Today’s readings are from Exodus 5, Luke 8, Job 22, 1 Corinthians 9.
(I just realized today that I’m a day off on the plan. I should be on Exodus 6, Luke 9, Job 23 and 1 Corinthians 10). So…
Exodus 5-6 indicate that Moses’ first attempts to rescue his people met with dismal failure. In Exodus 5 Aaron and Moses go to Pharoah and ask him to let them go into the wilderness to worship (temporarily). Pharoah responds by making their work much more difficult and the people return to Moses and complain that their lives are harder now. Of course, Moses did what we all do…
22 Then Moses turned to the LORD and said, “O Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me?
And the LORD responds (Exodus 6)
1 But the LORD said to Moses, “Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for with a strong hand he will send them out, and with a strong hand he will drive them out of his land.”
When all human help has failed, and the soul, exhausted and despairing, has given up hope from man, God draws near and says, I AM. –F. B. Meyer
Yahweh rehearses the covenant promises (vv. 2-4), then repeats that He has heard their cries and seen their afflictions (v. 5) so He will deliver them (vv. 6-8). Through it all, he wanted to show Israel “that I am the LORD your God” (v. 7). In this revelation, God promised He would do three things for Israel:
1. He would deliver the Israelites from their Egyptian bondage (v. 6). Moses communicated this in a threefold expression, suggesting the completeness of the deliverance: “I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians . . . I will deliver you from their bondage . . . I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.”
2. He would adopt Israel as His nation (“I will take you for My people, and I will be your God,” v. 7). This took place at Sinai (19:5).
3. He would bring Israel into the Promised Land (“I will bring you to the land . . . and I will give it to you for a possession,” v. 8).
The people, however, didn’t want to listen to Moses, so God sent Moses back to Pharaoh.
In the tribe of Levi there were three families–Gershon, Kohath and Marari. Each of these families would be given specific duties in the service of the Lord and His tabernacle.
In Luke 8 Jesus begins to speak in parables. His purpose is to reveal truth to some and conceal it from others (cf. Luke 8:9-10; Matthew 13:10-17). Luke’s account is shorter than Matthew’s, limiting himself to two parables–the parable of the soils and the parable of the lamp, emphasizing the importance of hearing, obeying and proclaiming the Word of God.
The emphasis in the parable of the soils seems to be on their present response to the Word of God, be it belief or unbelief—not the ultimate outcome of their response, namely, their eternal salvation. The salvation of the second and third seeds is difficult to determine. They may appear to be saved and not, or may be saved, but fail in many ways.
In 8:19-21 Jesus declares that His true family are those who do His Word. Jesus was not dishonoring His human family members, but honoring those who obey God. It is not ecstatic experiences that draw us close to Jesus, but obedience to His Word.
In the remainder of Luke 8 Jesus exhibits His power over a stormy sea (nature, 8:22-25), over the demons (Luke 8:26-39) and over diseases and death (Luke 8:40-56). All of these miracles show His divine nature.
In Luke 9 Jesus prepares and sends out his disciples on a “mission trip” (Luke 9:1-6). They were to trust God for their provision and go to the house of Israel. Sandwiched between Herod’s question about Jesus’ identity (9:7-9) and Peter’s confession of Jesus’ true identity (9:18-27) is the feeding of the 5,000 (9:10-17).
As if to emphasize the truth of Peter’s confession and seal His “departure” Jesus is transfigured before three disciples (9:28-36). After dealing with their disciples’ failure to exorcise demons from a boy (9:37-43a), Jesus again announces his betrayal (9:43b-45).
In contrast to Jesus’ humble submission to the Father’s will, the disciples jockey for position in the kingdom and seek put a stop to the ministries those outside the group (9:46-50).
Luke 9:51 begins the long, final section of Luke’s gospel (9:51-19:27), in which he “sets His face towards Jerusalem” and the cross. The central section focuses on the parables of the kingdom and its growth in 13:18-21 and the coming judgment on the Jews for rejecting Jesus as Messiah (13:22-35).
There are 23 parables in 9:51—19:27. This is over half of all the parables in Luke’s Gospel. Jesus gave most of the parables in this section to His disciples, but other non-disciples, who were following Him to Jerusalem to get help of various kinds from Him, were also present. That is why He used parables to teach His disciples: to reveal and to conceal truth.
Parables in Luke 9:51—19:27
|The good Samaritan||10:30-37|
|The shameless friend||11:5-8|
|The strong man’s house||11:21-22 (cf. Matt. 12:29; Mark 3:27)|
|The rich fool||12:16-21|
|The faithful servants||12:36-38|
|The two servants||12:42-42 (cf. Matt. 24:45-51)|
|The barren fig tree||13:6-9|
|The mustard seed||13:18-19 (cf. Matt. 13:31-32; Mark 4:30-32)|
|The yeast hidden in meal||13:20-21 (cf. Matt. 13:33)|
|The seats at the wedding feast||14:7-11|
|The great banquet||14:15-24|
|The tower builder||14:28-30|
|The king going to battle||14:31-33|
|The lost sheep||15:4-7 (cf. Matt. 18:12-14)|
|The lost coin||15:8-10|
|The prodigal son||15:11-32|
|The shrewd manager||16:1-9|
|The rich man and Lazarus||16:19-31|
|The unworthy servant||17:7-10|
|The one taken and the one left||17:34-35 (cf. Matt. 24:40-42)|
|The persistent widow||18:1-8|
|The Pharisee and the tax collector||18:9-14|
Jesus begins to teach His followers what it means to be a disciple, starting with toleration (9:51-56) and self-denial (9:57-61).
