Spiritual Rants: March 7 “Light It Up” Readings to read through the Bible in a year: Numbers 8:1-9:23 Mark 13:14-37 Psalm 50:1-23 Proverbs 10:29-30

Old Testament:  Numbers 8:1-9:23

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Numbers 8:1-4  Light It Up

A new command was given regarding the Seven Lamps on the Lambstand in the Holy Of Holies.  Each lamp had six branches (Ex. 25: 31 – 40).  The lamps were to cast light in front of them.

Jesus is the “Light of the World” (John 8: 12).  John said “God is light” (1John 1: 5) and that we need to walk in the light (1John 1: 7).    These lamps were symbolic of God being light.  There were also seven lamp stands in the book of Revelation that represented the seven churches in the first two chapters (Rev. 1: 20).  Churches are supposed to shed God’s light on the world.  If not, they are removed (Rev. 2:5).

Numbers 8:5-22  Clean It Up

As we have seen, cleanliness was a priority for God to show His purity.  Cleanliness was, indeed, next to godliness.  Because of  that there were special rules for the Levites who were responsible for all the hard work of ministry.  They were to be sprinkled with water and shave all the hair off their bodies.  Many had been former swimmers or bike racers (Num. 8: 7).  JK.  They also had to bring meat and grain as sin offerings (Num. 8: 8, 12).  All the people again had to lay their hands on the Levites, symbolizing their replacement of the firstborn who were spared in the Tenth Plague (Num. 8: 10, 17, 18, cf. Ex. 13: 1, 2).  The Levites were then offered to the Lord by Aaron, the High Priest (Num. 8: 11, 13).  The Levites were then “purified” (Num. 8: 21), that is, ceremonially clean.

Numbers 8:23-26  Pack It In

The age for a man to enter Levitical service was twenty-five which differs from Numbers 4:3 most likely because there was a five-year apprenticeship.  David later lowered the age to twenty (1Chron 23: 27). They were to retire at fifty.  They were able to continue doing light work after fifty and assist the younger men.  They were to give their strongest and best years to the Lord.

Numbers 9:1-14  Pass Over Them

Some men had come too close to dead bodies though the Lord had proclaimed April 1 to observe the Passover Feast.  Moses had to make a special lifeline call to Yahweh to get instructions on what to do.  The word came back, the Levites could postpone the Passover celebration till May 1 but had to observe all the same rules.  Foreigners who wanted to observe the Passover could observe but had to observe the same rules as the Levites.

Numbers 9:15-23  Forecast:  Cloudy

The day the Tabernacle was put up, the cloud of the Lord covered it.  It looked like a cloud during the day and at night it looked like fire.  When the cloud lifted off the tent, the people all set out and when it settled, the people camped.  No matter how long the cloud stayed put, the people stayed put.  It didn’t matter how long a time or short a time that the cloud settled, the people settled or left with the cloud.  The cloud represented the presence of the Lord.

New Testament: Mark 13:14-37

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Mark 13:14-23  Abominable!

The “abomination of desolation” is the technical term for the Antichrist.  John says there were already antichrists in his day (1John 2: 18).  There will be one super-antichrist called the Antichrist.  He will be revealed at the mid-point of the seven-year Tribulation that will come upon the world to test the Jews.  The church will be gone (a good book to start with on end times is Hal Lindsay’s Late Great Planet Earth) when caught up to Heaven at the Rapture.  Only unbelievers will be left in the world.  It is called the time of “Jacob’s Trouble” in the Old Testament meaning that is a special time of testing of the Jews (Jer. 30: 7).  Unbelievers will also have a chance to trust Christ during this time.  It will be a time of Hell on earth (Mark 13:19).

The “abomination,” specifically, is the Antichrist profaning the Temple with his presence (cf. Dan. 7:23-26; 9:25-27; 2 Thes. 2:3-4, 8-9).  If you have been studying the Old Testament readings in the One Year Bible, you know how serious it is to enter the inner part of the Temple (or Tabernacle).  The antichrist will demand to be worshipped.

Like the Egyptian magicians in the time of Moses, there will be false prophets who perform signs and wonders (Mark 13: 22) who are almost able to deceive even believers.  Jesus is giving a stern warning for those times.

Mark 13:24-37  The Big Event

There will be wonders in the sky as a warning right before the end.  The sun and moon will darken and stars will fall from the sky.  Not long after, Jesus will return out of the sky with His angels, calling all believers from heaven and earth to accompany Him.

