What we are reading this week (beginning Wednesday, June 17, 2020):
• Exodus 28-34
• Jeremiah 12-18
• John 10-16
• Psalms 78-84
Notes on Exodus
Chapter 28 is about the construction of the high priest’s garments, including the ephod and the breastpiece. Notice the Urim and Thummim (30), kept in a pocket of the breastpiece. These are almost like “holy dice”. They were used to make decisions. For example, see 1 Samuel 14.41.
The consecration of the priests takes up all of chapter 29. It was a big deal. Meticulous details, including the dissection and presentation of the animals in sacrifice are given.
Bazalel and Oholiab are introduced to us at the beginning of chapter 31. They are craftsmen who will construct all of the objects for worship. Their work is extensive.
More references to the Sabbath are given beginning in verse 12. The Sabbath was and is and very big deal to God.
With all of this instruction going on at the top of the mountain, Aaron and the people are becoming restless, and decide to build a golden calf. Moses (and God) are not happy. Moses trashes the tablets with the Ten Commandments in his anger. Read through this event in chapter 32.
God is so frustrated with his people, that at the beginning of chapter 33 he tells them to go on without him! In response, they have a repentance service.
Moses pitches a tent where he regularly meets with God. Joshua is not far away during these encounters.
At the opening of chapter 34, the Lord commands Moses to chisel out two more tablets for him engrave the Ten Commandments again. The Lord comes down to him in glory, declaring his attributes as he approaches. Here, God gives Moses some more commands.
These encounters physically change Moses—the glory of God is so strong upon him, no one can even endure to look at him. So he has to start wearing a veil. See 34.29-35.
Notes on Jeremiah
At the opening of chapter 12, Jeremiah weighs in with his own frustrations. God answers him in the second half.
Jeremiah is called to drama ministry in chapter 13, asked by God to create two illustrations, one regarding a linen belt (1-11) and a second one simply telling a parable about wineskins (12-14).
We back up chrologically just a bit. A dire warning is sounded for the king and queen of Judah in 13.18-27.
If things were not bad enough with the Babylonians hovering, a drought is announced by the Lord in 14.1-6.
Jeremiah intercedes in anguished prayer for his people in 7-9, but God tells him to not waste his time (11: “Do not pray for the well-being of this people…I will not listen to their cry…I will not accept [their sacrifices]”. God continues to lay out a message of destruction and terror, even as the prophet tries to insert prayers of protection. He is tenacious in praying for his people (19-22).
This back-and-forth between the interceding prophet and the wrathful God continues all through chapter 15.
Jeremiah’s life will now be a living illustration in many ways: he can’t marry, he can’t grieve the dead, he can’t go to parties; all to generate conversations that the young prophet is to take advantage of to express God’s heart. See 16.1-13.
God’s frustration continues to spill out in chapter 17 through verse 6.
However, there is an abrupt change in verse seven, where he acknowledges that there are still those faithful in the land, and the Lord gives them promises very similar to what we find in Psalm 1.
The conversation for the rest of the chapter bounces back and forth between God and Jeremiah. It closes with words regarding the Sabbath. Once again, we see how very important this is to the Lord. The closing words of the chapter are quite harsh, reminding the people that failure to remember and keep the Sabbath will result in “unquenchable fire” that God himself will ignite (27).
Chapter 18 is another one-act drama, but this time Jeremiah is only the observer. God leads him to the potter’s house, and this well-known illustration is played out for the prophet, with extended commentary through the entire chapter.
Notes on John
Jesus speaks of shepherds and sheep in chapter 10. The imagery is well-known, and there are a lot of great spiritual lessons that pop out throughout.
“…his sheep follow him because they know his voice” (4).
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (10).
“…my sheep know me” (14).
“I have other sheep not of this sheep pen” (i.e., Gentiles, verse 16).
The rest of the chapter is arguments against Jesus because of the outrageous things he is saying.
The death and resurrection of Lazarus fills up most of chapter 11. Instead of being amazed by Jesus (and this would take something not to be, after calling up the dead), his detractors look for ways to kill him.
We are on the verge of the Passover, and the crucifixion.
In chapter 12, Jesus is anointed with oil by Mary, and then enters triumphantly into Jerusalem. Everyone is so excited, but it’s hard to understand what Jesus would have felt like, realizing he would be brutally murdered in less than a week.
John gives us many, many words of Jesus in these last few days that we do not find in the other gospels.
Chapter 13 is the Lord’s Supper. In John alone we find the washing of the disciples’ feet, and this is clearly John’s emphasis on the event. Jesus predicts his betrayal and denial.
Now in chapter 14 Jesus begins what we his “Farewell Discourse”, as he prepares for the cross. The discourse continues through chapter 17.
He first of all comforts his disciples (1-4), then declares himself the Way, the Truth, and the Life—and the only way to the Father. Beginning in verse 15, he explains the coming and the role of the Holy Spirit. Jesus continually refers to the Holy Spirit as “him”— an entity, a person; not a “force” or some indeterminate object.
Chapter 15 opens with the analogy of the vine and the branches. Then Jesus segues into the hate and rejection his followers should expect to encounter. After watching him—as a perfect, compassionate, and thoroughly loving person—endure continual fierce opposition and persecution, this shouldn’t have been much of a stretch for them. However, it’s important to keep in mind that at this point they still could not conceive that Jesus would actually die and leave them.
Notes on Psalms
Asaph is our author of the first six psalms we encounter this week.
The last, Psalm 84, is written by the sons of Korah, and is one to consider memorizing in its entirety.