Today’s readings are from Exodus 31, John 10, Proverbs 7 and Galatians 6.
Exodus 31 (31:1-11) begins by summarizing what God required for His people to approach Him: the tabernacle altars, furniture, regulations, and worship procedures; functions of the priests and their strict following of sacrifices and worship, including their holy garments, holy anointing with holy oil, and continual burning of holy incense; and the strict observance of the Sabbath by all Israelites. God appointed two specific and specially-gifted men who would be responsible over “all [the] skillful men,” for interpreting Moses’ instructions about the tabernacle, as well as constructing it. He also “filled” them with His “Spirit,” so that they would make choices consistent with His will (v. 3). (T. Constable)
Like Oholiab and Bezalel, we need to offer our talents to God. Their work was artistic craftsmanship, not particularly “sacred,” yet they did it for God’s glory.
Yahweh also reinforces the Sabbath (31:12-18), reminding them that they had entered into a measure of rest. Observance of the Sabbath was unique to Israel. It distinguished Israel from all other nations. So important was its observance that any Israelite, who failed to observe it (“whoever does any work on it”) died (v. 15). This “sign” was to continue “throughout all (your) generations” (v. 13), as long as God continued to work through Israel as His primary instrument (cf. Rom. 10:4; Heb. 9:10).
This chapter concludes with…
18 And he gave to Moses, when he had finished speaking with him on Mount Sinai, the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God.
Were the two tablets the two tables of the law, or two copies of the 10 words? Being a treaty between Yahweh and Israel, two copies (of the 10) fits the normal procedures for suzerainty treaties–one record for each party.
John 10 is where Jesus teaches about the sheep and shepherd. We are the sheep, Jesus is the true shepherd. There are false shepherds who are really thieves. But the sheep know the voice of their master.
David Guzik writes:
In the common sheepfolds of ancient times, the shepherd merely gave his distinctive call and his sheep came out from the others, following him out of the sheepfold. Sheep are experts at discerning their shepherd’s voice.
During World War I, the story goes, some Turkish soldiers tried to steal a flock of sheep from a hillside near Jerusalem. The shepherd, who had been sleeping, awoke to find his flock being driven off. He couldn’t recapture them by force, so he called out to his flock with his distinctive call. The sheep listened, and returned to their rightful owner. The soldiers couldn’t stop the sheep from returning to their shepherd’s voice.
Adam Clarke described six marks of the true and legitimate minister of God in these first six verses of John 10:
· He has a proper entrance into the ministry.
· He sees the Holy Spirit open his way as a doorkeeper to God’s sheep.
· He sees that the sheep respond to his voice in teaching and leadership.
· He is well acquainted with his flock.
· He leads the flock and does not drive them or lord it over them.
· He goes before the sheep as an example.
Jesus is not only the shepherd, but the gate (vv. 7-10).
Jesus is encouraging them to listen to His voice rather than the voice of false teachers. They are like Satan, come to “kill, steal and destroy” but Jesus comes to give “life to the full” (John 10:10).
Jesus identifies Himself as the “good shepherd.” He, unlike a hireling, laid down His life for His sheep. Jesus knows those who are His (v. 14) and seeks to bring others in (v. 16). It is important to remember that Jesus laid down His life of His own initiative and had the power to raise it again (v. 17).
It doesn’t surprise us that Jehovah’s Witnesses deny that Jesus could take His own life up again. Yet many others (such as Kenneth Copeland, Kenneth Hagin, Fred Price and others) teach that Jesus was a helpless victim in hell, saved only by the intervention of God the Father (David Guzik).
John 10:22-42 presents Jesus at the Feast of Dedication (also called Hanukkah, the Feast of Lights)
The present section of the fourth Gospel is strongly Christological and focuses on Jesus’ identity. In this subdivision of the text, Jesus presented Himself as the Messiah (vv. 22-30) and as the Son of God (vv. 31-39). This resulted in the climax of hostility against Him.
Jerusalem at winter
Solomon’s Colonnade was a place used for public gatherings. It is on the east side of the Temple grounds.
They accused Jesus of being demon possessed. It began with a request for Jesus to clarify His Messianic identity. But they had Jesus’ teachings and miracles (v. 25). Failing to believe that proved they were not Jesus’ sheep.
True sheep are doubly secured in the strong hands of Jesus (v. 28) and the Father (v. 29).
Of course, this led to the charge of blasphemy (v. 33).
Thomas Constable explains…
Jesus’ statement affirms the unity, authority, and inerrancy of Scripture. Jesus held a very high view of Scripture. His point was that it was inconsistent for the Jews to claim the Old Testament as their authority (v. 34), and then to disregard something that it said because they did not agree with it. It was inconsistent for them, specifically, to stone Jesus for claiming to be God and the “Son of God,” when the Old Testament spoke of humans as “gods” and as “God’s sons.”
Jesus had told them over and over again who He was. The problem wasn’t that Jesus was unclear about who He was and where He came from. The problem was that the religious leaders had hearts of unbelief that they wanted to blame on Jesus.
Jesus finally withdraws from Jerusalem because of the official rejection from the religious elite.
The event had symbolic significance that the evangelist probably intended. Jesus withdrew the opportunity for salvation from the people there because they refused to accept His gracious offer of salvation. Evidently Jesus went from Jerusalem back to Bethany in Perea, on the east side of “the Jordan” River, where the Jewish rulers had no authority to pursue Him (cf. 1:28).
Jesus knows his time is drawing close. So he returns to the place where it all started, the place where he was baptized and the Holy Spirit dove descended upon him. And there he prepares himself for what is to come.
