In the early 1950s, American television news anchor Walter Cronkite hosted a program entitled You Are There. The show provided a reenactment of a historical event—and supplied Cronkite to interview the historic figures. The news anchor was known for his trademark line, “All things are as they were then, except…You Are There.”
Through the aid of mid-1950s technology, Cronkite was virtually transported back in time.
God, however, needs no help. He is there. An ever-present help in time of need.
Please join me in today’s reading.
YOUR SIDE OF THE CONVERSATION
Yesterday, Linda commented on the post “What Would Veruca Do?” I thought I’d share it with you…
As to the readings in Leviticus, certainly the overarching theme is that obedience to the Lord creates blessings. Those blessings may — or may not — be material. Leave it to we Americans to always want more. As I was driving…yesterday, I was listening to A National Public Radio report about the devastation in Haiti (definitely a Third World country) and Chile (not so much) and observed all of us milling about. Big box stores — Costco! — restaurants on every corner, fast food galore, abundance everywhere to the tune of a huge national obesity rate. We take this all so much for granted. Meanwhile, there are people in Somalia, in Haiti, all around the world who are starving and would have killed for the piece of bread I was just then eating from Great Harvest. I had to stop and give thanks and also do a bit of repentance and a bit of intercession …
Thanks Linda. It’s comments like yours that make for a good Bible conversation!
INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS
Today we say farewell to the book of Leviticus. I hope you enjoyed it as much as me.
Numbers 1. The book of Numbers is one of those books you can read quickly—because it contains long lists of genealogies and censuses. However, like Leviticus, it contains some hidden gems.
Here’s the historical context: After establishing their covenant with God, installing their laws, and setting up the tabernacle, Israel was ready to move into the Promised land…or so they thought.
Incidentally, the census in this chapter was a means of identifying men able to fight in Israel’s army.
Mark 11:1-13. The people shouting “Hosanna” to Jesus were likely from outside Jerusalem, who happened to be in town for the Passover (which we read about last week in our Leviticus reading). Messianic fervor often ran high during this celebration. Partly due to the influence of the Pharisees, Scribes, and teachers of the Law, the people in Jerusalem generally showed a degree of animosity to Jesus.
Mark 11:12-19. People traveling from far away didn’t want to carry their sacrifices—hence the need for moneychangers and sellers. The New Bible Dictionary explains, “The issue is not whether there should have been moneychangers; it is whether it was valid to turn much of the outer court into a place emphasizing commerce rather than worship.” Since the transactions were taking place in the temple area, the priests were profiting from the business. So, Jesus was complaining about people transforming ministry into a money-making venture.
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THE WORD MADE FRESH
Four hundred years ago, the great reformer John Calvin chose Psalm 46 as the first psalm he wanted to translate into French.
The opening words tell us “God is our refuge and strength.” Not that he wants to be our refuge and strength—he already is! God offers himself to us 24/7/365 as our refuge and strength. Do you take him up on the offer?
Later in the psalm we read “There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.” Jerusalem sits on a high rocky plateau, which means no river can run through it. But as divine providence would have it, just outside the eastern wall existed the Gihon spring. The spring came gushing out of the ground, seemingly from nowhere. This is the river the psalmist is referring to—an unexpected source of refreshing life. You could even call it living water.
God is our ever-present refuge, strength, and source of life. For this reason we can be still. Shhhhh! Be still, don’t move. Don’t fret. Just know that he is God…and he is with us!
- What spoke to you in today’s reading?
- Describe the kind of Messiah the people were seeking when Jesus rode through Jerusalem? What kind of a Messiah do people generally see today? How about you?
- Read through Psalm 46. What words or phrases speak to you? What makes them significant?
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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado.