and register 603,550 fighting men from the tribes of Reuben, Simeon, Gad, Judah, Isssachar, Zebulun, Ephraim, Manasseh, Benjamin, Dan, Asher, and Naphtali. The men in the tribe of Levi are not registered for the military since their duties consist of taking care of the tabernacle. Their duties included putting it up when they settled to camp and taking it down when it was time to move. 

    The LORD directs them on how they are to set up their camp. When they set up camp, it forms what looks like a cross! 

     

    February 12: Numbers 3 and 4

     

    We are reminded about the fate of Nadab and Abihu.  They had made unauthorized fire before The LORD and died, leaving behind no sons.  The tribe of Levi are to care for the tabernacle and all of the furnishings in the tent of meeting.  God commands that Moses takes a census of the Levites.  They had been left out of the earlier census.  This one directed at the Levites will help determine the individual duties of each family.  

     

    The Kohathites were given responsibility to care for the most holy items.  The Gershonites are given transportation duties and the Merarites care the supports for the Tabernacle.  All in all, there were 2,750 Levite men that were identified for service to the Tabernacle.  Each had a role to play in serving The LORD and they were all reliant upon the others to do their job.  We see the same thing today.  It takes a lot to make a worship service happen on a Sunday morning. 

     

    February 13: Numbers 5-6

     

    God instructs them to isolate the unclean from among them.  This isolation was not meant to be cruel; it was meant to protect the rest of the people.  A long time ago, we were transferred to England, and we had to put our dog in quarantine for six months.  It was not meant to be cruel to the dog, but from my ten-year-old perspective it seemed horrible!  This was done to keep any foreign diseases away from the rest of the population.  

     

    God also orders those guilty of sinning against another person to confess their sin and pay the full compensation plus one fifth of its value to the person sinned against.   The Nazirite vows are explained.  Aaron and his sons had been marked for service to God in the Tabernacle.  However, anyone could dedicate his or her life in service to The LORD for a specific period of time.  A Nazirite could not consume anything that derived from grapes.  No wine, no raisins, or anything that came from the vine.  They also were not to cut their hair.  When we get to judges, we will look at one of the most famous Nazirites, Samson.  

    February 14: Numbers 7

     

    This chapter explains the offerings that had to be given by leaders.  Each of the 12 tribal representatives presented the given number of items for use in the Israelite celebration.  There is a LOT of repetition in this chapter.  This is to highlight that every tribe participated in ritual worship of The LORD, not just the Levites.  

     

    Numbers 7:84-89 marks the fulfillment of God’s promise of Exodus 25:22.  The tent of meeting used to be located outside of the camp.  Now, that the tabernacle is complete, it was placed in the area of the ark of the covenant.  Moses was unable to enter because of the smoke from the cloud of The LORD that descended in Exodus 40:34-38.  Now that the tabernacle is dedicated, Moses can go to seek counsel from God once more. 

     

    February 15: Numbers 8-10

     

    The lampstand, also known as the menorah, was a symbol of God’s presence and glory.  The Levites are consecrated by placing their hands on the two bulls, which were sacrificed later to cover their sins. 

     

    In chapter nine, they celebrate the second Passover.  They observe it in the first month of the fourteenth day at twilight while in the Wilderness of Sinai.  The Israelites are being faithful in remembering what God had done for them.  We learn about their movements in the wilderness.  When the tabernacle is set up, the cloud covered the tabernacle, and it appeared like fire from night until morning.  During the day, it looked like a cloud.  Whenever the cloud was lifted above the tabernacle, the Israelites knew it was time to take everything up and get moving.  God still directs our steps, are we obedient?

     

    February 16: Numbers 11-13

     

    The people begin openly complaining about their situation. The LORD’s anger burns against them, but Moses prays on their behalf and His anger subsides.  However, they do not learn their lessons and move into more complaining.  Rather than look at the manna as a wonderful gift, they turn to agonizing about not having any meat.  Unfortunately, it is easy to forget the blessings and decide that we do not have enough of what we want.  On one of my deployments, we ran out of food, with the exception of ravioli.  So we had ravioli for all three meals for over a week.  Rather than be thankful there was food, many took to complaining about it.  The challenge is to be thankful for what God has given us! 

     

    Aaron and Miriam rebel as well. They criticize Moses because he married a Cushite.  They are upset because Moses is God’s spokesman.  Miriam and Aaron believe that God also speaks through them.  They are not happy with their level of leadership.  I would tend to think Aaron would be happy that he was not killed after the entire golden calf fiasco, but apparently, he felt emboldened to challenge Moses’s leadership.  God confronts the two of them, asking why they have no fear of speaking poorly about His servant.  Miriam is struck with a disease.  The description of her skin indicates the possibility of a variety of diseases such as skin cancer, psoriasis, or leprosy.  Moses intervenes on her behalf and God removes the illness.

    The scouts go to look at Canaan.  They come back with the report that the milk is indeed flowing with milk and honey just as God had promised.  However, their fear takes over because they complain about the giants in the land.  All they need to do is go into Canaan and take the land that God had promised them, but their fear prevents them from going in.  They had no reason to fear these people.  God made a promise to them, and He always keeps His promises.  Their fear kept them out of the land longer than they had to be.  In life, when we come upon a giant, we do not need to worry about how big that giant is.  Instead, we remember how much bigger the God we serve is.  He is strong and mighty to save!

     

    February 17: Numbers 14-15

     

    Israel refuses to enter Canaan because of their fear.  It was not just a few of them that were afraid, but the majority of them were terrified.  The fear was so great that the whole community broke into loud cries and they wept that night.  They turn on Moses and Aaron and blame them for the position they find themselves in.  They wish that they had died while they were in Egypt or in the wilderness.  Rather than looking at how God has saved them before and putting their trust in Him, they put their trust somewhere else.  

     

    God is understandably upset.  He asks how long they will despise Him and not trust Him.  He then decides that they should be struck with a plague and be destroyed.  Moses is dutiful and intervenes for the people.  Moses argues that if God destroys the Israelites, then the Egyptians will hear about it along with all of the other nations.  The other nations will not see the destruction of the Israelites as their failure.  Instead, they will think that God had failed.  God pardons the people.  I wish that we could say this would be the last moment of disobedience and doubt, but there will be more.  

     

    February 18: Numbers 16-17

     

    There is more rebellion.  This time it is not from Aaron, but from Korah.  Korah gathers 250 prominent Israelite men.  These community leaders rebel against Moses.  They accuse Moses of elevating himself above everyone else.  As far as they can tell, they are holy as well, so Moses should not be above The LORD’s assembly.  Korah and this group fail to realize that it is God that put this leadership role on Moses.  Moses was hesitant when he was first called out to go and lead the people out of Egypt.  Moses probably would have been content to live the rest of his life herding his father in law’s sheep.  God thrust him into the leadership position and Moses was obedient.  

     

    Moses, rather than intervene for these 250, goes to The LORD and asks that He not respect their offering.  He has not mistreated any of them.  Moses then goes to Korah and tells him that he and his people are to appear before The LORD.  Each one of them is to take their fire pan.  After Korah assembles the whole rebellious group in front of the tent of meeting, God tells Moses and Aaron to separate themselves so that He can consume them instantly.  Moses warns the rest of the community to avoid the gathered assembly.  Moses tells the people that if God has not sent him, then the followers of Korah will die natural deaths.  However, if God brings about something unprecedented and they all die, then they will know that God has sent them.  As soon as he is done speaking, the ground opens up and swallows the rebellious group.  


    To keep the rebellion to a minimum, God has all of the tribal leaders take their staffs, write their names on them and put them in the tent of meeting.  The staff that sprouts will identify who is chosen to lead.  Moses does as he is instructed.  All of the staffs are placed in the tent.  The following day, Moses goes in and sees that Aaron’s staff has sprouted and has produced almonds!  The staff is put in front of the testimony to show the rebels that the Levites are chosen.  This puts the rebellion to rest, but now the people are complaining to Moses and Aaron about how they are perishing and lost.  They still do not trust God and what He is doing. 


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  • February 18: Numbers 16-17

     

    There is more rebellion. This time it is not from Aaron, but from Korah. Korah gathers 250 prominent Israelite men. These community leaders rebel against Moses. They accuse Moses of elevating himself above everyone else. As far as they can tell, they are holy as well, so Moses should not be above The LORD’s assembly. Korah and this group fail to realize that it is God that put this leadership role on Moses. Moses was hesitant when he was first called out to go and lead the people out of Egypt. Moses probably would have been content to live the rest of his life herding his father in law’s sheep. God thrust him into the leadership position and Moses was obedient. 

     

    Moses, rather than intervene for these 250, goes to The LORD and asks that He not respect their offering. He has not mistreated any of them. Moses then goes to Korah and tells him that he and his people are to appear before The LORD. Each one of them is to take their fire pan. After Korah assembles the whole rebellious group in front of the tent of meeting, God tells Moses and Aaron to separate themselves so that He can consume them instantly. Moses warns the rest of the community to avoid the gathered assembly. Moses tells the people that if God has not sent him, then the followers of Korah will die natural deaths. However, if God brings about something unprecedented and they all die, then they will know that God has sent them. As soon as he is done speaking, the ground opens and swallows the rebellious group. 

     

    To keep the rebellion to a minimum, God has all the tribal leaders take their staffs, write their names on them and put them in the tent of meeting. The staff that sprouts will identify who is chosen to lead. Moses does as he is instructed. All the staffs are placed in the tent. The following day, Moses goes in and sees that Aaron’s staff has sprouted and has produced almonds! The staff is put in front of the testimony to show the rebels that the Levites are chosen. This puts the rebellion to rest, but now the people are complaining to Moses and Aaron about how they are perishing and lost. They still do not trust God and what He is doing.

     

    February 19: Numbers 18-20 

     

    The LORD explains to Aaron that he and his sons will be responsible for sin against the sanctuary and sin involving their priesthood.  They are charged with guarding the sanctuary and the altar so that God’s wrath does not fall on the Israelites.  Moses and Aaron are commanded to have the Israelites bring an unblemished red cow that has never been yoked.  Since it had never been yoked, the cow was most likely young and strong.  The cow is to be given to Eleazar, Aaron’s son to be slaughtered and burned in front of the tent of meeting.  

     

    The people are complaining about lack of water.  We read the common refrain of “if only we had stayed in Egypt” from the group.  Moses and Aaron do the right thing and ask God for help.  God instructs Moses and Aaron to speak to the rock while the people are assembled, and the rock will provide them water.  Unfortunately, Moses gets a little too headstrong, assembles the group, calls them rebels, and asks if “we” must bring water from the rock.  Moses does not talk to the rock, instead, he strikes it with his staff and water flows.  This was a terrible mistake for Moses.  Because of his disobedience, he will not be allowed into the promised land.  The issue is that Moses put himself on equal footing with God.  Rather than do what God had instructed, he made it seem as if he was bringing water under his own power.  He did not give credit to God.  

     

    Moses sends a request to the king of Edom to travel through their land.  The Edomites trace their ancestry back to Esau.  Even though Moses promises that they will only travel on the king’s highway and take nothing from the land, not even well water, the king still denies the request.  The Israelites set out from Kadesh.  Moses is instructed to bring Aaron and Eleazar up to Mount Hor because Aaron is going to die there.  Moses brings them both up, Eleazar dons his father’s clothes, and Aaron dies on top of the mountain.  The Israelites mourn for 30 days. 

     

    February 20: Numbers 21-22

     

    The Canaanite king learns that the Israelites are nearby, so he wages a battle against them and takes some prisoners.  The Israelites make a vow that if God delivers them, they will completely destroy the city.  The LORD listened to them and they completely destroyed the city and named it Hormah which means destruction.

     

    God delivered the people, but fresh off of this rescue, they continue to complain.  The common “why have you led us away from Egypt to die?” is heard.  They complain about the food, they complain about everything.  Then God sends poisonous snakes among them and the people that were bit died.  The Israelites realize they have messed up and they go to Moses to confess their sin.  Moses intervenes on their behalf.  God tells Moses to make a bronze snake and lift it up on a pole.  When the people look at the snake they will not die.  One thing to note here is that God does not take away the snake bite.  There is still the pain of the bite.  Sin works like that in our lives.  God forgives us of our sins, but the natural consequences of that sin remain.  

     

    The Israelites continue traveling.  They are developing quite the reputation in the land.  As they get closer to Moab, the Moabite leaders become terrified.  Balak, the Moabite king, sends messengers to Balaam asking him to come and place a curse on the Israelites. God confronts Balak and tells him to go with the men that have come to summon him, but he is only to do what God commands of him. 

     

    February 21: Numbers 23-25.

     

    We read about the oracles of Balaam (we read about him and his donkey in chapter 22).  In these oracles, Balaam explains that Balak asks how he can put a curse on someone that God has not cursed.  If the LORD has not denounced someone then how can he denounce them?  The answer is that he cannot.  In Balaam’s second oracle, we see that his attempts to curse the Israelites still fail.  In Balaam’s final oracle, he admits that even though Amalek was first among the nations, it is bound for destruction.  He has gone from fighting against God and what He is doing to accepting that God is in charge and there is nothing he can do to defeat the Israelites.  

     

    We would think that the Israelites would be happy and throw themselves fully into worshipping God, but that is not what happens.  Instead, they throw themselves into worship of Baal.  God’s anger burns against those that bowed to Baal.  Moses tells the judges to kill the men that aligned themselves with Baal.  

     

    An Israelite man brings a Midianite woman to his relatives and tries to present her at the tent of meeting.  Phinehas, Aaron’s grandson, executes them both.  The man bringing the Midianite was guilty of profaning the tabernacle.  He was trying to present his Midianite seductress to his family in front of the place that was reserved for the sacred presentation of offerings to God. 

     

    February 22: Numbers 26-27

     

    Another census is conducted.  Moses and Eleazar are to count everyone 20 year or older that can serve in the military.  It has been over 38 years since the last census.  This one results in 601,730 men registered for military service.  That is a decrease of 1,820 warriors from the first!  

     

    The daughters of Zelophehad approach Moses, Eleazar, the leaders, and the entire community with a request.  Their father died in the wilderness because of his own sin.  However, he had no sons to give his inheritance to.  His daughters make a formal appeal to be given property among their uncles.  Moses takes this case to The LORD and He agrees that they should receive the inheritance.  

     

    God tells Moses to go up the mountain and gaze at the land He promised.  When Moses sees it, he will be “gathered to his people” a euphemism for death.  Moses knows that God appoint a successor to lead the people, so they are not like lost sheep.  Moses is not just concerned about his life and what is happening in the present, he is also concerned about the future.  It is imperative that we do the same today! 

     

    February 23: Numbers 28-30. 

     

    Chapter 28 prescribes the daily offerings, Sabbath offerings, monthly offerings, offerings for Passover, and offerings for the festival of weeks.  Chapter 29 explains the offerings for the festival of trumpets.  On this day of joyful shouting the collective offerings presented were three bulls, two rams, 16 male lambs, 1.6 bushels of fine flour, six gallons of oil, and six gallons of wine.  On this day, the ram’s horn is blown, sounding a call to repentance.  The offerings for the Festival of Booths are also explained in this chapter.  Verses 12-28 describe the daily offerings.  

     

    We read about vows in chapter 30.  When a man makes a vow to the LORD or swears an oath to put himself under an obligation, he must not break his word and must do what he has promised.  When a young woman makes a vow in her youth and her father finds out about it, if he says nothing about it, she is bound to the vow.  However, if the father prohibits her, then she is no longer bound to the obligation.  Vows were taken seriously back then and they should be taken seriously now.  As believers, our yes should be yes and our no should be no.  When we say we are going to do something, especially when we vow to do it, then we should fulfill that obligation! 

     

    February 24: Numbers 31-32.

     

    Moses is instructed to execute vengeance against the Midianites.  After that, he will be gathered to his people.  They waged war against Midian, just as God had commanded.  They have been charged with waging a holy war.  The point of this was to eradicate impure elements from society.  This meant that everything had to be destroyed, there would be no plunder.  

     

    The Reubenites and Gadites had a lot of livestock.  When they surveyed the lands across the Jordan, they realized that the land would not support all of their animals.  They went with a request to stay on their current side of the Jordan.  At first, Moses thinks they are trying to get out of fighting alongside the other tribes.  However, the Reubenites and Gadites promise to go across the Jordan and fight.  Their request is to return to the land they are currently in when the battle is over.  

     

    February 25: Numbers 33-34

     

    Numbers 33 catalogs the movement of the Israelites from Egypt and all of their subsequent travel.  They depart Ramses, camp at Succoth, then Etham.  From Etham, they turn back to Pi-Hahiroth and camped at Migdol.  One thing that is interesting in this list is that the wilderness of Sinai is mentioned, but Mount Sinai is not.  This seems to be an exhaustive list of the places the Israelites camped on their journey through the Wilderness.  This journey was forty years in the making.  Of course, it would have been a LOT shorter if they had simply entered the land when God originally told them to! 

     

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  • February 25: Numbers 33-34

     

    Numbers 33 catalogs the movement of the Israelites from Egypt and all of their subsequent travel. They depart Ramses, camp at Succoth, then Etham. From Etham, they turn back to Pi-Hahiroth and camped at Migdol. One thing that is interesting in this list is that the wilderness of Sinai is mentioned, but Mount Sinai is not. This seems to be an exhaustive list of the places the Israelites camped on their journey through the Wilderness. This journey was forty years in the making. Of course, it would have been a LOT shorter if they had simply entered the land when God originally told them to!

     

    February 26: Numbers 35-36

     

    God makes provision for the Levites to have cities.  The other tribes are to give to them out of their hereditary property.  God also gives commands about the sanctuary cities.  These cities were developed so that people could flee to them in the event they committed manslaughter.  If someone committed murder intentionally, then the murderer was to be put to death.  However, if a person accidentally killed someone, then they would not be put to death.  However, the bereft family member might decide to take vengeance into his or her own hands.  To ensure the person would be safe, they could flee to the sanctuary city and could not be harmed.  However, if the person leaves that city, then a family member could seek revenge.  


    Further instruction is also provided about the inheritance of Zelophehad’s daughters.  They had gained approval inherit their father’s land since he had no sons to give it to.  The statute is still in effect, but when (or if) a daughter marries a man from a different tribe, their inheritance would be taken away and added to that tribe.  So, the order is given that the daughters take a husband from within the tribe they belong to.  

     

    With that, we have finished up the book of Numbers! 

     

    February 27: Deuteronomy 1-2

     

    Deuteronomy is the last gook written by Moses.  The title of this book comes from the Pentateuch, the Greek translation of the Old Testament.  The title means “repetition of the law”.  Repetition is key to learning and understanding things, so it is worth our time and effort to go through Deuteronomy and see what The LORD has to say to us! 

     

    The first chapter recounts the Israelites’ departure from Horeb and the selection of the tribal leaders.  Their fear of conquering the land as soon as they arrived at Kadesh-Barnea.  Instead of going into the land immediately, they suggested sending men ahead of them.  However, the fear of the inhabitants terrified the Israelites and they refused to go.  This extended their journey by about 40 years! There might have been giants in the land, but God had given them victory over mighty Egypt, He surely would have delivered them from this group as well.  

     

    It is important as believers to trust in The LORD and not lean on our own understanding.  Sometimes God is going to direct us that from our own perspective does not make sense.  This is when we can lean into Him and put our trust in Him.  God always keeps His promises. 

     

    February 28: Deuteronomy 3-4

     

    Chapter three recounts their journey to Bashan where Og, the king of Bashan came to make war against them.  The LORD told Moses not to fear because He had handed them over to Moses.  From there, they took land from the two Amorite kings across the Jordan.  At this point, the Reubenites and Gadites are authorized to keep their families on the western side of the Jordan.  However, they would still have to cross the Jordan and fight for the land.  Since it is time for them to journey across, Moses appoints Joshua to take over the leadership role.  Moses begs The LORD to allow him to cross over the Jordan.  God will not allow it because of the incident where Moses put himself on the same level as God.  Moses will only be able to see the land, but he will never inhabit it.  It was a momentary lapse of judgment, but it led to detrimental consequences.  That’s the thing about life.  Some decisions we make will have consequences that last a lifetime.  My hope and prayer is that we will choose wisely!

     

    Chapter 4 outlines the statutes and ordinances relating to their covenant with God.  They are being taught so that they can live, enter, and take possession of the land God is giving them.  They are warned against making idols.  They did not see a form when The LORD spoke out of the fire at Horeb.  They are warned not to bow down to the stars, sun, and moon like the other nations around them.  Instead, they are to bow to the One that created the heavens and the earth. 

     

    February 29: Deuteronomy 5-7

     

    Moses reminds them of the Ten Commandments God gave them when he went up the mountain.  He reminds the people that they were afraid of the fire.  The Ten Commandments direct the people to have no other gods, to not make idols, not take His name in vain, and to keep the Sabbath.  They are to honor their father and mother, not murder, not commit adultery, not steal, not lie, and not covet.  Moses reminds them that the greatest commandment is to “love The LORD your God with all your heart, soul, and strength.  If we love God like that then the rest of the commandments will follow. 

     

    The Israelites are given instruction on holy war.  When they enter a land, they are to destroy everything, they are not to keep any plunder for themselves.  The enemy is to be completely destroyed.  This sounds harsh from our perspective. However, it was meant to preserve them.  The concern was that if a treaty was made and remnants of the enemy were left, they would steer the younger Israelites away from God Almighty and turn them to idolatry.  The thought here is that it is easier to avoid idolatry by removing the idolaters.  In a similar way, we could say that it is easier to avoid sin by keeping the things that tempt us far away.   

     

    March 1: Deuteronomy 8-10

     

    The Israelites are called to carefully follow every command from The LORD.  These commands are given for their benefit.  They are reminded that during their 40-year journey, God provided manna for them, something they had never seen before.  Their clothes also did not wear out and their feet did not swell.  Throughout chapter 8, the Israelites are reminded that God did something to humble them, such as letting them go hungry, and then giving them what they needed.  They would not have been able to sustain themselves in the wilderness for those 40 years, God is the One that brought them through.

     

    They are reminded that they are not being delivered because they are righteous.  There is concern that some will think that God is blessing them because they are holy, but that is not the case.  God is giving the lands over to the Israelites because of how wicked the other nations are.  The Israelites are then reminded of their rebellion in the wilderness.  While Moses was on the mountain receiving the Ten Commandments, the people were down below worshipping an idol they had made.  The Israelites are not righteous; they have been rebelling against The LORD.  

     

    The people are told what God requires.  It is simple.  They are to fear The LORD by walking in all His ways, to love Him, and to worship The LORD with all their hearts and souls.  

     

    March 2: Deuteronomy 11-13

     

    The Israelites are directed to love The LORD and always keep His mandate, statutes, ordinances, and commands.  These people have seen the great work The LORD has done, and they are to ensure that His work is passed down to the younger generations.  They are to imprint His words on their hearts and minds, bind them as a sign on their hands, and as a symbol on their foreheads.  The practice of binding Scripture to the hand and on the forehead is still practiced today by some Israelites.  When I visited Jerusalem, I was offered the opportunity to participate in this practice when we visited the Western Wall. 

     

    The people are told that they will worship in one specific place.  Their sacrifices will be brought to one specific place.  The other nations would set up altars to their gods anywhere and make sacrifice.  Israel is to be different.  They will bring their offerings to one place.  Prior to this, the Tabernacle was the place for making sacrifice and worshipping.  Since it was mobile and they were on the move regularly, the permanence of one location was not established.  

     

    They are warned against false prophets.  If someone promises a sign or wonder and it comes to pass and then uses this event to lead the people away from God, he or she is a false prophet.  The Israelites have to be very careful.  If we think back to the Exodus when God is delivering plagues to the Egyptians, Pharaoh’s magicians were able to replicate some of the signs and wonders God was doing. Today, we must be on the lookout for those that would draw us away from The LORD.  

     

    March 3: Deuteronomy 14-16

     

    God commands that they do not act the way that other nations do.  The Israelites are commanded not to cut themselves or make a bald spot.  This was a common practice when other nations in the Ancient Near East mourned.  The Israelites should not act in such a way.  I have a bald spot that continues to grow, but it is naturally occurring, so it does not count!

     

    They are reminded of the clean and unclean animals and birds.  I still cannot get over the fact that they had to be told not to eat the vulture.  Those things are hideous.  I have never looked at one and thought “wow, that looks appetizing”.  

     

    After seven years, debts are to be canceled.  Every creditor is to cancel what he has lent his neighbor.  Anyone that has had a servant for six years must release him or her in the seventh year.  Further, the former servant is not to leave empty handed.  The former owner is directed to give generously from the flock and threshing floor.  If the servant particularly loves the person that owns him or her, he or she can remain on.  To symbolize this agreement to stay on, the servant is to have an awl pierce the ear into the door.  

     

    They are directed to observe the month of Abib (meaning “ears of grain”) early in the spring.  The Passover festival would begin on the 14th day of Abib and continue through twenty-first as the Festival of Unleavened Bread.  In addition to these celebrations, they are also to observe the Festival of Weeks, and the Festival of Booths.  

     

    The Asherah and sacred pillar were cult objects representing the chief goddess and god (Baal).  In this text, they are forbidden from erecting these objects next to the altar of The LORD.  There have been discoveries in the Negev that confirm the LORD was worshiped along with Asherah.  Given that discovery, it makes sense that God would put this command in here. 

     

    God alone is worthy of worship and praise.  My hope and prayer is that we will follow and serve The LORD all the days of our lives.


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  • March 3: Deuteronomy 14-16

    God commands that they do not act the way that other nations do. The Israelites are commanded not to cut themselves or make a bald spot. This was a common practice when other nations in the Ancient Near East mourned. The Israelites should not act in such a way. I have a bald spot that continues to grow, but it is naturally occurring, so it does not count! 

    They are reminded of the clean and unclean animals and birds. I still cannot get over the fact that they had to be told not to eat the vulture. Those things are hideous. I have never looked at one and thought “wow, that looks appetizing”. 

    After seven years, debts are to be canceled. Every creditor is to cancel what he has lent his neighbor. Anyone that has had a servant for six years must release him or her in the seventh year. Further, the former servant is not to leave empty handed. The former owner is directed to give generously from the flock and threshing floor. If the servant particularly loves the person that owns him or her, he or she can remain on. To symbolize this agreement to stay on, the servant is to have an awl pierce the ear into the door. 

    They are directed to observe the month of Abib (meaning “ears of grain”) early in the spring. The Passover festival would begin on the 14th day of Abib and continue through twenty-first as the Festival of Unleavened Bread. In addition to these celebrations, they are also to observe the Festival of Weeks, and the Festival of Booths. 

    The Asherah and sacred pillar were cult objects representing the chief goddess and god (Baal). In this text, they are forbidden from erecting these objects next to the altar of The LORD. There have been discoveries in the Negev that confirm the LORD was worshiped along with Asherah. Given that discovery, it makes sense that God would put this command in here. 

    God alone is worthy of worship and praise. My hope and prayer is that we will follow and serve The LORD all the days of our lives. 

    March 4: Deuteronomy 17-20

     

    The LORD gives guidance on what must happen if someone is caught bowing down to the sun, moon, stars, or engaging in any other gods.  They are to maintain their loyalty to God and God alone.  In the event they are unable to solve the case themselves, they are directed to go to a place the LORD shows them and allow the Levitical priests and the judge that presides at the time.  They will adjudicate and whatever decision they come to must be carried out by the people. 

     

    One thing to note is that God gives them instructions on how to appoint a king.  The first king of Israel is Saul.  We will read a lot more about that in 1 and 2 Samuel.  The reason it is noteworthy now is that later, Samuel will be upset when the people decide they want a king instead of a judge leading them.  God has given them instructions on how to appoint a king, so it begs the questions why Samuel will later be upset by their request.  God has criteria for these kings and when we get into the kings of Israel and Judah, we will see that many of the kings, even the good ones, will fall short of God’s expectations. 

     

    The people are warned again against having their children “walk through the fire”.  This detestable act was a child sacrifice to a foreign god.  God promises that He will raise a prophet up among them.  God again reminds them of the need for refuge cities and explains the rules for war.  When they go up against an enemy, they are not to be afraid of them.   

