We hope you are being enriched by your reading through the Bible this year. If you started reading with us on January 1, your daily Bible reading habit should be getting strong by this week (Week 6). Reading God’s Word should now be a regular part of your daily routine as much as having regular meals and brushing your teeth.
The Apostle Peter gives us further advice on developing a healthy spiritual appetite, no matter what our stage of maturity may be. (We never outgrow our need to have our minds renewed with the message of the gospel!) Peter exhorts us to withdraw from the deceitful mindset of our old nature (the way we used to think) and the habits of the old nature (the way we used to act). If you have been born from above through faith in Christ, you are a new creature:
“Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation” (1 Peter 2:1-2).
How is your spiritual appetite? Is it healthy? Are you growing in your experience of salvation? Do you desire a regular feeding on the counsel of God’s Word like a newborn babe desiring milk?
When you are getting regular spiritual exercise, you will be encouraging a good spiritual appetite.
“I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.” (Job 23:12)
TODAY WE CONCLUDE THE BOOK OF EXODUS AND START THE GOSPEL OF MARK.
OLD TESTAMENT READING: EXODUS 39 and 40
Some may grow impatient with Moses repeating the same details pertaining to the Tabernacle’s construction and services in Chapters 35:4-40:38 which he had already given in Chapters 25:1-31:18.
The first observation is the IMPORTANCE OF EXECUTION. It is one thing to know God’s commands. It is another to do them. Get in the action habit of doing what God has commanded. Find friends who will hold you accountable. Practice obedience.
We read in the Book of James,
“But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.” (James 1:22)
It is one thing to have the knowledge of God’s will. It is another to have the wisdom to apply it.
Matthew 21:19-31 (NASB) “But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go work today in the vineyard.’ 29 “And he answered, ‘I will not’; but afterward he regretted it and went. 30 “The man came to the second and said the same thing; and he answered, ‘I will, sir’; but he did not go. 31 “Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.”
Jesus said His words were a revelation of God’s will.
Matthew 7:24 (NASB) 24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.”
Jesus gave us His own example of how to do God’s will with a heart attitude of love.
Jesus said to His disciples:
“You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. “If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you” (John 13:11-15).
“If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them” (John 13:17).
The second observation in reading these chapters is THE IMPORTANCE OF DETAILED OBEDIENCE. Obedience is doing what we are told, when we are told, with what we are told, with whom we are told, and how we are told.
The perfect detailed obedience shown in the construction of the tabernacle, its costumes, furnishings, accessories, and services, reflect the perfect obedience that went into the redemptive work of Christ that is prophetically pictured. For Jesus Christ is God Incarnate, the Word of God come to tabernacle among us. He is our High Priest and our Perfect Sacrifice. He embodies all the sacrifices of the Tabernacle, both the sacrifices that put away sins (the trespass and sin offerings) and those that represent us in righteousness (pictured in the sweet-smelling offerings-the burnt offering which pictures His perfect devotion; the meal-offering which pictures His perfect submission, and the peace offering, which pictures what He provides of perfect fellowship with the Father through the Holy Spirit.)
Jesus was perfectly obedient to fulfill the work of redemption.
Philippians 2:8 (NASB) 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
It is important to remember that these beautiful costumes of beauty and glory for the priests would be getting soiled with blood and oil during the daily sacrifices. Jesus Christ left the pristine holiness of heaven to take on the dirty task of our rescue from the pit of death. His life would be poured out on the altar for us. He would bear wounds for our transgressions. He did not shrink back in fear. He knew what obedience would cost him. He was not afraid of the blood (making the ultimate sacrifice) or the oil (utter reliance upon the Holy Spirit).
Jesus wore His intrinsic colors- the gold of deity, the blue of heaven, and the purple of majesty. Although He existed in the form of God, He did not regard equality with God as a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant, and being made in the likeness of men. He was born of a virgin and became man, yet without sin. Here we have the color of redemption- the scarlet of blood- blood that was free from Adamic corruption. The Apostle Peter calls it “precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless” (1 Peter 1:19). Jesus was clothed with the linen of righteousness. He fulfills righteousness on our behalf (Matt 5:17) and is obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:6-9).
Exodus 39:32 (NASB) 32 Thus all the work of the tabernacle of the tent of meeting was completed; and the sons of Israel did according to all that the LORD had commanded Moses; so, they did.
In Exodus 40 the work is inspected and found to be done “just as the LORD had commanded.” Moses represents the law. The law is satisfied with the finished work of Christ.
In Exodus 40 Moses is seen as the only actor on the stage. He sets up the tabernacle. All subordinates disappear from view. If they are involved, no mention is made of them. The Holy Spirit wants to draw our attention to the fact that the work of redemption, pictured in the tabernacle, will be fulfilled by only one man, the perfect mediator, Jesus Christ.
1 Timothy 2:5-6 (NASB) 5 For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.
On the altar of the cross, Jesus cries “It is finished!”, “It is completed!” (John 19:30). Jesus sheds His precious blood pouring out His life of perfect obedience as a sinless substitutionary sacrifice.
Jesus does not break the law, as the children of Israel did. The second set of stone tablets was stored INSIDE the ark of the covenant which speaks of Christ who had the laws written on His heart and fulfilled them by the Eternal Spirit with joyful obedience (Exodus 40:20).
Jesus turns “the judgment seat” that should have sentenced us to hell into a “mercy seat” where we are accepted forever in His perfections as our great High Priest. His once and for all sacrifice propitiates (satisfies) the heart of God (Hebrews 2:17; 1 John 2:2; 4:10).
Exodus 40:33 (NASB) Thus Moses finished the work.
