Saturday, March 3, 2012

Death of the Firstborn Sons; Passover and Festival of Unleavened Bread

    Today’s Reading:
  • Exodus 12:14 - 13:18
  • Proverbs 6:12 - 15
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Exodus 12:14 - 13:18
The first thing that I took notice of in my readings today were the annual festivals, namely the Passover and the Festival of Unleavened bread.  First of all I am having a little trouble distinguishing between the two. 

I know that the passover itself was when the Israelites slaughtered their livestock and spread the blood over the door jambs as a blood sacrifice to avoid the death of their firstborn sons.  So I am not sure the celebration of the passover would be relevant today because Jesus Christ is now our blood sacrifice. 

What interests me most is the Feast of Unleavened Bread because the bible states that it is a "law for all time" (12:14), not just a law until the new covenant is formed.  So as a Christian is this something my family and I should be celebrating today?  I will certainly need to do more research into this, but any comments and/or thoughts are greatly appreciated.

The final plague was carried out in Egypt and the bible said "there was not a single house where someone had not died" (12:30).  What a terrible night, I couldn't begin to imagine the grief felt throughout Egypt. 

The Pharaoh finally ordered Moses and his people to leave Egypt.  I found a few things interesting, first that there were 600,000 Israeli men in addition to all the women and children (12:37).  I knew that the Israelites had a very large population in Egypt but I didn't realize there were so many! 

The second thing I noticed was that the Israelites fled Egypt on the very last day of their 430th year in Egypt (12:40).  I didn't realize they had been in Egypt for so long.  That is a long time to wait for deliverance.  Of course I know that they weren't always as oppressed as they were in the days nearing the deliverance, but no wonder they had built up such a large population.  I look forward to reading the rest of the story with these new perspectives in mind. 

Proverbs 6:12 - 15
These three verses in Proverbs say that wicked people are constant liars with perverted hearts that plot evil and continually stir up trouble.  Thank God I'm not that wicked!  Even though I know I am a sinner at least I don't have a deceptive mind that continuously plots to harm.  There might be hope for me yet!

Friday, March 2, 2012

We are All Sinners, but are we all Wicked?

Today's Reading:
  • Matthew 21:23 - 46
  • Psalm 26:1 - 12

Matthew 21:23 - 46
Jesus is debating with, and attempting to teach, the elders and the priests of the temple he had just cleared out.  These leaders of the temple did not recognize John the Baptist and they weren't going to recognize Jesus either.  The bible says that they wanted to arrest Jesus but they were afraid of the crowds that were following him (21:46).  

I understand that those living in the time that Jesus was born having disbelief and doubts about this man called Jesus and his fulfillment of the prophecies.  I am sure I would have been skeptical too.  What I don't understand is how these people can witness the miracles performed by Jesus and still not believe.  Worse, not only do they not believe -- they want to prosecute -- and eventually it is done.  We know it was God's plan all along but that doesn't mean it's any less heart breaking that there were those who longed for the suffering of Jesus Christ.  

Psalm 26:1 - 12
In this Psalm David begs that the Lord not judge him the same as He judges the wicked, the evil doers, the liars and the murderers.  I think that for most of my life I have really thought that I was this wicked person and my only hope was Jesus Christ and changing my wicked nature.

Well, my only hope IS Jesus Christ because without him I have no salvation.  I know I am a sinner but I'm realizing more and more that I'm not as wicked a person as I thought I was.  I remember a hearing a sermon when I was younger about how we are all so wicked and that even the newborn babe is wicked because we are sinners by nature.

Yes, we are all sinners.  Yes, we cannot achieve salvation on our own because we have sinned and because we will sin for the rest of our lives.  But I don't think that means that I am wicked.  I have just seen over and over again lately how the Lord hates wicked people -- and it's people who have evil in their hearts and people who refuse to submit to the Lord.

There is no evil in my heart.  There are sinful desires in my flesh but they don't burn all the way to my heart.  My heart belongs to Jesus Christ, and it is finally time that I can shed the thought that I am wicked and realize that I am but a sinner.  I think I finally realize that wicked people and sinners aren't necessarily the same thing.  

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The 10 Plagues of Egypt; Laziness is Bad for the Soul

    Today’s Reading:
  • Exodus 10:1 - 12:13
  • Proverbs 6:6 - 11
Read Bible Passages Online

Exodus 10:1 - 12:13
The plagues continue.  These were the plagues I previously read about:
  1. A Plague of Blood
  2. A Plague of Frogs
  3. A Plague of Gnats (or some insect that was not a fly or a locust)
  4. A Plague of Flies
  5. A Plague Against Livestock
  6. A Plague of Boils
  7. A Plague of Hail
Today I read about the remaining three:

     8.    Plague of Locusts
     9.    Plague of Darkness
     10.  Death of the Firstborn Son

The reading stopped before the tenth plague was actually carried through. The Israelites were making the preparation by slaughtering the young male animals and smearing the blood over the door jambs. 

I knew animal sacrifices were required to cleanse the people from their sins.  What I'm just putting together is the fact that it truly does take blood to cleanse people of sins.  In the Old Testament that was the blood of animals but it was never really sufficient.  The people had to slaughter animals all of the time to atone for their sins. 

