Father Steve’s One Year Bible Study Notes Days 1 -251

Father Steve’s One Year Bible Study Notes Days 1 -251

One Year Bible Challenge

Notes from Fr. Steve

Notes for day #1

I received a question in reference to Genesis 1:26. Here is my answer:

As you can see; God is talking in the plural, or as if to someone else present. We believe as you will read in the first chapter of John, Jesus, the Logos, the Word, was from the beginning. It is as if God is “holding court” with people when he is speaking in Genesis 1:26.

The answer to your question.

We do not believe that God is saying for us to look like him, as if making a carbon copy. In his (or as we read) “our likeness”, the answer is after verse 26, so that in God’s likeness, we will have control, and dominion over certain things in his creation. St. Jerome’s commentary says that we will have a special “Divine” blessing over some things in his creation.

Matthew Chapter 1

Matthew 1:1 “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.”

“The book of the generation of Jesus Christ”: This phrase is viewed by some as Matthew’s title for the entire gospel. The Greek phrase translated “book of the generation” is exactly the same phrase used in (Gen. 5:1 in the LXX).

The genealogy of Christ opens by connecting Jesus to the family line of the promised Messiah. “Jesus” Greek Iesous; Hebrew Yehoshua) is His earthly name, meaning, “the LORD is salvation.” Christ is the title most often linked to His name in the New Testament. So it is technically, “Jesus the Christ.” By tracing Jesus’ ancestry back to King David, through the line of Davidic kings, Matthew connects Jesus with His royal heritage.

The Hebrew Jeshua means “the Lord is Salvation”.

“Son of David”: A messianic title used as such in only the synoptic gospels.

I believe here, that this generation of Jesus Christ begins with Abraham, because he is the father of all believers as we read in (Gal. 3:29).

“And if ye [be] Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

“Son of Abraham”: Takes His royal lineage all the way back to the nation’s inception in the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen. 12:1-3).

Remember, all believers in the Lord Jesus Christ make up spiritual Israel, the (spiritual), descendants of Abraham, because of their faith. We read in the 17th chapter of Genesis that these spiritual descendants of Abraham would be so many, they will be impossible to number.

Genesis 17:5 “Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee.”

Physical Israel is just one nation. This is speaking of spiritual Israel (all believers in Christ). Verse 7 of the same chapter of Genesis, it makes it clear that these are spiritual descendants.

Genesis 17:7 “And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.”

This covenant was based on Abraham’s faith and on the faith of his spiritual descendants. Abram (high father), was changed to Abraham (father of a multitude).

Matthew 1:2 “Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren;”

This genealogy starts with the three Old Testament patriarchs, whom the blessings were passed down through. “Isaac” means laughter. Jacob’s name was changed to Israel. “Jacob” meant trickster, and God changed his name to “Israel”, which means having power with God.

This Israel was the father of the twelve tribes of Israel. This Judas was the same as “Judah” (God be praised). Jesus is shown as being the Lion of the tribe of Judah. This first gospel (Matthew), shows Jesus as a Lion (the first of the 4 faces of the beast in Revelation).

Verses 3-8: “Judas” is the Greek form of Judah, the father of the tribe so named. The promise of Jacob was the leadership of the 12 tribes would come through Judah (Gen 49:3-12).

“Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and wife of Uriah: Four women of “questionable” qualifications appear in this genealogy in addition to Mary, the virgin mother of Jesus. It was not customary to list the names of women in a genealogy; therefore, the inclusion of these names must be deliberate on the part of the author. Tamar was the mother of two illegitimate sons (Pharez and Zerah) by her father-in-law, Judah. Rahab was the converted prostitute of Jericho and the mother of Boaz.

Ruth, the wife of Boaz, was a godly foreigner (Moabitess). The wife of Uriah is none other than Bathsheba, whose adultery with David is infamous. However, she later became the legitimate wife of David and the mother of Solomon.

Matthew 1:3 “And Judas begat Pharez and Zerah of Tamar; and Pharez begat Hezron; and Hezron begat Ram;”

“Judas”: This is the Greek form of Judah, Jacob’s son, through whom it was promised that the leadership of the twelve tribes would come (Gen. 49:3-12).

“Thamar”: It is unusual for women to be named in genealogies. Matthew names 5:

1. Thamar or Tamar was a Canaanite woman who posed as a prostitute to seduce Judah (Genesis 38:13-30).

2. “Rahab” (verse 5), was a Gentile and prostitute (Joshua 2:1).

3. “Ruth” (verse 5), was a Moabite woman (Ruth 1:3), and a worshipper of idols.

4. “Bathsheba” wife of Uriah (verse 6), committed adultery with David (2 Sam chapter 11).

5. “Mary” (verse 16), bore the stigma of pregnancy outside of wedlock. Each of these women is an object lesson about the workings of divine grace.

Matthew 1:4 “And Ram begat Amminadab; and Amminadab begat Nahshon; and Nahshon begat Salmon;”

Nahshon (Revised Version), begat Salmon. This line of descent, from Nahshon to David, is also given by Luke (Luke 3:31, 32), and is derived from (Ruth 4:18-22).

Verses 5-6: Salmon was the father of Boaz by Rahab … Jesse was the father of David the king. This is not an exhaustive genealogy. Several additional generations must have elapsed between Rahab) in Joshua’s time) and David (verse 6), nearly 4 centuries later. Matthew’s genealogy (like most of the biblical ones), sometimes skips over several generations between well-known characters in order to abbreviate the listing.

Matthew 1:5 “And Salmon begat Boaz of Rachab; and Boaz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse;”

We need to stop for a moment here and recognize that Jesus was descended in the flesh from Boaz (a Jewish man), and Ruth, a Moabite (a Gentile). This actually makes Jesus both Jew and Gentile. Rachab is Rahab the prostitute.

Matthew 1:6 “And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her [that had been the wife] of Uriah;”

“David” (the beloved of God) was in the ancestry of Jesus. God promised David that his descendant would come and rule. A very strange thing is that Jesus, through the flesh, was a descendant of David, but in the Spirit was David’s God. David called Him Lord.

We also see in the verse above; just how forgiving God really is. David had Uriah killed so he (David), could have Bathsheba, Uriah’s wife. David’s and Bathsheba’s first child died, but God blessed them later with Solomon. God’s people are not perfect, just forgiven.

Matthew 1:7-8 “And Solomon begat Rehoboam; and Rehoboam begat Abijah; and Abijah begat Asa;” “And Asa begat Jehoshaphat; and Jehoshaphat begat Jehoram; and Jehoram begat Uzziah;”

Matthew skips over Ahaziah, Joash, and Amaziah, going directly from Jehoram to Uzziah (Ozias, a form of Uzziah). Using a kind of genealogical shorthand, he seems to do this intentionally in order to make a symmetrical 3-fold division in verse 17.

Verses 9-10: Uzziah is referred to as Uzziah (Isaiah 6:1), and Azariah (2 Kings 14:21). Three generations are omitted at this point. Matthew omits the names of Ahaziah, Joash, and Amaziah, and then omits Jehoiakim after the name of Josiah. The omissions are doubtless due to his arbitrary shortening of the list to give three groups of 14.

Matthew 1:9-10 “And Uzziah begat Jotham; and Jotham begat Ahaz; and Ahaz begat Hezekiah;” “And Hezekiah begat Manasseh; and Manasseh begat Amon; and Amon begat Josiah;”

These verses contain the genealogy of Jesus. Luke also Luke 3 gives a genealogy of the Messiah. No two passages of Scripture have caused more difficulty than these, and various attempts have been made to explain them.

Verses 11-15: Jechoniah is also called Jehoiachin (2 Kings 24:8), and Coniah (Jer. 22:24), and was cursed from having any descendant “upon the throne of David” according to (Jer. 22:30). Notice that Jesus is not a natural descendant of his. He was recognized by the Jews of the Exile as their last legitimate king.

“Carried away to Babylon” refers to the 70 years’ captivity of the Jews in Babylon during the days of Daniel the prophet.

Matthew 1:11 “And Josiah begat Jechoniah and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon:”

Josiah became the father of Jechoniah. Again, Matthew skips a generation between Josiah and Jechoniah (1 Chron. 3:14-16). Jechoniah is also called Jehoiachin (2 Kings 24:6; 2 Chron. 36:8), and sometimes Coniah (Jer. 22:24). Jechoniah’s presence in the genealogy presents an interesting dilemma.

Jechoniah, called “Coniah” in (Jer. 22:24-30. A curse on him forbade any of his descendants from the throne of David forever (Jer. 22:30). Had Jesus been the “natural” son of Joseph, He could not have reigned on David’s throne. However, since His natural lineage is through Mary, and His legal authority is granted through His adoptive relationship to Joseph’s line, this curse does not apply to Him.

Since Jesus was heir through Joseph to the royal line of descent, but not an actual son of Joseph and thus not a physical descendant through this line, the curse bypassed him.

Matthew 1:12 “And after they were brought to Babylon, Jechoniah begat Salathiel; and Salathiel begat Zerubbabel;”

Salathiel the father of Zerubbabel (see 1 Chron. 3:17-19), where Zerubbabel is said to be the offspring of Pedaiah, Salathiel’s brother. Elsewhere in the Old Testament, Zerubbabel is always called the son of Salathiel (e.g. Hag. 1:1; Ezra 3:2; Nehemiah 12:1). Possibly Salathiel adopted his nephew. Zerubbabel is the last character in Matthew’s list that appears in any of the Old Testament genealogies.

Matthew 1:13-15 “And Zerubbabel begat Abiud; and Abiud begat Eliakim; and Eliakim begat Azor;” “And Azor begat Sadoc; and Sadoc begat Achim; and Achim begat Eliud;” “And Eliud begat Eleazar; and Eleazar begat Matthan; and Matthan begat Jacob;”

I know that you have noticed the difference in the spelling of the names here and in the Old Testament. Most of this is caused because of the difference in the Greek and Hebrew languages.

Matthew 1:16 “And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.”

“Joseph the husband of Mary”: the wording carefully avoids giving the impression that Joseph was the natural father of Jesus. As the husband of Mary, he was Jesus’ legal father and the one through whom He had a right to David’s throne. Every emphasis of the text at this point reinforces the doctrine of the virgin birth of Christ.

The pronoun “whom” is singular, referring to Mary alone. The unusual way in which this final entry is phrased underscores the fact that Jesus was not Joseph’s literal offspring. The genealogy nonetheless establishes His claim to the throne of David as Joseph’s legal heir.

Joseph was legally but not physically the father of Jesus (verses 18-25). Though a carpenter in Nazareth (13:55), he was a legal heir of King David (verses 5:16, 20). He was a just and God-fearing man who faithfully carried out God’s commands regarding Mary and the birth of Jesus (verses 19-25).

Joseph is mentioned in Scripture only in the Gospels and only in relation to Jesus Christ’s childhood. The subsequent silence of Scripture suggests that Joseph died before the time of Christ’s public ministry.

Notes for day #4

I hope that everyone is keeping up with the readings, we are now into day #4. If you are not, you still have time to catch up.

You may have seen the word “Selah” at the end of verses in the Psalms. Selah is pronounced “Say-La”. Often, I have heard lay folks while reading the Psalms actually say “Selah”. Selah is actually written 71 times in the 150 Psalms.

The Psalms were written to be songs. Selah at the end of a verse is there to remind the musician to pause. So, actually “Selah” is meant to remind the musician, in most cases, players of string instruments, to pause, or take a break before moving on.

To those who are asked to lead the readings of Psalms in Church; please refrain from saying “Selah”  while reading a Psalm.

Notes for day #5 – Genesis 13-15: A little Bible knowledge from today’s OT lesson; Genesis 14:2. King Bera of Sodom; Bera means “Evil”; King Birsha of Gomorrah; Birsha means “Wickedness”.

Notes for Day #6.  A Reminder when reading the Bible. When you see LORD (spelled in all capital letters), that means God. When you see Lord (spelled in capital and small letters) that means Jesus.

In Genesis 16:7 we read “the angel of the LORD found her…”. This was not really an angel, but God himself. Look further at Genesis 16:13 where Hagar says that she saw God and was allowed to remain alive after seeing God.

In Genesis 18:12-15, we learn why the child that Sarah would finally conceive by Abraham would be called Isaac; which means “he laughs” or one who laughs. Not because Isaac would laugh, but because Sarah laughed at the possibility she would become pregnant by Abraham at their advanced age.

In Genesis 18:22-33; it is interesting how Abraham “negotiates” with the LORD (God) about not destroying Sodom and Gomorrah.

In Matthew 6:13 we have the “ending” of the Lord’s Prayer at “But deliver us from evil”. The doxology as we are used to saying “for thine is the Kingdom, and the Glory for ever and ever” was added much later by the Church. Actually in the Episcopal Church we also end the Lord’s Prayer during a specific service without saying the Doxology, and it is for Noonday Prayers. Look at page 106 of the Book of Common Prayer.

Notes for day #8.   In Genesis 19:5-7; this is indeed men who want to have sexual intercourse with other men. This is fairly clear with the most notable scholars and commentators in Ancient and present Biblical interpretation. The term “Sodomites” comes from this incident. How you want to interpret further is up to you, and I will leave it there.

In Genesis 19:22 Zoar means “little”

Genesis 19:31-35. Yes, Lots daughters had sexual intercourse with their father. I do not know how he could not know what was going on, even while he was made drunk by his daughters, but the fact remains, he did have sexual intercourse with his daughters, and they conceived. Biblical scholars will say that they did this in order to produce offspring, for they thought that there would be no generations of people after them, after all they did see the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Moabite means “from Father”;  Ammonite means “Son of my parent”.

In Genesis 20:2, we have again Abraham passing off his wife Sarah, as being his sister, refer back to Genesis 12:11-13. However, in Genesis 20:12; Abraham says that Sarah is his sister (by his father, but not the same mother as him). In this period of time, marriage with your half-sister was permitted.

Notes for day #9.  In Genesis 24:2; we see this saying about putting one’s hand under the thigh in order to take an oath. Well, actually, the hand was put on, or just below the genitals when taking an oath. High regard was given to the human reproductive system, and the genitals were seen as a “deity”, thus high regard were given to the genitals when swearing an oath.

Psalm 8 is a hymn celebrating God’s Glory and man’s God-Given dignity, look at verses 5-8.

Matthew 8:4 [Refer to Leviticus 14:2-32]

Mathew 8:22. To Follow Jesus implies strict obedience to his call, and this call must have precedence over every other duty or love. Saying allowing the dead to bury the dead, is more of a metaphor in order to imply this strict duty to put all others things aside when called to follow Jesus.

Notes for Day #10

Genesis 25: Abraham’s 2nd wife was Keturah, which means “incense”. Abraham was 175 years old when he died. The birth of Isaac’s twins set in motion events that go back to Cain & Able, and show sibling rivalry. The well that was dug without quarreling in 26:22 is called Rehoboth, which means “Broad Places or Room” you can see why there are Churches called Rehoboth, which means there is room for all. The scene where Isaac & his mother Rebekah tricked Jacob into giving him (Jacob) his birthright was done by him (Isaac) being deceived by his senses of taste, touch, and smell. These same senses that lure people into inappropriate sexual encounters. Psalm 9:18-19 should sound familiar to those who come to Evening Prayer. 

Genesis 25:26 Jacob means “He takes by the heal or he supplants.”

Genesis 25:27-28 Hunter and shepherd, the two rival ways of life. Look back at Cain & Abel.

Matthew 9:16-17 The Gospel is incompatible with the Law. Judaism is not to determine the form that the Gospel will take. Basically the interpretation here is: “Out with the Old & In with the New”.  In the recent series of “Chosen” that can be viewed on the internet, when Jesus calls Matthew to follow him, Peter objects, and tells Jesus that “Matthew is different”. Jesus responds to Matthew by saying; “Get used to things being different”. 

Notes for Day 11

Genesis 28-30. What a spin cycle? Do you see a payback to Jacob when he is given Leah the older daughter of Laban instead of Rachel first? As you can see, Jacob has been “very busy”.

In Genesis 28:22, we read about a tithe, 10 percent.

Genesis 29:17. Jacob did not want Leah because her “eyes were weak”. This meant that they lacked luster.

Genesis 30:14 We read about mandrakes. Mandrakes are roots from a potato like plant. Mandrakes were thought to be an aphrodisiac, which when consumed, they stimulated conception.

Notes for Day 12

As you can see in our Genesis reading today for today, Genesis 31; the tricks continue. Rachel steals, and Jacob is deceived by Rachel. Rachel stealing the god artifacts which are supposed to be given to her father’s (Laban) firstborn son is a parallel to Jacob’s theft of Esau’ birthright. Of course, Rachel ends up receiving the death wish from Jacob (31:32 – spoiler, this will come in the not too distant future (Chapter 35). It is also comical as to how Rachel avoids being searched by her father., Genesis 31:34. Of course, what we are talking about is Rachel is in her 28 day cycle (Period). 

In Genesis 32:28, we see that Jacob’s name will be changed to Israel, which means “God Rules”. 

The cities that Jesus is talking about in verses 20-23 of Matthew 11; were in the Valley area south of Jerusalem & were seen as evil. They practiced child sacrifice.

Notes for Day 13

In Genesis 34; the rape of Dinah is one of the missing readings you do not hear much of in our 3 year lectionary. Some points on this: Dinah really has no say in what happened to her. Her brothers seek revenge in order to save face to the family name; not because of what happened to her per say. The trickery by Jacobs sons to the men of Canaan is something. He says that if all of them are circumcised; they will honor the request & allow Shechem who raped Dinah to have her and other property. So what happens? All the Canaanite men get circumcised. What happens in Genesis 34:25? The trickery continues. While they are still in pain, recovering from the circumcision, Simeon & Levi, take advantage of the situation & kill them while they are not able to run (A little side humor). Then to give you another example of why we should not rely on those little bulletin inserts. How many have you heard read in Church Genesis 34:31, the New Revised Standard Version – “But they said; ‘Should our sister be treated like a whore?”

