Day 58: The Real Life

Numbers 18-19; Mark 7:1-23

Key Verses

Numbers 19:20
“If the man who is unclean does not cleanse himself, that person shall be cut off from the midst of the assembly, since he has defiled the sanctuary of the Lord. Because the water for impurity has not been thrown on him, he is unclean.”

Mark 7:14-15
And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.”

These two passages seem to be in stark contrast to one another. Numbers restates and adds to the cleanliness laws – while in Mark, Jesus chides the Pharisees for their hypocritical observance of the cleanliness laws. Who was right? Well, both of them were…

Remember… God was establishing a people with a law that was a physical representation of His future spiritual kingdom. Cleanliness was a HUGE deal to God. The people were taught through the word pictures presented in the law that uncleanliness was connected with death – whereas cleanliness was associated with life. This is why a person was deemed “unclean” when touching any animal or person that was dead.

Jesus teaches that it is not the physical things that make a person unclean – but rather it is the sinful actions of the heart that defile a person. Our hearts are unclean… which means they are associated with death – spiritual death.

How do we reverse the spiritual death in our hearts? Our hearts must be made clean! …But how? We know that the blood of animals is insufficient to cleanse the heart! But listen to the writer of Hebrews…

The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! (Hebrews 9:13-14)

Jesus’ once-and-for-all-sacrifice makes life possible – not just the physical representation of life – No! His sacrifice opens the way for us to have true, spiritual life. The real life – the forever kind of life! I don’t know about you, but I want some of that life!! I find it in Jesus…

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

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Day 55: Complaining

Numbers 10:11 – 12:16

Key Verses

Numbers 11:1-2
And the people complained in the hearing of the Lord about their misfortunes, and when the Lord heard it, his anger was kindled, and the fire of the Lord burned among them and consumed some outlying parts of the camp. Then the people cried out to Moses, and Moses prayed to the Lord, and the fire died down.

Hebrews 3:3
For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses—as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself.

After almost a year at Mt. Sinai… after the giving of the Law and the construction of the Tabernacle, the anointing of Priests and dedication of the Holy things… the people set out. Everything starts well – the people break camp as instructed, they march in the exact order that God commanded. The Levites comply with every instruction of how to transport the tent and the holy things.

But then.

The people complain… And everything goes downhill from there. Today’s reading ends with Moses’ own family turning against him and the Lord.

What happened? Their eyes turned inward on their unhappy circumstances. Self-pity crept in – which led to self-justification – which led to great anger from God.

This section of Scripture is deeply sad to me – mainly because I see the same sin patterns in my own life. When I complain, the ungratefulness in my heart is revealed. A thankless heart is a great sin – but thankfully… we serve a God who longs for our repentance. 

At the very end of today’s reading, we see Miriam and Aaron conspiring against Moses. They were jealous of his special standing before God and deserved to die because of it, but God spared them – because of Moses’ intercession.

Moses points forward to Jesus – who lives to continually make intercession for us. The book of Hebrews teaches that Jesus is greater than Moses (Hebrews 3), and it also teaches that Jesus is our High Priest…

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:15-16).

Lord, please forgive me when I complain of my circumstances – belittling your sacrifice for me. Help me to pry my eyes off of myself and turn them toward you – my great High Priest. Please Lord, have mercy on me.

Day 43: The Story of All Stories

Leviticus 16; Matthew 26:57-75

Key Verses

Leviticus 16:34
“And this shall be a statute forever for you, that atonement may be made for the people of Israel once in the year because of all their sins.”

Matthew 26:65-66
Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He, [Jesus,] has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy. What is your judgment?” They answered, “He deserves death.”

Leviticus 16 describes the Day of Atonement. It was this day, only once a year, that the High Priest would enter the Most Holy Place and make atonement for himself and for the people. The sins of the people were ceremonially transferred to a goat, the scapegoat, and it carried the iniquity of the people away to the wilderness.

The temple, the ceremonies, the High Priest… all of it pointed forward to the Messiah. But the people didn’t expect the Messiah, their Savior, to be a suffering servant. Even Peter, compelled by fear and crushed by the grief of unmet expectations, denied knowing Jesus in the end. And ironically, it is the High Priest, the appointed mediator between God and the people, that sentences the Messiah to death. Christ is left alone to accomplish what He alone could do.

John Bloom writes from the September 18, 2010 entry of the Desiring God blog: “Jesus turned out to be far more than the Messiah had been expected to be. He was the consummate temple, Passover lamb, sacrificed goat, scapegoat, high priest, prophet and the King of kings.”

God can write a story! God is the ultimate author, originating all literary techniques such as irony, foreshadowing, symbolism. And to think… we are actually characters in His story. Amazing…

But when Christ came as the high priest of the good things we now have, he entered the greater and more perfect tent. It is not made by humans and does not belong to this world. Christ entered the Most Holy Place only once—and for all time. He did not take with him the blood of goats and calves. His sacrifice was his own blood, and by it he set us free from sin forever. The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a cow are sprinkled on the people who are unclean, and this makes their bodies clean again. How much more is done by the blood of Christ (Hebrews 9:11-14. NCV).

