Today’s Bible reading: Deuteronomy 16-17:20; Luke 9:7-27; Psalm 72:1-20; Proverbs 12:8-9
Today is Easter. Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ from hell, where He went after dying on the cross. Jesus spent 3 days in hell to pay the penalty for the sins of those who cast their sins upon Him. He was a sacrifice. He was our substitute.
Today in Deuteronomy 16 Moses reminds the people to celebrate Passover and what it meant to them. Passover is now Easter. When Jesus died on the cross the Passover festival was fulfilled for it looked forward to the day that a perfect human being, rather than a lamb, would be slain once and for all for the sins of mankind. Jesus was that perfect human being. Since He was God in a human body He was able to live a life without sin.
Israel left Egypt in such a hurry that they did not have time to make bread with yeast in it. Yeast (and leavened bread) became a symbol of sin. Just like a little yeast affects a whole bunch of dough, a little sin affects a whole bunch of people. Yeast also “puffs up” and so is symbolic of pride and arrogance which is the root of all sin.
Notice that the Festival of Unleavened Bread follows the Festival of Passover. This is because we cannot walk sinless lives until there has been a blood sacrifice to pay for those sins. All the festivals that God gave Israel point to Jesus and have been (or will be) fulfilled by Him. I wrote about this earlier in the year.
The Festival of Harvest (Deuteronomy 16:9-12) was fulfilled at Pentacost when God sent the Holy Spirit to indwell (or live in) the bodies of believers at that time. Today, at the moment a person is born-again, the Holy Spirit lives in a person. I don’t know how this works exactly but I can tell you first-hand that it is true. On that Tuesday night in June 1992 when I had my born-again experience something in me changed. I didn’t know about the Holy Spirit at that point – I learned a few days laters. But that night I could tell that something inside me had changed. It was very noticeable and obvious.
Notice that there was no sacrifice during the Feast of Harvest. It was a time of celebration – just like the joy one has when you give your life to Christ as I did in June 1992. This festival is the last fulfilled festival. We are now living in the “time of harvest” during which people are becoming believers. God is “harvesting” the world.
At the end of Israel’s harvest season was the Festival of Shelters. Notice that this festival begins and ends with a day of rest. In between is a week of celebration. This festival looks forward to the rest believers will have in the future in heaven once the “time of harvest” on earth is over.
God instructs Israel not to recognize any false religions once they are in the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 16:21). Their leaders were to keep people focused on the true God. Otherwise the people might start to believe in false gods and be lead astray from the God who created them, loved them, and would die for them. Sadly our society has crossed the point of no return on this issue. We are so tolerant of the worship of false gods that the true God is all but non-existent in the minds of Americans.
God does not accept defective offerings (Deuteronomy 16:1). Giving something that is less than perfect really isn’t a sacrifice.
Four hundred years in the future Israel will demand a king and we see here in Deuteronomy God give rules for how a king should be have. Sadly the kings of Israel will let power go to their heads and will break these commands.
One of the commands was for the king to write the entire law, by hand (they had no keyboards back then) and read it daily (Deuteronomy 16:8). What a great way to get God’s word into your head. One of the reasons I started this blog was for this very reason. Being in the Bible everyday and having to think about it so I can write about it has really changed my life. And we’re only on day 90. I can’t imagine how much more growth I will go through over the next 9 months.
Other things we can do today is to listen to God’s word daily. Today with portable music players and podcasts this is quite simple. Rather than listening to music in our cars or at work, we can listen to messages from pastors all over the world. I do this as well while I sit at my desk at work.
There so many subtleties in the Bible. Back in Luke 9:1 Jesus sent out His “disciples” which means “learners”. When they return here in Luke 9:10 the are called “apostles” which means “hose sent with authority and a message”. Isn’t that interesting? These teenagers had grown and matured during this experience.
We see the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 today. Although there were 5,000 men the total crowd was certainly at least 3 times that. Notice that when we place all we have, which may be very litte, in Jesus’s hands He can work miracles. All God is asking is that we offer Him what we are and what we have (Luke 9:13).
Jesus supplied more than enough for everyone there. There was no excuse for anyone who left hungry. Today Jesus is still offering more than enough to all of us. If anyone leaves this world “hungry” he has no one to blame but himself.
In Luke 9:21 Jesus tells the disciples that He must suffer and be killed. Notice that the suffering wasn’t optional. It was part of God’s plan and was foretold by the prophets in the Old Testament. That must have shocked the disciples. But it gets worse. Jesus then tells them that they must stop thinking of themselves and take up their own cross. This is clearly a reference to dying to oneself. Today the cross is a religious symbol that people wear around their necks. But the true meaning of the cross is death and the disciples would have understood this.
It does nothing to live for self (Luke 9:24). Everything we gain on this earth is temporary anyway. We only truly gain life by giving up our own and living for others.
Even kings (and presidents) need God’s help to do their job the right way (Psalms 72:2-4). Notice that leaders should provide refreshment. Their burden should not be heavy. No one should feel tired and worn out by following the orders from a leader.
As I read Proverbs 12:8 today it seemed to me that just the opposite is true in our culture. Sensible people, like those who advocate fiscal restraint and morality are despised and ridiculed by the majority – the vast majority. But those people with a warped sense of values including promoting abortion and celebrating homosexuality, are considered heros. What a mess we are in.
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post