In Genesis 35; Ephrath is better known as Bethlehem.

Genesis 35:22-26 Jacob (Israel) had 12 sons.

Genesis 35:28 Isaac was 180 years old when he died.

Matthew 12:31 We read Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is not forgiven. The St. Jerome Biblical Commentary has this to say about going against the Holy Spirit: “The one who will not accept the work of the Spirit has made it impossible for himself to recognize the word and the work of God.”

Matthew 12:42. The Queen of the South. Look at 1 Kings 10:1-10 (Queen of Sheba)

Anglican theologian, Richard Hooker is credited with the term: Scripture, Tradition, and Reason. We can see a little of this in Matthew 12. The Pharisees are upset with Jesus healing on the Sabbath & his disciples plucking heads of grain because they are hungry, thereby quoting Hebrew law of not doing these things on the Sabbath. Using Reason into the logic, later Israelite Law allowed both of these things to occur if a person’s life was in immediate danger. Therefore hospitals, doctors, etc. are allowed to treat medical emergencies.

Notes for Day 15

Genesis 37:1-2. Remember that Jacob is Israel. There are two plays with names for the same person.

The drama & scheming continue in our readings from Genesis 37 & 39. Do you see a sort of poetic justice with Jacob’s false recognition of Joseph’s Robe? The brother’s return Joseph’s robe to their father Jacob (Israel) and they say they found it covered with blood; which they purposely covered with goat blood. Jacob (Israel) assumes that his son Joseph has been devoured by a wild animal. Well, the tables are now turned on Jacob. Remember how to stole his brother’s birthright from Esau by putting on the skin of a goat?

Genesis 38 is what we call an “Interlude”, or a story within a story.

Genesis 38:1 Adullamite – Someone from Adullam, which is Bethlehem.

Genesis 38:8-9 Here we are introduced to what is known as Onanism or commonly called “coitus interruptus”. 

Genesis 38:1-30 Judah has sex with his daughter-in-law Tamar, (who was in disguise as a harlot). She ends of becoming pregnant with twins.

Genesis 39:7-18 Joseph’s Master’s wife wants to have sex with Joseph, but he refuses. She then lies and says he tried to rape her, but he did not.

 [A note on the Psalms. Melanie once asked me a question in reference to the Psalms. You must remember that the Psalms were written as songs, therefor there are musical meters & contagions. Take a look at Psalm 9:16. In italicizes you see two words; Higgaion & Shelah. Higgaion is translated as melody; Shelah is a liturgical or musical direction. Remember when being a lay reader in the Church, do not say “Higgaion or Shelah.” Leave these two words out of the reading.]

Notes for Day 16

Matthew 14: 4 “it is not lawful for you to have her”.  Here we are referring to John the Baptist telling Herod it was not lawful for him to have married his dead brother’s widow. Refer to Leviticus 18:16; and Leviticus 20:21. If we remember, I taught one of the reasons that Henry VIII said that he should have been granted an annulment from the Pope Clement VII, was that the Pope should not have granted him the dispensation to marry Catherine of Aragon. Catherine was not able to give Henry a male heir, and Henry VIII said that the Pope Clement VII was not authorized to grant anything that went against the Law (of scripture). Because the Pope allowed his marriage to Catherine, God was punishing them for going against scripture (the Law) that prevented them from having a male child. This is also known as “Leviticus & the King’s Great Matter”. 

Matthew 14:21 There were more than 5,000 who ate from the 5 loaves and 2 fish. Verse 14:21 says 5,000 besides the women and children.

Notes for day 17 

Genesis 43:27. When Joseph inquired about his brother’s “welfare”; he was inquiring about their Shalom, their Peace. Joseph wanted to know if there was Peace in their life, particularly, is your (our) father still alive.

Genesis 43:14   El Shaddai is the Hebrew word for God Almighty

Matthew 15. Notice we have a 2nd feeding account. Matthew 14:13-21 was 5000 people not including women & children with 5 loaves of bread & 2 fish. In Matthew 15:32-38 we have 4000 people not including women & children with 7 loaves of bread & a few fish. Think of it this way in your head: 5 & 2; 7 & a few.

Matthew 15. This Gospel chapter may sound very familiar to all who heard my sermon on Sunday, August 16, 2020. 

Notes for day 18

Genesis 48.   The tricks continue on this birth right thing. Joseph’s two sons that he gave up to adoption to his father Jacob (Israel) Ephraim & Manasseh have their blessings mixed. It is interesting how this happens. What did Jacob (Israel) do to give the birth right to the younger brother Ephraim over his older brother Manasseh? This is more interesting than any “Soap Opera”!

Psalm 16:7-8. For those who do the Daily Office of Evening Prayer; why do these 2 verses from Psalm 16 sound familiar? Look at the opening sentences from Evening Prayer.

I draw your attention to Matthew 16:19. The mention of the keys given to Peter. If you look at the symbol for the Holy Father (Pope) you will see 2 crossed keys, one silver, one gold. These are the symbols that come from the crossed keys in Matthew. The Seat of Peter – Pope has the authority to open the gates to Heaven and to unlock (loose) the sins of earth. Gold key for Heaven; Silver Key for earth.

Notes for Day 19

Genesis 49. Jacob gives his dying Blessing, but skips the three oldest sons. Reuben is not told he will excel because he laid with his father’s concubine Bilhah in chapter 35. Judah is the first son in order to receive a favorable blessing from his father Jacob (Israel). As you will learn; the Davidic Kingdom will come from the tribe of Judah. We also know that scripture says that Jesus’ lineage was from the house of David. Can you see why it is important to read all of the Bible?

Matthew 17. Who does Jesus say Elijah was in the New Testament? (17:13) He said that Elijah already came & they killed him. The fish with the coin in its mouth was influential in later artistic portrayals of Jesus’ Last Supper. 

Notes for Day 20

Matthew 18:6-7 Jesus says “Woe to the one (world)” who place stumbling blocks before any who believe in him. Can you think of situations or maybe people; who put stumbling blocks in the way that do not allow any to worship on a regular basis or prevent one from practicing their Christian Faith? What does Jesus say about this person or situation?

Matthew 18:23-35 is about forgiveness. In verse 24, we see where a servant owes the king a debt of 10,000 talents. This was equal to 15 years of a laborers wages. The king has pity on the servant and forgives the debt. We then hear that this same servant who was forgiven a debt of 15 years, fails to forgive the debt to another person who owed him 100 denarii, which equaled to the wages of 1 day for a laborer. This upset the king who said I forgave you of a larger debt, but you did not forgive this person of a smaller debt.

Notes for Day 22

I am sure you all thought from reading Exodus 4:23-26; “What the heck is this all about?”. So far we have seen that God favors Moses; now he is about to kill him until his wife Zipporah steps in. Most scholars will say that the reason God was going to kill Moses was because he was not circumcised. So what happens? Zipporah steps in and vicariously circumcised her husband Moses by circumcising one of their own children. She then takes the foreskin and touches his “feet” which is really a euphemism for genitals. Thus by touching Moses’ genitals with their son’s circumcised foreskin, Moses has vicariously been circumcised. Why did she just not circumcise Moses? Most scholars say that this would have delayed Moses’s expedient mission & travel that he had to do in Egypt. Hey; I don’t write this stuff. I am helping you to understand it a little.

Exodus 6:112 & 30:  “Uncircumcised Lips”. This is another reference to Moses having a speech impediment, or person poor in speech.

Notes for Day 23

Exodus 7: We see that Moses is 80 years old & his brother Aaron is 83 when they begin approaching Pharaoh in order to grant the release of the Israelites. The first two plagues have a direct effect on food & water. By turning theNile and other water tributaries  into water, The Egyptians are not able to drink water. The 2nd plague involves the frogs who get into everything, including the kneading bowls. Therefor, the Egyptians were unable to make bread. It is also interesting to note that the 1st plague, turning the water into blood was cleared up before the 2nd plague, bringing on the frogs. The frogs could not have come out of water that was blood. Do any of you see any contradictions between the 5th plague, the diseasing of Egypt’s livestock, and the 7th plague, thunder & hail killing any livestock that was not under a roof? You should. Take a 2nd look at it.

In Exodus 7:10 & 7:19; we see that it is Aaron’s rod that is used.

Psalm 19: Does verse 14 sound familiar? You have heard it occasionally. sometimes a preacher will say this verse just prior to delivering a sermon.

Matthew 20:  How does verse #15 strike you? What does this say about God? In verse #23, Jesus tells James & John that they will indeed drink the same cup that he is about to drink. What does this mean? Take a look at Acts 12:2 & see how James drank from this same cup.

Notes for day 24 

The ninth plague involved darkness for 3 days. Since the the Israelites were not in darkness, but the Egyptians, the light symbolizes freedom for the Israelites. Exodus 10:23 says that there was no darkness where the Israelites lived. This is also the symbolism of light over darkness. In Exodus 12 we see a lot of repetition of wording. It sounds as if there are points that need to be brought across. The symbolism of unleavened bread can be answered in verse 33-34 of Exodus 12. Because the leavening would take time, the Israelites would not be able to leave Egypt in haste & when God said to leave. Also leavening removes flour from its natural created state. I know some of you have seen unleavened bread in the grocery store. One example is Matzah bread. The Israelites were held captive in Egypt for a total of 430 years, Exodus 12:40.

Psalm 20:7-8. Do you see a reference to (reading we have not done yet) when the Israelites entered and passed the Red Sea unharmed, but God closed up the water on Pharaoh’s army? 

In Matthew 21, Jesus makes 2 references to the Psalter. In Matthew 21:16, Jesus refers to Psalm 8:2. In Matthew 21:42, Jesus makes a reference to Psalm 21:22-23 What do you make of the fig tree incident in Matthew 21:18-19? How do you see it relating to what the Church is supposed to be doing? How does it relate to Ministry? How does it relate to having the courage to spread the Gospel and Biblical truth?

Notes for Day 25

Contrary to a History Channel show of the Bible, there were many events that were left out of the Red Sea Scene. Exodus 13 talks about the Pillar of Fire & Cloud that led the Israelites to the Red Sea, and also gave them light at night. This same Pillar of Fire came between them and the advancing army of Pharaoh in order to give them a lead way into the dry sea. A theological term for something like this is called a Theophany (visible symbol of God).  The Red Sea sea also know as the “Sea of Reeds”. I want to call your attention to the direction that the wind came from that blew back the water in order for the Israelites to cross. It came from the east. I see a major significance in the “East”. Looking back to one of the plagues; the Locusts (Exodus 10). In Exodus 10:13, the locusts came into Egypt by an East wind. This is another example of God’s power, because according to commentators, locusts would normally enter Egypt from the south. Another way to look at things coming from the East. As you know; I have talked about the proper direction of our Church Altars, i.e. “East Facing Altars” which means they are against the east wall of the Church & we face the East when we Celebrate the Eucharist. At St. Andrew’s we have a “Liturgical East Facing Altar”, meaning that we pretend it is facing the East when in fact it is against the north wall of the Church. Also, we normally bury people with their feet facing the East. Finally; in what direction does the Earth turn? In what direction does the Sun come up? Yes; in the East. In Exodus 15:27; the Israelites came to Elim where there were 12 springs of water & 70 palm trees. Do you see any symbolism here? How about the 12 Apostles & Jesus saying that you forgive others 70 times 70?

Look at Exodus 15:23. You see the word “Marah”, meaning bitter. Does this word “Marah” sound familiar? Go to the 13th Station of the Cross (Stations of the Cross or Way of the Cross). When the body of Jesus is placed in the arms of his mother we hear this ….“Do not call me Naomi (which means Pleasant), call me Mara (which means Bitter; for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me”.

NT notes for day #25: What do you make of the wedding banquet? In Matthew 22:12; there is a question of how someone got into the banquet without a “wedding robe”. The robe is a symbolism of a new way of life. If a person who has not truly their life around & accepted Jesus, will be seen as an impostor. What about Matthew 22:14; the many who are called, but few who are chosen? Some commentators will say this is a statement about self-righteous arrogance among God’s new people. Taking a look at the question on resurrection. In Matthew 22:23 we here that the Sadducees do not believe in the resurrection, this is true. Jumping way ahead to Acts 23:8 we will read that the Sadducees do not believe in the resurrection, but the Pharisees believe in the resurrection, spirit and angels. Finally, if any are confused to the last several verses of Matthew 22. Jesus stumps the Pharisees with a question & they never asked him anymore. In verse 45; Jesus says; “If David thus calls him Lord, can he be his son?” Fathers never addressed their sons as “Lord” but only sons their fathers or inferiors their superiors. Since we are talking about the Davidic sonship (remember my earlier notes from the Tribe of Judah); a better suggestion here would have been “Son of God, Son of Man”.

Notes for Day 26

I think it is interesting as to how God tells Moses to tell the people to prepare & set aside a Sabbath Day. In Exodus 16:5 they are told that there will be twice as much Manna (Bread from Heaven) on the 6th day. On this 6th day they shall gather all of it for on the 7th day (Sabbath) there will be none. Remember how we were able to function on Sundays without all the stores being open? We gathered what we needed in 6 days & got by perfectly on the 7th (Sunday/Sabbath) Day. Remember when Maryland had the “Blue Laws”?  Well, in this OT reading, God is saying that the Sabbath Day (7th day) is be be held different. I have mentioned before that God intended that there be restricted activity on the Sabbath. A “Sabbath’s Day Journey” was no more that 2000 feet from your home. Yes, our culture is much different now; but there are many things we can do & prepare by taking care of what we need on 6 days, and setting the 7th day aside. Remember that God made the Sabbath for Man, not Man for the Sabbath. Exodus 16:36. An omer is a sheaf of grain. An ephah is a measure (approximately 22 liters)

Psalm 22 should sound familiar, It is said on Good Friday. Psalm 22 is one of the Lamenting Psalms. Take a look at it & you will see a transition. The writer (David) begins by expressing how there is no one to help him, God is absent, then he transitions to expressing praise for God, for he knows he is there to help. You will see this transition at verse #19. In Seminary, I did a major research paper on the Lamenting Psalms. In verse 12 you see the strong bulls of “Bashan”. Bashan was an area in Transjordan east of the Sea of Galilee & was known for producing good cattle.

Matthew 23. In verse 23:5 you see the term phylacteries & fringes. Maybe you have seen the male Orthodox Jews with these. I remember one Sunday waiting in the airport terminal at BWI waiting for my flight back out to Milwaukee for my residential week at Seminary. I observed an Orthodox Jew praying in the corner with a phylactery & fringes. Phylacteries are those little small square boxes that male Orthodox Jews wear on their forehead during prayer that contain scripture verses. The fringes are the leather fringes (straps) that the male Orthodox Jews wrap around their left arms while in prayer. In 2019, on our flight to the Holy Lanad, I observed Orthodox Jews on the plane using Phylacteries. They would take their jacket off of their left arm, roll up their shirt sleeves, and do their prayers.

Matthew 23 is all about the seven prophetic “woes” agains the scribes and Pharisees. In Matthew 23:23; Jesus “calls out” those who give little tithing. He says that they tithe “mint, dill, and cummin:. These 3 herbs are the smallest. While they are “patting themselves on the back” for such a little giving, they are neglecting the weightier matters of giving; especially to justice, mercy, and faith. Finally in verses 37 through 39 of the 23 chapter of Matthew we hear the Lament over Jerusalem. This symbol of the hen gathering her brood is in the Altar of a Church that oversees the Kidron Valley in Jerusalem near the Garden of Gethsemane. I once did a sermon at the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration, Braddock Heights on this Gospel message.

Notes for Day 27

Take a look at Exodus 19:6. God says that the Israelites are to be a priestly kingdom and holy nation. I would like to make a quick point here. Since God has set aside Israel (remember that holy means to “set aside”); As a country, we should do all that we can to support Israel & defend this Country. God demands this. God even says that the whole earth is his, but specifically Israel is to be set aside for special care. In Exodus 19:15; God says that the man is not to go near a women. Well I think you all know this is for sexual purposes. But; this will play out later (indirectly) when we get to the scene with David, Bathsheba, and Uriah, in 2 Samuel. Just as a side not on this, many professional sport coaches put a curfew on their players the night before a game. Now I know I am getting a little off target here, but the basis of this statement & verse 15 of Exodus 19; is about the purity of the mind & body. A pure mind & body is stronger. In Exodus 19:23 God says about setting limits around  Mt. Sinai and keeping it holy. How do you see this relating to our behavior while inside the Church? In Exodus 20:5 we see that God will punish the children of the 3rd & 4th generations. Remember in the NT scripture where people ask Jesus when he is healing people; they ask, “who sinned, this person or their parents”. The thought process comes from this. If you sin, you will bring judgement on your children & grandchildren. We get back again to keeping the Sabbath Holy. God is clear in Exodus 20:10. Now I want to throw out a disclaimer again; “I do not write this stuff; just here to explain it.” In the Decalogue (10 Commandments) God talks about not committing adultery. Adultery in the Biblical sense does not involve a married man having sexual relations with more than his current wife. In order for a married man to be committing adultery, the other women has to be married to another man. If she is not married, then adultery has not taken place, and the married man has not committed any wrong doing. There is further reference to this in Leviticus 18:20; 20-10, and Deuteronomy 22:22.  Finally on Exodus 20, moving away from the adultery discussion. In Exodus 20:26. God says that you will not approach the Altar exposing your nakedness. This is on of the earlier examples of why clergy wear vestments when serving at the Altar. Nakedness implies wearing your ordinary clothing. Therefore; it is essential (during the usual Celebrations of the Eucharist) that you attempt to wear something more elaborate. Also do any of you remember when the Altar Guild women used to cover their heads & wear white gloves when setting up the Altar & linens. This is partially where this practice comes from. Now to Exodus 21. This is probably one of the hardest chapters to understand in today’s society; the treatment & ownership of slaves & how God allowed it to happen. I believe this shows that all of us have those particular pieces of scripture that we stand by, and others that we dismiss. As far as I know; none of us at St. Andrew’s own slaves. However; the largest slave owner in Washington County lived in Clear Spring nearby on Broadfording Road. He had 67 slaves! But; I do want to point out that God determined that there was a cause for the Death Penalty. But again; you need to see where it was also applicable. Look at Exodus 21:17. I do not know of any police officer responding to a family dispute involving a parent & child who will accept (a parent killing their own child) as an excuse for the murder.

