Sunday, 31 January 2016

One Year Bible: Days 32-59

Day 32
Job 23:10 contains a spiritual gem – “He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” Failure to bear fruit leads to judgment (Matthew 21:19John 15:16). When we face testing and purging, we must not lose sight of the presence of God. Whatever difficulties there may be, we stand on the Lord’s promises – “you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble … the Lord will be at your side and will keep your foot from being snared” (Proverbs 3:23,26).
Day 33
There is a judgment of God. Job’s ‘friends’ brought no comfort to him. They failed to discern the presence and purpose of God in Job’s sufferings. All the prophets of God and, above all, the Son of God, encountered persecution. There will, however, come a day when the enemies of the Lord will be brought to judgment: “The Lord thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded. He shot His arrows and scattered the enemy, with great bolts of lightning He routed them” (Psalm 18:13-14).
Day 34
There were hypocrites trying to condemn Job. There were “hypocrites … trying to trap” Jesus (Matthew 22:18). In both cases, they had to give up – “they had found no way to refute Job” (Job 32:3); “No-one could say a word in reply” to Jesus (Matthew 22:46). The testimony of God’s people is summed up in Psalm 18:17-18: “He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support.”
Day 35
There is a great similarity between Job’s ‘comforters’ and the Pharisees. Job’s ‘comforters’ say, “Should God then reward you on your terms, when you refuse to repent? …  Job speaks without knowledge; his words lack insight … To his sin he adds rebellion … and multiplies his words against God” (Job 34:33-37). To the Pharisees, Jesus says, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the Kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to” (Matthew 23:13-14). There is, however, a better way – “You save the humble but bring low those whose eyes are haughty” (Psalm 18:27).
Day 36
The Return of the Lord will be “with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30). Even in the rather arrogant words of Elihu, in his proud rebuke of Job, there is the recognition of the power and glory of the Lord’s coming – “God comes in awesome majesty” (Job 37:22). The Lord of power, glory and majesty is also the God of grace who desires to share all of this with us – He will “present you with a crown of splendour” (Proverbs 4:9). This is a great Gospel truth – the grace of God. Sadly, it was something which didn’t really figure in Elihu’s thinking. 
Day 37
The story of our life is only understood once we see the full picture. The book of Job is not understood by reading the words of Job and his ‘comforters’. We must also hear the Word of the Lord. The history of God’s salvation is not understood by reading only about Christ’s first coming. We must look on to His Second Coming. Concerning that Coming, we might imagine Jesus Christ speaking to the Father in the words of the Psalmist: “You armed me with strength for battle; You humbled my adversaries before me” (Psalm 18:39; see also Philippians 2:9-11 and 1 Corinthians 15:24-28).
Day 38
“The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first” (Job 42:12). “For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance” (Matthew 25:29). Both of these statements occur within the context of the call to be faithful to God. This faithfulness to God is not something in which man himself glories – “Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink?” (Matthew 25:37). In view of the Lord’s blessing, His people say, “The Lord lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be God my Saviour!” (Psalm 18:46).
Day 39
Exodus 1:1-3:22; Matthew 26:1-30; Psalm 19:1-6
The mighty redemption of God in the Old Testament was focused on the Exodus. The mighty redemption in the New Testament is focused on the Cross – Jesus’ ‘exodus’ or ‘departure’. The Exodus led to “the land flowing with milk and honey” (Exodus 3:17). The Cross leads to the “Father’s Kingdom” (Matthew 26:29). As we concentrate on these mighty once-for-all events of redemption, we must never forget the ongoing activity of divine revelation: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech” (Psalm 19:1-2). 
Day 40
Moses was not eloquent. God made him a mighty man of faith. Peter denied his Lord. God restored him and established him in Christ. We are inadequate and unworthy. God can do great things in us and through us. The Lord is leading His people on to better things: “The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day” (Proverbs 4:18). 
Day 41
There is a clear similarity between Pharaoh and Judas. Pharaoh said, “I will let you go …” (Exodus 8:28). He didn’t keep his promise. ”Judas said, ‘Greetings, Rabbi!’ and kissed Jesus” (Matthew 26:49). He betrayed Jesus. How are we to avoid this hypocrisy, this marked discrepancy between our words and our actions? Psalm 19:7 points the way – “The Law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul.”
Day 42
The tragedies of Pharaoh and Judas continue – “the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart … Moses replied … I will never appear before you again” (Exodus 10:27-28). Judas “went away and hanged himself” (Matthew 27:5). This is the tragedy of those whose hearts are hardened against the Lord. The opportunity of grace comes. It is missed. It is never so near again. This is the tragedy of spiritual suicide. The contrast between Pharaoh and Israel is clear: “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the Name of the Lord our God. They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm” (Psalm 20:7-8). The contrast between Judas and Jesus is clear: “I know that the Lord gives victory to His anointed (Christ). He answers him from His heavenly sanctuary with the victorious power of His right hand” (Psalm 20:6). The Resurrection is God’s answer to prayer of the Christ: “Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46). 
