What we are reading this week (beginning Friday, June 3, 2021):
• Exodus 14-20
• Isaiah 64-66 ~ Jeremiah 1-4
• Luke 20-24 ~ John 1-2
• Psalms 64-70
Notes on Exodus
The parting of the Red Sea is monumental and is referred to countless times throughout the rest of the Bible. It is pivotal in the colorful history of the Israelites.
As the Egyptian army closed in on them and the people of God felt trapped, the Israelites thought they were all going to be killed (14.10-12). But Pharaoh simply wanted to bring them back to serve as slaves again (14.5).
The losses to Egypt that day were astronomical (14.28, 15.4). To this day, Egypt has never recovered from the destruction of that day. They never have achieved status as a world super-power again.
Exodus 15:26: Yahweh Rapha, the Lord Who Heals You
In 16.3 we see them complaining that they were better off as slaves! We have a propensity as humans to go after things that place us in bondage.
At God’s command, Moses struck the rock and water gushed out (17.6). Later, God would tell him to speak to the rock and water would come forth. But Moses would disobey this second command, and it would cost him his ticket into the Promised Land.
Exodus 17.15: Yahweh Nissi, the Lord is My Banner. The Israelites were chosen out of all of the nations and peoples of the earth to be God’s treasured possession. It is so sad that they for the most part ignored the ramifications of this special designation (19.6).
Notes on Isaiah
An amazing close to an amazing book! Chapter 65 outlines judgment of the wicked, but ends with a marvelous picture of the Millennium. This little-talked-of part of the coming age is one of my favorite topics. Note, the Millennium is not heaven, for we still read about death during this time; death comes, but it is much rarer and comes much later in life! This one-thousand year era actually takes place on this earth, the final one thousand years of the earth’s existence. The new heavens and new earth are the focus of the last two chapters. The close of the final chapter of Isaiah is a chilling picture, The closing statement seems to imply that forever in heaven, once a year, we will be taken out to gaze upon what has happened to those who have rejected God’s love. And it’s not pretty.
Notes on Jeremiah
Jeremiah was a young, single prophet, and he had a soft heart. His ministry began thirteen years into the reign of King Josiah. There were seven years left before Josiah’s death would be followed by the coronation of his sons and grandson, whose wickedness would elicit the final judgment upon Judah. Even though Josiah was a godly king who worked diligently to turn the nation back to God, the wickedness all around him is described in detail in Jeremiah’s book (e.g., 3.6).
In 1.5 mention is made of God’s knowledge of the prenatal Jeremiah. Along with David’s account of life in the womb in Psalm 139, these are the go-to verses for the pro-life movement, showing God’s work in lives already in existence before birth.
“Almond tree” (in 1.12) sounds like “watching”. God loves to use wordplay through the Old Testament.
The idea of remarriage to a former spouse after a second marriage and divorce is forbidden in 3.1.
God so desires to bless his people but is often hindered because of their unfaithfulness to him. Marriage is often used as a metaphor for God’s relationship to his people (3.20). In Ephesian 5, we learn that the very purpose of marriage is to illustrate this relationship.
Notes on Luke
Jesus prophesies the destruction of the Temple in 21.6. This would occur forty years later in 70 AD. But he had also prophesied that if the Temple were destroyed, he would rebuild it in three days. He was talking about his body, but conspiring to destroying the Temple would be one of the charges that would be leveled against him in his trial. See Matthew 26.61 and John 2.19-22. Chapter 22: Judas, the Last Supper, Gethsemane, arrest, Peter’s betrayal, trial.
In 23.42, the thief on the cross addresses Jesus simply as “Jesus”. This is the only time in the Bible that Jesus is personally addressed by someone so simply.
Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus totally defiled themselves during Passover in handling Jesus’ body (23.53). Going to Pilate was quite brave to start with. They put themselves on the line to do what they did.
Following the resurrection, Jesus asked for and ate a fish in the presence of the disciples (24.41-43). This was not because he was necessarily hungry, but to show them that he was actually in a real, living body, not a spirit-form.
Notes on John
John— as identified in 1.6— is John the Baptist, as is every reference to that name throughout this gospel. The author of this gospel never identifies himself by name.
Matthew, Mark and Luke are called the Synoptic Gospels because they are synched up! All three of them follow the same basic flow of events, yet each with its own unique perspectives. Some think that all three are based on one narrative referred to as the “Q” document. Some scholars think that the Book of Mark may be “Q”. John takes an entirely different approach than the other three. His gospel was written many years after the others, and no doubt he felt that there were exceptional things about Jesus that still needed to be written, though there was no way to get to it all (see 21.25). Matthew is written primarily to the Jews, showing Jesus to be the Messiah. Mark is written for Gentiles. Luke portrays Jesus as the Son of Man, a human who had the essence divinity flowing through him. John portrays Jesus as the Son of God, most clearly demonstrating that Jesus was indeed God. “In the beginning was the Word…the Word was God… the Word was made flesh and made his dwelling among us…” (1.1, 14) This is indisputable confirmation of the deity of Jesus.
The epistle of 1 John (written by this same Apostle John) in many ways is as recap of the gospel with a strong emphasis on the Incarnation and the deity of Jesus. Though Matthew and Luke have the more familiar First Christmas accounts, John has one of his own, a single verse: “The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world” (1.9).
We will find in John a lot of commentary, which we don’t find nearly as much in the first three gospels. The synoptics tend to simply tell the stories. John often spends times explaining and even giving context.
Here in the first chapter we actually find the very first days of Jesus’ ministry, meeting the first of his disciples. The days are specifically numbered for our historical understanding. Following his baptism, verses 29, 35, 43, 2.1 give us an indisputable dateline of the first week.
The people asked John the Baptist if he were the expected Messiah, and he said no. They asked if he were Elijah (see Malachi 4.5-6) and he also said no. They asked if he were the prophet (“no” again). This personage comes to us from Deuteronomy 18.18. There is little given in the Old Testament as to who this prophet was to be. We find later, of course, that this prophet and the Messiah are one and the same.
The name “Jesus of Nazareth” (1.46) is one of the most powerful names there is. If you have ever worked with deliverance ministry, you probably already know that this name/title seems to have a very special significance against the forces of darkness.
Notes on Psalms
David is a type of the Messiah, and his good heart being poured out to God resulted in many Messianic prophecies that just organically came out of this spirit: “They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst” (69.21). The third section of Psalms, Book III, begins in chapter 73, and 73-83 are written by Asaph, probably the one designated by David as a musician to make a joyful noise before the Lord. See 1 Chronicles 15.