“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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