Category Archives: Bible

Psalm 100

Who, what, when, where, why? Do you remember learning that in school? That string of questions was designed to help you to understand an article, book, or something that happened. That same string of questions can be helpful in understanding what a Bible passage is saying. This came to mind recently as I was reading Psalm 100.

As we read through the psalm, we will try to answer five of these questions.

  1. Who does this psalm address?

    Your first reaction might be that this psalm is for God’s people. While that is true, notice what the first verse says.

    a. All lands (1)

    This joyful shout is not supposed to be limited to just the Israelites. It is something that should come from people all over the earth. When they come to know the Lord and recognize His goodness, they will shout along with believers in every nation.

    “There is a time coming when the entire world will be able to sing, ‘Joy to the world, the Lord is come!'” (McGee 822). In fact, the Book of Revelation tells us of a time when a group from every tribe and language praises the Lord.

    Revelation 7:9-10 – “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’”

    Question: How is it that these people from various backgrounds learned to praise the Lord? The answer is found in the second people group mentioned in this psalm.

    b. His people (3b)

    The people who best sing God’s praises are those who are His people. Before you think that this psalm is only directed toward the Israelites, think again. Were Adam and Eve Israelites? How about Noah, Abraham, and Job? While the Israelites are God’s special people, being an Israelite did not guarantee that they would be His people. His people are made up of all those who truly believe and serve Him in every generation.

    Remember the earlier question: How is it that these people from various backgrounds learned to praise the Lord? The people of the earth can only praise the Lord if they hear about Him and choose to love and serve Him.

    Romans 10:14-15 – “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!’”

    This is why we need to take the good news of Jesus Christ to the many people in the world. When people near and far hear and believe, they, too, will join us in being God’s people. And then they will do what this psalm calls us to do.

  2. What does this psalm call us to do?

    a. Shout (1)

    When you watch a football game and your team scores, what do you do? We, typically, raise our arm in the air and shout. When the Ohio State University football team scored their first touchdown yesterday, there was a bit of shouting in our living room. We do that to show how happy we are.

    While I do not want our church to become a “shouting” church, I would like us to express our joyfulness in our singing, in our conversations, and in our reaction to what we read in the Bible. This is what the psalmist calls us to do.

    b. Serve (2a)

    Along with a joyful shout, we are called to serve the Lord. I think that the order is important. It is easier to serve someone you are excited about. For example, it would be difficult to serve someone that you do not like. But if you love that person, it is easier to want to serve him.

    How do we serve the Lord? I think that service begins with “present[ing our] bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Rom. 12:1). Then with the right attitude, we should choose to do the things that He has commanded us.

    c. Sing (2b)

    Singing is one of those things that the Lord enjoys and that we also enjoy. When we sing, we express the feelings of our hearts in melody and sometimes harmony. Think of some of the songs that you enjoy singing to the Lord: “Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me”, “Come Christians join to sing, Alleluia, Amen,” and “O rejoice in the Lord, He makes no mistake.” God wants us to enter His presence with singing as an indication that we recognize His goodness and Who He is.

    d. Know (3)

    Verse three calls us to “know” something about God. What do you know about God? As you read through the Bible, you quickly learn that God is not some grandfatherly figure sitting on a cloud. He is God Almighty. He is the One who created us; we didn’t do that. And we see that He is in charge; we are just the sheep in His pasture.

    When we recognize Who God is, we will have a completely different mindset about Him and about ourselves. We will no longer seek to run our lives. We will let Him be in charge. He is God and we are not.

    e. Be thankful (4).

    Thankfulness is something that comes from recognizing what someone has done for us. When your boss gives you a bonus, when your wife fixes a meal, when the mechanic figures out the problem with your vehicle, how do you respond? The right response is thankfulness.

    When is the last time you thanked God for what He had done in your life? If you have trouble thinking of something to be thankful for, start with the basics. Thank God for saving you from your sin. Thank Him for Jesus. Thank him for giving you food to eat and a place to sleep. When you start thanking God for things, you will begin to see How good He has been to you in every area of your life.

    Why do some Christians bow their head and thank God for their food? This is a recognition of God’s provision. And thankfulness in this area leads to thankfulness in other and all areas. God is good. Thank Him for that.

  3. Where should we do these things?

    The psalm covers three locations for our praise and thanksgiving.

    a. in all the earth (1)

    Remember how verse one called on people from all parts of the world to shout joyfully to the Lord? This gives us the idea that these actions (shouting, serving, singing, knowing, and being thankful) should not be limited to a specific location. These are not limited to ancient Israel or to the United States. These are things that should be done everywhere.

    Psalm 40:3 – He has put a new song in my mouth—Praise to our God; many will see it and fear, and will trust in the Lord.

    When we are joyfully serving the Lord or thanking Him for what He has done, it makes a difference in the lives of others. When a college football player praises God for giving Him the ability to play well, it is an example to the whole world. I always like to see that.

    b. in His presence (2)

    The next place to do these things is in God’s presence. What exactly does this mean? When the Israelites saw the cloudy pillar over the tabernacle, it was an indication that God was with them. But is God only present when we can see something physical? No, He is with us no matter where we go. This is revealed in the Old and New Testaments.

    Psalm 139:7 – “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?
    Matthew 28:20 – “…and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

    The Lord is always with His people. But let me ask you a question. In what location do you feel closest to God’s presence? Isn’t it when you are in a quiet place, away from the pressures of the world, that you feel closest to the Lord? The time that you take each day to read the Bible and to pray, this is where you are least distracted and most aware of God’s presence.

    c. in His courts (4)

    The final answer to where is in His courts. I think this best refers to when we are in God’s house. The Israelites would think of the tabernacle or temple. Christians think of being in the church building. This is where we collectively sing, praise, and express our thankfulness to God.

    Do you realize how your singing and thankfulness are a blessing to God? He enjoys hearing your praise. But so do other believers. As we sing the hymns and talk about God’s goodness, we are encouraged and reminded that things aren’t quite as bad as we had thought.

  4. How?

    An old preacher related this: “Someone told me the other day that he attended the services of one of the great churches of the past and had never witnessed a place that was so dead. Do you know what the problem was? People were not coming to church with praise in their hearts. They did not come to the service with thanksgiving in their hearts to God” (McGee 822).

    How does God want us to sing to, praise, and serve Him? There are at least three ways found in this psalm.

    a. with joy and gladness (1, 2)

    In verse one, we are called to shout joyfully to the Lord and in verse two to serve with gladness. The dictionary defines joy as “a feeling of great pleasure and happiness” (Oxford). If you are full of joy, that joy will eventually bubble out and be seen by others. How will it be seen?

    You may know the hymn, “Jesus Loves Even Me.” The words go like this:

    I am so glad that our Father in heav’n
    Tells of His love in the Book He has giv’n
    Wonderful things in the Bible I see
    This is the dearest, that Jesus loves me.
    I am so glad that Jesus loves me
    Jesus loves me, Jesus loves me
    I am so glad that Jesus loves me
    Jesus loves even me.


    Those words were written by someone who was filled with joy. But when we sing this song, how would you know if the singer was joyful. If there was a thoughtful smile on my face, you might gather that I was joyful. But if there was no expression on my face, you might wonder.

    b. with thankfulness (4)

    In verse four, we are told to “enter His gates with thanksgiving.” This should be understood as an attitude of gratefulness. When we are thankful/grateful, we are recognizing what God had done for us.

    In Luke 17:11-19, we read about ten men who had leprosy. When they asked Jesus to have mercy on them, Jesus healed them. But only one of these men, a Samaritan, returned to thank the Lord for healing him of his terrible disease. Jesus noted this and asked why only one of the ten returned to thank Him.

    How often does the Lord think this of us? He has done so much for us and yet we fail to thank Him for what he has done.

  5. Why?

    The final question to ask is probably the most important. Why should we be joyful? Why should we sing, shout, praise, and thank the Lord?

    a. His goodness (5)

    God is good. And it is a good thing that He is. If God were evil, we would not last long. But he is good and cares about us. Jesus told His disciples about God’s goodness by comparing our heavenly Father to our earthly fathers.

    Matthew 7:9-11 – “Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!

    God is good and has shown His kindness to His people over the years. This ought to motivate us to sing, serve, and thank Him on a regular basis.

    b. His mercy (5)

    God is not merely a good Father; He is also merciful. Mercy has been described as not giving us what we deserve. What do we deserve? According to God, our sin is so bad from His perspective that without His intervention we would die and spent eternity in the Lake of Fire.

    Romans 6:23 – “…the wages of sin is death.”
    Revelation 20:15 – “And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.”


    How often we forget we forget our sinfulness and God’s mercy. But when we remember our sinfulness and God’s mercy, this ought to lead us to sing with joy and to serve Him with thankfulness.

    c. His truth (5)

    The final reason for thanking God is His enduring truth. In recent political news, people have redefined what a woman is so that transgender people can be included. It is an example of the changing ideas put out by the world. God is not like that. The truth He has given us in the Bible does not change every generation. It remains the same.

    The truth in the Bible that encouraged David, Isaiah, John the Baptist, Peter, and Paul have not changed. The truth about Jesus that changed the lives of the Philippian jailer, Martin Luther, and Andy Rupert is still true today. God’s truth doesn’t change according to the whims of each generation. And because of that, we can trust that God will continue to keep His promises and use His truth to change lives today.

Conclusion

I hope that you are encouraged by what we have seen in Psalm 100 today. As mentioned before, I am not hoping that someone will start shouting in our services or running around the auditorium. But I hope that what we have seen in this psalm will bring joy and thankfulness to your heart. I hope that you will have a fresh perspective about serving the Lord. And I hope that your joyfulness will spill over into your daily conversations with others.

Bibliography

Kidner, Derek, Psalms 73-150, Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1975, pp. 355-57.

Shelton, W. A., “PSALMS LXXIII-CL” in The Abington Bible Commentary, USA: the Abington Press, 1929, p. 572.

McGee, J. Vernon, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, Vol. II, Joshua through Psalms, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982, pp. 821-23.

Ross, Allen P., “Psalms” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary Old Testament, USA: SP Publications, 1989, pp. 865-66.

Philippians 2:5-11

Isn’t it about time that people recognize all that I do for this company? Shouldn’t the boss tell others what a good worker I am? Shouldn’t I be the first one who gets awarded at the next meeting? These thoughts, though not exactly what you would say, may have gone through your mind. We proud people want to be recognized for our character, effort, and personality. But is this how a Christian should think?

As you may recall, Paul was addressing some unwritten needs within the Philippian church. Perhaps he had heard reports of how certain people were filled with pride and were wanting to be recognized by others. Or maybe there were some who were unwilling to do menial tasks because of their position in the community or church. These bad attitudes needed to be addressed.

In the first part of the chapter (2:1-4), Paul reminded them that if they had been consoled, comforted, brought into fellowship with, and pitied by the Lord, then they should be like-minded with other Christians, should be humble, and should be caring about others. But if those arguments were not enough, he pointed them to the example of the Lord Jesus. And as you see his mindset, you will have no excuse to be proud.

  1. Jesus lowered himself (6-7).

    When George Bush was president, I heard that he and his wife would help out the poor people in their community. Imagine a president lowering himself to work with people who couldn’t care for themselves. That was a good example. But Jesus is an even better example.

    a. He didn’t let his deity keep him from acting (6).

