Deuteronomy 16:1-8 – Passover. The month of Abib, which means “ear of corn” is July/August which is about the time of the first grain harvest. The feast of Passover is the first month of the Ecclesiastical year (Easton’s Dictionary). When the nation left Egypt after 400 years of slavery, they were introduced to Lord’s Passover. This feast, which is still held to this date, would be a visual reminder of where the nation came from (1-3). The bread was made without yeast. The reason was that yeast took heat and time to activate but the people had to leave in haste (4). The people were directed to hold the Passover sacrifice at the “One where the Lord puts His name” (5-6). For six days the people would eat the bread of affliction which was rightly named because it was flat and tasteless (I know I had some – yuck!). On the seventh day, the people held a solemn assembly which is a formal and dignified meeting (7-8).
Psalm 31:1-2 – Into Your Hand, I Commit My Spirit. When you consider Jesus’ life from birth till the fateful day on the cross, it was a story of “Obedience in the Fire”. Every event of his life was predicated upon the actions of his family, himself, and others that set the stage for the drama of Psalms 22. When we do what is asked of us, we can abide in His presence knowing there will be no incriminating evidence against us. When we are obedient, He will listen to our tears, hold us when the walls are collapsing in on us, and be a solid rock to stand on (1-2, Matthew 7:24-27).
Proverbs 1:1-7 – The Beginning of Wisdom. It is said, “Everything that has a beginning, has an ending. Make peace with that all will be well” (Jack Kornfield). The same thing can be said about “Wisdom and Folly”. The first sentence of the book admonishes us to “know wisdom”. The word “know” implies that you understand and apply the word to your life. When we apply the words to our lives and form our actions around them, we will have success. The Bible has multiple riddles all of which do not always present themselves as such and is part of the reason we often misunderstand it. Armed with wisdom and instruction, though, we can put the pieces together to understand what the Lord desires of us (1-7).
John 15:1-11 – I Am the True Vine. As I have said previously, the word “I Am” is the name of G-d. So, Jesus is speaking in the 2nd person or immersing himself in the character of “G-d” (Mirriam Webster). Because G-d is the true vine in which all vines stem, only He can dress the vines by pruning or removing. Unless we have armed ourselves with wisdom and knowledge of the Lord, we will not be able to effectively minister in the name of the Lord (1-6). It is true, we can go to church, read His Word, sing praise songs, and become teary-eyed when we hear the message and yet be a dead vine. We need the water of the Holy Spirit operating in and through our lives just as the vine needs the water from the root (7). G-d is not glorified by our actions so much is it by the heart we put into it. For the disciples, it meant “stick together, love one another despite their faults, and do what is asked of you” (8-9). Keeping the Father’s commandments in Spirit and in truth will bring about joy amid the sorrows and pains to come (10-11).
1 Samuel 5 – The Philistines and Ark. After the Ark was captured from the Israelite camp at Ebenezer, it was taken to Dagon’s Temple in Ashdod (1-2). This setup a strange period of retribution. The Lord’s punishment came about in a way that the Philistines would never forget. In the same way, when we take that which belongs to G-d and misuse it, we suffer punishment in the form of consequences. Dagon, the fish G-d, was the diety of choice for most of the area surrounding Philistia. When they placed Ark at the feet of Dagon, the anticipation was to make the G-d of the Hebrews subservient to the G-d of Philistia (3-5). When it comes to things of G-d, we want to believe that we are the “protectors” only to find out that it is G-d who protects us. If the nation Israel had mounted an attack to get the ark back, they would have had a fight on their hands. So, the Lord set in motion a string of events that decimated Philistia and forever cemented in their minds “who was G-d and who was an idol” (6-12).
Deuteronomy 15:12-18 – Treatment of Slaves. When it came to the treatment of slaves, the owner was to hold the person to indentured service for a maximum of six years (12). On the seventh year or the Sabbatical year, the person was set free and with a reward for their years of service (13-14). An important caveat to this is, “treat the individual the same way you would want to be treated” (15, Luke 6:31). The servant who didn’t want to leave his/her master would have an awl put thru their ear leaving an indelible mark so that they would not be re-enslaved (16-17). Letting the servant go free should not be done begrudgingly (18).
Psalm 30 – Joy Comes with the Morning. Time and faithfulness had changed the course of Israel. Egypt was Israel’s “Sheol” or “abode of the dead”. When Israel left Egypt, they wore the clothes they had on their back, dough for baking bread along the way, Egyptian treasures, and hope for a better future (1-3, Exodus 12:33-36). Fast forward 320 years to the day of the Temple dedication, and the nation is now rich, well-fed, and has a temple built to worship the Lord who brought them out of Egypt. This was a day of rejoicing and dancing (11-12). The thing is, without the Lord’s favor, what they possessed could all be taken away (6-7).
