1151.) Exodus 1

September 30, 2013
Exodus: a word cloud.  (A word cloud is a visualization of word frequency in a given text.  Greater prominence and size are given to words that occur more frequently in the text.

Exodus: a word cloud.   A word cloud is a visualization of word frequency in a given text. Greater prominence and size are given to words that occur more frequently in the text.

Exodus 1   (NRSV)

The first verses of Exodus reach back some 430 years. The story of the Exodus begins where the story Genesis ends: a large family with a crucial place in God’s plan of the ages and their migration to Egypt.

The Hebrew title for the Book of Exodus is taken from its first words: And These are the Names Of. In the original language, the first word of Exodus is and, marking its continuity from the Genesis account.

–David Guzik

To really enjoy the book of Exodus, we need to look for Christ in it.  Moses, the Passover lamb, the rock, and the tabernacle are only a few of the types (symbols) of the Lord Jesus, many of which are referred to elsewhere in Scripture (see, for example, 1 Corinthians 5:7; Hebrews chapters 3-10).  May the Lord do for us what He did for the two disciples on the road to Emmaus—interpret to us “in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:27).

–William MacDonald

These are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob, each with his household: 2Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah, 3Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin, 4Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher.

John 10:3  (NIV)

He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.

5The total number of people born to Jacob was seventy. Joseph was already in Egypt.

6Then Joseph died, and all his brothers, and that whole generation. 7But the Israelites were fruitful and prolific; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them.

_________________________

Resources:

Bruce Feiler: Walking the Bible: A Journey by Land through the Five Books of Moses (Book II, Chapter 2 “And They Made Their Lives Bitter”).

_________________________

1-egypt-pyramids

When the children of Israel were set to slave labor they built many of the great cities and monuments in Egypt — though not the pyramids, which were built much earlier.

The Israelites Are Oppressed

8Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. 9He said to his people, “Look, the Israelite people are more numerous and more powerful than we. 10Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, or they will increase and, in the event of war, join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.”

11Therefore they set taskmasters over them to oppress them with forced labor. They built supply cities, Pithom and Rameses, for Pharaoh. 12But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread, so that the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites.

The nation could not grow this way in Canaan, because it was practically impossible to avoid intermarriage with the pagan and wicked inhabitants of Canaan. Egypt was so racially biased and had such an entrenched system of racial separation that Israel could grow there over several centuries without being assimilated.

13The Egyptians became ruthless in imposing tasks on the Israelites, 14and made their lives bitter with hard service in mortar and brick and in every kind of field labor. They were ruthless in all the tasks that they imposed on them.

Genesis 15:12-14 (New International Version)

As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him.  Then the LORD said to him, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years.  But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions.”

Pharaoh meant the hard bondage for evil, but God meant it for good.  It helped prepare the Jews for their arduous journey from Egypt to the Promised Land.

–William MacDonald

15The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, 16“When you act as midwives to the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstool, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, she shall live.”

"Choose You This Day" by Elspeth Young, a painting of Puah considering the order the king has just given her.  (I find it ever so interesting that we are know the name of the two midwives, but not of the Pharaoh!)

“Choose You This Day” by Elspeth Young, a painting of the midwife Puah considering the order the king of Egypt has just given her. (I find it ever so interesting that we know the names of the two midwives, but not the name of the Pharaoh!)

17But the midwives feared God; they did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but they let the boys live.  18So the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this, and allowed the boys to live?”

19The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women; for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.”

20So God dealt well with the midwives; and the people multiplied and became very strong. 21And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families.

Ex1 doright

One person respectfully honoring God —  matters.

Proverbs 11:18 (ESV)

One who sows righteousness gets a sure reward.

22Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, “Every boy that is born to the Hebrews you shall throw into the Nile, but you shall let every girl live.”

If the battle were just between Pharaoh and the people of Israel, Pharaoh would have clearly won. But the real battle included God in the equation, and that changed everything

_________________________

Music:

David Guzik says:  The method Pharaoh commanded for the death of the male children of Israel became the divine provision for training the deliverer of Israel.

Creed’s “With Arms Wide Open” won the Grammy Award in 2001 for Best Rock Song.  The song celebrates the good news that a child is on the way.  “With arms wide open, I’ll show you love, I’ll show you everything. . . ”

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version (Anglicized Edition), copyright 1989, 1995 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
word cloud.   http://identity33.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/exodus1.gif
pyramids.   http://blog.hotelclub.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/03/egypt-pyramids.jpg
Young.  http://alyoung.com/Art_Gallery/Elspeth_Young/Women_in_Scripture/Puah_thumbnail.jpg
Do the right thing.   http://www.appleseeds.org/doright2.gif

1150.) Proverbs 27

September 27, 2013

Pr27 Iron-Sharpens-Iron-

Proverbs 27   Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

Don’t boast about tomorrow,
    for you don’t know what the day may bring.