Notes on Psalm 23: You all have heard this. Verse 1; “I shall not want”. refers to the Israelites journey in the wilderness when God provided for them.Verse 4; “your rod & staff”. The rod was for warding off dangerous animals, and the staff was to keep sheep from wandering off. This is also the symbol of the Bishop’s staff (Crozier). 

Matthew 24: This is Jesus 5th Discourse in Matthew. We all know that the 2nd Coming will come unannounced. But, I want to point out Matthew 24:46. Jesus says; “Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives.” I have mentioned this before in one of my sermons. What would happen if Jesus’ second coming would happen on a Sunday morning, say around 9:30 a.m. and instead of being in Church, you chose to go shopping at the mall, or out on the Golf Course,  or travel to a car race, or maybe decide to go fishing, or maybe sleep in? Do you think that you could explain to the “Master” that you were doing his work?

Notes Day 29: 

There is much going on in Exodus 22 dealing with the Laws of Restitution. Many may seem obvious to us, but “goofy”, and others definitely deal with a different time & culture. When we look at Exodus 22:16-17 (the Social & Religious Laws) we still see a continuing pattern of women still being treated like property. But; these type of laws (women as property) still exist today in some countries of the world. What does verse 21 of Exodus say to you about how we treat foreigners in this country? This is repeated again in Exodus 23:9 (Justice for All). Who are the “resident aliens” in our country? Are they the documented “legal” aliens, or the illegal aliens? Just some questions; I am not taking a position on this matter in this type of forum. Taking a look at Exodus 23:31-33. God tells the Israelites the borders of their country. Have any of you looked at a map to see how big this is and what countries “occupy” these borders that God intended for Israel? This may shed some light on why there has always been unrest in the Middle East. Just to give you one example. God said that the most eastern border for the Israelites is the Euphrates River, which runs straight down through the middle of Iraq. Also God said to the Israelites in these verses that all the inhabitants of these areas that are not Israelites will not inhabit the land, and the Israelites are to drive them out of the land. What do you think about this?

Matthew 25: This chapter of Matthew involves being prepared for the 2nd coming. We see that in the parable of the bridesmaids. Also in Matthew 25:14-30, we see a parable of talents that involves Evangelism. It is fairly obvious that Jesus is telling us that if we sit back and do nothing to bring others to Christ, we are not doing God’s will. We have been given a task (talents) are we are to spend those “talents. Verses 31-46 involves the judgement on how we treat others.

Notes for Day 30:

Exodus 25: The only explanation that I can give for the specific directions in the offerings & building the Tabernacle was that God was still testing the Israelites to see if they could follow His specific commands. But, I do ask this question. Are we following His commands? Taking a look at Exodus 25:15. God says that the Israelites are not to remove the poles from the rings of the Ark. Do you see any significance of this? My own theological answer was that God wanted the Israelites to be a people who are always on the move & ready to pick up and go at any moments notice from Him. They are not to get too comfortable in any one place. Therefore, the Ark of the Covenant, the symbol of God’s physical presence to the Israelites is to be seen as a God that is not in any one permanent place. This can also relate to the problems that the Country of Israel has had in the journey to becoming a country not until the middle of the 20th century. The Israelites have never really been seen as a people with a “permanent home”, always on the move. I draw your attention to Exodus 25:31. The Lampstand. Do any of you see any resemblance to the six branches as mention in verses 32-33, and our six candlesticks on the Altar at St. Andrew’s? These verses mention “three on one side & three on the other side.”

Psalm 25: In verse 14 of Psalm 25, we again see the word fear. This is mentioned several times throughout scripture; “the fear of the LORD”. If you take out the word “fear” and put in respect, you will get the same meaning of the text. Fear, is to respect. Also I want to point out again the word “Lord” in scripture. Whenever you see the word Lord in all capital letters “LORD”, this means God (Yahweh). When you see the word Lord not in all capital letters “Lord”, this means Jesus (Incarnate Word of God).

Matthew 25-27: Of course we have heard this chapter many times; it is the Passion Narrative we hear in Church during our Lectionary cycle of year “A”. We are currently in Lectionary cycle year “A”. The only other things I want to point out in Matthew 26: 1.) His arrest was done in “stealth” – Matthew 26:4. This was all a sham. Can you think of a time when people have dealt you wrong, or tried to hit you “blind side” by their stealth, hateful, misleading ways?    2.) What does verse 24 say about anyone who betrays “Jesus” who is literally the Church? What does this say about anyone who brings evil intention to the Church; either through scheming or lies? Finally, in Matthew 26:7, just a refresher if your Bibles do not mention it specifically, the two sons of Zebedee are James & John.In Matthew 27:26, Jesus is flogged after he is condemned. Flogging as we know was to punish, but also to weaken the person prior to the crucifixion. Finally, I draw your attention to Matthew 27:52-53. Scripture says that many of the Saints who had died came out of their tombs at the moment Jesus dies. Then  scripture says that these many Saints who had just been resurrected went into the holy city and appeared to many. Again, I must reference the word “many”. Why does scripture not say “all”. Some commentators will say that even though scripture calls the ones who have died “saints”; that is not the case as we see it. The only “saints” who rose are the ones who are believers in Jesus. And only the risen believers appeared to the many other Christian believers. Something to think about. As I said before, nowhere does Jesus or scripture in general say “All”. Again, I do not write this; I just am passing it along. Yes, I jumped ahead by going into Matthew 27 on Day #30.

Notes for Day 31:

In Exodus 28 God is directing the requirements for the Vestments to be worn by Priests. Again, we are given a reason why in our tradition, the clergy wear vestments at a normal Celebration of the Eucharist. An ephod is a long vest. This (Ephod) is also referred to in 1 Samuel 2:18. I draw your attention to Exodus 28:35; “…its sound shall be heard when he goes into the holy place before the LORD.” Here we can see an example of why we use Church bells. I also want to point out a question that was asked of me recently. The question was why do some of the Thuribles (incense bowls) have little bells on the chains. Exodus 28:35 is the answer. You normally see the Eastern Orthodox Christians with bells on their thurible chains. Exodus 30 is inundated with many reasons & examples of why God (LORD) directed us to use Incense in worship. So who is required according to God to use Incense? Take a look at Exodus 30:8; “a regular incense offering before the LORD throughout your generations.” We are part of “your generations”. Exodus 30:35 also talks about the incense being blended by the perfumer. At St. Andrew’s we have been using mostly incense that has been mixed by the Prinknash Monks from England. It does have a good smell to it. I have on several occasions used another incense, but it does not smell as well, but it burns longer. Finally from Exodus 30:20. God talks about washing yourself in the Bronze Basin. As you know & have observed, prior to Celebrating the Eucharist, I wash my hands in the Lavabo Bowl. Our Deacon also does this as well (Some Priests do not allow the Deacons to do this and I think it is wrong.) But I also see a resemblance of all washing themselves as they enter the Church & use the Holy Water that I have Blessed that is in the Narthex. If any of you have not been with me when I Bless the Holy Water, I ask you to be a part of that very short service. I normally Bless fresh Holy Water every several weeks.

Exodus 28:30: Urim “guilty”;  Thummim “innocent”

Psalm 26: What do you make of verses 4-5 in Psalm 26?

Matthew 27: Look at the notes in Day #30.

Notes for Day 32:

Again we see in Exodus 31 about the importance of keeping a Sabbath Day. What does God reinforce in his directives? In Exodus 31:12-17, God is very specific about the Sabbath Law. Take a look at verse 14; “You shall keep the sabbath, because it is holy for you; everyone who profanes it shall be put to death….” What do you make of this? Do you think it was only meant for the Israelites? Do you think the Sabbath Laws that God directed to us is applicable to today’s culture; a culture where nothing stops anymore? Just a reminder about the word “Holy”. Holy means to be set aside, to be different. This is not only for the Israelites/Jewish people. Remember what  it means when we say the Nicene Creed; “We Believe in One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.” So, yes, we as Christians are to to lead and set a Holy example, that is being different, and going against the norms of the society.  I ask you to take a look at 1 John 2:15-17. Another term you will be hearing  more from me is, “Moral Compass”. We are to set the Biblical Moral Compass so that others will follow in the truth.

Psalm 27: This Psalm deals with confidence/patience of a God who will not give up on us. I believe that the last verse (14) says it all.

Matthew 28: Jesus gives the Disciples their (and ours) “Marching Orders” in verse #19.

Notes for Day 33:

Exodus 34-36: Again, Moses goes back up to Mt. Sinai in order tohave new tablets (10 Commandments) made at the direction of the LORD. The Covenant is restored beginning in verse 10 of Exodus 34. I am particularly drawn to the comment the LORD (God – Remember that when LORD is in all capital letters it refers to God) makes to Moses in Exodus 34:10; “…and all the people among whom you live shall see the work of the LORD; for it is an awesome thing that I will do with you. – NRSV). What an awesome, beautiful thing for God to say; “..an awesome thing that I will do with you”.  What awesome things can you say in your life that “God is doing with you?”  In Exodus 34:29, we read that the skin of Moses face had changed. Moses did not know this since he could not see himself, but others saw it. Again, in Exodus 35, we are back to the Sabbath Laws. God says in verse 2 that the Sabbath is a “holy sabbath of solemn rest to the LORD.” We again return to th preparations for building the Tabernacle & in Chapter 37 (Day #34 reading) we return to the building of the Ark. I do want to point out an observation that maybe you all have seen. The building of the Tabernacle, the “outer walls” which are material & the framework comes before what? It comes before the holiest object is made; the Ark of the Covenant. Basically God is saying in the proper order of things; “Make sure you and your foundation with me is strong and supported before you bring me into your life.” Unless your surroundings and life is not ready to accept me, then, do not attempt to bring me into it.” This is the same with Jesus Christ who is knocking at the door. If and when you are ready to accept him as your Lord & Savior, he cannot come in because you will not allow him to enter. Your life is not prepared, or maybe you have not gotten to the point where you are ready to let him him. Your foundations do not have to be made of concrete or steel. They have to be built on Faith.

Mark 1: Today we start into the Gospel of Mark. Mark’s Gospel is definitely a Gospel in motion. A key word we always see is immediately. I do want to point out that when Jesus began his  preaching in Galilee, he emphasized that the Gospel (His Good News) was not a message that was to stand still or be held in any particular place, or building. In Mark 1:38, Jesus says “Let’s go on to the neighboring towns….” and in Mark 1:45 the Gospel says; “he went out and began to proclaim…” If any of us believe that we are to come to Church and hear a message without going out and taking the message beyond ourselves or the Church walls  – We as Christians have sadly misunderstood one of our “Job Descriptions”. Finally I want to draw you to the scene of Simon (Later named Peter by Jesus) healing his mother-in-law. We do not know much about Simon’s (Peter’s) wife. But according to Mark 1:30-31 and also later in 1 Corinthians 9:5, Simon (Peter) was married. Do you also see something interesting about Simon (Peter) being married? How about our Roman Catholic Popes. You see, the Pope is considered through Apostolic Succession (Laying on of Hands) to be directly Ordained through this process (Just as I am) from Peter. In fact, the Pope sits on the “Seat of Peter”. This being the case, the “later Popes” who are Celibate & not married get their Apostolic Succession from Simon (Peter) who was married. To point out something that many do not know, Roman Catholic Popes, Bishops, Priests, were not always required to be Celibate or non-married. In fact, there have been many Roman Catholic Popes and Priests who fathered children. But then again, the RC Church does not talk about this very much.

Notes on Day 34: 

If our readings from 37-39 sound familiar, they should. Our readings from Day #30, Exodus 25-27 are almost identical to Exodus 37-39. The difference between the chapters is that the previous ones talked more about the material requirements for the Tabernacle, Ark of the Covenant, etc. Chapters 37-39 now talked about the actual building & blessing of the these.

Mark 2: Again we get back to the Sabbath. In Mark 2 the disciples are questioned about plucking the heads of grain. The Pharisees questioned Jesus about this, saying it was a violation of the Sabbath, to reap on the Sabbath as pointed out in Exodus 34:21 (God said that your plow should rest on the Sabbath as well.) But we remember that we also read in Matthew 12:1-8 (Day #13), about the disciples plucking grain on the Sabbath. If you go back to my notes on Day #13 for Matthew you will see that in necessity such as eating and the effort that go into putting on a meal, the later Israelite Law allowed breaking the Sabbath for these type of circumstances. However, there is more to be drawn out of Mark 2 in reference to the Sabbath being broken by plucking grain. It is Jesus’ response in verse 25-26 of Mark 2. Jesus refers to the time when David & his companions were hungry and in need of food. Scripture says that David entered the house of God when Abiathar was high priest, and they ate the bread of the Presence (Altar/Communion Bread) which was only lawful for the priests to eat. There is both a physical and Spiritual thing going on here; do you see it? Jesus is preparing us for the Great Thanksgiving. Jesus is also saying that his ministry (and body/bread) is NOT reserved for just a few, but for everyone. In our earlier Christian liturgical history, there was a time that only the Priests would consume the elements; the laity who were attending the worship service symbolically made their Communion when they “saw” the elevated Consecrated Host, but did not actually consume it. This thought process has even moved into our later Church history, especially in England. I believe some of you remember me telling how the English men would hang around outside the Church doors during the Liturgy of the Word, and at the beginning of the Prayer of Consecration, when at the point when the Priests was close to elevating the Consecrated Hosts, someone would yell outside; “The Priests is getting reading to elevate the Host”. They would scramble inside the Church doors just in time to see the Hosts. At this point they said that they made their Communion, all they had to do was see the Hosts, then they would go back to what they were doing. Well, this in a way was the practice during the time of David, and Jesus is saying; “If you are hungry (physically/spiritually) you may eat of the bread, not just look at it from a distance; or “wait until tomorrow”. There is a possibility; “tomorrow may never come”! This is why I am so concerned about people missing our weekly worship services and the Holy Eucharist.

Notes on Day 36:

There is not too much to comment on the last chapter of Exodus (40). We do see one more reference to the use of incense that the LORD required. It is in verse 27. One other thing that I did want to point out before we move out of Exodus. You all have probably figured out that the “mercy seat” as mentioned on the Ark of the Covenant is the lid (top covering) of the Ark of the Covenant.

Mark 3: Again we see Jesus being challenged on the Sabbath interpretation. He is confronted with a man with a withered hand. The bigger purpose of this encounter we need to look at is that Jesus is one who shows compassion at a time when others (hardcore legalist, etc.) would not show compassion. In this case he goes “against the grain” for healing on the Sabbath. Th New King James Version says this; “Then he said to them. Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save a life or to kill?” But they were silent. He looked around at them with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart and said to the man, Stretch out your hand. He stretched it out, and his hand was restored.” 

Mark 3:4-5. I think we all can agree that the Sabbath Laws & interpretation that we see with Jesus is based on Common Sense or necessity for the health of the person. However; our society interprets the Sabbath Laws to include enjoyment. Just how we interpret enjoyment on the Sabbath is up to individual interpretation. Example; by going golfing on Sunday for example. Because most golf course are more than a “Sabbath’s Day Journey” (Not being allowed to travel more than 2000 feet from your home.) a person would break this Sabbath Law for individual enjoyment. The other part of the Sabbath Law being broken in this scenario is that a person has to work at the golf course in order for us to enjoy our recreational enjoyment. So you see how our society/culture is different on the Sabbath Laws. In this case with the man who has the withered hand. Assume Jesus was going to see this man again (Say the next day which would not be the Sabbath.); could he not have waited, unless the man was in extreme pain. The only thing we know is this man had a withered hand. It could have been painful arthritis. But let us say for example his hand was a birth defect, or healed injury. Did not Jesus do an “unnecessary selective surgery” on the Sabbath? I just throw this question out since Melanie (now retired) was a recovering room nurse. She had to take rotating calls during the week, and had to take her turn at working weekends. Seldom was she ever called into the  hospital or dad cases on weekends that involved correcting birth defects, or doing “selective surgery”. There are not any emergency knee replacements for example done on weekends. The late night surgeries and weekend surgeries usually involved c-sections or trauma surgeries. In this case with Jesus healing the man with the withered hand, the Pharisees probably would have accepted a violation of the Sabbath to save a life, but would have questioned the necessity, or relevance in this case of the man with the withered hand.   I want to point out the calling of the 12 Apostles in Mark 3:13. Scripture says that Jesus went up the mountain and “called to him whom he wanted”, then he appointed them apostles. In the process of discernment to Ordination in the Episcopal Church; the process is very tiring and sometimes “grueling”. You have to constantly be interviewed by the Commission on Ministry, and are constantly tested in various ways to the core, and educated in many ways. The reason for this is that other people are put into the position to say that your call to Ordained Ministry is valid; you are being called by the Lord.  I do believe the process works, but it is not totally “full proof”. When all is said and done, the validation really lies back on Jesus who tells us who he wants. Also, being called by Jesus to do his ministry is not totally an Ordained thing either. I know many folks at St. Andrew’s who are answering a calling that allows God’s Church to be the purpose it was intended for. So when we look at it, Jesus is the one who initiates the call for all of us; lay & ordained. He tells us who he wants for various jobs in the Church and his ministry; but we must be willing to pick up that phone and “answer his call.”    What is Beelzebul? Beelzebul is related to “Baal Zabul” “Baal the Prince”, a Semitic deity mocked by the name “Baal Zebul (“Lord of the Flies”) in 2 Kings 1:2. By Mark’s time this Canaanite deity had been reduced (demoted) to the ruler of the demons; i.e. Satan.

