~ Click on this link for today's readings ~
Exodus 15:19-17:7 ~ Matthew 22:1-33
Psalm 27:1-6 ~ Proverbs 6:20-26
Old Testament - Today in Exodus chapter 15 we read about the prophet Miriam! You'll recall from Exodus chapter 2 that Miriam watched Pharaoh's daughter draw Moses from the Nile when he was a baby and Miriam wisely suggested that she find a Hebrew nurse for the baby (Moses' mom). We'll read about Miriam again in Numbers chapter 12 with a very interesting interaction with Aaron, Moses & God - you can read about it now at this link. Other female prophets we will read about in Bible include Deborah (Judges 4:4), Isaiah's wife (Isaiah 8:3), Huldah (2 Kings 22:14), Noadiah (Nehemiah 6:14), Anna (Luke 2:36) and Philips daughters (Acts 21:9). Below is an image of Miriam's song:
Verse 26 stood out to me in this chapter: "If you will listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in his sight, obeying his commands and laws, then I will not make you suffer the diseases I sent on the Egyptians; for I am the LORD who heals you." It seems to me that here the Israelites are getting a foreshadowing of the Laws to come. "Listen to God - do what is right in his sight. And you will not suffer. I will heal you." We'll dive more into this when we get to the Laws - but, I'll say this now and repeat it often - I do believe that the Laws for the Israelites, as we even see in this verse, were born out of compassion from God. God wanted to preserve and care and heal his people - and imagine living in a desert for 40 years, coming out of slavery... the laws were beneficial for your very well being and life!
Today in Exodus chapter 16 we read about Manna and Quail from heaven. Verses 29 & 30 were powerful for me today, as God speaks about the Sabbath: ""Do they not realize that I have given them the seventh day, the Sabbath, as a day of rest? That is why I give you twice as much food on the sixth day, so there will be enough for two days. On the Sabbath day you must stay in your places. Do not pick up food from the ground on that day." So the people rested on the seventh day." You will probably read on this blog over and over and over again about the Sabbath... I am a huge fan of the concept! And such a poor practitioner of it... I honestly think the Sabbath is one of the most compassionate things God ever created for us. And, don't get me wrong - my personal view is not legalistic in the sense of the Sabbath.... But.... personally, I think the Sabbath is just such a blessing of a gift to us. And I think we - I - us - humans - often do such a bad job of really taking a Sabbath. Really taking 1 day a week to really rest and relax and be with God. Recently I read in our local newspaper about a Hasidic Jewish rapper who came through our town on tour - yes, seriously, there is a Hasidic Jewish rapper who is getting hugely popular nationally. Anyhow, the article - in our secular newspaper - wrote about how this rapper will not perform on Fridays or Saturdays in observance of the Jewish Sabbath Law - and Hasidic Jews strongly observe most all of the Laws still today (I believe... except for animal sacrifices - simply because there is not the Temple in Jerusalem today for the sacrifices). Anyhow - I'm going off on some tangents here - but, the point is, that when I read about how this guy will not perform shows on the 2 best money-making nights of the week for concerts, because of his observance of the Sabbath - I dare say his love of God and his appreciation of the Sabbath - it really struck me. And it really reminded me of how really really bad I am at truly resting and being with God 1 day a week. And I'm not feeling guilty about this per se... but maybe I am feeling convicted... :) Basically - I am feeling that God is really calling me to slow down and simply rest and be with him 1 day a week. A Sabbath.
Verse 31 quick comment - "In time, the food became known as manna. It was white like coriander seed, and it tasted like honey cakes." I love that manna means "What is it?"! That is awesome... I think you'll notice throughout our Bible readings this year that names can often be very descriptive of locations, happenings, personalities - and can even be simple questions like "What is it??" Great commentary on Exodus chapter 16 entitled "Boot Camp and "C" Rations" :) is online at bible.org at this link. Below is "The Gathering of Manna" from 1614 by the Italian painter Guido Reni:
New Testament - Today we read in Matthew chapter 22 the Parable of the Wedding Banquet. This parable has always been so convicting to me personally. It's basically about a king preparing an amazing feast at a wedding banquet, and inviting a ton of people to come to the feast. But - the people don't accept the invitation! They are "too busy" – taking care of their fields and their businesses. And I think about this parable in my own life. Am I sometimes "too busy" to accept Jesus' invitation to be with him? Am I sometimes too focused on my work or my social life or other distractions? Do I get myself so "distracted" that I don't spend time with Jesus? And in doing this, am I missing out on an amazing spiritual feast? How about you? Do you believe that Jesus is inviting you to spend more time with him? Are you "too busy" to do so? Do you believe that spending time with Jesus will actually be an amazing spiritual feast for your soul? Will you accept Jesus' invitation to the wedding banquet?
In verse 21 we read Jesus' famous line ""give to Caesar what belongs to him. But everything that belongs to God must be given to God." What you may not realize about the preceding verses is that the Pharisees and the supporters of Herod were trying to trap Jesus. Per the OYB Companion commentary, The Pharisees, a religious group, opposed the Roman occupation of Palestine. The followers of Herod - or Herodians - were a political party that supported the policies of Rome and Herod Antipas. Normally these 2 groups did not get along at all - but they united here to try to trap Jesus. If Jesus had said it was right to pay taxes to Caesar, the Pharisees would say he is opposed to God. And if Jesus had said the taxes should not be paid, the Herodians would have had him arrested. Jesus answer amazed them both... Below is an image of the Denarius (Roman coin) of Tiberius Caesar. Tiberius (42 B.C. - A.D. 37) became Roman Emperor in A.D. 14. This would have been the picture on the coin shown to Jesus, when he asked in verse 20: "Whose picture and title are stamped on it?"
Psalms - Psalm 27 verse 13 is so beautiful - "Yet I am confident that I will see the LORD's goodness while I am here in the land of the living." Do you have this same confidence? What are some examples of how you have seen God's goodness here in the land of the living? What are some examples of how you are sharing God's goodness with others here in the land of the living?
Proverbs - Proverbs chapter 6 verse 23 should make each of us rejoice in this amazing blessing of reading - and learning! - from the One Year Bible here in 2008! "For these commands and this teaching are a lamp to light the way ahead of you. The correction of discipline is the way to life." Are you learning as you have read the Bible this past month? Is reading the Bible each day changing your relationship with God? Is it changing your behavior in any way? Is reading the Bible a lamp to light the way ahead of you? Will reading the Bible each day change the way you live the rest of your life? Do you believe that the correction of discipline is the way to life? Will you embrace and pray for and accept God's holy and divine correction of discipline in your life this year?
Worship God: Somehow my reflections on the Sabbath today reminded me of the MercyMe song "I Can Only Imagine," when we'll meet our true rest and eternal Sabbath in heaven with Jesus!
Can you only imagine? Click here for your eternal reality!
Please join us in memorizing and meditating on a verse of Scripture this week: "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful." Colossians 3:15 NIV
Comments from You and Questions of the Day: Based on God's words about the Sabbath in our Exodus readings today, do you take a Sabbath? What do you do - or not do - on the Sabbath? Does it bless the other 6 days of your week? How long have you been in the habit of taking a Sabbath? Is it hard to get in the habit? Any other "tricks of the trade" you can share with all of us about taking a Sabbath? Please post up any wisdom you can share about your Sabbath habits in the Comments section below! Thanks! You can change our weekly habits here with your Comments! :) Also, what verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!