Lamentations 5 – Restore Us to Yourself, O Lord. The nation’s “strong mountain” was lost (Psalms 30:6). The once fluid nation now had to live in shanties instead of homes. The bread, wood, and water that once was free now had to be bought at a price that would eventually bankrupt the nation (1-6). The problem was that the innocent was paying the price for their fathers’ sins (7). The nation, in essence, became slaves again something the Lord had no desire for them to be (8-14). The joy of the Lord which was expressed in dancing, singing, and playing music was banished from the land (15-18). Because the Lord lives forever, as long as we are alive it is entirely possible to be restored. The thing is restoration means starting over again from NOTHING! Restoration is not an “immediate event” (19-22). How long does it take to be restored? The answer, “as long as it takes”.
John 14:15-31 – Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit. As I have said previously, Jesus was the Apostles’ leader, teacher, and friend for 3.5 years. Keeping the Father’s commandments when the teacher was alive was one thing but, the real test was when he was no longer in the picture (15-17). Jesus’ statement had to invoke fear in the disciples’ hearts. This, I believe, was the reasoning for stating “I will not leave you as orphans” or “caught in the cross-fire”. When Jesus came back, it was in the form of the same spirit that guided the Father’s building program and the same one that was at the heart of Jesus (18-21, Proverbs 8:22-31, Genesis 1-2). The thing is, the Holy Spirit did not descend on everybody in Jerusalem that day only on the 100 in the upper room (22-24, Acts 2:1-4). From the beginning of his ministry, Jesus pointed the glory to the Father. During the three and half years, Jesus had many “groupies” following him but by the end, the number dwindled down significantly (John 6:66-67). Jesus said these things while he was present so that the disciples would know it came from him and not some false prophecy (25-31).
1 Samuel 4:12-22 – Death of Eli. For forty years Eli led the nation and protected the Ark of the Covenant. Eli’s Achille’s heel was his boys. The boys, just like the Sanhedrin, were wicked men presenting themselves as “the Lord’s priests”. When Eli got word that two sons were killed in the battle and the ark they were supposed to protect was taken, he fell off the fence and died (12-18). Phinehas’ wife was now a widow and pregnant. When his wife gave birth to a boy, it should have been a joyful time but without her husband, it was tragic. For this reason, she named the child “Ichabod” which meant “the glory the Lord has departed” (19-22) which is like calling him “the devil”. For the rest of the child’s life, and we are not told what happened to him, he would be a physical reminder of the events that unfolded.
Deuteronomy 15:1-11 – The Sabbatical Year. The Sabbath year or “Shmita” occurs every 7th year (1,). Anybody who lived in the land that owed money was forgiven and the debt canceled (2-3). By being obedient, there would be no poor in the land because the people would provide for those in need (4-5). The Lord promised, and He never breaks His promises, that He would bless the land and the work of the laborers. The proof of a blessed land is that the nation would borrow to many nations but lend from none, would rule many nations but never be ruled over (6). We’ll find out in time that as the nation drifted towards disobedience, they would be ruled over and become poor. If a brother or sister should by happenstance become poor, the people were to provide what the individual needed and do unbegrudgingly (7-11, 2 Corinthians 9:6-9).
Psalms 29 – Ascribe to Lord Glory. The word “ascribe” means to “attribute”. When something good happens in our life, as humans we tend to pat our back. However, when something bad happens we point our fingers. The thing is, the Lord works vicariously through our life which brings good and bad results. Yet, when we are obedient, He makes both ends of the spectrum work for our good (1-2, Romans 8:28). When enemies strike at us, our confidence needs to be in the same Lord who heals us (3-6). In nature, we see days of sunshine and storms, but both works to heal the land and provide for the land and animals’ needs (7-11).
Lamentations 4:12-22 – Temple’s Destruction. Solomon’s temple was the pride of the nation. No one other than the Jews could enter the temple as the others stayed outside in the court of the gentiles (12). The reason the gentiles could enter the temple was that it had become a den of iniquity thanks to the priests and king (13). During the onslaught, the people became unclean due to starvation and thirst leading to illness (14-15). The nation was then scattered to the four winds (16). During the good years, many nations courted Israel for favor and as a trading partner now, those people were nowhere to be found (17). In the final stages of the attack, there was no hiding, running away, and/or denying what was going on just as the prophets had said would occur (18-19). What happened in Israel at that time was a warning both to those on the sidelines and those who were attacking (20-22).