     

    March 5: Deuteronomy 21-23

     

    The LORD tells them what to do in the case of an unsolved murder.  In the event there is a murder victim, but no witnesses, they are to measure the distance of the body to the surrounding towns.  The town closest to the victim is deemed the one that is harboring the criminal.  The ritual that they are to undertake in this event is not to absolve the murderer, but the town itself.  

     

    The right of the firstborn son is explained.  In the hypothetical situation, a husband has one wife that he loves and another wife that he does not love.  If the unloved wife has a son first and the loved wife has a son second, the first-born son cannot be discriminated against.  The son from the loved wife should not have any favoritism shown to him.

     

    In the event they see property that belongs to their neighbor, such as livestock, straying from their property, they cannot ignore it.  They are called to help their neighbor out and take the animal into their care until the neighbor comes looking for it.  “Finders keepers” is not a Biblical principle.  

     

    Deuteronomy 23 gives a list of who should be excluded from the assembly.  It also gives guidance on fugitive slaves. If a slave is able to escape his master and they are to let him live among them and not mistreat them.  When they loan each other money, food, etc., they are not to charge interest on the loan. 

     

    March 6: Deuteronomy 24-27

     

    Deuteronomy 24 gives instruction on marriage and divorce laws.  When a man marries a woman, he is pardoned from military service for one year, preventing him from being deployed.  When someone makes a loan to their neighbor, they are not to enter the house to collect what the person is giving as collateral.  Instead, the person loaning must stand outside and wait for them to bring the collateral.  It makes sense to keep them outside of the house.  Otherwise, they might come into the house and decide they want something else as collateral.  

     

    They are not to have two different weights, one heavy and one light.  God expects the people to be fair and upright, not cheating anyone.  Instructions are given on offering the firstfruits.  The people are reminded that they must follow the commands and statutes that God is giving them.  God has affirmed that they are His special people and they must act accordingly.  

     

    Moses gives instruction on their behavior when they cross the Jordan.  He pronounces curses for poor behavior.  If a person makes an idol, they are cursed.  If a person dishonors their mother or father, they are cursed.  If they move their neighbor’s boundary marker, they are cursed.  If they lead a blind person astray on the road they are cursed.  The one who denies justice to a foreigner, a fatherless child, or a widow is cursed.  

     

    March 7: Deuteronomy 28-29

     

    Earlier, the Israelites are told what they must not do, lest they be cursed.  Deuteronomy 28 instructs them on their blessings for obedience.  If they faithfully obey The LORD, they will be placed far above the other nations.  Their blessings will overtake them.  However, there will be curses for disobedience.  There will be confusion.  They will be overtaken for their disobedience.  They will become an object of horror to the surrounding nations. 

     

    The Levitical law was supposed to keep the people safe and in fellowship with God.  However, there was another reason behind it.  By following the Levitical law, the other nations would look at Israel and they would see how a holy and set apart people interacted with and followed the Most High God.  Their behavior was supposed to draw other nations to God, not turn them away.  No wonder God is warning them that they will be looked upon in horror by other nations if they are disobedient! My hope and prayer is that we will walk in His word regularly, remembering that we are ambassadors for Christ.  We don’t just represent ourselves; we represent Christ!  Let’s make sure we live in a way that brings Him glory. 

     

    In chapter 29, The LORD’s covenant is renewed.  We see some frustration in Moses’s words to the people.  They have seen God’s might hand deliver them.  For the forty years they have been wandering the wilderness, but still the Israelites do not have full confidence in The LORD.  Moses implores them to ensure that they do not turn to idol worship or to stray from The LORD.  Nothing good will come from abandoning God.

     

    March 8: Deuteronomy 30-31

     

    God explains that when all of the things happen to them, whether they are blessings or curses, the people will be brought back to The LORD.  They will “come to their senses” and return to Him.  He will not banish them when they return to Him, nor will He shame them. 

     

    Moses encourages the people to choose life.  If they will follow God and His statutes, then they will live well.  However, if they turn from Him and give their allegiance to another god, then they will perish.  

     

    Due to his advanced age and inability to cross the Jordan into the promised land, Moses turn his leadership responsibilities over to Joshua.  Moses lived to a ripe age of 120.  Moses explains to Joshua that God will cross ahead of them and He will deal with them, just as He did with the kings of the Amorites.  Joshua is encouraged to be strong and courageous.  

     

    God has Moses bring Joshua to the tent of meeting.  The LORD tells Moses that the people are about to rebel against Him.  Soon, they will commit adultery with the foreign gods of the land they are entering.  God commissions Joshua as the next leader and Moses delivers a warning to the people about their impending idolatry.  He knows that they will become even more corrupt after he is gone.  After all of that leadership and all of the times The LORD took care of them and brought them through disaster, there were still some that were bent on turning from God Almighty. 

     

    March 9: Deuteronomy 32-34

     

    We read the song of Moses in Deuteronomy 32.  Moses’s prayer is that Israel would not be hardened to God and His word.  God is righteous and true.  Nevertheless, His people have acted corruptly.  They are deceitful.  In verses 15-18 Moses looks to a future time when Israel would rebel against The LORD and break their fellowship with Him.  By their idolatry, they will provoke God to jealousy.  In verse 26, God explains that He would have wiped them out if it had not been for His reputation.  If He had done that, then an enemy could have claimed responsibility for the act.  

     

    After Moses’s song, he gives a blessing to the Israelites.  When he is done reciting the blessings for the Israelites, Moses goes up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo to the top of the Pisgah.  Moses faced Jericho, and God showed him all the land that He was about to give the Israelites.  After seeing the land, Moses died there in Moab.  His exact burial place is unknown even today.  No prophet has arisen like Moses.  Moses was different from the other prophets we will read about in other books because God talked to him face to face.  

     

    March 10: Joshua 1-4

     

    Joshua describes the history of the generation that crossed the Jordan and entered the Promised Land.  

     

    The LORD spoke to Joshua and told him that Moses has passed and it is time for the people to enter Canaan. God is giving them wherever the soles of their feet touch.  No one will be able to stand against them because God is with him just as He was with Moses and He will not leave or forsake him.  Joshua prepares the people to cross the Jordan, giving them three days to prepare.  

     

    Spies are sent to Jericho.  The spies came to the house of a prostitute named Rahab. The king of Jericho was told that spies had infiltrated the land and sent word to Rahab to bring the spies out.  Rahab explains that the men had come to her, but that they had escaped at nightfall just before the gate closed.  The king’s men went after the spies.  However, they had not escaped.  Instead, Rahab had hidden them on her roof.  

     

    Before the men went to sleep, Rahab came up to the roof to talk with them.  She explains that when the people of Jericho had heard that God had dried up the Red Sea for them to walk over, they had lost heart and courage.  The irony here is that the Israelites were terrified when the initial reports came back about the people in Jericho!  That is why they spent 40 years wandering in the wilderness!  The men promise her that she and her family will be spared when the city is sieged.

     

    Joshua begins leading them across the Jordan.  God again dries up the water as the people cross over this body of water.  When the priests carrying the ark of the covenant reached the Jordan, their feet touched the edge and the water flowing downstream stood still. The priests stood firmly on the dry ground while all of the Israelites crossed over. 

     

    Upon crossing over, Joshua gives the command for one man from each tribe to take 12 stones from the Jordan and carry them with them until they settle for the night.  The people camped at Gilgal on the eastern limits of Jericho.  Joshua set up the stones as a memorial for all that God had done.  


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  • March 10: Joshua 1-4

     

    Joshua describes the history of the generation that crossed the Jordan and entered the Promised Land.  

     

    The LORD spoke to Joshua and told him that Moses has passed and it is time for the people to enter Canaan. God is giving them wherever the soles of their feet touch.  No one will be able to stand against them because God is with him just as He was with Moses and He will not leave or forsake him.  Joshua prepares the people to cross the Jordan, giving them three days to prepare.  

     

    Spies are sent to Jericho.  The spies came to the house of a prostitute named Rahab. The king of Jericho was told that spies had infiltrated the land and sent word to Rahab to bring the spies out.  Rahab explains that the men had come to her, but that they had escaped at nightfall just before the gate closed.  The king’s men went after the spies.  However, they had not escaped.  Instead, Rahab had hidden them on her roof.  

     

    Before the men went to sleep, Rahab came up to the roof to talk with them.  She explains that when the people of Jericho had heard that God had dried up the Red Sea for them to walk over, they had lost heart and courage.  The irony here is that the Israelites were terrified when the initial reports came back about the people in Jericho!  That is why they spent 40 years wandering in the wilderness!  The men promise her that she and her family will be spared when the city is sieged.

     

    Joshua begins leading them across the Jordan.  God again dries up the water as the people cross over this body of water.  When the priests carrying the ark of the covenant reached the Jordan, their feet touched the edge and the water flowing downstream stood still. The priests stood firmly on the dry ground while all of the Israelites crossed over. 

     

    Upon crossing over, Joshua gives the command for one man from each tribe to take 12 stones from the Jordan and carry them with them until they settle for the night.  The people camped at Gilgal on the eastern limits of Jericho.  Joshua set up the stones as a memorial for all that God had done.  

     

    March 11: Joshua 5-8

     

    Across the Jordan, the Amorites have lost heart because they have heard about what God has done.  He dried up the waters of the Jordan, just as He had the Red Sea.  The LORD commands Joshua to circumcise the Israelites again.  The covenant the God had established with Abraham was still in effect. However, due to the travel through the wilderness, there were some generations of Israelites that had not gone through the ritual.

     

    The Israelites start eating from the produce of the land.  God stops sending the manna.  That is not to say that God has stopped blessing them, but those blessings come in a different form now.  Joshua heads toward Jericho.  He looks up and sees the commander of the LORD’s army.  Joshua asks Him if He is for the Israelites or their enemies. The angel replies that he is for neither.  As believers, first and foremost our loyalties should be with God Almighty first.

     

    The Israelites head to the city.  They are given instructions on how to defeat Jericho.  Seven priests holding seven trumpets march in front of the ark of the covenant while marching around the city. As they march, they blow trumpets.  They march around the city once a day for six days.  I am sure this caused a lot of confusion for the people of Jericho.  On the seventh day, they march around the city, but this time when the trumpets sound, the people give a shout, and the wall collapsed.  God is true to His word and spares Rahab and her family. 

     

    God gives the Israelites victory over Ai.  However, the Israelites do not follow God’s commands about the things “set apart for destruction.”

     

    March 12: Joshua 9-11

     

    Word of Joshua’s conquest is spreading throughout the land.  The Gibeonites heard what has happened and they decide to act deceptively toward the Israelites.  They gather provisions and put worn out sack cloth on their donkeys.  They approach the Israelites asking for a treaty.  The men are suspicious at first.  However, the Gibeonites/Hivites show their worn-out sack cloth and their meager provisions to “prove” they are from far away.  The Israelite men take some of the provisions, but they do not seek The LORD’s guidance.  Rather than verifying with The LORD, they rush to make a treaty.  When the deception is uncovered, the Israelites are frustrated because they made a treaty and now cannot touch them.  Since they are untouchable, Joshua makes them servants.  They become woodcutters and water carriers.

     

    Adoni-zedek, the king of Jerusalem hears that Joshua had captured Ai.  He gathers four other kings to help him attack Gibeon.  The Gibeonites send word of this to Joshua at Gilgal asking that he not forget them.  Joshua and the entire military force head back to Gibeon to fight. Joshua catches the five kings by surprise.  The LORD throws the enemy into confusion.  After a huge loss, the enemy flees, and God throws large hailstones at them.  The five kings are gathered and executed, and the southern territories are claimed.  

     

    Chapter 11 tells us about the conquest of the northern cities.  Then we are treated to a summary of the conquests carried out by the Israelites.  God gave these lands over to them, just as He promised.  God keeps His promises today. 

     

    March 13: Joshua 12-15

     

    Attention turns to the territories conquered to the east and west of the Jordan. The kings are listed by name, which is important for establishing historic accuracy.  Joshua is now old and getting on in years.  The LORD tells him that a lot more land remains to conquer.  God promises that He will drive them out before the Israelites.  Joshua is told to divide these lands for the nine tribes and half the tribe of Manasseh.  The tribes excluded from this inheritance are Reuben, Gad, and the other half of the tribe of Manasseh. These tribes received their inheritance on the other side of the Jordan.  While they were still west of the Jordan, they requested they inherit that land since it was suitable to take care of their flocks and families. 

    Caleb approaches Joshua about his inheritance.  He was one of the scouts that initially went into the land during Moses’s time.  Even though his brothers were shaken with fear, Caleb remained loyal to The LORD.  This was at the tender age of 40.  Caleb is now 85 years old and just as strong as he was on the day that Moses sent him out. Joshua blesses him and gives Caleb Hebron as an inheritance. 

     

    Judah’s inheritance is in the southernmost region, south of the Wilderness of Zin.

     

    March 14: Joshua 16-18

     

    We read about the inheritance of Joseph and Ephraim.  We also read in 16:10 about the Canaanites that live in Gezer.  They were not driven out like the other people.  Instead, they are forced laborers.  This practice existed before the arrival of the Israelites.  Solomon uses this practice to build the temple later in Israel’s history. 

     

    The entire Israelite community gathers together at Shiloh. The tent of meeting is set up.  Seven tribes had still not divided up their inheritance.  They have delayed in taking possession.  So Joshua has them send three men out to survey the land and report back to him.  Benjamin receives the land between Judah’s descendants and Joseph’s descendants.  

     

    March 15: Joshua 19-21

     

    Simeon’s allotment has not boundaries.  Instead, it is a list of towns within the southern territory of Judah.  Simeon received this because the share of Judah’s descendants was too large for them.  Zebulun, Issachar, Asher, Naphtali, Dan, and Joshua receive their inheritance. 

     

    Again, cities of refuge are established.  These are the territories that people fled to when they were guilty of manslaughter.  The Israelites have moved into the land God had promised Abraham all the way back in Genesis.  Still, His requirements for the cities of refuge remain.  Kedesh in the hill country of Naphtali, Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim, and Kiriath-arba in the hill country of Judah are designated as cities of refuge.  Across the Jordan east of Jericho, Bezer, Ramoth, and Golan.  

     

    The Levites approach Eleazar about their inheritance.  They remind him of God’s direction to give the Levites cities to live in with pasturelands for livestock.  Aaron’s descendants are given Hebron, Libnah, Jatir, Eshtemoa, Holon, Debir, Ain, Juttah, and Beth Shemesh.  Benjamin’s descendants receive Gibeon, Geba, Anathoth, and Almon. 

     

    March 16: Joshua 22-24

     

    The Reubenites, Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh are summoned by Joshua.  He allows them to head back to the lands east of the Jordan.  They have upheld their end of the bargain.  They came in and fought alongside their brothers to conquer these lands.  Joshua tells them to “carefully obey the command and instruction that Moses the LORD’s servant gave you: to love the LORD your God, walk in all His ways, keep His command, remain faithful to Him, and serve Him with all of your heart and all your soul.”  Do we love God with all our hearts and souls?  

    When the eastern tribes get there, they build an altar.  The altar is very large and on beside the Jordan, so the other ten tribes could easily see it.  When the tribes on the west of the Jordan see it, they are enraged and make ready for war!  They reject this altar because it was considered a competitor to the true altar of The LORD their God.  The eastern tribes explain that they set the altar up, not as competition with God’s true altar, but as a reminder to the western tribes that they too belonged to God Almighty.  The concern is that the western tribes will forget as generations go by that they are also God’s people because the Jordan separates them.  After hearing that they did not build the altar out of treachery, the conflict is resolved. 

     

    God has given the Israelites rest from their enemies.  Joshua is much older now and ready to be gathered to his people.  Joshua gives the people a farewell address, reminding them to continue obeying all that is written in the law of Moses.  He reminds them that God has driven out great and powerful nations before them. They should remain in Him.  If they do not and they cling to the pagan practices of the nations surrounding them and intermarry with them, it will not bode well. God will no longer drive these nations from them. 

     

    Joshua closes out his life with a summary of Israel’s history and the renewal of the covenant.  He tells the Israelites to choose who they are going to follow.  In life, we make choices.  Even if we make the decision not to choose, it is still a choice.  Indifference and indecisiveness is a sure path to ruin.

     

    March 17: Judges 1-2

     

    We move on to Judges!  This is an interesting period.  The Israelites do not have a man over them as king.  God is their King and leader.  The book opens after the death of Joshua, giving the impression these events happened shortly after the allotment of lands and Joshua’s subsequent passing.  The Israelites ask who will be the first to go up against the Canaanites.  God tells them that Judah will go.  Judah battles the Canaanites and gives Hebron to Caleb.  

     

    Judah is successful, but Benjamin fails.  They did not drive out the Jebusites living in Jerusalem.  Joseph does what is commanded of them, but the other tribes fail.  

     

    In Chapter two vv.6-13, there is a flashback summarizing the beginning of the book of Judges.  Baal was the god of the Canaanites that controlled storms and rain.  Ashtoreth was the goddess of love and fertility, and his consort.  The Israelites begin worshiping these gods abandoning the One True God that had brought them to this land.  As a result, God’s anger burned against them and His hand was against them. The LORD raised up judges among them to save them from their enemies, but only after a time of suffering.  God is trying to get their attention, but the things of the world captivate them and they chase after them.  My hope and prayer is that the things of the world to not take our focus off of The LORD. God deserves all our attention and worship.  The things of the earth pale in comparison to Our LORD! 


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  • MARCH 17:  JUDGES 1-2

     

    WE MOVE ON TO JUDGES!  THIS IS AN INTERESTING PERIOD.  THE ISRAELITES DO NOT HAVE A MAN OVER THEM AS KING.  GOD IS THEIR KING AND LEADER.  THE BOOK OPENS AFTER THE DEATH OF JOSHUA, GIVING THE IMPRESSION THESE EVENTS HAPPENED SHORTLY AFTER THE ALLOTMENT OF LANDS AND JOSHUA’S SUBSEQUENT PASSING.  THE ISRAELITES ASK WHO WILL BE THE FIRST TO GO UP AGAINST THE CANAANITES.  GOD TELLS THEM THAT JUDAH WILL GO.  JUDAH BATTLES THE CANAANITES AND GIVES HEBRON TO CALEB. 

     

    JUDAH IS SUCCESSFUL, BUT BENJAMIN FAILS.  THEY DID NOT DRIVE OUT THE JEBUSITES LIVING IN JERUSALEM.  JOSEPH DOES WHAT IS COMMANDED OF THEM, BUT THE OTHER TRIBES FAIL.  

     

    IN CHAPTER TWO VV.6-13, THERE IS A FLASHBACK SUMMARIZING THE BEGINNING OF THE BOOK OF JUDGES.  BAAL WAS THE GOD OF THE CANAANITES THAT CONTROLLED STORMS AND RAIN.  ASHTORETH WAS THE GODDESS OF LOVE AND FERTILITY, AND HIS CONSORT.  THE ISRAELITES BEGIN WORSHIPING THESE GODS ABANDONING THE ONE TRUE GOD THAT HAD BROUGHT THEM TO THIS LAND.  AS A RESULT, GOD’S ANGER BURNED AGAINST THEM, AND HIS HAND WAS AGAINST THEM. THE LORD RAISED UP JUDGES AMONG THEM TO SAVE THEM FROM THEIR ENEMIES, BUT ONLY AFTER A TIME OF SUFFERING.  GOD IS TRYING TO GET THEIR ATTENTION, BUT THE THINGS OF THE WORLD CAPTIVATE THEM, AND THEY CHASE AFTER THEM.  MY HOPE AND PRAYER IS THAT THE THINGS OF THE WORLD TO NOT TAKE OUR FOCUS OFF OF THE LORD. GOD DESERVES ALL OUR ATTENTION AND WORSHIP.  THE THINGS OF THE EARTH PALE IN COMPARISON TO OUR LORD! 

     

    MARCH 18:  JUDGES 3-5

     

    ISRAEL HAS FALLEN AWAY FROM THE LORD.  THEIR DAUGHTERS MARRY INTO THE OTHER NATIONS AND THEIR SONS TAKE BRIDES FROM THESE GROUPS.  THEY WORSHIP THE GODS OF THESE NATIONS, NOT THE GOD THAT DELIVERED THEM FROM EGYPT AND BROUGHT THEM TO THE PROMISED LAND.  AS A RESULT, GOD SENDS PUNISHMENT TO THEM.  HE DELIVERS THE ISRAELITES TO THE KING OF ARAM-NAHARAIM. THEY CRY OUT TO THE LORD AND HE DELIVERS THEM THROUGH OTHNIEL, THE FIRST JUDGE.  THERE ARE 40 YEARS OF PEACE.  

     

    UNFORTUNATELY, THE ISRAELITES GO BACK TO THEIR OLD WAYS AND BOW DOWN BEFORE THE FALSE GODS.  AGAIN, THE LORD’S ANGER IS STIRRED UP AGAINST THEM AND THEY ARE TAKEN BY EGLON.  THE ISRAELITES SERVED THIS KING FOR 18 YEARS.  WHEN THE ISRAELITES CRY OUT TO GOD FOR HELP, HE GIVES THEM EHUD AS THEIR JUDGE.  EHUD IS LEFT-HANDED, WHICH HELPS EXPLAIN HOW HE WAS ABLE TO ASSASSINATE EGLON.  EHUD APPROACHES THE KING WHILE HE IS IN THE UPSTAIRS ROOM, DRAWS THE SWORD FROM HIS RIGHT THIGH, AND PLUNGES THE SWORD INTO EGLON’S BELLY.  EGLON IS SO FAT THAT THE SWORD GOES ALL THE WAY INTO THE MAN AND EHUD CANNOT RETRIEVE IT.  EHUD IS ABLE TO ESCAPE OFF THE BALCONY SINCE THE SERVANTS BELIEVE EGLON IS IN THE COOL ROOM DESIRING PRIVACY.

     

    SHAMGAR IS THE NEXT JUDGE AND HE DELIVERS ISRAEL BY STRIKING DOWN 600 PHILISTINES WITH AN OXGOAD.  AN OXGOAD IS A SHARP STICK THAT MEASURED UP TO EIGHT FEET LONG.  THE SHARP TIP MAY HAVE BEEN COVERED IN METAL.

     

    THE ISRAELITES AGAIN DO WHAT IS EVIL IN GOD’S SIGHT AND DEBORAH RISES AS JUDGE OVER THE ISRAELITES.  SHE SUMMONS BARAK AND ASKS HIM ABOUT GOD’S COMMAND FOR HIM TO DEPLOY TROOPS.  BARAK AGREES TO DO THIS AS LONG AS SHE WILL GO WITH HIM.  

     

    SISERA, THE COMMANDER OF THE OPPOSING ARMY, IS THROWN INTO CONFUSION ALONG WITH THE REST OF HIS TROOPS.  HE FLEES ON FOOT TO THE TENT OF JAEL, THE WIFE OF HEBER.  SHE WELCOMES SISERA IN.  HE ASKS FOR WATER, BUT SHE GOES ABOVE AND BEYOND BY GIVING HIM MILK.  SHE SEEMS TO BE TAKING CARE OF HIM AND NURTURING HIM, UNTIL HE FALLS ASLEEP.  THEN SHE TAKES A TENT PEG AND DRIVES IT THROUGH HIS TEMPLE INTO THE GROUND.  IN JUDGES FIVE, THE PEOPLE GATHER TO SING A SONG ABOUT THIS VICTORY. 

     

    MARCH 19:  JUDGES 6-7

     

    WE MOVE ONTO THE STORY OF GIDEON.  THINGS ARE NOT GOING WELL FOR THE ISRAELITES.  THEY ARE IN HIDING.  THEY CANNOT GET OUT AND THRESH THEIR WHEAT, OTHERWISE THE NEIGHBORING TOWNS WILL COME AND STEAL IT.  SO, GIDEON IS HIDING IN A WINEPRESS TO THRESH THE WHEAT.  WHILE HE IS IN THERE, GOD CALLS HIM.  GIDEON’S RESPONSE IS INTERESTING.  HE ASKS, “IF THE LORD IS WITH US, WHY HAS ALL THIS HAPPENED?”  HE DOES NOT SEE THAT THIS HAS HAPPENED BECAUSE THEY HAVE ABANDONED GOD.  HE DOES NOT RECEIVE AN ANSWER TO THIS QUESTION.  INSTEAD, HE IS TOLD THAT HE WILL BE THE ONE TO DELIVER ISRAEL.  GIDEON ASKS THAT HE BE ALLOWED TO BRING A GIFT AND SET IT BEFORE HIM.  WHEN GIDEON IS ASSURED THAT HE IS IN FACT RECEIVING A CALL, HE TEARS DOWN THE ALTAR TO BAAL AND THE ASHERAH POLE, CAUSING QUITE THE CONTROVERSY.  

     

    GIDEON AGAIN ASKS FOR A SIGN, BUT THIS TIME IT IS IN THE FORM OF A FLEECE.  FROM THERE, HE GOES AND GATHERS HIS ARMY.  INITIALLY, 32,000 MEN GATHER TO FIGHT, BUT 22,000 OF THEM LEAVE WHEN THEY ARE TOLD THEY CAN RETURN IF THEY ARE SCARED.  GOD WHITTLES DOWN THE REMAINING MEN FROM 10,000 TO 300!  GOD DOES THIS TO SHOW THAT HE IS THE ONE THAT IS DELIVERING THEM, NOT THE STRENGTH OF THEIR ARMY.  GOD CAN DO A LOT WITH A LITTLE.  GIDEON THOUGHT THAT HE WAS TOO WEAK AND TOO YOUNG TO LEAD THE ISRAELITES.  WE MIGHT FEEL THE SAME WAY WHEN IT COMES TO OUR JOURNEY THROUGH LIFE.  WHEN GOD CALLS US TO DO SOMETHING, REST ASSURED THAT HE WILL EQUIP US WITH WHAT WE NEED TO ACCOMPLISH IT. 

     

    MARCH 20:  JUDGES 8-9

     

    WE READ MORE ABOUT THE BATTLE BETWEEN GIDEON AND THE MIDIANITES.  CHAPTER EIGHT OPENS WITH A COMPLAINT FROM THE MEN OF EPHRAIM.  THEY ARE UPSET THAT THEY HAD NOT BEEN CALLED TO FIGHT AGAINST THE MIDIANITES.  THIS IS AN INTERESTING TURN, CONSIDERING THERE ARE OTHER INSTANCES OF HAVING TO CONVINCE OTHER TRIBES TO JOIN THE FIGHT.  

     

    UPON VICTORY, GIDEON IS HAILED AS A HERO AND THE PEOPLE WANT TO MAKE HIM KING.  GIDEON REFUSES, EXPLAINING THAT GOD IS THEIR KING.  GIDEON COULD HAVE USED HIS ACCOLADES TO RULE OVER THE ISRAELITES AND MAKE A COMFORTABLE LIFE FOR HIMSELF.  HOWEVER, HE KNOWS THAT IS NOT RIGHT AND PUSHES THEM TO FOLLOW GOD’S AUTHORITY.  

     

    THE ACCOUNT OF ABIMELECH IS A DEVIATION FROM THE MAIN STORYLINE OF JUDGES.  THIS STORY SHOWS THE COMPLETE CANAANIZATION OF THE LAND DURING THIS TIMEFRAME.  GIDEON HAD DENIED KINGSHIP, BUT ABIMELECH HAD NO PROBLEM RUSHING IN AND TRYING TO TAKE A NONEXISTENT THRONE.  TO PROTECT HIS CLAIM TO LEADERSHIP, ABIMELECH HAS HIS BROTHERS SLAUGHTERED, THE ONLY ONE THAT SURVIVES IS JOTHAM BECAUSE HE HID HIMSELF.  JOTHAM TELLS THE PARABLE OF THE TREES.  VARIOUS TREES AND THE GRAPEVINE ARE OFFERED THE THRONE, AND THEY DENY THE POSITION BECAUSE THEY WANT TO CONTINUE SERVING GOD AND MAN.  HOWEVER, THE TREES AND GRAPEVINE APPROACH THE BRAMBLE AND ASK IT TO RULE OVER THEM.  THE BRAMBLE HAD NO USE UNLIKE THE OLIVE AND FIG TREE.  INSTEAD, IT WAS A NUISANCE TO FARMERS.  JOTHAM EXPLAINS THAT IF THEY HAVE MADE ABIMELECH KING FAITHFULLY AND HONESTLY THEN THEY HAVE DONE WELL.  IF NOT, HE PRONOUNCES, “MAY FIRE COME FROM ABIMELECH AND CONSUME THE LORDS OF SHECHEM AND BETH-MILLO”.  