The evidence of God’s satisfaction with the finished work is seen in the filling of the tabernacle with the manifestation of the glory of God (verses 34 and 35):
Exodus 40:34-35 (NASB) 34 Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. 35 Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.
The glory of the finished work is something that we cannot contribute towards or take away from. Moses, who represents the Law, cannot enter into it. He himself would not be allowed to make sacrifices.
There is no room for Moses in the tabernacle. There is no room for the Old Covenant righteousness, in which the corrupted hearts of men pledge their fickle hearts to God. There is no room for boasting in the flesh. There is no room for priding oneself in a falsely assumed ability to conform outwardly to the standards of God’s righteousness. All we have to boast in is pictured here- the glory of the Lord filling the house; Jesus Christ- fulfilling every demand of a holy God on our behalf! He fulfills the law both by His doing (obedience) and His dying (satisfying the demands of justice against all who have offended God, rebelled against His authority, opposed His standards of righteousness, transgressed his laws, and disobeyed His commands.)
And so, we have the final words in the book of Exodus:
Exodus 40:36-38 (NASB) 36 Throughout all their journeys whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the sons of Israel would set out; 37 but if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out until the day when it was taken up. 38 For throughout all their journeys, the cloud of the LORD was on the tabernacle by day, and there was fire in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel.
All eyes are on the Lord, whose presence and guidance are made known by the cloud that could be seen on the tabernacle by day and by night because there was fire in it.
NEW TESTAMENT READING: THE GOSPEL OF MARK 1:1-28
The Gospel of Mark reads like a screenplay. Mark writes with the Romans in mind. He does not give as much attention to the teachings of Jesus as do Matthew or Luke. In the Gospel of Mark, we see Jesus on the move. Jesus makes himself known through His mighty acts.
Mark’s claim that Jesus is the Messiah is backed up as he describes the heavens opening with the Holy Spirit descending upon Jesus and a voice declaring that He is the dearly loved Son of God as He is baptized by John at the river Jordan.
Jesus no sooner calls His disciples to follow Him when the action starts. He astounds His hearers when He teaches in the synagogue. Mark does not tell us what Jesus taught. Only that He taught with real authority, quite unlike the teachers of religious law.
The next surprise is that even the demons cannot deny that Jesus is the Christ. In fact, the first one to confess that Jesus is the Christ, after the Father speaking from heaven, is a demon who says:
“What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!” (Mark 1:24)
Jesus interrupts the demon and casts him out. News of His authority spreads through the entire Galilean region.
READ ALOUD Psalm 35:1-16; The Psalm reminds us that life is not pretty. There are forces that oppose us and would glory in our demise. We find that life involves conflict and we may find ourselves with enemies.
There are a group of Psalms where the worshiper cries out for justice, that the wicked would be punished, that the tables would be turned on those who intend to harm us. These are called the imprecatory psalms. (There are at least 15 of them- Psalms 5, 10, 17, 35, 58, 59, 69, 70, 79, 83, 109, 129, 137, 140, 143).
Whereas these psalms express the fact that struggle is an inevitable part of our lives, it is necessary to surrender our desire for vengeance to the Lord (Romans 12:17-20). We need to give others the space that God gives us, patiently granting us time to be convicted of sin, to turn, and meet the Lord in mercy!
The Psalmist assures us that the Lord is our rescuer. “Lord, who can compare to you?” (v.10). We can rejoice that He does vindicate His servants, but we must be patient and recognize what the Lord says,
Deuteronomy 32:35 35 ‘Vengeance is Mine, and retribution, in due time their foot will slip; For the day of their calamity is near, And the impending things are hastening upon them.’ (repeated in Romans 12:19; Hebrews 10:30)
TODAY’S PROVERB- Wisdom is good for your health!
Proverbs 9:11-12 11 For by me your days will be multiplied, and years of life will be added to you. 12 If you are wise, you are wise for yourself, and if you scoff, you alone will bear it.
PRAY FOR THE COUNTRIES OF ANDORRA (A small self-governing co-principality in the heart of the Pyrenees between Spain and France) and ANGOLA (a republic in the sub-Sahara region of Africa with its South-Western border on the Atlantic).
In the Book “OPERATION WORLD” there is a list of both answers to prayer and prayer challenges (p. 102-105). There is a great need for the gospel to take a deeper root in Andorra. It is the sixth smallest nation in Europe; one of the European microstates (Andorra, Liechtenstein, Malta, Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City). It has had its own constitution, judiciary, and foreign policy since 1993. It was once a smuggler’s refuge and today attracts wealthy tourists and financiers. Materialism keeps true spirituality very thin on the ground. Pray that the church will be strengthened to share the Truth that sets one free.
The number of evangelicals has quadrupled in Angola since 1990 despite difficult conditions. There have been forty years of almost constant war. 90% of the casualties were civilian. Millions were uprooted, their homes and churches were destroyed. One in every 350 Angolans is a victim of landmines. The consolidation of peace appears to be happening but there still is a great need for the reconciling peace of the gospel to be declared and demonstrated.
PRAYER: Gracious God, we marvel at the perfection of Your saving work in Christ. We thank You for His perfect sacrifice at the brazen altar of the cross, for His washing us clean at the laver of the Word, for His enabling Presence so we can feast on His fellowship, walk in His light, and have His Spirit inspiring our prayers, our worship, our communion, and service, releasing the fragrance of His perfect mediation on our behalf. Thank You for this gift of a right standing with You in the Holiest of All, the righteousness of Your Son, our Lord Christ Jesus! May He receive all the glory, and may our lives speak fluently of Him! We look for the day when He is known as all and in all! (1 Cor 15:28)