John 13:31-35 – A New Commandment. What was about to happen in the village of Jerusalem would be unprecedented, vile, and frightening. This man Jesus would be offered up as a sacrificial lamb to Rome. One of the 12 disciples would become a traitor for the prize of thirty pieces of silver (Matthew 25:16). The Sanhedrin had been mocked and scorned by Jesus during his ministerial years through parables. The disciples would be caught in the crossfire. In the face of all this, the 12 were told to “love one another” and that included Judas Iscariot and the Jewish community. If the twelve could love one another, the wounds would heal, and the nation could be restored. Love, just like hatred, is a choice that is often made in the face of destruction. If we love one another, as Jesus loves us, the destruction will lose the power it thinks it has will unleash (31-35).
1 Samuel 4:1-11 – The Philistines Capture the Ark. Israel marched out to battle against the Philistines. Israel camped at Ebenezer (Stone of Help) and the Philistines camped at Aphek (Strength or Rapid Torrent). In the first attack, four thousand in Israel had been killed. When the leaders surveyed the damage, they asked “what caused this to happen?”. The decision was made to bring the power of the Ark (1-2). When the ark entered the camp, the people raised a battle cry that shook the Philistines (3-7). At first, the Philistines quaked with fear until a wise leader told them to get a hold of themselves (8-9). The Philistines once again took the battle to Israel, defeated them soundly, and took the Ark of the Covenant. It was at Ebenezer that the two sons of Eli were put to death (10-11).
Deuteronomy 14:22-29 – Tithes. The initial purpose of the tithe was to set aside a 10th of the produce of the field, produce from the orchard and the animal of the flock. When the family went to the “One place”, they would set out the items before the Lord and eat them as a reminder of what the Lord had done for them (22-23). Because not every tribe was living close to the “One Place”, those living further away were to sell their tithe, bring the money with them, and then buy wine, vegetables, grain, and animals with the requisite amount of money (24-26). Part of the tithe of the crops and animals would go to the town Levite so that he and his family could share in the bountiful crops (27). At the end of the third year, the people were to set out their tithe of the crops, orchard, and animals so that the person sojourning through Israel, the widow, and the Levite would be filled. By being obedient, the Lord G-d would bless the people (28-29).
Psalm 28 – The Lord is My Strength and My Shield. When we call out to the Lord, He will answer us, and provide for us providing we are obedient. Disobedience, just as obedience, is a seed that once planted produces fruit commensurate with the seed type (Mike Krier). IF the type of seed we sow is “violence”, we will reap the results of it and the Lord will not get us out of the hoosgow. When we are obedient to what we are told through His word, He will work on our behalf (1-2). The seeds we sow may not be easily recognized but the fruit is unmistakable even if we point at the good fruit but gloss over the bad fruit (3-5). Our primary goal in life should always be “holiness to the Lord” not because we want to be a prude but because living a secret or dual life causes an eventual conflict (6-9, Exodus 28:36, Malachi 3:6).
Lamentations 4:1-11 – The Holy Stones Lie Scattered. The Lord’s intention for the nation was that they would prosper in the new land opposite the river Jordan. The nation had referred to themselves as “the Lord’s chosen people”. These “chosen people” were now little more than street urchins unable to find food to eat, water to drink, and medication to heal their sickness (1). The sons of Zion or Jerusalem once rode as princes and kings now, they are shattered beyond healing (2). The onslaught of destruction over Jerusalem had hardened the people beyond caring about anyone including themselves (3-4). These people once ate the delicacies of kings, so they were once wealthy. Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed instantaneously. The destruction of Jerusalem, on the other hand, was slow and excruciatingly painful (5-8). Those who died in battle would not see the decimation of their homeland (9). The only food left in the once vibrant kingdom was the deceased children. Sin and disobedience bring about destruction which consumes our resources, families, and self-dignity (10-11). Unfortunately, once we are destroyed by sin, the only hope we have is to rebuild from scratch and that is what the Lord did.
John 12:12-16 – The Triumphal Entry. When Jesus entered Jerusalem that fateful day, he rode on a donkey the sign of royalty (12-15, Zechariah 9:9). While the people were laying down palm branches and shouting “Hosannah to the King” they did not fully understand what was going on. For the disciples, they would not put “two and two together” until after Jesus’ resurrection (16). For the religious leaders, the events that day were tantamount to attempting to put out a fire in a windstorm (17-18).