    He was in the form of God.

    “This word (trans. ‘form’ in the KJV and NASB) stresses the inner essence or reality of that with which it is associated… . Christ Jesus, Paul said, is of the very essence (morphe) of God… . The Savior’s claim to deity infuriated the Jewish leaders (John 5:18) and caused them to accuse Him of blasphemy (John 10:33)” (Lightner 654).

    He didn’t grasp at His deity.

    In the KJV and NKJV, the translation refers to robbery. “This is, I confess, a rather stilted translation” (McGee 301). The idea is not that Jesus thought that being equal to God was a robbery. The Greek wording means, not something to be grasped at or held onto.

    “Though possessing full deity (John 1:14; Col. 2:9), Christ did not consider His equality with God (Phil. 2:6) as something to be grasped or held onto” (Lightner 654). In other words, He did not demand to be treated with all the honor and glory He deserved when faced with the task given Him. And he did not use His deity as a means to his own ends.

    Think about that. Jesus, who is God, and who deserves all the honor and glory we can give Him, didn’t let that hold Him back from doing what needed to be done.

    b. He left his reputation to become a man (7).

    He emptied Himself.

    “The words [made Himself of no reputation] are, literally, ‘He emptied Himself.’ ‘Emptied,’ from the Greek kenoo, points to the divesting of His self-interests, but not of His deity” (Lightner 654).

    “The word does not mean He emptied Himself of His deity, but rather He emptied Himself of the display of His deity for personal gain. … to use what He had to His own advantage” (R&R 550).

    In other words, Jesus did not let His position as God keep Him from accomplishing what needed to be done. He emptied Himself of any desire to remain in heaven, receiving glory, and being revered as God. He did this because we needed Him.

    He became a servant.

    “‘The very nature of a servant’ certainly points to His lowly and humble position, His willingness to obey the Father, and serve others” (Lightner 654).

    Just think that Jesus was a carpenter who worked on people’s houses and furniture. He was someone who served others and yet He was still God who deserved to be served Himself.

    He became a man.

    “‘Likeness’ suggests similarity but difference. Though His humanity was genuine, He was different from all other humans in that He was sinless (Heb. 4:15)” (Lightner 654) and divine.

    APPLIC. If Jesus willingly lowered Himself from such a place of honor, shouldn’t we be willing to do the same?
  2. Jesus humbled himself (8).

    Jesus not only lowered Himself in reputation, but he also humbled Himself. He did this in two ways.

    a. He humbled Himself by becoming a man.

    “Some have wrongly taught that the phrase, being found in appearance as a man (Phil. 2:8), means that He only looked human. But this contradicts verse 7. ‘Appearance; is the Greek schemati, meaning an outer appearance which may be temporary. This contrasts with morphe (‘very nature’) in verses 6 and 7, which speaks of an outer appearance that reveals permanent inner quality” (Lightner 654).

    Although Jesus has always been God, He temporarily became a man.

    ILLUS. J. Vernon McGee gives the example of him having trouble with ants. The ants came into his house and stole sugar from the sugar bowl. He could not convince them to stop their sugar runs, so he had to kill them. He thought that if only he could become an ant and talk to them. Becoming an ant would be quite the humbling of a man.

    Jesus’ becoming a man was a big step down. But He was willing to do this and even more.

    b. He humbled himself enough to die.

    Jesus’ humility is seen not only in His becoming human, but also in His willingness to die the terrible death on the cross. We often talk about His death, but we don’t understand how terrible it was. “It was the most cruel and despicable form of death… . This form of capital punishment was limited to non-Romans and the worst criminals” (Lightner 654). He humbled Himself to endure this for us.

    APPLIC. The great pain that Jesus experienced was for us and not deserved by Him. If Jesus was willing to humble Himself to such an extent, shouldn’t we be willing to do so?

  3. Jesus was exalted (9-11).

    Prince Charles has been the next in line to the throne for many years. And when his mother, Queen Elizabeth, died, he was exalted to be king. This was a step that happened because of his position in the family. But in the case of Jesus, it was different. He was already God but had humbled Himself. What was God the Father’s response to this?

    a. He was highly exalted.

    How was Jesus highly exalted?

    “The exaltation refers to His resurrection, ascension, and glorification at the Father’s right hand (Acts 2:33; Heb. 1:3)” (Lightner 654).

    b. He was given an exalted name.

    What does giving Him a name signify?

    “His ‘name’ is not merely a title; it refers to His person and to His position of dignity and honor” (Lightner 654). After all that Jesus did, is there any doubt that he deserves all the honor we can give Him and more?

    Who will bow before Jesus?

    “The extent of Christ’s sovereign authority is delineated in the three-fold phrase, in heaven and on earth and under the earth. No intelligent being—whether angels and saints in heaven; people living on the earth; or Satan, demons, and the unsaved in hell—in all of God’s universe will escape. All will bow either willingly or they will be made to do so” (Lightner 654).

    What will they confess?

    “One day all will be made to acknowledge that Jesus Christ is all He claimed to be—very God of very God. Unfortunately, for many it will be too late for the salvation of their souls” (Lightner 654-55).

    And this confession will bring glory to God for all that has been accomplished.

    APPLIC. If God the Father honored the humility of Jesus, and if He is greatly glorified by honoring Jesus, do you think He will be pleased by our following Jesus’ example?

Conclusion

What is the point of these verses? The point is that we should have the same mindset that Jesus did. Since He did not demand to be held in high esteem, we should not. Since He humbled himself, we should do the same. And since God the Father exalted Him for doing so, we know that this is what pleases God.

Don’t let your desire for reputation or recognition control the way that you think and act. When we are full of pride and expect that people honor us, we are not acting like followers of Christ.

Bibliography

Lightner, Robert P., “Philippians,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Old Testament, USA: SP Publications, 1983, p. 653-55.

McGee, J. Vernon, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, Vol. V, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1983, pp. 301-06.

Rienecker, Fritz, and Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1976, p. 549-51.

Exodus 37

As you may know, our oldest son will be getting married soon. He already has a place for them to live, but I imagine that his wife-to-be has given him some input as to how the place should be decorated. If it were up to him, he might decorate with hubcaps, board games, and books. But I am pretty sure that his future wife might have some different ideas. And if he is a wise son, he should probably go along with her ideas… if he wants to have a happy relationship.

In Exodus 37, we read about Bezalel and Aholiab building several pieces of furniture for inside the tabernacle. While the tabernacle would not have anyone living in it, it was the physical place where God’s presence and glory would be. The Lord had given specific instructions about these things and was expecting his instructions to be carried out. These builders would be wise to do their work as God commanded… if they wanted to have a good relationship with the Lord.

As we go through the chapter, we will look at only four pieces of furniture. Because this could seem as exciting as reading a blueprint, let’s make things a little more interesting. As we look at each item, we will attempt to answer three questions: (1) How was it made? (2) What was it for? (3) Where else is it mentioned in the Bible? By doing so, we may get a better understanding of what God is saying in this chapter.

One other note about this chapter. Note that the priests would be the only ones who saw the interior of the tabernacle on a regular basis. While the people may have seen the items being carried, they were usually covered up. So everything written in this chapter would have revealed to the common Israelite what God wanted, what they had given their offerings for, and what it looked like inside this holy tabernacle dedicated to the worship of the one, true God.

  1. Making the Ark of the Covenant (Ex. 37:1-9)

    a. How was it made?

    The Ark was made of acacia wood. “From a practical standpoint, acacia trees would have been one of the only types of trees growing in the wilderness regions traveled by Israel. In addition, acacia wood is dense and extremely strong, making it a great option for any type of wooden construction” (Gotquestions).

    Its dimensions were 2.5 cubits/3.75 ft long, 1.5 cubits/2.25 ft wide, and 1.5 cubits/2.25 ft tall. During a recent stay in New Stanton PA, my hotel room had a desk/table whose top had similar measurements. If you can find a large cardboard box, you might try to make a similarly shaped box to get a better idea of the size.

    The box-shaped ark was covered with gold and carried with acacia wood poles which were overlaid with gold. These poles went through golden rings which were attached to the sides of the ark. But the most interesting part of the ark was the mercy seat. This appears to be a lid that fit over the top of the ark. It was overlaid with gold and had two golden cherubim at either end, facing each other. Their golden wings stretched forward and covered the top.

    b. What was it for?

    The ark of the covenant had several purposes. First, the ark contained the stone tablets on which the Lord had written His laws. These were a reminder of the covenant between God and Israel. Later, the ark also contained a bowl of manna and Aaron’s rod that budded. Second, the ark and the mercy seat were the sign of God’s mercy towards the nation’s sins.

    “The term ‘mercy seat’ comes from a Hebrew word meaning ‘to cover, placate, appease, cleanse, cancel or make atonement for.’ It was here that the high priest, only once a year (Leviticus 16), entered the Holy of Holies where the Ark was kept and atoned for his sins and the sins of the Israelites. The priest sprinkled blood of a sacrificed animal onto the Mercy Seat to appease the wrath and anger of God for past sins committed. This was the only place in the world where this atonement could take place” (GotQuestions).

    Thankfully, we no longer have to sacrifice animals or rely on a high priest to do these things because Jesus offered His own blood once for all to atone for our sins. Now all those who put their faith in what He did, will be forgiven by God forever. See Hebrews 9:23-28 for an explanation of these things.

    c. Where else is it mentioned?

    It would appear that the ark of the covenant had one other purpose. That would be to signify the presence of God. In Joshua 6, the Lord sent Joshua to march around the city of Jericho before the walls fell flat. Joshua commanded the priests to carry the ark of the covenant with them along with seven priests blowing rams’ horns. We all know how that turned out. On the seventh day, the walls fell flat and Jericho was defeated.

    The same idea was tried during Eli’s time, but things turned out differently. Eli’s sons were wicked and so were the people. When the Philistines threatened to attack, the army had Eli’s son carry the ark of the covenant to the battle for moral support (see 1 Sam. 4). Thinking that the box would guarantee success, they marched into battle with confidence but were soundly defeated. They learned that God was not bound to a box. Instead, He binds himself to those who believe and obey Him.

  2. Making the Showbread Table (Ex. 37:10-16)

    a. How was it made?

    Its dimensions were 2 cubits/3 feet long, 1 cubit/1.5 ft wide, and 1.5 cubits/2.25 ft high. So, this was not a very large box. But it was plated with gold and had rings built into the sides to be carried by gold covered poles. But notice something else. This was a table, so the box had legs underneath it. On top of the table, there were golden dishes, cups, bowls, and pitchers.

    b. What was it for?

    This table was used to hold the showbread. The showbread were 12 loaves of bread which were “arranged in two piles of six loaves … covered with frankincense, and … served as a memorial food offering to the Lord” (GotQuestions). It appears that this bread was set in the first part of the tabernacle every Sabbath day (Lev. 24:8-9) and was only to be eaten by the priests. Perhaps this is why there were also dishes, bowls, and pitchers on the table.

    c. Where else is it mentioned?

