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Week 25 September 16, 2020

What we are reading this week (beginning Wednesday, September 16, 2020):

• Deuteronomy 16-22

• Ezekiel 46-48 ~ Daniel 1-4

• Ephesians 1-6 ~ Philippians 1

Somehow, I got off on my count for Galatians. Should have finished up yesterday, and begun in Ephesians today. Sorry about that!

We will already be crossing the halfway point next week!

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Notes on Deuteronomy

As we have seen before Deuteronomy literally means “second law.” In chapter 16, Moses reviews some of the festival requirements and other topics with the children of Israel, as they wait on the border of the Promised Land, just about to go in.

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In chapter 17, following the wrap-up from chapter 16, Moses discusses the king, a position that God did not want his people to have. The Lord wanted to be their king. However, he anticipated their rebellion and had a plan for a king anyway, with guidelines and regulations given here.

The king was not to take many wives or accumulate much silver or gold. David and Solomon obviously failed on this one.

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After a review of offerings for the pastors of the nation (priests and Levites) and warning against occultism, Moses again talks about the prophet who will come. It was unclear throughout the Old Testament and into the New as to whether this would be the Messiah, or a separate individual. But it found its fulfillment in Jesus. (See John 1.19-21 and Acts 3.17-23).

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The purpose and placement of cities of refuge are discussed in detail at the beginning of chapter 19. After the Torah, we never hear a word about them again.

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Investigations of crimes are discussed at the end of chapter 19. Even though God spoke directly to Moses (and then Joshua), there still would be times when they simply needed to collect evidence and figure things out themselves.

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Preparation for war is given in chapter 20. They would face a boatload of them on short order. Moses reminds them that God is the on their side, and the size of the enemy was irrelevant.

It seems quite horrifying and cruel that God would tell them to “not leave alive anything that breathes” (20.16). However, God deals with each people group differently, and we have no idea how they had disobeyed or what they had done. Gross sin tends to lead to gross results, such as diseases. The only way to eradicate some things is to kill everything.

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Chapter 21 wanders into several unrelated but interesting topics: Dealing with unsolved murders, guidelines for marrying captive women (what a marriage that would be!), the rights of firstborns, and dealing with rebellious children.

The very last verses have to do with leaving a dead body on a pole overnight and the implications of a curse in such a situation. This verse foreshadows the cross and is referenced by Paul in Galatians 3:13.

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In chapter 22, more various and somewhat unrelated laws are laid down at the beginning. Then the attention turns to laws about marriage violations and their respective consequences.

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Notes on Ezekiel

Much detail about how worship will be conducted in this perplexing third temple is found in chapter 46. New Moon festivals are mentioned in verse 3, a festival that was added by the people and is not created or mandated by the Law of Moses.

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The prince’s sons are mentioned in verse 16, implying for us that this prince is not at all Jesus the Messiah.

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More measuring takes place in chapter 47, but this time, instead of the temple itself, it is the depth of the river and the boundaries of the land.

Foreigners are also mentioned in verse 23, which has implications on the time frame of this account.

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Territory for all of the original tribes is given in the closing chapter. The tribe of Joseph is divided into half-tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, so there seem to be thirteen of them. The Levites are also given territory.

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Notes on Daniel

The book of Daniel is most fascinating. The first part has to do with Daniel and his three friends, all carted off to Babylon as the exile begins to unfold. The second half has to do with astounding visions and dreams that the prophet saw, some so utterly astonishing, it took Daniel days to recover just from seeing them.

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There were actually three deportations of captives to Babylon. Daniel and his friends were taken in the first one.

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According to 1.3, all of these young men that served the king were from Israel. Only Daniel and his friends objected to defilement and asked for a special diet.

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Daniel would serve under Nebuchadnezzar (Babylon), and then Cyrus and Darius (Media/Persia). He would be 93 years old when Darius would throw him into the den of lions.

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Unlike Joseph and Pharaoh, Daniel could not only interpret the dream, but remind the king of what was actually in the dream (2.5, 27-45).

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Daniel’s interpretation of the dream most likely led to the statue that Nebuchadnezzar built which directly led to the fiery furnace episode, all found in chapter 3.

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Nebuchadnezzar goes from riches to rags and back to riches in chapter four. However, the time span was over seven years.

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Notes on Ephesians

This book is so rich in theology, it’s quite a difficult task to even thing about summarizing. Chapter one paints a glorious picture of what our salvation means actually in the heavenlies, followed by a splendid and detailed thanksgiving and praise to God for such privilege.

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Two of the most important verses in the entire Bible are found in chapter two: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (8-9).

And then Paul goes on to show that salvation is a gift for both Jew and Gentile, and that this salvation has even brought the two together (2.14). Again, this concept was radical to the point of putting one’s life on the line and at risk to even utter such words.

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Paul expounds on the Gospel for the Gentiles in chapter three.

Good words to memorize from 3.17b-19: “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

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Chapter four gives us the most clear description of and purposes for the gifts of the Spirit. It’s so clear that many consider the five gifts of verse 11 to be all-inclusive for all believers (everyone has at least one of these): Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Shepherd (Pastor), Teacher. The acronym commonly used is APEST.

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As Paul’s normal style, he turns to very practical application in the second part of this letter. In chapter five, he discusses sexual immorality and instructions for the believer’s household.

Not only the guidelines, but the theology of marriage, comparing the husband and wife to Christ and the church, are unique in the Bible, and critical to our understanding of both sets of relationships.

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After instructions for children and fathers (we don’t find commands specifically for mothers anywhere the Bible), Paul concludes with the amazing armor of God treatise.

Let me again, as I always do here, point out the “word” of God mentioned in verse 17 is the Greek word Rhema, and not Logos. Logos refers to the written word of God, Rhema refers to God’s spoken word. Just a thought as you navigate this very familiar territory once again.

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Notes on Philippians

Philippians is a very passionate and personal letter. Paul begins by telling about his chains, and how God has used them for his glory. He also contemplates his end a number of times in this book, all with great expectation: “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain” (1.21).

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