M’Cheyne Bible Reading Plan, March 18

Today’s readings are from Exodus 29, John 8, Proverbs 5 and Galatians 4.

Exodus 29 is about the ordination and consecration service for the installation of the Aaronic priesthood.  The Israelites carried out the instructions given here at a later time.  The full record of this seven-day ritual appears in Leviticus 8, in greater detail.

The priests had sacrificial blood applied to their right earlobes, right thumbs, and right big toes (v. 20).  This symbolized their complete consecration: to hear the word of God, to serve as mediators, and to walk as an example to others.

They also experienced sprinkling with blood, signifying their complete sanctification.  Their “anointing” with “oil” (v. 21), that was also sprinkled on them, represented their endowment with power by God’s Spirit for divine service. (Thomas Constable)

Like these ancient priests, every Christian is washed by the work of God’s word (Eph. 5:26), by the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5). This cleansing work was accomplished by the death of Jesus for us (Revelation 1:5) and appropriated by faith.

“The best part of all Christian work is that part which only God sees.” (Andrew Bonar)

John 8 is Jesus’ presentation as the light of the world.

JESUS’ “I AM” CLAIMS

Title Meaning Reference
The Bread of Life Satisfier and sustainer of life 6:35, 48
The Light of the World Dispeller of sin’s darkness 8:12
The Gate Entrance into security and fellowship 10:7, 9
The Good Shepherd Protector and guide in life 10:11, 14
The Resurrection and the Life Hope in death 11:25
The Way, the Truth, and the Life Certainty in perplexity 14:6
The True Vine Source of vitality and productivity 15:1, 5

It begins with the woman caught in adultery.  She was likely guilty, but so were (at least some) of her accusers.  Jesus showed both grace and firmness to her by saying, “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.”  J. Vernon McGee says…

“It was not, ‘Go and sin no more, and I will not condemn thee,’ for that would have been a death-knell rather than good news in her ears.  Instead, the Saviour said, ‘Neither do I condemn thee.’  And to every one who takes the place this woman was brought into, the word is, ‘There is therefore now no condemnation’ (Rom. 8:1).  ‘And sin no more’ placed her, as we are placed, under the constraint of His love.”

This incident is further proof that Jesus was far more righteous, and much wiser, than the Jewish religious leaders who sought to kill Him.  It is also another demonstration of His patience and grace with sinners.

The light of the world discourse follows (8:12-59).  This is a continuation of the teaching that began in 7:14.  Jesus claims to be the “light of the world” (8:12), which had definite Messianic connotations (Isa. 49:6).  God Himself would illuminate His people in the messianic age (Isa. 60:19-22; Zech. 14:5b-7; cf. Rev. 21:23-24).  However, in Jesus’ day the “light of righteousness” was in mortal conflict with the “darkness of sin” (1:4, 9; 3:19-21).

Verse 20 locates this teaching in the “women’s courtyard,” also known as the “treasury” because it contained 13 shophar (ram’s horn) shaped receptacles for the Jews’ monetary offerings (cf. Mark 12:41-42).

Image result for women's court temple

Jesus began to contrast Himself with His critics by talking about His divine origin (8:21-30).

Jesus can testify about Himself because He, not they, has view of eternity: I know where I came from and where I am going.

Jesus can testify about Himself because He, not they, judges righteously: You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one.

Jesus can testify about Himself because His testimony is fully supported by God the Father: My judgment is true; for I am not alone.

–David Guzik

In verse 25 they ask, “Who are you?”

This question of the Pharisees comes from a combination of willful confusion and contempt.  Though Jesus has told them over and over who He is, they will continue to ask until they get an answer they can use to condemn Him.

When Jesus says he will be “lifted up,” he means “lifted up” off the ground on a cross. When Jesus is crucified, they will see the perfect obedience of the Son to the Father.

Jesus challenges them that true disciples will be grounded in His teachings.  Disciples who continue to abide (Gr. meno) in Jesus’ word (v. 31) come to “know the truth.”  Religious listeners were still slaves and could only find freedom in the Son and His teachings.

Recognizing that Jesus is making himself out to be equal with God, they seek to kill Him 8:48-59), but it is not His time.

Verse 58, “before Abraham was, I am” is the third time in this chapter Jesus uses the phrase I Am (John 8:24, 8:28), and here in John 8:58.

I Am: The ancient Greek phrase is ego emi, which is the same term used in the Greek translation of the Old Testament in Jesus’ day to describe the Voice from the burning bush.

In using the phrase I Am (John 8:24, 8:58, 13:19) Jesus used a clear divine title belonging to Yahweh alone (Exodus 3:13-14, Deuteronomy 32:39, Isaiah 43:10) and was interpreted as such by Jesus’ listeners (John 8:58-59).

–David Guzik

Proverbs 5 is a warning against adultery, with an emphasis on finding sexual satisfaction in one’s wife (vv. 15-19).  Adultery makes the news regularly.  Fidelity to one’s spouse seems a relic of the past.  Just recently I helped a couple celebrated 67 years together.  God bless those who stay faithful throughout their marriage.