    The most famous mention of the table of showbread is found in 1 Samuel 21:1-6. There we find David fleeing from Saul. When he arrived in Nob, he asked Abimelech the priest for bread to take with him. The only bread available was the showbread which had recently been replaced with fresh bread. Although this was not technically allowed, the priest let him have it because it was the only food available at the time. In Mark 2:23-28, Jesus validated David’s use of the bread because of the need of the moment.

  3. Making the Golden Lampstand (Ex. 37:17-24)

    a. How was it made?

    The Lampstand was made of a whole talent of beaten gold. According to biblestudy.org, a talent was “75 U.S. pounds.” At the current rate of $1,769.40 per ounce, this lamp would be valued at $2,123,280. That is a lot of gold! It had a central shaft with six branches coming out of its sides. As you read the description of the bowls, blossoms, and knobs, it may be difficult to understand what it looked like. However, the arch of Titus in Rome has a carving depicting the Lampstand being carried away when Jerusalem was conquered. The Lampstand had a central shaft with three U-shaped arms that all reach the same height as the central shaft. This may have been what it looked like.

    b. What was it for?

    The simple answer is that the lampstand was used to lighten the interior of the tabernacle. If you have ever been in a room with no windows or lights, you know that it is very difficult to see. “The top of the shaft and of each branch was to be made like an open almond flower; each flower held an oil lamp (Exodus 25:32, 37)” (GotQuestions). When each oil lamp was lighted, there would be enough light for the priests to do their priestly duties.

    c. Where else is it mentioned?

    The golden lampstand is not mentioned elsewhere in Scripture except where its use and care are explained. However, when Solomon’s temple was built, the building was much bigger and required more light. Because of this, he built five lampstands on either side of the room (1 Kings 7:48-50).

  4. Making the Altar of Incense (Ex. 37:25-29)

    a. How was it made?

    The Altar of Incense was also made of acacia wood. Its dimensions were 1 cubit/1.5 ft long, 1 cubit/1.5 ft wide, and 2 cubits/3 ft tall and it had horns on it (probably on the corners). The entire box, including the horns, was covered with gold. The top had a molding around the edge. Two rings on each side were used to carry it with acacia poles covered with gold. The Incense used on this Altar was made according to the specifications listed earlier.

    b. What was it for?

    According to Exodus 30, the altar of incense was to be placed in front of the veil that covered the ark of the covenant. Every morning and at twilight, Aaron was to burn incense on it as a perpetual incense before the Lord. Apparently, the Lord wanted this sweet smell in the tabernacle for Himself and for the priests.

    c. Where else is it mentioned?

    The incense and altar of incense are mentioned in the sad story of Aaron’s two sons, Nadab and Abihu. In Leviticus 10, we find that these two priests decided to offer their own incense instead of that which God had commanded. The result was that God judged their disobedience with fire from heaven. Their deaths showed that the Lord was to be regarded as holy in all that he commanded—even the type of incense he had prescribed.

    APPLIC. This is an important lesson for us as well. The Lord is holy and should be treated as such. He is not interested in us doing things our own way when He has given us specific instructions as to what He requires. He is to be obeyed because He is the Lord God Almighty. With that in mind, we should carefully consider what the Lord says and how He wants His work to be done. Only then will our service be pleasing to Him.

Conclusion

Do you remember the time before smart phones and television when the newspaper or travelogues were the only way to learn what things were like in other areas of the world? During the late 1800’s, Jules Verne wrote novels about different parts of the world to explain different customs, climates, and people. Those who read his writings learned something they would not otherwise have known.

If you are wondering why the Lord put this chapter in the Bible, you are probably not alone. You may look at this “dry” chapter and wonder why Christians should stop and read it. When you have those thoughts, think first of why the Israelites needed to know these things. They had given of their own wealth so that the tabernacle could be built. This chapter shows that their offerings were put to good use—just as God had commanded.

While the dimensions and uses of each item may not hold much meaning for Christians today, we can see several things in this chapter. First, God is holy and should be revered as such. When the Israelites brought their best to make each part of the tabernacle, they were showing their reverence for the great God who had rescued them from slavery in Egypt. Christians can have this same reverence for the God who rescued them from slavery to sin. He is still holy and deserves our reverence.

Second, God is precise and should be served the way He desires. When Bezalel and Aholiab made each part of the tabernacle, they followed God’s commands to the smallest details. Christians should consider what God has said in the New Testament and carefully follow it. This is not to say that we should be so concerned with detail that we miss the main idea. But how often do we overlook what God commands and do precisely what we want Him to mean instead of following what He actually says?

Bibliography

Many of the commentaries were unhelpful for this chapter as they treated it as a repeat of things covered in earlier chapters or made unsubstantiated allegories for the furniture of the temple. George Bush took several pages to explain the difference between gold plating and gilding but did not come to a conclusion as to which process was used.

Bush, George, Exodus Vol. 2, Minneapolis: James & Klock, 1852, reprint 1976, pp. 275-79.

Hannah, John D., “Exodus” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Old Testament, USA: SP Publications, 1989, p. 160-61.

McGee, J. Vernon, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, Vol. I, Genesis through Deuteronomy, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1981, pp. 313-14.

“What is the Ark of the Covenant?” as viewed at https://printer.gotquestions.net/GeneratePF?articleId=1994 on 11/12/2022.

“What is the significance of acacia wood in the Bible?” as viewed at https://printer.gotquestions.net/GeneratePF?articleId=5446 on 11/12/2022.

“What is the significance of the lampstand in the Bible?” as viewed at https://printer.gotquestions.net/GeneratePF?articleId=6134 on 11/12/2022.

“What was the bread of the Presence (Exodus 25:30)?” as viewed at https://printer.gotquestions.net/GeneratePF?articleId=5576 on 11/12/2022.

Philippians 2

My dad was a computer programmer for Columbus Auto Parts. On Saturdays, we would visit him and play text games on the expensive company computers. Later, when I was in junior high school, our family acquired a personal computer called the Timex-Sinclair ZX80. At the time, it was incredible to have a computer in our home. It couldn’t do much because it had 1k of memory; not 1 GB or 1 MB but 1k of memory. That little computer could only remember 10 lines of Basic code. But I do remember typing in a few lines of code that would accomplish simple tasks. One of the Basic lines was an IF THEN clause. IF someone typed in the letter Y for yes, THEN the computer would respond with “You are a wonderful person.” But IF someone typed N for no, THEN the computer would respond with “I will visit you in jail” or whatever funny thing we wanted it to say.

The same is true in the English language. The words if and then are used in a sentence to show that IF something is true, THEN this will be the result. For instance, IF you stick your finger in the electrical socket, THEN you will receive a jolt. The IF is asking whether something is true while the THEN is showing what will happen because of the IF. The Bible also contains some of these if then sentences. One of them is found in Philippians 2:1-4. There we are presented with two thoughts. In verse one, we are asked to consider IF several things are true. THEN, in verses 2-4, we are encouraged to act a certain way because of those truths.

  1. IF you have experienced these things… (1)

    In the Christian life, we have experienced many things. In this verse, we are asked to consider IF certain things are true, and if we have experienced them. As we examine these things, you will quickly see that Paul is not “iffy” about any of them. It is assumed that all of these IF statements are true. So what are these assumptions?

    a. Is there any consolation in Christ?

    παράκλησις – “encouragement, exhortation, comfort, consolation” (BAGD 618)

    The same word for consolation is used by Jesus to describe the coming Holy Spirit. He is the Comforter, the One who would comfort us. How would the Holy Spirit do that? He would encourage, exhort, comfort, and console us. But in this context, Paul is asking whether there was any encouragement found in Christ. Is there? When you think of all that the early Christians had to face, the answer would certainly be yes. Knowing Jesus made all the difference in their lives. No matter how bad things got, they still had Him.

    Think about that for yourself. Is there any encouragement found in Jesus? Yes, we are encouraged by His example in the gospels, by His substitutionary death for us on the cross, by His resurrection from the dead and promise to raise us. There is great encouragement in Christ!

    b. Is there any comfort of love?

    When someone is grieving the loss of a loved one, what do they need? They need to be consoled. When someone loses his job, what does he need. He needs someone to alleviate his bad situation.

    παραμύθιον – “encouragement, esp. as consolation, means of consolation, alleviation” (BAGD 620)

    The word used here means consolation. Where does the best kind of consolation come from? It comes from God’s love. We know that He loves us because the Bible says so many times.

    John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world…”
    John 16:27 – “the Father Himself loves you…”
    Rom. 5:8 – “God demonstrates His love toward us…”
    Rom. 8:39 – Nothing “shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
    2 Cor. 13:11 – “the God of love and peace will be with you.”
    Eph. 2:4 – “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us…”
    2 Thess. 2:16 – “our God and Father, who has loved us…”
    1 John 4:7 – “for love is of God”
    1 John 4:8 – “God is love.”
    1 John 4:10 – “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

    Do you believe that God loves you? If you were to think about your own failings and past sins, you might be tempted to doubt God’s love. But after reading through all of those verses about God’s love, can you still doubt His love? God’s love is what gives us the consolation we need when we are down.

    c. Is there any fellowship of the Spirit?

    κοινωνία – “association, communion, fellowship, close relationship… sharing in something” (BAGD 438-39)

    Fellowship is a word which we don’t always understand completely. We have used it to identify a meal which follows a morning service. But is that what fellowship means? Yes and no. Fellowship is a common bond, close relationship, or association that Christians have. You may have heard of the Ohio Bible Fellowship which is a group made up of Christian pastors and churches that associate together because of common beliefs and practices.

    But where does this fellowship come from? It comes from the Holy Spirit. In this morning’s Sunday School lesson, we looked at 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. There we learned that every believer is the temple of the Holy Spirit. He lives within each of us. As He works in our hearts, he develops the same characteristics in our lives so that when we meet another Christian, we often have a good relationship because we are part of the same family and have the same working in our hearts.

    d. Is there any affection and mercy?

    σπλάγχνα – “inward parts, entrails… fig., of the seat of the emotions, in our usage heart… of the feeling itself love, affection” (BAGD 763)

    When talking about the seat of the emotions, Americans think of the heart. But Greek people thought about their intestines. It sounds weird at first, but when you don’t feel good, you often clutch your belly not your heart. So, it makes sense.

    Paul is asking here is there is any emotional attachment to the Lord because of what he did for us? And has the Holy Spirit been developing love in our lives? Yes, He has been doing that. Our emotions are affected by the love of God for us.

    οἰκτιρμοί – “pity, mercy, compassion” (BAGD 561)

    When we think of mercy, we think of someone who has pity on those who are suffering. It is a compassionate response to those who are in a bad spot. This is what God did for us. “When we were still sinners” God showed His pity for us by sending His Son to die in our place. This kind of pity is beyond what most would expect. But with God, everything is at a higher level.

  2. … THEN act this way (2-4).

    IF all of those things were true, THEN the Christians in Philippi were supposed to respond appropriately. In verses two, Paul exhorts them to fulfill his joy. This is another way of saying, “Make me joyful.” In other words, IF these believers were to do what Paul said, it would bring him joy. So what would bring him joy?

    “The terms the apostle used reveal an underlying problem in the church at Philippi. The situation Paul addressed evidently was prompted by self-centeredness among certain Christians” (Lightner 653).