     

    AFTER THREE YEARS OF HIS REIGN, GOD SENDS AND EVIL SPIRIT BETWEEN ABIMELECH AND THE LORDS OF SHECHEM.  FROM THERE, FIGHTING ENSUES.  ABIMELECH HAS SOME SUCCESS, BUT WHEN HE WENT TO ATTACK THE TOWER AT THEBEZ, A WOMAN THREW THE UPPER PORTION OF A MILLSTONE AND HIT HIM IN THE HEAD, FRACTURING HIS SKULL.  ABIMELECH COMMANDS HIS SERVANT TO KILL HIM SO THAT NO ONE CAN SAY A WOMAN KILLED HIM.  HIS AMBITION LED TO HIS DEMISE, FULFILLING JOTHAM’S CURSE.

     

    MARCH 21:  JUDGES 10-12

     

    THERE IS RELATIVE PEACE FOR A BIT AFTER ABIMELECH’S PASSING.  HOWEVER, THE ISRAELITES WIND UP DOING WHAT IS EVIL IN GOD’S SIGHT AND HE HANDS THEM OVER TO THEIR ENEMIES.  THEY ONCE AGAIN WERE FOLLOWING THE BAALS AND ASHTORETHS, NOT THE ONE TRUE GOD THAT PROVIDED FOR THEM.  THE ISRAELITES CRIED OUT IN ANGUISH, ASKING GOD TO DELIVER THEM.  HE ANSWERS THAT THEY SHOULD TURN TO THE GODS THEY HAVE BEEN FOLLOWING AND GET THEM TO DELIVER THEM.  THE ISRAELITES REALIZE THAT THIS IS FOLLY, AND THESE GODS CANNOT DELIVER THEM.  SO, THEY PUT THEMSELVES IN THE HANDS OF THE LORD.  GOD DELIVERS THEM BECAUSE HE BECOMES “WEARY OF THEIR MISERY.”

     

    THE ISRAELITES ARE LOOKING FOR A LEADER NOW.  JEPHTHAH, A GILEADITE IS IDENTIFIED AS A GREAT WARRIOR.  HOWEVER, HE IS ALSO A SOCIAL OUTCAST BECAUSE HE IS THE SON OF A PROSTITUTE.  GIVEN HIS LINEAGE, HE FLEES FROM HIS BROTHERS WHERE HE IS JOINED BY LAWLESS MEN.  THEN PROBLEMS ARISE FOR THE ISRAELITES, PROMPTING THEM TO ASK JEPHTHAH TO BE FIGHT WITH THEM.  HE ASKS WHY THEY WANT HIM NOW, SINCE THEY REJECTED HIM BEFORE.  THEY ANSWER THAT HE WILL BE MADE LEADER IF HE COMES TO FIGHT WITH THEM.  

     

    JEPHTHAH MAKES A HARSH VOW.  HE PROMISES THAT IF HE IS GIVEN VICTORY, THAT HE WILL GIVE WHATEVER COMES OUT OF HIS HOUSE TO GREET HIM AS A BURNT OFFERING.  ODDS ARE THAT HE HAD HUMAN SACRIFICE IN MIND.  MOLECH AND CHEMOSH WERE COMPETING DEITIES AT THE TIME AND HUMAN SACRIFICE TO THEM OCCURRED REGULARLY.  FURTHER, IT IS TYPICAL FOR HUMANS TO COME OUT OF THE HOUSE TO GREET SOMEONE, NOT ANIMALS.  I KNOW THAT MY DOGS WOULD RUN OUT TO GREET PEOPLE IF THEY COULD, BUT THEY ARE UNABLE TO OPEN THE DOOR.  

     

    SADLY, JEPHTHAH’S ONLY DAUGHTER COMES TO GREET HIM AFTER HIS VICTORY.  HE IS HEARTBROKEN, BUT SHE RESPONDS WITH FAITH SAYING THAT HE MUST DO WHAT HE SAID HE WOULD SINCE GOD HAD DELIVERED THEM VICTORY.  GOD DOES NOT DEMAND HUMAN SACRIFICE.  HE FINDS IT DETESTABLE AND THERE ARE SEVERAL INSTANCES WHERE HE INSTRUCTS THEM NOT TO MAKE THEIR CHILDREN “WALK THROUGH FIRE” A COMMON EUPHEMISM FOR CHILD SACRIFICE.  JEPHTHAH DID NOT NEED TO MAKE SUCH A HARSH VOW.  GOD WOULD HAVE GIVEN THEM THE VICTORY WITHOUT IT. 

     

    MARCH 22:  JUDGES 13-15

     

    AGAIN, THE ISRAELITES DO EVIL IN GOD’S SIGHT, AND THEY ARE HANDED OVER TO THE PHILISTINES.  WE COME TO THE STORY OF SAMSON, PROBABLY THE MOST FAMOUS NAZIRITE IN HISTORY.  NAZIRITE VOWS WERE TYPICALLY TAKEN FOR A PERIOD OF TIME.  DURING THIS TIME, THE INDIVIDUAL DID NOT EAT OR DRINK ANYTHING THAT CAME FROM THE VINE, AND THEY DID NOT CUT THEIR HAIR.  MANOAH, FROM THE FAMILY OF DAN, AND HIS WIFE ARE UNABLE TO HAVE CHILDREN.  THE ANGEL OF THE LORD APPEARS TO HIS WIFE AND INFORMS HER THAT SHE WILL GIVE BIRTH TO A SON.  THE ANGEL FURTHER INSTRUCTS THAT SHE IS NOT TO CUT HIS HAIR BECAUSE HE WILL BE A “NAZIRITE TO GOD FROM BIRTH”.  THE WOMAN TELLS HER HUSBAND, AND HE PRAYS THAT GOD WOULD SEND THE ANGEL BACK TO GIVE FURTHER INSTRUCTION ON WHAT THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO DO FOR THE BOY THAT WILL BE BORN TO THEM.  

     

    THE ANGEL OF THE LORD COMES BACK.  MANOAH ASKS HIM WHAT THE BOY’S RESPONSIBILITY AND MISSION WILL BE.  THE ANGEL GIVES INSTRUCTIONS ON WHAT HIS WIFE CANNOT EAT OR DRINK DURING THE PREGNANCY.  SHE LATER GIVES BIRTH TO SAMSON, THE LAST JUDGE. 

     

    WHEN SAMSON GROWS UP, HE GOES TO TIMNAH AND FALLS IN LOVE WITH A PHILISTINE WOMAN.  HE GOES BACK TO HIS PARENTS AND DEMANDS THAT THEY GET THIS WOMAN FOR HIM AS HIS WIFE.  HIS PARENTS RECOMMEND THAT HE FIND A WIFE FROM AMONG THE ISRAELITES, NOT FROM THE PAGAN NATION.  HOWEVER, SAMSON IS SET ON THIS WOMAN.  HE AND PARENTS HEAD TO TIMNAH TO SEE ABOUT THIS GIRL. THE TEXT INFORMS US THAT THIS WAS THE LORD’S DOING BECAUSE HE WAS SETTING UP AN OCCASION FOR SAMSON TO ATTACK THE PHILISTINES. ON THIS TRIP TO TIMNAH, A YOUNG LION JUMPS OUT AND SAMSON KILLS IT WITH HIS BARE HANDS.  THE MARRIAGE IS SET.  AFTER A WHILE, SAMSON GOES BACK TO TIMNAH TO GET THE WOMAN AND SEES THAT BEES ARE MAKING HONEY IN THE CARCASS OF THE LION HE KILLED EARLIER.  HE USES THIS TO DEVELOP A RIDDLE FOR THE GUESTS AT THE WEDDING FEAST.  NO ONE IS ABLE TO GUESS THE ANSWER TO THE RIDDLE.  HOWEVER, SAMSON’S WIFE INFORMS THE MEN OF THE ANSWER, WHICH SETS SAMSON OFF ON A KILLING SPREE.  

     

    LATER, SAMSON GOES TO RETRIEVE HIS WIFE, BUT HIS FATHER-IN-LAW HAS ALREADY GIVEN HER TO SOMEONE ELSE SINCE HE THOUGHT SAMSON HATED HER.  TO TAKE HIS REVENGE, SAMSON CATCHES 300 FOXES, TIES THEIR TAILS TOGETHER, FIXES TORCHES BETWEEN THEIR TAILS, LIGHTS THE TORCHES, AND SETS THE FOXES FREE IN THE GRAIN OF THE PHILISTINES.  THE FIRE DESTROYS THE CROP, THE VINEYARD, AND THE OLIVE GROVES. SAMSON IS THEN CAPTURED AND HANDED OVER TO THE PHILISTINES.  HE GRABS THE JAW OF A DONKEY AND SLAUGHTERS 1,000 MEN WITH IT. 

     

    MARCH 23:  JUDGES 16-18

     

    SAMSON IS NO SAINT.  HE GOES TO GAZA AND VISITS A PROSTITUTE.  WHEN THE GAZITES FIND OUT HE IS THERE, THEY PLAN TO MURDER HIM.  HOWEVER, THEY ARE UNSUCCESSFUL.  LATER, SAMSON FALLS IN LOVE WITH DELILAH.  THE PHILISTINES TELL HER TO PERSUADE SAMSON INTO TELLING HER THE SOURCE OF HIS STRENGTH. 

     

    DELILAH ASKS HIM WHERE HIS STRENGTH COMES FROM.  SAMSON RESPONDS WITH A LIE, TELLING HER THAT IF HE IS BOUND WITH SEVEN FRESH BOWSTRINGS, HE WILL BE AS WEAK AS ANYONE ELSE.  WHILE HE SLEEPS, DELILAH TIES HIM UP IN THE STRINGS, THEN CALLS OUT TO HIM THAT THE PHILISTINES ARE THERE.  SAMSON WAKES UP AND BREAKS THE STRINGS.  DELILAH CRIES BECAUSE HE HAS MOCKED HER BY LYING TO HER.  SHE ASKS AGAIN.  THIS TIME SAMSON TELLS HER THAT IF HE IS TIED WITH NEW ROPES THAT HAVE NEVER BEEN USED BEFORE, HE LOSES HIS STRENGTH.  AGAIN, SHE TIES HIM UP WHILE HE SLEEPS AND CALLS THAT THE PHILISTINES ARE THERE.  SAMSON GETS UP AND BREAKS THE ROPE.  DELILAH CRIES ABOUT HOW SHE HAS BEEN LIED TO AND DEMANDS TO KNOW HOW TO TAKE HIS STRENGTH.  SAMSON AGAIN LIES AND TELLS HER THAT IF SHE WEAVES THE SEVEN BRAIDS OF HIS HEAD WITH THE WEB OF A LOOM, HE WILL BE AS WEAK AS ANY OTHER MAN.  UNSURPRISING TO US, SHE DOES JUST THAT AND CALLS OUT THAT THE PHILISTINES ARE THERE.  HE GETS UP AND PULLS OUT THE PIN, WITH THE LOOM AND WEB.  

     

    I AM NOT A SMART MAN.  HOWEVER, I DO NOT KNOW HOW SAMSON COULD HAVE THOUGHT NOTHING BAD WAS GOING TO COME OF THIS.  I AM CURIOUS WHY HE DIDN’T THINK IT WAS ODD THAT SHE ASKED HOW TO MAKE HIM WEAK AND THAT VERY NIGHT, SHE TRIED TO MAKE HIM WEAK.  THE FIRST TIME IS UNDERSTANDABLE.  THE OLD ADAGE IS “FOOL ME ONCE, SHAME ON YOU.  FOOL ME TWICE, SHAME ON ME.”  SAMSON DID NOT GET THE MEMO.  SHE NAGS AND NAGS UNTIL SHE WEARS HIM DOWN AND HE INFORMS HER THAT THE SOURCE OF HIS STRENGTH IS HIS HAIR.  WHILE HE IS SLEEPING, SHE CUTS HIS HAIR AND CRIES THAT THE PHILISTINES ARE THERE.  

     

    SAMSON GETS UP AND TRIES TO BREAK FREE.  “BUT HE DID NOT KNOW THAT THE LORD HAD LEFT HIM.”  IN MY OPINION, THAT IS ONE OF THE SCARIEST PIECES OF SCRIPTURE.  THE PHILISTINES TAKE HIM GOUGE OUT HIS EYES AND BRING HIM TO GAZA WHERE HE GROUND GRAIN IN PRISON.  THE PHILISTINE LEADERS GATHERED TO GIVE WORSHIP TO DAGON, ANOTHER PAGAN ENTITY.  DURING THE REVELRY, THEY DECIDE TO BRING SAMSON OUT TO ENTERTAIN THEM.  HOWEVER, THEY HAD FORGOTTEN TO TRIM HIS HAIR WHILE HE WAS IN PRISON.  AS HIS LAST ACT, HE GETS BETWEEN TWO PILLARS OF THE TEMPLE AND PUSHES AGAINST THEM, BRINGING THE TEMPLE DOWN. 

     

    MARCH 24:  JUDGES 19-21

     

    THERE IS STILL NO KING IN ISRAEL.  PEOPLE CONTINUE DOING WHAT THEY WANT.  A LEVITE LIVING IN EPHRAIM ACQUIRED A WOMAN FROM BETHLEHEM.  SHE WAS UNFAITHFUL TO HIM AND SHE FLED TO HER FATHER’S HOUSE BACK IN BETHLEHEM.  THE HUSBAND SET OUT TO RETRIEVE HER AND “SPEAK KINDLY TO HER” AFTER FOUR MONTHS.  THE MAN’S FATHER-IN-LAW CONTINUES TO DETAIN HIM, DELAYING THEIR DEPARTURE.  AFTER SEVERAL DAYS, THEY DEPART AND SPEND THE NIGHT IN GIBEAH.  AN OLD MAN APPROACHES THEM AND TELLS THEM NOT TO STAY IN THE SQUARE.  THEY STAY THE NIGHT IN THE MAN’S HOUSE, BUT THE MEN OF THE CITY SURROUNDED THE HOUSE, DEMANDING THE MAN BE SENT OUT.  THE OWNER OF THE HOUSE ASKED THEY NOT DO THIS AND THE MAN’S CONCUBINE IS PLACED OUTSIDE THE HOME WHERE SHE IS TORTURED AND KILLED.  WHEN THE MAN REALIZES THAT SHE IS DEAD, HE TAKES A KNIFE AND CUT HER INTO 12 PIECES.  EACH TRIBE OF ISRAEL RECEIVED ONE PART OF HER BODY.  THIS WAS A CALL TO ARMS AGAINST BENJAMIN, THE GROUP RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS HEINOUS BEHAVIOR.  

     

    ALL THE ISRAELITES FROM DAN TO BEERSHEBA CAME OUT TO FIGHT.  THE MAN TELLS THE STORY OF HIS KILLED CONCUBINE TO THE MEN ASSEMBLED AND THEY UNITE AGAINST BENJAMIN.  THE BATTLE IS INTENSE.  BENJAMIN KILLS 22,000 AT GIBEAH.  ON THE SECOND DAY 18,000 ARE SLAUGHTERED.  THE ISRAELITE ARMY DEPARTS TO BETHEL WHERE THEY MOURN AND FAST.  THEY THINK ABOUT GIVING UP, BUT GOD TELLS THEM TO GO FIGHT SINCE HE WILL DELIVER THEM.  THE BENJAMINITES ARE SUMMARILY DEFEATED. 

     

    THE MEN OF ISRAEL SWEAR AN OATH THAT THE NONE OF THEIR DAUGHTERS WOULD BE GIVEN IN MARRIAGE TO A BENJAMINITE.  HOWEVER, THEY BEGIN TO FEEL BAD ABOUT THIS OATH THEY HAVE MADE.  SO THEY COME UP WITH AN IDEA ON HOW TO GET WIVES FOR THE BENJAMINITE MEN.  

     


    THE BOOK OF JUDGES CLOSES WITH THE OMINOUS REMINDER THAT THERE WAS NO KING IN ISRAEL IN THOSE DAYS.  EVERYONE DID WHAT THEY WANTED.  AS BELIEVERS, GOD IS OUR KING AND WE SHOULD STRIVE TO FOLLOW HIM AND DO HIS WILL DAILY.  THE ISRAELITES’ BIGGEST PROBLEM STEMMED FROM THE FACT THAT THEY DID NOT COMPLETELY SURRENDER THEMSELVES TO GOD ALMIGHTY AND FOLLOW HIS LAW.  MY HOPE AND PRAYER IS THAT WE SUBMIT TO HIM DAILY AND WE LET HIM LEAD. 


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  • March 24: Judges 19-21.

     

    There is still no king in Israel. People continue doing what they want. A Levite living in Ephraim acquired a woman from Bethlehem. She was unfaithful to him and she fled to her father’s house back in Bethlehem. The husband set out to retrieve her and “speak kindly to her” after four months. The man’s father-in-law continues to detain him, delaying their departure. After several days, they depart and spend the night in Gibeah. An old man approaches them and tells them not to stay in the square. They stay the night in the man’s house, but the men of the city surrounded the house, demanding the man be sent out. The owner of the house asked they not do this, and the man’s concubine is placed outside the home where she is tortured and killed.  When the man realizes that she is dead, he takes a knife and cut her into 12 pieces. Each tribe of Israel received one part of her body. This was a call to arms against Benjamin, the group responsible for this heinous behavior.

     

    All the Israelites from Dan to Beersheba came out to fight. The man tells the story of his killed concubine to the men assembled and they unite against Benjamin. The battle is intense. Benjamin kills 22,000 at Gibeah. On the second day 18,000 are slaughtered. The Israelite army departs to Bethel where they mourn and fast. They think about giving up, but God tells them to go fight since He will deliver them. The Benjaminites are summarily defeated.

     

    The men of Israel swear an oath that the none of their daughters would be given in marriage to a Benjaminite. However, they begin to feel bad about this oath they have made. So they come up with an idea on how to get wives for the Benjaminite men.

     

    The book of Judges closes with the ominous reminder that there was no king in Israel in those days. Everyone did what they wanted. As believers, God is our King and we should strive to follow Him and do His will daily. The Israelites’ biggest problem stemmed from the fact that they did not completely surrender themselves to God Almighty and follow His law. My hope and prayer is that we submit to Him daily and we let Him lead.

     

    March 25: Ruth 1-4

     

    Ruth is named for the main character of this book.  Ruth is a Moabite woman, an ancestor of David and Jesus.  Judges ends with a rather dark and depressing theme.  Ruth gives some relief to the reader.  This book is relatively short, but there are several examples of kindness, faith, and patience.  

     

    The book starts with Elimelech, a man from Bethlehem that settled in Moab with his wife Naomi.  He died and their two sons married Moabite women.  Sadly, both sons died within ten years of moving to Moab.  Naomi now has no husband or sons to care for her, which was the custom of the time.  Naomi tells her daughters in law to go back and find husbands for themselves.  They are still relatively young and should find security in a new husband.  At first, both daughters in law refuse, but Naomi persists.  Eventually Orpah goes back home, but Naomi refuses to leave her mother-in-law.  They traveled to Bethlehem.  

     

    Boaz was a prominent man from Elimelech’s (Naomi’s late husband) family.  Ruth requests permission from Naomi to glean in the fields and gather fallen grain.  Permission is granted and Ruth winds up gleaning in part of the land that Boaz owns.  Boaz arrives and pronounces a blessing on the people gleaning.  He shows interest in Ruth.  He asks that she only glean from his fields and no others.  Boaz shows great generosity toward her.  

     

    Naomi sees this kindness from Boaz.  Since he is from Elemelech’s family, he is a qualified “family redeemer.”  The family redeemer had the responsibility to act on behalf of a relative that was in danger, trouble, or need.  By making Ruth his wife, Boaz demonstrated one of the duties of the family member.  Marrying Ruth ensured that she would be taken care of.  Boaz and Ruth have a son named Obed.  Obed is the grandfather of David, the second Israelite king.  

     

    March 26: 1 Samuel 1-3

     

    First and Second Samuel highlight a huge transition in the nation of Israel.  So far, we have seen them transition from a people that settle in Egypt to survive famine, then slaves to the Egyptians, from there they are given freedom and wander the wilderness.  In the time of the Judges, they lived with no king in the promised land.  Eventually, they will transition to having an earthly king. 

     

    Samuel’s mother Hannah was unable to conceive.  Hannah made a vow to The LORD, promising that if He gives her a son, she will give the boy to The LORD all the days of his life.  After making this vow, The LORD answered her prayer, and she conceived Samuel.  Hannah responds with praise and joy in the news that she will give birth.  Do we stop to give praise and adoration when The LORD answers our prayers?  

     

    Eli was priest at the time, but his sons had zero regard for The LORD.  The text describes them as wicked men.  They would regularly steal from The LORD’s portion of the sacrifice and treated the offerings to Him with contempt.  Meanwhile, Samuel serves in God’s presence.  Every year, his mother would make him a new Ephod and deliver it to the temple.  God sees that Hannah was faithful in her vow to Him and she conceived three sons and two daughters.  

     

    Samuel is lying down in the tabernacle.  He hears someone calling him.  Samuel cries out, “Here I am.” He runs to Eli, but Eli says he did not call him and sends him back to lie down.  Samuel again hears someone calling him and he runs to Eli.  Eli again explains that he has not called the boy.  After the third time, Eli realizes what is going on.  He tells Samuel to lie down and if he hears it again, he is to say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”  The LORD calls to Samuel again and He explains that He is about to do something in Israel that will cause anyone that hears it to shudder.  Samuel grows up and becomes a prophet.  His stature is known far and wide throughout the land. 

     

    March 27: 1 Samuel 4-8

     

    Israel goes to battle the Philistines.  The Philistines lined up in battle formation.  Israel is summarily defeated, losing 4,000 of their men.  They go back to gripe about the defeat and hatch a plan to take the ark of the covenant with them.  When the ark entered the camp of the Israelites, they gave quite the battle cry.  The Philistines hear the sound.  They attribute the Israelite victory over Egypt to the ark and encourage one another to have courage to fight.  The Philistines went into battle and again defeat Israel.  This time, they take the ark with them.  

     

    The Philistines bring the ark to the temple of Dagon, one of the gods worshiped at the time.  They placed the ark next to the statue of Dagon.  When they went in the next morning, they found the statue fallen over with its face to the ground before the ark.  The set the statue back up.  When they came in the following day, they found the statue fallen over again, but this time the statue’s head and hands were broken off.  The statue was not the only thing affected.  Some of the men died because of the ark and others were afflicted with boils.

     

    After seven months, the Philistines summon the priests and diviners and ask how they can send the ark of the covenant back to its rightful place.  The priests explain that if they send it away, an offering must accompany it.  The ark is taken to Kiriath-jearim.  After 20 years, the whole house of Israel begins to seek The LORD.  Samuel explains that if they are truly repentant, they must rid themselves of the foreign gods and dedicate themselves fully to God.  

     

    Samuel grows old and the people decide that they want a king.  They want a king to judge them and so that they can be like the other nations around them.  Samuel warns them that if they have a king, he can go in and take their best fields and land and take ten percent of their grain and vineyards, along with their male and female servants.  The Israelites will not relent.  Samuel is upset, but he takes his concern to God.  The LORD tells him to appoint a king for them. 

     

    March 28: 1 Samuel 9-12

     

    Kish, from the tribe of Benjamin, has an impressive son in stature.  There is no man as impressive as him in all of Israel.  He is a head taller than every other man.  This impressive man named Saul will become the first king of Israel. 

     

    One of Kish’s donkeys wandered off and Saul was dispatched to return it.  Saul comes to the land of Zuph.  His attendant explains that there is a man of God nearby and advises that they seek out this man’s guidance.  This man might be able to tell them where they should go.  Saul asks what they will take if they go see this man.  The attendant has a piece of silver to give the man of God. 

     

    Meanwhile, God told Samuel that He was going to send a man from the land of Benjamin to him.  This man will save the Israelites from the hand of the Philistines and will become their king.  Saul approaches Samuel asking where the seer is and Samuel explains that it is him.  Samuel anoints Saul as king.  As Saul is leaving to return, Samuel informs him that he will meet two men at Rachel’s grave.  From there, he is to go to oak of Tabor.  Three men will meet him there.  One will have three goats, another three loaves of bread, and another bringing a skin of wine.  They will ask how he is and give him two loaves of bread which he must accept. From there he will go to the Hill of God where he meets a group of prophets coming down from the high place.  The Spirit of God will transform Saul and he will be different, prophesying to these prophets.  After that, he is to wait seven days for Samuel to come to him.  When Saul leaves Samuel, his heart is changed.  

    Saul is received as king by the Israelites.  The Ammonites lay siege to Jabesh-gilead.  The men of Jabesh ask that a treaty be made.  Nahash the Ammonite agrees to make a treaty on the condition that he gouges out everyone’s right eye and humiliates Israel.  The elders of Jabesh call for a truce for seven days while they send word to the surrounding territories.  Saul receives word of what is happening in Jabesh and the Spirit of God empowers him to take decisive action.  He gathers an army and slaughters the Ammonites.  Saul is finally confirmed as king and Samuel makes his final public speech. 

     

    March 29: 1 Samuel 13-14

     

    Saul is doing great as king, until he is not.  He gathers the troops of Israel at Gilgal for a fight against the Philistines.  Saul and his troops wait for seven days in the garrison.  They wait because a sacrifice must be made to God before they go into battle.  Saul’s troops are gripped with fear.  After the appointed time of waiting for Samuel, Saul decides that he will take matters into his own hands.  He tells them to bring the burnt offerings to him and he will make sacrifice.  

     

    Just as he finished making the offering, Samuel arrives.  The smell of burning meat is still in the air.  Saul goes to greet him, but Samuel simply asks, “what have you done?”  Saul explains that he was scared and so was everyone else.  So he went ahead and made the sacrifice to ensure their victory.  Saul violated God’s command out of fear.  Only the priests were allowed to make sacrifice in those days.  He should have waited on Samuel.  Things would have gone much better for him if he had.  However, he loses his favor in God’s sight because of his disobedience.  In life, it is better for us to wait on The LORD rather than take matters into our own hands.  The challenge is to let God do what He is going to do in His own time and trust His results.  God has it all figured out.  We can trust that His timing is perfect.  My hope and prayer is that we will trust Him and His timeline.

     

    Saul’s son Jonathan decided to take up arms and cross over the Philistine garrison without telling his father.  The two strike down 20 Philistines in a half-acre field.  The Philistine camp is terrified.  Saul calls for a muster to see who has fled.  The only two missing were Jonathan and his armor bearer.  Saul assembles the troops and makes an oath that whoever eats before the evening when he has his vengeance on his enemies is cursed.  They go into the forest and see that there is honey on the ground.  Unfortunately, Jonathan had not heard about the oath his father made, so he begins to eat.  He feels a renewed energy, but that fades quickly when one of the other soldiers informs him about the oath Saul made.  This begs the question of why the soldier did not stop him from eating BEFORE he put the honeycomb in his mouth.  

     

    Saul finds out that Jonathan has disobeyed his oath and declares that Jonathan will die because of it.  This leads to another question.  Why would Saul be okay violating God’s law about sacrifice, but be willing to kill his own son for violating his oath?  Saul’s poor leadership has been on display in these two chapters.  His time as king is coming to a close.  

     

    March 30: 1 Samuel 15-17

     

    Samuel reports to Saul that he is to go to the Amalekites and completely destroy everything they have.  This is a command from God for holy war.  One mark of holy war is that the enemy is completely wiped out including the livestock.  Saul raises his army and sets out to fight the Amalekites.  He once again disobeys God’s commands and decides to keep the best of the livestock alive.  God tells Samuel that He regrets making Saul king.  Samuel gets up early in the morning to confront Saul.  Samuel receives word instead that Saul has gone to Carmel to set up a memorial for himself.  Samuel finds him there and Saul thinks he has done nothing wrong.  Instead, he looks to Samuel and claims he has done everything the LORD commanded.  Samuel’s response is a simple, “What’s this sound of sheep and cattle?”  From there Saul justifies not following God’s command.  He asserts that he was keeping the finest animals for the flock so that he could sacrifice them to The LORD.  If God wanted Saul to take the choice animals and sacrifice them to Him, He would have given that direction.  When God gives a command, we should follow it!