Proverbs 7 focuses again on the adulterous woman are her seductive traps. Listen to instruction; that is vital. Sometimes we learn best through stories, so Solomon paints a picture of a foolish young man falling headlong for an adulterous woman. He neither looks for, nor takes, an escape path. He is walking too close to the fire.
The adulterous woman is smooth and seductive (not always quiet) in her invitation. She made him feel desired (v. 15), describes her love nest (vv. 16-17) and practically guarantees they will not get caught (vv. 18-20). As we almost suspected, she succeeds (v. 21), but the promised pleasure is simply an illusion and he has painful consequences to show for it (vv. 22-27)
Although free from the law, we have responsibilities towards one another (Gal. 6:1). We are to restore sinning brothers. The Greek word for “restore” here is katartizo. Elsewhere the Greek word, katartizo, refers to mending nets (Matt. 4:21; Mark 1:19) and setting a fractured or dislocated bone. This may involve confrontation (cf. Matt. 18:15-17). However, the “spiritual” Christian is the one that should do this, namely, one whose life bears the fruit of the Spirit because he or she habitually walks by the Spirit (5:16, 25). The more spiritually mature he or she is, having walked by the Spirit for some time, the better (cf. 1 Cor. 2:15; Heb. 5:13-14). This allows us to do this gently and circumspectly–watching out for similar sins in our own lives.
Regarding this care we give others, David Guzik explains…
There is no contradiction between bear one another’s burdens (in verse 2) and each one shall bear his own load (verse 5). In the latter, Paul speaks of our final accountability before God. In the former, he speaks of our need to care for others in the body of Christ.
There is also a difference in the wording Paul uses. The word for load in verse 5 is a common term for a man’s backpack. The word for burdens in verse 2 is a different word meaning “heavy burdens” — those that are more than a man should carry. In the end, we will are all responsible for our own work, but we can help bear the burdens of others.
An important life principle is given in Galatians 6:7-9…
7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
When you sow to the Spirit, don’t despair that you don’t see immediate results. Keep going. And when you sow to the flesh, don’t become arrogant and complacent when you don’t get punished immediately, your day will come.
We must sow to the Spirit day after day. What is sown, is sown in secret, but it will be revealed.
I’m not sure who came up with them (possibly John Lawrence), but I’ve seen the 7 laws of the harvest in several places:
- We Reap Only What Has Been Sown
- We Reap the Same In Kind As We Sow
- We Reap in a Different Season than We Sow
- We Reap More Than We Sow
- We Reap In Proportion to What We Sow
- We Reap the Full Harvest Of the Good Only if We Persevere
- We Can’t do Anything About Last Year’s Harvest, But We Can About This Year’s
Verse 14 is Paul’s desire, and should be ours, to boast in nothing but the cross. In John Piper’s sermon, Boasting Only in the Cross, he reminds us not to waste our lives, recounting this story he told at Passion OneDay 2000. Here is a shortened account:
Three weeks ago we got word at our church that Ruby Eliason and Laura Edwards had both been killed in Cameroon. Ruby was over eighty. Single all her life, she poured it out for one great thing: to make Jesus Christ known among the unreached, the poor, and the sick. Laura was a widow, a medical doctor, pushing eighty years old, and serving at Ruby’s side in Cameroon.
The brakes failed, the car went over the cliff, and they were both killed instantly. And I asked my people: Was that a tragedy? Two lives, driven by one great vision, spent in unheralded service to the perishing poor for the glory of Jesus Christ — two decades after almost all their American counterparts have retired to throw their lives away on trifles in Florida or New Mexico. No. That is not a tragedy. That is a glory.
I tell you what a tragedy is. I’ll read to you from Reader’s Digest (Feb. 2000, 98) what a tragedy is: “Bob and Penny . . . took early retirement from their jobs in the Northeast five years ago when he was 59 and she was 51. Now they live in Punta Gorda, Florida, where they cruise on their 30-foot trawler, play softball and collect shells.”
The American Dream: come to the end of your life — your one and only life — and let the last great work before you give an account to your Creator be, “I collected shells. See my shells.” That is a tragedy. And people today are spending billions of dollars to persuade you to embrace that tragic dream. And I get forty minutes to plead with you: don’t buy it.
Don’t waste your life. It is so short and so precious.
While the tone if Paul throughout Galatians is somewhat stern, he ends by wishing them peace.
“After the storm and stress and intensity of the letter comes the peace of the benediction. Paul has argued and rebuked and cajoled but his last word is GRACE, for him the only word that really mattered.” (William Barclay)
Thomas Constable ends the book of Galatians with this chart distinguishing grace and law in the book of Galatians:
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN GRACE AND LAW
“Grace . . .
Law . . .
|• is based on faith (2:16).||• is based on works (2:16).|
|• justifies sinful men (2:16, 17).||• is incapable of resulting in justification 2:16; 3:11).|
|• begins and ends with Christ (2:20).||• makes Christ nothing (5:2-4).|
|• is the way of the Spirit (3:2, 3, 14).||• is the way of the flesh (3:3).|
|• is a ‘blessing’ (3:14).||• is a ‘curse’ (3:13).|
|• is God’s desired end for His people (3:23-25).||• was intended to be only a means to an end (3:23-25).|
|• results in intimacy with Christ (3:27).||• results in estrangement from Christ (5:4).|
|• makes one a son of God and an heir of Christ (4:6, 7).||• keeps one a slave (4:7).|
|• brings liberty (5:1).||• results in bondage (5:1).|
|• depends on the power of the Holy Spirit (5:16-18, 22, 23).||• depends on human effort (5:19-21).|
|• is motivated by love (5:13, 14).||• is motivated by pride (6:3, 13, 14).|
|• centers on the cross of Christ (6:12-14).||• centered on circumcision (5:11; 6:12-15).”|