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Visible Reminder "Like a mark branded on your hand and forehead" (NLT)
When I read this passage the first thing that popped into my head was the "mark of the beast." (Sorry!) Another image that entered my mind was the red mark on the forehead of Hindu people (which they says is mostly cosmetic in their culture but occasionally symbolizes participation of a religious ceremony?) and it kind of took me back a little to have it the scripture worded this way. So I went to my favorite Bible translation NASB and read the following.
EXO 13:9 "And it shall serve as a sign to you on your hand, and as a reminder on your forehead, that the law of the LORD may be in your mouth; for with a powerful hand the LORD brought you out of Egypt. EXO 13:16 "So it shall serve as a sign on your hand and as phylacteries on your forehead, for with a powerful hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt." (NASB)
Phylacteries? Just out of curiosity I looked this up and found this to come from Greek: phulakteria; meaning: "defenses" or "protections"
phy·lac·tery Etymology: Middle English philaterie, from Medieval Latin philaterium, alteration of Late Latin phylacterium, from Greek phylaktErion amulet, phylactery, from phylassein to guard, from phylak-, phylax guard
1 : either of two small square leather boxes containing slips inscribed with scriptural passages and traditionally worn on the left arm and on the head by Jewish men during morning weekday prayers
2: am·u·let : a charm (as an ornament) often inscribed with a magic incantation or symbol to protect the wearer against evil (as disease or witchcraft) or to aid him
Hm-m-m, interesting… It's good that the Lord wants certain things to serve as a reminder of His great, powerful and miraculous working on our behalf especially for the younger generation to hear about and to build their belief and confidence in the Lord while growing up. My kids are always bugging me to tell them stories about the past. Of course the older I get the fuzzier it gets and all I can remember are the things that stand out because it is associated with a person, a place, an event or a thing.
I'm urged to tell more stories about what God has done in my life or in our own family.
Well… thought I would just add my tidbit of thinking today.

Exodus 12:14-13:16
God is a God of remembrance; He doesn’t want us to forget where we came from and how we got there. God doesn’t want us to forget that our deliverance was by His hand and not our own. So what does He do so we won’t forget, so Israel won’t forget? He throws a “party” to remember and rehearse in the hearing of everyone, especially the children, how we “got over.”

Wonder if we should be throwing parties to rehearse in our friends and families ears our deliverance from the sin that so easily beset us. And did you notice this thing about yeast? Getting the yeast out of every area of one’s house had to have been an arduous task, yet anyone caught eating yeast was cut off from the community during this time of celebration. If you substitute the word “sin” for yeast you will get a clear understanding of how much God wants sin out of our lives, our homes and our communities.

I believe within these passages there is a glimpse of what made a true Israelite, and today, what makes a true Christian. A male who was uncircumcised, even if he was born of a Hebrew mother could take part in the Festival of Unleavened Bread. But a foreigner or one who had chosen to dwell within the “midst” could if they were circumcised. It wasn’t the circumcision that made one a God protected chosen people. The circumcision represented covenant with God. The Hebrew’s were a people of the Covenant and Christians are a people who are covenanted with God through His Son, Jesus Christ.

There is something I love in chapter 13 that I believe ties into today’s gospel reading and I think it is awesome and mind-blowing. Within this retelling of instructions about who, when and where the Passover and the Festival of the Unleavened Bread is celebrated, there is this charge to dedicate the firstborn male, including animals. All firstborn sons and firstborn male animals must be presented to the Lord but there seems to be an aside to deal with “a firstborn male donkey who may be redeemed by presenting a lamb in its place.” (13). However, if you don’t redeem this donkey with a lamb the donkey’s neck must be broken. Jumping directly to the Gospel reading …

Matthew 20:29-21:22
And past the two blind men who knew that Jesus was the Son of David (I spoke about this before) and not just Jesus of Nazareth (Geeze, blind folk who can see), we come to the town of Bethphage on the Mount of Olives. There is a great deal of symbolism here and I’m not sure if this is Theologically correct but I’m going for it and stand to be corrected if I’m in error. The anointing oil used to consecrate priests, the oil used to consecrate Moses’ brother, Aaron, as High Priest was made from Olives, along with other prescribed spices. Israel’s kings were anointed with olive oil. And here Jesus, the Christ, the Anointed One, went to a town on the Mount of Olives, He was getting ready to be anointed King, but not the type of king the disciples nor the crowd understood.
[I’m going to jump the gun a little.] Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane and in Hebrew, Gethsemane means and is an “Olive Press.” You can’t get oil from the olive unless it has been crushed.

Isaiah 53
4 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.

O.K, O.K, I want to get to this donkey lamb exchange, if not a broken neck. In Exodus we read about this first-born donkey, this colt. I ask you what did Jesus ride on when he entered Jerusalem? A colt of a donkey! (21:1-6). Now this may or may not be in someone’s commentary but if it is I didn’t get it from there. I either saw this from “getting it” last year after 18 plus years of reading this Word, or the Holy Spirit revealed it to me. And the Mount of Olives thing I just saw with this reading. (Discoveries and revelations like this is what propels me year after year to getting into God’s Word. This is better than getting high!)

The Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the word was symbolizing the redeeming of the donkeys of this world when he took he took his Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. To give this a better feel, think of the OTHER word, the King James word used for donkey! Just think if Jesus didn’t redeem us we would be walking around with broken necks (smile!)

I want to deal somewhat with Jesus’ Temple Clearing, which I believe is the second time He has done this, once at the start of His ministry and now at the end of His earthly ministry. We will find what we are looking for, good or evil, positive or negative, we will find it. The leading priests and teachers of the religious law probably saw their community standing being brought low if the people turned to Jesus, who after all didn’t go to the same “Bible College” and Seminary they went too. So even though they saw the miracles Jesus did, even though they heard the little children shout, “Praise God for the Son of David” (the kids knew where Jesus was from), they, by choice, refused to believe. They exchanged the truth for a lie because it didn’t fit their personal agenda. Do we exchange that very same truth for a lie because it is just not our truth?

Israel in scripture has always been figuratively represented, among other things, as a fig tree. Jesus was cursing the unproductive fig tree, which had a lot of leaves suggesting that it had some kind of sustenance to feed from, yet it was empty of nourishment, because it presented to the hungry, a lie. This pretense is not just a thing of the past and it is not just symbolic of Israel and the leaders and teachers in the Temple, now destroyed. This is a warning for Christian Houses of Worship that may have a lot of leaves, giving out hope to a dead and dying word, but nothing to feed the people.
Psalm 25:16-22

The last half of this Psalm also fits into the Exodus and Matthew passages for today. The Psalmist, David, is crying out to the Lord for deliverance, he wants to be saved from his enemies, from all his troubles. The cry to Jesus in Matthew 21:9, in New Testament Greek is Hosanna, which means “Save Now!” How awesome is this Word to be able to clearly see the same motif, the same theme run through books, Exodus, Matthew, Psalms written a thousand and hundreds of years a part by different authors. God is just awe-inspiring.
Proverbs 6:12-15

These four verses are great descriptions for us to be able to identify folks we should not be associating with. This is not a, “kinda, sorta, it seems to me like …,” character description. This passage is saying, “This is what it is. Learn and be wise and forewarned.”

Grace and peace,

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