v. 1-5 An anguished prayer for healing from sickness – very appropriate for those suffering from the Covid-19 virus pandemic. Even if you are not sick, all of us are being hurt by the impact of this global crisis. Many are in quarantine or self-imposed isolation (v. 6-7 ‘like a bird alone on the roof, awake at night’). Even food tastes like ashes (v. 9) – one symptom of Corona virus is loss of taste and smell. Those who are sick may feel rejected and far from joyful fellowship with God (v. 10). The darkness seems to be closing in… many have died. Is there any hope?
v. 12-22 A sacrifice of praise! Make a declaration of faith that the Lord ‘will arise and take pity on Zion (his people) for the time has come to have mercy on her!’ The result is v. 15 – ‘The nations will fear the name of YHVH and all the kings (leaders) your glory.’
v. 18 Record the response to this prayer… ‘so that future generations and people yet to be created will praise’ Him. Is there a purpose or positive outcome from the current pandemic? The theme of the Bible begins in Genesis 12:1-3, ‘all nations will be blessed’. Will you join in this Psalm 102 cry to the Lord on behalf of our stricken planet (that he made, by the way, v. 25) so that the final verse 28 becomes reality when ‘the children of your servants will live securely and their descendants be established in your presence’. Imagine, no more plagues, no more fear or loss, confidence in his presence like the Hebrews beneath the cloud of glory that stood above the Tabernacle in the wilderness (turn to the next reading). Come Yeshua!
Numbers 8:1 – 9:21
The ‘parashah’ begins with the dedication of the Levites as priests. This involved offerings representing repentance from sin and consecration to the Lord (v.8, 12). They were ‘taken in place of the firstborn of Israel’ (v.18) who were ‘passed-over’ when the Egyptian firstborn died.
Note that the Levites were presented as a wave offering, which was part of the peace offerings the people would bring (see Leviticus 7:28-36). It’s been jokingly said that Aaron must have been extremely strong to lift and wave hundreds of young Levites in the air! The priests were the people’s peace offering, set apart to be holy. If you are a believer in Yeshua, then you too are a priest, set apart to stand in the gap between lost people and the plagues resulting from the world’s sin (various forms of Corona virus – SARS, MERS, Covid-19, etc. – all genetically stem from eating non-kosher creatures).
Chapter 9 introduces Pesach (Passover) as a festival, exactly one year after it first happened in Egypt, and now when the Hebrew were in the wilderness (v. 5) totally dependent on God. Verses 6-14 make a provision for anyone who misses it to observe it one month later. This was in response to those who complained, ‘Why should we be cut off from the blessing (or protection?) of Passover?’ (v.7). They knew firsthand what had happened in Egypt that set the Hebrews free and certainly did not want to be left out a year later! How about you?
Verses 15-23 describe THE CLOUD. It moved over the Tabernacle on the day it was first put up. When the cloud lifted, the newly-dedicated priests disassembled the tabernacle, then when it started moving, they marched beneath the cloud with Israel following in carefully ordered divisions of tribes. At night, the glowing cloud lit the entire camp and must have been visible to non-Hebrew watchers for miles around. Everything the people did was ordered and illuminated by the Lord’s word… and there were no plagues such as now afflict all humanity. Hm! What does that mean for us? Turn to the next reading….
Amos 5, Judgment! Israel fallen (v.2)! War! Exile! “But if you seek the Lord, you will survive’ (v.6). Why has this disaster happened? ‘You who turn justice to wormwood, and throw righteousness to the ground’ (v. 7). Notice the Hebrew X pattern here – justice trampled into the dirt, righteousness becomes a bitter memory. The same ‘X’ is repeated as a positive version in v.24 – ‘let justice well up like water and righteousness like a flowing stream’. Living water required for a Jewish mikvah or baptism is water that flows continuously from its source. Justice becomes living water, and righteousness wells up from the Source.
How to survive the disaster is repeated in v. 14-15 – ‘Seek good and not evil…, love good, uphold justice.’ Warnings of the Day of the Lord follow (v.18, 20), linked to ‘I utterly loathe your festivals… offerings… songs’ (v.21-23). Being very religious was not good enough to avoid the exile ‘beyond Damascus’ which soon followed for the Northern kingdom of Israel. They were not worshiping according to God’s Word. Perhaps, we’d better find out what it really says! So what do we do now? Pray!
I Kings 8 & 15 Shlomo’s (Solomon’s) Dedication Prayer for the Temple.
v. 2 – ‘month of Etanim, the seventh month’. This would have been during the final three Biblical festivals (Lev. 23, Dt. 16) at the end of the harvest season. Wheat had been gathered, stubble and thorns in the fields burned, pilgrims heading for Jerusalem. This ancient Hebrew name for the seventh month (now replaced by ‘Tishrei’ from the pagan Babylonian calendar), may have been a plural form of ‘atun’ (furnace). Root letters are aleph (leader), tav (covenant), nun (life). The seventh month is preserved in our modern calendar as September (Latin ‘seventh’, counting from the Biblical new year… this continues with Octo, Novo, and December as numbers). It’s the final call to get attuned to the Leader of the covenant of life!
v. 8 – note what’s missing from inside the Ark!
v.10 Priests could not stand to do their service when the glory filled the temple.
v.23 ‘You keep covenant… show grace, IF they live in your presence with all of their hearts’. Again, religious observance without faith is not good enough.
v.33 ‘IF they turn back, acknowledge your name, and pray….’
v.43 ‘so that all peoples of the earth will know your name and fear (believe) in you’. Again, the theme of the Bible is the gospel to ‘all nations’, as mentioned in Ps. 102 notes above. Repeated in v. 60.
v.62 – 66 Huge feast for everyone! ‘and the people went home filled with joy’.
I Kings 15 Bad story of what happens when people don’t do what God says in his Word. Continued in the churches, struggling to finally get it right….
Revelation 2 & 3
Ephesus – ‘…lost your first love’ (v. 4) But you hate what the Nicolatians do (Nico – conquer others with false, impure teachings) – I hate it too.’ v. 6
Smyrna – ‘you will face an ordeal… remain faithful and I will give you a crown of life’.
Perganum – ‘teachings of Bilam… and Nicolatians’. Again, stick to what the Bible actually says, rather than some paganized version! v. 17 ‘To him winning the victory, I will give some of the hidden manna.’ (help from the Spirit!)
Thyatira – ‘you tolerate that Jezebel woman, deceiving my people!’ v. 23 “I give to each of you what your deeds deserve”.
Sardis – ‘what you are doing is incomplete in the sight of my God’ v.2 But, ‘He who wins the victory will be dressed in white and I will not blot his name from the Book of Life’ v.5.
Philadelphia – v.10 ‘You did obey my message about persevering. I will keep you from the time of trial that is coming on the whole world to put the people living on earth to the test.’
Laodicea – v. 16 Lukewarm! v. 19 ‘I rebuke and discipline everyone I love; so exert yourselves, and turn from your sins! Here, I’m standing at the door, knocking…. v. 21 ‘I will let him who wins the victory, sit with me on my throne…. v. 22 ‘those who have ears, let them hear what the Spirit is saying to the messianic communities’.