1 Samuel 3 – The Lord Calls Samuel. From his youth, Samuel was placed under the care and leadership of Eli. Unfortunately, due to his and his son’s sinful ways, visions and words from the Lord were rare (1). The difference between the Lord’s ways and the world’s ways is that the Lord always prepares the replacement before it is needed (2-3). Samuel’s calling was unique in that the Lord spoke to him in the voice intonation of Eli. Each time the Lord called Samuel, Samuel got up and went to Eli to find out what he needed. On the third time, Eli told Samuel to say, “speak Lord for your servant is listening” (4-9). When the Lord called again, Samuel responded accordingly, and the Lord revealed what the Lord was about to do to the house of Eli (10-14). Samuel was told that he would be confronted the next morning by Eli who wanted to hear what the Lord said (15-18). Samuel grew up in the admonition of the Lord and was obedient to what the Lord asked of him and the fruit was the evidence (19-21).
Deuteronomy 14:1-21 – Clean and Unclean Food. The preface to all things that have to do with the living G-d is stated in verses 1 and 2. Because G-d chose the nation, they were obligated to obey His commands even if they did not understand them (1-2). The law stipulated that the people were not to eat pigs, rabbits, eagles, vultures, hawks, owls, cormorants, bats, hoopoes, and sharks but there is no stated reasoning. This law not only applied to the Jews but to Islam as well (3-20, ). Sometimes, we find out G-d’s reasoning after we have violated His commands when we face the consequences. Animals that were found dead were not to be eaten and again, there is no reasoning behind it (21). As we’ll find out through scriptures, G-d never explains Himself, His laws have been written for all eternity; we will find them reliable even if we do not like them or agree with them.
Psalms 27:7-14 – The Lord is My Light and My Salvation. When we cry out to the Lord in times of duress, fears, and doubt, He hears our voices. The guiding principles of our life need to be “Obedience to the Lord despite what the world claims” (7). Following the Lord’s pathway means following it even if it ruffles feathers. It seems, we can ruffle our coworkers’ and neighbor’s feathers but when it comes to family, it is a different ball game. The reason is, our family has the power and authority to kick us out of the home or make us out to be the “black sheep” (8-10). When we ask the Lord to teach us His ways, we must be obedient and ready to learn. The information we glean from our studies is to be shared with the world just as I am passing this information along to you (11-12). If asked, I believe every person who came to the Lord would want to hear the famous words, “Well done …” (Matthew 25:21). The thing is, how many are willing to be obedient and work faithfully in the heat of the day or while they are alive (13-14)?
Lamentations 3:46-66 – Great is Your Faithfulness. Destruction had come upon Jerusalem and the people were cast out of the land. Sin had brought the sword and it cut without pity the people including Jeremiah. Jeremiah wept over the destruction although having been warned the people but did not listen (46-48); his tears would not alter the Lord’s plans (49-51, Jeremiah 11:14). The king had refused Jeremiah’s warnings and burned Jeremiah’s scroll in revolt (52-66, Jeremiah 36:20-26). The thing is, we have no control over other people, we can only set the course for our life. Life is the greatest battle we will ever face and sometimes, we must face it alone.
John 11:45-57 – Plot to Kill Jesus. Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead which amazed the people and set up a crisis of sorts. As I have mentioned in previous writings, the crisis of the day was one of the same ones as the pre-exodus. The Pharisees had a working relationship with the Romans. The Pharisees feared losing their job because a “New King” meant the old one was finished and so was the position held by religious leadership (45-48, Exodus 12). Caiaphas, the High Priest, was the one that suggested that they hand over this Jesus “the so-called Messiah” instead of the whole nation dying (49-53). Because of the ill-conceived plans, Jesus could no longer walk freely among the people. Because Jesus brought Lazarus back from the dead, Lazerus also had to remain in hiding (54-57).
1 Samuel 2:27-36 – The Lord Rejects Eli’s House. Eli was to be the 2nd to the last judge of Israel. Under his leadership, the nation had gone astray as had his sons Hophni and Phineas. The Lord’s initial plan was for the Aaronic priesthood to last forever but, that promise was contingent on the priests being obedient to the law. Unfortunately, Eli did not reign in his sons and because of their actions, the priesthood was held in low esteem. So when an unnamed prophet came to Eli, he told Eli what the Lord had to say about Eli’s family (27-30). To have “his strength cut short” implied that Eli would die but not until his sons were dead (31-32). To no longer have an old man in the house meant that the wisdom would die out with Eli. Hophni and Phineas would die together in a battle with the Philistines (33-34). Fortunately for Israel, the Lord was preparing Samuel to take over from Eli (35). The remaining members of Eli’s family would seek a place in the priesthood so that they could eat which meant that the family would be decimated (36).