Notes on Day 37:

Notes for Day #37 – Leviticus 1-3: Today we begin in the Book of Leviticus. I believe many of us may find this this book very boring. Let us consider why it was written and who the intended “audience” is. The early rabbinic name for this book is “Torat Kohanim” meaning “Priests Manuel”. So basically this book is written as a manuel for the Priests in order to direct them in Temple worship. There are two codes in Leviticus. 1.) Priestly Code 2.) Holiness Code.  There is a contrast between these two codes. The Priestly Code normally limits holiness to the Sanctuary, whereas the Holiness Code has an outside expansion to include the realm beyond the Priests as well as the Sanctuary. The Priestly Code is static (also boring), the Holiness Code is dynamic. The Priestly code avoids the root of the word “holy”. The Holiness code concedes that only the Priests are holy, but calls on all Israel to strive for holiness. Chapters 1-16 are the main Priestly Code texts; Chapters 17-26 are mainly the Holiness Code texts.

Mark 4: I want to point out the Parable of the Sower; in particular, the verses dealing with sowing seed that does not take root. Melanie & I had a conversation at breakfast one time, about a sermon she heard on the radio as she was traveling to St. Andrew’s one Sunday Morning. She said that it reminded her of one of my sermons where I said that scripture is clear that not ALL people will go to Heaven. Our conversation actually relates to today’s reading from Mark 4 and the Parable of the Seeds. This preacher on the radio was from a Church in Martinsburg. I know where it is located. The preacher/pastor said that even though many folks will listen to the message, not all will receive it or allow it to sink in. This preacher said that the ratio of people who actually listen, absorb, believe, and carrying out the Christian message of the Bible; the message of Jesus; the message of the preacher/pastor; is about 1 in 4. He said that only 1 in 4 will actually receive the message. So how does this relate in today’s reading from Mark 4? Jesus in Mark 4:11-12  says that there are those who will not get the message (parable). So what do you think? Do you know of anyone who just does not get it? So how does this relate to us? Are we doing all we can to bring the message to people outside the Church, and maybe some people inside the Church? Are we doing the best that we can to include our friends and family into the “MANY” that scripture says will have Eternal Life & Salvation?

Notes on Day 38:

Leviticus 4-6: In chapter 4, we read about atonement with Sin Offerings. I know I have pointed this out before, but let us look again at the number (7).  The number (7) represents completion: Seventh Day (Sabbath); Seventh Week after Easter Sunday (Pentecost); Seventh Year (Sabbatical), and forty-ninth (7 times 7) the year of Jubilee. We will also read in the near future from the OT: Naaman bathes seven times in the Jordan River (2 Kings 5:10, 14); Elijah’s servant scans the skies seven times for signs of rain (1 Kings 18:43); Joshua’s armies circuit Jericho seven times on the seventh day (Joshua 6:15).    In Leviticus 4:12 we read about the other parts of the bull carcass being taken out to the “ash heap”.  Although the location of this ash heap is in a different location (still in the wilderness); there was actually an ash heap located outside the location of Solomon’s Temple as indicated in Jeremiah 31:40. This ash heap was discovered just north of ancient Jerusalem at the Mandelbaum Gate (the former passageway between East & West Jerusalem) consisting exclusively of the remains of animal flesh, bones, and teeth.

Mark 5: The setting for the beginning of Mark 5 is the east bank of the Sea of Galilee. I want to point out a word that really stands out in Mark 5:19. This word is “tell”. Jesus says to the person who he just healed; “Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and what mercy he has shown you.”  So the question is; what are we doing to “tell” others what the Lord/Church is doing for us?  In the remaining chapter of Mark 5 we have Jesus back on the west side of the Sea of Galilee and he is asked to heal Jairus’ sick (dead) daughter. What happens next is what is common in Mark’s Gospel. It is called a Markan Interlocution. Basically a short story within a story. As Jesus is on his way heal the sick/deceased daughter of Jarius, he comes upon the women who has been hemorrhaging for 12 years. She has spent all her life savings on Doctors that could not heal her. When she touches Jesus – Jesus turns; sensing that power had gone out of him;  turned to the women & told her after a short dialogue that “your faith has made you well”.    Upon reaching the house of Jarius; we see that Jesus’ “inner circle” (Peter, James & John) are the only ones allowed (besides the girl’s parent) to follow him into the house.  Finally; maybe this is why there is a Markan Interlocution (story within a story) in Mark 5. Do you see it?  Come on, take a look at it.  Look at Mark 5:25 & Mark 5:42. Do you see it now? Also, the women was hemorrhaging for 12 years, and Jairus’s daughter is 12 years old.

Notes on Day 39:

Leviticus 7-9: In chapter 8 of Leviticus we see the Rites of Ordination. In the ordination service by Moses for Aaron and his sons, there were (3) sacrifices: Sin Offering 8:14-17, “Holocaust” Offering 8:18-21, and a Special ordination sacrifice 8:22-36.   By putting the blood on Aaron’s right ear lobe, thumb of right hand, and the big toe of his right foot; the blood was being put on Aaron’s most vulnerable parts of his body, the extremities. The blood was seen as purification.

Mark 6: You can see that Mark’s Gospel moves fast. In chapter 6 we have a fast moving scene of Jesus’ rejection at his home place; the mission of the 12 being defined; the death of John the Baptist; feeding of the 5000; Jesus walking on water; and the healing of the sick in Gennesaret.     Sorry that Notes for Day #39 come to you later in the day. I was at a Priest workshop all day in Howard County with Bishop Sutton.

Notes on Day 40:

Leviticus 10-12: Well you definitely do not want to go against God’s directives do you? Apparently Nadab & Abihu found out the hard way. They chose to use “unauthorized coals” in a censor (thurible). This was unholy fire, so God consumed them in a fire.  For those of us who like seafood, Leviticus is not for us. God says that we are not to eat crabs, shrimp, or any type of food that comes from the water that does not have fins, or scales. I have no problem with Exodus 11:42; I do not plan on eating snakes. I find it interesting that the birds of the air that we are not to eat (11:13-19); most of us would not eat them either.   We again return to the Purification of Women after Childbirth. When I say “again”; some may remember I mentioned this in my sermon for the Feast of Candlemas several years ago. In the Anglican/Episcopal Tradition; the service we did was called the Birthing of Children; where a mother was expected to come to the Church after a certain period of time and publicly before the congregation give thanks. In the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, this service is on pages 305-307. The service is under the title’ The Thanksgiving of Women after Child-birth; Commonly called the Churching of Women. The rubrics (directions) say that; “The Woman, at the time after her delivery, shall come into the Church decently appareled,…”  This service is in 1979 Book of Common, pages 439-445. The service is called; A Thanksgiving for the Birth or Adoption of a Child. The rubric mentioning how the woman is to dressed was omitted. 

Psalm 34:20. Does this sound familiar? Think about Jesus on the Cross.

Mark 7: The Pharisees (religious leaders) were concerned with the details of ritual, but Jesus was more concerned with the compassion of human suffering.

Notes for Day 41:

Leviticus 13-15: Leviticus 13-14 God speaks to Moses & Aaron about Leprosy and how those with it are to be treated. We now know that Leprosy is diagnosed as “Hansen’s disease”. This involves the scaling of the skin. Some Biblical commentators say that in most cases, it resembled psoriasis. None-the-less; one who had it was quarantined. In Leviticus 13:46 God says: “He shall remain unclean. He shall live alone; his dwelling shall be outside the camp”. Leprosy is not contagious, but is treatable (In modern medicine). This disease as we know from our Bible has been around a long time. If let go untreated, a person can become permanently disabled from it. The disease left uncured causes infections, tissue loss, and deformed extremities. (Take note of the treatment by the Priests. Blood to the earlobe, thumb, and finger. – The extremities.) In 1995, the World Health Organization estimated that between 2-3 million people were permanently disabled with leprosy. Leper colonies still exist; mainly where the occupants are predominately poor or have no way of affording or getting treatment. In India there are colonies of lepers that number over 1000.    In Leviticus 15; God talks about the Bodily discharges. for the man, there are two types of discharges: 1.) Seeping from his body and 2.) Semen.  For the women; the discharge was as a result of her period cycles. The scripture is clear on what God expects in these circumstances, but I want to point out the reason why God places a “high value” on Semen and the Blood discharge from a women.  The loss of Semen and genital blood (vv. 19-30); generates impurity since they both represent the loss of life and is opposed to the LORD, who is the source of holiness and life.  Semen produces life (fertilizes the egg); blood (Sustains life).

Mark 8: In Mark chapter 8 we now have Jesus feeding 4000 with 7 loaves of bread, and a “few” fish.  It is interesting to see how “hard-headed” the disciples are in 8:14. They have already experienced the feeding of 5000 in Chapter 6, and 4000 in Chapter 8 with just a little bread. What happens in Mark 8:14? They got into the boat and only had one loaf of bread. There is a dialogue between Jesus & them; then they say; “It is because we have no bread.”  Just how dense can you be? Jesus says “Duh” (Not really; my own spin!) Actually he calls them out on their lack of understanding (Some would say stupidity). Jesus says; “Do you have ears, and fail to hear? And do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?………..” Then he questioned them again about the 4000. Jesus then said; “Do you not yet understand?”  I believe Jesus at this point was ready to send them back to Kindergarten. (My own attempt at trying to be funny – sorry!)

Notes for Day 43:

Leviticus 16-18:  God has a stern waring for Moses to relay to Aaron about not coming into the Sanctuary anytime he fills like it or unprepared. Leviticus 16 starts out with the reminder of Leviticus 10 where Aaron’s two sons were killed by God for not burning incense the proper way or time.  Take a look at Leviticus 16:2 & Leviticus 16:13.  These two verses are interchangeable with the cloud around the mercy seat (Covering of the Ark.). The cloud is a “screen” of incense smoke. At Nashotah House when we used incense, the sacristan (or other appointed student) had the responsibility of being the Thurifer (One who carries the Thurible.) This assigned student during the Prayer of Consecration would literally create a “Smoke Screen” at the steps leading to the Chancel. Whoever was assigned this task would kneel on the Chancel steps constantly swinging the thurible. You definitely could not be allergic to the incense for this duty. So in 16:2 & 16:13, this is what was meant by a “cloud upon the mercy seat”.  We also see in Leviticus 16:12-13 what makes the smoke for incense, or how it is done. This is exactly what we do with our use of incense at St. Andrew’s. You first start out with charcoal, this produces the heat (burning agent); you then add the what is described in 16:12; “…handfuls of crushed sweet incense”. With these two ingredients you now have smoke. Again, our “sweet crushed” ingredients isa resin that comes from various trees in Northern Africa, it is then shipped to a Monastery in England, the Prinknash Monastery, and the Monks mix the ingredients in order to produce a certain fragrance. It is almost like making a certain cologne. Each mixture has it’s own name. Our Prinknash incense is called “Sanctuary”.     The goat that is sent into the wilderness containing our sins is where the term “scapegoat” comes from.    In Chapter 17 we see the Kosher way of slaughtering animals. I want to draw your attention particularly to the verses dealing with eating blood. This is part of the Kosher process of eating meat.  God in Leviticus 17:10-12 says you are not to eat meat with the “life blood still in it”.  Biblical scholars will say that both animals and people have a “nefesh” (Hebrew), that is to say “soul”. Nefesh (soul) refers to the life essence of both humans and animals, and this souls is distinct from the body. It is part of the human & animal body that does not disintegrate, but always remains in the blood.

Leviticus 18 – Sexual Relations. For the most part; the prohibitions about sexual practices are clear. But; I want to point out a few things. The Israelites lived in large, same family line communes. That is to say they had a large number of kin living within a close proximately; so this is why God is pointing out what we see as the obvious prohibition against incest. However; the sexual relations between close kin was not always the case up to this point of Biblical History. If we remember in Genesis 20:12 – Abraham married his half-sister Sarah; Amram married Jochebed, his paternal aunt (the parents of Aaron & Moses); Judah married his daughter-in-law Tamar; Jacob married two sisters, Rachel and Leah while they were both still alive (Genesis 29:15-30).  So what has changed??  What has changed is that God has layed down a new law prohibiting these sexual relations.The new laws are part of the “Sinaitic Law Code”.   The word “approach” means to have sex with. The phrase to “uncover nakedness” is another euphemism for having sex with a person.   In Leviticus 18:3 God said that the people are NOT  to do what the people of Egypt and the land of Canaan do. These people were consanguineous, incestuous, promiscuous, and had homosexual unions (Genesis 19:5). I believe Leviticus 18:22 is clearly defined by God. Leviticus 18:23 is straightforward as well.

Mark 9: After the Transfiguration; we have several Exorcisms. The boy with the spirit; his symptoms resemble epilepsy.  I think it is important to see the power of prayer at work here. In Mark 9; the disciples wanted to know why they could not cast out evil spirits. Jesus’ reply was simple; the power only comes through “prayer”.

Notes for Day 44:

Leviticus 19-21:  In 19:2 you see the term “holy”. Just a reminder to what this means. To be holy in the Biblical context; means to set aside. God is saying that those who follow his statutes are to be different than the “run of the mill”. You are to set your self aside from the others. To keep a “Holy Sabbath” means that you are to set aside a day of the week. The Sabbath day is to be different than any other day. In Leviticus 19:9-10 we see the practice of leaving parts of your garden or field untouched so that others may glean off the garden or field. God says that you are to leave parts of your garden or field crops for the poor & alien. What do you think about this?    In Leviticus 19:11; God points out about those who lie to one another. In Leviticus 19:19 God talks about animals breeding with another kind, sowing a field with two different kinds of seeds, and wearing garments made of different clothing. God separated everything according to its species (Genesis 1). What God is pointing out here, is that the human world should mirror the natural world, be “holy”. We will see this again in Deuteronomy 22:9. God’s created order is not to be blurred by any human intentions. The natural order of God’s creation (created order) does not delight in the combination of dissimilar (Not natural) things.

In Leviticus 19:26-28. God talks about eating blood, witchcraft, cutting your hair, cutting your beard, gashes in flesh, and tattoos. These all were signs, actions, and symbols of Pagan mourning rites. Pagans would do all these actions to mourn a death of a person. What about the gashes in the flesh & tattoos. The pagans would gash the dead person’s name or tattoo the dead person’s name in their flesh. God was not saying that any tattoo was wrong, just the practice of placing a “mourning tattoo” on the skin. Again, God is pointing out the Pagan rites here.  How do you feel about Leviticus 19:33?  Do you think this has any bearing on our/your current understanding of immigration issues in this country?  In Leviticus 20:10 we see that God puts a death sentence on adultery. Biblical commentators will say that this death sentence only applied to the Israelites, since “neighbor” as mentioned in verse 10, meant only the Israelite. In Leviticus 20:13; God points out the a death sentence for two men lying together “as with a women”.

Psalm 37:1-18: Again we see that Patience and Trust in the LORD will eventually pay off. What do you think of Psalm 37:12-13? 

Mark 10: Jesus talks about divorce in verses 1-12. It is important to remember that women did not have much say in their welfare or conditions. Adultery only occurred when a man was with someone else’s wife. A married man did not commit adultery if the other women was single, even when he was already married. But Jesus says that divorce was granted by God because of “our hardness of heart”. In verse 12, the scripture says that the women could initiate divorce., but this was against Jewish law. Under the Roman law at the time of this scripture, women could initiate an action similar to a divorce.

Notes for Day 45:

Notes for day #45 – Leviticus 22-24:  In Chapter 23 of Leviticus we read about the appointed Festivals that God has directed. These Festivals are written more from the “Holiness Code” (refer to my notes on Day #37). Leviticus Chapter 23 is written more for the laypeople, particularly for the farmers, more than for the priests (with the exception of verses 13, 18-20).    What do you think about Chapter 24 and the penalty for blasphemes the name of God? Then immediately after the stoning of the Israelite’s at the orders of God; God says that anyone who takes the life of another human being, should also be put to death. We also see the familiar eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth scripture verse.

Mark 11: The fig tree. This is a somewhat confusing scripture reading and has been studied many times. The Jerome Biblical Commentary has this to say about Mark 11:12-14; 20-25:  “The fig tree symbolizes Israel. Jesus’ cursing the tree is an acted parable dramatizing God’s judgement against barren Israel. The withered (cursed) fig tree is the effect of his (Jesus’) trust of God.” Therefor the scene with the fig tree is about “faith” and “prayer”.

Notes for Day 46:

Leviticus 25-27: In chapter 25, God talks about the Sabbatical Year (every 7 years), and the Year of Jubilee (every 50 years).  Out of the readings for day #46, you may now see where the term Sabbatical comes from, and why it is the custom (encouraged) for clergy to take a Sabbatical. I really benefitted from my Sabbatical that I took in 2019. It was a time of refreshment, and it was nice to sit in the congregation with Melanie of the various Episcopal Churches we visited on Sundays. Chapter 25 also talks about the year of Jubilee (every 50 years). During the year of Jubilee, all leans, loans, and holdings that a person had over another are released.  In Leviticus 26, God gives clear warnings to those who turn their back on him.

Mark 12:  In Mark 12, Jesus tries to explain that the resurrected body is completely different than the earthly body. This is what he is trying to explain about the seven brothers and one bride. The Sadducees (pronounced Sad -u-sees) do not believe in the resurrection.  In Mark 12:30 is called the “Shemah”. All Hebrews say this in the beginning of their worship service.

