Spiritual Rants: April 20 “Making A Salad Out Of Caesar” Readings to read through the Bible in a year: Joshua 21:1-22:20 Luke 20:1-26 Psalm 89:1-13 Proverbs 13:15-16

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Old Testament:  Joshua 21:1-22:20

All of the Levites had their own town, in the charts in this blog they can be found.

Read this passage on BibleGateway.com

Joshua 21:1-45   Levite Cities

In my neighborhood and the surrounding neighborhoods, when you drive around you’ll see police cars in several of the driveways.  That’s so potential robbers will see them and decide to try another town to rob.  God had the same idea for Israel.  He did not give the Levites, the ministers of Israel, their own division of land (Num. 35:1-5).  He gave them towns to live in.  In fact he gave them 48 towns to live in.  Since the people did not have a local Christian bookstore to buy Bibles in, they had to rely on the Levites for their religious education.  The Levites in their area provided the knowledge of the Bible that the peopled needed.

Below is a chart from Olivetree and the Ryrie Study Bible that shows the division and location of the Levite cities.

Here is a map from the Thru The Bible Commentary from Olivetree that shows the division of the land by tribe:

Joshua 22:1-20   A Monumental Misunderstanding

Remember the tribes of Reuben and Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh?  We keep reading about them because they caused a fuss by wanting to settle on the other side of the Jordan from the other tribes.  They liked the land for grazing before they got in the Promised Land and wanted to stop short of entering in.  So Moses let them (cf. Num. 32 and map above).  The provision Moses made was that they had to provide warriors to conquer the Promised Land and they did (Josh. 1:16-18; 4:12-14.).

Now that everything is settled, those sames tribes decide to erect a monument to Yahweh that even includes a little fake sacrificial altar.  No prob, right?  Yes, prob.  It was misunderstood by the other tribes.  Phinehas was sent to check things out.  Do you remember Phinehas?  He was the fella with the spear who stopped the incident with poor people of Peor by spearing a couple straight through (v. 17-18; Num. 25).  Two birds with one spear, so to speak.

This incident could be seen as being symbolic of the bad theology today that has a “holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these” (2 Tim. 3:5).  This would include the mega-churches who do not exhort people to faith in Christ without having to perform any works.  Of course, we have to show our faith by our works but there is nothing we can do to earn our salvation.  This type of teaching is an insult to Christ’s sacrifice of blood just as the the 2 1/2 tribes had a religion without the true shedding of blood witnessed by their fake sacrificial altar.  McGee points out that there was to be only one altar (Deut. 12:27) and all others were to be destroyed (Exod. 34:13).  The only monument that was supposed to be erected was the one of twelve stones at the Jordan River (Deut. 27:4-8).  Ironically, this river and monument separated the 2 1/2 tribes from the rest.

Besides emphasizing the role of works in salvation there is another grave error.  That is the mistake of not following through on faith and showing your trust in Christ by works.  Jesus’ half brother, James expressed this in his epistle, “Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead,  [being] by itself” (James 2:1).  A person may be saved well enough but who could know it?  He goes on to live like a worldly person.  James says that that makes no sense.  In that sense, the person has a “dead” faith.  It is of no use to God on earth.  At least he’ll make it to Heaven but by the skin of his proverbial teeth.

Are you one that attends church today on Easter but never darkens the doors the rest of the year?  Do not separate yourself from other believers as these 2 1/2 tribes did.  Find a body of believers and work together to be God’s hands and feet on earth.

New Testament: Luke 20:1-26

Maybe you think the weight of the world is on your backs but you still have to pay the government their tax.

Read this passage on BibleGateway.com

Luke 20:1-7  Huh?

I wrote about this already in the blog for Mark 11:27-33, They Weren’t Wearing Levi’s, They Were Levi’s.

Jesus’ authority was questioned by the religious leaders like “who died and left you Boss”?  Of course, He was the One who died and left Himself Boss.  Figure that one out!

He turned the tables on them and asked them a question they couldn’t answer so He didn’t answer them either.  They really didn’t want to know.  God isn’t obligated to answer any of our questions if we don’t really want to know.

Luke 20:9- 18  Squeezing Meaning Out Of A Vineyard

I wrote about this already in Mark 12:1-12 in the same blog, They Weren’t Wearing Levi’s, They Were Levi’s.Can’t say Jesus didn’t try to warn the religious leaders.  He did. 

Luke 20:19-26  Making A Salad Out Of Caesar

I guess I should have told you to stay on that page.  I wrote about this, too, on Mark 12:13-17 in the same blog, They Weren’t Wearing Levi’s, They Were Levi’s. Although we are citizens of heaven (Phil. 3:20, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ”), we still have to pay taxes down here.  If you haven’t paid yet, you’re late!