Just as fig trees will bud (Remember Mark 11:13, 20-21?) just before they give forth fruit, there will be signs just before the Second Coming.  Soon after the darkening skies and falling stars, Jesus said the end was right around the corner.

A controverisal phrase is “this generation will not pass away until all these things take place” (Mark 13:30).  What does it mean since Mark 13:32 indicates that no one, including Jesus, will know the exact time He will return?  The exact phrase (Mark 13 32) is no one knows “that day or hour.”  That “day” could very well be the technical term used in Scripture the “Day of the Lord” (Acts 2:20; 1 Cor. 5:5; 2 Cor. 1:14 ; 1 Thess. 5:2; 2 Thess. 2:2; 2 Pet. 3:10) which encompasses the Tribulation, the Second Coming, and the Thousand Year Rule of Christ.

The study of end times is one of the most fascinating studies in Scripture.  To properly study end times, my suggestion would be to 1)  investigate the exact meaning of a “literal” interpretation of Scripture including an understanding of “apocalyptic literature”  2)  realize that the Church is different than Israel (duh!)   3) study how the unilateral promises to Israel have not yet been fulfilled.  When you have done these three things, you are well on your way to understanding end times.  Another good place to start is a small but enlightening book by the former President of Grace College and Seminary, Alva J. McClain, called Daniel’s Prophecy of the 70 Weeks.  It covers just four verses (Jer. 9:24-27) but, I guarantee will be one of the most fascinating Scripture studies you will ever undertake.

Jesus summarizes all He has taught in Mark 13:37, “Be alert.”  Jesus could come at any moment!

Psalm 50:1-23   A Judgment Psalm by The Sons Of Korah

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Psalm 50:1-23   No Bull

We’ve come to the first psalm written by Asaph.  He was one of a trio of worshipper leaders under David (cf. 1 Chron. 16:37–42; 2 Chron. 5:12; 35:15).  Asaph can be found as the author of eleven more psalms, 73-84.

You’re going to love this psalm that condemns legalistic religion (v. 7-15) and hypocrites (v. 16-21).

I have had church starts ruined by formalists so I know I’m going to enjoy writing about this psalm.

It will be helpful at first to define religion.  Religion is man seeking God.  As opposed to that is biblical Christianity.  Biblical Christianity is God seeking man (cf. Luke 19:10).

Secondly, my definition of legalism is any rules that are outside of Scripture that are setup as approved by God.  For example, there is nothing about attending movies in the Bible or anything specifically about hair length.  But there are prohibitions against adultery, stealing, and cheating (cf. Lev. 19:11).  There is nothing that says that a pastor has to wear a collar and nothing in the Bible about how often to have communion.  I think you get the idea.

Now to Psalm 50.  Verses 1-4 are a call to the cosmic courtroom.  God is about to judge the world.  This is all hypothetical.  The actual judgment of the word is at the White Throne Judgment (cf. Rev. 20:11, see The GWT).  The righteous, aka believers, are summoned to witness the proceedings along with all nature (vv. 5-6).  God Himself will be presiding.

 The Legalists Judged

I had some people in our old country church that seemed to worship communion and special days like Good Friday more than the Lord.  It all had to be done a certain way or trouble would break out.  There was nothing biblical about it.  It was tradition.

I once brought my electric guitar to a church start and played it with the volume set to low.  I laid it on the floor.  Afterward, one of the congregants came by and acted like he was going to stomp on it.  I could give more examples though they would only probably serve to help me vent.  Since new Christians and visitors want something fresh in a new church start, the old fuddy-duddies effectively killed us off.  They had confused their traditions and preferences as God’s priorities.

God had a problem with that kind of thinking (v. 7).  The people were bringing legitimate sacrifices (v. 8).  But basically God didn’t want any bull (v. 9a), that is, sacrifices that were just outward rituals.  He didn’t need goats or birds either (vv. 9b-11) or any other kind of animal.  God didn’t need to eat and didn’t get hungry (vv. 12-13).  The people were not doing Him any favors by bringing their ritualistic sacrifices.

What God did want is for the people to appreciate Him and thank Him for things (v. 14, Eph. 5:20; 1 Thess. 5:18).  He wanted them to share their lives with Him and ask Him for help when they were in trouble (v. 15, cf. Ps. 62:8; Ps. 91:15). The Hypocrites Judged

 Do you know what it takes to be a disciple?  Yes, discipline.  A disciple is a learner and a learner must be disciplined to learn (cf. John 8:31-32).  Unfortunately, the majority of Jews at that time “hated discipline” (v. 17).  They didn’t really love God and He was offended that they would even recite His rules and laws (v. 16).