Notes for Day 47:

Remember that today there were no OT readings (Except for Psalm 38.)    

Mark 13 has Jesus predicting the destruction of the temple, and also being on the look-out for the end of age & his 2nd coming. Jesus also warns the Apostles that they (And any Christian who spreads/teaches the Gospel.) will be hated – Mark13:13. But, Jesus says that the “one who endures to the end will be saved.”  Jesus is clear that even he does not know when the end times will occur, but he does give us a stern warning; “Keep awake” – Mark 13:37.    I do want to make a few comments about the “False Messiahs” and “False Prophets” who will lead people astray. Take a look at 2 Thessalonians Chapter 2. In 2 Thessalonians we again see the mention of those who will deceive people and the “mystery of lawlessness already at work in them.” (2 Thess. 2:7)  Who is it (Or what distractions in our lives.) that could do these things that would separate a person or us from the love of God? I can think of many things that draw us away from the Love of Christ. Take a close look at 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12. Who or what is leading you to believe in a false Gospel? According to the ending of chapter 2, those who do not believe in the truth, but take “pleasure in unrighteousness” will be condemned. But there is hope, and it comes from 2 Thess. 2:13-17!  

Notes for Day 48:

Numbers 1-3:  If there was a time for finding something to put you to sleep, the beginning of the Book of Numbers is it – Borrrrrriiiinng!  Numbers is the 4th book of the Bible. It is the fourth of the Pentateuch (five scrolls), or the Torah. Numbers takes its name from the English word Arithmoi. In Hebrew, the Book of Numbers is called Bemidbar “In the wilderness”; which is how the book begins. Numbers is about counting, or to be more exact, a census. There are two military censuses; Chapter 1 & Chapter 26. Chapter 1 is the Exodus generation which dies off; Chapter 26 is the “new generation” which will go across the Jordan River and conquer the Canaanites.  Numbers is divided into three sections: Wilderness of Sinai 1:1-10:10; the march through the wilderness to Transjordan 10:11-22:1, and in the plains of Moab 22:2-36:13. Without giving much away about The Book of Numbers; one of the popular scenes is in Chapter 22 with the talking donkey.

Mark 14: Mark 14 is pretty “straight forward”. I do not see anything to point out in Mark’s Gospel today. Have a great weekend!

Notes for Day 50:

Numbers 4-5: In Numbers 4; we see the LORD telling Moses and Aaron to take the census of the Kohathites separate from the  Levites. The Kohathites who are between the ages of 30  to 50 are to do “Priestly” duties in the tent of meeting where the Ark of the Covenant is located. In Numbers Chapter 5 we see the penalty for a women to be caught in adultery. Remember, that a man could not be charged/accused of adultery; it was only a women who was caught with a married man, not the other way around.  In Chapter 5, we see the procedure for a women accused of adultery and the ritual of drinking the holy water mixed with dust from the temple floor. If the women were guilty of adultery after drinking this “special drink”; the women would receive great pain and there uterus would drop. Basically the women would have what we know as a prolapsed uterus, and she would not be able to bear any children.

Notes for Day 51:

Numbers 6-8: In Numbers 6:3-4; we see that the men & women of the Nazirites are taking a special vow. The one thing that God is saying they (Nazirites) will not do is drink wine or strong drink, they shall have no wine vinegar or other vinegar, and shall not drink grape juice or et grapes. Basically, the Nazirites are not to have any alcohol or anything that can be made into an intoxicant. That is what these two verses are saying.  In Numbers 6:5; God is saying that the Nazirite men are not to cut their hair. The Nazirite’s men’s hair is considered holy, and they will let it grow until a time when the hair will be cut and brought into the temple & given as a burnt offering (imagine that smell). The Nazirite’s uncut hair was their most important feature as we see in Numbers 6:7,9,18. We also see references to their hair in the story of Samson (Judges 13:5, 16:4, 31).  In Numbers 6:22-27 we see the Priestly Benediction. I know many of you have heard this Benediction given before. A Benediction is a general function of the Priesthood & the Priest is to Bless a worshipping community. Take a look at (Leviticus 9:22-23;  Deuteronomy 10:8, 21:5;  2 Chronicles 30:27; and Psalm 118:26).  Taking a closer look at this Priestly Benediction there is historical proof that this benediction was a practice. This blessing appears on two tiny scroll amulets that were found in a tomb in Jerusalem from the 7th or 6th century BCE.   The shining face of the LORD is a sign of protection. The LORD’s countenance is a sign of favor. Peace means well-being, and wholeness.

Psalm 42:  Today begin into “Book II Psalms 42-72” of the Psalms. The Book of Psalms are basically sub-divided into five different books: Book One (1-41) Book Two (42-72) Book Three (73-89) Book Four (90-106) and Book Five (107-150). How we know there are these divisions is that these Psalm sections end with a Doxological verse. Example is how the last verse of Psalm 41 ends; “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Amen and Amen.”.

Mark 16: The shorter ending of Mark with no verse numbers, and the longer ending of Mark where we pick up with verse number 9. It is still not clear on how there are two possible endings to Mark’s Gospel.  The St. jerome Biblical Commentary says that the abruptness of the original ending of Mark at16:8 means that the real ending of the Gospel may have been lost. There seems to be a consensus that the longer ending (where we pick up verse 9) does not fit the style of writing for Mark. The longer version ending did not come to us until around the 2nd century, and other influences; post Markan could have been added. With all this said; the longer ending of Mark has four sections: 1.) The apparition (appearance) to Mary Magdalene 16:9-11.   2.) The apparition to two travelers 16:12-13.  3.) The apparition to the eleven 16:14-19.  4.) The ascension and start of the Apostolic Mission 16:19-20.

Notes for Day 52:

Numbers 9-11: I believe that you can get a sense as to why it took the Israelites so long journeying in the Sinai wilderness (40 years). Take a look at Numbers 9 beginning at verse 15. We have the story of the “Cloud & Fire”. This was seen as the presence of God over the tent & tabernacle. Whenever the cloud stopped moving, it would settle over top of the tent & tabernacle. Wherever this cloud stopped, that is where God wanted the tabernacle set up. Sometimes this cloud (God) would be there for one day, and sometimes several days. As long as the cloud was not moving, neither were the Israelites moving. When the cloud (God) moved, the Israelites moved. At night, the tent & tabernacle was protected by fire. In Numbers chapter 10, verse 29;  I am not sure if you caught the name “Hobab”. Here Hobab, is described as Mose’s father-in-law, and he must be persuaded to accompany the people on their march. But, do you see a contradiction in the name of Mose’s father-in-law? In Exodus 3:1; 4:18; 18:1-12 he (Mose’s father-in-law) is called Jethro and even Reuel in Exodus 2:18. Hobab is mentioned again in Judges 4:11  In Numbers chapter 11 you will see what is known in the Bible as a “doublet”; the same story repeated again. In this case Numbers chapter 11 is a repeat of the incidents in Exodus 15:22-16:36.  In chapter 11 of Numbers we see that Mose’s is coming to his “wits end” and cries to God to either give him help, or strike him dead. So God has Moses appoint 70 elders to help him.  What do you think of God’s response to the “rabblers”, better known as complainers, in Numbers 11:19-20 when they wanted meat to eat?  Well; God provided meat for sure to the “rabblers”, complainers. But, what happened to the complainers? Look at Numbers 11:33.

Luke 1:  Today we begin to read the Gospel of Luke. Luke (the physician) was very educated, and also the writer of the Book of Acts. We can see that Luke did his homework before writing this Gospel; “I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you…” Luke 1:3   Luke is writing to Theophilus. We really do not know who Theophilus is, but the name means “Lover of God”.  (Theo – God; Philo – Lover).   When we look at the the background of John & his family, we will see that they are Nazirites. Take a look at Luke 1:15. Remember the Nazirites were never to drink wine or any intoxicants. By not consuming strong drinks or intoxicants, the Nazirites were to be totally consumed with the Holy Spirit. In this case John was consumed with the Holy Spirit, and also a man who followed the Nazirite custom of the men not cutting their hair.   Take a look at Luke 1:46-55. Why does this sound familiar? We do this at Evening Prayer. It is known as the Magnificat  – “Song of Mary”.

Notes for Day 53:

Numbers 12-14: In Numbers 12 we see the word Cushite. Aaron & Miriam speak against Moses because he married a Cushite woman. In the Bible, when we see Cush, it often refers to Ethiopia. So is it possible that Aaron &  Miriam are “racists” since Ethiopia is what we now know as an African country. Moses’ wife would have been dark skinned. Remember that Aaron & Miriam are Mose’s sister & brother.  We see that Aaron & Miriam become jealous of Moses. God speaks “face to face” to Moses, but through dreams to prophets; and Aaron & Miriam become jealous of this. The LORD catches wind of this and calls the three of them out to the Tent. God (LORD) tells the three of them how it is. Again, he speaks in riddles & dreams to prophets, but not so with Moses. God speaks clearly and “face to face” with Moses. Because of their jealousy against Moses, and for speaking against him, God (LORD) causes Miriam to become leprous; “as white as snow”, which really contrast her skin against Mose’s Cushite (Ethiopian) wife. Moses intercedes for Aaron & Miriam, and Miriam is cured in seven days after being sent out of the tent. It is not clear why Miriam is the only one punished, and not Aaron.  In Numbers 13, we see that the LORD has directed Moses to send spies into the land of Canaan. In verse 13:25 we see a familiar number, forty.  Forty days is a typical expression of time in Biblical literature. Look at Genesis 7:4 (It rained 40 on the earth 40 days & 40 nights); Exodus 24:18 (Moses was up on the mountain for 40 days & 40 nights.)  In Numbers 14; the people rebel against the LORD (God) and complain again, for the 10th time. Moses intercedes again for the Israelites, but this time God appears to have enough & we see the reason for the census by the peoples ages. God (LORD) says that none of the people who have despised him will enter the promised land that we hear named as a “Land Flowing with Milk & Honey”. In Numbers 14:29, God says that the dead bodies will pile up in the wilderness of those in the 1st census from “twenty years old and upward, who have complained against me.” In verse 33; God says that “your children shall be shepherds in the wilderness for forty years.” Again we see the number “40” applied to years. This means that a whole generation will suffer in the wilderness.  In Numbers 14:36-38; the only spies who will get to see the promised land are Joshua & Caleb. The reason for this is they did not cause the congregation to complain by bringing back a bad report after the spying mission. Why? Because thy had faith in God, and believed that with God’s presence, they could occupy the the Canaan land. God would be with them.

Luke 2: The Gospel of Luke we always hear at the principle Christmas Eve Mass. It is the only Gospel that has what we know as the infancy narrative; the birth of Jesus.  In Luke 2:2 we see the requirement for a Roman registration or census.. The reason for this census was to establish taxes and military conscription (draft).  Luke chapter 2 says that the census decree went out while Quirinius was governor of Syria around 6 BCE (Before Common Era). We know from history that Quirinius was governor during the lifetime of Herod the great. Herod the Great died in 4 BCE. So this puts the birth of Christ somewhere between 6 – 4 BCE. Common Era (CE) also means AD (Anno Domini – In the Year of the Lord).  In Luke 2:29-32, those who come to our Evening Prayer service, or do it on your own; should see a familiar Biblical verses. Luke 2:29-32 is the Nunc Dimittis (The Song of Simeon) which comes just before The Apostles’ Creed in Evening Prayer. Nunc Dimittis is Latin for “now you are dismissing”.  In Luke 2:41-52 we read about Jesus’ boyhood. Only the Gospel of Luke talks about Jesus’ boyhood. In Luke 2:49 when Jesus says to Mary & Joseph that they should have known he would be “in his Father’s House” sets in motion Jesus divine plan. In Luke 2:51, we see that Jesus was “obedient” to his earthly parents, which follows the 5th Commandment (Exodus 20:12 – Honor your Father & Mother)

Notes for Day 54:

Numbers 15-17: I believe you can see again in our readings today why this Old Testament Book is called Numbers. This is even pointed out in Numbers 15:12; “According to the number that you offer….”.   In 15:22; God is talking to the whole congregation of the Israelites when he says; But if you  unintentionally fail to observe all these commandments….”. You is used as a plural form to address the Hebrew people.  What do you think of the man who was caught picking up sticks on the Sabbath? Do you think God was right for directing that he be stoned to death for violating the Sabbath?   In Numbers 15:38 we see the LORD (God) telling the Israelites to make fringes on the corners of their garments throughout all generations, and to put blue cord on the fringe at each corner. These fringes are still worn on the prayer shawl, or “tallit” of Orthodox Jewish men. I have seen them in my travels in Baltimore & New York City where there is a stronger presence of Orthodox Jews.   In Numbers 16 we see what happens when the people revolt, or plant a scheme against a person who is selected/called by God. In this case, God punishes those who rose against Moses. Not only the men who rose against Moses, but their entire families were either swallowed up and sent to Sheol (Hell), or consumed by fire. Numbers says that this act was a “sign” to learn from; that those who perished had “despised the LORD”. I wouldn’t have to watch this twice to get the point!

Luke 3: In Luke 3 we hear about how John (Baptist) was preaching & Baptizing a Baptism of repentance. John’s Baptism was a ritual of cleansing in order to signify the return of God with an expectation that the people he was Baptizing would receive forgiveness from God. John says that his Baptism act is different than the one who will direct another form of Baptism. John says that he Baptizes with water, but that Jesus will Baptize them with the Holy Spirit and fire.   In Luke 3:23-38, we see the ancestry of Joseph (Jesus’ earthly father). This ancestry goes all the way back to Adam, the son of God. If we remember, Matthew begins Joseph’s ancestry beginning with Abraham (Matthew 1:2). The Ancestry is also in a reverse order than we see in Luke. In Luke 3 we see the ancestry of Joseph begins with Joseph 3:23, and ends with God.

Notes for Day 55:

Numbers 18-20: In Numbers chapter 18 we see what is known as the “Priest’s Portion” of tithes, or offerings. In Numbers18:8 – The LORD has said that part of the Israelites offerings are to be a means of support for the Priesthood and the Sanctuary.   What is the “Covenant of Salt”? (Numbers 18:19) A Covenant of Salt was seen as a Covenant that could not be broken. We have already read about the Covenant of Salt in Leviticus 2:23, and will see it again in 2 Chronicles 13:5.  I want to direct your attention to Numbers 18:22. Do you see this comment from God that anyone, other than Priests & Levite (temple assistants), may no longer approach the tent of meeting? Now think about this for a moment.  What happened to the temple curtain when Jesus finally gave up his spirit (life) on the Cross? Now I think you get it. Yes, Jesus’ death on the Cross caused the temple curtain to be torn in half, thereby allowing ALL to regain access to God! The access to the temple was not only for the Priests & Levites, but for all.  Now to Numbers Chapter 20 and the Waters of Meribah. Even Moses & Aaron are not spared the “Wrath of God”!   It is because of Moses’ & Aaron’s lack of faith that they never entered into the Promised Land. I have preached & taught on this before, but this is a refresher. The Israelites in Chapter 20 were complaining (common) about traveling in the wilderness of Zin (Miriam died in Kadesh). The Israelites have now been traveling almost 40 years. There was no water for the Israelites, so the people gathered against Moses. Moses did what he usually does, and talks to God about their predicament, no water. God (LORD) told Moses to take his staff, Aaron, and the congregation (Israelites) and while in front of the assembly to command the rock to yield water. It is not really clear how Moses & Aaron quarreled with God about this water, but it was enough to not allow them to enter the Promised Land. It could be from the verse we read in Numbers 20:10; “Listen, you rebels, shall we bring water for you out of this rock?” This may be seen as questioning God’s power. At any point, we read about the Waters of Meribah again. Meribah means to “Quarrel”. Moses & Aaron quarreled with God; not a good idea. We will hear about the Waters of Meribah again in Numbers 27:14, Deuteronomy 33:8, Psalms 78:15-16, 20; 95:8-11, 106:32-33.  Aaron’s death comes in Numbers 20:28 & we will read about Mose’s death near the end of the Book Deuteronomy – 34:5. 

Luke 4: We read in Luke 4 about Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness & his temptation from the devil. Again we see the number 40. If we remember, Moses fasted in the wilderness for 40 days (Exodus 34:28) and we will see again that Moses fasted 40 days when we get to Deuteronomy 9:9, 18. We also see the testing of Israel for 40 years in the wilderness. We also know there was 40 days between the resurrection & the ascension.  This little “dialogue” that Jesus has in Luke 4:25-27 has a theological meaning in case you have not seen it. Jesus is saying that the Gospel (Good News), his message, is open to all who may receive it, not just the elected few. Look at this for a moment. Jesus says that in Israel there was a severe drought (skies were closed up). There was a severe famine over all the land. However, the prophet Elijah was only sent sent to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. There were many lepers in Israel, but none of them were cleansed by the prophet Elisha except Naaman the Syrian. Jesus called the men out on their stiff “religiosity” for not caring for everyone. They became so upset with Jesus and attempted to throw him off a cliff, but that did not happen, did it?

Notes for Day 57:

Numbers 21-23: In chapter 21 we read about the Bronze serpent. In this chapter we see the last of the complaint stories, but the first complaint filed directly against God. In Numbers 21:5 we see; “The people spoke against God and against Moses.”  The result is that God sends poisonous serpents to kill the Israelites that complained against him. Then we read about the symbol of the Bronze Serpent on a pole. You have heard me preach on the Bronze Serpent on a pole. Take a look at The Gospel of John 3:14-15.  In Numbers 21-14-15, we read about the “Book of Wars of the LORD”.  This origin of this term is generally unknown, but may refer to the wars that the Israelites had where they had the belief that were led by God. God led them into these “holy wars”.    Numbers 22 is very interesting, but do not get totally “hooked” on the talking donkey. The main thing in this story (besides the talking donkey) is how a non-Israelite becomes totally obedient to God, and follows his directions. That person is Balaam. Balaam will not go against the Israelites at the direction of Balak who was king of Moab (the Moabites). The story of the talking donkey is most likely a fable to poke fun at Balaam. It takes a donkey to see the angels & report it to Balaam, who eventually sees the angels standing in his path. Do you see any resemblance of the three attempts before Balaam finally sees the angels? Unfortunately for the donkey, he gets beat with the stick three times before he “opens his mouth and talks” to Balaam. Take a look at Numbers 22:30. Where do we see Jesus talking in this manner?  In Numbers 23, we read the first two of Balaam’s four oracles.

Luke 5: In Luke 5 Jesus calls his first group of disciples. I am drawn to Luke 5:15. In the NRSV we read “But now more than ever the word about Jesus spread abroad……”.  Do you think that we as Christians are seeing a time “that now more than ever is a time to spread the Gospel message”?  I personally believe that we are living in a time where there are “no more boundaries” and we are going against God’s plan for his created world and going against his plan for Salvation. We will read in Luke 10:2 where Jesus says; “The Harvest is plentiful,  but the laborers are few…”  My thought to this is that the; ” Harvest is getting bigger, and the true laborers are getting fewer.”

Notes for Day 58:

Numbers 24-26:  today we read the third & fourth oracle of Balaam. I am drawn to what several verses say about the wisdom of God and his calling of the Israelites, and his covenant with the Israelites.  We can see this with Balaam’s obedience to God. Remember, Balaam is NOT one of the Israelites, but is supporting them, and being obedient to “their God”. I call your attention to two verses in Numbers 24. They are the second half of verse 9, and ending of verse 13:  Numbers 24:9  “….Blessed is everyone who blesses you, and cursed is everyone who curses you.”.     Numbers 24:13  “….what the LORD says, that is what I will say?”  When I look at these verses, and Balaam’s resistance to go against the Israelites (Hebrew People), I am reminded as to why I believe that our country should do what ever we can to defend the country of Israel. We must remember that the Israelites, and the country of Israel, are the “chosen people” of God. I believe that if you do not see this now, by the time we move near the end of the Old Testament, this logic will become clearer.  In Numbers 25, we see that God is upset that some of the Israelites were having sexual relations with the women of Moab. Basically, the men were having encounters with the Moab women who were prostituting themselves. It was not the relationship with the Moabite women in particular that upset God, but the men were giving up their belief in God, and beginning to worship Baal of Peor (Syrian storm God of Hadad) in order to gain access the Moab women prostitutes. The Israelite men were allowing themselves to give up the one true God, lower their standards, and give in to sexual immorality. This upset God, and rightfully so. So God ordered Moses to take all the chiefs of the people and impale them in the sun of the LORD (Numbers 25:4). However, Moses does not exactly follow God’s command of verse 4 and asks that only the guilty parties be executed. In Numbers 25:6 we read that one of the Israelites came and brought a Midianite women into women into his family, in the sight of Moses, and in the sight of the whole congregation of the Israelites while they were weeping at the tent of meeting. (Numbers 25:6) However, it was not Moses who took action, but Phinehas, son of Elazar, son of the Aaron the Priest (Numbers 25:7-8), who took action and killed both the Israelite man and the Midianite women  with a spear that went through both their bellies.  This action elevated Aaron’s family over Moses. Biblical commentators will say that the reason that Phinehas was able to kill them both at one time, with one spear, is that they were both involved in sexual intercourse  (Inside the tent of meeting.) at the time they were executed.  Now I want you to think about why Moses may have not taken any action against the Midianite women. Who did Moses marry? Look back at Numbers 10:29-32. Moses was married to a Midianite women. You may ask; “So what has changed now?”. Again, the main thrust behind God’s wrath in Numbers 25, is that some of the Israelite men were going against God and beginning to follow the God of the women of Moab.  In Numbers 26 we see the final census that the LORD called for. In Numbers 25, the plague killed the remaining Israelites of the wilderness generation (The generation that came out of Egypt.) In Numbers 26, there is now the new census of those who will enter the promise land, minus Aaron & Moses. This “new generation” will enter the promise land. In Numbers 26:64, God says that not one of the Israelites that were enrolled in the first census (Wilderness of Sinai), will live, except Caleb & Joshua.

Luke 6: We now see that Jesus is “lightening up” some of the Sabbath requirements. Jesus says that he has control of the Sabbath, and what can be done on the Sabbath (Luke 6:5). In verses 12-16, we see Jesus calling the 12 Apostles.

Notes for Day 59:

Numbers 27-29: In the episode of the Daughters of Zelophehad (Numbers 27) it is important to remember that in Israel, property was passed from father to son, but there was an alternative system if a man had no sons. Normally all the father’s possession if he had no son, would go to the deceased father’s brothers. In Numbers 27 we see the case of a father who had four daughters, but no son, but he had brothers. These four daughters of Zelophehad took their case before Moses asking that they be given part of the inheritance that would go to their uncles. So Moses went to the LORD (God) with their concern. So what was God’s response? I find the response that God gives somewhat amazing, based on the low value that women normally had in Old Testament readings. In Numbers 27:7 God says to Moses; “The daughters of Zelophehad are right in what they are saying……”  God goes on to say in Numbers 27:8; You shall also say to the Israelites, ‘If a man dies, and has no son, then you shall pass his inheritance on to his daughter.”   In Numbers 27:12 we see that Joshua is appointed as Moses’s Successor. Remember; Moses will not enter the promised land. As mentioned in earlier notes in reference to the waters of Meribah at Zin (Here in Numbers 27:14 called Meribath-kadesh.) God was not happy with Moses & Aaron for arguing with him about bringing water from a rock. God reinforces in Numbers 27:14 that he was not happy with Moses, and therefore he must appoint his successor.   In Numbers 28 we see the LORD directing Moses to bring offerings during certain times of the year: In Numbers 28:26 we see the Offerings at the Festival of Weeks. This festival would be the 50 days after the Festival of Unleavened Bread (Passover) and would be around the month of June.  In the Hebrew calendar this is known as Shavuoth. In Numbers 29 we see the Offerings at the Festival of Trumpets. This festival is traditionally the Hebrew New Year; other wise known as Rosh Hashanah. In Numbers 29:7 we see the Offering on the Day of Atonement. This day is known on the Hebrew calendar as Yom Kippur. In Numbers 29:12 we see the Offerings at the Festival of Booths or the Festival of the Ingathering; almost similar to what we know as our Thanksgiving. This festival is known in the Hebrew calendar as Sukkoth.

Psalm 49: Ever heard of the saying; “You can’t take it with you.”? Or the joke about “Never seeing an Armored Car in a funeral possession.”?  Well here in Psalm 49 we see just that. Verse 17 is really clear; “For when they die they will carry nothing away; their wealth will go down after them.”

Luke 7:  We see Jesus’ compassion he had for the mother who’s only son had died. You all have heard me preach on this Gospel reading. Jesus’ compassion was not only because of the women’s grief, but he also knew that she would not have anyway of supporting herself finically since she had no husband, and now no son. Jesus breaks another Jewish law when he touched the bier holding the body of the widow’ son. This broke the purity laws, and we all know from reading the Old Testament, you were considered unclean for 7 days if you did this and was put out of the from the congregation during these 7 days.  In Luke 7:24 Jesus talks about those who judge a prophet by appearance and where & how they live. Jesus asked the crowd that gathered when referring to John (the baptist). What were you looking for, someone dressed in soft robes? Were you looking for someone who was wearing fine clothing and lived in a royal palace? Jesus goes on to say that of those born, no one was greater than John, yet the least in the Kingdom is greater than he (John). Jesus says that the “social elite” or those who thought they were better than John, the Pharisees & Lawyers, missed out on God’s purpose for themselves. By judging John the Baptist on his appearance & other features, and not allowing John to Baptize them, these “elitists” missed out on an opportunity that came down from God.   In Luke 7:47 we read where Jesus says the women who’s sins were just forgiven by Jesus showed “great love.” What is the meaning from this verse; to show “great love.”?  The answer is simple. She showed great love because she truly knew her sins (We have no idea what they were.) were forgiven. How many of us show “Great Love” for Jesus who has forgiven our sins? In which way do we show it? If we do not show “Great Love”, does this mean that we feel our sins are not forgiven?

Notes for Day 60:

Numbers 30-32: In Numbers Chapter 30, we read about the vows made by women. I turn today to St. Jerome’s Biblical Commentary in reference to the rules concerning vows in the Old Testament. The taking of a “vow” or pledge of “abstinence” was a very serious matter among the Hebrews. Once initiated, the person was obliged to stand by his action (Deuteronomy 23:22-24). It was thought better to make no vows at all than to make them and then violate them (Ecclesiastes 5:3-5). In Numbers 30, we see that this scripture reading restricts it’s interest to the vows of women, and it is the only vow in the Old Testament which deals specifically with the aspect of vows. We saw that women’s right to inherit was given in chapter 27, now we see a section that concerns a  women’s obligation. However, we are still in a male dominated part of history. We see from our reading in Chapter 30 that an unmarried woman’s vow was valid only when ratified by her father. Also a married women needed her husband’s consent to bind herself by vow. The husband’s disapproval (if he spoke up) meant the vow was nullified. The only women who could pronounce vows were the divorced or widowed.  In Numbers 31 we read about Israel preparing for war against Midian. This war was a “payback” that God ordered because of the incident at Peor (Numbers 25:6-18). Look at the notes for day #58.   I am sure that you do not approve of all this violence that we see in the Bible that we see today in Numbers 31.  At the direction of God, Moses is to tell the Israelites to kill every male in Midian. All the Midian kings are killed, including Balaam. We will read more about these “mass killings”.  What do you think of Moses’ reaction in Numbers 31:15-18? Do you believe that Moses was right for ordering that the Israelites go back and finish killing ALL the males, even the young male children? What about going back and killing all the Midianite mothers? This is what Moses meant that the Israelites were to kill every women who had known a man by sleeping with them. In addition to all of this, the Israelites took all their booty. The Israelites also took for their possession 32,000 virgins (Women who had not known a man by sleeping with him – Numbers 31:25). Again in Numbers 32:11, we see that not all are going to go into the promised land, except a “new generation”; those under 20 years old (except Joshua and Caleb). 

Luke 8: In Luke 8 today we read about women disciples 8:1-3. 

Notes for Day 61:

Notes for day #61 – Numbers 33-35: Here is a homework assignment from someone in reference to Numbers 33. Could one of you taking this class (One Year Bible Challenge) make a map of Egypt & the Sinai Peninsula (During the Wilderness journey of the Israelites.) & map out Numbers 33? Please someone step up & do this. Also, let me know as soon as possible who is going to do this assignment.  In Numbers 33:55-56; God gives a warning to Moses what would happen if they did not drive out all of the people from the land of Canaan as he directs. God says that if these people (Canaanites) are not driven out of the land that they will possess, these people will constantly be “barbs in their eyes and thorns in their sides”.  In Numbers 34:1-2, the promised land is the land west of the Jordan River.  In Numbers 35:4-5, the size of the pasture for the animals is given in measurements of cubits. This measure amount to the equivalent of 500 by 1000 yards.  In our reading from Numbers today, I feel more connected to the areas God is talking about to Moses, in the land West of the Jordan. Having travelled to the Holy Land in 2019, the mention of the Salt Sea, and the Great Sea really “hits home” with me, and Melanie. The Great Sea, is the Mediterranean Sea, which we saw, and actually stuck our feet in. It is a beautiful sea. The Salt Sea is of course the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea was the only body of water that I have ever been able to float in.

Luke 9: In Luke chapter 9 we see the mission of the 12. In Luke 9:7-9 we see that Herod is perplexed because he thinks that John the Baptist who he beheaded has come back to life. The actual execution of John the Baptist at the direction of Herod, is not described in Luke’s Gospel. We read that Herod had him imprisoned in Luke 3:19-20, but not executed. It is only that we see briefly in Luke 9:9, that Herod said he had John beheaded. Do any of you see any resemblance of Luke 9:15-17 to something that we do in our weekly worship?  Yes, it is the Eucharist. The four  “required manual & spiritual acts” of the Eucharistic that I teach in confirmation are present in Luke 9:16. Do you see them? Here they are: Take, Bless, Break, and Give. In the Eucharist as your Priest I receive the Oblations (Bread & Wine),then I say the Eucharistic Prayer of Blessing over the Bread & Wine, then I brake the bread, then I give the bread (and wine) at the Communion rail.  The spiritual “fullness” comes when you have received Communion. In the case of Luke 9:17, scripture says that all who ate were “filled”.

Notes for Day 62:

Numbers 36:  This chapter deals with inheritance, and keeping property. In Numbers 36:6-9; a regulation that women who inherit must marry within a specific family group (or else forfeit their property) is common among societies with patrilineal inheritance laws. In Numbers 36:10 we again hear about Zelophehad’s daughters. Remember we read about them in Numbers 27, day #59. Yes, it is true, Zelophehad’s daughters married their cousins (Numbers 27:11). This also  seems to void out what God said could happen in Numbers 27:1-11. Look back at the notes for day #59 in reference to property being passed down to daughters.

Luke 10: In Luke 10, we see that Jesus appointed more people than the original 12 to do his mission work. These 70 are sent out in pairs. (Other ancient authorities say that there were 72 sent out. In Luke 10:19, Jesus says that he has given them the authority to tread on snakes and scorpions. These snakes & scorpions represent evil.

Notes for Day 64:

Deuteronomy 1-3:  Today we begin the Book of Deuteronomy. This is the fifth book of the Bible and the last of those traditionally ascribed to Moses. These five books are also known as the Pentateuch, or the Torah. Deuteronomy means the “second law – giving”.  Deuteronomy is much more explicit in the Mosaic Torah, the law. As you begin reading Deuteronomy you will see that Moses, who will not be allowed to cross the Jordan River into the promised land, gives testamentary speeches. Moses recites to the people the history and events of their Wilderness journey.  Also, you will see that the Law of God that is given to the Israelites is to be passed on to future generations. The chief lesson that is given in Deuteronomy is that Israel’s national well-being requires strict observance of all that God commands.  Taking a look at Deuteronomy 1:7-8, you see God Commanding Moses that the Israelites are to go as far as the Euphrates River and take possession of this land. Remember in my earlier notes that the Euphrates River runs through the present day country of Iraq. In Deut. 1:10, you can again see why the previous Book was called Numbers. God multiplied the numbers of the Israelites during the 40 year Sinai journey.  In Deut. 1:37, we hear that even God was not happy with Moses during this 40 year journey.  Moses reminds us in Deut. 2:7, that as long as God is with you; you will lack nothing.  What do you make of Deuteronomy 2:25?; “This day I will begin to put dread and fear of you upon the peoples everywhere under heaven; when they hear report of you, they will tremble and be in anguish because of you.” Do you see this as having any bearing on those countries that cannot get along with present day Israel?   Again in Deut. 2:34 & 3:6; we read about how the Israelites killed men, women, and children in their conquest. 

Psalm 53: Psalm #53 is almost identical to Psalm #14. 

Luke 11: In Luke 11 we see the Lord’s Prayer that Jesus teaches. In Luke 14:1-23 we hear Jesus talking about Beelzebul. Beelzebul was the name of a pagan type God of the Philistines. Beelzebul is another term Jesus gives for Satan. In Luke 11:21, Luke talks about the “strong man”. This strong man is the Devil, and Jesus is the stronger one (verse 22) that has entered his “castle” and overtook him. Then in verse 23, we hear Jesus say that anyone who is not against him (Jesus), and does not gather with him, will be scattered.  In Luke 11:28 we hear Jesus say  that those who hear the word of God & obey it, will be Blessed.   In Luke 11:41 Jesus talks about Alms giving and the proper use of the Alms. In Luke’s Gospel, the proper use of possessions is a major Lukan concern.

Notes for Day 65:

Deuteronomy 4-6:  Again, we see the importance of the present day country we know as Israel. In Deuteronomy 4:6-8 we read that God will make the people of Israel a great & wise nation. We see again in Deut. 4:21 why Moses will not be allowed to enter the promised land.  I find it comforting to see that God will not abandon those who call upon him; we read this in Deut. 4:30-31.   As we transition into Deuteronomy 5, we begin to transition into the more specific Torah (law) that we are very familiar with. It is the Decalogue (Ten Commandments).  In Deut. 5:8, there has been much debate in modern day Christianity about idols, or idolatrous worship. Many will criticize the use of statues, pictures, or any relics inside a Church, or even the wearing of a Cross neckless. God is saying that you will not bow down to any images & worship these images or anything that is used to substitute him (God), for he is a jealous God. The point that needs to be made about statues, pictures of Jesus (We do not know what he looked like.), stained glass windows, or anything of this nature is this – We are not to worship these items as if they are a God or Deity. With this said, there is nothing wrong with having these items if they are used to help bring us a “visible representation” of who it is that we are worshipping. The simple point is that nothing, and no one on earth, is to substitute our worship of God. We are not to idolize pop icons, race car drivers, country/rock singers, velvet paintings of Elvis, Harley Davidsons, etc. None of these things should force us to miss our focus and worship of God.   In Deut. 5:11 we read that we are not to make the wrongful use of the name of the LORD (God). I believe this is really simple, but it is more than using the LORD’s name in vain, or in cursing an object. I am not fond of the constant use of the phrase; “Oh My God”. I remember as a child that my parents would threaten to punish me if they ever heard me say this phrase. Today, this phrase seems to come out of many young mouths. Of course we see the Facebook & text messages with “OMG” which could be interpreted to mean “Oh My Gosh”. But, the literal misuse of the Name of the LORD is not to be tolerated. God says he will not acquit anyone who misuses his name (Deut. 5:11).   In Deut. 5:26, we see; “…the voice of the living God speaking out…” What this means is that our God’s rule is manifest through word & deed. We will see this again in Joshua 3:10; “Joshua said, ‘By this you shall know that among you is the living God who without fail will drive out from before you the….”  We now move to Deuteronomy chapter 6, and I will teach you several Hebrew words:  In Deut. 6:4 we see the “Shema” which means hear; “Hear, O Israel:”  At the beginning of every synagogue worship, the “Mishnah” (Deut. 6:5) is said; “You shall love the LORD…” Actually, the Mishnah is to be said twice daily.  Then we read in Deut. 6:9, that the Mishnah is to be posted or written on the doorposts of a house or the gates. You will find that many Jewish, and Christian people have a little oblong “thing” attached to the entrance to their homes. This “thing” is called a “Mezuzah”, and it contains the words of the Mishnah. There is an option as to how the Mezuzah is attached to the door frame, but many will point it at an angle so that it is like pointing towards the doorway (entrance) into the home.  Deuteronomy 6 ends with a reassurance that all those who follow the Torah – Decalogue (Ten Commandments), and Mishnah (Love God), will be in the right. The chief aim of God’s law is to secure life.

Luke 12: In Luke 12:8, Jesus says that everyone who acknowledges him before others, will be acknowledged before the angels of God. This is Evangelism friends, and the reward for bringing others to Christ!  Jesus also goes on to say in Luke 12:10 that anyone who speaks a word against him will be forgiven, but not so for those who go against the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is powerful and you must not ignore it.  Again we read in Luke 12:15, that you can not take your “stuff” with you when you “move on”. In Luke 12:19-21, Jesus is saying that many believe that they can just “bank” on what they have here on earth and just “kick back”; “..relax, drink, be merry.”  Jesus says that these things will eventually not be yours (Luke 12:20) after you are gone, so why spend so much time focusing on these earthly possessions.   In Luke 12:50, the Baptism that Jesus is talking about refers to his death.

Notes for Day 66:

Deuteronomy 7-9: In Deuteronomy we again see how God has chosen the Israelites to be the “Chosen People” of God. But first; God ays that the Israelites are to destroy all the people mentioned in Deut. 7:1-2; “Make no covenant with them, and show them no mercy.” The reason for this “brutality” is answered in chapter 9. But getting back to God’s “Chosen People”. In Deuteronomy 7:6 we read this; “For you are  people holy to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on earth to be his people, his treasured possession.” In Deut. 7:14 we read; “You shall be the most blessed of peoples….”  And God has a message for any who go against the Israelites in Deut. 7:15; “The LORD will turn away from you every illness…..but he will lay them on all who hate you.”  So can you see why I believe it is very important that we do not turn our back on the country of Israel?   Taking a look at Deuteronomy 8:3, where have we heard this before; “….one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.”? How about when Jesus was tempted by Satan in the Wilderness.   Now turning to Deuteronomy chapter 9. We see in chapter 9 why the LORD (God) is telling the Israelites to destroy the people that he has ordered to be destroyed (Give no Mercy.) It is because of their (those who are to be destroyed) wickedness, not because of the righteousness that the LORD has found upon the Israelites. Basically the LORD is telling the Israelites to go and “Clean House”. 

Psalm 55:  This Psalm talks about an individual who need’s God’s help from various enemies. However, do you see something very upsetting in this Psalm, the writer complains twice, that his friend has turned against him.

Luke 13: In Luke 13 we see the parable of the fig tree growing fruit, and the mustard seed growing into a tree. The fig tree is about Evangelism. In reference to the mustard seed becoming a tree for the birds to make a nest (13:19). A tree that provides shelter was used as a metaphor for a kingdom. God’s kingdom will provide shelter.

Notes for Day 67:

Deuteronomy 10-12: In Deut. 10 Moses talks about how the 2nd pair of tablets came into being. Remember he smashed the first set. In Deut. 10:12-13, Moses talks about the Essence of the Law. In Deuteronomy we see the rewards for obedience to God, and also the punishment for not obeying God. Take a look at Deut. 11:26-28. Here we read the blessing for obeying God, and the curse for turning your back on God.

Luke 14:  Taking a look at the Parable of the Great Dinner, the Pharisee’s banquet. What do you make of this? Do you know of anyone who makes excuses as to why they will not except the Christian message of Salvation? Do you know anyone who makes excuses as to why they choose not to come to Church? The message that is conveyed in Luke 14:15-24 is that there are consequences for refusing an invitation to enter the Kingdom of God. there are consequences for not accepting the invitation to accept Jesus as your Savior. The consequences as we know it is the lack of Salvation.  Jesus says that the “open invitation” will not last forever for those who refuse to accept it. This is clear in Luke 14:24; “For I tell you, none of those who were invited will taste my dinner.”

Notes for Day 68:

Deuteronomy 13-15: There is no real clear significance in Deuteronomy 14 about the dietary laws. Some people will say that God was looking out for the “health” of the Israelites. Some will say that there were no provisions to keep certain meats cool during the wilderness journey, and certain meats would rot. However, this is only speculation. Another good possibility for these certain dietary laws was in reference to ritual purity, not health per se. The affected meats could be eaten by those who did not belong to the sacral community. The prohibition against cooking a “kid in it’s mother’s milk” (Deut. 14:21) we also read in Exodus 23:19 & Exodus 34:26. Some Biblical commentators will say that this verse as proscribing Canaanite religious practices, others as being directed against unnatural and callous treatment of animals. One thing is clear from this dietary practice. In the current Jewish practice (Kosher Laws) you will not see any kitchen (personal/commercial) where meat and dairy products are prepared in the same kitchen. This prohibition of co-mingling dairy & meat comes from Deuteronomy 14:21, Exodus 23:19 & 34:26.

Luke 15: In Luke 15, we have three parables of “the lost”: Lost Sheep, Lost Coin, and the Lost Son  (Prodigal Son and his brother.).  I believe that all of you can see where Luke 15 is going with these parables. However, I want to draw your attention to the Prodigal Son. I remember a former parishioner saying he did not like the story of the prodigal son. He felt that the son did not deserve to be welcomed back.. What do you think?  If you do a little more reflection on these parables; they are really about us. Luke 15 is about Grace & Reconciliation.

Notes for Day 69:

Deuteronomy – 16-18: In Deuteronomy 16 we again re-visit certain festivals.  The “Festival of Weeks” is what we now call Pentecost. Chapter 16 begins with the month of Abib being a special month to be observed. According to older traditions, the nocturnal escape from Egypt occurred on the “new moon” of Abib. This is a season in early spring when the ears of barley begins to ripen. I want to call your attention to Deuteronomy 18:9-14. These verse talk about those who do child sacrifices, are fortune tellers, etc. In particular  I call your attention to Deuteronomy 18:12. Moses says that anyone who practices the acts in verses 18:10-11 are committing acts that are abhorrent practices. If you remember the, Apostle Paul and Silas, one of the reasons they were thrown in prison was because they cured the girl who had a divination (Acts 16:16-40) . Remember a divination is a practice that is not acceptable to God. One who claims to have a divination, is like a fortune teller. So it is clear that one who practices divination (fortune telling) is considered to be doing an abhorrent act that goes against God. Paul & Silas cured the girl of a divination in the Book of Acts. Because it was seen that they took away this girls means of financial support (which was not acceptable to God), Paul & Silas were thrown into prison. The (Former) Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori delivered this confusing sermon in reference to the Apostle Paul and Silas.

Luke 16: Luke 16 deals with a dishonest manager, wealth, and what happens if you are “married to your money/stuff” and not adhering to the the Law of God, and seeking the Kingdom of God/Eternal Salvation.

Notes for Day 71:

Deuteronomy 19-21: Deuteronomy 19 through 25 deals with social justice and practices meant to protect individual life and livelihood in the covenant community. In Deut. 19:6 we read about the “Avenger of Blood”. This was a person “agent” designated by the family of the deceased to inflict retaliatory punishment on the murderer. I am not sure if any of you remember the 1989 movie that Patrick Swayze played in called “Next of Kin”. Patrick plays “Truman” who moves from the backwoods of Kentucky and becomes a police officer in Chicago. One things leads to another, and Truman’s brother from Kentucky ends up coming to Chicago and is murdered. The rest of the movie involves other family members coming from Kentucky to avenge the murder of their brother. This puts “Truman” in a bad position. The relative(s) that was chosen to avenge the murder would be the “Avenger of Blood”. I am not supporting a modern day “Avenger of Blood”; just trying to use an example. Deuteronomy chapter 20 talks about the rules of Warfare, which is actually a “Holy War”.  In Deut. 20:16, a total “ban” is issued on anything that breathes. This means that the Israelites who go to war, are to kill everything, including the livestock. What do you think about the actions that are to be taken against a stubborn & rebellious son (Deut. 21:18-21)?

Luke 17:  Luke 17:7-10  may seem a little hard to understand. This scenario given by Jesus is not in the other Gospels. What Jesus is trying to tell the disciples is that they are not to assume that there work is ever done or finished. They were only doing the limited amount of work, just enough to get by. Jesus is saying there is much more work to do, use your own initiative. Keep working! 

Notes for Day 72:

Deuteronomy 22-24: In Deuteronomy chapter 22 we see several verses that talk about blending, or “mix matching”. In Deut. 22:5, the scripture is clear about cross dressing (women wearing men’s clothing & men wearing women’s clothing). This practice is seen as being an abhorrent to the LORD (God). Then when we read further in Deut. 22:9-11, there is a prohibition of mixing garden plants/seeds, or wearing clothing made of different materials, and having a donkey & ox hooked to the same plow. So what is going on here?  The act of cross dressing was a pagan/cultic practice associated with the Mesopotamian goddess Ishtar. When you combine this (cross-dressing) with the other prohibited “blending” (ox/donkey hooked together for plowing, wearing clothes made of two different materials); the central point is that there are to be distinctions in God’s created order. What happens is that man blurs God’s created order that he intended. An example is that there is male and female made for certain purposes by God. What these prohibitions are pointing out is that; “Nature does not delight in the combination of dissimilar things.”  In Deuteronomy 23:2; scripture says that “those born of an illicit union shall not be admitted to the assembly…”  An illicit union was traditionally understood to mean incest.

Luke 18:9-14 deals with those who think they are better than others because they fast twice a week, and give more money to the temple (tithe). Jesus says that the one who humbles himself and prays for forgiveness will be the one who is exulted. Those who exult themselves (think they are better) will be humbled. 

Notes for Day 73:

Deuteronomy 25-27: Deuteronomy 25:5-10 talks about the obligations for a Levirate Marriage. A “Levir” is the deceased husband’s brother. As you can see; there was the expectation that the brother-in-law would marry his sister-in-law, in the case, his brother died. The brother-in-law was expected to “go into her” and do the duty that his brother could not complete. If the women did conceive a child, the firstborn child would bear the name not of his biological father, but that of his biological father’s deceased brother. Of course, there were repercussions if the brother-in-law refused to marry the wife of his deceased brother. What do you make of Deut. 25:11-12? The story about a wife who intervenes in a fight to rescue her husband. This is known as the “Talion” action. Many of you know what a “Talion” is but have never heard it described this way. Talion is the “eye for an eye” retribution. We see this executed in the Muslim controlled governments/countries when a thief has their hand amputated. We also see the proscription of Talion in Exodus 21:23. So how does a woman reaching out & seizing the genitals of her husband’s opponent in a fight force her to have a Talion forced on her; having her hand cut off – “with no mercy”? You must remember that the man’s procreative capacity was very important in God’s created order of things. For a person, woman in this case, to “steal the capacity for a man to reproduce” was seen as a theft. In this scenario the woman “stole” from the man; therefor, she was to have her hand amputated.

Luke 19: In Luke 19:36, what do you see different in this verse of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem? Basically it is what you do not see being spread before him. We also see the same scenario with Jehu in 2 Kings 9:13. Yes, it is cloaks, not palm branches.  In Luke 19:39, this is the last appearance of the Pharisees in Luke’s Gospel. We will return to the Pharisees in Luke’s other Book (Acts). We will see the Pharisees becoming almost allies with the Christian cause. (Acts 5:33-42, 23:6-9).

Notes for Day 74:

Deuteronomy 28-30: Deut. 28 involves the Blessings for Obedience to God, and the Curses for Disobedience to God. Deut. 28:3-6 are the sixfold benedictions for obedience, and the counterpart to these are verses 16-19. I want to point out one word that really stands our in Deut. 28:9. The word is “If”; “…if you keep the commandments of the LORD your God…” Again, I have said numerous times; the LORD knows that not all will obey his plan for Salvation. If this was the case, the word “If” would have been substituted with “When”, and we would not have to read verses 16-19.  We then see a very long litany of events that will happen to a person who fails to obey God. As I was reading this today, I was wondering if the Jewish people during the Holocaust were asking themselves; “God; what did we do wrong to deserve this?” In Deut. 28:53-57; we read that one of the punishments for disobeying God is turning to Cannibalism. Deut. 28:57 is gross.  In Deut. 30:19 we see the importance of choosing life; “Choose life so that you and your descendants may live,…”  It is no secret to many of you, that your Priest (me); is a Pro-Life advocate. One of the organizations that I belong to is Anglicans for Life. Melanie is also a supporter of Pro-Life.  Deut. 30:11-20 is an Exhortation to Choose Life! However, I also am aware that there are issues that surround becoming victims of rape, and the life of the mother. These issues can be reconciled on a case by case basis.

Luke 20: In Luke 20 we see the chief priests and scribes trying to entrap Jesus in a series of questions. In Luke 20:22-25 we see them trying to entrap Jesus on the issue of paying taxes. Jesus then asks for a denarius (coin). In verse 24 Jesus asks whose head and what is the title on the coin. The head was that of Tiberius Caesar, and the title would have been; “SON OF THE DIVINE AUGUSTUS”. So Jesus throws the question back at them in his answer. His question back to them is what one owes the emperor (i.e. coins with his image) to what belongs to God (people with God’s image).  I believe that Luke 20:28-33 needs some theological clarification. The case cited by the Sadducees is somewhat absurd (stupid maybe), but refers to the law of the “levirate” (brother-in-law) marriage & obligations that we just read in Deuteronomy. A more clearer theological perspective may come when we look at Luke 20:34-36. Jesus is saying that to Marry, that is to “procreate” (God’s main purpose of marriage!); was no longer necessary for those to inherit eternal life in the age to come. God’s plan for Salvation (procreation) will no longer be necessary through a marriage, but through him. I believe that it is also important to remember, that those who are married in this part of God’s creation will also be together in God’s Eternal Glory! 

Notes for Day 75:

Deuteronomy 31-33: In Deuteronomy we now see the longevity of Moses’ life, 120 years. (Deut.31:2) Moses has lived three normal forty-year generations. We also need to go back to Genesis 6:3. God has said that 120 years is the maximum lifetime allowed to any human being; “Then the LORD said, ‘My spirit shall not abide in mortals forever, for they are flesh; their days shall be on hundred twenty years.”  In Deut. 31:16, we hear Moses use the term “prostitute”. Moses says; “Then this people will begin to prostitute themselves to the foreign gods…”.  What the term “prostitute means in this verse is actually a metaphor for Apostasy. Apostasy. Apostasy in the Biblical context means to turn away, renounce the true word of God. It means to turn away from God’ requirements and follow the desires and vices of one’s own choosing (Sins). It means to turn to false Gods, etc. So in the context of Deut. 31:16, Moses is saying that some of the people will turn away from the true God and follow (prostitute themselves) other Gods.  Again, we are reminded in Deut. 32:51, as to why Moses was never allowed to enter the promised land.  In Deut. 33:29 we again see that the people of Israel are the chosen people; “…saved by the LORD”.

Notes for Day 76:

Notes for day #76 – Deuteronomy 34:  Today we finish the Book of Deuteronomy with the death of Moses in the valley of the land of Moab. According to Deut. 34:6; “…but no one knows his burial place to this day.”  Although Moses was 120 years old, he was still full of vitality and health; “…his sight was unimpaired and his vigor had not abated.” (verse 7).  We know that God and Moses had a close relationship like no others; “Never since has there arisen a prophet in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face.”  However, as Christians, we know that our LORD (God) in the incarnate word will have another face to face relationship; Jesus (God in the Incarnate Word) will have close “face to face” relationships!

Luke 22: There is much to say about our reading in Luke 22. In Luke 22:8; Jesus tells Peter and John to go and prepare the room (Upper Room) for the Passover meal. Jesus tells them how they are to find the place, find the man carrying a jar of water (verse 10). They do just as the Lord (Jesus – remember that Lord in lower case letters means Jesus.) told them. Then in verse 13 we read; “…and found everything as he had told them;…”  Where else in Luke do we see a similar message? Look at Luke 19:32.  In Luke 22:14-28 we see the Institution of the Lord’s Supper (Holy Eucharist). In these verse you will see what I have taught in Confirmation & Adult Study classes about the “4 Acts of  making the Eucharist by the Priest”:  1.) The Passover meal is brought into the room (backing up to Luke 22:8)  2.) Luke 22:17 – 19 (Jesus took the cup of wine & bread and Gave thanks. 3.) Luke 22:19 (He broke the bread.). 4.) Luke 22:19 (Jesus gave the broken bread to them.)  Luke is the only Gospel where Jesus refers to the cup before and after the meal. (verses 17 & 20). I find Luke 22:28 to be an encouraging message to of us who truly serve the Lord and persevere, especially during times of conflict; “You are those who have stood by me in my trials; and I confer on you, just as my Father has conferred on me, a kingdom,…” One may ask; “Where did the disciples get a sword to cut off the ear of the slave of the high priest in Luke 22:50 at the scene of Jesus’ arrest at the Mount of Olives?”  Well, take a look back at Luke 22:38. However, Jesus’ reply to the disciples in verse 38 was misinterpreted by the disciple, and they probably thought that Jesus was telling them that they only “needed two swords”. Jesus has an answer for those who will go against his mission and purpose (Satan & all the evils of the World) in Luke 22:53; “…But this is your hour, and the power of darkness!”  Jesus is saying that the hour (day/time) of the adversaries (Satan/Evil) is limited in God’s timetable.  When Peter denied Jesus, the Gospel of Luke is the only Gospel that has Jesus looking directly at Peter (verse 61).  In Luke 22:66 we read that Jesus was taken before the council, the assembly of the elders. This council was the Sanhedrin, the supreme court of chief priests and elders in Jerusalem who had the duty of interpreting & defending Jewish law. What is somewhat funny is how the Sanhedrin unintentionally “indicted themselves” to be on Jesus’ side and defense in verse 67 & 71;  verse 67 (They said , “if you are the Messiah, tell us.”)  verse 71 (Then they said; “What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips?”)

