One of the most-watched series on TV is HGTV. Many designers choose to renovate existing homes and bring them “back to life.” But, God is not like that! He is an architect and a perfect designer and starts from scratch using the materials that the children of Israel had collected as they were departing their slavery. God gave them favor in the eyes of the Egyptians. [Ex. 11:2] It didn’t just happen; God Almighty planned and orchestrated it that they might know God cares and protects His own.
Now, as the perfect architect, God helped Moses visualize and see His design for the Tabernacle. Why does He do that? Because of two principles; (1), He is a God of order, not confusion. [1Cor. 14:33] and (2) His work is based on precept upon precept, line upon line, [Is. 28:11KJV]
Over and over in these chapters, God tells Moses, “you must make it exactly so” [Ex. 25:9] and reminds him, “Now be sure to make them according to the pattern you were shown on the mountain.” [Ex. 25:40].
Where has God shown you what to do and are you doing it just exactly so?
Incredibly since we began this journey in January, we have met men who think they can control life and all that pertains to it! In Exodus, we met Pharaoh, who said, “Who is this God that I should obey him. [Ex 5:2] and in Daniel, we met a blustering king who gave all credit to himself, not God. [Daniel 4:33] Now, fast forward to the NT, where the religious leaders think they can contain these Jesus followers/disciples through threats and death, but this “Jesus thing” keeps growing and taking over the whole world. Acts 12 reveals to us King Herod, who thinks he can stop what the religious leaders could not by killing the apostle James by the sword. When that brought glee to them, he imprisoned Peter yet an angel opens prison doors and frees Peter to go and preach the gospel!
All of these have either not known or have forgotten this principle: Isa 42:8 “I am the Lord! That is my name! I will not share my glory with anyone else.” And so Herod meets God: “Immediately an angel of the Lord struck Herod down because he did not give the glory to God, and he was eaten by worms and died.” [Acts 12:23]
God is God, and there is none other. Give Him glory and praise for if you do not, one day you will realize too late this principle: “at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth and confess Jesus as Lord,” [Phil 2:10-11]
John 9 and 10 The blind is made to see the “seeing” remain blind.
Will the religious leaders relinquish their man-made rules to believe? The disciples ask if the man sinned or his parents caused his blindness. Neither was the cause, but he “is” blind so that the works of God might be made manifest and cause men to choose the correct answer to this question: “Dost thou believe on the Son of God?” KJV. [Jn 9:35]
The blind man obeyed the instructions of Jesus after receiving the “mud bath” and the “water bath,” and now is seeing. You would think others would stand up and praise God for this miracle but not so. Instead, he is tossed to and fro between his parents, neighbors, and religious leaders. Indeed Solomon was correct to say; the fear of man holds men. They fear men more than God. [Prov 29:25] Truly as Jesus said, they now remain in their sinful state. Jesus is the “Light” of the world, and He is the “Door.” Do you believe this?
Spiritual Truth: Some are more comfortable in their sin than in the light of seeing spiritual truths.
Mark 2 If you want to know who this Jesus is, pay close attention, for time is of the essence.
Join Jesus as he teaches and where pious religious leaders, who know the Torah backward and forwards, come to find out who this man is. Outwardly, they are polite, but their heart chastises Jesus with this question: “who can forgive sins but God alone?” Forgiveness followed by healing should have answered their question that Jesus is God in the flesh who can do both.
Immediately, Jesus removes himself from the crowded home to the seaside where he could teach unencumbered by their stares. He encounters Levi, the tax collector whose heart is prepared, and he steps out of his comfort zone to “immediately” follow Jesus. He invites his tax collectors and sinners to a feast at which the Pharisees mingle so they can ask why Jesus doesn’t follow protocol about fasting.
The following Sabbath, these same outwardly religious leaders tag along through a grain field. They challenge his ideas about the Sabbath, to which Jesus replied, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” [Mark 2:27]
Jesus saw to the heart of the matter: The religious leaders wanted to justify their rules; Levi wanted righteousness.
Ezra 4 to 6 and Ps 137 It is just so neat to read these chapters to see the truth of Romans 8:28. The adversaries of the temple workers were so sure their first letter back to the king would settle the matter, and all would return to normal “but God.” This reminds us of Prov 21:1 “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord like channels of water; he turns it wherever he wants.” We see the evidence of that when the new king is asked to scour the scrolls of Cyrus once again, and there it was—in plain black and white: let the captive/exiles rebuild the temple so they can pray to God for my sons and me. Another Romans 8:28 story!
Satan is the master deceiver and accuser of the brethren. His primary purpose is to distract God’s people and keep God’s Word from being proclaimed, and he almost succeeded. Praise God for faithful prophets like Haggai and Zechariah, who arrived in Jerusalem at just the right moment.
Where have you seen the hand of God in your life? Where has God turned what the enemy wants to use to distract and destroy only to see his plan foiled? Give God the praise!