Day 29: Mount Sinai

Exodus 19-21; Matthew 20:1-16

Key Verses

Exodus 19:5-6
Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.

Matthew 20:15-16
[Jesus said,] “‘Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?'” So the last will be first, and the first last.”

Seven weeks have passed since the people left Egypt, and in today’s passage, they arrive at Mt. Sinai. The rest of Exodus takes place here.

***This section of Exodus records what will later be referred to as the Book of the Covenant (24:7) and includes:

  1. The Ten Commandments (20:1–21);
  2. Instructions on worship (20:22–26; 23:10–19);
  3. Rules and principles for community life (21:1–23:9); and
  4. Instructions for entering the land of Canaan (23:20–33).

“Covenant” is an important word in the Old Testament. It’s an old word that might have lost its impact over the years, but essentially, it means a sacred contract. God’s part of the covenant is His promise of His presence with His people. In the Old Testament, the covenant is based on “law.”

Even though the laws found in today’s reading seem reasonable, we know that they are impossible to obey perfectly. The purpose of God’s law is to set the standard for holiness. Because of sin, this standard can never be reached. But that’s where Jesus fits into the picture. He bridges the gap between God’s holy standard and our imperfection.

We see Jesus telling a parable in Matthew 20 to describe His Kingdom. This parable emphasizes God’s generosity as each worker receives more than he deserves… but it also reveals that entrance into the Kingdom is not earned, but rather, it is a gift.

Just think about the generosity of God from what we have read so far…

When Adam and Eve broke covenant with God, God’s rescue plan was set into motion…. A Savior would come through a people that He would set apart as His own. God preserved Noah, called Abraham and restated His covenant promise to Isaac and to Jacob. He used Joseph to bring His people to Egypt and after 400 years, God did not forget his promises – but rescued His people from the oppressive hand of Pharaoh. And now they stand before Mt. Sinai where they see lightning and smoke and they tremble with fear (19:16-19) at this AWESOME God that for some reason has chosen them.

And as God gave the covenant law, He knew that… just like Adam and Eve, they would break covenant. But his rescue plan would not fail. The promised Savior would come. And Jesus ushered in a New Covenant. A covenant based on grace instead of law. Jesus fulfilled the covenant requirements for us – so that we no longer have to tremble before Mt. Sinai but rather, we worship before Mt. Zion!

For you have not come to …a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. …Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.” But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, …and to God, the judge of all, …and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant (Hebrews 12:18-24).

Does this make the law meaningless to us?? By no means! The law reveals God’s holy character, and God’s Spirit writes the law on our hearts. Jesus fulfills all of the requirements of the Old Covenant so that we might be heirs of the new covenant of GRACE! That’s good news. That’s the gospel :-)

***Outline taken from ESV Study Bible, Crossway

Day 58: The Real Life

Numbers 18-19; Mark 7:1-23

These two passages seem to be in stark contrast to one another. Numbers restates and adds to the cleanliness laws – while in Mark, Jesus chides the Pharisees for their hypocritical observance of the cleanliness laws. Who was right? Well, both of them are…

Remember… God was establishing a people with a law that was a physical representation of His future spiritual kingdom. Cleanliness is a HUGE deal to God. The people were taught through the word pictures presented in the law that uncleanliness was connected with death – whereas cleanliness was associated with life. This is why a person was deemed “unclean” when touching any animal or person that was dead.

Jesus teaches that it is not the physical things that make a person unclean – but rather it is the sinful actions of the heart that defile a person. Our hearts are unclean… which means they are associated with death – spiritual death.

How do we reverse the spiritual death in our hearts? Our hearts must be made clean! …But how? We know that the blood of animals is insufficient to cleanse the heart! But listen to the writer of Hebrews…

The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! (Hebrews 9:13-14)

Jesus’ once-and-for-all-sacrifice makes life possible – not just the physical representation of life – No! His sacrifice opens the way for us to have true, spiritual life. The real life – the forever kind of life! I don’t know about you, but I want some of that life!! I find it in Jesus…

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

Day 55: Complaining

Numbers 10:11 – 12:16

After almost a year at Mt. Sinai… after the giving of the Law and the construction of the Tabernacle, the anointing of Priests and dedication of the Holy things… the people set out. Everything starts well – the people break camp as instructed, they march in the exact order that God commanded. The Levites comply with every instruction of how to transport the tent and the holy things.

But then.

The people complain… And everything goes downhill from there. Today’s reading ends with Moses’ own family turning against him and the Lord.

What happened? Their eyes turned inward on their unhappy circumstances. Self-pity crept in – which led to self-justification – which led to great anger from God.