     

    This is the final straw and Saul has lost God’s favor as king.  It is time for Samuel to find a new one.  Samuel approaches Jesse in Bethlehem.  He looks over the older brothers but does not find one suitable as king.  He asks Jesse if these are the only sons he has.  Jesse informs him that there is a younger brother.  Notice the difference between how Saul and David and how they were identified.  Saul was in high stature and taller than everyone else.  David is the youngest of his brothers, he has no stature.  Yet David, despite his faults, is a much better king than Saul. Don’t underestimate what God can do in the lives of the people He has called for a task!

     

    David winds up playing the lyre in Saul’s court.  One day, he goes to the front line to see what is happening with the battle.  He sees Goliath taunting the Israelites and agrees to fight the uncircumcised Philistine.  David goes into battle with just his sling and five rocks.  He sinks a rock in the giant’s forehead and then cuts off Goliath’s head with his own sword.  In life, God gives us the strength to stand up to our giants.  David could not fight goliath under his own strength, he relied on God to deliver the victory.  We do not have to fight our battles alone either, God is there with us. 

     

    March 31: 1 Samuel 18-20

     

    After David’s victory, he no longer goes back to his father’s house.  Instead, Saul keeps him in his court.  Jonathan, Saul’s son, makes a covenant with David.  The two are like brothers.  David marches out with the army and is successful in all his endeavors.   An evil spirit comes upon Saul, and he tries to kill David.  He has no luck.

     

    Michal, Saul’s daughter, loved David, and the two marry.  Saul sends his son Jonathan to kill David.  The two hatch a plan to let David know whether he is safe from Saul or not.  David is not safe.  Saul sends agents to David’s home with the intent to kill him.  His wife Michal sends the agents away, stating that David is sick. David escapes and Saul confronts Michal over her deceit.  

     

    David remains on the lam.  He comes to Jonathan.  He asks what he has done to deserve such treatment from Saul.  Jonathan tells David that Saul always tells him when he is going to do something, so odds are he will tell him if he is going to kill David.  The two hatch a plan to let David know Saul’s intent. 

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  • March 31: 1 Samuel 18-20

     

    After David’s victory, he no longer goes back to his father’s house. Instead, Saul keeps him in his court. Jonathan, Saul’s son, makes a covenant with David. The two are like brothers. David marches out with the army and is successful in all his endeavors. An evil spirit comes upon Saul, and he tries to kill David. He has no luck.

     

    Michal, Saul’s daughter, loved David, and the two marry. Saul sends his son Jonathan to kill David. The two hatch a plan to let David know whether he is safe from Saul or not. David is not safe. Saul sends agents to David’s home with the intent to kill him. His wife Michal sends the agents away, stating that David is sick. David escapes and Saul confronts Michal over her deceit.

     

    David remains on the lam. He comes to Jonathan. He asks what he has done to deserve such treatment from Saul. Jonathan tells David that Saul always tells him when he is going to do something, so odds are he will tell him if he is going to kill David. The two hatch a plan to let David know Saul’s intent.

     

    April 1: 1 Samuel 21-24

     

    David flees to Nob and speaks with Ahimelech the priest.  Ahimelech was afraid since David was alone.  David explains that his men are with him, they are just stationed at a certain place.  He also tells Ahimelech that he and his men are hungry.  The priest explains that there is no bread, but the special bread of the presence.  He allows David and his men to eat the bread as long as they are consecrated.  David explains that they are always consecrated before missions, even the ordinary ones.  After this, David and his men flee to Gath where he finds that he is already a well-known man.  To avoid any danger, he acts insane, drooling over his beard to further prove his craziness. 

     

    David leaves Gath and stays in a cave in Adullam for a bit.  David’s entire family joined him there, along with every other man that was desperate, in debt, or discontented.  Approximately 400 men joined David there to rally behind him.  This leads to Saul becoming more concerned about the threat to his reign.  Saul sends messengers to summon the priests from the surrounding territories.  Because their loyalty is with David, Saul sends Doeg the Edomite to slaughter them all. 

     

    The LORD confirms that David should launch an attack against the Philistines that are attacking Keilah.  There is a stark contrast between David and Saul.  Saul is doing what he can to protect his throne.  David, even while he is fleeing the wicked king and his plots, still seeks to do God’s will and protect the Israelites. 

     

    While in Engedi, David and his men stay in a cave.  Saul and his men come along.  Saul sees the cave and decides to go in to relieve himself.  Some translations say “cover his ankles” which was a Hebrew euphemism for using the bathroom.  While he is in there, David’s men see this as God delivering the king over to David.  David shows great restraint and merely cuts off the corner of Saul’s robe.  David was truly seeking God’s will.  The rest of his men probably thought he was crazy.  David knew better.  He confronts Saul, asking why he was chasing after him.  David shows that he could have easily killed Saul by presenting a corner of the robe.  

     

    Are we in tune with God’s will?  Can we discern His direction? 

     

    April 2: 1 Samuel 25-27

     

    Samuel dies and all of Israel gathers to mourn his passing.  Nabal was shearing his sheep in Carmel.  Nabal was harsh and evil, but his wife Abigail was intelligent and beautiful.  David’s men approach Nabal about sustenance.  Nabal responds harshly.  Word is then sent to his wife, who quickly ensures that David and his men have enough provision.  Nabal is struck down by The LORD.  David sends his men to retrieve Abigail to be his wife.  He also marries Ahinoam.  Meanwhile, Saul gives his daughter Michal, who is already married to David, as a wife to Palti.  It is unclear whether Saul was punishing her for supporting David or because she had requested it. 

     

    David again has the chance to kill Saul, but he spares his life.  This time David is traveling with Abishai.  They come upon Saul’s camp and see him sleeping with his spear dug into the ground.  Abishai tells David that The LORD has handed Saul over to him.  David chooses to spare Saul, but he takes the king’s spear and water jug.  He then calls to the king but is confronted by Abner.  David presses Abner, asking why he has not protected the king.  Saul wakes up and hears David’s voice.  Again, David explains how he could have killed him, but chose not to.  Saul proclaims a blessing on David.

     

    Despite the blessing David heads to Ziklag.  He knows that Saul will not stop until David is dead.  David and his men raid the Geshurites, Girzites, and the Amalekites.  He completely eradicates them and returns to Achish in Gath.  Achish thinks he can trust David since he has made himself detestable to the Israelites and assumes that David will be his servant.  

     

    April 3: 1 Samuel 28-31

     

    The Philistines bring their military units together with the intent to fight against Israel.  Achish reminds David that he and his men must go and fight with him.  David simply responds that it is good so that he can see how well he and his men fight.  

     

    Meanwhile, Saul has become fearful of the gathering Philistines.  Samuel is dead and cannot help.  Previously, Saul had killed the mediums and spiritists in the land.  His men find one woman that can summon the dead.  He disguises himself and goes to talk to the woman.  He asks her to bring up Samuel. When Samuel appears, Saul explains that he is in serious trouble.  Samuel asks Saul why he is asking him for advice.  The LORD has turned away from Saul and has become his enemy.  Saul did not obey The LORD and now God is doing exactly what He said He would. 

     

    The Philistine military gathers at Aphek.  They conduct a muster and see that David and his men are among the military units.  Achish explains that David and his men have been with him for a while.  The Philistines are enraged, and demand David and his men be sent away.  They do not want the Hebrews with them.  

     

    From there, David and his men go to Ziklag.  The Amalekites had raided the Negev and attacked Ziklag.  The men see that their wives, sons, and daughters had been kidnapped by the Amalekites.  They form up and go to battle as the Amalekites, slaughtering them and recovered all the stolen property.  

     

    The battle between the Philistines and the Israelites rages on.  The Philistines overtake Saul and his sons.  His sons, Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malchishua are killed.  Saul is severely wounded by the archers.  Saul asks his armor bearers to kill him off before the Philistines get to him.  He figures it is better to be killed by his servant than be tortured by the Philistines.  The armor bearer refuses, so Saul falls on his own sword.  

     

    April 4: 2 Samuel 1-3

     

    David returns to Ziklag.  An Amalekite presents himself to give David the news of Saul and his sons.  David asks how this man knows the fate.  The Amalekite claims to be the one that killed Saul.  The previous chapter has Saul falling on his own sword after telling his armor bearer to kill him.  This man brings a different report.  There are two explanations for the differing stories.  1. Saul did not die immediately after falling in his sword and the Amalekite came upon him and killed him. 2. The Amalekite arrived after Saul died, but before the Philistines arrived.  He saw an opportunity to gain favor with David, so he took the crown and armband and lied to David about his part in Saul’s death.  

     

    The second explanation is the most likely what happened.  This man saw an opportunity and took the armband and crown to David thinking he would find favor in his sight.  However, it would have been better if he had told the truth.  In that scenario, he would have brought the armband and crown stating, “I found the king dead and wanted to make sure the Philistines did not get these.”  Instead, he claims to have killed the king himself.  David is not pleased that Saul and his sons are dead.  He has the Amalekite executed and sings a song of mourning for Saul and Jonathan.  

     

    After a while, David asks God if he should go to one of the towns of Judah.  God tells him to go to Hebron.  At the time, Hebron was the natural capital, located about 19 miles south of Jerusalem in the hill country.  Though David is the rightful king, there is the expected contention from the house of Saul.  As a result, civil war breaks out between the house of Saul and the house of David.  

     

    David sends word to Ishbosheth to send back his wife Michal.  Michal was given to another man as a wife by Saul while she was still married to David.  David has not legally divorced her, so he wants her back.  This might seem odd to us since she has been married to the other guy for a few years now.  However, there are political implications with this.  Michal is Saul’s daughter, by bringing her back as his wife, David establishes himself as a legitimate relative to Saul.  

     

    April 5: 2 Samuel 4-7

    There are more acts of treachery in David’s early reign.  Two members of Saul’s raiding parties take it upon themselves to mete out vengeance against David’s supposed enemies.  They enter into Ishbosheth’s house and stab him in the stomach.  They behead him and take him to king David.  David is not pleased.  He explains that after he discovered Saul’s death, he put the man that claimed responsibility to death.  These two went into an innocent man’s house and killed him while he slept.  Why would they expect to be treated better than the man that claimed to kill Saul?  David takes no delight in watching his enemies fall.  He sees them as humans, loved by God.  We are going to come across people that rub us the wrong way or are flat out terrible to us.  How will we respond if they run into trouble?  Do we respond like David?  Or do we take delight in their misery?  

     

    All the tribes of Israel come to David and confess that he was their leader even while Saul was king.  David was reliable even before he became king.  I have learned that people do not just magically become good leaders when they are put in a leadership position.  Instead, they were good leaders before taking the position. 

     

    David gathers 30,000 choice men to go and bring the ark of the covenant back from Baal-judah.  However, when they try to move the ark, they completely disregard the transportation instructions God gave Moses.  They place it on a new cart.  Uzzah and Ahio were guiding the cart.  David and the whole assembly were celebrating before the Lord with lyres, harps, tambourines, sistrums, and cymbals.  As they go, the ox stumbles and Uzzah takes a hold of the ark, attempting to keep it steady.  He falls down dead from this simple act.  The ark remains at Obed-edom’s house for three months until David decides to move it again.  This time, he moves the ark with more reverence, offering sacrifice and dancing before The LORD.  Upon his return, Michal greets him with sarcasm, complaining of him looking like a fool before the slave girls.  David responds that he was dancing before The LORD.  He was worried about how he looked in front of others, he was giving himself fully to God in worship.  I hope and pray that we BRING IT! Every time we give worship to God.  

     

    David wants to build a house for God.  Nathan, his trusted advisor, gives him the go ahead, until God says that He does not want David to build Him a house.  David will not construct the temple, but his son Solomon will.  

     

    April 6: 2 Samuel 8-12

     

    David has considerable victories in his conquests against the enemies of Israel.  He defeats the Philistines, the Moabites, Hadadezer the king of Zobah, and the Arameans.  God made David victorious wherever he went.  

     

    With this feeling of accomplishment, David asks if there is anyone remaining from the house of Saul.  He is not looking to harm the person, but he wants to bless him.  Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth is still alive.  Mephibosheth has bad feet.  Mephibosheth presents himself to David, presumably with a great amount of fear in him.  David tells him to fear not because he is going to bless him.  David gives back Saul’s fields to Mephibosheth and promises that he will eat his meals at the king’s table.  

     

    David goes against the Ammonites and summarily defeats them.  Peace is in the land.  Things are going great, until they are not.  In the springtime, kings march out to war.  David chooses not to go this year.  He sends his fighting troops out but decides to remain home.  If he had done the right thing and gone out with his men, the following would not have happened.  David is walking on his roof one night when he sees a beautiful woman bathing.  The woman named Bathsheba must have been very beautiful because the Bible seldom describes someone’s looks and it makes a point of saying that she is.  David is overcome with lust and has her brought to him knowing full well that she is the wife of Uriah.  He has his way with Bathsheba and a while later she sends word that she is pregnant. 

     

    Rather than own up to the situation, David tries to cover it up.  He has Uriah brought back from the fighting line.  I am curious why Uriah did not think something weird was going on since he was being brought back while his brothers in arms remained behind.  David finds Uriah camping outside of his palace.  When asked why he does not go home, Uriah explains that he cannot go home and enjoy the company of his wife while his fellow soldiers are camping in tents.  It is not right.  David brings him in the following night, gets him really drunk, and tries to send him home.  Much to his chagrin, David finds Uriah camping outside again.  David gives Uriah a sealed letter.  The letter gives instructions to Uriah’s commander.  They are to charge in and in the heat of battle, he and the rest of the troops are to pull away, leaving Uriah behind to be killed.  

    Uriah showed complete trust in David.  Not once did he doubt his leader.  He had way more faith than David.  

     

    Nathan calls David out on his sin.  David’s heart is broken.  In life, we need friends that are going to call us out on our garbage.  We all need a Nathan in our lives that will call us out when we are doing stupid stuff that goes against God’s commands.  If you do not have an accountability partner, I highly recommend you find one. 

     

    April 7: 2 Samuel 13-15

     

    There is more treachery and deceit in these chapters.  I do not understand how anyone can think the Bible is a boring book!  

     

    David’s daughter Tamar was a beautiful woman.  Amnon, a son of David, was infatuated with her.  Tamar was the daughter of Maacah and Amnon was the son of Ahinoam.  Amnon was sick over his half-sister, wanting to marry her, but knowing that he could not because they are related, and Levitical law forbids it.  His friend is shrewd and concocts a scheme for Amnon to take advantage of Tamar.  He claims to be sick and requests that she be the one to feed him.  While she is in his bed chamber, he forces himself upon her.  Immediately after the heinous offense, Amnon sees her as an object of scorn and hates her.  

     

    Absalom, Tamar’s full brother, is understandably mad.  He murders Amnon and goes to Geshur.  He remains there for three years.  Absalom is eventually restored to David.  However, he is not content with this.  Instead, he launches a revolt.  The revolt is relatively clandestine at first.  He simply sits outside the gate.  Anytime anyone came to make a grievance to the king, Absalom intercepted them.  He flattered them by saying that the grievance was right and good, but David would not hear it because he did not have enough personnel.  Then Absalom bemoaned the fact that he was not judge.  This bolstered his popularity among the other tribes of Israel.  He gains such popularity that one of his trusted advisors, Ahithophel, becomes one of Absalom’s coconspirators.  David prays to The LORD that Ahithophel’s counsel becomes foolishness.  This is a prayer of great faith because Ahithophel ‘s advice was taken like it was advice directly from God.

     

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  • April 7: 2 Samuel 13-15

     

    There is more treachery and deceit in these chapters.  I do not understand how anyone can think the Bible is a boring book!  

     

    David’s daughter Tamar was a beautiful woman.  Amnon, a son of David, was infatuated with her.  Tamar was the daughter of Maacah and Amnon was the son of Ahinoam.  Amnon was sick over his half-sister, wanting to marry her, but knowing that he could not because they are related, and Levitical law forbids it.  His friend is shrewd and concocts a scheme for Amnon to take advantage of Tamar.  He claims to be sick and requests that she be the one to feed him.  While she is in his bed chamber, he forces himself upon her.  Immediately after the heinous offense, Amnon sees her as an object of scorn and hates her.  

     

    Absalom, Tamar’s full brother, is understandably mad.  He murders Amnon and goes to Geshur.  He remains there for three years.  Absalom is eventually restored to David.  However, he is not content with this.  Instead, he launches a revolt.  The revolt is relatively clandestine at first.  He simply sits outside the gate.  Anytime anyone came to make a grievance to the king, Absalom intercepted them.  He flattered them by saying that the grievance was right and good, but David would not hear it because he did not have enough personnel.  Then Absalom bemoaned the fact that he was not judge.  This bolstered his popularity among the other tribes of Israel.  He gains such popularity that one of his trusted advisors, Ahithophel, becomes one of Absalom’s coconspirators.  David prays to The LORD that Ahithophel’s counsel becomes foolishness.  This is a prayer of great faith because Ahithophel ‘s advice was taken like it was advice directly from God.

     

    April 8:  2 Samuel 16-18

     

    Mephibosheth’s servant Ziba takes provisions to David and his troops.  David asks where Mephibosheth is.  Ziba responds that he has stayed behind because he believes the kingdom is being restored to his family.  As a result, David gives Ziba Mephibosheth’s possessions.  David had done something nice for Mephibosheth, but his kindness was abused.  

     

    Absalom, one of David’s sons, plots against the king with some advisers.  The plan is to go into battle with David while he is confused.  Their belief is that David will be easily defeated since he is already tired from previous battles.  David catches wind of Absalom’s plan and makes his troops ready.  He was going to go into battle with the troops, but they ask him to stay behind.  They are concerned for his safety and want to preserve his life.  David agrees to stay behind. 

     

    The battle is rough.  There are 20,000 casualties.  Absalom rides along on his mule and gets his head caught in a tree.  The mule keeps moving and he is suspended in the tree.  An observer approaches Joab and tells him what he has seen.  Joab asks him why he did not kill him there.  The witness answers that he would not dare raise his hand against the king’s son. Joab has no such scruples and plunges three spears into Absalom’s heart while he hangs defenseless.  

     

    Ahimaaz asks for permission to go and tell the king the good news.  Joab responds that he will not be taking good news since the king’s son is dead.  David has won the victory, but at the cost of his son.  Chapter 18 closes with David working through his grief.  When it comes to grief, there are five stages, 1. Denial, 2. Anger, 3. Bargaining, 4. Depression/sadness, 5. Acceptance.  David is on the bargaining stage of his grief. 

     

    April 9:  2 Samuel 19-21

     

    The troops return in silence.  Rather than celebrate the victory over the traitor Absalom, they return as if they had lost the battle.  David covered his face and went into the city where he continued to mourn and weep.  Joab realizes this is a serious problem.  The troops put their lives on the line for David, but rather than giving them accolade for their devotion, he is mourning the traitor.  If David continued in this, it would lead to a serious public relations problem.  Since the troops see that David cares more for his enemy than he does them, why would they want to march into battle for him ever again?  Joab did the hard work of correcting the head person in charge for his failures.  I am certain that it was terrifying, but it needed to be done. 

     

    David’s kingdom is restored, which leads to an uprising from Bichri the Benjaminite.  He blows the ram’s horn and proclaims “we have no portion in David, no inheritance in Jesse’s son.  Each man to his tent.” The men of Israel desert David.  David orders Amasa, the army’s new leader, to gather the troops.  While they are at the great stone of Gibeon, Joab approaches him.  Joab had a sword in his belt.  As Joab approaches Amasa, the sword falls out.  Joab asks how he is and grabs his beard to give a greeting.  Amasa was not on guard since everything seems friendly.  Joab runs the sword into Amasa’s stomach.  His intestines spill out on the ground.  

     

    The kingdom is hit with a three-year famine.  David asks The LORD why and he receives the response it is from the bloodshed of Saul and his family.  The Gibeonites approach David and he asks what he can do for them.  They respond that they cannot kill anyone in Israel, and they are not asking for money.  Instead, they ask that seven of Saul’s male descendants be given to them so they can execute them in Gibeah.  David agrees to hand them over.  He spares Mephibosheth because he made an oath with him earlier.  

     

    After a period of silence, the Philistines wage war against the Israelites again.  The Philistines have giants that are ready to kill David and his descendants.  The giants are killed by David’s soldiers.  

     

    April 10: 2 Samuel 22-24

     

    David composes a song because of God’s deliverance from his enemies.  God has brought him through some very dark times and now he rests unopposed as king.  He proclaims that God is his rock and fortress.  He is his Savior, rescuing him from violence.  David has a very appropriate response to God’s work in his life.  Are we quick to give praise when God delivers us out of our problems?  

     

    We read of the exploits of David’s warriors.  The warriors were David’s elite fighting men.  The list includes three famous heroes that changed the course of battle and the thirty warriors that served in a special detachment.  

     

    Sadly, The LORD’s anger burns against Israel.  We are not told what sin caused His wrath.  David orders his people to count the people of Israel and Judah.  From our vantage, we probably wonder what was so wrong with this.  The issue is that David has them counting all of these people because he is showing that he has faith and trust in his army.  His trust should have been in The LORD.  The LORD is the One that delivered David through his battles.  God allowed David, the youngest son of his father to slay the giant Goliath and become king over Israel.  God has the power and that is where David’s trust should have been.  I hope and pray that our trust is in God alone.  He is strong to save and will deliver us from our enemies. 

     

    April 11:  1 Kings 1-2

     

    David was a successful king and Israel had great victory under his leadership.  As he got near the end of his life, Abishag tended to him and kept him warm at night.  Unfortunately, there was division in the land.  David had several sons.  Even though David had promised the kingdom to Solomon, Bathsheba’s son, Adonijah claims the throne for himself.  Nathan gets word to Bathsheba that Adonijah has appointed himself king and the two develop a plan to inform David.  When David hears what Adonijah has done, he confirms Solomon as king.  

     

    There is some fear now that Adonijah might be killed because of his uprising, but Solomon promises to keep him alive as long as he is an upright man.  David draws nearer to death and gives his parting instructions to Solomon.  After David passes away, Adonijah goes to Bathsheba with what seems like a relatively innocent request.  Since he is no longer going to be king, he asks that Abishag be given to him as a wife.  When Bathsheba brings this up to Solomon, he is incensed and vows to destroy Adonijah.  The request was one final attempt to gain the throne for himself.  Abishag had belonged to David while he was still alive.  By taking her as wife, it would give Adonijah a claim to the throne.  In those days, it was common for a conquering king to take the wives of the defeated king as a mark that he was in charge.  Adonijah is doing the same thing here.  Solomon is wise enough to see through the ruse.  

     

    April 12:  1 Kings 3-5

     

    Solomon marries Pharaoh’s daughter to ensure an alliance with Egypt.  At the time, there is no temple, so people make sacrifices on the high places.  Solomon habitually makes sacrifice on the high place in Gibeon.  The LORD appears to Solomon and asks what He should give Solomon.  Rather than ask for riches and a long life, Solomon asks for wisdom in leading the people.  This request pleases The LORD, so He gives the wisdom to Solomon along with riches and a long life.  

     

    His wisdom is put to the test when two women approach him about a heated custody issue.  Both women claim to be the mother of a baby.  Solomon tells his men to cut the child in two so that they both can have a piece of the child.  The actual mother asks Solomon to just give the child to the other woman.  Her worry for the child convinces Solomon that she is the mother.  

    Solomon’s wisdom is known far and wide and many come to hear his wisdom.  Hiram, the king of Tyre sent his servants to Solomon after his anointing as king.  Hiram was friendly with David, so it made sense to keep the political alliance alive.  Solomon sent word back to Hiram that his father was unable to build a temple for The LORD.  Now that he is king, Solomon will build the temple.  Hiram and Solomon make an exchange.  Hiram will give Solomon cedar from Lebanon and Solomon will give Hiram oil and wheat.  Solomon brings on forced labor to ensure his construction projects are accomplished.  

     

    April 13:  1 Kings 6-7

     

    After 480 years from Israel’s freedom from Egypt, and in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign, work finally begins on the temple.  The temple was 90 feet long, 30 feet wide, and 45 feet high.  The word of The LORD came to Solomon.  If Solomon walks in God’s ways, observes His ordnances, and keeps His commands, God will fulfill the promise He made to David.  God says He will live among the Israelites and not abandon them.  

     

    Solomon also constructed an ornate palace.  It took 13 years to complete! 

     

    April 14:  1 Kings 8-9

     

    Solomon assembles the elders of Israel, all the tribal heads, and all the ancestral leaders of the Israelites to dedicate the temple.  Countless sheep and cattle were sacrificed at the dedication.  The priests brought the ark of the Lord, the tent of meeting, and the holy utensils into the inner sanctuary of the temple.  The poles of the ark were so long that their ends were seen from the holy place in front of the inner sanctuary.  At the time of placing these items, we learn that only the two stone tablets containing the Ten Commandments are in the ark.  Prior to this, the ark also contained a sample of manna and Aaron’s staff.  Both items were lost.  Many years ago, I went to Istanbul (formerly Constantinople).  While we were visiting the Sultan’s quarters, we found a display of Muslim artifacts on display.  Of the items up for viewing was a sample of “manna”, “Aaron’s staff”, and “Moses’s staff”.  I use quotations because they were clearly not the authentic items.  

     

    When the priests clear out of the inner sanctuary, aka the holy of holies, the glory of The LORD filled the temple.  

     

    The LORD again appears to Solomon and promises that He will be with him as long as he follows God’s statutes and ways.  If Solomon’s sons go a different way, serving other gods and worshipping them, then he will cut Israel off from the land He promised them.  He will reject the temple and the Israelites will become an object of scorn.  Sadly, Solomon and his sons will fall into pagan practices later.  The peace and unity they enjoy now will be destroyed after Solomon’s reign. 


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  • April 14:  1 Kings 8-9

     

    Solomon assembles the elders of Israel, all the tribal heads, and all the ancestral leaders of the Israelites to dedicate the temple.  Countless sheep and cattle were sacrificed at the dedication.  The priests brought the ark of the Lord, the tent of meeting, and the holy utensils into the inner sanctuary of the temple.  The poles of the ark were so long that their ends were seen from the holy place in front of the inner sanctuary.  At the time of placing these items, we learn that only the two stone tablets containing the Ten Commandments are in the ark.  Prior to this, the ark also contained a sample of manna and Aaron’s staff.  Both items were lost.  Many years ago, I went to Istanbul (formerly Constantinople).  While we were visiting the Sultan’s quarters, we found a display of Muslim artifacts on display.  Of the items up for viewing was a sample of “manna”, “Aaron’s staff”, and “Moses’s staff”.  I use quotations because they were clearly not the authentic items.  

     

    When the priests clear out of the inner sanctuary, aka the holy of holies, the glory of The LORD filled the temple.  

     

    The LORD again appears to Solomon and promises that He will be with him as long as he follows God’s statutes and ways.  If Solomon’s sons go a different way, serving other gods and worshipping them, then he will cut Israel off from the land He promised them.  He will reject the temple and the Israelites will become an object of scorn.  Sadly, Solomon and his sons will fall into pagan practices later.  The peace and unity they enjoy now will be destroyed after Solomon’s reign. 

     

    April 15: 1 Kings 10-11 

     

    Solomon receives the Queen of Sheba as a visitor.  She had heard tales of his knowledge and wealth, but she did not believe it.  She went on a fact-finding mission and found that Solomon was even more knowledgeable and wealthy than the reports she had heard!  She gave him four and a half tons of gold, along with an abundance of almug wood and spices.  The queen departs to her native land.  

     

    The kingdom of Solomon is thriving.  It has a lot of wealth.  There is so much treasure in the land that there is silver is as common as stone.  Solomon has hammered gold placed on 200 large shields and 300 small shields.  Solomon’s kingdom is the richest.  The kingdom is doing very well, and their notoriety is known far and wide!  What could possibly go wrong?

     

    Sadly, Solomon is drawn away from The LORD by his many wives.  He had 700 wives and 300 concubines.  As he got older, these women enticed him to worship Ashtoreth and Milcom.  Solomon did what was evil in The LORD’s sight unlike his father David.  David certainly did evil things in God’s sight.  There was the entire issue with Bathsheba.  The difference is that David was repentant of his sin.  Solomon is not.  He continues with his sinfulness.