“I am so grateful to the Lord that He gave me Ruth, and especially for these last few years we’ve had in the mountains together. We’ve rekindled the romance of our youth, and my love for her continued to grow deeper every day. I will miss her terribly, and look forward even more to the day I can join her in Heaven.”

– Billy Graham, June 14, 2007, the day Ruth died

Adultery destroys lives, marriages, families, ministries, legacies.  Solomon paints pictures to help his son “experience” the tragedy of adultery before it ever becomes a reality.

Solomon points out that illicit relationships often begin with talk (v. 3).  Her talk is sweet but the consequences are always bitter (vv. 3-7).

Every father should recommend to their sons…

8 Keep your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house,

Stay as far away from sexual temptation as possible.  Unfortunately, with the internet, it has crept  right into our homes.

Ruin comes upon those who taste the illusory sweetness of adultery (vv. 9-14).

One remedy for sexual temptation is sexual delight in your spouse (5:15-20).  Ray and Jani Ortlund have letters to would-be adulterers.  If you find yourself flirting with this temptation, please read them.  I would also encourage you to read Sex and the Supremacy of Christ.

God wants us to enjoy our sexuality in marriage.  He has written an entire book, The Song of Solomon, to exult in the sexual love enjoyed in marriage.  He instructs us in that book – as well as in this passage – that it is a good thing to enjoy sexual union and lovemaking with our wife.

God also wants to save us from the disaster of adultery.  One of the ways we do that is by being “intoxicated” with our spouse.

Galatians 4 continues the theme from the end of Galatians 3 that we are “sons” of God, and heirs (4:1-7).  The significant event was the incarnation of Jesus Christ.  He was born “in the fullness” of time, at just the right time in history.  James Montgomery Boice explains:

“It was a time when the pax Romana extended over most of the civilized earth and when travel and commerce were therefore possible in a way that had formerly been impossible.  Great roads linked the empire of the Caesars, and its diverse regions were linked far more significantly by the all-pervasive language of the Greeks.  Add the fact that the world was sunk in a moral abyss so low that even the pagan cried out against it and that spiritual hunger was everywhere evident, and one has a perfect time for the coming of Christ and for the early expansion of the Christian gospel.”

As sons, we cry out “Abba, Father” through the Holy Spirit.  This prompted Luther to write:

“Let the Law, sin, and the devil cry out against us until their outcry fills heaven and earth.  The Spirit of God outcries them all.  Our feeble groans, ‘Abba, Father,’ will be heard of God sooner than the combined racket of hell, sin, and the Law.”

Paul then argues that if you are a son, why go back under slavery to the law?  If you have gone from being a slave to a son, from being an enemy of the kingdom to being the heir of the kingdom, from being an ignorant idol-worshiper to knowing God and being known by God, then why would you possibly want to go back?

What You Were

What You Are

A Slave (4:7) A Son and an Heir (4:7)
You did not know God; you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods (4:8) You have come to know God, or rather to be known by God (4:9)

Paul contrasts himself with the false teachers in 4:12-20.  Paul bemoans the fact that they had received him so well in the past but now they perceive him as an enemy (vv. 12-16).

In vv. 17-18 Paul comes to the contrast between Himself versus the legalistic Judaizers. There is both a contrast as well as a comparison.

The Judaizers

Paul

They eagerly seek the Galatians He has eagerly sought the Galatians
They eager seeking of the Galatians was to shut them out from God’s blessings His eager seeking of the Galatians is to bring them into God’s kingdom
Their seeking is not commendable His seeking is in a commendable manner
Their goal is that they might be glorified His goal is that God might be glorified

We are not told the specifics of who were these Judaizers.  We can draw several conclusions from what Paul has said up to now.

    • They had come on the scene preaching a different gospel (Galatians 1:6-9).
    • Their message was that circumcision was a necessary part of salvation (Galatians 6:12).
    • It seems that they claimed to have inside information from Jerusalem as to the truth of the gospel.
    • Their message was couched in terms that were designed to be pleasing to the ear (Galatians 1:10).
    • Although circumcision was the main issue at hand, it was not the only issue. The same problem arose when Judaizers tried to get the Galatians to observe days and months and seasons and years (Galatians 4:10). The point is that there are many possible applications of this as legalism bears many faces.

This image that Paul presents is of a mother who has given birth to children, but now for some strange reason is having to go back and again suffer the labor pains.  In essence, he is saying, “We’ve already been through the pain of childbirth and there was a successful delivery.  Now that you have been born again, you ought to be growing and developing rather than bringing on more labor pains.”

In vv. 21-31 Paul uses an allegory involving two women and their sons, with two mountains.  Hagar represents the Mosaic covenant, enacted on Mt. Sinai, which merely exhibited how they were enslaved to sin.  This corresponds to the present Jerusalem.

On the other hand, Sarah represents the New Covenant, enacted at Calvary, freeing us to be sons.  This corresponds to the new Jerusalem.

This would have been a shocking statement to the Judaizers.  They knew that Ishmael had given birth to the Arab nations.  They were quick to look down upon the Arabs as being the people who were descended from a slave of Abraham and therefore of less position than themselves.  But Paul points out that all who were under the Mosaic Covenant were in this same position of slavery