Pr27 greater barns

Luke 12:19-20   (NIV)

And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’

But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?

Let someone else praise you, not your own mouth,
    a stranger and not your own lips.

Stone is heavy and sand a dead weight,
    but a fool’s provocation outweighs them both.

Fury is cruel and anger overwhelming,
    but who can stand up to jealousy?
Better open rebuke
    than hidden love.

Wounds from a friend are received as well-meant,
    but an enemy’s kisses are insincere.

Or as Oscar Wilde put it:  True friends stab you in the front.

A person who is full loathes a honeycomb;
    but to the hungry, any bitter thing is sweet.

Like a bird that strays from its nest
    is a man who strays from his home.

Perfume and incense make the heart glad,
    [also] friendship sweet with advice from the heart.

Pr27 friends

Friends . . .

Be slow to fall into friendship, but when thou art in, continue firm and constant.
~Socrates

My best friend is the one who brings out the best in me.
~Henry Ford

An insincere and evil friend is more to be feared than a wild beast; a wild beast may wound your body, but an evil friend will wound your mind.
~Buddha

The only way to have a friend is to be one.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friends . . . they cherish one another’s hopes.  They are kind to one another’s dreams.
~Henry David Thoreau

10 Don’t abandon a friend
    who is also a friend of your father.

Don’t enter your brother’s house on the day of your calamity —
    better a neighbor nearby than a brother far away.

11 My son, become wise, and gladden my heart,
    so that I can answer my critics.

Having raised three children from birth to college graduation and beyond, I do believe that one of the great joys of parenting is enjoying your children later, when they are competent and interesting adults.  How grateful I am that the Lord has been strong in my weaknesses as a mother and has brought my kids into responsible, kindly adulthood.

12 The clever see trouble coming and hide;
    the thoughtless go on and pay the penalty.

13 Seize his clothes because he guaranteed a stranger’s loan;
    take them as security for that unknown woman.

14 Whoever greets his neighbor in a loud voice at dawn
    might just as well have cursed him.

15 A leak that keeps dripping on a rainy day
    and the nagging of a wife are the same —
16 whoever can restrain her can restrain the wind
    or keep perfume on his hand from making itself known.

17 Just as iron sharpens iron,
    a person sharpens the character of his friend.

Pr27 friend sharpens

from Experiencing God Day-by-Day
by Henry T. Blackaby and Richard Blackaby

IRON SHARPENS IRON

The Christian life is a pilgrimage.  At times the road is difficult, and we get lonely.  Sometimes we may become discouraged and consider abandoning the journey.  It is at such times that God will place a friend alongside us.  One of God’s most precious gifts to us is friends who encourage us and lovingly challenge us to “keep going.”

According to Scripture, a friend is one who challenges you to become all that God intends.  Jonathan could have succeeded his father to become the next king of Israel.  But he loved his friend David, and he encouraged him to follow God’s will, even though it meant Jonathan would forfeit his own claim to the throne (1 Samuel 19:1-7).

The mark of biblical friends is that their friendship draws you closer to Christ.  They “sharpen” you and motivate you to do what is right.  True friends tell you the truth and even risk hurting your feelings because they love you and have your best interests at heart (see Proverbs 27:6, above).

Be careful in your choice of friends!  Jesus chose his closest friends wisely.  He did not look for perfect friends, but friends whose hearts were set to follow God.  It is equally important to examine the kind of friend you are to others.  As a friend, it is your duty to put the needs of others first (Proverbs 17:17).  Strive to find godly friends who will challenge you to become the person God desires.  When you have found them, be receptive to the way God uses them to help you become spiritually mature.  Strive also to be the kind of friend that helps others become more like Christ.

18 Whoever tends the fig tree will eat its fruit,
    and he who is attentive to his master will be honored.

19 Just as water reflects the face,
    so one human heart reflects another.
20 Sh’ol and Abaddon are never satisfied,
    and human eyes are never satisfied.

Pr27 death and destruction

The Contemporary English Version puts it this way:

Death and the grave
are never satisfied,
    and neither are we.

A perfect illustration of this truth is found in a powerful short story by Leo Tolstoy.  (James Joyce said it is “the greatest story that that the literature of the world knows.”)   Tolstoy tells of a farmer who had a lust for more and more land.  Finally, he heard of cheap land among the Bashkirs.  Click  HERE to read “How Much Land Does a Man Need?”  Or — Click  HERE  to listen to the story being read. 

When I taught 10th grade English, this story was in the textbook.  At the end of the year, when I asked students which one was their favorite reading, this story was frequently mentioned.  I promise you, you will enjoy it!