They obviously didn’t understand the intent of God’s statutes.  They emphasized with adulterers and thieves (v. 18).  They had potty mouths (v. 19).  They dissed their friends (v. 19) and fellow Jews (v. 20).

Churches are filled with hypocrites.  In fact, they like to hang out there.  It is good camouflage for them.  God will allow them to fellowship with true believers and then at the end of the age He will send His angels to harvest and separate them out (cf. Matt. 13: 24-30, 36-42, particularly verse 30).

God may be silent but some day He will speak at the Great White Throne Judgment (v. 21).  Everyone will reap what they sow (cf. Gal. 6:7).

Conclusion:

God doesn’t want any bull.  He wants those who worship Him from the heart (cf. John 4:24; Jer. 29:13).  It is good to remember God all day long (v. 22, cf. Deut. 8:18).  I think that is what it means to pray continually (cf. 1 Thes. 5:17).  If we are not thankful for everything that God gives us, there is something wrong with our relationship with Him (v. 23, cf. Phil. 4:6; James 1:17).

In the New Testament, we are commanded to offer a “sacrifice of praise” (cf. Heb. 13:15).  God will save us if we maintain an attitude of thanksgiving and praise toward Him.  I take that to mean that He will save us moment by moment (v. 23c, cf. 1 Cor. 1:18; James 1:21) as we maintain our relationship with Him moment by moment.  God wants pure worship from the heart, not hypocritical empty rituals.  

Proverbs 10:29-30  Shaken Or Stirred?

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According to 1 Pet. 2:7, Christ is the cornerstone of the Church.  The cornerstone is the most important stone in a  building.  Every other part of the walls is put in place in relation to the cornerstone.  But for those who reject Christ, He is not a cornerstone, He is a “stumbling block” (1 Pet. 2:8).  Many of the Jews tripped over Him (cf. 1 Cor. 1:23).  

Thus, as Proverbs 10:29 says, the way of the Lord provides support to believers, but causes the downfall of unbelievers.  Those who trust in Christ go to Heaven, those who reject him . . . .

If you are sure of your salvation (see Raise Your Hand If You’re Sure), you cannot be shaken by much in life (v. 30a).  Unbelieving wicked people will eventually be stirred to leave sacred grounds (v. 30b).

Choose Life: Scripture:  Mark 13:14  NASB    “Don’t Be Scared … Yet”

“But when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION standing where it should not be (let the reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains.  Mark 13:14

Last night I was a watching a major news channel.  Two commentators were discussing the state of the middle east.  I don’t think either were Bible scholars or even born again but it was interesting that the picture they were painting of the middle east could have been a description of Armageddon strait out of the books of Daniel and Revelation.

Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu had just given a speech to Congress two days prior, warning that one of Israel’s neighbors could annihilate her.   I thought it was a breach of protocol when the House Majority Leader invited Prime Minister Netanyahu to speak to Congress this past week.  Then someone posted on Facebook (without a “share” button or I’d have posted it) that Queen Esther of Persia, modern-day Iran, had broached etiquette, risking her life, in trying to talk to her husband, the king, without an invitation.  That was about 2500 years ago.

The Jews celebrate the results of her visit annually during the Feast of Purim. This year, that feast is being celebrated today.

Hopefully, the result of the Prime Minister’s visit is the same as Esther’s so many years ago.   As a result of Esther, all Israelites were not annihilated as was planned.  What will be the result of Netanyahu’s visit to Congress?

Someday the “Abomination of Desolation” will be set up in the Holy Place of the Temple, rebuilt in Jerusalem.  It will be a desecration.  This will be an image of the Antichrist (cf. Dan. 9:27; 2 Thess. 2:3-4).  It will mark the very end of days of the end times.

I don’t believe Christians from this age will be on earth at this time.  But there are Christians risking their lives for Christ right now.  God may not be asking you to risk your life right now but is He asking you to do something else?  Can you be as courageous as Esther?

If you are, you will find that you are choosing life (Deut. 30:19)!

Fun Application:

What is God asking of you today that might take some courage?  Conquer a sin that you’ve been avoiding working on?  Break up with a  girl or boyfriend that you know is not God’s will for you?   Make amends with your spouse as you know you should?  Find time, by faith, for a Bible reading program or to be more disciplined in your prayer life?  What is God asking you to do today that may take some courage?

The purpose of the “Choose Life” is to pick a positive help out of the One Year Bible (OYB) reading plan for the day. There is always something positive in the Word of God to cheer us and give us strength. For more on today’s reading, check out my One Year Bible blog:  Cleaning Up For The Big Event

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