Deuteronomy 13:12-18 – Troublemakers. One of the many things the nation had to keep an eye out for was “troublemakers”. Just because the nation invaded the land, did not mean that the G-ds of the other nations had been eliminated. Troublemakers create what is called, “an undercurrent” that would dwell below the surface like a river flowing below the ocean which would go unnoticed. The time to stop these “troublemakers” is while it is in its infancy just as you would remove weeds when they are small. When the people became aware of what was going on, the people were to do a thorough search which entailed getting to the truth of the matter. If the matter is proven true, then the whole city, animals, idols, precious metals included were to be put to the sword and everything burned to a heap. The reason the people were not told to “take the gold and silver into the house of the Lord” was that the raid would appear to be “about the wealth” (12-16). The Lord is pleased with “complete obedience” even if His commands appear to be “foolishness” (17-18).
Psalms 27:1-6 – The Lord is My Light and My Salvation. When we are completely obedient to the Lord’s laws, precepts, and instructions, we will have nothing to fear. In the same way, when we obey those over us in the Lord, on our job, community, and home, we will have nothing to fear when plans go awry (1-2, Proverbs 24:21-22). Unfortunately, obeying the Lord doesn’t mean that trouble will not find its way to our doorstep. What we do in those times will either build up our confidence in the Lord or be a weak link that will assail us repeatedly (3-6).
Lamentations 3:34-45 – Let Us Test Our Ways. When Israel was exiled from its homeland in 586, it would have been quite easy for the world to rally against Babylon or claim “the Lord is a bully with a magnifying glass” (34-36). Yet, consider the commands the Lord gave to the nation on the eve crossing the river how He insisted that the nation be obedient to the Lord’s commands. The nations being routed by Israel had misused the Lord’s land. Unfortunately, the nation became as vile as the vile nations they destroyed. For centuries, the prophets and seers had tried to warn the nation, but they would not listen (37-39). When trouble finds its way to our doorstep, we owe it to ourselves and our family to carefully look at the paths we have walked and where have offended the Lord, we need to repent. Remember, not everyone in the nation capitulated with the king nor had they sinned. The problem was, the actions of the few impacted the many so, so by the fire of a few the many will catch the fire (40-45, Romans 5:12).
John 10:1-21 – I Am the Good Shepherd. In Jerusalem that day, not everyone present was there to hear what Jesus had to say; many came for the miracles and to have their needs met; Others, came to catch Jesus in his words and to cause problems for those who followed him. Those who came listened to what Jesus had to say and were obedient were fodder for the religious leaders who did not listen to Jesus (1-5); this, unfortunately, created a crisis of sorts. If you chose to listen to Jesus and called him the “Messiah”, you would be an enemy of the state, the community, and your family (Matthew 10:34-36). Using the illustration of the Shepherd and the sheep, although a major part of the culture, eluded the people (6).
1 Samuel 2:22-26 – Eli Rebukes His Sons. Hophni and Phineas, the sons of Eli, misused the authority granted by their father. The boys were now in their early 30’s, which was a poor time to be correcting them as they would not listen. We are not told how the boys were raised or what Eli was like in his early years, but we can tell by the events that played out that Eli didn’t raise them in the admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). The time for instruction of our children is while they are young and impressionable. Unfortunately, the sword had been drawn and it would not be put away until everything in its path was swept away (22-25). Samuel would be the next priest of the community and he was from a different family line than Eli and his sons (26).
Deuteronomy 13:6-11 – Where Many Fail. Confronting those you have no association with is easy but when it comes to a family member, many fail. When it comes to a family member, many want to whitewash the incident by declaring the person “insane” just like Jesus’ mother and family wanted to do (Mark 3:31). The person bringing charges against a family member would have to be the first to throw a stone and then, like sheep, the remaining congregation would join in (). This law could be applied for nefarious means also because, if the person throwing the stone was serving a foreign G-d and a brother/sister tried to correct him/her and the killing would be justified according to the law (10-11). This law gave license to stone Jesus and later Stephen, and this was an inherent problem or “loophole” (John 8:57-59, Acts 7:54-60).