21 The crucible [tests] silver, and the furnace [tests] gold,
    but a person [is tested] by [his reaction to] praise.

22 You can crush a fool in a mortar with a pestle,
along with the grain being crushed;
    yet his foolishness will not leave him.

23 Take care to know the condition of your flocks,
    and pay attention to your herds.
24 For wealth doesn’t last forever,
    neither does a crown through all generations.
25 When the hay has been mown, and the new grass appears,
    and the mountain greens have been gathered;
26 the lambs will provide your clothing,
    the goats will sell for enough to buy a field,
27 and there will be enough goat’s milk
    to [buy] food for you and your household
    and maintenance for your servant-girls.

_________________________

Music:

A lot about friends and friendship today.  How grateful we are that Jesus is our ever faithful friend!  HERE  is Casting Crowns and “Jesus, Friend of Sinners.”  Jesus is always good.

_________________________

Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)   Copyright © 1998 by David H. Stern. All rights reserved.
Images courtesy of:
As iron sharpens iron.     http://www.healthychurchradio.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Iron-Sharpens-Iron-So-one-man-sharpens-another.jpg
greater barns.    http://www.bible-basics-layers-of-understanding.com/images/BiggerBarns450.jpg
two boys.    http://www.coachrobertsimmons.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/filter-friends1.jpg
a friend sharpens a friend.    http://lifebibleverses.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/sparksgrinding.jpg
death and destruction.    http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3262/2635850672_736e7a8000_z.jpg

1149.) Psalms 137 and 138

September 26, 2013

psalm137graphic

Psalm 137    (ESV)

How Shall We Sing the Lord‘s Song?

In 586 BCE, Judah was taken captive to Babylon. Losing their homeland and temple was a traumatic experience for the Israelites. The Babylonians added insult to injury by mockingly requesting that they sing songs of Zion as the Israelites struggled to learn to worship God in a foreign land without the benefit of the temple.

By the waters of Babylon,
    there we sat down and wept,
    when we remembered Zion.
On the willows there
    we hung up our lyres.
For there our captors
    required of us songs,
and our tormentors, mirth, saying,
    “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”

How shall we sing the Lord‘s song
    in a foreign land?
If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
    let my right hand forget its skill!
Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth,
    if I do not remember you,
if I do not set Jerusalem
    above my highest joy!

“In my Babylonian moods keep the vision of Jerusalem alive in my heart and teach me new songs of praise.”

–Eugene H. Peterson, Praying with the Psalms: A Year of Daily Prayers and Reflections on the Words of David

Remember, O Lord, against the Edomites
    the day of Jerusalem,
how they said, “Lay it bare, lay it bare,
    down to its foundations!”
O daughter of Babylon, doomed to be destroyed,
    blessed shall he be who repays you
    with what you have done to us!
Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones
    and dashes them against the rock!

An interesting application on v. 9 comes from the Rule of St. Benedict. He advises his monks to capture their evil thoughts, which are the conception of sin, and dash them against the rock of Christ before they can grow up.

_________________________

In 1937 Stephen Vincent Benet published a post-apocalyptic short story called “By the Waters of Babylon.”  It is one of my favorites!  I could tell you a bit about it, but it is better that you just jump in and figure it out as you read!  Click  HERE  to read it for yourself!

_________________________

*     *     *     *     *

P138 8

Psalm 138    (ESV)

Give Thanks to the Lord

Of David.

I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart;
    before the gods I sing your praise;
I bow down toward your holy temple
    and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness,
    for you have exalted above all things
    your name and your word.
On the day I called, you answered me;
    my strength of soul you increased.

All the kings of the earth shall give you thanks, O Lord,
    for they have heard the words of your mouth,
and they shall sing of the ways of the Lord,
    for great is the glory of the Lord.

P138 prone to outbursts of song

It is one of the joys of my marriage that my husband, David, knows countless hymns by heart and is often to be heard singing them.  In fact, the t-shirt pictured above was given to him for that very reason! 

For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly,
    but the haughty he knows from afar.

Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
    you preserve my life;

Fear not that the whirlwind will carry you hence,
Nor wait for its onslaught in breathless suspense,
Nor shrink from the blight of the terrible hail,
But pass through the edge to the heart of the tale,
For there is a shelter, sunlighted and warm,
And Faith sees her God through the eye of the storm.

The passionate tempest with rush and wild roar
And threatenings of evil may beat on the shore,
The waves may be mountains, the fields battle plains,
And the earth be immersed in a deluge of rains,
Yet, the soul, stayed on God, may sing bravely its psalm,
For the heart of the storm is the center of calm.

