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Week 15 July 8, 2020

What we are reading this week (beginning Wednesday, July 8, 2020):

• Leviticus 9-15

• Jeremiah 33-39

• Acts 10-16

• Psalms 99-105

Notes on Leviticus

With all of the instructions given and all the articles of worship created and in place, Aaron and his sons begin their priestly ministry in chapter nine. God show up big time at the end of the chapter.

However, in short order (chapter 10) two of Aaron’s sons violate God’s command concerning their censors (even though we are not exactly sure how they erred). They are struck dead.

The phrase contrasting “the holy and the common” appears, I believe, for the first time in the Bible in 10.10. The opposite of holy is not unholy, but common (unholy would be a part of that).

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Something Jews are very well known for is their dietary restrictions. We all know that they cannot eat pork or anything at all related to pigs. However, their list is far more extensive and detailed than just swine. Chapter 11 gives details.

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In chapter 12, procedures of ceremonial purification following childbirth are given. Per 12.8 and Luke 2.24, we know that Joseph and Mary were quite poor.

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Chapter 13-15 deal with skin rashes, diseases and all matter of ick. You may wonder of why so much detail (as I do), but the underlying principle is that God is holy and a portrayal of physical uncleanness is illustrative of spiritual uncleanness.

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Notes on Jeremiah

The promises of judgment, along with the historical narrative pushing us to the brink of Babylon, are interspersed with promises of restoration. In chapter 33, we find not only promises of return, but of the ultimate man, the Messiah (see 22.14-18). This Branch will replace forever the Levitical priesthood (see 33.18 and Hebrews 7.27).

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Chapter 34 is a message to Zedekiah, the king of Judah. His kingdom will fall to the Babylonians, but he would eventually die in peace.

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Another drama lesson in chapter 35, but this one is a bit unusual. Jeremiah is sent to the Rekabites to learn a lesson that this family represented by years of a tradition that the prophet was to convey to the entire nation.

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In chapter 36, we jump back a few years from Zedekiah’s reign to his brother Jehoiakim (in between their tenures, there was the three-month reign of Jehoiakim’s son Jehoiachin). As the words of judgment from Jeremiah were read to him, the king cut them off of the scroll and threw them in the fire, as though that could change anything.

Poor Baruch, Jeremiah’s scribe, had to rewrite the whole thing (36.32).

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In chapter 37, we return to the time of Zedekiah. Jeremiah is accused of deserting and is thrown into prison. The king, however, has him released. Zedekiah was looking to the prophet for prayer and encouragement.

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Jeremiah continues to suffer abuse just for being the message bearer in chapter 38. He is too negative (38.4). The wimpy king Zedekiah who so values the counsel of the prophet is too neutered to help him in his time of need: “He is in your hands. The king can do nothing to oppose you” (38.5). They dropped Jeremiah in a cistern.

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He is rescued through the intervention of a man named Ebed-Melek, whose counsel motivated the king to rescue Jeremiah, the same king who five verses earlier said he couldn’t do anything (38.10).

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Zedekiah calls for the prophet for counsel yet again in verse 14, but is still “afraid” (19), yet promises to protect Jeremiah.

The fall of Jerusalem commences in the last line of the chapter (verse 28).

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In chapter 39, Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians invade Jerusalem. Zedekiah is hauled away. Jeremiah is treated with respect, much more so by the invaders than by his own people (see verse 12).

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Notes on Acts

In chapter 10, we read about Cornelius, a presumed Italian but in any case a Gentile. This chapter is a major tipping point for the church, for the doors are swinging open for the Gentile world. This was a very difficult lesson for the church to learn. Notice how many miracles are presented in this chapter, and yet still the battle to accept non-Jews was not over.

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In chapter 11, Peter has to explain himself among Cornelius and unclean Gentiles, but he took along witnesses (instead of two or three, he took six: two times three). The baptism of the Holy Spirit was what eventually sold the church on the legitimacy of Peter’s visit and God’s acceptance of Gentiles into the kingdom.

The church had been spreading out, and some went down to Antioch. Though the word was spreading, it was only being offered to the Jews (11.19). However, in Antioch, those who had gone there also preached among the Greeks. The Cornelius situation prepared the believers for this. Otherwise, this would have stirred a massive controversy in the church.

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Peter’s miraculous escape from prison and Herod’s death are highlighted in chapter 12. Saul/Paul and Barnabus are sent out.

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Details of their missionary journey are given in chapter 13. Missionary work is exciting!

In 13.9, the name Saul is traded in for Paul. We will not see the former again.

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The saga continues in chapter 14. Notice that they found Gentiles in the Jewish synagogues. Spiritual hunger was rampant.

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Now that Gentiles were being admitted into the church, the big question was “Do we make them Jewish first, then Christian? Partial Jew? What?” Chapter 15 gives us insight into how this wonderful church worked together and how they made important decisions.

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In chapter 16, Paul and Barnabus are redirected in their ministry by a supernatural vision. This vision would lead them to a situation that eventually landed them to jail. However, their experience in that jail has become a classic Biblical story.

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Notes on Psalms

Psalms 99 and 100 are unattributed. The 100th is many people’s favorite, certainly one of mine.

Psalm 101 is a great contemporary piece: “I will not look with approval on anything that is vile. I hate what faithless people do; I will have no part of it.” I guess this would be appropriate in any age.

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Psalm 103 is one of the very best of all the psalms. David wrote this masterpiece. Twenty-two verses of awesomeness, and worth memorizing in full.

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The greatness and glory of God is joyfully described in 105.

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