The three cycles of speeches in Job are like three rounds in a boxing match, though the competition in this case was intellectual rather than physical. In round one of the debate, Job’s friends probed his intellect, and in round two they probed his conscience. In round three, they probed specific issues.
We could summarize the criticisms of Job’s three companions in their speeches as follows.
ACCUSATION AGAINST JOB
|FIRST||“You are a sinner and need to repent.”|
|SECOND||“You are wicked and God is punishing you.”|
|THIRD||“You have committed these specific sins.”|
So Job 22 is Eliphaz’s third speech. He speaks to Job’s social sins, taking advantage of the poor (22:6-11), which Job will deny in 31:16-22. Eliphaz proceeded next to judge Job’s motives (22:12-20. He assumed Job had concluded that because God was far away in heaven, he would get away with sin on earth. However, Job had affirmed God’s omniscience (21:22). So Eliphaz demands that Job repent (22:21-30).
Job replies in chapters 23 and 24. Job still wanted to make his case before God (23:1-7) because he still maintained his innocence (Job 23:8-12). God’s irresistible power and inscrutable behavior made Job afraid (23:13-17). Job 23:10 expresses this precious truth:
10 But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.
Amy Carmichael, in Whispers of His Power, writes:
It is good to see how Job turns from the misunderstanding of man to the perfect understanding of God. He cannot see Him or find Him, but — glorious “but” — He knoweth the way that I take. And in the end Job did come forth as gold.
And David Guzik writes:
With wonderful faith, Job seemed at this fleeting instant to understand what he could and should in his present crisis. He understood that:
- – God still observed Job carefully and had not forgotten him (He knows the way that I take).
- – God had a purpose in the crisis, and the purpose was not to punish Job (when He has tested me)
- – God would one day bring the trial to an end (I shall come forth)
- – God would bring something good would from it all (I shall come forth as gold)
- – God still valued Job; only precious metal is put through the fire (as gold)
1 Corinthians 9 and 10
Evidently the Corinthian Christians had misunderstood Paul’s policy of limiting the exercise of his activities to help others (8:13). Some in the church had apparently concluded that because he did not exercise his rights, he therefore did not have them: for example, his right to material support (cf. 2 Cor. 12:13). His apparently vacillating conduct also raised questions in their minds about his full apostolic authority.
So he identifies himself as an apostle (9:1-2) and talks about his rights as an apostle (9:3-14). But, for the sake of the gospel, he limited his rights (9:15-23) and encouraged them to do the same (9:24-27).
David Guzik points out:
Here we see Paul’s real heart. Paid or not paid, it did not matter to him. What mattered was the work of the gospel. Was it more effective for the gospel if Paul should receive support? Then he would receive it. Was it more effective for the gospel if Paul should work to support himself? Then he would do that. What mattered was that the gospel not be hindered in any way.
Paul used athletic metaphors often (cf. Philippians 3:12-14; 2 Timothy 2:5; 4:7; Galatians 5:7 and possibly Romans 11:11). See also Hebrews 12:1-3, a non-Pauline text.
24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
Some principles about the Christian life from these verses:
- All of us have a race to run. The Christian life is a race. Not a sprint, but a marathon.
- Not everyone receives a prize. Unlike today, when children get a prize just for participating, we only get a prize by winning.
- To win we must “exercise self-control in all things.” In every area of life we must exercise self-control if we are to win the prize.
- Our race is more important because we run to win an “imperishable” prize.
- We run/fight with purpose, not haphazardly. Do you have a plan for your spiritual race?
- It is possible to be disqualified from the race. I don’t believe that this means we will lose our salvation, but lose the reward associated with winning.
The point here is that the Corinthians must be serious about their mission, as serious as athletes are about their training (and as Paul is about his preaching).
Paul then moves into Israel’s failure to faithfully run the race, and how they lost in 1 Corinthians 10:1-13. They had many advantages (vv. 1-4), but were idolaters, immoral and grumblers (vv. 5-10). We MUST learn from their example and not stumble and fall (vv. 11-13).
We fight temptation with Jesus’ power, like the girl who explained what she did when Satan came with temptation at the door of her heart: “I send Jesus to answer the door. When Satan sees Jesus, he says, ‘Oops, sorry, I must have the wrong house.’”
Whereas involvement in idolatry for the Israelites had involved judgment, here in 10:14-23 Paul acknowledges that food offered to idols is offered to demons (vv. 19-20). Paul is very firmly telling the Corinthians that they cannot participate in idolatry and then take part in communion without provoking the wrath of a jealous God.
The Corinthians were arguing for the right to attend pagan religious meals. They even viewed pagan temple attendance as a way of building their “weaker” brethren. aul responded that attending pagan meals was wrong on two counts: it was unloving, and it was incompatible with life in Christ, which their participation at the Lord’s Table symbolized. He forbade any relationship with the demonic.
Like in chapter 8, Paul affirms that we have freedom, but that freedom should be limited by love for others (vv. 27-28) and the glory of God (vv. 29-31). Thus, they (and we) should imitate Paul (1 Cor. 11:1).
Thomas Constable notes the chiastic structure in these verses:
A The criterion stated: the good of others (10:23-24)
B Personal freedom explained (10:25-27)
C The criterion illustrated: love governing liberty (10:28-29a)
B’ Personal freedom defended (10:29b-30)
A’ The criterion generalized: that all may be saved (10:33—11:1)
Need help in making decisions?