What we are reading this week (beginning Thursday, June 24, 2021):
• Exodus 35-40 ~ Leviticus 1
• Jeremiah 19-25
• John 17-21 ~ Acts 1-2
• Psalms 85-91
Notes on Exodus
The Sabbath is revisited again at the beginning of chapter 35. Then a materials list for the tabernacle (the portable temple) is given. In the desert, I wonder how hard it was to come up with all the things they needed?
Our two builders, Bezalel and Oholiab, are preparing for their massive project. B., a craftsman, is filled with the Spirit in order to do his work. O. is gifted as a teacher, since they will need much help to be trained to join in on completing this colossal task.
The building of the worship articles begins in chapter 36. The first item on the list is the tabernacle.
Second, in chapter 37, is the ark of the covenant. I wish I could have seen this constructed. Other items are constructed through the end of chapter 38. Notice the colors!
In chapter 39, garments for the priests (including the high priest) are constructed. At the end of the chapter, all of the objects and garments are brought to Moses for inspection.
The tabernacle is set up for the first (of dozens) of times in chapter 40. This is the first “temple”, the place where God will meet man face-to-face. Everything was completed as God had commanded them (39.32). So God came down in powerful glory to inhabit the house they had built for him (40.34-35).
Notes on Leviticus
In Leviticus, we begin the instructions on the Levitical requirements for worship. This begins with the sacrifices. Some of these sacrifices require the total burning up of the animal (like the burnt and sin offerings—even after carefully dissecting and washing parts of it). But many of the offerings are used as food for priest, Levite, and even the worshiper.
In addition to animal sacrifices, there are the grain offerings (chapter two), which include salting, oiling, cooking, using the finest flour, etc. Like the animals, some are burned up, some are giving to the priests as food (2.9-10).
Notes on Jeremiah
After his visit to the potter in chapter 18, the Lord sends the prophet back in chapter 19. He is to buy a pot, and then use it for an object lesson for the people.
The priest Pashur had Jeremiah beaten and put into stocks because of his hard words. Poor Jeremiah pours out the heart that every prophet has to contend with: “…if I say, ‘I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,’ his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot” (20.9).
The struggle within because of this conflict leads him to despairing of life, with a lament similar to that of Job. Compare Jeremiah 20.14-15 and Job 3.1-16.
Bad king Zedekiah weighs in at the opening of chapter 21 to see if “perhaps the Lord will perform wonders for us as in times past…” God warns the king that He himself will be fighting against Judah (5). They still think they can claim the “Chosen People” exemption (13b), but the Lord assures them that they will get what they deserve (14).
God rebukes the wicked kings of Judah in chapter 22, promising their fall into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar (22.25-27).
A Messianic prophecy opens chapter 23, but rebukes to false prophets follow, taking up most of this chapter.
In chapter 24, Jeremiah is called back to his drama ministry, this time using baskets of figs for an object lesson.
In chapter 25, the prophet reminds the people that they have continually—throughout the 23 years of his ministry— rejected the word of the Lord (25.3), and now informs them that judgement per Babylon is imminent (23.9-11).
Notes on John
Jesus’ “high priestly prayer” is found in chapter 17. This is the longest prayer that we find by Jesus. It includes what I believe is the key verse regarding our purpose here on this planet: “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (3).
Jesus prays for his disciples, then he prays for us!
In 18, Jesus finishes his prayer, and the arrest and crucifixion follow in short order. I just love verses 3-6. I will make you find this one on your own.
We read a lot about the conflicted Pilate in chapter 19. He realizes he is in over his head (e.g., verses 8-9) and tries a few feeble things to placate his conscience. See 12, 15, 19-22, and 38.
We find more post-resurrection Jesus in the gospel of John than in the other gospels. After a number of personal witnesses to the resurrected Jesus, chapter 20 closes with the purpose of this gospel (as well as the others): “…these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (20.31).
In chapter 21, we find more of the post-resurrection Jesus. In his new form, he was not quite recognized immediately (21.4, 12). But he ate food to demonstrate that he indeed had a real body—he was not a spirit or a product of hallucination (see also Luke 24.40-42).
Jesus prepares his man, Peter, to lead his church at the close of the gospel.
Notes on Acts
Acts is a sequel to Luke (compare Luke 1.1-4 and Acts 1.1). The opening of chapter one is the actual last experience with the disciples before the ascension, which takes place forty days after the resurrection. Many think that Matthew 28.16-20 was on the final day, but there is no compelling evidence that it was.
The promise of the gift of the Holy Spirit is given again (1.8), and its purpose is to empower the church to witness.
The Day of Pentecost was amazing. The Holy Spirit came down and empowered the church. The disciples were completely changed by this experience. Even though they were already “saved” and already had the Holy Spirit upon them (see John 20.22), they were transformed by this baptism.
Now it’s like they are super-charged in the Spirit, on spiritual steroids. They will know no fear, they will heal and deliver and perform all kinds of ministry. They will teach and preach boldly with fire that will penetrate and deliver, with no hesitation to face persecution.
And this Holy Spirit baptism is a gift that Peter tells us was available “for you and for your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call” (2.38-39). This includes us!
Notes on Psalms
We will read through a number of authors this week: Sons of Korah, David, Heman, Ethan, and the only psalm written by Moses (90),
“Give me an undivided heart that I may fear your name” (86.11).
Heman’s psalm (88) is really dark, one that we may find comfort in through our most difficult places.
Who is it that makes up the “council of the holy ones” surrounding God’s throne?? (89.6-7).