    What would bring Paul joy is a change in the way the Christians were treating each other. Instead of being opinionated, proud, and self-centered, he wanted them to change their mindset to match the example of our Lord.

    a. Be like-minded (2).

    Paul wanted them to be “like-minded, have the same love, be one in spirit, and be one in purpose” (Lightner 653). Apparently, there was something dividing the Christians at Philippi. Perhaps one had a different idea about how things should be done. There have been times when the color of the new carpet has caused a church split. Why does this happen? It happens because the people are not like-minded. They are not focused on the same things.

    What is it that will bind a church together? Do we all have to vote for the same candidates? Do we all have to root for the Cleveland Browns? No, we will have differences on things like that, but there ought to be a uniformity of thinking, love, and purpose. We ought to have the same desire to see people saved. We ought to have the same love for others. We ought to be focused on glorifying God.

    Let us be careful that we don’t become divided by things that don’t really matter. And instead, let’s be unified together on the things that really do matter. Paul takes this a step further in verse 3.

    b. Be humble (3).

    What Paul says here, under the inspiration of the Spirit, is that strife and selfishness will always cause problems in the church. “I would say that most of the difficulties in the church today are not due to doctrinal differences. They are due to strife and envy” (McGee 300). When we become so focused on what we want, this will always lead to fighting and disagreements. I have heard that some deacons’ meetings (at other churches) have erupted into fist fights. Yikes!

    Instead of fighting about what we want, Paul tells us to be humble, lowly in our thinking. When we do this, we will think of others better than ourselves. It is the idea of considering that our opinion or desires are not as important as others. We don’t have to have our way. So, let us think less of ourselves and think about others. “This will go far toward removing disharmony (Homer A. Kent)” (Lightner 653).

    c. Care for others (4).

    We are not to neglect our own needs. We have to look at our own needs. In fact, if we don’t take care of our families, we are worse than an unbeliever. But often taking care of ourselves is what becomes our focus. We think so much about ourselves, that we neglect those who are needy around us.

    “‘Others’ is the key to this passage” (McGee 301). “Instead of concentrating on self, each believer should be concerned for the interests of others” (Lightner 653). Along with our needs, we should think about the needs of the others in our church. If I have a need, it may be that someone else also has that need. If I struggle with something, perhaps there is someone else struggling with that same thing.

    Rom. 12:10 – “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another”

    This is at times a difficult thing. We are so consumed with our budget, our health, our happiness, that we neglect the ones that are part of our spiritual family.

Conclusion

The Philippians church is not the only church that has these struggles. Although we may not be struggling with disharmony or strife at the moment, it could easily happen if we don’t take heed to what the Bible tells us here. Let’s take a moment and think about how we are doing. Start with the example of God who consoles, loves, unites, and has mercy on us. Then follow His example by being like-minded, humble, and focused on others.

Bibliography

Bauer, Walter, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, Chicago: The University of Chicago, 1979.

Lightner, Robert P., “Philippians,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Old Testament, USA: SP Publications, 1983, p. 652-53.

McGee, J. Vernon, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, Vol. V, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1983, pp. 300-01.

Rienecker, Fritz, and Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1976, p. 549.

Exodus 36

I recently saw an ad for a plastic model of a car engine. The model included about 1000 pieces that had to be fitted together in the correct order to make the engine turn and work as intended. That would be an interesting project, but if you have ever worked on something like that, you probably know that following the instructions is very important. Forget one part or try to connect it at the wrong time and you will have a big problem.

In today’s message from Exodus 36, we will see something similar. The time had come for the Israelites to put together the tabernacle along with its furnishings and garments for the priests. This would be the nation’s center for worshiping the Lord and would need to be put together right in order to please Him. As we look through the chapter, we will see the governing principles, the wonderful problem, and the specific process for putting everything together.

  1. The governing principles (1-2)

    If I had thought about it last week, I could have included verse 1 with chapter 35. However, if I had, we would have missed some wonderful thoughts that are found in verse 1. Notice the governing principles found in this verse.

    a. The Lord gifted these people with the abilities to do the work.

    “Every member of the crew, which was probably a large number of folk, was engaged in the building of the tabernacle with the wisdom and understanding God has given them” (McGee 311). The workers were not inherently gifted by birth, training, or experience, although those things may have been helpful. Ultimately, it was God who had given them the abilities they needed to do the work.

    This is something we should remember when we start taking pride in our abilities and talents. Do you remember what Paul said about this? “It is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13). You would not have accomplished anything if the Lord not been protecting, strengthening, enabling, training, and establishing you. So, keep that in mind and give God the glory when you are successful. He is the one who gave you your abilities.

    b. The Lord expected them to do it as He had commanded.

    This second principle is one that is very important. When the Lord gave Moses instructions about how to build the tabernacle, He wasn’t ambiguous about what He wanted to be done. He didn’t just give people a pile of materials and then let them do what they thought best. He had specific ideas about the way it should be constructed. They were to do “according to all that the LORD has commanded.”

    We ought to live by this same principle. God, in His infinite wisdom, has a plan which He wants us to carry out. He tells us how to live, how to evangelize, and how to be in the world but not of it. When we try to do things differently than what God prescribes, we end up with mixed results. When we give up holiness to accomplish group worship, we lose something. When we incorporate worldly methods into our evangelism, we end up with something that is not good. Does this mixture of good and evil please the Lord? No, he would be displeased because we would be disobeying one command to obey another.

    APPLIC. We must remember both of these principles. First, it is the Lord who has given us the talents we have. We are nothing more than what God has made us to be. Secondly, these talents are to be used as He instructs. We must follow God’s instructions if we want to be pleasing to Him.

  2. The wonderful problem (3-7)

    Moses called the gifted people to begin the work. Bezalel, Aholiab, and other gifted people answered the call and began to use the donated materials to build God’s tabernacle.

    a. The artisans received the items offered by God’s people (3).

    At that point, a certain amount of materials had been donated for the work. The workers gathered what had been given and used it where each was needed. Gold was used in some areas while cloth and yarn were used elsewhere. And the pile of materials was not depleted because volunteers kept donating more materials as they worked.

    b. The artisans told Moses there was too much (4-5).

    Something interesting happened as they worked. Although they were using materials and completing assignments, the pile of materials kept growing. After taking inventory of the situation, someone told Moses that they had too much material to work with. It was “much more than enough.” Just how much was given? If you would like an idea of how much material was given, “an inventory of materials is included in 38:21-31” (Hannah 160).

    Moses had to stop the offerings due to too much stuff. “This is really amazing in the light of the fact that these people were fresh out of slavery. They had never owned anything before and now that they had riches you would think they would not be so willing to give it away. But they gave liberally, joyfully, and enthusiastically to their God” (McGee 312). This was a sign that these givers loved the Lord more than their wealth.

    That must have been a thrilling situation for Moses. Having dealt with the golden calf incident, he may have been wondering how the people would respond when asked to give for the true God’s worship? Was there anyone who loved the Lord? Would anyone give? And then he saw the answer to these questions… they gave more than enough. What a great situation! But now it was time to put everything together. How would things turn out?

  3. The specific process (8-38)

    You may recall that the Lord had previously given instructions on how the structure of the tabernacle was to be put together along with the furniture and priestly outfits (Ex. 26). With those instructions in hand, the rest of the chapter describes how the workmen followed those instructions and put everything together.

    a. The inner curtains were put together (8-13).

    The workers made ten curtains which were woven from fine linen and colorful thread. Each curtain measured 28 cubits (42 feet) in length and 4 cubits (6 feet) in width. If you are wondering why the curtains were only 6 feet wide, it may be that this was the width of the loom used to weave the curtains.

    Once the beautiful weaving was completed, two large pieces were made by attaching five of the curtains together. The end of each curtain had 50 loops of blue yarn by which they were attached to the other curtain. The loops were connected by 50 golden clasps. I know that it would have looked better, but this makes me think of hanging a shower curtain by those shower rings.

    Now the big question: Which end of the curtains was attached? To this point, we are not told if the short end (6 feet) or the long end (42 feet) of the curtain was attached. The answer is found in verse 13. These curtains were put together to create “one tabernacle.” Think of what a tent looks like. It has two “curtains” attached to make a two-sided tent. The tabernacle was a two-sided tent with each side made up of five 42′ x 6′ sections. When the five were connected, they made one 42′ x 30′ side of the tent. Perhaps a picture would be helpful.

    b. The outer covering was put together (14-19).

    On top of the linen tabernacle was built another tent made to protect the interior from the elements. This covering was slightly larger than the linen one. It was made of 11 curtains which each measured 30 cubits (45 feet) in length and 4 cubits (6 feet in width). Five of these were coupled together with 50 loops of yarn and bronze clasps. When coupled together, one side measured 45′ x 30 feet and the other was 45′ x 36′. This was covered with water shedding animal pelts (see footnote in Bibliography). The exact nature of the skins is not something we are sure of, but they were used to protect the interior of the tabernacle from the weather.

    c. The wood structure was put together (20-34).

    The interior of the tabernacle had a rectangular, wooden wall structure. The walls were made from acacia wood overlaid with gold. These boards measured 10 cubits (15 ft) long by 1.5 cubits (2.25 feet) wide. They were each held together by two tenons (like tongue and groove) and were placed in silver sockets on the ground. There were 20 boards on the south, 20 boards for the north, and 6 boards for the west side. All of these boards were held together by long wooden bars which attached to the wall by rings.

    Which way were these boards mounted? I think that it would make most sense if they were mounted vertically in each silver socket. This would mean that each long side measured 45 feet (2.25′ x 20) by 15 feet tall. This would match the length of the previously mentioned curtains.

    d. The veil and screen were put together (35-38).

    The first separating curtain mentioned is the veil. “The tabernacle has an inner veil that separated the main tabernacle into two compartments; the smaller compartment was called the Holy of Holies and the larger compartment was called the Holy Place” (McGee 312). This beautiful veil was made of blue, purple, and scarlet thread and had a pattern that looked like cherubim. This was mounted to a framework made of four gold-plated, acacia wood pillars.

    The second separating curtain was the screen that covered the entrance to the tabernacle. This was made from blue, purple, and scarlet thread and fine-woven linen. This screen was held up by five pillars with golden parts and bronze sockets.

Conclusion

Whew! That last part must have left some of us swimming in numbers and measurements. But you must admit that these measurements give us a detailed understanding of what the tabernacle looked like. It must have been a beautiful structure to see, and a beautiful place to worship the Lord.

What do we take from this chapter?

We have seen that (1) the Lord gifted the workers with the ability to build the tabernacle just as He required, (2) the people willingly donated more than enough materials to complete the project, and (3) the workers built the tabernacle just as God intended. God told them what to do and they did it.

One commentator summarized this chapter, by saying that “the whole mass of Scripture consists chiefly of two corresponding groups… precept and example; on the one hand the directions as to what we are to do to fulfill the divine will, and on the other, the example of those who have actually fulfilled it” (Bush 274).

While we are not called to build a tabernacle today, we do have New Testament commands which the Lord expects us to carry out. What are these precepts? We ought to love on another. We ought to study the Scriptures for ourselves. We ought to meet with God’s people on a regular basis. We ought to praise the Lord. We ought to pray. We ought to speak the gospel of Jesus to others. There are many others, but you get the point. God has given us precepts to live by. The question now is this: Are we doing what He has commanded?

