What we are reading this week (beginning Wednesday, July 15, 2020):
• Leviticus 16-22
• Jeremiah 40-46
• Acts 17-23
• Psalms 106-112
As we go through summer, with changing schedules and getting yanked in and out of routine, I hope you are able to maintain your reading, and to play catch up quickly when you fall behind!
Notes on Leviticus
The Day of Atonement is outlined in chapter 16. This is a most amazing ceremony, and everything points to Jesus, Messiah, Savior.
For some incredible information on what happened between the resurrection and the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD (according to the Talmud, an official Jewish historical record) please see:
The handling of blood of the sacrifices is given in chapter 17. Keep in mind that all of this is symbolic of Jesus’ blood.
It seems that any directive that says you may only have sexual relations with your spouse would be enough. But the people apparently needed an extensive detailed list of those that would be out of bounds. Chapter 18.
In chapter 19, the Law delves into a host of laws that do not seem necessarily connected. There is another reference to the Sabbath (19.30).
There is also an admonition to rise in the presence of the aged (19.32). Kids today would not comprehend this one at all, but you see this in practice even in the television shows from the fifties and sixties.
The attention in chapter twenty turns to specific punishments for specific violations.
Since this book is targeting the Levites (and therefore, priests) and their holy obligations, it would make sense that a chapter is given specially to the priests on lifestyle; including marriage requirements, and dealing with being in the presence of the dead. See chapters 21 and 22.
The chapters close with a reminder that their overriding priority is that God be “acknowledged as holy by the Israelites” (22.32).
Notes on Jeremiah
Jeremiah is found bound in chains by the Babylonians captors, but is released and given options on where he would like to live.
Nebuchadnezzar had appointed a man named Gedaliah to serve over the towns of Judah (40.5). The Ammonites made plans to assassinated him (41.2), and were successful in chapter 41.
In spite of their exile, the Babylonians appeared to try to make life as bearable as possible for the Jews. But the Jews were feisty, and continued to make their situation worse for themselves.
Knowing they were now in serious doo-doo, the assassins decided to take everybody down to Egypt (41.16-17).
In chapter 42, they ask Jeremiah what the Lord had to say about it, and they would follow whatever he said. Jeremiah told them to stay put and not go to Egypt and all would be well. If they continued to Egypt, they would perish by sword, famine, and plague, with no survivors (42.17).
But in chapter 43, they decided that this was not God’s word to them, and they rejected Jeremiah and his message (43.2). Off to Egypt they went (43.7). Jeremiah was dragged along with them (verse 6), and God called him to present another drama illustration.
In chapter 44, the prophet reviews the prophecies about returning to Egypt. Then he has to deal with the idolatry that had become extremely predominant among the people.
Baruch, Jeremiah’s faithful scribe, gets his own personal, uplifting promise from God in the very short chapter 45.
The remainder of the book will be extensive prophecies against the surrounding kingdoms. The first is against Egypt (chapter 46).
Notes on Acts
Paul is going everywhere. In chapter 17, he goes to the synagogue in Thessalonica. Though another riot breaks out (which seemed to be a regular part of his ministry), we know by the letters he would eventually write to them, he would establish a great church here.
The Bereans would be probably the most receptive of all the places he would go.
In chapter 18, Paul connects with Apollos, Aquila and Priscilla.
He goes to Corinth, where he will build a church that will be the recipient his two longest letters. His rejection by the Jews there turns his focus from them to the Gentiles for the remainder of his ministry (18.6).
Next, in chapter 19, his preaching creates a city-wide riot. What power the gospel has! And should we be surprised at the backlash against the church today?
His mission continues in chapter 20. In verse 6 for the first time, the writer Luke inserts the word “we” into the narrative, and will pretty much be an eyewitness of much of the next chapters.
Paul is a long-winded preacher, but can raise people from the dead who die during his messages (20.7-12). His goodbye message to the Ephesians in 20.13-38 is emotional, yet very powerful in helping us see the heart of this most unusual man.
In chapter 20, Paul turns his focus toward Jerusalem and his soon-to-be martyrdom. He knows this is on his plate, and is undeterred nonetheless.
He is shortly after falsely accused and arrested, but uses this opportunity to yet again proclaim the gospel publicly (chapter 22). Everything went fine until he mentioned that the Lord had commissioned him to bring the gospel to the Gentiles. This created another round of chaos (22.21-23).
In chapter 23, the Sanhedrin got one more chance to hear the gospel. But as they rejected Jesus in his trial, so they did Paul. A plot to ambush and assassinate Paul is formed, but he is headed to Caesarea on the way to Rome now for his trials and eventual death.
Notes on Psalms
The final section of Psalms, Book V, begins in 107. Almost all of the remaining psalms will either not be ascribed, or be penned by David, whose worshipful insights return for the homestretch.