Day 43
In Exodus 12:13, we read of the Passover – “when I see the blood, I will pass over you.” In the story of Christ’s crucifixion, we have the message of His blood being shed for sinners. This is illustrated in the events of Jesus being crucified and Barabbas being set free. the chief priests and the teachers of the law did not understand what was really happening. God was bringing salvation to sinners through the death of Christ, the sinless Saviour. In Christ, there are “eternal blessings” (Psalm 16:6). These blessings are given to us by God.
Day 44
“The waters were divided, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left” (Exodus 14:21-22). “At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom” (Matthew 27:51). The dividing of the waters and the tearing of the curtain are the results of the mighty activity of God. They are signs of His great work of redemption. ”Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you” (Proverbs 4:25). This is what the Israelites had to do, as they were going through the Red Sea. This is what we must do, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus and saying from the heart, “Surely, He was the Son of God” (Matthew 27:54). 
Day 45
The great Old Testament events of redemption have taken place – the Exodus from Egypt and the crossing of the Red Sea. Now, the Lord’s people must make their way through the wilderness. The great New Testament events of redemption have taken place – the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. To His people, the Lord says, “Surely I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). To both Israel and the Church, God gives His promise: “Though they plot evil against you and devise wicked schemes, they cannot succeed” (Psalm 21:11). The victory is the Lord’s. He gives His victory to us.
Day 46
The life of faith is never an easy life. We have to do battle with the world, the flesh and the devil. We see the influence of the world in Exodus 17:3 – “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt… ?” We may also see this as the influence of the flesh. The world appeals to our desire for the things of the flesh. The influence of the world and the flesh is also seen in Psalm 22. We see the Psalmist’s feeling that God is far from him – “Why are You so far from saving me… ?” (Psalm 22:1). The Psalmist’s sense of abandonment is seized upon by the world - ”All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads” (Psalm 22:7). The ultimate origin of temptation is the devil – Jesus was “tempted by Satan” (Mark 1:13). In our conflict with the world, the flesh and the devil, we, like Jesus – “angels attended Him” (Mark 1:13) – can know the strength and victory which God gives. 
Day 47
Those who seek to be mighty before men must learn to be humble before God. “Moses went up to God… “, “Moses went back and summoned the elders of the people and set before them all the words the Lord had commanded him to speak” (Exodus 19:3,7). “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed”, “He travelled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons” (Mark 1:35,39). The Psalmist was unable to speak for the Lord; “My mouth is dried up… my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth” (Psalm 22:15). What did he do? He prayed – “But you, Lord, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me” (Psalm 22:19).
Day 48
There is a world of difference between legal obedience and Gospel obedience. It is the difference between “old wine” and “new wine” (Mark 2:21-22). The religion of the Pharisees was legalistic. The obedience of Jesus was truly spiritual. These men could not stand Jesus -  “the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus” (Mark 3:6). Forget the mighty redemption of God (Exodus 20:1), and you are left with a whole lot of rules and regulations” (Exodus 21-22). If you become obsessed with the rules and regulations, you will have no real love for the Redeemer and His redemption. If our lives are to have real spiritual depth and not mere religious observance, we need to “pay attention to (God’s) wisdom” and “listen well to (His) words of insight” (Proverbs 5:1).
Day 49
Exodus 23:1-24:18; Mark 3:31-4:29; Psalm 22:22-31
The people of Israel were called by God to celebrate His goodness:  “Celebrate the Festival of Harvest with the firstfruits of the crops you sow in your field” (Exodus 23:16). A good harvest is used by Jesus as a symbol of a rich, spiritual harvest – “Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown” (Mark 4:20). The linking of the physical and the spiritual is found in Psalm 22:26 – “The poor will eat and be satisfied; those who seek the Lord will praise Him.”
Day 50
The Lord’s people were in the wilderness. Nevertheless, the Lord’s presence, symbolized by the tabernacle, was with them (Exodus 25-26). Jesus’ disciples were caught in the storm. Nevertheless, the Lord was with them, and He brought peace (Mark 4:35-41). The greatest wilderness, the greatest storm is death itself. Through faith, we can say, “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me” (Psalm 23:4).