Daniel 7 to 9 Daniel has been in Babylon for a v-e-r-y long time. In that time, he has faithfully served kings as but first and foremost; he reverently continues to serve the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Both Ezekiel and Daniel have visions as they stand by a body of water. They not only ‘saw’ but ‘heard’ the words of the vision. How blessed we are in this century to ‘see’ with heavenly eyes the future through these prophets and hear the meaning. God’s purpose is to know and understand that God is God and there is no other. Isaiah wrote: His deeds and plans are superior to ours, and yet He considers each of us as He orchestrates our day and our future. Again, just as Ezekiel, John, and Isaiah, Daniel fell to the ground as he recognized he was in the presence of God’s holy messenger, Gabriel.
As Daniel arose, the vision was so real that he fell to his knees in prayer. “O Lord, great and awesome God!” You are faithful while we have been unfaithful. You are righteous, but we are unrighteous. You are exalted, but we have been humiliated. Therefore, you were right to judge our sin.
Daniel has recorded all of this so that we might recoil in our sin and exalt He who is the Lord God Almighty. Isaiah the prophet wrote: “seek the Lord while He may be found.” [Is 55:6]
Jeremiah 49-50 The Bible once again proves to be true. Jeremiah prophesies against the nations surrounding Israel for their aggression against her when she needed help against King Nebuchadnezzar. Centuries later, when Saddam Hussein was in power in Iraq, he saw himself as a modern reincarnation of Nebuchadnezzar. To prove it, he spent millions building a massive reconstruction of Babylon. But, as Jeremiah prophesied, Babylon would never be rebuilt but be a habitation of jackals. “For out of the north a nation has come up against her, which shall make her land desolation, and none shall dwell in it; both man and beast shall flee away.” [Jer 50:3] One of the tour guides laments; history is a poignant reminder; nothing built by men lasts forever.
Men seek to play God, and God reminds us over and over:He will never share his glory with another. [Is 42:8] Again, Psa 20:7 Sometrust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
Jeremiah 1 to 3 Are you a pretender? Jeremiah, who tried to get out of telling the nation about their sin, tells the nation that they are just playing pretend about their relationship with Yahweh. Like the church in Ephesus, they had lost their first love and pretended to love God. They want God to forgive, but they fail to repent. In chapter 2, God says: he Lord says: “I have fond memories of you, how devoted you were to me in your early years. I remember how you loved me like a new bride; you followed me through the wilderness, but now you wander to the nations that serve idols I said do NOT do. I am your God; I am a jealous God who will not share my glory with another.
How like Judah we are. Like them, we see the destructiveness of sin, but like the blind man who cannot see, we say it won’t happen to us. But, unfortunately, our prisons are full of those who bought into that lie, and our world is full of sinners who said the same thing. They were and are the pretenders. Their faith is not genuine. They will not hear the words of James about Abraham, who believed God, and his works demonstrated that belief.
This is a wake-up call. Are you listening? Will you pretend, or will you be honest?
2Chron 33 There is nothing like hooks in your nose, bronze chains, and extradition to a foreign land; a prison cell, cold gruel, day-old bread, and water to awaken your senses, and that is what happened to King Manasseh. He then “realized that the Lord is the true God” and repented. It was because of the mercy of God that he was released and returned to his kingdom. God’s mercy is overflowing!
God has placed this event to remind us that it begins with how you pay attention to the Lord and His Word. A word of caution here: his sin, just like ours, does impact family and children. His unrepentant son Amon is proof of that.
The Chronicler records these words: the annals record all his sins and unfaithful acts, and identify the sites where he built high places and erected Asherah poles and idols “before he humbled himself.” [2Chron 33:19] Mark that last phrase: he humbled himself, and that is what God is seeking.
You can listen and repent now, or you can do it later, but beware because God doesn’t guarantee there will be a tomorrow. Unfortunately, Amon learned that lesson the hard way; his life ended in an assassination.
2 Kings 20 God has placed this story of King Hezekiah to teach us several wise lessons. The backdrop began in the life of Hezekiah when he endured a terminal illness. Perhaps you can relate because you, too, are facing a terminal illness. When we hear devastating news, do we go to God, who is the author and finisher of our lives as Hezekiah did? How we respond reveals our heart. God not only heard Hezekiah’s plea but, in His graciousness, chose to heal him miraculously. God was gracious and gave him a sign of his answered prayer for healing, and the addition of fifteen years added to his life. How do we respond to the good news?
Not long after, some Babylonian visitors came supposedly to encourage Hezekiah and he revealed all of the treasures of Israel. Did all of their false overtures blind Hezekiah? Why did he not take them to see the House of the Lord? By showing them the riches of Israel, Hezekiah revealed a proud heart. When confronted by Isaiah, Hezekiah’s response in vs. 19 seems out of character, but is it? How we respond reveals our heart. Hezekiah was like those who accomplish much and take the credit upon themselves. How do we respond when others gush over our accomplishments?
The lesson we can glean from Hezekiah is that our words and actions reveals who we truly are. What is your response?