What we are reading this week (beginning Thursday, September 23, 2021):
· Deuteronomy 23-29
· Daniel 5-11
· Philippians 2-4 ~ Colossians 1-4
We will be hitting the halfway point on Saturday!
Notes on Deuteronomy
We find in chapter 23 people groups defined as “ins” and “outs”, based on previous behaviors. For example, any Ammonite or Moabite is forbidden to be among the assembly of the Lord’s people for at least ten generations (23.3). Edomites, on the other hand, are “in”, as close relatives. Notice also in verses 7-8 that Egyptians are to be welcomed among them to at least three generations.
All defilement is to be taken outside the camp, and that includes doing “necessary” business (12-13). To have to find your way all the way beyond the borders of the encampment of several hundred thousand people sounds like quite a task; and one that would be necessary at least once a day.
Runaway slaves from other people groups are to be sheltered and assimilated, and not returned to their masters (15-16).
A set of somewhat random and unconnected yet interesting laws are reviewed by Moses for them in chapters 24-25.
Moses again reviews laws on tithing and firstfruits at the beginning of chapter 26. At its end, he wraps up this review with an admonition to follow the Lord and all of his commands.
In chapter 27, the first of the curses for disobedience are listed, which the Levites are to proclaim loudly from the mountains. Actually, six of the tribes are to pronounce the blessings from Mount Gerizim, and the other six are to proclaim the curses from Mount Ebal.
Chapter 28 begins with the blessings for fourteen verses. This is followed by fifty-four verses of curses. God was trying hard to motivate them to turn from disobedience as it would pop up.
Moses begins a lengthy wrap-up to the entire renewal of the covenant. Some great verses appear here in chapter 29:
5 Yet the Lord says, “During the forty years that I led you through the wilderness, your clothes did not wear out, nor did the sandals on your feet.
29 The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.
Notes on Daniel
Through chapter 5, Nebuchadnezzar goes on and on about his guy Daniel. For the man who undoubtedly was the most powerful in the entire world, it’s rather amazing that a foreigner, an import who was actually little more than a slave would have the nerve to call the king to repentance! See 5.27.
However, being able to discern what the king’s dream was, as well as the interpretation, gave Daniel amazing favor with the king.
Nebuchadnezzar’s son Belshazzar did no better than his father. He likewise had a warning sent from God, but his was the original “writing on the wall.” And Daniel was called up by recommendation of the queen (actually, the queen mother, who is Nebuchadnezzar’s widow and Beltshazzar’s mother).
Daniel interpreted the writing on the wall, and it was a message of imminent destruction: “You have been weighed on the scales and been found wanting. Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and the Persians.”
The king, however, was so overjoyed by someone being able to read it, he tried to honor Daniel, clearly ignoring the message’s ominous warning. Before the night was over, the king was dead.
Darius, the king of the Medes and Persians, would retain Daniel in his kingdom after overthrowing the Babylonians. Talk about finding favor in all the right places!
However, favor with the king led to jealousy and adversity with Daniel’s administrative peers. This led to one of the most famous of stories in the entire Bible, Daniel in the den of lions, found here in chapter 6.
Beginning in chapter seven and continuing to the final chapter 12, Daniel will be given a series of fantastical dreams and visions that are so powerful and awful that they nearly consume him.
The opening, however, is awesome in a most wonderful way as he sees the Ancient of Days (God the Father) in 7.9 and “one like a son of man” in 7.13, Jesus. Keep in mind that at this point, Jewish scholarship and doctrine had no concept whatsoever of a Trinity. Seeing two that appear to be deity (clearly they both are in this chapter) creates a problem that Judaism still has not resolved to this day.
In the gospels, Jesus referred to himself most often as the Son of Man, a direct reference to these verses. His hearers knew exactly what he was saying and inferring.
The verses of chapter seven seem to tie into Revelation.
The vision of the ram and goat and its apparent interpretation in chapter eight baffle me. I’m sure there are scholars out there who can unpack this. Maybe one of you can. I would love to hear it.
Daniel intercedes for his people in the first half of chapter nine. He is a great example for us, as he repents of sins of the nation that we have no record of he himself actually committing. For that matter, we have no record of Daniel sinning anywhere. This certainly does not mean he was perfect or without sin, but his record was clean enough that there was no sin committed by him worthy of note.
The second half of the chapter seems to be describing the Great Tribulation. The antichrist is described in 9.27, and Jesus even refers to this in his end-times warning. See Matthew 24.15-21.
In chapter 10, Daniel is given another vision. Here in this chapter, we learn about the partial fast that we call “the Daniel fast” in 10.2-3.
We also get one of the rare glimpses into the heavenlies and see some of how spiritual warfare works between angels, demons and intercessors.
Another long, complex, and perplexing vision is given to Daniel in chapter 11.
Notes on Philippians
This short book is so very powerful. It would be well worth your time to memorize 2.5-11, some of the most compelling words in the entire Book.
Paul brings a tad of that personal testimony that we found in 2 Corinthians and puts it together in chapter three in a most wonderful way..
He had all the right credentials (note that he knew he was a Benjamite—tribal identification was alive and well); we also find he was a Pharisee, among other distinguished characteristics. But all of that didn’t matter to him or anyone at all. “Whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ” (3.7).
His life goal was “to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead” (3.10-11).
He ends this letter with a call great rejoicing. “The Lord is near!” Don’t be anxious, but go to prayer and petition with thanksgiving and tell God all about it.
God’s peace, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (4.7). This verse alone is worth the entire cost of my Bible.
Even in his concluding remarks, he continues to offer up some tremendous thoughts: he has learned to be content, no matter what (as he writes from a hole-in-the-ground prison).
Notes on Colossians
Paul writes to create a majestic and divine portrait of King Jesus in chapter one. “The Son is the image of the invisible God” (1.15). “God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him” (19). There is lots more. You can read it!
Most of the believers in the Colossae church were Gentiles, Paul’s favorite and target audience. He spends chapter two detaching human rules and expectations of the Law from the believer’s mandates.
However, in chapter three, he lays down behavior that lies outside the Kingdom of God; such things as anger, rage, malice, slander, etc. (3.8).
Rules for godly living for husbands, wives, children, and slaves are given at the end of chapter three.
He closes this very short and very practical book after just four chapters. “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (4.6).