Let hope be not quenched in the blackness of night,
Though the cyclone awhile may have blotted the light,
For behind the great darkness the stars ever shine,
And the light of God’s heavens, His love will make thine,
Let no gloom dim your eyes, but uplift them on high
To the face of your God and the blue of His sky.

The storm is your shelter from danger and sin,
And God Himself takes you for safety within;
The tempest with Him passes into deep calm,
And the roar of the winds is the sound of a psalm.
Be glad and serene when the tempest clouds form;
God smiles on His child in the eye of the storm.

–from Streams in the Desert, April 23

you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies,
    and your right hand delivers me.
The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;
    your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.
    Do not forsake the work of your hands.

This last verse is a prayer I have uttered a thousand times.  I pray it for myself, of course, but I also substitute the name of my husband as the object of the preposition in the first line, or of my children, or of someone who is heavy on my heart.  And I always add a “Thank you that you” at the beginning of line 3.  I can pray this with utter confidence because the Lord is utterly trustworthy!

P138 completion_________________________

Music:

A musical rendition of Psalm 138.  If you listen to this song several times, you will be well on your way to knowing this wonderful psalm by heart!  Click  HERE  to start hiding God’s word in your heart!

_________________________

English Standard Version (ESV)   The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
by the waters of Babylon graphic.    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-dPA3qEScADg/UEAivuT1EsI/AAAAAAAAH9I/fwL5avBi830/s200/Psalm137.gif
Though I am surrounded by troubles.    http://faceforwardcolumbusblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/psalm138_78.jpg
Caution.    http://www.signals.com/signals/T-Shirts_3RA/Funny-T-Shirts_3RF/Item_s-Caution-Prone-To-Sudden-Outbursts-Of-Song-Shirt_HM2851.html
Being confident of this.    http://wsfc.org/wp-content/uploads/following-jesus-where-is-he-going-philippians-1-6.jpg

1148.) Psalm 136

September 25, 2013

P136 God is love

Psalm 136   (NIV)

What makes this psalm unique is that the second member of each of the twenty-six verses is the same antiphonal response, “for His mercy endures forever.”  “If one everlasting is not enough,” wrote Thomas Goodwin, “there are twenty-six everlastings in this one psalm.”

It is known as the Great Hallel, the singing of which was a regular part of the observance of both Pesach and Rosh Hashanah—the Jewish Passover and New Year celebrations.  It was also used in their daily worship.

The repetition of the theme is not tiresome; it says to us that the steadfast love of the Lord needs to be constantly before us and that the subject can never be exhausted.  His kindness, loyalty and fidelity never fail.

–William MacDonald

This psalm is an antiphonal liturgy with the memorable refrain, “his steadfast love endures forever.”  A priest or soloist would chant the first part of a verse, and the congregation would respond with the refrain.  Performances of the liturgy would have been powerful and moving, as the priest added example to example of God’s praise.  (The Reformation Bible)

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.

P136 Earth
God is good as Creator:

to him who alone does great wonders,
His love endures forever.
who by his understanding made the heavens,
His love endures forever.
who spread out the earth upon the waters,
His love endures forever.
who made the great lights—
His love endures forever.
the sun to govern the day,
His love endures forever.
the moon and stars to govern the night;
His love endures forever.

P136 crossing-red-sea
God is good as Redeemer:

10 to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt
His love endures forever.
11 and brought Israel out from among them
His love endures forever.
12 with a mighty hand and outstretched arm;
His love endures forever.

13 to him who divided the Red Sea asunder
His love endures forever.
14 and brought Israel through the midst of it,
His love endures forever.
15 but swept Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea;
His love endures forever.

P136 Pillar Fire Cloud
God is good as Guide:

16 to him who led his people through the wilderness;
His love endures forever.

P136 King-of-Kings
God is good as Champion:

17 to him who struck down great kings,
His love endures forever.
18 and killed mighty kings—
His love endures forever.
19 Sihon king of the Amorites
His love endures forever.
20 and Og king of Bashan—
His love endures forever.
21 and gave their land as an inheritance,
His love endures forever.
22 an inheritance to his servant Israel.
His love endures forever.

P136 helpGod is good as Helper:

23 He remembered us in our low estate
His love endures forever.
24 and freed us from our enemies.
His love endures forever.
25 He gives food to every creature.
His love endures forever.

26 Give thanks to the God of heaven.
His love endures forever.

_________________________

Music:

Join in  HERE  — “His Love Endures Forever.”