     

    Jeroboam, a capable leader, is in charge of Solomon’s work force.  He is confronted by the prophet Ahijah.  The prophet tears his cloak into 12 pieces and hands 10 to Jeroboam.  He explains that God is going to divide the kingdom.  Ten of the tribes will go to Jeroboam and two will remain with Solomon.  The reason the two remain with Solomon is because of the covenant God had made with David.  Even in Solomon’s unfaithfulness, God is still faithful to His promise. 

     

    April 16: 1 Kings 12-14

     

    Solomon passes away and his son Rehoboam takes over.  Rehoboam asks the elders what he should do to lead the people.  The elders explains that Solomon had worked his people very hard.  They suggest that he lighten the load of the people.  This was sound advice.  These men had been around and seen a lot.  When an older person gives advice, it typically behooves us to follow it since the elder has experience.  Rehoboam does not like this advice, though, so he goes to another group to get the advice he wants.  His friends tell him to double down on the cruelty.  Solomon was harsh with them, so they explain he should be even more harsh with the people.  That’s exactly what Rehoboam does.  

     

    Jeroboam and the workers approach Rehoboam.  The king answers them harshly.  The Israelites that lived outside of Judah ask what portion they have in David.  Their loyalty now lies with Jeroboam.  This marks the split of the kingdom.

     

    Unfortunately, Jeroboam is not faithful to God either.  He is concerned that the people in his kingdom will go to the city of David to make their sacrifices since the temple is located in Jerusalem.  To prevent their loyalty shifting to Rehoboam and the kingdom of David, he decides to make two golden calves.  Jeroboam tells the people that it is too difficult for them to travel to Jerusalem.  He then tells them the same thing Aaron did when he made the golden calf in Exodus, “Israel, here is your God who brought you out of Egypt.”  I guess Jeroboam did not remember the lessons of the past! 

     

    A man of God pronounces judgment against Jeroboam.  He cries out that one day a son from the house of David will sacrifice the priest of the high places on the altar.  Jeroboam hears about this proclamation and demands the man be arrested.  However, his hand withers when he gives the command, which prompts a request that the man plead with God on his behalf.  Jeroboam reigns over Israel (the northern kingdom) for 22 years. 

     

    Rehoboam reigned in Judah (the southern kingdom) reigned for 17 years.  He led the people into sin and provoked God to jealous anger. In the fifth year of his reign, the king of Egypt waged war against Jerusalem and seized the treasuries of the Lord’s temple and palace.  To replace the gold shields that had been taken, Rehoboam has bronze shields made, signifying the kingdom’s degradation. 

     

    April 17: 1 Kings 15-17

     

    Abijam becomes king over Judah, the southern kingdom.  He only reigns for three years.  He walked in the sinful ways of his father.  Asa took the leadership from him.  Asa did what was right in God’s eyes.  He removed the cult prostitutes and removed all of the idols.  

     

    Nadab take the throne in Israel after Jeroboam dies.  He was only king for two years.  He did what was evil in God’s sight and followed his father’s example.  Nadab is struck down by Baasha who then takes the throne for himself.  Baasha killed the entire house of Jeroboam, ensuring that none of Jeroboams heirs could make a claim on the throne.  Baasha too does what is evil in God’s sight and followed Jeroboam’s example.  The word of the LORD comes against Baasha.  God will sweep away Baasha and his house because of the evil he has done. 

     

    Elah becomes king of Israel.  His servant Zimri conspires against him.  While Elah is drunk, Zimri strikes him down and takes the throne.  Zimri then has the entire house of Baasha slaughtered.  Zimri is on the throne for only seven days.  The troops learn that Zimri had conspired against Elah, which leads to them putting Omri on the throne.  

     

    Omri reigns 12 years.  He too does what is evil in The LORD’s sight.  In fact, he did more evil than his predecessors!  Ahab becomes king after Omri dies.  

     

    Elijah the Tishbite pronounces famine to Asa, the king of Judah.  There will be no dew or rain.  After proclaiming this the LORD directs Elijah to the Wadi Cherith where it enters the Jordan.  From there, he follows God’s lead to Zarephath where he encounters a widow and her son.  The son gets sick and dies.  Elijah cries out to God to save the boy.  God listens to Elijah’s voice and the son is brought back to life. 

     

    April 18: 1 Kings 18-20

     

    God directs Elijah to present himself to Ahab because He is going to send rain.  Elijah is a wanted man at this point.  He approaches Obadiah and tells him to let Ahab know he is there.  Obadiah responds with fear.  If he brings the news of Elijah being in the kingdom, he is afraid he will be put to death.  When Ahab and Elijah meet up, Ahab wants to know why Elijah has destroyed the land.  Elijah responds that it is not he that has destroyed the land, but Ahab.  Ahab’s refusal to follow God’s law has led to the problems the kingdom is having. 

     

    Elijah tells Ahab to summon the 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah at Mount Carmel.  They are going to have a competition to see who follows the one true God.  Whoever answers by fire is the true God.  The prophets of Baal construct an altar and place a sacrifice on it.  Then they wait. And they wait.  They continue waiting, but in their frustration, they begin to scream out and wail because Baal is not answering them with fire.  Instead, the altar remains, untouched.  Elijah begins to poke fun at them, telling them to yell louder so that Baal can hear them.  He also indicates they might need to yell louder because he might “be busy” a euphemism for using the bathroom.  

     

    Elijah takes builds his altar, places his sacrifice on it, and wets the altar so that it is saturated with water.  He prays to God Almighty and He answers with fire.  Elijah orders that the prophets of Baal be seized.  They are carried down to the Wadi Kishon where he slaughters them all.  

    Ahab is upset by this and goes to tell Jezebel.  Jezebel sends word to Elijah, promising to kill him.  Elijah becomes afraid and flees for his life.  Elijah is exhausted and hungry as he flees.  He prays to God that he would die.  An angel approaches him and tells him to get up and eat.  Elijah ate the bread that God provided, had something to drink, and went back to sleep.  When he wakes up, he feels a lot better.  Sometimes things in our life will make us destitute.  Do not underestimate the power of some food, water, and a good nap!  

     

    Ben-hadad, king of Aram assembles his army against Israel.  Even though the king of Israel knows that this army is stronger than the one he has, God promises that Israel will be victorious.  They are not guaranteed the victory because of anything they have done, but because of what the people of Aram had done.    

     

    April 19: 1 Kings 21-22

     

    Time passes and Ahab decides that he wants a vineyard that belongs to Naboth so that he can make it a vegetable garden.  He offers Naboth better land for a vineyard or the value of it in silver.  Naboth declines.  Ahab is upset by this and throws a bit of a hissy fit in front of his wife.  He refuses to eat because he is so upset about not getting this land.  Jezebel asks why he did not just exercise his right as king to forcibly take the land.  She tells him to eat and be happy because she is going to get that vineyard for him.  Jezebel sends letters in Ahab’s name with his seal on them.  The letters directed the elders to proclaim a fast and seat Naboth at the head of the people.  Two wicked men are to be positioned opposite of him to bring accusations against him.  There had to be two witnesses because they were going to use the testimony to execute Naboth by stoning.  This does beg the question why he did not just take the land since he was king anyway.  It seems like that would have been the easier thing to do rather than have this contrived plot to have him stoned. 

     

    Ahab and Jezebel’s deceit catch up with them.  God is not happy with them and proclaims that all of Ahab’s males will be eliminated.  As for Jezebel, the dogs will eat her in the plot of land at Jezreel.  Ahab forms an alliance with Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah.  They go up to Ramoth- gilead.  Ahab tells Jehoshaphat that he will disguise himself, while Jehoshaphat goes into battle in his royal garments.  Ahab assumed that this would protect him while all of the shots would be launched toward Jehoshaphat.  A man takes his bow and without aiming, sends an arrow that pierces through the joints of Ahab’s armor.  He is taken out of the battle.  While his chariot is being washed, the dogs lick up his blood and the prostitutes bathe in it, just as The LORD had spoken.

     

    April 20: 2 Kings 1-3  

     

    Moab rebels against Israel after Ahab’s death.  Ahaziah had fallen through a latticed window of his upper room and was injured.  He sent his messengers to ask the god of Ekron if he will recover.  Meanwhile, God sends Elijah to intercept these messengers to ask them if there is no God in Israel and that is why they are asking the god of Ekron.  Elijah confronts them, just as he is directed, and lets them know that Ahaziah will surely die because he has abandoned the One true God.  

     

    Elijah is on in his years and it is time for him to pass.  Elisha, his relief, asks that he be given two shares of his spirit.  Elijah states that what he has asked for is difficult.  He explains that if Elisha sees him being taken, then he will have it. As the two walk along, a chariot of fire suddenly appears and carries Elijah off.  

     

    Elisha takes the mantle that had fallen off Elijah.  He is now recognized by the people as having the power of Elijah on him.  

     

    Ahab’s son Joram becomes king of Israel.  He did what was evil in God’s sight.  However, he was not as bad as his mother and father.  He removed the sacred pillar of Baal that his father had made.  However, he clung to the sins of Jeroboam.  

     

    April 21: 2 Kings 4-5

     

    A woman cries out to Elisha that her husband has died, and she has no way to support herself.  She is worried because the creditor is on his way to take her children away as slaves.  Elisha tells her to gather as many empty containers as she can from her neighbors.  She is to fill all of the containers with the oil she has in a jar at her home.  The woman is obedient.  She pours the oil until all of the containers she borrowed are full.  From there, she sells the oil to pay off her debt.  

     

    Elisha goes to Shunem where he is persuaded by a prominent woman to have some food.  She and her husband make a little room upstairs for him so that anytime he comes to town, he has a place to stay.  One day he came and stopped to lie down in the upper room.  He ordered the attendant to call the Shunammite woman.  Her husband is old and she has no son, so Elisha informs her that she will have a son within the year.  True to his word, The LORD delivers a son to the woman.  The child grows, but one day he dies.  The Shunammite woman has a servant go and retrieve Elisha to come help.  Elisha arrives and prays for the boy.  He is brought back to life.  

     

    Naaman, a great military leader, is suffering from a skin disease.  A young girl that serves Naaman’s wife tells her that they should summon the man of God because he can cure the disease.  Naaman approaches Elisha about his skin disease.  Elisha tells him to wash seven times in the Jordan.  If he does this, his flesh will be restored.  Naaman is angry when he hears this.  He figures he can wash in any river and be clean.  His servants talk some sense into him and encourage him to wash in the Jordan.  He follows the directions and is healed.  Naaman is so pleased to be healed that he takes a gift to Elisha.  Elisha refuses to accept it.  Naaman now believes in Yahweh and vows to only offer sacrifices to Him. 


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  • April 21: 2 Kings 4-5


    A woman cries out to Elisha that her husband has died, and she has no way to support herself. She is worried because the creditor is on his way to take her children away as slaves. Elisha tells her to gather as many empty containers as she can from her neighbors. She is to fill all of the containers with the oil she has in a jar at her home. The woman is obedient. She pours the oil until all of the containers she borrowed are full. From there, she sells the oil to pay off her debt. 

    Elisha goes to Shunem where he is persuaded by a prominent woman to have some food. She and her husband make a little room upstairs for him so that anytime he comes to town, he has a place to stay. One day he came and stopped to lie down in the upper room. He ordered the attendant to call the Shunammite woman. Her husband is old and she has no son, so Elisha informs her that she will have a son within the year. True to his word, The LORD delivers a son to the woman. The child grows, but one day he dies. The Shunammite woman has a servant go and retrieve Elisha to come help. Elisha arrives and prays for the boy. He is brought back to life. 


    Naaman, a great military leader, is suffering from a skin disease. A young girl that serves Naaman’s wife tells her that they should summon the man of God because he can cure the disease. Naaman approaches Elisha about his skin disease. Elisha tells him to wash seven times in the Jordan. If he does this, his flesh will be restored. Naaman is angry when he hears this. He figures he can wash in any river and be clean. His servants talk some sense into him and encourage him to wash in the Jordan. He follows the directions and is healed. Naaman is so pleased to be healed that he takes a gift to Elisha. Elisha refuses to accept it. Naaman now believes in Yahweh and vows to only offer sacrifices to Him. 


    April 22: 2 Kings 6- 8

     

    Elisha lived among the prophets.  They were fairly mobile and were in the habit of moving when the community got too crowded.  Elisha agrees that they should move further down the Jordan.  They go and begin building a community, but one of the workers winds up losing his axe head in the river.  The man approaches Elisha for help since the axe did not belong to him.  Elisha cuts a stick and throws it in the water where the axe head fell in.  The iron axe head floated to the top.

     

    Things in the kingdom are terrible.  The king is walking one day when he is approached by a woman asking for help.  She and another woman had resulted to cannibalism.  They killed and ate the woman’s son one day with the intent to eat the other son the next day.  However, the other woman had hidden her son away.  The king responds appropriately with moral revulsion.  However, he puts the blame on the wrong person.  He blames Elisha and God for the kingdom’s problems, not his own sin.    

     

    Elisha makes a proclamation that food will be available at bargain prices.  Later that day, four diseased men go to the Aramean camp and find that it is empty.  They feed themselves and gather plunder.  Then they bring news of victory to the king.  The Arameans are no longer there.  The king sends scouts to verify.  

     

    In Damascus, Elisha is asked about Ben-hadad, the king of Aram.  Hazael, his servant, is sent to ask Elisha whether the king will recover or not.  Elisha informs him that the king will recover, but that he is sure to die.  Then Elisha weeps because he sees that Hazael will take the throne and he will be cruel to the people of Israel.  When Hazael learns that he is going to become king, he hurries home and kills the king by suffocating him.  

     

    In Judah, Jehoram becomes king at the age of 32.  During his reign Edom rebels against Israel. Jehoram dies and Ahaziah becomes king in his place.  He reigns for only one year. 

     

    April 23: 2 Kings 9-11

     

    Elisha sends a messenger to Jehu to anoint him as king over Israel.  He will take the kingdom by force to avenge the blood shed by the hand of Jezebel.  Jehu travels to Jezreel where he finds Joram.  Joram asks if he comes in peace.  Jehu simply asks how there can be peace as long as there is so much prostitution and witchcraft from his mother.  Jehu kills him.  When Ahaziah, king of Judah, sees what happened, he flees.  However, Jehu kills him as well.  

     

    Upon Jehu’s arrival at Jezreel, Jezebel paints her eyes and adorns her head.  She looks out the window and asks if he comes in peace.  Jehu responds by asking who is on his side and then tells the eunuchs attending Jezebel to throw her down.  They throw her down and her blood splattered on the wall.  Because she is a king’s daughter, the decision is made to give her proper burial rites.  However, when they go to retrieve her body, they find that it has been consumed by dogs. Only her head, hands, and feet remain. 

     

    Jehu continues on his rampage.  Ahab has 70 sons.  Rather than try to fight them all on his own, he sends letters to the guardians of Ahab’s sons.  The letter tells them to take the most qualified son, put him on the throne, and fight for their master’s house.  The servants are too afraid to do anything.  They send word back to Jehu that they will support him, but they will not make anyone king.  Jehu responds that if they are on his side, then they will bring him the heads of their master’s sons in Jezreel.  He offers them a difficult choice, either install a king and fight for him, or kill all of Ahab’s sons and grandsons.  The people choose to kill the sons and send their heads in baskets back to Jehu. 

     

    From there Jehu has the Baal worshipers killed.  Jehu deceives them by saying that he will follow Baal even more than Ahab.  He has them gather all the servants, prophets, and priests of Baal.  When they all gather in the temple of Baal, they verify that no servants of The LORD are in the temple.  Jehu stations 80 men outside the temple and has his guards and officers kill all of the people in the temple.  

     

    Athalia, the mother of Ahaziah, was introduced back in 2 Kings 8:26 as Omri’s granddaughter.  She seeks to rule the kingdom and kills all of the males in the royal house, attempting to get rid of any legitimate Davidic heirs.  However, Joash was hidden by Jehosheba in the LORD’s temple for six years.  Athalia is overthrown.  Joehoiada the priest makes a covenant between the LORD, the king, and the people. The temple of Baal is torn down. Its altars and images are broken to pieces and the priest of Baal is killed at the altar. 

    April 24: 2 Kings 12-14

     

    Joash becomes king at the age of seven.  He did what is right in the LORD’s sight, but the high places remain, and people continue to make sacrifice and burn incense there.  Joash orders the priests to repair whatever damage they find to the temple.

     

    Hazael, the king of Aram, marches against Gath and captures it.  His intent is to attack Jerusalem afterwards.  To placate the Aramean king, Joash sends all the consecrated items and all the gold found in the treasuries of the LORD’s temple and the king’s palace and sends them to Hazael. Hazael withdraws.  Joash is assassinated by his servants.

     

    Jehoahaz becomes king in Israel.  He does what is evil in God’s sight and follows the sins that Jeroboam had caused Israel to commit.  He dies and his son Jehoash becomes king. He too does what is evil in The LORD’s sight. 

     

    Elisha becomes sick.  On his deathbed, he proclaims to Jehoash that he will have victory of Aram.  Hazael, king of Aram, dies and his son Ben-hadad takes his place.  Jehoash takes back all of the cities that Hazael had seiged during his reign.  

     

    Amaziah becomes king of Judah at the age of 25.  HE did what was right in God’s sight, but not like David, the good king.  Instead, he did what his father did.  He was still good but allowed the high places to remain.  Amaziah kills the servants that assassinated his father.  Amaziah kills 10,000 Edomites.  Jehoash, king of Israel sends word to Amaziah warning him that he has become over confident. He encourages Amaziah to stay home and enjoy his glory.  Amaziah does not listen, so Jehoash advanced.  Judah is routed.  Jehoash breaks down 200 yards of wall from the Ephraim Gate to the Corner Gate and takes all the gold, silver, and articles found in the LORD’s temple and in the treasuries of the king’s palace. 

     

    April 25: 2 Kings 15-17

     

    Azariah becomes king of Judah at the age of 16.  He reigns for 52 years.  He too does what is right in God’s sight, but continues to allow the high places to remain.  Azariah is afflicted with a serious skin disease by the LORD.  As a result, Azariah lives in a separate house while his son Jotham governed the people.  Azariah dies and Jotham becomes king.

     

    Zechariah becomes king of Israel.  His reign lasts for six months.  He is a bad king and does what is evil in God’s sight. Zechariah was struck down publicly by Shallum.  Shallum then takes the throne.  He reigned in Samaria for one month.  His reign was abruptly ended by Menahem, who killed him and proceeds to take the throne.  Menahem reigns for ten years.  He too does what is evil in God’s sight.  The king of Assyria invades the land.  Menahem gives him 75,000 pounds of silver for the Assyrian king’s support.  Menahem also takes 20 ounces of silver from the wealthy men to give to the king of Assyria.  

     

    Pekahiah becomes king after Menahem.  He also does what is evil in The LORD’s sight.  His officer, Pekah son of Remaliah, conspires against him and strikes him down.  Pekah becomes king and does what is evil in God’s sight.  During his reign, the Assyrians take control over several cities and deport the people to Assyria.  

     

    Jotham becomes king of Judah. He does what is right in God’s sight.  He builds the Upper Gate of the LORD’s temple.  He dies and Ahaz takes his place.  Ahaz does NOT do what was right in the sight of The LORD.  He even sacrifices his children to the false gods by making them walk through fire.  Ahaz goes even further by having Uriah the priest to construct an altar fashioned after the one in Damascus.  Ahaz then orders Uriah to make all sacrifices on that altar.  Uriah the priest obeys.  At some point, Uriah should have stood up for The LORD, but he is complicit in the sins of the king.  

     

    Hoshea takes the throne in Israel.  He is also an evil king.  During his reign the Assyrians attack.  Hoshea becomes the king of Assyria’s vassal and pays tribute money to the king.  This does not placate the Assyrian king since he discovers that Hoshea had been paying money out to the king of Egypt previously.  In Hoshea’s ninth year as king, Samaria falls and the Israelites are deported to Assyria. Israel is fallen.  It is not because their enemies were stronger or better than them.  They fall because they did not obey God and follow His commands.  They spent their times chasing down the foreign gods and worshiping them. 

     

    April 26: 2 Kings 18-19

     

    Hezekiah becomes king of Judah at the age of 25.  His reign will. Last 29 years.  Hezekiah is a good king and does what is right in God’s sight just as David had done.  He removed the high places, destroyed the sacred pillars, and cut down the Asherah poles.  He even went as far as smashing up the bronze snake that Moses had made.  The bronze snake was not a bad thing.  God had ordered Moses to make it.  It should have been a wonderful relic to remind the people of Judah the deliverance God gave them during the Exodus.  However, it became an object of worship.  As believers, we must ensure that we worship God and God alone!

     

    Hezekiah’s faith ensures that Judah prospers.  Israel is fallen and Sennacherib, the king of Assyria sets his sites on Judah and attacks all its fortified cities.  Hezekiah sends word to Sennacherib promising that he will pay whatever ransom so that he will withdraw.  Hezekiah begins to loot from the LORD’s temple and the king’s palace to pay the king of Assyria. 

     

    Sennacherib sends the Rabshakeh along with a giant army to the aqueduct of the upper pool, located close to the road to Fuller’s Field.  They summon the king, but Eliakim comes out to them.  The Rabshakeh then proceeds to argue that they should not rely on Egypt because they are weak.  That statement was true.  The Rabshakeh mistakenly thinks that God is mad at Hezekiah for removing the high places and altars.  He claims that God has sent them to punish the people of Judah.  He asks if God will deliver Jerusalem.  The people remain silent.  

     

    When Hezekiah learns about this interaction, he tears his clothes and puts on sackcloth as a sign of mourning.  He sends Eliakim to Isaiah.  Isaiah tells them not to be afraid because the king of Assyria has blasphemed God.  God is going to put a spirit on him that makes him go back where he came from. 

     

    Undeterred, the Rabshakeh makes a final threat.  He asks where the other kings of the other nations are.  The answer, of course, is that they have all been destroyed by Assyria.  When Hezekiah receives this threat, he prays to God about it.  He is up against a seemingly undefeatable nation.  When we are up against things out of our control and up against things that are bigger than us, we can take those concerns to God.  As believers, we don’t have to tell God how big our challenge is.  Instead, we can tell the challenge how big our God is! 

     

    April 27: 2 Kings 20-22

     

    Isaiah tells Hezekiah to get his affairs in order.  Hezekiah is terminally ill.  Hezekiah turns and prays to God that He would remember all that he had done to be faithful to God.  The LORD tells Isaiah to tell Hezekiah He has heard his prayer and will add 15 years to his life.  The question is: Did God change His mind or was that His plan all along? 

     

    Hezekiah, as good as he is, makes a terrible blunder.  He receives Babylonian travelers.  He shows them everything that they have in the treasure house.  They saw all the spices, the gold, the silver, precious oil, the armory.  Hezekiah showed all that he had.  Isaiah confronts him about this, asking what he has done.  Isaiah informs him he has made a grave mistake, and his descendants will pay dearly for it.  He will have peace during his time.  Hezekiah responds that what he has heard is good because it means he will not have any trouble.  Rather than look to the future, Hezekiah is only concerned about the here and now. 

     

    Manasseh takes over as king upon Hezekiah’s death.  He is 12 years old and reigns 55 years.  This king does what is evil in God’s sight.  He rebuilds the high places, puts the Asherah poles back up.  He also had altars to the whole heavenly host built in the courtyards of The LORD’s temple, an act detestable to God.  Manasseh went so far as to sacrifice his children by making them walk through the fire. God promises judgment and disaster upon Judah so fierce that everyone who hears about it will shudder.  

     

    Manasseh dies and Amon takes over as king.  He was just as bad as Manasseh.  His servants conspired against him and killed him.  Josiah takes over the throne at the age of eight and reigns 31 years.  Josiah repairs the temple.  During the construction time, the high priest Hilkiah finds the book of the law.  Josiah hears the words of the law and tears his clothes.  He knows that they have kindled God’s wrath against them because their ancestors have not followed God’s word.  

     

    April 28: 2 Kings 23-25

     

    Josiah sends messengers to gather the elders of Jerusalem and Judah.  The king takes them into the LORD’s temple and reads the book of the law to them.  Josiah then makes a covenant to follow the LORD and to keep His commands, decrees, and statues with all of his mind and heart.  All the people in attendance agree to this covenant. 

     

    From there, Josiah begins to make reforms.  He orders all the items built for Baal, Asherah, and the whole heavenly host to be brought out of the LORD’s temple.  He destroyed the Topheth, an altar that served Baal, so that no one could sacrifice their child on it.  Josiah makes a great effort in stamping out the worship of pagan deities.  He also brings back the observation of Passover, a meal that God had ordered Moses and the Israelites to observe annually.  Despite all their efforts it is not enough to quench God’s fury.  Manasseh did some truly detestable and wicked things.  Unfortunately, the people of Judah will pay for it.  

     

    Josiah passes away and Jehoahaz takes the reign for three months. Pharaoh Neco imprisoned him at Riblah.  Neco makes Eliakim, son of Josiah king and changes his name to Jehoiakim.  Jehoiakim reigns for 11 years.  

     

    During Jehoiakim’s reign, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, attacked.  Jehoiakim becomes Nebuchadnezzar’s vassal for three years.  He rebels against Babylon, but the LORD Chaldean, Aramean, Moabite, and Ammonite raiders against him.  Jehoiakim dies and Jehoiachin takes over for three months.  

     

    The servants of Nebuchadnezzar march up against them.  They begin deporting people to Babylon.  Zedekiah becomes king.  Zedekiah rebels against Babylon.  So Nebuchadnezzar marches against Judah in the ninth year of Zedekiah’s reign.  Jerusalem is destroyed.  The LORD’s temple is burned along with the king’s palace.  The walls surrounding Jerusalem are torn down, all of the things in the temple are either destroyed or taken as plunder. The majority of the people are exiled to Babylon.  For the few that are left behind, Nebuchadnezzar appoints Gedaliah to govern over them.  Ishmael, son of Nethaniah, enters the land and kill the Judeans and Chaldeans that were with Gedaliah.  All the people, from youngest to oldest flee to Egypt.  Both Israel and Judah are no more.


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  • April 28: 2 Kings 23-25.

     

    Josiah sends messengers to gather the elders of Jerusalem and Judah. The king takes them into the LORD’s temple and reads the book of the law to them. Josiah then makes a covenant to follow the LORD and to keep His commands, decrees, and statues with all of his mind and heart. All the people in attendance agree to this covenant.

     

    From there, Josiah begins to make reforms. He orders all the items built for Baal, Asherah, and the whole heavenly host to be brought out of the LORD’s temple. He destroyed the Topheth, an altar that served Baal, so that no one could sacrifice their child on it. Josiah makes a great effort in stamping out the worship of pagan deities. He also brings back the observation of Passover, a meal that God had ordered Moses and the Israelites to observe annually. Despite all their efforts it is not enough to quench God’s fury. Manasseh did some truly detestable and wicked things. Unfortunately, the people of Judah will pay for it.

     

    Josiah passes away and Jehoahaz takes the reign for three months. Pharaoh Neco imprisoned him at Riblah. Neco makes Eliakim, son of Josiah king and changes his name to Jehoiakim. Jehoiakim reigns for 11 years.

     

    During Jehoiakim’s reign, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, attacked. Jehoiakim becomes Nebuchadnezzar’s vassal for three years. He rebels against Babylon, but the LORD Chaldean, Aramean, Moabite, and Ammonite raiders against him. Jehoiakim dies and Jehoiachin takes over for three months.

     

    The servants of Nebuchadnezzar march up against them. They begin deporting people to Babylon. Zedekiah becomes king. Zedekiah rebels against Babylon. So Nebuchadnezzar marches against Judah in the ninth year of Zedekiah’s reign. Jerusalem is destroyed. The LORD’s temple is burned along with the king’s palace. The walls surrounding Jerusalem are torn down, all the things in the temple are either destroyed or taken as plunder. The majority of the people are exiled to Babylon. For the few that are left behind, Nebuchadnezzar appoints Gedaliah to govern over them. Ishmael, son of Nethaniah, enters the land and kill the Judeans and Chaldeans that were with Gedaliah. All the people, from youngest to oldest flee to Egypt. Both Israel and Judah are no more.

