~ Click on this link for today's readings ~
Exodus 10:1-12:13 ~ Matthew 20:1-28
Psalm 25:1-15 ~ Proverbs 6:6-11
Old Testament - In Exodus chapter 10 we read about the Plague of Locusts!
My first time trying out images on the blog for effect! :) Next comes the plague of darkness!
In Exodus chapter 11 we read in verses 4 & 5 - "So Moses announced to Pharaoh, "This is what the LORD says: About midnight I will pass through Egypt. All the firstborn sons will die in every family in Egypt, from the oldest son of Pharaoh, who sits on the throne, to the oldest son of his lowliest slave. Even the firstborn of the animals will die." And an appropriate image for this announcement - Moses' last time speaking with Pharaoh - might be this -
Okay, enough fun with images.... :)
In Exodus chapter 12 today we read about God giving Moses and Aaron instructions on the First Passover. Verse 2 jumped out at me - "From now on, this month will be the first month of the year for you." Here we see that God is actually instituting a new religious calendar for the Hebrews with the month that Passover is in being the first month. This month is in the March-April spring timeframe and is called Abib or Nisan in Hebrew. The feasts that were and are celebrated in this 1st month are - Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits.
The significance of Passover was that God was introducing the concept of a sacrifice or a substitute for a life. The lamb was sacrificed as a substitute for the Hebrews first born sons. The blood of the lamb was placed on the doorposts as a sign that the household had sacrificed an innocent life - the lamb. By the blood of the unblemished/perfect lamb, the household was protected from death. This is a foreshadowing of Jesus. Jesus is the sacrificial lamb for us. He was a substitute for us and our sins. He was an innocent unblemished/perfect lamb - sinless. By Jesus' blood, we are protected from eternal death. See the parallels between Passover and Jesus?
Exodus chapter 12 verse 11 is of note - "Wear your traveling clothes as you eat this meal, as though prepared for a long journey. Wear your sandals, and carry your walking sticks in your hands. Eat the food quickly, for this is the LORD's Passover." By wearing their traveling clothes, the Hebrews were faithfully acknowledging God's word that they would very soon be freed from slavery and bondage in Egypt. The Exodus would soon begin... and the traveling clothes signified that the Hebrews were ready for the journey! How about us today? Do you think that God may still call us on some journeys to take today? Do you think that God might be calling you on a journey here in 2005? If so, will you be ready for the call? Will you wear your "traveling clothes", so that when the "Exodus" comes, you are ready for it?
New Testament - Matthew chapter 20's story of the vineyard workers is one that I have at times had challenges with. I, like the workers who labored all day, would think - "that's not fair!" Well.... but then I came to realize that I believe this story is a story of Grace. God's grace. And you know what - God's grace is not "fair." And thank God for this being so! God's grace is so powerful and all-encompassing and life-giving and healing and saving. And God's grace is offered to me. And to you. And to our neighbors. And to everyone. God's grace is offered to people that have sinned against God. Me. You. Our Neighbors. Everyone. God's grace is offered to people who become Christians early in their lives and live wonderfully giving lives. And God's grace is offered to people who become Christians on their deathbed after living destructive lives. God's grace is given freely. Like these workers in this story, we all accept God's grace at different points in the "day." How about you? What part of the "day" are you in? Have you accepted God's gift of grace? Will you?
Jesus' teaching in Matthew 20 verse 16 has always been convicting to me - "And so it is, that many who are first now will be last then; and those who are last now will be first then." I see the wisdom in this verse... but yet, I still think that I try to be "first" in many ways in my life. I don't like being "last". I like being honored. I like being the star. I don't like being the servant. I don't like to be the guy supporting the star. And yet, Jesus is calling us to be last. To serve others. To let others go first. How about you? Are you trying to be "first" in your life? Or do you see the eternal wisdom in being "last"?