_________________________

New International Version (NIV)   Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Images courtesy of:
God is love.    http://cordof3strands.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/GodIsLove-1207912618.jpg
Earth hanging in space.    http://stuffpoint.com/space/image/277328-space-earth-from-space.jpg
crossing the Red Sea.    http://mudpreacher.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/moses-crossing-red-sea.jpg
pillar of fire and cloud.    http://www.bethemeth.org/images/windowsforprint/11Pillar%20Fire%20Cloud.jpg
King of kings.    http://www.christianbanners.com/product_images/uploaded_images/King-of-Kings-Point-Burgund_md.jpg
God is my help.    http://www.mssscrafts.com/memoryverses/2001_4/psalm54_4.gif

1147.) Psalms 134 and 135

September 24, 2013

P134 ascents

Psalm 134   (NIV)

A song of ascents.

This brief conclusion to the “Songs of Ascents” is composed of a call to worship (verses 1 and 2) followed by a blessing (verse 3).  Many take the first two verses as an exhortation from the departing worshipers to the priests who tend the temple precincts at night.  In response, the priests bless the congregation.  The psalm is a reminder that God’s praise is a continual, not momentary, activity (see 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17).   (The Reformation Bible)

Praise the Lord, all you servants of the Lord
    who minister by night in the house of the Lord.
Lift up your hands in the sanctuary
    and praise the Lord.

May the Lord bless you from Zion,
    he who is the Maker of heaven and earth.

*     *     *     *     *

P135 whatever the Lord

Psalm 135    (NIV)

Praise the Lord.

Hebrew hallu yah.   (The Reformation Bible)

Praise the name of the Lord;
    praise him, you servants of the Lord,
you who minister in the house of the Lord,
    in the courts of the house of our God.

Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good;
    sing praise to his name, for that is pleasant.
For the Lord has chosen Jacob to be his own,
    Israel to be his treasured possession.

I know that the Lord is great,
    that our Lord is greater than all gods.
The Lord does whatever pleases him,
    in the heavens and on the earth,
    in the seas and all their depths.
He makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth;
    he sends lightning with the rain
    and brings out the wind from his storehouses.

P135 lightning

Job 38:22-30   (ESV)

 “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow,
    or have you seen the storehouses of the hail,
which I have reserved for the time of trouble,
    for the day of battle and war?
What is the way to the place where the light is distributed,
    or where the east wind is scattered upon the earth?

“Who has cleft a channel for the torrents of rain
    and a way for the thunderbolt,
to bring rain on a land where no man is,
    on the desert in which there is no man,
to satisfy the waste and desolate land,
    and to make the ground sprout with grass?

“Has the rain a father,
    or who has begotten the drops of dew?
From whose womb did the ice come forth,
    and who has given birth to the frost of heaven?
The waters become hard like stone,
    and the face of the deep is frozen.”

He struck down the firstborn of Egypt,
    the firstborn of people and animals.
He sent his signs and wonders into your midst, Egypt,
    against Pharaoh and all his servants.
10 He struck down many nations
    and killed mighty kings—
11 Sihon king of the Amorites,
    Og king of Bashan,
    and all the kings of Canaan—

These kings opposed Israel during their time in the wilderness under Moses (Numbers 21:21-25).  (The Reformation Bible)

12 and he gave their land as an inheritance,
    an inheritance to his people Israel.

13 Your name, Lord, endures forever,
    your renown, Lord, through all generations.
14 For the Lord will vindicate his people
    and have compassion on his servants.

15 The idols of the nations are silver and gold,
    made by human hands.
16 They have mouths, but cannot speak,
    eyes, but cannot see.
17 They have ears, but cannot hear,
    nor is there breath in their mouths.
18 Those who make them will be like them,
    and so will all who trust in them.

Idol Ancient Near East 1st millennium B.C. Terracotta

Idol
Ancient Near East
1st millennium B.C.
Terracotta

Jeremiah 2:5 (NLT)

This is what the Lord says:

“What did your ancestors find wrong with me
    that led them to stray so far from me?
They worshiped worthless idols,
    only to become worthless themselves.”

19 All you Israelites, praise the Lord;
    house of Aaron, praise the Lord;
20 house of Levi, praise the Lord;
    you who fear him, praise the Lord.
21 Praise be to the Lord from Zion,
    to him who dwells in Jerusalem.

Praise the Lord.

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is “Wonderful God”  by Paul Baloche.

_________________________

New International Version (NIV)   Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Images courtesy of:
going up to the temple.    http://closerdaybyday.info/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/psalm-122.jpg
Whatever the Lord pleases.    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-GSEyzX3bg1k/T7EXeXj88_I/AAAAAAAAG1E/S_oDcsM_k3M/s320/Psalm+135+6.jpg
“Purple Rain”  photograph of lightning over Phoenix by Mike Olbinski.   http://gallery.mikeolbinski.com/img/s11/v27/p976607361-3.jpg
idol.    http://www.tomkinscollection.org/static/object_527.html

1146.) Mark 16

September 23, 2013

Mark 16 (New Living Translation)

The Resurrection

1 Saturday evening, when the Sabbath ended, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome went out and purchased burial spices so they could anoint Jesus’ body. 2 Very early on Sunday morning, just at sunrise, they went to the tomb. 3 On the way they were asking each other, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” 4 But as they arrived, they looked up and saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled aside. 5 When they entered the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a white robe sitting on the right side. The women were shocked, 6 but the angel said, “Don’t be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead!