This section of Scripture is deeply sad to me – mainly because I see the same sin patterns in my own life. When I complain, the ungratefulness in my heart is revealed. A thankless heart is a great sin – but thankfully… we serve a God who longs for our repentance. 

At the very end of today’s reading we see Miriam and Aaron conspiring against Moses. They were jealous of his special standing before God and deserved to die because of it, but God spared them – because of Moses’ intercession.

Moses points forward to Jesus – who lives to continually make intercession for us. The book of Hebrews teaches that Jesus is greater than Moses (Hebrews 3), and it also teaches that Jesus is our High Priest…

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:15-16).

Lord, please forgive me when I complain of my circumstances – belittling your sacrifice for me. Help me to pry my eyes off of myself and turn them toward you – my great High Priest. Please Lord, have mercy on me.

Day 43: The story of all stories

Leviticus 16; Matthew 26:57-75

Leviticus 16 describes the Day of Atonement. It was this day, only once a year, that the High Priest would enter the Most Holy Place and make atonement for himself and for the people. The sins of the people were ceremonially transferred to a goat, the scapegoat, and it carried the iniquity of the people away to the wilderness.

The temple, the ceremonies, the High Priest… all of it pointed forward to the Messiah. But the people didn’t expect the Messiah, their Savior, to be a suffering servant. Even Peter, compelled by fear and crushed by the grief of unmet expectations, denied knowing Jesus in the end. And ironically, it is the High Priest, the appointed mediator between God and the people, that sentences the Messiah to death. Christ is left alone to accomplish what He alone could do.

John Bloom writes from the September 18, 2010 entry of the Desiring God blog: “Jesus turned out to be far more than the Messiah had been expected to be. He was the consummate temple, Passover lamb, sacrificed goat, scapegoat, high priest, prophet and the King of kings.

God can write a story! God is the ultimate author, originating all literary techniques such as irony, foreshadowing and symbolism. And to think… we are actually characters in His story. Amazing…

But when Christ came as the high priest of the good things we now have, he entered the greater and more perfect tent. It is not made by humans and does not belong to this world. Christ entered the Most Holy Place only once—and for all time. He did not take with him the blood of goats and calves. His sacrifice was his own blood, and by it he set us free from sin forever. The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a cow are sprinkled on the people who are unclean, and this makes their bodies clean again. How much more is done by the blood of Christ (Hebrews 9:11-14. NCV).

Day 29: Mount Sinai

Exodus 19-21; Matthew 20:1-16

Seven weeks have passed since the people left Egypt, and in today’s passage, they arrive at Mt. Sinai. The rest of Exodus takes place here.

***This section of Exodus records what will later be referred to as the Book of the Covenant (24:7) and includes:

  1. the Ten Commandments (20:1–21);
  2. instructions on worship (20:22–26; 23:10–19);
  3. rules and principles for community life (21:1–23:9); and
  4. instructions for entering the land of Canaan (23:20–33).

“Covenant” is an important word in the Old Testament. It’s an old word that might have lost its impact over the years, but essentially, it means a sacred contract. God’s part of the covenant is His promise of His presence with His people. In the Old Testament, the covenant is based on “law.”

Even though the laws found in today’s reading seem reasonable, we know that they are impossible to obey perfectly. The purpose of God’s law is to set the standard for holiness. Because of sin, this standard can never be reached. But that’s where Jesus fits into the picture. He bridges the gap between God’s holy standard and our imperfection.

We see Jesus telling a parable in Matthew 20 to describe His Kingdom. This parable emphasizes God’s generosity as each worker receives more than he deserves… but it also reveals that entrance into the Kingdom is not earned, but rather, it is a gift.

Just think about the generosity of God from what we have read so far…

When Adam and Eve broke covenant with God, God’s rescue plan was set into motion…. A Savior would come through a people that He would set apart as His own. God preserved Noah, called Abraham and restated His covenant promise to Isaac and to Jacob. He used Joseph to bring His people to Egypt and after 400 years, God did not forget his promises – but rescued His people from the oppressive hand of Pharaoh. And now they stand before Mt. Sinai where they see lightning and smoke and they tremble with fear (19:16-19) at this AWESOME God that for some reason has chosen them.

And as God gave the covenant law, He knew that… just like Adam and Eve, they will break covenant. But his rescue plan will not fail. The promised Savior will come. And Jesus will usher in a New Covenant. A covenant based on grace instead of law. Jesus keeps covenant for us – so that we no longer have to tremble before Mt. Sinai but we worship before Mt. Zion!

For you have not come to …a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. …Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.” But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, …and to God, the judge of all, …and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant (Hebrews 12:18-24).

Does this make the law meaningless to us?? By no means! The law reveals God’s holy character, and God’s Spirit writes the law on our hearts. Jesus fulfills all of the requirements of the Old Covenant so that we might be heirs of the new covenant of GRACE! That’s good news. That’s the gospel :-)

***Outline taken from ESV Study Bible notes