As this chapter proceeds we read about Jesus prophesying his own death and resurrection. And then, we see Jesus prophesy about the end of James & John's life when their mother and they ask to sit at Jesus' right & left in heaven. Check out verses 22 & 23 - ""You don't know what you are asking! Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of sorrow I am about to drink?" "Oh yes," they replied, "we are able!" "You will indeed drink from it," he told them." You will indeed drink from it... James ended his life being martyred for his faith in Jesus. And John ended his life in exile on the island of Patmos, where he wrote the book of Revelation. And I wonder again about us today... sometimes we hear about the "health, wealth and prosperity gospel", and think that's what we've signed up for as Christians. But... do you think that it might be possible that at some point in your life that you might be called to drink from the bitter cup of sorrow that Jesus drank from? If you are called to drink from that bitter cup, will you indeed drink from it?
The last 10 words of Verse 28 remind me of the Passover Lamb / Jesus parallels discussed above in this post - "For even I, the Son of Man, came here not to be served but to serve others, and to give my life as a ransom for many." Jesus came to give his life as a ransom for many. Do you believe that he came to give his life as a ransom for you?
Psalms - Psalm 25 has some amazing verses today! I think I could write some reflections and questions on each of the verses today... Maybe a good thing for each of us to do is to re-read this Psalm today and really reflect on what the verses are saying to our hearts. Will you do this?
I do like verse 5 a lot and I believe it will speak to each of you going through the One Year Bible this year - "Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you." Do you believe that reading God's Word each day is allowing you to be led by God's truth? Are you being taught each day? Then - that last sentence in verse 5 is amazing. I cannot honestly say that all day long I put my hope in God. I pray that I do... but I think sometimes I drift away from putting my hope in God and I put my hope in myself - or maybe even sometimes I lose hope! I get discouraged about a situation. I get stressed. I worry. If we put our hope all day long in God, do you think we would get discouraged, stressed, or worried? I don't think we would...
Proverbs - Okay, Proverbs chapter 6 verses 9 through 11 make me smile. I do absolutely see the wisdom in these verses... but reading the word lazybones makes me smile. Is this a New Living Translation thing?? I honestly wondered for a split second if I was getting The Message translation on this Proverb somehow today! :) By the way - random tangent here - I picked up a full copy of The Message for $20 at Sam's Club tonight. OT & NT. I'm psyched! I love the paraphrase of The Message by Eugene Peterson. And - random tangent #2 - have you noticed how many cool religious books & Bibles Sam's Club has these days? I mean, they don't have a ton of books in their monster warehouse. But, they have tons of Bibles - including Zondervan's NIV Study Bible, which is just phenomenal. And they had some really cool Oswald Chamber "My Utmost for His Highest" journal books. And of course tons of Purpose Driven Life books. HOWEVER - they did NOT have a One Year Bible format of the Bible! How upsetting! :) I will talk to them... Okay, back to this Proverb... The other reason this Proverb made me smile is because I do a lot of catch up of sleep on weekends - which I know is not wise... I'm trying to change my ways here... but, before reading the Bible tonight, I thought to myself, "wow, I almost got 10 hours of sleep last night! And I'm gonna get 10 hours of sleep hopefully tonight! Woo-hoo!" And then I read this... "But you, lazybones, how long will you sleep? When will you wake up? I want you to learn this lesson: A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest-- and poverty will pounce on you like a bandit; scarcity will attack you like an armed robber." Ahh man.... I am feeling really guilty about going for 10 hours tonight.... but again... I see the wisdom in this Proverb - on weekdays! :) (probably the Proverbs were not written just for weekdays... :)
UPDATE - Okay, I went to bed last night after posting this up, still thinking about this Proverb... and I set my alarm to get 10 hours of sleep... but - I woke up, wide-awake, just after getting 8 hours of sleep! And I'm feeling very refreshed and like I've had plenty of sleep.... this Proverb just whooped me into shape I think! :)
What verses or insights jumped out for you in today's readings? Please post up in the Comments section below!