Bibliography

Bush, George, Exodus Vol. 2, Minneapolis: James & Klock, 1852, reprint 1976, pp. 271-75.

Hannah, John D., “Exodus” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Old Testament, USA: SP Publications, 1989, p. 160.

McGee, J. Vernon, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, Vol. I, Genesis through Deuteronomy, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1981, pp. 311-12.

“The Tabernacle and Court” as viewed at https://www.esv.org/resources/esv-global-study-bible/illustration-02-tabernacle/ on 11/5/22.

“What translation philosophies have caused such a wide variation in the translation of tachash skins?” as viewed at https://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/218/what-translation-philosophies-have-caused-such-a-wide-variation-in-the-translati on 11/5/22.

This is an interesting explanation of what the skins actually were. “Badgers, porpoises, sea cows, and seals are all unclean animals. In order to get the skin of any of these animals you would obviously have to kill it first. However, touching the carcass of an unclean animal is specifically called a sin and required a trespass offering… It doesn’t make much sense that God would command His people not to touch the carcasses of unclean animals, while at the same time requiring skins of unclean animals for the outer covering of the Tabernacle which itself was constructed as the means for atoning for sins. This is perhaps in part why some of the more modern Bible translations such as the English Standard Version (ESV) and Good News Translation (GNT) tend to go with “goatskins” or “fine leather,” respectively, in addition to the Egyptian word for leather…”

“What was the tabernacle of Moses?”, as viewed at https://printer.gotquestions.net/GeneratePF?articleId=2545 on 11/5/22.

Exodus 35

Before coming to this church, our family attended a small church near Orwell, Ohio. The church met in an old building which was formerly an elementary school. The building was old and had cracking paint, but our church family was able to rent the building for a reasonable price. And we enjoyed being together so much that we often overlooked the facility just because of our common love for the Lord.

There came a time when the leadership of the church decided that it was a good time to begin the process of building a building of our own. This was a big step because it would require purchasing land, hiring an architect, building a foundation, and putting up the building, etc. The probable cost could have been over $300-500,000. While this was a great project, the members of the church decided to move forward.

That was more than five years ago. Since then, the Lord has provided a building, funds for renovating, and volunteer labor to put things together. During a recent visit, the pastor showed me the inside of the building and the current state of affairs. It was good to see how the Lord has provided through His people for a more permanent meeting place for that church.

During the time of the Exodus, the Lord commanded the people to build a tabernacle for worship. It was intricately designed and required many expensive materials for construction. How would these former slaves accomplish such a task? In our passage today, we will see how God’s people came together to build the tabernacle with voluntary donations and labor.

  1. What God commanded (35:1-19)

    Moses gathered all the people together to tell them what the Lord expected them to do. During the meeting, He relayed what God had told him while on the mountain. While the whole conversation may have been longer, this chapter summarizes three of God’s commands given specifically to Israel.

    a. Rest on the Sabbath Day (1-3).

    The first part of the Sabbath command is work. We usually talk about the rest aspect of the Sabbath Day. But notice that this is only part of God’s command to the Israelites. He begins with the command to work for six days. God wanted His people to be diligent about their work.

    ILLUS. I recently heard that employees at Twitter headquarters have had some very nice benefits. A video showed a meditation room, swanky break rooms with wine available, and a game room. I assume that the former managers thought that providing these things would keep their employees happy. But recent events seem to indicate that the employees have become entitled and expecting to have whatever they want. That isn’t good.

    The Proverbs of Solomon contain many wise statements about work:

    Prov. 10:4 – “He who has a slack hand becomes poor,
    but the hand of the diligent makes rich.”
    Prov. 13:4 – “The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing;

    but the soul of the diligent shall be made rich.”
    Prov. 31:13 – “She seeks wool and flax, and willingly works with her hands.”


    Because of the temptation to be lazy, the Lord included work in his instructions about the Sabbath. The Sabbath Day is not an excuse to be lazy during the week. Instead, it is a reward for working hard all week long.

    The second part of the Sabbath command is rest. Moses explained to Israel that God wanted them to rest on the seventh day. “On that day no work was to be done, not even the work of the tabernacle” (Bush 265). Each Saturday, the people were to stay home and to recuperate from their labor. This was so important to the Lord that He included two extra thoughts about this. First, anyone found rebelling against the Sabbath rest was to be put to death. While this may seem harsh by our current standards, this was necessary to show the seriousness of rebelling against God’s prescribed way of life. Working on the Sabbath would be direct disobedience against the One whom they had promised to follow.

    Second, they were not to kindle a fire in their homes. With winter approaching, you may wonder about not having a fire. “Suppose no fire was kindled on the Sabbath. This would cause great problems in the frozen North. God’s laws were made to suit the land in which Israel lived” (McGee 309). Israel was in a hot area of the world and this prohibition was probably about cooking food not heat since they were elsewhere instructed to cook their Sabbath food on the day before (Ex. 16:23).

    Do you remember what Jesus said about the Sabbath? He said that it was designed for the good of people (Mark 2:27). “The Sabbath was intended to help people, not burden them” (“What…”). Taking one day off during a week was not going to harm the people, their productivity, or anything else. It was God’s design to help them stay rested both physically and mentally. Think of the time that the family would have to be together after a long work week. Think of the aching muscles that would have time to heal. Think of being able to take a deep breath and let it out with a smile. God definitely knew what He was doing.

    APPLIC. Are these rules about the Sabbath binding on Christians today? Surprisingly, the Sabbath Day command is the only one of the Ten Commandments not mentioned in the New Testament. So, Christians are not required to rest on the seventh day. However, do you see the benefit of taking a day to rest each week? It is definitely a good idea although it is not required.

    b. Bring an offering to the Lord (4-9).

    The next command was to gather the items needed for constructing the tabernacle and its equipment. Moses told the people that this was what God commanded, but also that it was to be a voluntary offering to the work of the Lord. The offering would include precious metals, cloth, animal pelts, wood, oil, spices, and precious stones. While the list of needed items is not terribly exciting, there are two things that I notice in this paragraph.

    First, notice that the offering was to be given by willing people. “Moses put no compulsion upon the people, nor did he give any directions as to the quantity of the different articles which they should bring. The whole was to be left to the promptings of their own willing and generous hearts” (Bush 266). Yes, the tabernacle project needed items to be provided by people. But God wanted them to give willingly. They were to consider what was needed and then voluntarily give to the project. This is similar to what Paul told the Corinthian church about giving toward needy Christians.

    2 Cor. 9:7 – “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.”

    Second, notice that the people had the necessary items. God was not asking for items that were unobtainable but for precious items that they could give if they were willing. When you look at the list of items, you will see that there were precious metals and jewels. The Israelites had been slaves for a long time. Where would they have gotten such riches?

    “Remember that God said that they would come out of Egypt with great wealth (Gen. 15:14). He made sure they collected their back wages. The Egyptians were so glad to rid the land of the Israelites that they gave them whatever they asked. So Israel left with a great deal of wealth of Egypt” (McGee 309).

    APPLIC. If you think this through, God was asking the people to give to Him a portion of what He had already provided for them. Isn’t this true of us today? When God asks us to give for the work of His Church or to support a missionary, are we really giving our money? or is it something God has already provided for us?

    c. Put together the tabernacle (10-19).

    A pile of goods would be nice, but, if nobody put them together, there would be no tabernacle. Moses instructed the gifted artisans (“wise hearted” KJV) to gather together and make the tabernacle. This would involve talented construction workers. But it would also take talented artists to form the beautiful curtains, ark of the covenant, lampstand, altar, priestly garments, and other items used in the tabernacle.

    How do you think the people responded when Moses gave them God’s commands? They were to rest once a week, to bring voluntary contributions, and to put together the tabernacle. This could be viewed as asking too much. But is that how the people responded?

    ILLUS. I remember when our church decided to fix up a room in the parsonage for visiting preachers and missionaries. The idea was to have a place for them to stay overnight when they came to visit. It was enjoyable for me to see how the church people jumped at the opportunity to do this. People gave enough to furnish the room and decorated it rather nicely. It got to the point, where I wasn’t needed because they took over the project and completed it.

  2. How the people responded (Ex. 35:20-35)

    After Moses delivered God’s commands to the people, they went back to their tents. Look at verse 21 and see how the people responded.

    a. Offerings were brought by volunteers (21).

    Something happened in the hearts of the people. Their hearts were stirred to help with the project. They saw the need and then volunteered to give of their goods and talents. Wouldn’t it have been interesting to be a fly on the wall listening to what some of the people said inside their tents? I can imagine a husband and wife talking about how good God had been to them, how He had delivered them from Egypt, and how He had provided for their needs. Then one of them might have said, “We have some gold that could be given to God’s work. Why don’t we give that? Let’s do it.” Wouldn’t that have been a delightful time as God moved in people’s hearts?

    b. Offerings were brought by men and women (22, 25, 29).

    In three different verses, Moses noted that men and women were a part of the offerings given to the Lord for this project. In verses 22, men and women gave golden jewelry that could be melted down to plate the ark and other golden items. In verse 25, talented women spun yarn and made cloth for the curtains and linen outfits. In verse 29, men and women brough all kinds of materials that were needed. What a smile this must have put on the faces of the Lord and His servant, Moses.

    APPLIC. While the Lord has chosen to use men and women in different ways in the home and church, this does not mean that one or the other is inferior or any less valuable. God has designed men and women to function in a complementarian way where each is complemented by what the other supplies. We saw that clearly in Israel’s giving. Both men and women were stirred by God to give of their belongings for the furtherance of God’s work. Let us follow their example with the same kind of willingness to give of what God has provided for us.

    c. Offerings were brought of all types (29).

    We have already talked about the willingness to give and the people who gave, but there is something more in verse 29. Notice that people brought “material for all kinds of work.” While some had wood to give, others had gold. While some had yarn to give, others had cloth. While the rulers gave the precious jewels for the ephod, others gave animal pelts. What was given was based on what each person had. And when all of them gave, there were enough items together to complete the project. “It has been estimated that about five million dollars [1981] went into the construction of the tabernacle according to the value of the metals of a few years ago” (McGee 310).

    APPLIC. Have you ever felt like you had little to contribute to God’s work? You hear about a wealthy person giving millions of dollars to build a new building. You see a missionary giving his time to serve in a foreign land under difficult circumstances. But when you look at yourself, you feel that you have little to give. Let me remind you that Jesus was more impressed with the widow’s two small coins than the large bags of money given by the wealthy (Mark 12:41-44). We are only called to give as the Lord provides and are never to compare ourselves to others.

    d. Bezalel and Aholiab were called by God (30-35).

    In this final section, Moses announced that the Lord had specially gifted two men with the abilities needed to design and assemble the tabernacle. The first man was Bezalel from the tribe of Judah. He was in charge of working with the precious metals and jewels. The second man was Aholiab from the tribe of Dan. He was in charge of engraving and working with weaving curtains and the priestly garments.

    But these two would not have been able to do everything by themselves, so the Lord enabled them to teach those who helped them. Bezalel taught people how to make the molds for the candlestick, how to pour in the precious metals, and how to hollow out the insides so the oil could flow. Aholiab taught his helpers to make beautiful designs in the curtains and how to design and fit the garments to each priest.