There are several examples in the Bible of people being resuscitated before this, such as the widow’s son in the days of Elijah (1 Kings 17:17-24) and Lazarus (John 11:38-44). Each of these was resuscitated from death, but none of them were resurrected.  Each of them was raised in the same body they died in, and raised from the dead to eventually die again.  Resurrection isn’t just living again; it is living again in a new body, based on our old body, perfectly suited for life in eternity.  Jesus was not the first one brought back from the dead, but He was the first one resurrected.

–David Guzik

Look, this is where they laid his body. 7 Now go and tell his disciples, including Peter, that Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you before he died.”

Easter Creed

This is the good news which we received,

in which we stand, and by which we are saved;

that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures,

that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day;

and that He appeared to Peter, then to the twelve,

and to so many faithful witnesses.

We believe He is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.

He is the first and the last, the beginning and the end.

He is our Lord and our God. Amen.

8 The women fled from the tomb, trembling and bewildered, and they said nothing to anyone because they were too frightened.

The most reliable early manuscripts conclude the Gospel of Mark  at verse 8.

–footnote from my New Living Bible

To end the gospel on such a resounding note of failure is very upsetting from a modern perspective.  After observing Jesus’ continual struggles to make his disciples understand his teachings and seeing their ultimate failure, readers want so much for someone in the story to prove faithful to Jesus.  It is devastating to watch those who have already demonstrated more faithfulness than the Twelve fail as well! 

But from an ancient perspective the very point of the Gospel of Mark may rest with this painful ending.  Ancient writing was intended to do things, to make people act or believe or change their behavior, not just to entertain them with a suitably concluded literary experience.  Certainly the Gospel of Mark was not written simply to entertain its audience, for a Gospel that argues so ardently about the imminent coming of the end of the world has no time for mere aesthetic pleasure.  The expectations raised and then crushed by the end of the Gospel are intended to move the hearers of the Gospel to action.  If the women do not carry the message, is there anyone else who can?  Is there anyone else who has heard Jesus’ preaching, seen his healings, watched his crucifixion and burial, and listened to the wondrous announcement of the resurrection? 

Well, yes!  The audience of the Gospel has heard all of this.  At the end and indeed by means of the end itself, the audience of the Gospel of Mark, both women and men, are challenged to become themselves faithful disciples, carrying the message to the world, doing what some of characters in the Gospel have not . . .

The ending of Mark intends to arouse the emotions of its hearers and readers into faithful disciples and followers, for very little time remains until this present evil world is wiped away and God’s fruitful kingdom is established.

–from “Mark” by Mary Ann Tolbert, in The Women’s Bible Commentary

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(During Mark, portions of this book will be presented to help us understand our faith more deeply than perhaps we have before.  I hope you enjoy learning more about Jesus as a Jewish man — and through these passages, see and appreciate more clearly the Jewish roots of our Christian faith.)

REMEMBERING OUR REDEMPTION

What would you say if someone were to ask you to identify the single most important event in the New Testament?  Like most of us you would probably respond that it was the death and resurrection of Christ.  But what would you say if someone were to ask the same question about the Old Testament?  How could you pick from all the possibilities?  The creation?  The flood?  The covenant with Abraham?  Entering the Promised Land?  Building the temple?  Though we might find the question perplexing, the answer would seem obvious to most Jewish people.  Their miraculous delivery from Egypt is the event mentioned over and over in the Old Testament–almost every book refers to it.  It is the one event they mention in nearly every worship service.

Whenever God wanted to emphasize why his people should obey him, he reminded them of how he had rescued them and forged them into his own people.  “I am the God who brought you up out of Egypt,” he kept repeating . . .

Similarly, as followers of Christ, we can continually remind ourselves of how Jesus, the Passover Lamb has redeemed us from death.  We can forgive because we have been forgiven.  We can serve, because Christ humbled himself for us.  We can love, because we have experienced the extravagant love of God in our own lives.  We have a new life and a new hope, because Jesus fulfilled the ancient feast of Passover.

(pp. 109-110)

[Shorter Ending of Mark]

Then they briefly reported all this to Peter and his companions. Afterward Jesus himself sent them out from east to west with the sacred and unfailing message of salvation that gives eternal life. Amen.

“Upon a life I did not live,
upon a death I did not die;
another’s life, another’s death,
I stake my whole eternity.”