Psalms 26 – I Will Bless the Lord. When we choose to serve the Lord G-d, we will not receive support from those who walk according to the flesh (1). When we make decisions and/or exercise judgment, we need to always ask the Lord to check our heart that is, “our motive” (2-3). Sitting in the counsel of the ungodly is a dangerous thing because it clouds our judgment (4-5, Psalms 1:1-2). The oddity of words is that they can have dual meanings something that is missed by the world but not by G-d (6-7, Proverbs 12:18-19). Sin can destroy even the strongest of churches and families and so David intercedes for the house of the Lord that G-d would not destroy it (8-10, Ezekiel 22:30-31). Walking in integrity is a decision that will determine where you will stand in the court of the Lord G-d (11-12, 2 Corinthians 10:3-6).
Lamentations 3:25-33 – Great Is Your Faithfulness. Not everybody going into exile deserved the punishment that was met out. It is a sad affair that sin does not care who it hurts or what damage it causes. For this reason, those who never went along with the sinful discourse were told “be still and know that I am G-d” (25-27, Psalms 46:10-11). Learning to follow the way of righteousness should begin in our youth that we would grow up into it. That said, coming to the Lord late or in our mid-life is not a showstopper because we can still learn, grow, and mature in presence of the Lord (28-30). The exile would not be “forever” unless the people decided they liked the new reality better than the old illusion. The point to be made, the destruction that was happening was not from the Lord G-d, it was from the adversary who was given the power and authority to destroy for 70 years (31-33, Revelations 20:7).
John 9:1-23 – The Man Who was Born Blind. The man who was born blind was healed in his mid 30’s so since reaching adulthood, he begged for money on the street. The community, including the religious leaders, had grown used to seeing him begging so when he was healed, it was a miracle. The problem was that Jesus healed the man on the Sabbath which was “sacrilegious” (14). When the man told everyone, he saw about what Jesus had done for him, they all wanted to know who this man is and where did he go because they had a few aches and pains themselves (8-12). When he brought before the Sanhedrin, a stir was created that could not be “pooh pooed away”. The religious leaders could dispute teachings, interpretations of the law, and theologies but “a man born blind and now healed” took more explanation. For this reason, the parents were called in and, but they only testified only that he was born blind and now can see. If the parents testified that Jesus healed the man, they would be cast out of the synagogue (17-23).
1 Samuel 2:12-21 – Eli’s Worthless Sons. Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phineas, were priests according to the Aaronic line. These two boys were causing problems in the community by taking what did not belong to them and treating the people’s offerings with contempt (12-17). While this may not seem like a problem, consider who they represented “the Lord G-d” which, if left unchallenged would besmirch the house of the Lord. In the same way, you and I represent not only our family but our community, state, and nation. Eli was an old man by the time Samuel was presented to the Lord, was overweight, and blind. This could have spelled the end for the Temple of the Lord if not for Samuel was being groomed by the Lord G-d to assume the duties of Priest and Prophet after Eli’s passing. Samuel’s mother and father continued to provide for Samuel and were an active part of his life. Because of their faithfulness, the Lord blessed Samuel’s parents with more children (18-21).
Deuteronomy 13:1-5 – The False Prophet or Dreamer. Then, as it is now, any time there is a movement of the Lord, people will flock to it especially when a miracle occurs. In the same way, false prophets and dreamers rise up to claim to be “An agent of the Lord G-d” and people will follow this person to be a “member of the flock”. The danger is that this “member of the flock” will be led to their demise just like the Jonestown Massacre (Jonestown). The 900LB gorilla in the room is, “which Lord is Lord of their life?” (1-3[MK1] ). Before the exodus, Moses performed miracles in the court of Pharaoh but the priests were able to replicate the miracle the staff that was turned into a snake and the water that was changed to blood (Exodus 7:22-25[MK2] ). When we set our heart on walking in Jesus’ path, we can expect to be tested and the easiest test to fail is the person we listen to. When Moses first presented himself before Pharaoh he said, “Thus sayeth the Lord ‘Let my people go that they may worship me”. Pharoah turned that argument around by showing Moses just who is “Lord and Master” and who is the “mythical G-d of the lazy” (Exodus 5:8-9[MK3] ). These people, like the Pharaoh who had a G-d complex, were to be ended so that their influence would not cause problems for the whole community (4-5, Matthew 16:6-11[MK4] ). Today, we cannot throw rocks at people to kill them, it is against the law. However, we are still responsible for who and what we listen to so that the leaven of our lives is not corrupted.