    APPLIC. You know what it looks like? It looks like some people were able to give while others were able to work. All of the people who were willing had a part to play in the construction of the tabernacle. Some gave materials and others gave their time and effort. Which was better? Neither was better. They were all part of the same project and were used by God with the items or talents God provided for them. Maybe this is a good time to ask yourself how God has gifted you for service. Perhaps you are in a place where you have extra to give to God’s work. Or maybe you have time and effort that can be donated to the Lord’s work. Think about how God can use you this week to accomplish His purposes.

Conclusion

You might get the impression that our church is raising funds for a new project today. That is not the case. And I hope that no one is offended by this message. That was not my intention at all. Instead, I hope that you will leave with the idea that God has a place for all Christians in His work. The work of this church could not be accomplished without the help of every member. So, as you consider how the Israelites finished their project by volunteering their goods and efforts, consider how you can contribute to God’s work here and abroad.

Bibliography

Bush, George, Exodus, Vol. 2, Minneapolis: James & Klock, 1852, reprint 1976, pp. 265-271.

Hannah, John D., “Exodus” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Old Testament, USA: SP Publications, 1989, pp. 159-60.

McGee, J. Vernon, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, Vol. I, Genesis through Deuteronomy, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1981, pp. 309-10.

“What does it mean that the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath?” as viewed at https://printer.gotquestions.net/GeneratePF?articleId=26615 on 10/29/2022.

Exodus 34

I recently received a letter in the mail which was addressed to both me and my wife. As it was hand-written, I decided to open it and see who the card was from. The nicely printed card was an invitation to a meeting about life insurance and retirement investments which included a free meal somewhere in Willard, Ohio. While we won’t be taking advantage of the free meal, it was nice to receive an invitation.

In Exodus 34, Moses also received an invitation. However, this one wasn’t hand-printed on a card and received in the mail. Instead, it was a spoken invitation from the Lord to meet with Him on the mountain again. After all that had happened, and all that almost happened, this was an invitation that the leader of the Israelites could not refuse.

  1. The Lord meets Moses on the mountain (Ex. 34:1-9).

    a. It was an invitation to start again (1-4).

    The Israelites had angered the Lord by making a golden calf to worship instead of Him. Their idol worship and wild reveling had almost led the Lord to destroy them all and start over with Moses. But Moses intervened and the Lord decided to give them a second chance. The fact that the Lord invited Moses back up the mountain with a new set of stone tablets shows that He was giving the people a second chance to renew the covenant. The tablets would have the Ten Commandments and the covenant between God and Israel written on them.

    Moses, who by now had learned to love the people he led, did as the Lord said. He cut two tablets out of stone and went up the mountain to meet with the Lord.

    b. It was a testimony to God’s character (5-9).

    At the end of the last chapter, Moses had asked to see the Lord’s glory. In reply, the Lord had promised to make His goodness pass before Moses while he proclaimed His name. But Moses would only have a limited glimpse of God’s glory because no one could see the Lord and live.

    As the Lord passed by Moses, God reveals two parts of His name and character: (1) His mercy and (2) His justice. On one side, His character includes mercy, graciousness, longsuffering, goodness, truth, and forgiveness. On the other side, His justice is something that can also be counted on. Nobody can rebel against God and continue to get away with it. This brings up several questions.

    If God is merciful, why does He “by no means” clear the guilty?

    “God does not extend mercy by shutting His eyes to the guilty or by saying, ‘I will just forget that sin.’ Sin must be punished and a penalty must be paid. God by no means clears the guilty. What happens then? How does He keep His mercy and take care of iniquity at the same time? A sacrifice has been provided. The sacrifices Israel made in that day did not take away sin but they pointed to that ‘Perfect Sacrifice,’ the Lord Jesus Christ, who, when He did come, put away sin by His death on the cross” (McGee 306). In other words, a blood sacrifice had to be paid to cover our sins. This was the only means by which our just God could be merciful.

    If God is merciful, why would He punish multiple generations for the sins of their fathers?

    The results of sin are devastating especially when someone refuses to repent and leads his children to continue down the same path. While God is merciful, He will continue punishing the sins of people who continue rebelling against Him over multiple generations. “It is a good thing to remember that today you can commit a sin that will affect your children, your grandchildren, and your great-great-grandchildren” (McGee 306).

    If nothing else, you should think about God’s perspective on sin today. We tend to like the mercy of the Lord but not His justice. A missionary friend recently told me that telling others about Jesus must begin with a conversation about sin. If the person does not realize he has sinned against a holy God, he will never see his need for Jesus. But once he realizes his hopelessness under the justice of God, he is ready to hear about God’s mercy through Jesus. Do you understand this?

    After “seeing” God in this way, Moses “worshiped Him, then pleaded for His mercy for such a stiff-necked people, as God had called them (32:9; 33:3,5). Moses also asked that God again promise to go with them (cf. 33:3,12,14), thereby renewing His promise to dwell among His people and own them as His inheritance (cf. Deut. 4:20)” (Hannah 158). Moses knew that even though God’s characteristic mercy was great, so was the characteristic sinfulness of the Israelites. Moses was a compassionate leader who loved both the Lord and the people he led.

  2. The Lord makes a covenant with Israel (Ex. 34:10-28).

    a. Watch out for the inhabitants of Canaan (11-17).

    In this section, the Lord promised to drive out the inhabitants of the land. He mentions six people groups that were currently living there. While God promised to drive them out, it would appear that the Israelites had part of the responsibility as well. “This Conquest was conditioned on Israel’s obedience to God” (Hannah 158). As you may know, the generation after Joshua did not trust the Lord to finish the job and allowed some of these nations to remain. Knowing that this would happen, the Lord warned them of the wicked influence these people would have on them if they made a covenant with them.

    Why was this such a big concern? “The land of Canaan was covered with idolatry just like a dog is covered with fleas” (McGee 308). And the Lord knew the propensity of people to tolerate sin. If Israel didn’t drive out these nations and destroy their religious articles, they would probably make peace with them, intermarry with them, and then start worshiping their false gods. “Tragically Israel did not heed these warnings and they did in fact become involved in worshiping the Canaanites’ and others’ false gods” (Hannah 158).

    The same danger is with us today. If we don’t see sin the same way God sees it, we will slowly begin to tolerate it. Then when we get used to tolerating it, we will eventually embrace it. Then when we embrace it, we will have no desire to love and obey the Lord. We must guard our hearts from the deceitful temptations that come from the world, the flesh, and the devil or we, too, may fall as Israel eventually did.

    b. Obey my commands (18-28).

    Moses was on the mountain for forty days and nights. While there, the Lord reminded him of the things that He had commanded before. Verses 18-28 are a summary of what Moses heard from God during that time. The topics included:

    • No molded idols (17)
    • The Feast of Unleavened Bread (18)
    • The redemption of the first born (19-20)
    • Resting on the Sabbath day (21)
    • The Feasts of Weeks and Ingathering (22)
    • Three annual meetings (23-24)
    • Instructions about sacrifices (25)
    • First fruits of harvest (26a)
    • Cruelty to animals (26b)

    Moses was to write all of these things down as part of the covenant between God and Israel. It appears that this time, Moses wrote the commands on the stone tablets instead of God (Ex. 31:18). After forty days and nights, Moses was ready to descend the mountain and to teach the people what God required for His people.

  3. The Lord reflects from Moses’ face (Ex. 34:29-35).

    Have you ever noticed how someone’s appearance changes after being with someone they love? When a young lady has just had a visit from her fiancée, you can tell it just by how happy her face looks. Everything is good after a visit like this. Something similar happened when Moses came back from meeting with the Lord. Except, in this case, there was a brilliant shining to Moses’ face. God’s glory had shined on him and had left a brilliant afterglow.

    a. This frightened the people (29-31a).

    Moses didn’t know that his face was shining. But everyone who saw him was afraid. Even Aaron and the elders were afraid to come near him. So Moses had to call out to them to convince them to return.

    b. This caused them to listen (31b-32).

    Moses first spoke with Aaron and the leaders of the congregation. While the text doesn’t tell us what Moses said, I would guess that he talked about God’s character, their second chance at a covenant, and the commands on the stone tablets. Next, Moses spoke with all of the people. To them he gave all of the commands required by God.

    Do you think his appearance caused them to listen better this time? I would think so. This was no spooky, flashlight-to-the-face, Halloween facemask. Moses’ shining face was remarkable evidence that he had been with God. Therefore they needed to listen to what he passed on to them from God.

    I remember a singular event during my college days. Before going to work one afternoon, I went to the basement of the building to pray. When I was done, I walked into the office and my coworker asked if I had just been praying. He said he could tell by my face. While I wasn’t beaming with light, spending that time talking with God made a difference in my appearance.

    c. This was a reminder for them (33-35).

    It seems to be that Moses’ appearance continued to be marked by God’s glory every time he met with God. The shining was so brilliant that he had to wear a veil to cover his face. He would take the veil off when he visited with the Lord but would wear it when talking with the people. This was a continued reminder that Moses was God’s chosen representative—the one chosen by God to bring His message to the people.

Conclusion

What did we learn today?

First, we need to understand who God is. He is the holy and just God who doesn’t let sin slide and yet He is also merciful to those who repent, believe, and obey Him. Take a moment and consider your own situation. Have you come to the place where you have seen yourself as a sinner who cannot stand before God? If so, have you called out to God for His mercy? Your only hope is to trust in what Jesus did for you when He died on the cross for your sins. If you will turn from your sins and trust Jesus, God will be merciful and forgive you of all your sins.

Second, we need to recognize what the Lord commands us to do. The Israelites were given many commands and warnings that were specific to them. The feasts and sacrifices are not requirements for Christians. But we are also given commands in the New Testament that God expects us to obey. All of these are important to the Lord and were given for our protection and well-being. Do you realize that the Lord’s commands are not just a list of dos and don’ts? He actually knows what is best for us and gives us His commands for our good. If you are a Christian today, keep that in mind as you seek to follow His commands this week.

Thirdly, we need to spend time with the Lord and be a reflection of Him to others. Just as Moses’ face beamed with glory after spending time with the Lord, so we should spend enough time with God that we are changed by being with Him. Let me ask you a question. Have you been spending time with the Lord? Have you been taking time out of your schedule to read and mediate on the Bible? Have you been taking the time to pray? to talk with God? If not, set aside some time each day to spend 20-30 minutes with the Lord. It will make a difference in your life and in the lives of those to whom you are ministering.

Bibliography

Bush, George, Exodus, Vol. 2, Minneapolis: James & Klock, 1852, reprint 1976.

Hannah, John D., “Exodus,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Old Testament, USA: SP Publications, 1989, pp. 157-59.

McGee, J. Vernon, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, Vol. I, Genesis through Deuteronomy, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1981, pp. 306-08.

One Verse Bible Doctrines

During several recent conversations, I have heard people mention the problem with basing a belief on one verse in the Bible. The idea is that since the teaching is only mentioned one time in the Bible, it must not be as important as something mentioned many times. I see the logic with that idea, but it also makes me feel a bit uncomfortable. Here is my thinking. We believe that God inspired human authors to write the canon of Scripture. We also believe that every word and thought was inspired by God. We also believe that “all Scripture” is given by God and is profitable. Since that those statements are true, statements that are “mentioned only once in the Bible” are inspired by God and are profitable for us to learn from.