– Horatius Bonar

[Longer Ending of Mark]

9 After Jesus rose from the dead early on Sunday morning, the first person who saw him was Mary Magdalene, the woman from whom he had cast out seven demons. 10 She went to the disciples, who were grieving and weeping, and told them what had happened. 11 But when she told them that Jesus was alive and she had seen him, they didn’t believe her. 12 Afterward he appeared in a different form to two of his followers who were walking from Jerusalem into the country. 13 They rushed back to tell the others, but no one believed them.

14 Still later he appeared to the eleven disciples as they were eating together. He rebuked them for their stubborn unbelief because they refused to believe those who had seen him after he had been raised from the dead.

Take with you the joy of Easter to the home, and make that home bright with more unselfish love, more hearty service; take it into your work, and do all in the name of the Lord Jesus; take it to your heart, and let that heart rise anew on Easter wings to a higher, a gladder, a fuller life; take it to the dear grave-side and say there the two words “Jesus lives!” and find in them the secret of calm expectation, the hope of eternal reunion.

–John Ellerton

15 And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. 16 Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned. 17 These miraculous signs will accompany those who believe: They will cast out demons in my name, and they will speak in new languages. 18 They will be able to handle snakes with safety, and if they drink anything poisonous, it won’t hurt them. They will be able to place their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.”

19 When the Lord Jesus had finished talking with them, he was taken up into heaven and sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand. 20 And the disciples went everywhere and preached, and the Lord worked through them, confirming what they said by many miraculous signs.

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Music:

HERE  is Keith Green and that joyfully wonderful “Easter Song.”

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The end of Mark.  I have so enjoyed going through his gospel and seeing again Jesus serving the people around him without reservation, even to dying for them!  Have you heard something new from Mark?  Has the Holy Spirit been whispering into your ear as you have been going through these gospel chapters?  Please share your thoughts!

DWELLING with you,

Rebecca

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New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
He Qi.    http://www.heqigallery.com/prints/image/Women%20Arriving%20at%20the%20Tomb.jpg
Maree.    http://www.marnimaree.com/easterlilyMomMom.jpg
The End.    http://hadassahsabo.files.wordpress.com/2009/11/the-end-3.jpg
nail-scarred hands.    http://www.wordjourney.com/images/nail-scarred-hands.jpg
empty tomb.    http://www.urbanchristiannews.com/ucn/empty_tomb23456.jpg

1145.) Mark 15:21-47

September 20, 2013

“Crucifix” by Gizella Domotor, 1925 (Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest)

Mark 15:21-47 (New Living Translation)

The Crucifixion

21 A passerby named Simon, who was from Cyrene, was coming in from the countryside just then, and the soldiers forced him to carry Jesus’ cross. (Simon was the father of Alexander and Rufus.)

“Simon from Cyrene and Christ” by Titian, 1565 (Museo del Prado, Madrid)

Teach us, good Lord, to serve you as you deserve:
To give and not count the cost;
To fight and not heed the wounds;
To toil and not seek for rest;
To labor and not ask for reward,
save that of knowing that we do your will;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

–a prayer of Ignatius Loyola

22 And they brought Jesus to a place called Golgotha (which means “Place of the Skull”). 23 They offered him wine drugged with myrrh, but he refused it. 24 Then the soldiers nailed him to the cross. They divided his clothes and threw dice to decide who would get each piece. 25 It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. 26 A sign was fastened to the cross, announcing the charge against him. It read, “The King of the Jews.”

Signs were placed on crosses as a warning to others with wrong-doing in mind.  Since Christ was never convicted of a “crime,” his sign simply pointed to the truth, that he was God’s Son, the King of the Jews.  John’s gospel tells us the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin, and Greek.

And Jesus is not “King of the Jews” only:

Revelation 19:11-16 (NIV)

I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war.  His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself.  He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.  The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean.  Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:

KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

27Two revolutionaries were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left.29 The people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery. “Ha! Look at you now!” they yelled at him. “You said you were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. 30 Well then, save yourself and come down from the cross!”

31 The leading priests and teachers of religious law also mocked Jesus. “He saved others,” they scoffed, “but he can’t save himself! 32 Let this Messiah, this King of Israel, come down from the cross so we can see it and believe him!” Even the men who were crucified with Jesus ridiculed him.

The Death of Jesus

“Golgotha” by Jean-Leon Gerome, 1867 (Musee d”Orsay, Paris)

33 At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. 34 Then at three o’clock Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” 35 Some of the bystanders misunderstood and thought he was calling for the prophet Elijah. 36 One of them ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, holding it up to him on a reed stick so he could drink. “Wait!” he said. “Let’s see whether Elijah comes to take him down!”

