Exodus 21:22-23:13 ~ Matthew 24:1-28 ~ Psalm 29:1-11 ~ Proverbs 7:6-23
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Old Testament - Today in Exodus chapter 21 we read the very well-known verses 24 & 25: "If an eye is injured, injure the eye of the person who did it. If a tooth gets knocked out, knock out the tooth of the person who did it. Similarly, the payment must be hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise." What you may not realize about this "law of retaliation" is that it actually was meant to limit the punishment to fit the crime, which prevented cruel and barbaric punishments that were seen in many ancient cultures. Meaning - before this law it might have been seen as "acceptable" for someone to kill someone in return for knocking out an eye - whereas this law limited the retaliation to fit the crime. Jesus of course invokes the higher law of love in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5 verses 38 through 42: "You have heard that the law of Moses says, `If an eye is injured, injure the eye of the person who did it. If a tooth gets knocked out, knock out the tooth of the person who did it.' But I say, don't resist an evil person! If you are slapped on the right cheek, turn the other, too. If you are ordered to court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too. If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles. Give to those who ask, and don't turn away from those who want to borrow." Do you see how Jesus exemplified this higher law of love for us through his ministry, life, death and resurrection? Bible.org has a great article titled "Jesus and the Law of Retaliation (Lex Talionis)" at this link.
I find it very fascinating to read all of the laws in these chapters today. I think what is incredible is to remember is that these laws are coming directly from God to the Hebrews. I find it very encouraging that God is so interested in the minutiae details that are discussed in these laws! God is not an impersonal God who just sets up the universe like a clock and lets it tick. God is engaged and concerned with our behavior - back then and today! Do you believe that God is engaged and concerned with your behavior today?
New Testament - Matthew chapter 24 verse 2 was literally fulfilled in A.D. 70 when the Romans, under Titus, completely destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple building: ""Do you see all these buildings? I assure you, they will be so completely demolished that not one stone will be left on top of another!"
Verse 15 stood out to me today's readings: "The time will come when you will see what Daniel the prophet spoke about: the sacrilegious object that causes desecration standing in the Holy Place"--reader, pay attention!" Per Zondervan's commentary, the primary reference in Daniel 9:27 & 11:31 & 12:11 was to 168 B.C. when Antiochus Epiphanes erected a pagan altar to Zeus on the sacred altar in the temple of Jerusalem. Some believe this is a progressive prediction, which was also fulfilled in A.D. 70 when the temple was destroyed - and will also be fulfilled in the future by the antichrist. Below is a Roman statue of Zeus. Antiochus Epiphanes dedicated the Jerusalem Temple to this false god in 168 B.C.:
Verses 26 & 27 really stood out to me today as some very wise teaching's of Jesus' (well, yes, all of Jesus' teachings are wise! :), which we would all do well to take note of: ""So if someone tells you, `Look, the Messiah is out in the desert,' don't bother to go and look. Or, `Look, he is hiding here,' don't believe it! For as the lightning lights up the entire sky, so it will be when the Son of Man comes." For some reason that little line, "don't bother to go and look" really stood out to me. Basically, Jesus is saying that if you have to GO somewhere to see the "messiah" in the end of days, it ain't the messiah! :) When the true Messiah Jesus comes again, you will know it without a doubt - Jesus will light up the entire sky! What a beautiful thing to imagine...
Psalms - Speaking of Jesus lighting up the sky when he returns... check out Psalm 29 today! What a beautiful hymn of praise to God the Creator! Verses 3 and 4 are awesome: "The voice of the LORD echoes above the sea. The God of glory thunders. The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty." And verse 2 is something for each of us to joyfully obey - "Give honor to the LORD for the glory of his name. Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness." Amen!
Proverbs - Proverbs chapter 7 verses 22 & 23 have always stood out to me, reminding me of the mortal danger of sin in our lives: "He followed her at once, like an ox going to the slaughter or like a trapped stag, awaiting the arrow that would pierce its heart. He was like a bird flying into a snare, little knowing it would cost him his life." Yes, these verses are speaking about adultery. But, I think you can apply these verses to many sins that we fall prey to. Once we let the temptation or seduction of the sin overtake our senses we run the risk of the "arrow" or the "snare." Sin has consequences. Very real and often mortal consequences. We need to stay off the path of sin and pray to God to keep us on the paths of truth and righteousness. Please don't walk into the traps of temptation!
Worship God: Matthew 24:27 and Psalm 29:2 reminded me of Third Day's great song "Show Me Your Glory"! Here's a live version:
Has God shown you His Glory? Click here for Glory!
Please join us in memorizing and meditating on five verses of Scripture today: "Jesus answered: "Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains." Matthew 24:4-8 NIV
Prayer Point: Pray that you will not be deceived in the end times. Pray that you will keep your eyes and heart fixed on Jesus alone in all times and all places.
Comments from You and Questions of the Day: I read an interesting commentary on Psalm 29 verse 2 today - "Give honor to the LORD for the glory of his name. Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness." This commentary suggested that possibly "worshiping God in the splendor of his holiness" may have been a call for the ancient worshipers to basically dress up before going to the Temple. To wear the proper white robes or garb for worship. And this made me think about how we dress for church today. I'm wondering if maybe we're getting too casual in the way we dress for church these days? I know in my grandparents' day, you were in a suit / nice dress. Today, it seems like we can go to church in just about whatever we want to wear - jeans, T-shirts, flip-flops, etc. And maybe this is okay? Maybe this is a good thing? Or maybe not? Dennis Prager on his radio show talks about this very topic and says that if we were going to meet with the Queen of England, how would we dress? Obviously, we'd dress nicely. Well, if in church we're going to meet with the King of all creation, how then should we dress? At least as nicely as we'd dress for meeting with the Queen of England? Or no...? Please let me know your thoughts on this topic. Do you dress up for church? Why or why not? (I'll confess - I wear jeans to church... and sometimes even sandals in the summer...) Are we getting too casual with what we wear to church these days? Should we maybe learn something from this Psalm and "worship God in the splendor of his holiness"? Also, what verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!