Today’s readings are from Exodus 16; Luke 19; Job 34 and 2 Corinthians 4.
Exodus 16 recounts Israel’s beginning wanderings in the desert. At least they have a definite destination, Mt. Sinai (also called Mount Horeb). This chapter records another crisis in the experience of the Israelites, as they journeyed from Goshen to Mt. Sinai, that God permitted and used to teach them important lessons. In this chapter, God is teaching the Israelites that they can trust Him to provide their “daily bread.”
The people were hungry and God provided manna from heaven. Who knows from whence our blessings may flow. God can do exceedingly, abundantly beyond all that we could ask for or dream of.
They were instructed to gather only enough for that day, each day, but to gather two days worth of food on the sixth day (thus not working on the sabbath). Of course, this was a test (v. 4)–would they trust God enough not to gather more than they needed each day? Verse 35 indicates that God provided manna for Israel all throughout the forty years of wandering.
So God provided quail in the morning and manna in the evening. Of course, someone decided to leave some for the next day (squirrel it away in a bank account for a rainy day) and it spoiled. Then, of course, some did not gather enough for two days on the sixth day and went out to find manna on the seventh day, but could not.
Much is made of Israel’s grumbling in this chapter. We grumble when we forget God and are consumed by our circumstances.
Exodus 16:23 is Israel’s first observance of the sabbath. It was, of course, embedded in the creation week (Genesis 2) and would be codified into law a few weeks later on Mount Sinai (Exodus 20).
Here is Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening devotional on Exodus 16:21…
Work hard to maintain a sense of your entire dependence upon the Lord’s good will and pleasure for the continuance of your richest enjoyments. Never try to live on the old manna, nor seek to find help in Egypt. All must come from Jesus or you are undone forever. Old anointings will not suffice to impart unction to your spirit; your head must have fresh oil poured upon it from the golden horn of the sanctuary, or it will cease from its glory.
Today you may be upon the summit of the mount of God, but He who has put you there must keep you there or you will sink far more speedily than you imagine. Your mountain only stands firm when He settles it in its place; if He hides His face, you will soon be troubled. If the Savior should see fit, there is not a window through which you see the light of heaven that He could not darken in an instant. Joshua bade the sun stand still, but Jesus can shroud it in total darkness. He can withdraw the joy of your heart, the light of your eyes, and the strength of your life; in His hand your comforts lie, and at His will they can depart from you.
Our Lord is determined that we shall feel and recognize this hourly dependence, for He only permits us to pray for “daily bread,” and only promises that our strength will be equal to our days. Is it not best for us that it should be so, that we may often repair to His throne and constantly be reminded of His love?
Oh, how rich the grace that supplies us so continually and does not refrain itself because of our ingratitude! The golden shower never ceases; the cloud of blessing tarries evermore above our dwelling. O Lord Jesus, we would bow at Your feet, conscious of our utter inability to do anything without You, and in every favor that we are privileged to receive, we would adore Your blessed name and acknowledge Your unexhausted love.
Jason Hardin also has a good devotional on this passage that is worth reading.
Luke 19 records Jesus going up from Jericho to Jerusalem.
As he was going through Jericho, he encounters Zacchaeus, a hated tax collector, up in a sycamore tree.
This is the traditional tree in Jericho.
Zaccheus displayed traits of the tax collector in the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector (18:9-14). They shared the same despised occupation, the same sense of personal need, and the same childlike humility and receptivity toward God. He also resembles the rich young ruler (18:18-23). He, too, had wealth, but his response to Jesus was precisely the opposite of that other rich man. His salvation is a great example of the truth that with God all things are possible (18:25-27).
Zaccheus, moreover, demonstrated the same faith in Jesus, and consequent insight into his responsibility to follow Jesus and glorify God, that the blind man did (18:35-43). His story brings together many themes that Luke interwove, in this section, in which he showcased the recipients of salvation (18:9—19:27).
The key verse of the Gospel of Luke is verse 10: “the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.”
Tom Constable concludes: “Throughout this Gospel, Luke presented Jesus as appealing primarily—though not exclusively, of course—to the poor, the lame, the demon-possessed, the blind, etc.: the marginalized in that society. Those were the people who were looking for deliverance. Does this emphasis not say something to Christians today about whom we should be seeking out? That these same unfortunate types of people are still the most ready to accept the salvation that Jesus came to bring?
This parable in Luke 19:11-27 serves in Luke’s narrative as a conclusion to the section on salvation’s recipients (18:9—19:27). It provides something of a denouement (i.e., a final unraveling of the plot), following the excellent example of Zaccheus’ faith and the summary statement describing Jesus’ ministry.
In this teaching to the people, who were observing His meal with the tax collector, Jesus taught several important lessons. He repeated His coming rejection and future return, and He clarified the time when the kingdom would appear. He also explained the duty of His disciples during His absence from the earth. Both the nation of Israel and the disciples had duties to Jesus. This parable summarizes Jesus’ teaching on this subject.
This parable is similar, of course, to the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30, but there are some differences. The parable of the talents (Matt. 25:14-30) teaches us that God gives everyone a different amount to invest for His glory. Some people have more intelligence, or talent, or money than others. The parable of the minas teaches that God gives all His servants the same opportunity to invest for His glory. Everyone has only one life.
