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Today’s Bible reading: Exodus 39-40:38; Mark 1:1-28; Psalm 35:1-16; Proverbs 9:11-12

We finish out our reading of Exodus today with passages describing the priest’s clothing that was made by the craftsmen. In Exodus 39 the craftsmen make the ephod, the chestpiece, the robe, and tunics. Although Bezalel was supervising the entire effort it wasn’t officially complete until Moses has inspected all the work (Exodus 39:43). Moses had been the one who had received the orders from God to build the Tabernacle and all that went in it so he was the one who was accountable to God for the results.

We haven’t read much about Moses in the last few chapters. That is probably because he was not actually helping to make any of these items. Moses was more of a “CEO” of the entire Israelite camp. Just like any good manager he had to delegate tasks to those who could best accomplish them. But in the final analysis it was Moses who was responsible for the results. If anything was not done to specification God would have held Moses accountable even though he probably hadn’t stitched a stitch or hammered a nail. A good manager lets his (or her) people do their work with minimal interference but with just enough supervision to be able to address problems before they get out of hand. In the end the people completed their work “just as the Lord had commanded” which is a great testimony to their conscientiousness and Moses’s leadership.

There are so many famous people in the Bible that we all have heard of. But how many of us have ever heard of Bezalel? Isn’t it great that he was given such an important job to do and as a result of doing that job so well he got rather lengthy mention in the Bible?

In Exodus 40:2 we read that one year had gone by since the Israelites departure from Egypt. Things started out a little rough with a bunch of complaining. At times the people wanted to go back to slavery in Egypt (a decision they would have soon regretted if it had happened). But over the past several months there was no complaining. I think that is because the entire camp was busy building the Tabernacle (those who didn’t help build it directly supported those who did). When we are focused on a task, especially a task that is important to us, we will not be focused on our problems. The people were not ready to enter Canaan yet. So God gave them an important task to keep them busy. I’m sure that time just flew by.

Once the Tabernacle and been constructed a cloud covered it and the glory of God filled it. Despite the golden calf incident God remained with His people. God doesn’t give up on anyone because of sin. If that were the case we’d all be in big trouble. God had made a promise to Israel and despite their fickle dedication He kept His end of the deal 100% of the time.

This concludes our reading in Exodus. Tomorrow we begin Leviticus. Isn’t the year going by fast?

We begin a new book in the New Testament today: Mark. The book of Mark is an account of the life of Jesus, just like Matthew (and also Luke and John). While all four of these authors wrote about the life of Jesus, they each did so from slightly different points of view. Matthew wrote to a Jewish audience and showed that Jesus was the Messiah that was foretold in the Old Testament. Mark wrote to a Gentile audience who would have known very little, if anything, about a coming Messiah. Instead Mark emphasizes Jesus as a servant – one who would give up His own life as a ransom for others.

In Mark 1:4-5 we read about the purpose of baptism. We are told that people “should be baptized to show that they had repented of their sins and turned to God to be forgiven”. Notice that belief and repentance come first. Baptism follows “to show” that a person believes. Baptism does not in itself save anyone from their sins. Some denominations, including Catholicism, claim that if a person is baptized as a baby then that person will go to heaven. That is not at all what the Bible teaches. Baptism is meant to be a public profession after the fact. Baptizing a baby does absolutely nothing.

Also notice that as part of the baptism ceremony people confessed their sins. The original Greek word that is translated “confess” here simply means to agree with. As part of the baptism ceremony people usually give a little speech about how they came to Christ and now “agree” with the fact that they are sinners in need of salvation from God. They are then immersed in water to symbolize their coming into a new life.

Although Jesus had no sins to confess He was baptized anyway. This is probably because He was beginning a new life. Jesus’s baptism was the start of His 3 1/2 year ministry on earth. It was at this point that He left His life as a carpenter behind to begin to teach the people about God, proclaiming of Himself as the Messiah, and culminating with His death on the cross as the payment for sins.

Notice the first words of Jesus recorded in Mark (Mark 1:15). Jesus proclaims that the “time” that was “promised” has arrived. The entire Old Testament had pointed to the coming Messiah and that Messiah is Jesus. He has come “at last”. Notice also that Jesus calls on people to “repent” and “believe”. Remember that “repent” means to change direction. One cannot “repent” without believing that they need to. And one cannot truly believe until they give up their old way of thinking. It makes no sense to say you “believe” in Jesus while at the same time denying your sinfulness and need for a Savior. The two go hand-in-hand. They cannot be separated.

Jesus had been teaching in Capernaum and all the people were amazed because He seemed to know more about what He was talking about than the religious teachers did. This is a good lesson for us today. Just because someone has a title that implies they know about God it doesn’t mean they do. At the same time someone who has never been to seminary can be an excellent teacher. All teaching should be measured by the Bible. If someone is teaching what God wrote then that person is a trustworthy teacher. But just like the religious teachers in Jesus day didn’t know what they were talking about (as we saw in Matthew and will see in Mark, Luke, and John) we have many people in leadership positions in churches all over the United States (and the world) who likewise are not speaking truth. What they teach cannot be trusted.

I think Mark 1:24 is very cool. A man possessed by demonic forces began shouting as Jesus. Notice that even though the people (and, more importantly, the religious leaders) didn’t recognize Jesus as the Messiah, the demons did. There are a couple of lessons here. First, make no mistake – Satan and his demons are very real. Second, they know the Bible better than you or I or any religious leader does.

Notice too that Jesus healed this man simply by stating a command: “Come out of the man”. No fancy rituals. No chanting or magic words. He simply confronted the enemy and ordered him to leave. Jesus knew He was more powerful than Satan. He was authoritative and confident. And why wouldn’t He be? You would be too if you were God.

I found Psalm 35:10 very interesting today. In the NLT it reads “Who else rescues the helpless from the strong?”. I was thinking about how strength can be a good thing and also a bad thing. In this case evidently someone stronger was picking on someone weaker. The author of the Psalm was obviously the weaker one and he cries out to God for help. God loves everyone. But He is definitely on the side of the weak, the oppressed, the helpless and poor.

I think we all have a time in our life when we can relate to Psalm 35:11-16. There was a time it seems when those pursuing David (the author of the Psalm) were friends. David was concerned for them when they were ill. But these people are now glad that David is in trouble . They sure aren’t praying for him! They are trying to destroy him. And it seems they have gotten others to join in (verse 15).

Proverbs 9:12 reminds us that we are responsible for ourselves and our own wisdom. Becoming wise will be beneficial. But scorning wisdom will bring suffering. When I read that I couldn’t help but think of teenagers who go with the crowd doing what is fun as the expense of doing what is wise just to “fit in”. In the long run that will turn out to be a very unwise decision.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post

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