     

    April 29: 1 Chronicles 1-2

     

    We start on the Chronicles today.  These two books are essentially the retelling of First and Second Kings.  However, First and Second Chronicles are written from a different perspective.  The two books of Kings were written from the perspective of “these are the things the kings did that led to Judah and Israel falling”.  The two books of Chronicles is written from a perspective of “here are the good things the kings did that led to God having mercy on Israel and Judah”. 

     

    First Chronicles opens with the genealogy going all the way back to Adam.  Even though the Chronicler is writing specifically for the Jews during his day, he starts with the reminder that all people are God’s creation.  The author also details the family line of Abraham, the first Hebrew.  Abraham fathered both Isaac and Ishmael.  Isaac was born to his wife Sarah and Ishmael was born to Hagar, Sarah’s concubine. 

     

    The Edomites had kings before the Israelites installed Saul as their first king.  This detail about them might seem out of place.  However, this gives account for Esau and what happened with his descendants.  Jacob and Esau were twins.  Esau came out first, but Jacob bought Esau’s birthright for some stew and eventually cheats Esau out of their father’s blessing.  

     

    From there, the author gets into the main character, Jacob (Israel).  He has 12 sons that will establish the 12 tribes of Israel.  His sons were Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Dan, Joseph, Benjamin, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher. 

     

    April 30: 1 Chronicles 3-5

     

    We read about David’s descendants in chapter three.  These sons are divided into two groups.  There are the sons that were born in Hebron where David was king for seven years.  The others were born in Jerusalem where David reigned for 33 years.  Unfortunately, this is a list of tragedy.  There are multiple sons born by multiple women.  His daughter Tamar is also mentioned, which reminds the reader of her terrible plight when she was assaulted by Amnon, David’s firstborn. 

     

    When we get to Judah’s sons, it is helpful to know that “sons” in this list is referring more to descendants. Jabez was more honorable than his brothers.  We do not know what his brothers did to dishonor God, but we know that he acted in a more upright manner than them.  He prayed a personal prayer to God for more land and His protection.  

     

    Simeon was violent and cruel.  His father accurately predicted that he would be dispersed in the land.  Simeon received a territory next to Judah.  The land he received was mostly desert, so his tribe began intermingling with the neighboring lands essentially becoming absorbed into Benjamin and Judah. 

     

    Reuben, Gad, and half of Manasseh settled on the east side of the Jordan.  The chronicler gives us a brief and quick genealogy leading to Beerah.  Beerah was the leader of the Reubenites when Tiglath-pileser led them into exile.  

     

    May 1: 1 Chronicles 6

     

    This chapter focuses on the tribe of Levi.  This is the line of the priests.  This chapter is particularly important because it establishes who among the Israelites can serve in the temple.  This book was written after the Israelites had returned from Babylon.  The people surely wanted to get back to “normal” as quickly as they could and have their services and sacrifices to The LORD.  This chapter is so detailed because they wanted to make sure that no one that was unqualified could take the position.  Remember that Saul had lost his kingdom because he assumed the priestly duty of making sacrifice.  The returning Israelites want to ensure they are in God’s will and instruction. 

     

    One thing to note in this chapter is that the Levites are given land on the eastern side of the Jordan along with the main territory to the west.  This meant that they would be further from the temple.  However, it would allow them better access to their communities to teach all the people.  In a sense, they are on mission to teach these returning Israelites about the ways of God and what it looks like to follow Him. As believers, we are in a similar position.  Some of us are the only Bibles a person will ever look at.  They look to us to see how we interact with God and live.  Are we setting a good example?

     

    May 2: 1 Chronicles 7-8

     

    Issachar is listed mainly because of the number of soldiers they provided.  In the list of Benjamin’s descendants, it starts with the number of soldiers it supplied.  Naphtali gets a very short mention.  This is most likely because the chronicler did not see it as important since there was not a large group of them after the exile.  

     

    Manasseh had an Aramean concubine and had children with her.  As a result, there is Gentile representation in the tribes of Israel.  Benjamin’s tribe is once again catalogued, but in more detail.  The end of chapter eight coincides with the end of Saul’s reign as king.  It is interesting to note that the chronicler does not give any special mention of Saul in verse 33.   

     

    May 3: 1 Chronicles 9-11

     

    Chapter nine details the list of the returning Levites after the exile.  Verses 35-44 are the same as the genealogy for Benjamin in chapter 8:29-38.  It is brought up again to set up the story of Saul in chapter ten.  The chronicler does not go into detail, but he starts right at Saul’s final battle with the Philistines.  The Israelites fled and were killed on Mount Gilboa.  Saul and his sons were pursued by the Philistines. The sons were killed, and Saul was severely wounded by the archers.  Saul requests that his armor bearer kill him so that he did not have to go through whatever torture the Philistines would run him through.  The armor bearer refused, so Saul fell on his sword.  When the armor bearer sees that Saul is dead, he falls on his own sword.  

     

    With Saul gone now, David takes the throne.  Remember that the people had already looked to him for his leadership even before he was king.  David marched into Jerusalem and took it from the Jebusites.  David and his warriors enjoy many victories over their enemies. David is a great king and a man after God’s heart. 

     

    May 4: 1 Chronicles 12-14

     

    Chapter 12 spans a long time, from when David flees Saul in the desert to his coronation in Hebron.  After his coronation, the first thing David does is consult with all the leaders.  During Saul’s time, they had not consulted with God for guidance.  He decides to bring the ark of the covenant.  A good idea, but he left one group of people out of this decision, the Levites.  The Levites could have helped him prevent the mistake he would make in handling the ark. 

     

    They go to Kiriath-jearim to retrieve the ark.  Instead of putting the ark on the poles as God had commanded in Exodus, they put it on a new cart.  Uzzah and Ahio guide the cart.  As they walked David, and all the Israelites celebrate.  The ox pulling the cart stumblers and Uzzah reaches out to keep it from falling off.  He dies instantly.  God had commanded that no one touch it.  Uzzah thought he was doing the right thing by holding it steady, but he was unfortunately not.  Have we ever done something we thought was right only to find out later that it was wrong?

     

    David was angry because of God’s outburst against Uzzah.  However, David did ask how he could bring the ark back.  He leaves the ark with Obed-edom for three months.  The house of Obed-edom is blessed for the time that the ark is with them. 

     

    King Hiram of Tyre and David establish a trade, ensuring that David will have a huge palace from all the materials he acquires from it.  David takes more wives and has more sons.  The Philistines receive word that David has been anointed king.  The Philistines raid the Valley of Rephaim, so David asks God if he should go to war against them.  God tells him to go and He will hand them over.  They are summarily defeated.  The Philistines later go on the attack and David asks if he should pursue again.  God tells him not to go after them this time.  David again obeys.  My assumption would have been “well, God had me go up against them before and He gave me the victory, so surely He wants me to go again.”  David does the right thing and asks before making assumptions. 

     

    May 5: 1 Chronicles 15-17

     

    David builds houses for himself and prepared a place for the ark.  David now says that only the Levites can handle the ark.  He assembles all Israel at Jerusalem to bring the ark back.  As they are bringing the ark back into the city, David is dancing and celebrating.  His wife Michal, the daughter of Saul, sees him doing this and despises him in her heart.  David did not care if he looked like a fool.  He was pouring himself out to God fully in worship.  My hope and prayer is that every time we go and worship God that we BRING IT just like David did when they brought the ark in.  

     

    The ark is brought in and placed in the tent David had set up for it.  They offered burnt offerings and fellowship offerings in God’s presence.  David then gives the Psalm of Thanksgiving.  Music had already been a part of worship for the Israelites, but David makes it an integral part of worship by appointing Asaph to lead in thanksgiving song.  The psalm that David presented is eventually incorporated into the book of Psalms.  

     

    David has had great success, and he wants to do something for God.  He decides he wants to build God a temple.  He consults Nathan who assumes that David should do this.  After all, David is trying to do something nice for God, why wouldn’t that be a good idea?  God tells Nathan to tell David that he is not the one that will build the temple.  David has shed too much blood.  It will be his son that will build the temple.  God then promises David that He will build a house for him.  He further promises that there will always be a descendant of David on the throne.  God delivers on that promise, even though there is not a descendant on an earthly throne.  Jesus Christ, the Son of God, traces His line to David.  Christ rules on His throne in heaven.


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  • May 5: 1 Chronicles 15-17


    David builds houses for himself and prepared a place for the ark. David now says that only the Levites can handle the ark. He assembles all Israel at Jerusalem to bring the ark back. As they are bringing the ark back into the city, David is dancing and celebrating. His wife Michal, the daughter of Saul, sees him doing this and despises him in her heart. David did not care if he looked like a fool. He was pouring himself out to God fully in worship. My hope and prayer is that every time we go and worship God that we BRING IT just like David did when they brought the ark in. 


    The ark is brought in and placed in the tent David had set up for it. They offered burnt offerings and fellowship offerings in God’s presence. David then gives the Psalm of Thanksgiving. Music had already been a part of worship for the Israelites, but David makes it an integral part of worship by appointing Asaph to lead in thanksgiving song. The psalm that David presented is eventually incorporated into the book of Psalms. 


    David has had great success, and he wants to do something for God. He decides he wants to build God a temple. He consults Nathan who assumes that David should do this. After all, David is trying to do something nice for God, why wouldn’t that be a good idea? God tells Nathan to tell David that he is not the one that will build the temple. David has shed too much blood. It will be his son that will build the temple. God then promises David that He will build a house for him. He further promises that there will always be a descendant of David on the throne. God delivers on that promise, even though there is not a descendant on an earthly throne. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, traces His line to David. Christ rules on His throne in heaven. 


    May 6: 1 Chronicles 18-21

     

    The Philistines are defeated by David.  This victory is different than the other times where David repelled them.  Instead, he took control of Gath, one of the five principal cities of the Philistines.  He also defeats Moab, and they pay into his treasury.  Not all of David’s spoils go directly into his treasury.  He placed them into the treasury that was dedicated to the LORD.  That money will eventually be used to build the temple. 

     

    The Ammonites were a consistent presence during the reigns of Saul and David.  King Nahash is the same one that gave Saul the occasion to become king of Israel.  David sends condolences to Hanun, Nahash’s son since Nahash had shown kindness to David during his reign.  Sadly, the Ammonite advisors decide that this is a ruse on David’s part, and they stoke fear into Nahash’s heart, making him believe they are here as spies.  Nahash takes the men David sent, shaves them, cuts their clothes in half, and sends them away.  David tells the men to stay in Jericho until their beards grow back.  The Ammonites realize they have messed up and made themselves repulsive to David. They hire chariots and horsemen.  David learns of this and sends Joab and the entire army.  Joab sees that a battle line has been formed against them.  Battle commences and Israel summarily defeats the Ammonites. 

     

    Joab takes Rabbah.  David takes the crown from their king.  The crown weighed 75 pounds of gold and there was a precious stone on it.  A war breaks out in Gezer with the Philistines.  The Philistines march their giants out against the Israelites, and they are defeated. 

     

    Things are going great for David, but then he decides that he wants to have a census conducted.  The Scripture informs us that Satan incited David to conduct the census.  From our vantage, counting his fighting men does not seem like that big of a deal.  However, it is a big deal because David had put his trust in his army.  He should have had trust in God. Throughout our reading so far, we have seen God do some amazing things with small armies.  David should have put his trust in God alone, not in the people.  My hope and prayer is that we will put our trust in God before anyone or anything else. 

     

    May 7: 1 Chronicles 22-24

     

    The threshing floor of Ornan had become the place where David worshipped God.  As a result, David declared that the temple would be built on this exact spot.  The temporary altar erected will be the place of the permanent altar.  David gathers foreigners living in the land to do the hard work of cutting stones in preparation for construction of the temple.  David summons Solomon and gives him instructions on how to build the temple.  David had wanted to build it, but God would not allow him to.  Instead, this honor goes to his son.  Still, David did what he could to set Solomon up for success.  Rather than get upset that he could not build the temple, he ensures that Solomon is not starting from scratch.  

     

    David is getting older, so he appoints Saul as king over Israel.  He gathers the leaders of Israel, the priests, and the Levites.  The Levites over the age of 30 are counted, totaling 38,000.  David divides them up by who will do what.  24,000 oversaw the work on the LORD’s temple. 6,000 were made officers and judges, 4,000 were made gatekeepers, and 4,000 were to praise the LORD with instruments. 

     

    Chapter 24 breaks down the division of Aaron’s sons.  It is interesting to note that the premature deaths of Nadab and Abihu is not mentioned.  Remember, these two were struck down by God because they made unauthorized fire before The LORD.

     

    May 8: 1 Chronicles 25-27

     

    Worship had always involved music.  When the Israelites crossed over the Red Sea, the first thing Moses did was develop a song of praise for everyone to learn and sing.  David makes music a regular part of everyday worship in the tabernacle. The sons of Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun are put in charge of the music.

     

    The gatekeepers are limited to the clans of Khoath and Merari.  The Chronicler makes a point to explain that their service to the temple is just as important as the musicians.  Without the gatekeepers, the ministry of the temple could not happen.  Ahijah is in charge of the treasuries of God’s temple and the treasuries of what had been dedicated. 

     

    Chapter 27 gives us details on David’s secular officials. There is very little attention given to these officials compared to the folks serving in the temple.  The most important category in this chapter is the 12 divisions composed of 24,000 men. These units were on duty for one month out of the year during times of peace.  

     

    May 9: 1 Chronicles 28-2 Chronicles 1

     

    All the leaders of Israel, the leaders of the tribes, the leaders of the divisions, the commanders of hundreds and the other officials are gathered by David.  David recounts for them that God has declared that he is not the one to build God’s temple.  Instead, that duty goes to his son Solomon.  In this speech, David recognizes that the only reason he became king was because God had ordained it to happen.  He was chosen by God, there was nothing that he had done to make himself stand out among others.  

     

    David gives his attention to Solomon, encouraging him to have single focus on God Almighty.  He reminds Solomon that God knows our motivations and intentions. David directs Solomon’s attention to not just the Law, but the LORD.  My hope and prayer is that our attention will be on the LORD as well. 

     

    Attention is turned back to building the temple.  David reminds the people of Solomon’s youth and inexperience in the face of this gigantic task.  He explains that he has done what he can to acquire as much material for the construction as he possibly could.  David then gives a lengthy prayer.  He starts focusing on God. He acknowledges the truth of God’s greatness and might.  He also identifies that it is not possible to give anything to God since God owns everything anyway.

     

    David finishes the prayer and Solomon takes the throne.  God approaches Solomon and asks what he wants now that he is king.  Solomon asks that God give him the wisdom he needs to properly lead God’s people.  Since Solomon asked for wisdom rather than riches and a long life, God promises to give Solomon the wisdom he seeks along with riches and a long life. 

     

    May 10: 2 Chronicles 2-5

     

    Solomon decides to build a temple for the name of Yahweh and a palace for himself.  From our vantage, this might seem as if there is a contradiction.  God had told David that his son would build the temple.  David gathered supplies for this temple.  Solomon was the one that was supposed to build the temple from the get-go, so the idea that he “decides” seems out of place.  However, the Scripture is pointing to the fact that Solomon decides to make the temple more impressive and ornate than his father David had imagined.  Solomon consults his father’s trading partner Hiram to acquire more cedar wood and for advice on how to work with the materials.  Hiram was a shrewd businessman.  Solomon warns him that if he cuts corners in the materials, then Hiram is not just offending Solomon, but God Himself.  Hiram and Solomon come to an agreement.  Solomon takes a census of all the foreign people living in the land of Israel.  These people become the ones that will build the temple.  There are 70,000 porters, 80,000 stone cutters, and 3,600 supervisors.

     

    Construction of the temple begins on Mount Moriah early in the fourth year of Solomon’s rule.  The details are given on the Most Holy Place, the altar, reservoir, basins, lampstands, tables, and courts.  The temple is complete.  However, Solomon has held back some of the valuable objects David had commissioned for the temple.  The temple is now the single place that worship takes place for the Israelites.  It is appropriate that Solomon have representatives from all 12 tribes for the commissioning of the temple. 

     

    May 11: 2 Chronicles 6-8

     

    The temple was filled with God’s glory.  Solomon responds to the cloud by recognizing that the temple is an exalted place where the people could be reminded of God’s presence forever.  That is the plan at least.  Solomon blesses everyone in attendance. He thanks God that He delivered on His promises. 

     

    After Solomon finishes praying, fire descended from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices. God’s glory fills the temple and the priests are unable to enter.  All the Israelites in attendance bowed down with their faces to the ground, worshiping and praising The LORD.  

     

    God appears to Solomon and explains that He will be with them as long as they follow Him and keep His statutes.  However, if they turn away and abandon Him, then He will surely uproot them from the soil He gave them.  

     

    Chapter eight gives us more information on Solomon’s other building projects.  Solomon kept working even though he would never build anything as great as the temple of God.  

     

    May 12: 2 Chronicles 9-12

     

    The queen of Sheba visits Solomon after hearing about how brilliant he is.  She wants to test him with difficult questions with her entourage.  She brings spices, gold, and precious stones with her.  When he answers all of her questions and she sees how smart he truly is, she gives him four and a half tons of gold, a whole lot of spices, and precious stones.  She returns to her country.  Solomon’s wealth continues to grow.  

     

    Solomon dies and Rehoboam takes the throne.  The people ask that he would lighten their loads.  Solomon had made their yoke difficult.  They are looking for some relief.  Rehoboam, after talking to his friends, decides to make their lives even more difficult.  The people see that Rehoboam has not listened to them.  They launch a protest against him.  They state they have no inheritance with the house of Jesse.  This rebellion eventually leads to the kingdom splitting in two.

     

    Rehoboam remains as king over Judah and its two tribes, Judah and Benjamin. Jeroboam becomes leader in the north. He has serious problems in the fact that the mindset of the people make them impossible to rule.  He appoints priests for the high places, the goat demons, and the golden calves he had made.  Jeroboam did not want the other tribes traveling to Jerusalem to worship at the temple, so he constructed these pagan sites.  This is going to draw the people away from God, which eventually brings judgment against them. 

     

    Rehoboam reigns the southern kingdom of Judah for 41 years.  He did not seek God and did what was evil in His sight.   


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  • May 12: 2 Chronicles 9-12

     

    The queen of Sheba visits Solomon after hearing about how brilliant he is.  She wants to test him with difficult questions with her entourage.  She brings spices, gold, and precious stones with her.  When he answers all of her questions and she sees how smart he truly is, she gives him four and a half tons of gold, a whole lot of spices, and precious stones.  She returns to her country.  Solomon’s wealth continues to grow.  

     

    Solomon dies and Rehoboam takes the throne.  The people ask that he would lighten their loads.  Solomon had made their yoke difficult.  They are looking for some relief.  Rehoboam, after talking to his friends, decides to make their lives even more difficult.  The people see that Rehoboam has not listened to them.  They launch a protest against him.  They state they have no inheritance with the house of Jesse.  This rebellion eventually leads to the kingdom splitting in two.

     

    Rehoboam remains as king over Judah and its two tribes, Judah and Benjamin. Jeroboam becomes leader in the north. He has serious problems in the fact that the mindset of the people make them impossible to rule.  He appoints priests for the high places, the goat demons, and the golden calves he had made.  Jeroboam did not want the other tribes traveling to Jerusalem to worship at the temple, so he constructed these pagan sites.  This is going to draw the people away from God, which eventually brings judgment against them.  

     

    Rehoboam reigns the southern kingdom of Judah for 41 years.  He did not seek God and did what was evil in His sight.   

     

    May 13: 2 Chronicles 13-17

     

    Abijah is the second king of Judah.  A battle breaks out between Abijah and Jeroboam, the king of Israel.  The Chronicler gives the number of warriors for both kings.  Abijah’s army is half the size of Jeroboam’s.  Abijah addresses Jeroboam’s army, calling them out for their idolatry, and reminding them that in Judah, they have the temple with all of the holy instruments.  The temple was supposed to be the central place of worship for the followers of Yahweh.  While the speech is happening, Jeroboam sends and ambush.  God grants the victory to Abijah and his men.  

     

    Asa becomes king after Abijah.  Asa does what is good in God’s sight, he removes the pagan altars and the high places.  The land experiences peace, so the good king focuses on redoing the fortifications throughout Judah. The Cushites decide to march against Judah.  The Cushites have a significant personnel advantage as they head to battle.  Asa cries out to God and asks for His help.  God routes the Cushites before them.

     

    Azariah, the son of Oded, is one of several prophets that make appearances in first and second Chronicles. He comes to Asa with a message of encouragement. Asa makes further reforms in Judah, working to get the people to focus on Yahweh rather than the detestable idols and other things of the flesh.  

    Things are going great for Asa, until they are not.  Baasha, the king of Israel decides to march against Asa.  Rather than rely on God for deliverance, Asa seeks help through Aram.  To bribe Aram, Asa has all the gold and silver brought out from the treasuries of The LORD’s temple.  Asa believes that he is going to receive praise for his diplomatic efforts, but he is rebuked by Hanani. Asa had great success when he sought The LORD and we are left to wonder why he abandoned God and sought an earthly king for help. 

     

    Jehoshaphat becomes king after Asa dies.  He is thoroughly devoted to God.  He is so devoted to God that he implements formal education on The LORD’s instruction for the people of Judah.  He wants them to know about God’s Law and word. 

     

    May 14: 2 Chronicles 18-20

     

    Jehoshaphat develops an alliance with Ahab, king of Israel.  Ahab is ready to go to battle, but Jehoshaphat reminds him that he should seek God’s will and find out if God wants them to go up against Ramoth Gilead. Ahab assembles 400 prophets of Baal and asks them if he should go to battle.  The prophets all affirm that Ahab will have victory.  Jehoshaphat asks if there is a “man of God” they can ask.  Ahab responds that there is one, but he hates him because he always tells the truth, rather than telling him what he wants to hear.  The truth is the truth, whether we want to accept it or not.  The prophet tells the truth of their impending doom in battle.  Nevertheless, his instruction is disregarded.  Jehoshaphat and Ahab march out against Ramoth Gilead. Ahab is struck down by the archers of Ramoth Gilead. 

     

    Jehoshaphat makes it back home where he receives a rebuke from Jehu.  Jehoshaphat makes reforms in Judah.  He appoints judges in the fortified cities. He also appoints Levites and priests to discern God’s will.  

     

    The Moabites and Ammonites form up to march against Jehoshaphat. The people bring word of the vast army that has come to route them.  Jehoshaphat, rather than relying on worldly alliances, bows down and prays to God.  God hears his prayer and delivers Judah from their enemies.  Toward the end of his reign, Jehoshaphat makes an alliance with Ahaziah, the king of Israel.  Ahaziah was guilty of wrongdoing.  This results in Jehoshaphat’s fleet of ships being destroyed. 

     

    May 15: 2 Chronicles 21-24

     

    Jehoram is the next king of Judah.  He becomes king at the age of 32.  He walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, doing what was evil in God’s sight.  Since God had made the covenant with David, He was unwilling to destroy David’s line. God keeps His promises, even though we do not always keep them. Elijah, the prophet, sends a strongly worded letter to Jehoram, warning him that he will be struck with many illnesses.  One day his intestines will come out day after day because of the disease. 

     

    Ahaziah becomes the king of Judah.  He is just as wicked as Ahab because his mom gives him evil advice. He is killed by Jehu, the ninth king of Israel.  When Ahaziah’s mother learns that he has been killed, she proceeds to take the throne herself.  She has no legitimate claim to the throne because she is not a descendant of David.  She kills anyone that has a legitimate claim to the throne, including her own grandchildren.  In her efforts in annihilation, though, she misses one.  Joash was hidden away in the temple for six years. 

     

    Athaliah is overthrown in her seventh year by Jehoida and the force he assembled.  When she is deposed, the crown then goes to Joash.  Joash is only seven years when he takes the throne.  He does what is right in God’s sight.  During his reign he works to renovate the LORD’s temple. Sadly, Joash falls into apostasy after following the advice of the rulers of Judah.  Soon, the temple of the LORD is abandoned in favor of worshiping the Asherah poles and idols.  The Arameans invade Judah and Joash is assassinated. Joash had been doing great.  He should have continued focusing on The LORD.  Abandoning The LORD led to his ruin. 

     

    May 16: 2 Chronicles 25-27

     

    Amaziah becomes king of Judah.  He did what was right in the sight of The LORD.  However, he did not follow God wholeheartedly.  He quickly set about exacting vengeance on the people responsible for his father’s death.  Amaziah did not execute the children of these men because he followed the Law God gave Moses that children should not be punished for the sins of their parents.  Amaziah goes to battle against Edom and The LORD grants him victory.  Sadly, he brings back the gods of the Seirites from this battle and sets them up as his gods.  As a result, Amaziah loses favor with The LORD.  Amaziah agrees to meet with Jehoash, the king of Israel.  Jehoash has Amaziah imprisoned, and he destroys 200 yards of Jerusalem’s wall, taking gold, silver, and all the utensils in the temple and treasuries.

     

    Uzziah becomes king after Amaziah at the age of 16.  He sought God his entire lifetime.  Uzziah goes to war with the Philistines.  He had a different philosophy on how an army should operate.  His predecessors held to the idea that the army needed to accumulate more and more men. Uzziah made the effort to organize his army into divisions, allowing for more flexibility, and gave them effective weapons. The Chronicler is quick to point out that it was God that gave Uzziah this guidance. Uzziah starts off strong, but then messes up by handling the fire pan, an instrument only priests were supposed to handle.  He is infected with a disease and is hidden away from the public for the remaining years of his life. 

     

    Jotham takes the throne in Judah at the age of 25.  He did what was right in God’s sight. Though he followed God, the people still acted corruptly.  Jotham built the Upper Gate of the LORD’s temple and the wall of Ophel.  He went to war with the Ammonites and accumulated a lot of treasure from his victory over the.  Jotham was successful because he did not waver in his commitment to The LORD. 

     

    May 17: 2 Chronicles 28-31

     

    Ahaz becomes king of Judah.  Unlike Jotham, he did not follow God.  Instead, he followed the ways of the Israelite kings, making cast images of the god Baal.  He sacrificed his children with fire, emulating the detestable behavior of the nations God had driven out of the land.  God handed Ahaz over to Aram. Further, Ahaz was handed to the king of Israel. Israel struck Judah with great force, taking 200,000 as prisoners.  The prophet Obed confronts the returning victorious army about their behavior in taking these prisoners.  Their slaughter of their fellow Hebrews was not acceptable.  Obed calls them out on it and some of the leaders realized what a terrible mistake they had made.  The prisoners were provided clothes and food. 

     

    Rather than seeing that his erroneous ways have led to this problem, Ahaz doubles down on stupid.  He seeks the false gods even more, closing the doors to the temple, seemingly mad at God Almighty for his current predicament.  Of course, his ire should have been directed at himself!

     

    Hezekiah becomes king over Judah after Ahaz.  Hezekiah is a good king.  He opens the doors of The LORD’s temple.  He gathers the Levites and the priests and instructs them to consecrate themselves and the temple of The LORD.  When the consecration is complete, the temple is open for regular worship again.  Hezekiah also brings back the Passover celebration, a celebration that God had mandated the Hebrews follow when He led them out of Egypt.  

     

    All of Israel that had attended these services destroyed all of the pagan sacred pillars, Asherah poles, the high places, and pagan altars.  There was an awakening in Judah and the people were focused on following The LORD! 

     

    May 18: 2 Chronicles 32-34

     

    The king of Assyriah, Sennacherib, decided to go up against Judah.  He laid siege to the fortified cities.  Hezekiah sees that war is afoot, so he consults with his officials and warriors.  He wanted to stop the springs of water outside the city, thinking this would deal a blow to his enemies.  They were not going to let their enemies have all the water they needed.  

     

    Sennacherib’s servants go into Jerusalem and ask the people what they are relying on that keeps them in Jerusalem.  Sennacherib’s people do not understand that the people of Judah are relying on the One True God.  The servants of Sennacherib do what they can to break their confidence.  They are convinced that Sennacherib will have the victory.  Their argument is that every other nation’s gods failed to protect them.  Since those gods failed to care for those people, then the people of Judah can expect that God Almighty will not.  