So, what do we do when we come across these “one verse” statements in the Bible? Some examples of these “problem texts” are baptism for the dead (1 Cor. 15:29), handling snakes (Mark 16:18), and the ban on women preachers (1 Tim. 2:12). Since these statements are inspired by God, we mustn’t ignore them. Instead, we should look at each Bible verse and then determine a few things: (1) What does the passage say?, (2) what does it mean? and (3) what is the problem?

  1. Baptism for the Dead (1 Cor. 15:29)

    a. What does it say?

    In context, Paul is making an argument for the resurrection. Some did not believe that it was possible for some to be resurrected after being dead. So Paul gave multiple examples of things that would not be true if there was not a resurrection. Earlier in the chapter, he said that if there was no resurrection then Christ is still dead, your faith is worthless, and your sins are not forgiven. In verses 29-30, Paul wraps up his arguments with two more questions: If there is no resurrection, why are people being baptized for the dead? And if there is not resurrection, why do Christians willingly face persecution?

    b. What does it mean?

    This is the only place in the Bible where being baptized for the dead is mentioned. We know that the practice of water baptism was commonly practiced and prescribed for living believers to demonstrate their faith in front of others. But nowhere is baptism for the dead mentioned. In this case, we are left to wonder. While we may never completely understand this verse, we can note a couple of things.

    First, Paul use “they” when referring to baptism for the dead and “we” when referring to suffering persecution. We can infer from this that Paul did not practice baptism for the dead. Second, since this is nowhere commanded in Scripture, we are safe to wonder about it without fear of disobeying the Lord. Third, ancient history tells of a mystery religion near Corinth where people did baptize people for the dead in hopes of giving them bliss in the afterlife (see Lowery for more details). This may have been what Paul was referring to.

    Whatever the case may have been, we know that Paul was addressing the foolishness of not believing in the resurrection. And when his original readers read this verse, it bolstered his argument.

    c. What is the problem?

    The Mormons (who practice a false religion loosely based on parts of the Bible) practice baptism for the dead based on this solitary verse. According to their church manual, “Many people … have died without being baptized. Others were baptized without proper authority. Because God is merciful, He has prepared a way for all people to receive the blessings of baptism. By performing proxy baptisms in behalf of those who have died, Church members offer these blessings to deceased ancestors. Individuals can then choose to accept or reject what has been done in their behalf” (“Baptisms for dead”).

    The problem with this belief is that it is nowhere commanded in the Scriptures. We are told to disciple, baptize, and teach (Matt. 28:19-20). This can only be done for living people. When you go back and read 1 Corinthians 15:29 armed with the proper context, you will understand that Paul was (1) bolstering his argument for the resurrection, and (2) mentioning something that other people (not him) were doing. Therefore, this is not a command for Christians to practice. God inspired this verse and made it profitable (despite it being hard to understand) so that we would greater appreciate the resurrection.

  2. Handling snakes (Mark 16:18)

    One of the more interesting signs given to the early church is found in Mark 16:18. Among other things, Jesus promised that those who believed would “pick up serpents.” This could get interesting.

    a. What does it say?

    In context, Jesus was telling his disciples about their future evangelistic outreach to the world. They were to go into all the world and preach the gospel to everyone. After explaining the need for faith and baptism, Jesus talked about signs that would follow faith. Those who believed would (1) cast out demons in Jesus’ name, (2) speak with new-to-them languages, (3) pick up serpents, (4) not be harmed by poison, and (5) heal sick people.

    The part about picking up serpents is not explained; He merely states that believers would pick them up. It is implied by the later reference to protection from poison that believers would not be harmed when picking up serpents. The passage ends by saying that God confirmed the gospel preached by the disciples by these signs (v. 20).

    b. What does it mean?

    Handling snakes is not something to be taken by itself in this passage. Jesus did not ordain snake handling as part of daily Christian living or weekly church services. He only said that this was one of the signs given by God to authenticate the gospel message. And, as verse 20 indicates, this along with the other signs confirmed the truth of their gospel preaching.

    The idea is also found in Luke 10:19 (see also Psalm 91:13). After the 70 had returned from their preaching tour, Jesus promised that they would be able to trample on serpents and scorpions with no harm coming to them. Notice that in both Mark 16 and Luke 10, Jesus was promising the same thing. They would be protected while preaching God’s truth. We find an example of this in Acts 28:3-6. Paul was bitten by a serpent while gathering firewood. True to His promise, the Lord kept Paul from being harmed by the venomous snake. This sign caused the people to take special note of him. God also enabled Paul to heal sick people in the same place (another one of the signs from Mark 16).

    After a careful reading of Mark 16, we can see that picking up serpents was not a command but was one of the signs that God used to confirm the gospel message preached by the early Christians. “Jesus’ words in Mark 16:17–18 gave His apostles the assurance that, as they faithfully served God in the spread of the gospel, He could protect them from anything that crossed their paths” (Gotquestions).

    c. What is the problem?

    In the early 1900’s, a preacher named George Hensley popularized the use of venomous snakes in church services. “If believers truly had the Holy Spirit within them, Hensley argued, they should be able to handle rattlesnakes and any number of other venomous serpents. They should also be able to drink poison and suffer no harm whatsoever. Snake handling as a test or demonstration of faith became popular wherever Hensley traveled and preached in the small towns of Tennessee, Kentucky, the Carolinas, Virginia, Ohio, and Indiana” (Wikipedia). Hensley eventually died from a snake bite in 1955.

    Sadly, there are still some churches that practice snake handling today. I have been told that many of the followers are missing fingers and some have died from snake bites. Why then do they continue this strange practice? The first problem is that they have taken a statement and interpreted it as a command. “The verse does not say, ‘Go out and handle snakes’; it says, ‘They will pick up snakes with their hands.’ It is a declaration that something will occur, not a command that someone make it occur” (Gotquestions). The second problem is that they are presuming on the Lord. Even Jesus refused to jump off the pinnacle of the temple to test God’s willingness to protect Him (Luke 4:9-12). “God can and will protect us, according to His will, as we are serving Him. But we are not to put the Lord to the test” (Gotquestions).

    Instead of handling snakes as a sign of faith or Spirit-filling, Christians should stick to the main command of Mark 16—preaching the gospel to the world. When we do that, we can be sure that the Lord will be with us, enabling us to proclaim His truth with the protection only He can provide.

  3. No women pastors (1 Tim. 2:12)

    While teaching a high school Bible class, I was confronted by a female student who believed that women could be pastors and used the examples of Deborah (Judges 4) and Philip’s daughters (Acts 21:8-9). The argument was that if God used Deborah as a leader in Israel and allowed Philip’s daughters to prophesy, how could there be a ban on women preachers? This idea is probably continued by women preachers such as Victoria Osteen, Beth Moore, and Joyce Meyer.

    Those who believe that God has prohibited women from being pastors have been accused of using “one verse” in the Bible to prove their point. That “one verse” is 1 Timothy 2:12. It will be the subject of our study today.

    a. What does it say?

    In context, Paul was addressing men and women and their particular roles in the church and home. He presented several topics for women: modesty (2:9), good works (2:10), submission (2:11), silence (2:12), the order of creation (2:13), Eve being deceived (2:14), and childbearing (2:15).

    In the middle of this section, Paul stated that he did not allow women to teach or to have authority over a man. Instead, women were to be silent. It appears that this verse is addressing the role of women in the church. To summarize, a women is (1) not to teach men, (2) not to have a position of authority over a man, and (3) is to keep silent in the church.

    b. What does it mean?

    As with the other verses in the Bible, this “one verse” statement is a part of the Scriptures which are inspired by God. Because of that, we must agree that the verse itself has a meaning which God wants us to recognize and follow. Thankfully, this particular verse is not alone and is surrounded by context.

    Look at verses 8-15. The paragraph is for both men and women. Before addressing women in the church, Paul tells us that God desires for men to be leaders in prayer, holiness, and attitude (2:8). Women are to dress modestly and be more concerned with good works than their outward appearance (2:9-10). Then in verses 11-12, Paul taught that women were to let the men teach and to submit to their leadership in silence. This order was the result of Adam being created first (2:13) and the fact that Eve had been deceived by the serpent (2:14). He concluded with the privilege women have of bearing and training their children (2:15).

    After looking at the context, you can see that this is not a “one verse” doctrine. It is plain teaching which reveals God’s plan for leadership and teaching in the church. Women are not any less valuable but do have a different role to play. Men are to lead in prayer, teaching, and leadership. During church services, women are to be silent. Wait… what? Women can’t speak in church?

    “They should not attempt to turn the tables by clamoring for the office of congregational teacher or by grasping for authority over men. Rather they should, literally, ‘be in quietness.’ The word … translated ‘quietness’ in 1 Timothy 2:11 and silent in verse 12, does not mean complete silence or no talking. It is clearly used elsewhere (Acts 22:2; 2 Thes. 3:12) to mean ‘settled down, undisturbed, not unruly.’ A different word … means ‘to be silent, to say nothing’ (cf. Luke 18:39; 1 Cor. 14:34)” (Litfin 735).

    Paul’s command to Timothy was that women are not to take church leadership positions from men but should submit to God’s order and take the opportunity to listen and learn during church services. Their value is seen in other equally important areas such as working with their children (2:15) and encouraging other women (Titus 2:3-5).

    c. What is the problem?

    Now that we understand God’s desire for the church, what do we do with women who have decided to become pastors and teachers? You may have heard some of these women and have been encouraged by what they preached. Are these women disobeying God by preaching and holding religious meetings? The simple answer is yes.

    If these women disrupt God’s plan for church order by taking the leadership from men and by preaching to men, then they are being disobedient to the clear teaching of Scripture — even if their motive for doing so is good. I can believe that some women preachers are doing so with a good motive. They see a need and feel moved to address it from God’s perspective. That is a good desire but it is not the role given to them by God.

Conclusion

As we have studied through these “one verse” doctrines, I hope that at least one thing is clear. When God inspired the Scriptures, He inspired all of them equally. Jesus confirmed this when he said that “one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled” (Matt. 5:18). In other words, every part of the Bible is important. God put each verse in the Bible for a reason. And it is our job to study and find out what each statement means (2 Tim. 2:15).

Bibliography

“Baptism for the dead” as viewed at https://abn.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/gospel-topics/baptisms-for-the-dead?lang=eng&adobe_mc_ref=https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/gospel-topics/baptisms-for-the-dead?lang=eng&adobe_mc_sdid=SDID=05967BD7C734DED7-62610939DA8E9598|MCORGID=66C5485451E56AAE0A490D45%40AdobeOrg|TS=1664986417 on 10/5/2022.

Lowery, David K., “1 Corinthians,” The Bible Knowledge Commentary New Testament, as viewed in PocketBible for Android.

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“A look at the snake-handling churches of Appalachia” as viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwBVcsWYJd8 on 10/12/2022.

“Snake handling in Christianity” as viewed at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snake_handling_in_Christianity on 10/11/2022.

“What does the Bible say about snake handling?” as viewed at https://printer.gotquestions.net/GeneratePF?articleId=594 on 10/10/2022.