It wasn't until the blood of a sinless man -- Jesus Christ, Son of God Himself -- was shed that there could truly be salvation for the people.  For the sins of the Egyptians and the Israelites (because they had been living with the Egyptians for 400 years and didn't really know the Lord either) the Lord required a blood sacrifice.  The Lord had shielded the Israelites from the plagues of animals and insects and weather and darkness, but only blood could satisfy the Lord when it came time to take the firstborn sons.  

Proverbs 6:6 - 11
These verses from Proverbs talk about lazy people.  It says that we must work if we don't want to live in poverty.  God truly means for us to work.  It does our bodies and our souls no good to sit around and be idle all the time.  I enjoy my rest and my time off -- we all need R&R -- but I do know that if I spend too many days doing nothing but lying around I really begin to feel bad about myself.  I don't like being so busy that I don't have time for myself, but I enjoy the fulfillment of knowing that I did something productive with my day.  When I feel good about myself, I aspire to do better.  I aspire to lead a fulfilling life and the most fulfilling life I can live is a life for Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The First Seven Plagues of Egypt; Save Yourself from the Debts of Others

    Today’s Reading:
  • Exodus 8:1 - 9:35
  • Proverbs 6:1-5
Exodus 8:1 - 9:35
Today's reading covers a portion of the plagues.  In the last Exodus reading we saw the first plague which was all water from the Nile river turned to blood.  The next six plagues were covered today.  Here is a list of the plagues that I have so far read about:
  1. A Plague of Blood
  2. A Plague of Frogs
  3. A Plague of Gnats (or some insect that was not a fly or a locust)
  4. A Plague of Flies
  5. A Plague Against Livestock
  6. A Plague of Boils
  7. A Plague of Hail
It's hard to comment on such a tremendous display of power against the Egyptian people as they were washed by plague after plague while the people of Israel remained untouched.  I certainly wouldn't want to be an Egyptian who was suffering for the Pharaoh's sins.  Not that the Egyptians were anywhere close to innocent; they did not know the Lord.  I imagine quite a few were ready to turn and follow the Lord long before the plagues were done being rolled out. 

The important thing -- the point of the entire set of plagues -- was for God to show the Egyptian people who the real God is.  These people had been worshiping the Pharaoh and had no knowledge of the real God until the Lord came in an showed the Egyptian people that He was mightier than anything they had ever known before. 

In verse 9:20 we are told that some of Pharaoh's officials headed the warning against the seventh plague and brought their household and livestock to safety, so I believe that is some indication that part of the Egyptian people were paying heed to this Lord whose power they were learning.

The Pharaoh kept relenting and saying that he would let the people go but then he would recant his promise each time the Lord lifted the plague from the land.  At the end of the seventh plague the Pharaoh finally comes out and admits that he was wrong and that he had sinned (9:27).  As soon as that plague was lifted, the Pharaoh once again changed his mind. The Pharaoh didn't keep his promises, but the Lord always keeps His, and so the plagues were sure to continue.

Proverbs 6:1-5
These first few verses of Proverbs 6 talks about saving yourselves from the debts of others.  It says that if you are trapped by an agreement of another then you are at that person's mercy and you need to have yourself removed from that situation as quickly as possible.

We are lucky that we live in the United States.  Here you don't get jailed for having debts you cannot pay, but that is not true elsewhere.  I don't really know when or where this particular Proverb was written and what the laws of the time were, but I am pretty sure that debt was usually a sin punishable by imprisonment until paid off completely. 

These days you can ruin your financial life by securing another person's debt.  I don't think these verses are telling us that we should never help another person out, but I do think that we are being told to be weary when we do so.  There's a difference between helping others and ruining yourself to do so.  If you ruin yourself to help someone, how will you then be able to be a blessing to more people?

Reading the bible is like reading a self help book, a history book, a biography, a horror story (think about living during those plagues) a drama and a soap opera (think Rachel and Leah and Jacob) all at the same time.  People who think that the bible is an old stuffy boring book obviously haven't read enough of it.  I can't wait to see what unfolds next.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Parable of the Vineyard Workers

    Today’s Reading:
  • Matthew 20:1 - 18
  • Psalm 25:1 - 15
Read Bible Passages Online

Matthew 20:1 - 18
Matthew chapter 20 opens with a parable about vineyard workers.  In this story a landowner hires a group of men to work for one day's wage.  Throughout the day this landowner steadily picks up more men and sets them to work.  He hires men throughout the day and up until almost the end of the day. 

At the end of the day the landowner pays the last men he hired a full day's wage.  He then proceeds to pay the men in the reverse order that he hired them in and payed them each a full day's wage, even those who had truly worked for the entire day.  Of course the workers who had been working the longest were upset, but they were hired on the terms of receiving a full day's wage.  The landowner had every right to be kind to the others. 

I can see how this parable would describe salvation.  There are those who have known and obeyed the Lord since they were first old enough to be accountable.  There are those (like myself) who always knew the Lord but failed to obey Him and/or failed to do His will for a point in their lives.  Then there are those who go through most of their lives never knowing the Lord and until they were near the very end.  Finally, there are those who never knew or just plain refused to know the Lord.

Those who never knew the Lord are like those who never worked at all; they will receive no payment, no salvation.  But those who only knew the Lord for a short time, those who knew and obeyed Him always, and those who are somewhere in the middle -- they all get the exact same salvation.  The Lord is really good to us, because I imagine those who fall into the first category are few and far between.  I am thankful the Lord is kind to me.

Psalm 25:1 - 15
This Psalm is another awesome prayer from David.  I don't have a whole lot to say about it -- just that I really enjoyed reading it.