Both believers and unbelievers play a part in both parables. Both parables advocate belief in Jesus, faithfulness, and preparedness, and they both show that God will deal with all people justly, graciously, and generously.
The teaching of the parable is quite clear. Jesus was not going to begin His reign as Messiah immediately. He was going away and would return later to reign. During His absence His servants, believing disciples, need to invest what God has given them for His glory. He will reward them in proportion to what they have produced for Him. This parable teaches that everyone is accountable to God, and everyone will receive what he or she deserves from the King. It provided a warning for the unbelievers in Jesus’ audience, as well as believers, in view of the postponement of the kingdom.
This parable clarifies that, while salvation and entrance into the kingdom come by faith in Jesus, rewards for service rest on the believer’s work.
The presentation of Israel’s king in the triumphal entry occurs in 19:28-40 as well as his final ministry in Jerusalem expressed through his sorrowful lament (19:41-44) and cleansing the temple (19:45-46). This is the second time that Jesus cleansed the temple, once at the beginning of his ministry (John 2) and here at the end (Luke 19).
In Job 34 Elihu speaks again. He inaccurately summarizes Job’s arguments for his own innocence and then highlights the unyielding righteousness of God (34:10-15) and the moral order of the world (34:16-20). Since God’s ways are perfect (34:21-30), Elihu advises Job on what he should have said (34:31-33). Instead, Job’s sins have multiplied before God and God is bound to judge (34:34-37).
Much of what Elihu said in this speech was true. Nevertheless, as the other critics, he incorrectly assumed Job was lying about his innocence. As we know from the first two chapters, Job was not suffering because he had sinned.
2 Corinthians 4 emphasizes that our competence for ministry comes from God. We face strong spiritual forces (2 Cor. 4:4) and we are clay pots. BUT, we hold a great treasure. Our importance does not lie in ourselves, but the message we carry.
There was a time in ministry when I felt like a failure. But God mercifully brought to me three passages of Scripture, either through my own reading or through others who loved me. First, I was reading a book on leadership that talked about how Jesus said, “except a grain of wheat fall into the ground and dies, it abides by itself alone, but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” It was OK to die.
Second, my sister-in-law directed my attention to Paul’s words later in 2 Corinthians 12 where he says, “when I am weak You are strong.” It was OK to be weak. I’ve needed that passage and quoted it several times when my mind isn’t working and I need to preach.
Third, I was reading an article by Philip Yancey in which a handicapped girls gave the valedictorian speech and quoted 2 Cor. 4:7, “we have this treasure in earthen vessels.” It is OK to be handicapped.
Paul talked about the greatness of the gospel message in 2 Corinthians 3. And he contrasts that with the weakness of the gospel messenger in 4:7.
So Mike Ricardi, writing at Cripplegate, says…
See: God delights to use humble, weak, common people to proclaim His Gospel, because most fundamentally, God is committed to showcasing the beauty of His own glory. If He were to place the treasure of His Gospel in an ornate treasure chest decorated with precious stones, the glory of the container might compete with the glory of the content. But by committing the Gospel treasure to earthen vessels, He magnifies the brilliance and the beauty of the Gospel message by setting it against the backdrop of weak and suffering messengers.
So the high-powered, wheeling-and-dealing, self-sufficient, gifted-communicator, professional-and-polished ministers actually detract from the glory and power of God in Gospel ministry. Because when they see “results,” people wonder whether it was God’s power or their ingenuity that accomplished those things. But Paul has nothing. He’s beaten, homeless, hungry, thirsty; he’s not attractive, he’s not eloquent, he’s not charming; he is the scum of the earth! Nobody is looking at him and saying, “Wow, it’s sure cool to be like Paul! Maybe I could be a Christian too!” So when someone does turn from their sin and does put their trust in Christ, there is no question as to whose power is responsible.
Discouragement in the ministry is common. It usually happens on Mondays. Paul’s words here in 2 Corinthians 4 gives us reasons to not quit. Paul gave three reasons for his refusal to become discouraged as he served the Lord: (1) In the past, he had received a divine commission to proclaim a new and better covenant (v. 1). (2) In the future, he looked forward to sharing Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead (v. 14). (3) And in the present, he had the opportunity to promote the Corinthians’ spiritual welfare and the glory of God (v. 15).
Some of us are getting older in the ministry. I just recently had my 60th birthday. Paul’s words in the last verses of 2 Corinthians 4 are encouraging…
16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
Do you hear what Paul is saying? Even though this body gets slower and less capable, our inner self is gaining vitality and energy every day. God does this through His Word (Romans 12:2; 1 Thess. 2:13) and His Spirit.
Do you hear what Paul is saying? If you are afflicted right now, no matter how grave and difficult or how long it has been going on, it is a “light momentary affliction” in comparison to the “eternal weight of glory” that is being prepared for us.
Finally, do you hear what Paul is saying? We have to look at the invisible, eternal realities instead of the visible, physical situation we are in. We have to believe these promises even though they cannot be seen and largely are not yet (cf. Hebrews 11:1). We walk by faith, not by sight