Day 51
Exodus 27:1-28:43; Mark 5:21-6:6a; Psalm 24:1-10
“Whenever Aaron enters the Holy Place, he will bear the names of the sons of Israel over his heart” (Exodus 28:29). This bearing of the names on the heart is seen supremely in Jesus. He was not prepared to let the woman, who had touched the hem of His garment, slip away unnoticed. Jesus wanted to her personally – “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering” (Mark 5:34). He bore her name on His heart of love. The Lord, who bears us on His heart, is the God of perfect holiness: “Make a plate of pure gold and engrave on it as on a seal: HOLY TO THE LORD” (Exodus 28:36). “Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in His holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart” (Psalm 24:3-4). There is only One who meets these requirements – our Lord Jesus Christ. The Gospel proclaims that this Saviour, perfect in holiness and perfect in love, shares the blessing with us.
Day 52
Some people thought that Jesus was “a prophet like one of the prophets of long ago” (Mark 6:15). He was more than a prophet. He was also greater than the priests of whom we read in Exodus 29. When we look at an evil king such as Herod, it is encouraging to know that, in face of such tyranny, there is a greater King, the King of kings, our Lord Jesus Christ. To know Jesus as Prophet, Priest and King is to have no need to run to anyone else – “None but Christ can satisfy” (Read Proverbs 5:18-20 and move beyond this to the true, spiritual satisfaction which Christ alone can bring to us.)
Day 53
Moses calls to the people, “Whoever is for the Lord, come to me” (Exodus 33:26). Jesus also invites His apostles to “come” – “Come with Me … to a quiet place” (Mark 6:31). To come with Jesus to a quiet place is not to discover a place of permanent tranquility. Jesus and His apostles were soon surrounded by “a large crowd” – “The number of the man … was five thousand” (Mark 6:34,44). Jesus takes us to “the quiet place” so that we may receive strength for the task of bringing the Bread of Life to those who are learning to pray the prayer of the Psalmist: “Show me your ways, Lord, teach me Your paths. Guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Saviour” (Psalm 25:4-5).
Day 54
What a difference there is between Moses, coming down from Mount Sinai, and the Pharisees of Jesus’ day. Moses had “the two tablets of the testimony in his hands” and “his face was radiant” (Exodus 24:29-30). Concerning the Pharisees, Jesus, quoting Isaiah 29:13, said, “These people honour Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me” (Mark 7:6). How can we be radiant, like Moses, and not hypocritical, like the Pharisees? -  ”My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only He will release my feet from the snare” (Psalm 25:15).
Day 55
“The people are bringing more than enough for doing the work the Lord commanded to be done” (Exodus 36:5). “The people ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over” (Mark 8:8). Jesus always has more to give than we are able to receive. Our response is to be an increased generosity in our giving to Him. We face the multiplying of troubles – “The troubles of my heart have multiplied” – and the increase of opposition – “See how my enemies have increased” (Psalm 25:17,19). In this deeply distressing situation, the multiplying of God’s saving grace and the increase of His keeping power – “May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope, Lord, is in You. Deliver Israel, O God, from all their troubles!” (Psalm 25:21-22).
Day 56
Jesus warns His disciples against the godless influence of the Pharisees. Their influence on people is classed along with the evil influence of Herod (Matthew 8:15). The Pharisees had become obsessed with the externals of religion but they had lost the awareness of God’s glory. They conformed to the details (the kind of thing we find in Exodus 37-38), but they had missed the real meaning of worship – giving glory to God. To those who bound by an evil legalism, God’s Word says, “Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like a bird from the snare of the fowler” (Proverbs 6:5). The freedom which Christ gives is not freedom without discipline. Scripture says, “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!” (Proverbs 6:6).
Day 57
“The glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle” (Exodus 40:34-35). There is, however, an even greater demonstration of God’s glory – in Christ. Concerning Christ, God says, “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to Him!” (Mark 9:7). The glory of God, revealed through the ministries of Moses and Elijah (the law and the prophets), was nothing compared with the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ (Mark 8:8). The Psalmist says, “Lord, I love the house where You live, the place where Your glory dwells” (Psalm 26:8). Why do we go to the House of the Lord? – “in the great assembly I will praise the Lord” (Psalm 26:12).
Day 58
The offerings were to be “made to the Lord”. They were to be “pleasing to the Lord.” These recurring phrases emphasize the importance of keeping the Lord at the centre of all that we do. We are not to argue about who is the greatest (Mark 9:34). There is one Name that is above every name. It is the Name of Jesus. Our sacrifice is to be the sacrifice of joy. Let us, with gladness, bring our sacrifice of joy to the Lord – “at His tabernacle I will sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord” (Psalm 27:6).
Day 59
The most important thing of all is to be in a right relationship with God. This is the point which is emphasized in Israel’s sacrificial system. All other relationships are secondary to our relationship with God. Jesus makes this point in Mark 10:29-30. Leave all your loved ones for Him and the Gospel and you will “receive a hundred times as much in this present age … and in the age to come eternal life.” The Psalmist affirms that his relationship with God is more important than anything else: ”Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me” (Psalm 27:10).