     

    Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah pray to God for deliverance from the invaders.  God sent an angel that annihilates every brave warrior, leader, and commander in the Assyrian camp.  As good as he was, Hezekiah struggled with sin.  His pride gets the best of him and The LORD punishes him for it. 

     

    Manasseh takes the throne at the age of 12.  He did what was evil in God’s sight, imitating the detestable practices of the pagan nations.  He undid all the work his father did to end paganism in the land.  Manasseh even goes so far as to place an idol in The LORD’s temple!  God speaks to Manasseh and he repents.  He sets about building the outer wall of the city of David.  

     

    Amon becomes king and reigns for two years.  He fell into paganism, making sacrifices to the carved images.  His servants conspired against him and killed him in his own house.  

     

    Josiah becomes king at the tender age of eight.  He sets about making reforms to get the kingdom following God again.  He repairs the temple.  During the repair process, they find the book of the law.  Josiah hears the words from the book of the law and goes into mourning because he realizes that they have failed to keep God’s commands.  He commands Hilkiah, Ahikam, Abdon, Shaphan, and Asaiah to go and ask The LORD about their predicament for not following His statutes.  These men approach Huldah, the prophetess.  She confirms that God is about to bring disaster upon them because they abandoned Him.  

     

    They bring this word back to Josiah.  The king gathers the elders of Jerusalem and Judah.  He takes them to The LORD’s temple.  He makes a covenant with The LORD to follow His statutes and commands with all of his heart and soul.  All present at this meeting agreed to the covenant as well.  

     

    May 19: 2 Chronicles 35-36

     

    Josiah implements the observance of Passover.  Josiah is trying to get the kingdom back on the right path.  Neco, king of Egypt, marched up to fight at Carchemish.  Josiah went out to confront him.  Neco sends messengers telling Josiah that there is no quarrel between them.  He should leave well enough alone.  Josiah did not turn away from him, though.  Neco’s archers shot Josiah.  He has his servants take him back to Jerusalem where he dies from his wounds and is buried with his fathers.  

     

    Jehoahaz takes the throne.  The king of Egypt deposed him and fined the land 7,500 pounds of silver and 75 pounds of gold.  

     

    Eliakim, Jehoahaz’s brother is made king of Judah by Neco.  His name is changed to Jehoiakim by the king of Egypt.  Jehoiakim does what is evil in God’s sight.  Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian king attacks him and has him bound in bronze shackles.  Nebuchadnezzar also takes some of the utensils left in the temple and takes them back to Babylon.  Those utensils will later make an appearance in the book of Daniel. 

     

    Jehoichin takes the throne when his father is taken to Babylon.  He reigned for three months.  He did what was evil in God’s sight.  Nebuchadnezzar has him brought to Babylon, along with more valuable utensils from The LORD’s temple.  

     

    Zedekiah becomes king.  He reigns 11 years.  He did what was evil in God’s sight and he also rebels against Nebuchadnezzar.  It is a bold strategy to be sure, rebelling against the LORD of the universe, and the earthly authority.  Everyone falls into practicing detestable acts.  God hands Judah over to Babylon.  She is fallen.  

     

    God delivers on His promise, though.  Cyrus issues a decree in his first year as king of Persia that the deported people in Babylon be allowed to return home.  The “Cyrus Cylinder”, was discovered in 1879 in Nineveh and is on display at the British Museum.  It is written in Cuneiform.  On this cylinder, Cyrus gives credit to Marduk, the Babylonian god, for allowing him to conquer Babylon.  This cylinder also grants permission for the captive people, such as the Jews, to return to their lands.  The prophet Isaiah identifies Cyrus as the one that would issue this decree.  Isaiah became a prophet in 740 B.C. and according to extra-biblical tradition was martyred in 699 B.C.  Cyrus does not make this decree for the exile to return until 538 B.C. God keeps His promises. 


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  • May 19: 2 Chronicles 35-36

     

    Josiah implements the observance of Passover. Josiah is trying to get the kingdom back on the right path. Neco, king of Egypt, marched up to fight at Carchemish. Josiah went out to confront him. Neco sends messengers telling Josiah that there is no quarrel between them. He should leave well enough alone. Josiah did not turn away from him, though. Neco’s archers shot Josiah. He has his servants take him back to Jerusalem where he dies from his wounds and is buried with his fathers.

     

    Jehoahaz takes the throne. The king of Egypt deposed him and fined the land 7,500 pounds of silver and 75 pounds of gold.

     

    Eliakim, Jehoahaz’s brother is made king of Judah by Neco. His name is changed to Jehoiakim by the king of Egypt. Jehoiakim does what is evil in God’s sight. Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian king attacks him and has him bound in bronze shackles. Nebuchadnezzar also takes some of the utensils left in the temple and takes them back to Babylon. Those utensils will later make an appearance in the book of Daniel.

     

    Jehoiachin takes the throne when his father is taken to Babylon. He reigned for three months. He did what was evil in God’s sight. Nebuchadnezzar has him brought to Babylon, along with more valuable utensils from The LORD’s temple.

     

    Zedekiah becomes king. He reigns 11 years. He did what was evil in God’s sight and he also rebels against Nebuchadnezzar. It is a bold strategy to be sure, rebelling against the LORD of the universe, and the earthly authority. Everyone falls into practicing detestable acts. God hands Judah over to Babylon. She is fallen.

     

    God delivers on His promise, though. Cyrus issues a decree in his first year as king of Persia that the deported people in Babylon be allowed to return home. The “Cyrus Cylinder”, was discovered in 1879 in Nineveh and is on display at the British Museum. It is written in Cuneiform. On this cylinder, Cyrus gives credit to Marduk, the Babylonian god, for allowing him to conquer Babylon. This cylinder also grants permission for the captive people, such as the Jews, to return to their lands. The prophet Isaiah identifies Cyrus as the one that would issue this decree. Isaiah became a prophet in 740 B.C. and according to extra-biblical tradition was martyred in 699 B.C. Cyrus does not make this decree for the exile to return until 538 B.C. God keeps His promises.

     

    May 20: Ezra 1-3

     

    Ezra and Nehemiah were treated like one book until the third century A.D.  Both books contain material found in the other.  The point of Ezra is to connect the returning Israelites with the pre-exile community.  Ezra begins with the statement of Cyrus’s decree.  In the first year of his reign, he issued a proclamation that the Israelites can return home and rebuild the temple.  Not all of the Israelites go back, but many do.  

    The leaders of Judah and Benjamin, along with the priests (Levites) go back to prepare for rebuilding the temple.  Their neighbors support them and send them with treasure for rebuilding.  Cyrus even brings out the articles of the LORD’s temple that Nebuchadnezzar had taken. 

     

    Chapter two of Ezra gives a detailed list of the families returning to Jerusalem.  Upon arrival, freewill offerings are made to restore the LORD’s house.  In the seventh month, sacrifice is restored.  It is important to note that they did not wait for the temple to be restored before making sacrifice.  These returned exiles are highly motivated to ensure that they follow God’s statutes to prevent another exile.  

     

    By the second month of the second year, temple reconstruction begins.  When the foundation is completed, the priests dress in their robes.  They all worship God, singing praises and giving thanks to God for allowing them to return.  However, there is also weeping in the praise.  Many of the older priests, that had seen the temple when it was in its former glory are weeping.  People could not distinguish between the shouts of joy and the shouts of anguish. 

     

    May 21: Ezra 4-7

     

    Not everyone is happy about the temple being rebuilt.  The enemies of Juda and Benjamin approach Zerubbabel and offer to help rebuild the temple.  The enemies are not identified, but the fact that they are labeled as enemies demonstrates that their offer is nefarious.  This group claim to worship the God of the Israelites.  This was probably true; however, they did not worship Him solely.  Instead, He was worshiped along with the pagan gods of the other nations.  The leaders essentially say that they cannot help since Cyrus has ordered them to rebuild it.  The enemies become upset and cause the people of Judah to fear rebuilding the temple.  The enemies even go so far as to bribe the officials to prevent the temple from being rebuilt.

     

    They do not stop there.  They also try to stop the city from being rebuilt.  They send a letter to Artaxerxes of Persia, warning him that the “rebellious” Israelites are rebuilding their temple, the city, and its walls.  The group claims that when the city is complete that they will not pay tribute anymore.  Artaxerxes reviews Israel’s history and sees that they may rebel against him.  So he orders the construction to stop.  

     

    Haggai and Zechariah prophesied to the Jews.  They begin rebuilding the temple regardless of the instruction.  Tattenai, the governor of the region west of the Euphrates asks who gave them the order to start rebuilding.  They will not stop working until they receive instruction from Darius.  Tattenai sends a written request to Darius asking for clarification on their permission to build.  Darius has the library of Babylon searched and Cyrus’s decree is discovered.  Upon reading the decree, Darius sends word back to Tattenai to leave the Israelites alone and let them rebuild.  

     

    Ezra, a scribe skilled in the law of Moses comes to Jerusalem from Babylon.  He brings along correspondence from Artaxerxes allowing any Israelites in his territory to return to Jerusalem if they want to.  

     

    May 22:  Ezra 8-10

     

    Ezra eight starts with the genealogical record of the families returning to Jerusalem with Ezra.  Prior to their return, Ezra calls for a fast by the Ahava River.  The intent is to humble themselves before God and ask for His protection on their way home.  Ezra did not want to ask the king for protection.  Instead, he asks God for it.  On the twelfth day of the month, they depart to Jerusalem.  

     

    Upon their return, Ezra is presented a problem.  The Israelites have not kept themselves separated from the other nations.  Some of the men have married women from the pagan nations.  Ezra tears his robe and tunic and pulls some of the hair from his head and beard, a sign of intense mourning, upon receiving the news. 

     

    The folks that fear God gather around Ezra.  He falls on his knees and prays to God.  This is a prayer of penitence.  There is no petition or request made to God on this.  Instead, Ezra focuses on confessing.

     

    The people are called to repentance, to separate themselves from the pagan nations and their foreign wives.  This is a hard decision for some to make.  Many say that they will do as Ezra says and separate from them.  The book of Ezra closes with a detailed list of the men married to foreign women.  From our vantage, this seems harsh, asking people to separate from their families.  However, when we look at Ezra, it is best to frame it from their viewpoint.  Those that returned to Jerusalem do not want to do anything that could get them sent away again.  They are doing what they can to get back to the way God had called them to live prior to the exile. 

     

    May 23: Nehemiah 1-3

     

    The ending of Ezra is rather abrupt and not much of an introduction is given to Nehemiah.  Remember, both of the books were treated as a whole for a very long time.  Nehemiah receives word that the remnant in Jerusalem that survived the exile are in trouble and disgrace.  Nehemiah prays a penitential prayer similar to the prayer of Ezra.  

     

    Nehemiah takes wine to King Artaxerxes.  When the king sees Nehemiah’s forlorn look, he questions why he is so sad.  Nehemiah has never been sad in the sight of the king before.  Nehemiah responds that he is sad because he discovered how the folks in Jerusalem continue to suffer.  Artaxerxes asks Nehemiah what he can do.  Nehemiah requests permission to go to Jerusalem.  The king sends him back to Jerusalem. 

     

    Preparations are made to rebuild the walls of the city.  Eliashib and his fellow priests rebuild the Sheep Gate and the wall to the Tower of the Hundred and Tower of Hananel.  The sons of Hassenaah built the Fish Gate.  A lot of people put a lot of effort into rebuilding the city.  These people are motivated to return the city to its former glory.  

     

    May 24: Nehemiah 4-6

     

    Sanballat discovers that the walls are being rebuilt and becomes furious.  He mocks the Jews in front of his friends and colleagues.  This mockery leads to more prayer on Nehemiah’s part.  He asks that God turn Sanballat’s insults on his head and the heads of those joining in the mockery.   Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, Ammonites, and Ashdodites plot to fight against Jerusalem.  God hands them over to confusion.  When the Jews see that their enemies’ plan was thwarted by God, they continue building. 

     

    The return to Jerusalem was not all sunshine and rainbows for the people.  People begin to complain.  The first group to complain are the day laborers.  The second group to complain are those that were forced to mortgage their property to survive.  The third group had to borrow money to pay the king’s tax.  Nehemiah assumes that the nobles and officials are charging their fellow countrymen interest.  Usury was forbidden in the Mosaic Law.  

     

    The news of the wall completion marks another attempt by Sanballat and his crew to stop the construction project.  Nehemiah’s life is even threatened.  He is not intimidated, though, and carries on with the rebuilding.  

     

    May 25: Nehemiah 7

     

    The wall is rebuilt, but the danger persists.  Nehemiah moves the gate keepers from their duties at the temple to keeping watch on the walls.  Essentially, the city gates become an extension of the temple courtyards.  

     

    The city is large, but there are not many people in it.  Many citizens of Jerusalem were killed prior to the exile.  Others were deported.  God puts it into Nehemiah’s heart to gather the people.  A census is conducted of all the returnees and is recorded in great detail in vv. 8-67.  These details matter when it comes to establishing who will do what in the city.  The returning exiles do not want to put someone in a position he is not qualified for.  Remember Saul lost his kingdom because he made sacrifice instead of waiting for the priest to do it.  The returning exiles are doing their best to follow God’s commands. 

     

    May 26: Nehemiah 8-9

     

    The people gather to hear Ezra read the book of the law that God had given Moses.  He starts reading from first light of day until noon.  Ezra stood on a high wooden platform with the book open so everyone can see it.  This is an important detail.  This allowed the people to see that Ezra was not making anything up, but he was coming straight out of the book.  Ezra praised God and the people followed suit by bowing down and worshiping with their faces to the ground. 

     

    A group is standing by and translating what the book of the law says.  When the people hear it, they begin weeping.  Ezra and the other priests quiet the people down, explaining that the day is holy to the LORD their God and they should not weep.  This group wept because they realized how they did not keep God’s law and they are showing remorse.  However, rather than weep because of what they are hearing, they can rejoice because now they know how they are supposed to act.  To a degree, there was probably some fear in their mourning as well since they have not been following God’s commands and there is reason to fear His wrath.  However, they are told not to mourn what they are hearing.  Instead, they can rejoice because they now have the opportunity to live the way God wants them to.  As believers, we are going to mess up.  When we do, we mourn the sin, but when we confess it to God, we should not stay stuck down in our sin.  Instead, we should rejoice in His forgiveness and work to live a life that is holy and set apart. 

     

    Nehemiah nine is a beautiful penitential prayer.  It is a confession of God’s faithfulness and mercy to His people.  Further, it is a confession of the nation’s consistent rebellion against God and His commands.  Verse 16 speaks of their ancestors’ arrogance.  The arrogance described here is similar to the arrogance of the Egyptians in the time of the Exodus. 

     

    At the end of the prayer the nation makes a vow of faithfulness. 


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  • May 26: Nehemiah 8-9

     

    The people gather to hear Ezra read the book of the law that God had given Moses.  He starts reading from first light of day until noon.  Ezra stood on a high wooden platform with the book open so everyone can see it.  This is an important detail.  This allowed the people to see that Ezra was not making anything up, but he was coming straight out of the book.  Ezra praised God and the people followed suit by bowing down and worshiping with their faces to the ground. 

     

    A group is standing by and translating what the book of the law says.  When the people hear it, they begin weeping.  Ezra and the other priests quiet the people down, explaining that the day is holy to the LORD their God and they should not weep.  This group wept because they realized how they did not keep God’s law and they are showing remorse.  However, rather than weep because of what they are hearing, they can rejoice because now they know how they are supposed to act.  To a degree, there was probably some fear in their mourning as well since they have not been following God’s commands and there is reason to fear His wrath.  However, they are told not to mourn what they are hearing.  Instead, they can rejoice because they now have the opportunity to live the way God wants them to.  As believers, we are going to mess up.  When we do, we mourn the sin, but when we confess it to God, we should not stay stuck down in our sin.  Instead, we should rejoice in His forgiveness and work to live a life that is holy and set apart. 

     

    Nehemiah nine is a beautiful penitential prayer.  It is a confession of God’s faithfulness and mercy to His people.  Further, it is a confession of the nation’s consistent rebellion against God and His commands.  Verse 16 speaks of their ancestors’ arrogance.  The arrogance described here is similar to the arrogance of the Egyptians in the time of the Exodus. 

     

    At the end of the prayer the nation makes a vow of faithfulness. 

     

    May 27: Nehemiah 10-11

     

    We read the names of everyone that signed the vow the Israelites made to the LORD.  They promise to refrain from giving their daughters to other nations as brides.  The LORD warned against allowing intermarriage early on.  However, as the years went by, they fell into allowing their children to take foreign brides and give their daughters in marriage to foreign men.  It is not so much nationality that was the problem.  The issue is that these people worshiped other gods than God Almighty and they led their spouses to turn away from The LORD.  The Israelites promise to prevent that from happening again.  They also vow to keep the Sabbath. Even if a foreigner comes to trade on a holy day or on the Sabbath, they will not trade with them.  They also promise to allow the land to rest after six years of cultivating it.  They impose further commands on themselves.  

     

    These people are trying their best to ensure that they do not lose their land again.  They now know what they lost when they were exiled to Babylon.  They do not want to lose it again! 

     

    Nehemiah 11 resumes the narrative about the repopulation.  Jerusalem was underpopulated.  The neighboring towns cast lots to identify the ten percent of their population that would move to Jerusalem.  These people that left their homes to settle in Jerusalem were cheered by the people. 

     

    May 28: Nehemiah 12-13

     

    We conclude Nehemiah today.  Chapter 12 gives us a detail of the priests and Levites who went up to Zerubbabel.  When it came time to dedicate the wall of Jerusalem, all the Levites were sent for to celebrate the joyous occasion.  The priests and Levites purified themselves and singers gathered to worship.  

     

    The book of Moses is read publicly to the people.  In the reading they discover how the Ammonites and Moabites had acted against Moses and the Israelites.  Instead of bringing them food and water, they hired Balaam to curse them.  As a result, the Ammonites and Moabites are separated from the rest of the people gathered for the reading.  

     

    Nehemiah has gone back to Artaxerxes.  In his absence, Eliashib, the priest in charge of the storerooms for the house of God, makes a mistake.  He clears out a storeroom for holding grain and allows his relative Tobiah to stay in the room.  We probably do not see that as a big deal from our vantage.  The issue here is that the room was supposed to be set apart to hold grain for The LORD.  With Tobiah occupying the space, the room is not purified.  

     

    That is not all that is going wrong.  Nehemiah witnesses the people in Judah treading the wine press on the Sabbath.  Further, the Tyrinians living in Judah were importing fish and other merchandise, selling them on the Sabbath.  Just a couple of chapters ago, the people agreed to not engage in such activities.  They made a vow against it!  They are quick to forget the promises they made to God.  My hope and prayer is that when we make a vow to God, we do what we can to fulfill it.  My prayer is that we daily serve Him and do His will. 

     

    May 29: Esther 1-5

     

    Esther is a unique book in the Bible for one specific reason; it never mentions God.  His presence is implied by Mordecai’s allusion to divine providence, but His name is not called out or mentioned in the book.  The events in Esther occurred between 486 and 465 BC.  

     

    Queen Vashti makes the king, Ahasuerus, mad by refusing to dance at one of his banquets.  These banquets were not coed, only the men were gathered.  The king was merely having her come out to show off her beauty to the gathered guests.  She refuses.  The king consults his wise men.  They decide that Vashti has not only insulted the king, but the entire land.  They recommend he issue a decree that removes her from her position as queen.  The belief is that this decree will prevent any other women from rising up.  

     

    After a while the king’s anger dies down.  He remembers Vashti and what she did.  Now he has a problem.  He does not have a queen.  So, the king’s attendants suggest that they have auditions for the position.  Whoever pleases the king the most will become queen.  

     

    Meanwhile, in the fortress of Susa, a Jew named Mordecai has adopted his cousin named Esther.  She was beautiful and when the king’s command for the women to gather to try out as queen, she was taken to the palace where she comes under Hegai’s care.  During her time in the palace, she does not let anyone know that she is Jewish.  Preparations to meet the king took an entire year.  After her preparation time, Esther is presented to the king, and she is selected as queen.  

     

    Mordecai uncovers a plot by two of the king’s eunuchs to assassinate him.  Mordecai reported it to Esther, who promptly had it investigated.  When the report was proven true, the two conspirators were hanged.  Mordecai saved the king’s life.  

     

    Haman, son of Hammedatha the Agagite, is promoted in rank and put in a position higher than any other officials.  When he was coming through the King’s Gate, the entire assembly stood up to pay respect to Haman.  Well, not everyone.  Mordecai remained seated.  He would not bow down and pay homage.  Haman gets mad, but rather than take it out directly on Mordecai, he learns that Mordecai is Jewish and decides to launch a plan to have them all killed.  


    Mordecai learns of this and appeals to Esther.  She is worried about approaching the king to request that her people be spared.  Mordecai explains to her that she had been called for such a time as this to spare her people.  A series of events brought her to that moment where she could have an audience with the king.  Had any other woman been selected to that position, they most likely would not have cared about the plight of the Jewish people.  God put Esther in this position so that she could advocate for His people.  Sometimes God is going to put us in scary situations for “such a time as this”.  How will we respond?  

     

    Esther approaches the king.  She asks that Haman and the king come to a banquet she has prepared for them.  The king has Haman summoned and they all go to the meal Esther had made.  Esther asks that the three dine together the next day. When Haman leaves, he is overjoyed until he sees Haman not get up to pay homage to him.  He is filled with rage but maintains his composure.  When he gets home, he complains to his wife about it.  She, along with some of his friends, recommend that he have a 75-foot gallows built and then ask the king to hang Mordecai from it.   

     

    May 30: Esther 6-10

     

    The king cannot sleep.  So, he orders the book recording daily events to be brought out and read to him.  (I find that a lot of government documents are good for curing the toughest cases of insomnia).  While they are reading through the book, the king discovers Mordecai’s act to prevent the eunuchs from assassinating him.  He asks what they have done to honor Mordecai.  Nothing has been done to award him for saving the king’s life.  

     

    Haman enters the king’s court to ask him to hang Mordecai. He is never able to make the request.  When the king finds out he is in the courts, he has Haman brought to him.  The king asks Haman what he should do to honor someone.  Haman thinks that the king is talking about him, so he gives a long-drawn-out explanation of what the king should do to honor the man.  The king orders Haman to go and do everything he has suggested for Mordecai!  I wish I could have been there to see his face! 

     

    Haman did as he is commanded, but then rushes home.  His wife and advisors warn him that his downfall is certain.  While they are trying to get him off of this collision course, the eunuchs arrive to escort him to the banquet Esther had made.  

     

    At the banquet, the king asks Esther what she would like.  She explains the plight of her people and how they have been sold out.  When the king asks for her to identify who has sold the Jewish people to destruction, she points out Haman as the man that has devised the wicked scheme.  The king is furious, gets up and walks out to take a breath.  Haman stays behind to beg for his life.  When the king gets back, he sees Haman falling on the couch where Esther is reclining.  He sees this as Haman trying to violate her.  The king asks, “Would he actually violate the queen while I am in the palace?” As soon as he says this, Haman’s face is covered, he is marched to the 75-foot gallows and hung.  

     

    Upon Haman’s death, Esther appeals further to the king asking that the decree to kill the Jews be rescinded.  The king agrees.  An edict is issued that allows them to assemble and defend themselves, to destroy, kill, and annihilate any army that is hostile toward them.  Mordecai becomes a great leader, and the Jews have many victories.  Throughout his life, he continued to seek good for the Jews and speak for the welfare of all his descendants.  All of this was possible because Esther stood up for her people at the right time. 

     

    May 31: Job 1-4

     

    Job is one of the older books in the Old Testament.  Job is a very wealthy man.  He has seven sons and three daughters.  He has 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 1,000 oxen, and 500 female donkeys.  Job was the greatest man in the east. He was also so pious that any time his children had a banquet, he would purify them since he feared they might have defiled themselves. 

     

    The sons of God come to present themselves.  The LORD asks Satan where he has been and then God proceeds to talk about Job and how great he is in his integrity, turning from evil, and fear of God.  Satan wagers that the only reason Job is faithful is because God has blessed him with so much stuff.  God allows the adversary to take away all of Job’s possessions.

     

    In the blink of an eye, Job lost it all.  His children died, his livestock was stolen or devoured, and his servants are struck down by the sword.  Job stands up, tears his robe, and shaves his head, a sign of mourning in those days.  He says, “the Lord gives and He takes away, Praise the name of Yahweh”.  Would we respond that way if we found ourselves in his position?  

     

    The sons of God assemble again.  This time Satan says that Job only remained faithful because he had not been harmed.  God gives the adversary permission to give Job physical ailments.  Job is infected with terrible boils all over his body.  His wife tells him to “Curse God and die”.  From our perspective, that seems harsh.  However, she said that out of concern for him.  She knew that if he died, he would not be suffering anymore.  Job chides her and asks if they should only accept good things from God.  

     

    Job’s friends come to visit after hearing the news.  When they are away from him, they see how destitute he is and begin mourning for their friend.  They go and sit among the ashes with Job for seven days and seven nights.  No one says a word.  

     

    After a week’s worth of silence, Job speaks.  He curses the day he was born but does not curse God.  Job is suffering and he does not know why.  The silence having been broken; his friend Eliphaz gives the first speech.  His speech is filled with traditional wisdom.  However, it does not address the reason for Job’s affliction.  In reality, he should have remained silent.  

     

    June 1: Job 5-7

     

    Eliphaz continues his speech.  He points out to Job that the holy ones will not answer him.  He needs a mediator.  The need for a mediator is a theme throughout Job.  He tries to console Job by saying that rather than being upset, he should realize that trouble is part of the human life cycle.  That is a LOT easier said by someone that is not suffering.  I wonder how Eliphaz would have reacted to that advice during a time in which he was suffering!  I doubt he would have taken it very well.  Several years ago, I had submitted a report to some of my advisors.  In response to my questions, one of my mentors responded “Well, like you said…”  I was not thrilled that someone used my words to minister to me! 

     

    Job responds to Eliphaz in chapter 6.  If his grief could be weighed, it would outweigh the sands of the sea.  The sands of the sea is used as a metaphor for vastness or something that cannot be measured.  Job feels that he is under attack from God.  He asks a rhetorical question that implies a negative answer.  Eliphaz’s words did nothing to encourage Job.  Instead, it was like feeding contaminated food to Job’s malnourished soul.  

     

    Job complains about the plight of humanity, stating that our days are like that of a hired hand, indicating that God treats us like a harsh master.  He is so upset that he refuses to keep silent.  He has reached his breaking point.  He will complain in the bitterness of his soul.  

     

    June 2: Job 8-10

     

    Bildad begins his speech.  He acts like God’s defense attorney, accusing Job of spouting hot air.  He too gives rhetorical questions that expects a negative answer.  God does not pervert justice.  He does not pervert what is right.  That is true. The problem here though is that Bildad is essentially accusing Job of sin in his life and that is what is causing his condition.  None of these guys have the facts on what is really taking place here.  Bildad sees this suffering and thinks “well, you must have done something to make this happen.”  In those days when ailments hit, it was assumed that people fell ill because of sin in their lives.  Jesus answers questions from the disciples about whose sin made a man born blind, the sins of the parents or the sins of the man.  Job is suffering, but it is not as punishment from sin he committed.  

     

    Job tries to present his case for innocence as if in a judicial setting.  He accurately identifies that humans cannot be justified before God.  God is mighty and made many wonderful things.  Job has no ability to answer Him or make arguments against Him even if he is right.  He could only beg for mercy.  Job is innocent and wants to know why God is oppressing him like this.  He closes this speech begging God to be compassionate on him and stop the persecution so that he can enjoy the few remaining years of his life. 

     

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  • June 2: Job 8-10

     

    Bildad begins his speech.  He acts like God’s defense attorney, accusing Job of spouting hot air.  He too gives rhetorical questions that expects a negative answer.  God does not pervert justice.  He does not pervert what is right.  That is true.  The problem here though is that Bildad is essentially accusing Job of sin in his life and that is what is causing his condition.  None of these guys have the facts on what is really taking place here.  Bildad sees this suffering and thinks “well, you must have done something to make this happen.”  In those days when ailments hit, it was assumed that people fell ill because of sin in their lives.  Jesus answers questions from the disciples about whose sin made a man born blind, the sins of the parents or the sins of the man.  Job is suffering, but it is not as punishment from sin he committed.  