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Litfin, A. Duane, “1 Timothy,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary New Testament, USA: SP Publications, 1983, pp. 735-36.

McGee, J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, Vol. V, 1 Corinthians through Revelation, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1983, pp. 439-40.

“What does the Bible say about women pastors?” as viewed at https://printer.gotquestions.net/GeneratePF?articleId=1751 on 10/19/2022.

How God sees people – 1 Samuel 9-16

During our recent OBF Conference, Pastor Scott Jones of Bellevue Bible Church preached a good sermon entitled, How God Sees People. His message was based on the difference between Saul and David in 1 Samuel 9-16. This message will be loosely based on the ideas he presented during that time.

Political ads are flooding our emails, television, radio, and phone calls. Each candidate has a nice picture, a clever slogan, the backing of some groups, and claims to be better than the other candidate. If you were to just listen to one person, you might be convinced that he has a good heart, is more patriotic, and deserves your vote. Sometimes it is difficult to make that decision without investigating the candidate’s opinion yourself. So, despite the effort needed, we do that but may still be left with a faulty perception of who they really are. Then after a few months in office, we find out the truth.

Have you ever considered how God sees people? Being that He is omniscient (all knowing), nothing deceives or surprises Him. He can see what we cannot. He sees deep into the heart of a person and knows who they truly are. He knows which political candidates are being honest and which are not. But as you nod your heads in agreement, realize that God knows your heart as well. This message will address not only how God sees others but also how He sees us.

Let’s take a few moments to compare the lives of two promising candidates for king of Israel. As candidates, they were each seen by the people. However, their real character was already known to God and later revealed to the world.

  1. Saul (1 Sam. 9-14)

    a. How he was seen by people

    The people had been demanding that Samuel give them a king like the other nations had. While Samuel didn’t like their talk, God allowed them to have what they wanted. But what would this king look like?

    Saul was tall and handsome (1 Sam. 9:1-2).

    Did you notice how the Bible describes Saul? He was a one-in-a-million man. He was both tall and handsome. In fact, he is described as more handsome than any other man in Israel. When he walked into town, all of the girls noticed him. But when he walked into town, all of the men noticed him, too, because he was so tall.

    Sharon and I know a young man who recently signed a two-way contract with an NBA team. The interesting thing is that he is 6′ 10″ tall and weighs 248 pounds. When he enters the room, I imagine that everyone notices.

    Saul was timid (1 Sam. 10:22-24).

    Despite his good looks, Saul was timid. He didn’t have the swagger of a proud man who knows he is good looking. Instead, when Saul announced him as the first king of Israel, they couldn’t find him. He was finally found hiding with the luggage. Whether this helped his image or not, I am not sure. Some may have viewed him as a coward while others were too excited to think anything negative about him.

    Saul was valiant (1 Sam. 11:11-12).

    Saul’s timid nature was completely forgotten when the Amalekites besieged Jabesh Gilead. Nahash had promised to maim the inhabitants of the city if they made peace with him. When Saul heard about this, the Spirit of God came upon him and he quickly raised an army. With God’s help, Saul and his army destroyed the wicked invaders. None of his previous detractors had any basis for doubting his courage after that.

    b. How God saw him

    You would think that God’s perception of Saul was good to this point. But later events show us what God already knew about him.

    Saul had potential (1 Sam. 12:13-15).

    In this chapter, Samuel rebuked the Israelites for their habitual rebellion against God. Just like their fathers, they were rejecting the Lord in wanting a king to rule them. But Samuel reminded them that they and their king had the potential to please the Lord and to find his blessing. If they had a proper fear of God and obeyed His commands, they would have a good relationship with God. But if not… Sadly, the “if not” came to pass.

    Saul was impatient (1 Sam. 13:11-14).

    During a war against the Philistines, Samuel had instructed Saul to wait seven days for his arrival (13:8). Saul waited the seven days but became impatient when Samuel did not arrive when expected. The Philistines were nearby, the army was dissolving, and Saul couldn’t wait any longer. He offered a burnt offering without Samuel’s permission. He “unlawfully took on himself the priestly task of offering community sacrifice” (BKCOT 445). This was a direct violation of God’s law… and an impatient choice. Samuel addressed his sin and announced to Saul that his kingdom would be removed from him.

    Saul was rash (1 Sam. 14:24-26).

    There is no doubt that Samuel’s message affected Saul’s attitude and ability to lead the people. We learn later that his thinking became clouded and that God sent a spirit to trouble him. What this chapter shows us is that Saul’s son Jonathan was a better man than he. After Jonathan’s victory against a small band of Philistines, the Lord allowed Saul and his army to chase the enemy away.

    But things weren’t going as well as they could have. Saul had made a rash order that nobody could eat anything until they were done fighting that evening. can you imagine the consternation amongst the soldiers? No food, but we have to keep fighting? What is the king thinking? Even Jonathan noted the foolishness of his father’s order.

    Saul was rebellious (1 Sam. 15:19-21).

    Surprisingly, the Lord sent Samuel to Saul with one more opportunity to be obedient. He was instructed to utterly destroy the Amalekite population and their livestock. While this may seem overly harsh, the Lord viewed their past sin and probably their present wickedness as reasons for this judgment.

    Saul gathered an army of 210,000 soldiers to fight against the Amalekites. He was successful in defeating them but did not completely obey God’s command. He saved Agag, the king, and the best of the livestock. When Samuel arrived, Saul acted as if he had been obedient but Saul heard the bleating of sheep and knew better. His announcement from the Lord was that God considered him evil, rebellious, and stubborn (15:22-23). This was the last straw and God rejected Saul from being king.


    Although Saul had potential to become a godly king, he chose instead to do what he wanted to do. His potential was spoiled by his impatience, rash commands, and rebellion against God. After his character was revealed by his actions, the Lord rejected him as king of Israel (see 1 Sam. 15:26).

    Isn’t it interesting how such a promising candidate looked so good to the people but turned out so badly? It must have been a big surprise (for the people who had such high hopes initially) when Saul became a rebellious, disobedient king. How had they been fooled by him!

  2. David (1 Sam. 16)

    a. How he was seen by people

    When Saul was introduced to Israel, people noticed his outward characteristics. He was tall and handsome. But when David was anointed as king, he was not what anyone was expecting.

    He was not Samuel’s first choice (1 Sam. 16:6).

    When Samuel secretly met with the elders of Bethlehem, he invited Jesse and his family to the sacrifice. When Jesse’s firstborn arrived, Samuel was impressed by his outward appearance. He was convinced that this was the one God had chosen.

    He was young (1 Sam. 16:11).

    When seven of Jesse’s sons had passed by Samuel, none of them had been chosen by the Lord. Samuel asked Jesse if all of his sons were there. Jesse told him that only the youngest was left and he was watching the sheep. David was not the oldest, most experienced, or most honored of the family. There were seven brothers older than him.

    He was good looking (1 Sam. 16:12).

    But what he lacked in age, he made up for in appearance. The Bible describes him as “ruddy, with bright eyes, and good-looking.” I like to think that ruddy means that David had red hair (since I began with that hair color). One commentator agrees with me. “When this verse says that David was ‘ruddy,’ it means that he had red hair—and he had a temper to match his red hair, a hot temper. But in addition to the fact … he was a fine-looking fellow” (McGee 155).

    What people saw about David was not especially promising. While he was a good-looking person, he was too young and didn’t look like the first choice of someone who would be the next king of Israel. But man’s perception, in this case, was different than what God saw.

    b. How God saw him

    David had potential (1 Sam. 12:13-15).

    In this chapter, Samuel reminded the people that they and their king had the potential to please the Lord and to find his blessing. If they had a proper fear of God and obeyed His commands, they would have a good relationship with God. But if not, things would go poorly for them. While Samuel was originally addressing Saul and the people, the same principle applied to David and the kings that followed.

    He saw his heart (1 Sam. 16:7).

    Of all the verses we will look at today, this one is probably the most memorable because it teaches us how God sees people. When Samuel considered Eliab to be the one the Lord would pick, God corrected his perception. He told Samuel not to look at his appearance or stature because God looks deeper than people do. God looks directly into the heart of a person to see their true character.

    What did God see in David’s heart? If you turn back to 1 Samuel 13:14, you will see that God had sought and found someone who was “after his own heart.” David’s inner character was not perfect, but it was especially inclined toward the Lord. You can see it in the psalms that he wrote and in the actions that he took. When confronted about his adultery with Bathsheba (not after God’s heart), he repented and admitted his fault to the Lord (after God’s heart). While David did sin grievously, the main thing known about him was his heart for the Lord.

    He had faith in God (1 Sam. 17:45-47).

    God’s final perception of David’s character is seen in what is recorded in the inspired record of his fight with Goliath. When all others were fearful of the boasting Philistine, David was incredulous that no one would take the challenge. After hearing the giant’s “big words,” David volunteered to fight him and answered his ridicule with a faith-filled speech of what God would do that day to the one who had blasphemed the God of Israel. What faith in God! As you may recall, the Lord honored David’s faith in Him, the giant was killed, and the Philistine army was chased away.


    Isn’t it interesting how such an unexpected candidate, who lacked some of the physical attributes of the former, turned out so good? It must have been a big surprise (for the people who had such high hopes for Saul) when David became a good king. How they were fooled by his outward attributes.

Conclusion

God sees people differently than we do. People notice what they can see from the outside, but God sees what they are on the inside. After reading through these narratives, we know this to be true. But how can this knowledge help us?

  1. You don’t have to be a superhero to be valuable to God.

    If you are of the opinion that you are subpar, consider the fact that God made you and gave you the abilities that you have whether great or small. He knows who you are and loves you anyway. He also knows your heart and is interested more in that than any outward characteristics that you could show.

    Instead of trying to become appealing, powerful, or popular, think about what God sees and spend time becoming someone that He values. Remember that “exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come” (1 Tim. 4:8). Your inward person is more important to God than what others can see on the outside. With God’s help, seek to become someone who has godly character.

  2. Your perception of others should reflect what God sees.

    Have you noticed how many people are very different than you are? Their outward appearance is entirely opposite from your own. Where they come from, how they talk, how they dress, and what they do may be disgusting to you. But have you ever thought of how God sees that person? Could it be that the person you would normally avoid is someone in whose heart God has been working? Could it be that the Lord cares about those who seem strange to you? And could it be that God could use you to help them to become a child of God one day?

    God sees people differently than we do. And when we conform our view to God’s view of people, we will have a better perception of both ourselves and other people. Will you allow the Lord to change how you see people today?

Bibliography

Blaikie, W. G., The First Book of Samuel, Minneapolis: Klock & Klock, 1887, reprint 1978.

McGee, J. Vernon, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, Joshua through Psalms, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982.

Merrill, Eugene H., “1 Samuel” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary Old Testament, USA: SP Publications, 1989.

Chaplain Chuck Flesher – 1 Peter 4:7-11

This was the ending of Chaplain Colonel Chuck Flesher’s message from 1 Peter 4:7-11. He is a retired chaplain who now represents The Associated Gospel Churches, a chaplaincy endorsement agency. What a blessing it was to have him and his wife at our church this morning. They are always a blessing to us. We are privileged to be partners with their ministry to our military personnel.