Psalms 25:19-22 – Teach Me Your Paths. How we conduct the affairs of our lives, will be a direct reflection of the outcome. When we ask for G-d’s hedge of protection, we need to be sure that we are doing what is right in His sight. Sin is enticing and it plays upon our perceived needs, wants, and lusts (1 Corinthians 10:6-11[MK5] ). Of course, we can become deluded and think that our integrity is bulletproof and have a strong sense of self-righteousness. When we talk with fellow Christians and those who have not declared faith, we may come across as having our act together; but when we stand before the Lord, all of that pretense falls away like the example of Nicodemus (John 3:1-3[MK6] ). When we ask the Lord to teach us and guide us, we must be prepared to go to put our thinking cap on (19-22[MK7] ).
Lamentations 3:10-24 – Great Is Your Faithfulness. When the people set foot on the new land across the Jordan river, it was a new day. The people were finally entering the beloved “Promised land” sort of like how we started a New Year. The problem was that a subtle yet diabolical enemy entered their camp and he slowly methodically altered the course of Israel negatively (10-15[MK8] ). The nations that allied themselves with Israel in David and Solomon’s life would become enemies of the nation because of abuse, sin, and failure to honor their promises (1 King 11:14-1 Kings 12:24[MK9] ). The thing is, the enemy will show his hand when we are at our weakest and he shows us just how weak we are like the example of Samson (16-18, Judges 16:18-24[MK10] ). We need to always keep in mind that the Lord loves us and wants to heal us but our sins keep Him at arm’s length. When we turn back to the Lord, He will meet us halfway (19-24[MK11] ).
John 8:12-18 – I Am the Light of the World. By saying “I Am”, Jesus is not referring to himself but to the Father who sent him (12-13, Exodus 3:13-14[MK12] ). The Pharisees and scribes could not see beyond the flesh to the heart of the Father because their hearts were darkened by sin. Jesus did not come to hold court over the world, he came to forgive sin and restore the relationship with the Father. Jesus’ mission, just like Moses’, was to get the people released from the death hold of slavery. The problem is that Jesus’ opposition, just Moses, was a small fraction of the nation Israel did not want to surrender their positions of power (14-18, John 1:1-5, John 11:47-50[MK13] ).
1 Samuel 2:1-8 – Hannah’s Prayer. Peninah, which means “Pearl”, is an example of the world’s modicum of operation. Hannah, which means “Favor”. Hannah approached the Lord for a child to raise and then she waited patiently and prayed continuously for it. Hannah was favored because of her willingness to petition the throne of G-d, vowed that she would give the child to the Lord, and then did it. The joy this woman had deep in her heart could not be taken away even by the snubbing of Peninah (1[MK14] ). Because of Samuel, Hannah would never doubt the Lord’s promises (2[MK15] ). Although Peninah may have had the most children, she had the least joy and the least peace. Hannah would have other children after Samuel just like Mary had other children after Jesus yet (Mary’s Family), the greatest gift Hannah received was that she would never be forlorn or at a loss (3-5[MK16] ).
[MK1]If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other G-ds,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the LORD your G-d is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your G-d with all your heart and with all your soul. Deuteronomy 13:1-3
[MK2]But the magicians of Egypt did the same by their secret arts and enchantments; so Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he did not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the LORD had said. Then Pharaoh turned and went into his house, and he did not take even this [divine sign] to heart. So all the Egyptians dug near the river for water to drink, because they could not drink the water of the Nile. Seven days passed after the LORD had struck the Nile. Exodus 7:22-25
[MK3]But the number of bricks which they were making before, you shall [still] require of them; you are not to reduce it in the least. For they are idle and lazy; that is why they cry, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to our G-d.’ Let labor be heavier on the men, and let them work [hard] at it so that they will pay no attention to [their G-d’s] lying words.” Exodus 5:8-9
[MK4]You shall walk after the LORD your G-d and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against the LORD your G-d, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of slavery, to make you leave the way in which the LORD your G-d commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from your midst. Deuteronomy 13:4-5
Jesus said to them, “Watch out and be on your guard against the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” They began to discuss this among themselves, saying, “He said that because we did not bring bread.” But Jesus, aware of this, said, “You men of little faith, why are you discussing among yourselves that you have no bread? Do you still not understand or remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you picked up? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many large baskets you picked up? How is it that you fail to understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Matthew 16:6-11
[MK5]Now these things [the warnings and admonitions] took place as examples for us so that we would not crave evil things as they did. Do not be worshipers of handmade G-ds, as some of them were; just as it is written [in Scripture], “THE PEOPLE SAT DOWN TO EAT AND DRINK [after sacrificing to the golden calf at Horeb], AND STOOD UP TO PLAY [indulging in immoral activities].” We must not indulge in [nor tolerate] sexual immorality, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand [suddenly] fell [dead] in a single day! We must not tempt the Lord [that is, test His patience, question His purpose or exploit His goodness], as some of them did—and they were killed by serpents. And do not murmur [in unwarranted discontent], as some of them did—and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example and warning [to us]; they were written for our instruction [to admonish and equip us], upon whom the ends of the ages have come. 1 Corinthians 10:6-11