     

    Job tries to present his case for innocence as if in a judicial setting.  He accurately identifies that humans cannot be justified before God.  God is mighty and made many wonderful things.  Job has no ability to answer Him or make arguments against Him even if he is right.  He could only beg for mercy.  Job is innocent and wants to know why God is oppressing him like this.  He closes this speech begging God to be compassionate on him and stop the persecution so that he can enjoy the few remaining years of his life.  

     

    June 3: Job 11-13

     

    Zophar begins attacking Job’s answers as if he was a prosecuting attorney.  His rhetorical questions imply a negative answer.  He accuses Job of being a talker.  Zophar misrepresents Job’s position.  Job has not once claimed that his answers are perfect.  Further, he did not claim that he was sinless.  Zophar makes it seem as if Job was claiming that he was better than everyone else and had it all figured out.  That is NOT what he had been doing.  

     

    Job responds with sarcasm, accusing his friends of being condescending.  They claimed to have deep knowledge, but based on how they are responding to his affliction, they are clearly not as smart as they think they are.  Job rightly identifies that God has all understanding and knowledge.  Out of everyone assembled to sit with Job, God is the only One that knows the source of Job’s suffering.  

     

    Job again reminds his friends that he is just as smart as they are, he is not inferior.  He also states that he would rather make his argument before God Almighty.  These friends cover the truth with lies.  He tells them to be quiet.  He will plead his case to God, even if it means he loses his life.  Job’s hope is in God alone.  

     

    June 4: Job 14-16

     

    Job speaks of the fleeting nature of life.  Our days are short and full of trouble.  We wither like the blossoms of a flower.  Job asks why God would spend His time scrutinizing and evaluating humans since they are not permanent.  Job describes the permanence of death.  When a tree is cut down, there is still hope since it can sprout again.  When a person takes his or her last breath, they will not rise again.  Job is in a depressed state.  He is focused on God’s oppressive might, his painful future, and subsequent death.  Sometimes we can get so bogged down with the weight of worldly pressures we can lose sight of how good God is to us.  When that happens, I suggest we count our blessings to remind ourselves of how good God is.  

     

    Eliphaz responds by going on the attack.  He is accusing Job of being full of hot air, not responding as a truly wise person would.  Instead, he surmises Job’s answers are empty and self-serving.  He accuses Job of not having the proper reverence for God.  Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  Eliphaz opines that Job must not have wisdom since he is not showing God the proper respect.  Eliphaz then launches the claim that wicked people spend their years in pain and agony. I think that many of us would disagree with his statement.  We see wicked people all around us that seem to be without agony or pain.  

     

    Job replies to Eliphaz’s speech by informing his friends that they are terrible comforters.  They have done nothing to help him in his state.  In fact, they have only made things worse.  Job reminds them that if he was in their place and they were in his, he could easily speak like they are.  When someone else is going through a tough time, we do not know exactly what the person is going through.  It is best to keep from giving advice to the suffering individual.  That is one of the biggest issues with Job’s friends.  They assume that they know the source of Job’s suffering.  I find that in life it is best to not assume! 

     

    June 5: Job 17-20

     

    Job continues putting his hope in the Lord.  He asks God to “put up security” for him.  He is asking that God be responsible for any debts Job might have defaulted on.  Even in his hope, though, Job identifies that he is an object of scorn.  His eyes are dim from grief and his body is a shadow.  

     

    Bildad responds.  He asks how long “until you stop talking?”.  The “you” in the original text is plural, not singular.  Since Bildad is speaking to Job, this plural form is a mark of politeness.  The politeness seems to end shortly after this question since he then accuses Job of thinking his friends are a bunch of unthinking animals.  He then tells Job that his problem is not an angry God that is tearing at him.  Instead, it is Job’s anger at God that is the problem.  Bildad then explains how the days of the wicked are numbered and the suffering that they endure.  

     

    Job replies to Bildad by asking him a similar question to Bildad’s opening line.  “How long?”  The words of Job’s friends have not helped him at all.  In fact, they have added to his grief.  He pleads for their mercy. 

     

    Zophar responds by indicating that he still believed he offered valuable insight into Job’s plight.  Zophar explains more of the wicked person and the struggles they have.  They conceal evil under the tongue, even though it tastes sweet in the mouth.  He will not enjoy the fruits of his labor and the appetite of the wicked is never satisfied.  One day, the wicked person’s possessions will be taken away and they will face God’s anger. 

     

    June 6: Job 21-23

    Job responds to Zophar asking that they listen to him before they continue their mocking.  Job is not lodging a complaint against man, but instead the complaint is to God.  He is frustrated at this point because he feels as if God is not listening or paying attention to him.  Sometimes we are going to go through some dark times, and it feels like God is not with us.  However, during those times of supposed silence, we can know that He is there with us.  Does a teacher talk while the students are taking a test? 

     

    There are more complaints about the prosperity of the wicked.  Job rightly proclaims that everyone eventually perishes.  Whether a person is in peak physical health or poor health, one day he or she will draw a last breath.  

     

    Eliphaz begins his speech with an interesting question.  “Can a man be of any use to God?” This rhetorical question seeks a negative answer.  It does not matter how righteous Job is because God is perfect.  God created mankind; He is not reliant upon them.  Instead, we are reliant on Him.  We cannot fill up any deficiencies in Him because He has no deficiencies.  God continues to exist whether we acknowledge Him or not.  He does not need us to continue being God, He will always be.

     

    Job responds by trying to justify his poor attitude.  From his vantage, God is oppressing him.  He has been searching for God everywhere, but he has not found Him.  There is some hope in this speech when Job states that he will be like gold when the test is over.  Just like dross is removed from gold in the crucible, Job’s blemishes will be removed.  He has endured a lot, is terrified, and faint of heart, but he has not been destroyed.

     

    June 7: Job 24-28

     

    Job continues his speech.  Many of the things he says in chapter 24 are similar to Proverbs.  There are timeless truths in what he says.  He speaks of the futility of trying to hide sin.  The adulterer waits for twilight thinking that no one will see him.  Though he may not be caught by humans, the Almighty knows what he has done.  

     

    Bildad offers more rhetorical questioning.  He is essentially saying “it is what it is”.  That was a saying we used a lot in the Navy.  Things are the way that they are.  Job is in his situation, and it is what it is.  However, that knowledge does nothing to help Job out.  Bildad’s “comforting questions” provide no comfort at all.  Job explains that he will not speak unjustly, and his tongue will not utter deceit.  These are two characteristics of an upright person.  

     

    Job sings a hymn to wisdom in chapter 28.  Wisdom is better than anything else that the world has to offer.  Wisdom is better than gold, onyx, or sapphire.  It is so valuable, that we will never really know its true value.  We are living in an age where information is constantly coming at us.  However, there is a difference between having knowledge and having wisdom.  When it comes to the Bible, we can have all the knowledge of what it contains.  However, that knowledge is not wisdom if it is not applied in our lives. 

     

    June 8: Job 29-31

     

    Job yearns for a time when God blessed him and he had no worries.  There has been an attitude shift in him since he told his wife that they should accept both good and bad things from The LORD.  He wants to return to that time where he had no worries, stress, or sickness about him.  God’s friendship rested on his tent.  Though he cannot see it, God is still with Job.  It is hard to see it, though, because he is mocked by people younger than him now.  He has no youthful vigor anymore.  Job has become an object of scorn despite the fact that he was renowned and respected prior to his troubles.  

     

    Throughout the discourse, Job maintains his innocence.  He has not looked at young women inappropriately.  He has not left his wife for another.  Job has walked in truth and not deceit.  He has clothed the needy and supported the orphan.  Job has done what God has instructed His people to do, but Job still suffers.  

     

    June 9: Job 32-34

     

    Elihu responds in anger.  Elihu means “He is my God” and Barachel means “God has blessed”.  Elihu is mad because he perceives that Job has argued for his own righteousness.  This implied that God was unjust.  Further, he is mad because Job’s friends condemned Job before they knew the facts of the case.  Elihu is young, so he has been shy about telling them what he thinks until now.  

     

    He begins addressing Job.  He informs Job that he is wrong in his assessment that he is upright, pure, and without transgression.  Job is wrong because God is greater than man.  Elihu speaks of God’s deliverance from the Pit and restoration of righteousness.  He tells Job that if he has something to say, then he should say it.  Otherwise, he needs to keep quiet and listen to his instruction.

     

    Elihu then addresses the “wise” friends of Job.  He then proceeds to give the attributes of God.  God is just and almighty.  He is powerful and can cause the world to stop at any moment.  The Almighty cannot be condemned.  He is righteous and holy.  God is the One that watches over His creation.  God sees the missteps of the people and the injustice they do.  He asks a good question.  When someone says to God that they have endured their punishment and promise to walk righteously, should God repay them on their terms? 


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  • June 9:  Job 32-34

     

    Elihu responds in anger.  Elihu means “He is my God” and Barachel means “God has blessed”.  Elihu is mad because he perceives that Job has argued for his own righteousness.  This implied that God was unjust.  Further, he is mad because Job’s friends condemned Job before they knew the facts of the case.  Elihu is young, so he has been shy about telling them what he thinks until now.  

     

    He begins addressing Job.  He informs Job that he is wrong in his assessment that he is upright, pure, and without transgression.  Job is wrong because God is greater than man.  Elihu speaks of God’s deliverance from the Pit and restoration of righteousness.  He tells Job that if he has something to say, then he should say it.  Otherwise, he needs to keep quiet and listen to his instruction.

     

    Elihu then addresses the “wise” friends of Job.  He then proceeds to give the attributes of God.  God is just and almighty.  He is powerful and can cause the world to stop at any moment.  The Almighty cannot be condemned.  He is righteous and holy.  God is the One that watches over His creation.  God sees the missteps of the people and the injustice they do.  He asks a good question.  When someone says to God that they have endured their punishment and promise to walk righteously, should God repay them on their terms? 

     

    June 10:  Job 35- 37

     

    Elihu continues his speech in defense of The LORD.  Based on Job’s complaints, it seems as if Job is trying to make himself righteous apart from God.  Elihu calls him out on this issue and reminds him that the oppressed often fail to consider the person and work of God.  Rather than understand that they could be receiving punishment for their sin, they focus on their present situation.  Elihu closes chapter 35 accusing Job of speaking empty words.  

     

    As Elihu’s discourse continues, he asks that the me be patient with him a little longer.  He has not fully justified God in his eyes.  He explains that sometimes God puts constraints on His people so that they will not completely fall into sin.  He opens their ears to correction and insists they repent of their sinfulness.  However, some of those that are bound will respond to their constraints with hatred in their heart.  

     

    God is everywhere.  He is powerful and mighty.  Elihu senses God in the thunderstorm.  He sends snow and torrential rain.  He is the source of all weather.  God is dazzling and amazing, we cannot look upon Him.  Elihu uses the sun as a comparison.  We cannot gaze at the sun for too long because of its radiance.  God is even more radiant.  He is just and righteous, we cannot reach Him.  God does not oppress justice. 

     

    June 11: Job 38 & 39

     

    Now God comes in to speak to Job.  He speaks from the whirlwind.  God demands to know who obscures His counsel.  God, of course, already knows the answer.  He then proceeds to demand Job answer His questions about how the earth was established, its dimensions, and its foundation.  He also asks who it was that contained the sea and developed its boundaries.  After God asks a series of questions about the things of the world, He then asks Job if he can contain the constellations and send clouds and lightning.  We all know that answer to that.  Job cannot do any of these things.  Neither can we.  

     

    In chapter 39, God asks questions regarding the animals and their birth cycles.  He also wants to know who set the wild donkey free.  God is implying that He has placed every animal in a suitable environment.  He gives strength to the horse.  He protects the offspring of the ostrich.  God is God and Job is not.  God is God and we are not.  

     

    June 12: Job 40-41

     

    Job is understandably shaken by God’s questioning.  He confesses that he is insignificant and places his hand over his mouth.  God continues asking questions.  He brings up Behemoth and Leviathan, two large beasts that were created by God Almighty.  Job cannot pull Leviathan in with a hook, but God can.

     

    Job replies that he knows God can do anything and none of His plans will be thwarted.  Job takes back all of the things he said and repents in dust and ashes.  God tells Job’s friends to make a burnt offering for themselves.  He is displeased with them because they did not speak about Him truthfully like Job did.  He tells them that Job will pray for them since He will not listen to their prayers.  God promises mercy to them, explaining that He will not punish them for their folly.  

     

    God then doubles all of Job’s possessions.  He also gives Job the same number of sons and daughters as he had before he lost them all.  Job has been restored to his place of prominence.  One thing that always throws me off about this narrative is that Job is never given an explanation on why he suffered the way that he did.  

     

    We are going to go through some rough times and God will see us through.  However, He will not always explain to us why we went through the tough times.  The challenge is to remain faithful to Him in good times and bad. 

     

    June 13: Psalms 1-8

     

    We move on to the Psalms today.  The word for psalms in Hebrew is Tehilim, which means “Praise”.  The English title comes from the Greek Psalmoi, which means “songs of praise.”  The point of the Psalms is for praise.  The majority of these praises were written by King David, the greatest king that Israel ever had.  This book contains hymns and prayers that were used to worship God.  

     

    People that follow the righteous and not the ways of the wicked will be happy.  Wickedness and folly lead to ruin.  Those that follow God are happy.  They delight in Him and not the things of the world.  

    Psalm two asks why the nations would rebel against God.  To “take a stand” gives the impression that these kings are preparing for battle.  They view God’s commands and rules as constraints, binding them from doing what they want to do.  They want to break free so that they can be free.  There is a level of irony here because elsewhere, we will read about God breaking the shackles of sin in the life of the believer.  God does not give us commands to hold us down, He gives them to us so that we can be free.  

     

    Psalm three was written when David was fleeing from his son Absalom.  David describes God as his shield.  Even though his enemies are increasing, David knows that God will protect him.  Psalm four was composed to be accompanied by music.  David sings of God’s vindication and his freedom from affliction.  

     

    Psalm seven is the only Psalm to have the word “Shiggaion” attached to it.  We do not know what this word means.  Some believe that it comes from the Assyrian word “shegu” meaning to lament.  Others propose it is rooted in the Hebrew word for “going astray”.  Psalm eight is identified as a creation hymn.  

     

    June 14: Psalms 9-16

     

    In psalm nine, David states that he will give thanks to God with all his heart.  This means that he is bringing these praises sincerely.  When he describes the retreat and stumbling of the enemies, that is either an event that recently occurred or a situation brought about by God.  David describes God as being on the throne forever.  This is a comfort to the oppressed since they know that He holds the future.  

     

    Psalm 10 asks why God is so far away.  The psalmist is experiencing a period where he does not feel God’s presence.  That is not to say that God is far from him. However, God might be allowing the person to go through this time as a test.  I know that I can go some days without seeking God earnestly.  When I do, I feel a lack of His presence.  However, that is not His fault, it is my fault.  That’s why I will start the prayer with something along the lines of “I am sorry”.  

     

    During David’s struggles with his foes, some of his advisers told him to flee.  David asks why he would flee like a bird when God is his fortress and refuge.  A bird is defenseless and must fly away to avoid danger.  David is backed by God Almighty so he can stand his ground.  

     

    June 15: Psalms 17-20

     

    David prays for protection in Psalm 17.  He asks that God hear his prayer from lips “free of deceit”.  This refers to his sincerity and truthfulness.  David explains that God has tested and tried him.  God tests people and their motives.  David asks that God give him protection from his enemies.  He asks God to confront his enemy and bring him down.  Throughout David’s struggled with Saul and his sons, David never exacted vengeance himself.  Instead, he trusted that the Lord would handle his enemies. 

     

    Psalm 18 was written upon the occasion that David was rescued from the hands of Saul.  When God delivers us from a trial or a trouble, our first reaction should be to give praise.  Do we spend enough time thanking God for all He has done for us?  In the praise, the psalmist speaks of God’s might and how He displays His power in natural phenomena.  

     

    Psalm 19 speaks of God’s creation as singing His praises and bearing witness to His work.  These praises and proofs do not cease, they are constant.  God has done some amazing things.  We see His handiwork, the trees, the sunset, the rain and storm clouds.  There is proof of God and His creative hand everywhere we look.  

     

    David refers to the “day of trouble” in psalm 20.  This could mean any time of distress, but in the case of this psalm it is distress caused by his enemies.  David exalts God above all else.  We do not find our hope and strength in chariots or other weapons of war.  Our strength is found in God alone. 

     

    June 16: Psalms 21-25

     

    Psalm 21 speaks of the king’s victory.  Psalm 22 opens with another question of God’s rejection.  This particular psalm is quoted by Jesus when He is on the cross.  “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”  This psalm also speaks to future events, such as “casting lots for clothing” and dividing the garments.  At the time of His execution, the soldiers in charge of meting out Christ’s suffering would do just that.  

     

    Psalm 23 is one of the most widely known psalms.  This psalm speaks of God as the Good Shepherd.  He leads His sheep to the good pastures.  Sometimes, He must take them through the darkest valleys to get there, but the sheep know that God is going to lead them through.  Even in our darkest times, we can trust that God is right there with us, leading us.  We can trust in Him.  

     

    Psalm 24 identifies that God owns all of creation.  The one that walks in righteousness will one day receive a blessing from the Lord.  Psalm 25 speaks of dependence on God.  He is the One that we can trust.  He will not leave us or forsake us.  God is not our last hope, He is our only hope.  So, the question is, do we depend on Him at all times?  Or do we only go to Him when everything is falling apart?  My hope and prayer is that we walk with God and depend on Him in the good times and bad.  

     

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  • June 16:  Psalms 21-25

     

    Psalm 21 speaks of the king’s victory.  Psalm 22 opens with another question of God’s rejection.  This psalm is quoted by Jesus when He is on the cross.  “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”  This psalm also speaks to future events, such as “casting lots for clothing” and dividing the garments.  At the time of His execution, the soldiers in charge of meting out Christ’s suffering would do just that.  

     

    Psalm 23 is one of the most widely known psalms.  This psalm speaks of God as the Good Shepherd.  He leads His sheep to the good pastures.  Sometimes, He must take them through the darkest valleys to get there, but the sheep know that God is going to lead them through.  Even in our darkest times, we can trust that God is right there with us, leading us.  We can trust in Him.  

     

    Psalm 24 identifies that God owns all of creation.  The one that walks in righteousness will one day receive a blessing from the Lord.  Psalm 25 speaks of dependence on God.  He is the One that we can trust.  He will not leave us or forsake us.  God is not our last hope, He is our only hope.  So, the question is, do we depend on Him at all times?  Or do we only go to Him when everything is falling apart?  My hope and prayer is that we walk with God and depend on Him in the good times and bad. 

     

    June 17:  Psalms 26-31

     

    Psalm 26 starts with a request for vindication.  This sets the stage for a psalm that is primarily to declare innocence.  While the psalmist makes it sound as if he is perfect, he is not really claiming sinlessness.  Instead, he is claiming spiritual and moral integrity.  In verses 4-5 the text indicates that a person’s faithfulness toward God is not just in things he or she does, but what he or she also avoids.  In this case, the author steers clear of hypocrites and the wicked.  He walks on level ground, which is associated with the way God leads His people. 

     

    Psalm 27 gives encouragement to those that follow God and are saved by Him.  As the stronghold of our lives, who should we fear?  The answer, of course, is God alone.  We fear no evil because we belong to The LORD.  The psalmist reminds us to seek God and wait on His answer.  It might seem like He is silent, but we will one day see His goodness. 

     

    In Psalm 28, David cries out to The LORD, asking that He not be far away.  He asks that God be near and listen to his concerns and worries.  He asks that he not be dragged away with the wicked and evil doers.  He does not want to be punished along with them because he is not connected with that group.  

     

    Psalm 29 describes some of God’s majesty and royalty.  God was the One that sat enthroned at the flood, and He is king forever.  Psalm 30 is a dedication song, exalting God for His divine intervention and deliverance.  Psalm 31 asks God for protection.  Many of these psalms were written during David’s time in hiding, fleeing from his enemies.  Notice how he takes all of his thanks, praises, fears, and cries to God.  The psalmist does not hold back.  He tells God exactly what is on his mind.  My hope and prayer is that we all have a relationship with God where we are comfortable taking all of our joys and concerns to Him. 

     

    June 18:  Psalms 32- 35

     

    Psalm 32 speaks of the joy we find when we turn our sins over to God.  In my younger years, I used to think that I could just give a “forgive me of my sins” kind of prayer.  However, as I matured, I began asking for forgiveness for each and every sin I committed.  We cannot hide our sins from The LORD, so when we bring our confessions to Him, we can just give Him all the mess and He will do the healing.  Praise God for that!

     

    Psalm 33 is a descriptive psalm.  This psalm encourages us to rejoice in The LORD.  This psalm also calls for a variety of instruments to be used in praising God.  His word is right, He is just, loves righteousness, and His love does not fail.  We can trust in Him for our safety.

     

    Psalm 34 was written concerning the time David pretended he was insane in front of Achish the king of Gath (1 Samuel 21:10-15).  This psalm gives the credit for David’s deliverance to The LORD.  It was certainly an interesting approach, but it worked.  Sometimes God has us do some things that do not make sense at the time.  In those situations, the best thing we can do is follow His commands.  

     

    In Psalm 35, David prays for victory over his enemies.  He asks that they fall into their own traps, which was a common request.  God has seen the issues David has come against.  He has seen what David’s enemies have done.  David asks how long it will be before God does something about it.  He asks that God not be silent and thwart his foes. 

     

    June 19:  Psalms 36-39

     

    A prophetic oracle against the wicked opens Psalm 36.  The wicked have no fear of God.  The evil person sets out on a path that is not good.  Wise people seek The LORD and take refuge in God’s shadow.  

     

    David gives sound advice in Psalm 37.  He encourages us to not be irritated by evil doers or be jealous of them.  In life, we see that sometimes bad people wind up rising to prominence or they come into a lot of money.  This might seem like they are being rewarded for their dishonesty and evil.  That is not the case.  As believers, we strive to walk in God’s ways all the time.  Why forfeit our soul for worldly riches?  Evil doers will be destroyed, but the righteous will gain an inheritance that lasts forever.

     

    Psalm 38 is a psalm of lament.  David is suffering and he believes that sin is the reason.  He has been indignant toward God and now has no strength or vigor.  He is constantly in pain and waiting to fall.  He cries out that God would not abandon him and be close. 

     

    Psalm 39 deals with how quickly life goes by.  David acknowledges that our lives are like a vapor.  We walk around like a shadow, gathering possessions, but not knowing who will get them.  With that in mind, where should our hope be?  God is our only hope.  We will spend eternity with Him.  These physical bodies may crumble and break, but we will live on with Him forever. 

     

    June 20: Psalms 40-45

     

    In Psalm 40, David gives thanks, but he is also crying out to God for help.  He is happy because he has put his trust in The LORD.  There are those that still look down upon David and want to see his downfall.  Rather than try to take up arms against them, David turns these concerns over to God.  

     

    David speaks of his victory even though he faced opposition.  He asks that God be gracious to him and heal him because he has sinned against The LORD.  David’s enemies see his affliction and ask when he will die.  However, when they see David, they speak deceitfully toward him.

     

    Psalm 42 is well known, opening with the line “as the deer pants for water.”  The psalmist here is longing for God.  His thirst cannot be cured with anything other than God.  The psalmist uses hyperbole, explaining that his tears are so numerous that he has drenched the furniture.  In his devastation, these tears are his only food.  

     

    Psalm 43 opens with a request for vindication.  This request assumes the innocence and integrity of the psalmist.  He would not be worthy of vindication if he was guilty.  

     

    The reader is reminded of what God has done for His people in Psalm 44.  God drove out the nations with His hand.  He gave them victory over their enemies.  Now, though, the people are rejected and humiliated.  God no longer marches with them into battle.  They are shamed, but they have not forgotten God.  The psalm asks why God is sleeping during their time of trial.  Sometimes God is silent during the test.  When we are going through these times, we can trust that He is there as we trudge through the issue.  

     

    Psalm 45 is a wedding song, and it is set to the tune of “The Lilies” which must have been a renowned song at the time.  The psalm is directed at the king.  One thing to note in the list of the king’s attributes is that humility is listed among truth and justice.  Kings from other nations would also be listed as upholding truth and justice.  However, humility is specific to Israel’s kings.  

     

    June 22:  Psalms 51-57

     

    Psalm 51 is a prayer for restoration.  David is really working through his grief over the sin he committed with Bathsheba.  Remember, he had her brought to him while the army was off to war.  He got her pregnant and then had her husband sent back to Jerusalem, with the intent to make the husband think the child was his.  When Bathsheba’s husband would not go home and be with his wife, David sends him back to battle with orders that ensure the man dies in battle.  David is working through the sadness and shame he feels from this event in this psalm.  

     

    In Psalm 52 David warns not to brag about evil.  In this instance, the person is not boasting about his wealth or his abilities.  Instead, he is boasting about his evil deeds.  This reminds me of Lamech when he gathers his wives to brag about the destruction, he brings on people for wounding him in Genesis 4:23. Psalm 53 sings of the foolishness of not believing in God.  The person that says this is corrupt and does vile deeds.  The psalm goes on to say that there is no one that does good.  Try as we might, we will still fall into sin.  It happens.  We are not sinners because we sin.  We sin because we are sinners.  Thankfully our sins are covered by the blood of Christ Almighty. 

     

    David prays to God concerning betrayal he has experienced from a trusted friend in Psalm 55.  He is harassed and his enemies bring disasters on him.  When David writes about going down to Sheol alive, it is reminiscent of the sons of Korah that were swallowed up by the ground when they rebelled against God.  

     

    Psalm 56 was written on the occasion where the Philistines seized Gath.  David makes a vow in verse 12.  Vows were typically made while petitioning The LORD.  These vows were later fulfilled by giving “Thank Offerings”.   

     

    Psalm 57 was written about the time that David hid from Saul in the cave.  Saul came into the cave to relieve himself.  David’s men tried to convince him that God had delivered Saul over so he could kill him.  David did the right thing and did not harm the king.  Instead, he simply cut off the corner of his robe.  Saul eventually loses his life, but it is not by David’s hand. 

     

    June 23:  Psalms 58-65

     

    The “mighty ones” in Psalm 58 refers to the people.  They do not speak righteously or judge people fairly.  They have a level of sinful bias to how they handle their business.  The wicked walk away from the correct path.  One day, God will sweep away all of these injustices and make everything right.  

     

    Psalm 59 was written during the time that king Saul had sent some men to watch David’s house with the intent to kill him.  David takes his concerns to God and begs for deliverance from these enemies.  He has done nothing wrong, but they are surrounding him.  It is no fun to be vilified by people, especially when we have done nothing wrong.  It happens, though.  When this happens, my prayer is we act like David and put our trust in God.  

     

    There was a significant loss of life in the Valley of Salt.  The death toll was 12,000.  Psalm 60 was written about this event.  It is a communal lament.  The people feel rejected, and they sense God’s anger at them.  Despite how bleak the psalm starts off, it ends with the hope that God will destroy their enemies. 

     

    Psalm 61 speaks of the security we find in God.  He is our refuge, a strong tower.  In verse 4, the reference to the “tent” is a figurative reference to God’s presence.  I hope and pray that His presence is constantly felt as we walk this earth.  Psalm 62 is about trusting in God alone.  Everything in this world will fail.  Kings, kingdoms, governmental systems, and other dynasties will one day fall by the wayside.  However, God is constant.  We can put our trust in Him, the everlasting and eternal God. 

     

    David sings of his satisfaction in The LORD in Psalm 63.  This psalm was written while he was in the wilderness of Judah.  Despite the fact that he is isolated and in barren land, David finds what he needs in God.  The LORD provides in times of certainty and uncertainty.  We look to Him to meet our needs.  

     

    Psalm 64 asks for protection from the folks that would bring harm to the psalmist.  They devise schemes, but God will defeat them.  Their plans will be thwarted by God Almighty.  

     

    Psalm 65 deals with God’s right to praise and how He cares for the earth.  God sends the waters; He prepares the earth.  He sends the rain showers and provides grain to His people.  Creation is God’s handiwork. 


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