Psalm 89:1-13    A Lament By Ethan The Ezrahite, Part 1

God is over all heaven and earth, it should be a source to us of great mirth.

Read this passage on BibleGateway.com

Psalm 89:1-13   Houston, We Have A Problem, Part 1

Psalm 89 is a song meant to teach about the Davidic covenant.  Technically, it is a royal psalm.  One commentator, Anderson, breaks it into two parts, a hymn in verses 1-37 and a lament from verses 38-51.  It raises the question, if the Davidic covenant is forever according to 2 Sam. 7:5-16, and a relative of David has been bumped off the throne, how is God true to promises?

Ethan, a Levite and wise man, was charged by God with the task of answering the question (1 Chron. 15:17-18; 1 Kings 4:31).  The occasion could have been the defeat of the southern kingdom of Judah by the Egyptians (cf. 1 Kings 14:25; 1 Chron. 12) or the Babylonian exile.  It will take three days to cover the entire psalm.

The psalmist begins by stating that he will always sing  praises to God (vv. 1-2).  “Lovingkindness” is a word we’ve seen before, hesed in Hebrew.  It refers to God’s binding, covenantal love.  It’s used in verses 1-2, 14, 24, 28, 33, 49.  On the basis of this love promise Ethan pleads with God to keep His Davidic covenant.

Ethan mentions the Davidic covenant in verse 3 and that God will have Davidic descendant on the throne of Israel in perpetuity (v. 2)  I hadn’t used that word, perpetuity, in a while and wanted to throw it in there.  It means forever.  David will have a relative on the throne forever.  But the problem is that Jeremiah had said that no son of Jehoiachin’s sons would occupy the place of kingship (cf. Jer. 22:24–29).

God is all-powerful.  Ethan knows this (vv. 5-10).  He is also faithful (v. 8).  So he knows that God can keep a descendant of David on the throne if He wants to.  (As we’ve already seen in Psalm 87:4, Rahab refers to Egypt in v. 10).

God created the earth and sea, the north and south. Both larger mountains like Hermon and smaller mountains like Tabor reflect God’s glory (vv. 11-12).  In other words, all creation shows God’s greatness and power.

God can do whatever He wants.  He is strong and His strength is known to all (v. 13, when everyone sees the power of His “right hand,” most people are right-handed and the place of honor is usually at someone’s right, it is where the Messiah sits cf. Ps. 110:1).

More tomorrow . . .

Proverbs 13:15-16      Think Ahead!

Get your head in the Word, nothing to you will be blurred.

Read this passage on BibleGateway.com

When I went to college for radio I had to learn to “back-time” things.  If I had to begin reading the news on the hour, straight-up, I had to figure when to start a song or commercial that it timed out to end right on the hour.  I had to think ahead.  Do you realize what problems would be solved in the world if people would just think ahead?

A wise man is generally appreciated (v. 15a, though check out Eccles. 9:15).  People who reject advice make things hard for themselves (v. 15b).

Astute people think ahead (v. 16) but a dork is always still a dork and will let you know it!

Choose Life: Scripture:   Luke 20:17  NASB    “Getting Flak”

“But Jesus looked at them and said, “What then is this that is written:


Flak is the anti-aircraft fire shot at planes in an air war.  You might feel people are shooting flak at you when you are trying to witness for Christ.

Jesus quoted Ps. 118:22 to the religious leaders as a rebuke to them for rejecting Him.  They would throw Him away like a stone but He would become the Chief Cornerstone.  Peter quotes the same verse in 1 Pet. 2:7 and then in the very next verse he quotes Isa. 8:14.  He calls Jesus a, ” . . . STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE.” He goes to say, “for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this [doom] they were also appointed.”

Paul calls the gospel the “offense of the cross” (cf. Gal. 5:11; also see 1 Cor. 1:23).

The point is that if we are going to be disciples, we must expect to get flak when we explain the good news of Jesus’ gospel of grace to people.  Often, people don’t want to get salvation for free.  They want to think they earned Heaven.  It is offensive to them that they could get it for free.

People are also offended by Jesus and the cross.  I don’t know why.  I thought that finding out the meaning of life for free was a pretty good deal.

Have you figured out the meaning of life yet?  Hint: It involves the stone which the builders rejected which became the chief cornerstone.

Are you getting flak from others when you are trying to lead them to Christ?  Hold your head high.

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

Fun Application:   

Try giving out the gospel.  Don’t let the flak deter you.  It is normal to get flak.  Just try to get a word in edgewise with people.  See if you can find three verses that encourage you while you evangelize (check out Rom. 1:16; Eph. 6:19; Prov. 11:30).

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:   A Monumental Misunderstanding

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