[MK6]Now there was a certain man among the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler (member of the Sanhedrin) among the Jews, who came to Jesus at night and said to Him, “Rabbi (Teacher), we know [without any doubt] that You have come from G-d as a teacher; for no one can do these signs [these wonders, these attesting miracles] that You do unless G-d is with him.” Jesus answered him, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, unless a person is born again [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, sanctified], he cannot [ever] see and experience the kingdom of G-d.” John 3:1-3
[MK7]Consider how many are my foes, and with what violent hatred they hate me. Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me! Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you. May integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for you. Redeem Israel, O G-d, out of all his troubles. Psalms 25:19-22
[MK8]He is a bear lying in wait for me, a lion in hiding; he turned aside my steps and tore me to pieces; he has made me desolate; he bent his bow and set me as a target for his arrow. He drove into my kidneys the arrows of his quiver; I have become the laughingstock of all peoples, the object of their taunts all day long. He has filled me with bitterness; he has sated me with wormwood. Lamentations 3:10-15
[MK9]Recap – During Solomon’s slow decline into sin, old enemies came back into play. Anytime we think we are invincible because we have had a lengthy period of carefree living, we need to be aware that failure is one step from happening.
[MK10]He has made my teeth grind on gravel, and made me cower in ashes; my soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is; so I say, “My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the LORD.” Lamentations 3:16-18
Then Delilah realized that he had told her everything in his heart, so she sent and called for the Philistine lords, saying, “Come up this once, because he has told me everything in his heart.” Then the Philistine lords came up to her and brought the money [they had promised] in their hands. She made Samson sleep on her knees, and she called a man and had him shave off the seven braids of his head. Then she began to abuse Samson, and his strength left him. She said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” And he awoke from his sleep and said, “I will go out as I have time after time and shake myself free.” For Samson did not know that the LORD had departed from him. Then the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes; and they brought him down to Gaza and bound him with [two] bronze chains; and he was forced to be a grinder [of grain into flour at the mill] in the prison. But the hair of his head began to grow again after it had been shaved off. Now the Philistine lords gathered together to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their G-d, and to celebrate, for they said, “Our G-d has given Samson our enemy into our hands!” When the people saw Samson, they praised their G-d, for they said, “Our G-d has handed over our enemy to us, The ravager of our country, Who has killed many of us.” Judges 16:18-24
[MK11]Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall! My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me. But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I will hope in him.” Lamentations 3:19-24
[MK12]gain Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” So the Pharisees said to him, “You are bearing witness about yourself; your testimony is not true.” John 8:12-13
Then Moses said to G-d, “Behold when I come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The G-d of your fathers (ancestors) has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?” G-d said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “You shall say this to the Israelites, ‘I AM has sent me to you.'” Exodus 3:13-14
[MK13]Jesus answered, “Even if I do bear witness about myself, my testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going. You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one. Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is true, for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me. In your Law, it is written that the testimony of two people is true. I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me.” John 8:14-18
In the beginning [before all time] was the Word (Christ), and the Word was with G-d, and the Word was G-d Himself. He was [continually existing] in the beginning [co-eternally] with G-d. All things were made and came into existence through Him, and without Him, not even one thing was made that has come into being. In Him was life [and the power to bestow life], and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines on in the darkness, and the darkness did not understand it or overpower it or appropriate it or absorb it [and is unreceptive to it]. John 1:1-5
So the chief priests and Pharisees convened a council [of the leaders in Israel], and said, “What are we doing? For this man performs many signs (attesting miracles). If we let Him go on like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our [holy] place (the temple) and our nation.” But one of them, Caiaphas, who was the high priest that year [the year of Christ’s crucifixion], said to them, “You know nothing at all! Nor do you understand that it is expedient and politically advantageous for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish.” John 11:47-50
[MK14]And Hannah prayed and said, “My heart exults in the LORD; my horn is exalted in the LORD. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in your salvation. 1 Samuel 2:1
[MK15]There is none holy like the LORD: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our G-d. 1 Samuel 2:2
[MK16]Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the LORD is a G-d of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed. The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble bind on strength. Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger. The barren has borne seven, but she who has many children is forlorn. 1 Samuel 2:3-5