37 Then Jesus uttered another loud cry and breathed his last. 38 And the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.

39 When the Roman officer who stood facing him saw how he had died, he exclaimed, “This man truly was the Son of God!”

40 Some women were there, watching from a distance, including Mary Magdalene, Mary (the mother of James the younger and of Joseph), and Salome. 41 They had been followers of Jesus and had cared for him while he was in Galilee. Many other women who had come with him to Jerusalem were also there.

Indifference

–G. A. Studdert-Kennedy
(a British Anglican priest and a chaplain in World War 1)

When Jesus came to Golgotha, they hanged Him on a tree,
They drove great nails through hands and feet, and made a Calvary;
They crowned Him with a crown of thorns, red were His wounds and deep,
For those were crude and cruel days, and human flesh was cheap.

When Jesus came to Birmingham, they simply passed Him by.
They would not hurt a hair of Him, they only let Him die;
For men had grown more tender, and they would not give Him pain,
They only just passed down the street, and left Him in the rain.

Still Jesus cried, ‘Forgive them, for they know not what they do, ‘
And still it rained the winter rain that drenched Him through and through;
The crowds went home and left the streets without a soul to see,
And Jesus crouched against a wall, and cried for Calvary.

The Burial of Jesus

42 This all happened on Friday, the day of preparation, the day before the Sabbath. As evening approached, 43 Joseph of Arimathea took a risk and went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. (Joseph was an honored member of the high council, and he was waiting for the Kingdom of God to come.) 44 Pilate couldn’t believe that Jesus was already dead, so he called for the Roman officer and asked if he had died yet. 45 The officer confirmed that Jesus was dead, so Pilate told Joseph he could have the body. 46 Joseph bought a long sheet of linen cloth. Then he took Jesus’ body down from the cross, wrapped it in the cloth, and laid it in a tomb that had been carved out of the rock. Then he rolled a stone in front of the entrance. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where Jesus’ body was laid.

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Good Friday, 1613, Riding Westward
by John Donne

(This poem moves me every time I read it, and I have read it every Good Friday for more than thirty years.)

Let man’s soul be a sphere, and then, in this,
Th’ intelligence that moves, devotion is ;
And as the other spheres, by being grown
Subject to foreign motion, lose their own,
And being by others hurried every day,
Scarce in a year their natural form obey ;
Pleasure or business, so, our souls admit
For their first mover, and are whirl’d by it.
Hence is’t, that I am carried towards the west,
This day, when my soul’s form bends to the East.
There I should see a Sun by rising set,
And by that setting endless day beget.
But that Christ on His cross did rise and fall,
Sin had eternally benighted all.
Yet dare I almost be glad, I do not see
That spectacle of too much weight for me.
Who sees Gods face, that is self-life, must die ;
What a death were it then to see God die ?
It made His own lieutenant, Nature, shrink,
It made His footstool crack, and the sun wink.
Could I behold those hands, which span the poles
And tune all spheres at once, pierced with those holes ?
Could I behold that endless height, which is
Zenith to us and our antipodes,
Humbled below us ? or that blood, which is
The seat of all our soul’s, if not of His,
Made dirt of dust, or that flesh which was worn
By God for His apparel, ragg’d and torn ?
If on these things I durst not look, durst I
On His distressed Mother cast mine eye,
Who was God’s partner here, and furnish’d thus
Half of that sacrifice which ransom’d us ?
Though these things as I ride be from mine eye,
They’re present yet unto my memory,
For that looks towards them ; and Thou look’st towards me,
O Saviour, as Thou hang’st upon the tree.
I turn my back to thee but to receive
Corrections till Thy mercies bid Thee leave.
O think me worth Thine anger, punish me,
Burn off my rust, and my deformity ;
Restore Thine image, so much, by Thy grace,
That Thou mayst know me, and I’ll turn my face.

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Music:

HERE  is “Sing to Jesus”  by Fernando Ortega.

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New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Domotor.     http://www.oceansbridge.com/oil-paintings/product/59735/crucifix1925
Titian.    http://cache2.artprintimages.com/p/LRG/14/1453/VJSR000Z/art-print/titian-tiziano-vecelli-christ-and-simon-the-cyrenian.jpg
sign on the cross.    http://bibleencyclopedia.com/picturesjpeg/Sign_above_cross_1216-259.jpg
Gerome.    http://www.staroilpainting.com/images/shop/product/a3de4e55254ca8345677fad3c19e7aab.jpg
cross with nail.     http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_pOveGG_p-Cw/S4vQSq688pI/AAAAAAAAAb8/A83xmoeC5Fg/s400/Cross-with-Nail.jpg
drawing of Christ on the cross.    http://www.supercoloring.com/wp-content/main/2009_01/good-friday-6-coloring-page.gif