Notes for Day 78:

Joshua 1-3: Today we move to the Book of Joshua. Remember, it was Joshua who took the Israelite people across the Jordan River in order to take control of the land of Canaan. The Book of Joshua is divided into 4 main divisions:  Preparation of the attack (Chapters 1-5); Conquest of the land (Chapters 6-12); Apportionment of the land to the tribes by lot (Chapters 13-21); and Two national assemblies called by Joshua (Chapters 23-24).  In Joshua 1:1 we read that every place where the Israelites shall walk over (verse3) will become their land. This even includes walking over land all the way east to the Euphrates River. We know today that these expansive borders were never actually achieved.  I want to call your attention to Joshua 2:1 and the prostitute by the name of Rahab. Maybe some of you do not know this, but this prostitute, this “harlot”, will be justified as a living example of her faith, justified by her works, and will even be considered an ancestor of Jesus! Take a look at the beginning of Matthews Gospel (Matthew 1:5). Here we see Rahab in the Genealogy of Jesus. We hear about Rahab in the Letter to the Hebrews (Hebrews 11:31). We also read about Rahab the prostitute being justified by her works when she welcomed the messengers (spies of Joshua) in the Letter of James 2:25. In Joshua 3:4 you read that the Israelites are to follow the Ark of the Covenant no closer than two thousand cubits. This distance is around 3000 feet.  In Joshua 3:16 we read that the river quit flowing in a single heap as far as Adam (Joshua 3:16). Adam was 16 miles upstream from where the Israelites were crossing the Jordan.

Luke 23: In Luke 23:48; we read that the crowds who had gathered to watch this “spectacle”, the crucifixion of Christ; returned home “beating their breast” (Luke 23:48). This is a manual gesture of repentance.  In Luke 23:52 we read that Joseph went to retrieve the body of Jesus – he went to Pilate and asked for the body. According to Jewish law, the body of an executed criminal was not allowed to remain exposed beyond sundown (Deut. 21:22-23)

Notes for Day 79:

Joshua 4-6: In Joshua 4, we read about the crossing of the Jordan River from the east to the west. In this chapter (4) we read about the 12 stones. In Joshua 4:19 we read that the people came up out of the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month. The first month, Abib, i.e. March-April, was later called Nisan.  The Jordan crossing has two ongoing purposes: 1.) That all the peoples of the earth will acknowledge the power (hand) of the LORD. 2.) Israel’s descendants (the children of verse 21 -22) will hold the LORD in awe (fear).  In Joshua chapter 5 we read about the “2nd circumcision”. This does not mean that all the men were circumcised a 2nd time. Remember, all those who had been circumcised died in the wilderness, the generation of the wilderness had not been circumcised.  The place of the circumcision (Joshua 5:3) is, Gibeath-haaraloth, which means “Foreskin Hill”.  Again we read about Rahab, the prostitute who was sparredduring the raid on Jericho. Remember she is in the genealogy of the Lord in Matthew’s Gospel. After the walls of Jericho fall down, we read that Rahab and her family have lived in Israel ever since this event (Joshua 6:25).

Psalm 66:  In verse 6 we are reminded of the Red Sea passing, and the crossing over the Jordan River; both of these across dry land.

Luke 24: Today we close out the Gospel of Luke. In Luke 24 we read about the first women who came to the empty tomb: Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and other women. In verse 6, we read that the men in dazzling white reminded these women about all the things that would take place while they were in Galilee. So where did Jesus tell these women about these things earlier in scripture? Go back to Luke 8:2.  In Luke 24:16 we read that on the Road to Emmaus; two of the disciples did not recognize Jesus walking with them. Verse 16 says; “…but their eyes were kept from recognizing him.”. It is not totally clear who/what kept their eyes from recognizing Jesus, but commentators say that God may have been the implied agent. But, their eyes are opened in Luke 24:31. My explanation to this is that this Emmaus event was another type of theophany (visible presentation of God’s power) where God did not want the eyes to be opened until after the Eucharist. These verses place much emphasis on the importance of the Eucharist.

Notes for Day 80:

Joshua 7-9: In Joshua 7 we see the another person who goes against God’s laws and is ultimately punished (executed) for it. Achan broke the faith involving devoted things; therefor there was “cherem” (ultimate ban – Destruction of Achan ) put on his life. Achan stole the spoils from the Mantle of Shinar. These were imported silver, gold, and shekels from Babylon. Achan was stoned to death with all of his family (verse 25 – “them”), including all his live stock, and the spoils he took in battle. They were then buried under a pile of stones. The place that they were executed and buried is called Achor, which means “Trouble”. One may ask, why was his whole family stoned & burned. The main reason is that with a cherem (total ban for destruction) there was a corporate responsibility. The anger of the LORD is directed against the whole family. Hey, I am just reporting this, not that I agree with it.   In Joshua 8 we read about the capture of Ai. Did you happen to notice the difference in the number of Israelite warriors who prepared for battle in verse 3 as compared to verse 12? This is a common issue we see in the Bible. There is a blending together of stories. Sometimes we call this the “Phone Tree”. You know what this is. You line up a group of people and whisper in their ear something, and by the time it gets to the last person, some of what the first person said has changed a little. In the case of Joshua 8:3 & 12, there was a difference of 25,000 warriors!  In Joshua 8:29 we see that the king of Ai was hung on the tree until evening. This was not to violate Deuteronomy 21:22-23 or the public exposure of a corpse (1 Samuel 31:10). In Joshua 9 we read about the trickery by the Gibeonites. Joshua 9:14 is somewhat clear about doing things without seeking the council of the LORD. This also places an emphasis on prayer.

John: Today we move into the Gospel of John. John uses language which is rich in symbolism. Sometimes it is hard to understand exactly what Jesus is saying. Jesus speaks in long, often difficult monologues about himself.  The purpose of John’s Gospel can be said clearly in John 20:31. It is believed that the Gospel of John was written by John, the son of Zebedee, one of Jesus’ disciples. John’s Gospel puts more stress on the Divinity of Jesus than any other Gospel.  Often the Gospel of John is referred to as the “4th Gospel”. The content is different than the other three “Synoptic Gospels”.  In John chapter 1, we begin with the Word becoming flesh (Logos).  I know that I have preached on this before, and followed up with discussion about who Baptized Jesus in John’s Gospel. In John’s Gospel one can only make a speculation that John the Baptist actually Baptized Jesus. In John 1:32-34, Jesus’ Baptism itself is not described, only John’s response to it.  Again, remember that this is one of the reasons we call John’s Gospel, the “4th Gospel”.

Notes for Day 81:

Joshua 10-12: The battle continues, and the Sun stands still. In Joshua 10:12-14 we see the miraculous episode of the Sun standing still. This was the Divine intervention of the Almighty who is on the side of the Israelites. Joshua appeals for extended daylight so that he can complete the battle. Basically you “Make hay when the sun is shining & you kill the Amorites while the sun is shining.”. We know that the LORD (God) is fighting for the Israelites; it is said so in verse 14; “for the LORD fought for Israel”.  In Joshua 10:26 we see that Joshua executed the kings first, them hung them on a tree until sundown. Again, we are reminded of the Hebrew word “cherem”, which means total destruction (total bans) in Joshua 10:28. In all this violence, and battles, we are reminded that the LORD (God) is on the side of the Israelites. God fights for Israel, not against them. In Joshua 10:42; we read “…because the LORD God of Israel fought for Israel.”  With this said, what is your thoughts on the present day situation in the Middle East when we see countries that are always at conflict with Israel? What do you think about Iran trying to build an atom bomb? We read in Joshua 11:19 that not one town made peace with Israel, except the Hivites. Do you think this also plays into the present day conflict with all the surrounding countries of Israel who are at a “War of Words” with Israel?

John 2: In John 2 we read about Jesus’ first miracle at a wedding in Cana, turning water into wine. This miracle is only found in John’s Gospel. I believe you remember me doing a sermon about the significance of the clay pots in this miracle story. Jesus took something that was so insignificant (clay pots) that are used for Jewish purification rites (washing hands, pots, women after their monthly cycles) and makes wine in them.  In verse 4, Jesus is not really being disrespectful to his mother Mary by calling her “woman”. It is a sign of respect, we will see him call Mary “women” again at the foot of the cross in John 19:26.

Notes for Day 82:

Joshua 13-15:  A free drink on me for anyone who stands in front of the Church someday and can read the names of the territories and towns that are listed in Joshua 13-15!  In Joshua 13:22 we are reminded again why Balaam (Numbers 22-24) was killed. He was practicing divination (fortune telling). Remember this is the same reason that Paul & Silas were thrown in prison. They healed the girl who was practicing divination and took a means of money gathering away from the pagans from her fortune telling. In Joshua 13:30 we see the territory of Bashan mentioned. We know the current territory of Bashan. Today it is known as the Golan Heights.

John 3: In John 3 we read where Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews come to visit Jesus. What we can read from this encounter is that Nicodemus was both a “seeker” (wanting to know more about Jesus), and he was also afraid of being seen with Jesus, he came at night, so not to be seen. Do you know of any “seekers” to the faith, or anyone who is afraid to be seen worshipping Jesus? Jesus tells Nicodemus that you must be “Born Again”. Being Born again is to be born into the Spirit, have a Spiritual Life in the body of Jesus. We do this through our Baptism, Renewal of Baptismal Vows, by witnessing a Baptism, and also the Adult Reaffirmation of our Baptismal Vows (For those Baptized as an infant or child.) by Confirmation. But, we must be “Born Again”. For many in our Episcopal/Anglican tradition, we are somewhat shy or afraid of this phrase; “Born Again”. Many see it as a “Baptist Church thing”, or something those “Pentecostals” do. But, I again call your attention to page #306 of the Book of Common Prayer. In the Service of Holy Baptism, when the Priests or Bishop prays over the water, we hear: “Through it we are reborn by the Holy Spirit.”  Also there is a strong commitment of accepting Jesus as your Savior in this service (page 302 BCP).   In John 3:14 we read where Jesus says  he must we lifted up just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness. This goes back to Numbers 21:9 where Moses lifted up the Bonze Serpent and anyone who saw it would live.  In John 3 we hear that familiar statement of faith from John 3:16. But I want to call your attention to John 3:35-36. For those who “believe in the son will have eternal life, but those who disobey the son will not see life, but MUST endure the wrath of God”. I believe this is a pretty straight forward message.

Notes for Day 83:

Joshua 16-18: My notes for Joshua are very short today. In these three chapters we continue to see the allotted territories after the crossing of the Jordan River. Chapter 16 is the territory of Ephraim, chapter 17 is the other Half-Tribe of Manasseh (west), and we also see that the tribe of Joseph protests in verse 14. The remaining allotment of territories are in Joshua 18.

John 4: This is the very recognizable chapter from John that deals with the woman at the well. In the beginning of chapter 4 we read that the Pharisees heard that Jesus is making and baptizing more disciples than John. Verse 2 says that it was not Jesus himself, but the disciples who baptized. Th only place that we read about Jesus baptizing anyone is in John’s Gospel; 3:22, and John 4:1.   As Jesus talks to the Samaritan women at the well (Which is a no-no for a Jewish man to talk with or be alone with a woman who is not his betrothed or wife.) the Samaritan woman probably begins to get a sense that she is talking to someone special. This increasing recognition comes from verses 9, 12 19, and 25. Imagine yourself in her place when Jesus tells her who he is in verse 26.   I call you attention to John 4:28. As I have said before in my teaching & sermons; there is no such thing as waisted language in scripture. I draw your attention to the water jar being left behind by the woman. I see this water jar representing her past life of sins. After talking to Jesus, her sins (represented by the water jar) are left behind.  To put this in another way; when we come to the Altar Rail on Sunday morning, we leave our problems & sins (water jars) at the Altar.  In John 4:41, we see the act of Evangelism; “And many more believed because of the word.”  

Notes for Day 85:

Joshua 19-21: In Joshua 19 we read about the dividing of the following territories: Simeon – Zebulun – Issachar – Asher – Naphtali – Dan, and Joshua’s Inheritance (verse 49-51). In Joshua 20 we again read about the cities of refuge. These six towns were three on each side of the Jordan River. Cities of refuge as we remember from Numbers 35:13-28 & Deuteronomy 19:1-13 were a city of refuge that provided asylum for an accused until the case could be classified as murder or unintentional manslaughter. There is are no traces of these cities existing during the monarchial period. These refuge cities were probably replaced by a system of law courts. In Joshua 21 we read about the cities allotted to the Levites.

John 5: Chapter 5 of John’s Gospel is very powerful!.  We read in chapter 5 that Jesus came to change things from the previous ways of doing things (Jewish laws). Jesus heals on a Sunday, a “no-no” according to Jewish law. Jesus says that God’s KIngdom is ever evolving and in particular through him in John 5:17; “My Father is still working, and I also am working.”  In John 5:3147 we read about witnesses to Jesus. I believe these are the most powerful messages we can read about a self description from Jesus to who he is, and why he became the Incarnate  Word. If you are wondering what Jesus means in John 5:31 about testifying about himself, and his testimony not being true. The answer to this is that Jewish law did not accept individual’s testimony about matters that concerned themselves. Basically someone else had to describe who you were. In John 5:41; Jesus says he does not accept glory from human beings. What Jesus means here is that in all the things he does is not for the glory of him (Jesus) that may come from human perspective, but he does it for the Glory for God.

Notes for Day 86:

Joshua 22-24: In Joshua 22 we read about the Eastern Tribes (Tribes east of the Jordan River) returning to their territory. In Joshua 22:10-32 we see what mis-communication & rumors can do.  There was a misunderstanding of the Memorial Altar just east of the Jordan River. This was all worked out, but I also believe that this episode can be used in support of the use of Icons. There is much criticism, especially from the Protestant Churches (not Episcopal/Anglican) about the use of Icons. In Joshua 22, we see that this Memorial Altar, known as the Altar of Witness by the Gadites is not worshipped, nor is there any sacrifices done on the this altar. The altar was built as a physical memorial of past important events to generations to come. As with our use of Icons in the Church, we do not worship them, they are just physical reminders/memorials for us to remember important events in the life of the Church and our faith. I like Joshua 24:15; “…choose this day whom you will serve….but as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”  In Joshua 24:23 we hear the phrase “Incline your hearts.” The heart was understood a the place of the mind and will, the center of decision making.  We will see Joshua 24:31 again in Judges 2:7.

John 6:    In John 6 we have Jesus feeding the 5000. I call your attention to what disciple brought to the Lord’s attention to who it was (a boy) that had five barley loaves and two fish. Yes; it was St. Andrew. the patron Saint of our Church in Clear Spring. Again, we read about how important it is to have faith in Jesus from John 6:22- 58. However, these passages of faith were taken too literally (eating flesh, drinking blood) by the Jews, and others. Taking this literal interpretation away, one will see that these passages involve beautiful words of love, faith, and Grace. John 6:35; “….I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”  John 6:40 “…all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day.”  John 6:47; “…whoever believes has eternal life.”    What do you make of Jesus’ statement in John 6:64-65?“But among you there are some who do not believe.  – For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him. And he said, ‘For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.” Well, we know that Jesus is talking about Judas Iscariot. Well also see that in verse 71, that Jesus calls Judas the Devil (NRSV). However, I do not think that Jesus was only talking about Judas in John 6:64-65. Take a look at John 6:44; “No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day.” So how do you think these verses fit into Christian Evangelism? Are there some people who just refuse to accept the message; will not come to the Lord? Does God know this? Are there certain people that our Heavenly Father chooses to accept the message of Salvation, and some who will just not accept it? As sad it is to say this, I believe so. As I have pointed out, there are many verses that never say ALL when it comes to accepting the message. In one of his greatest literary pieces, St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo wrote 22 books called the City of God. I had to read several of these in seminary. St.Augustine was influenced by several schools of thought before writing these City of God books. One of his thought processes was on the divine role in choosing man’s outcome. St. Augustine believed that God knows and foresees and predestines what will become of each of us and God cannot be wrong. St. Augustine believes that God saves those he pleases to save. He does not save those who seek to please him by their own efforts, for no one can do so. However, I do believe that God wants us to help bring those who may be “fence sitters’ to the message.

Notes fro Day 87:

Judges 1-3: Today we begin with the Book of Judges. Judges spans the history of Israel from the death of Joshua to the civil war. In Judges there is recurring pattern of disloyalty to God followed by oppression by Israel’s enemy.  Judges are national military leaders, or deliverers. The historical period of Judges extends from the Late Bronze Age through the Iron I period (1200-1020 BC). Judges presents 12 leaders: Othniel, Ehud, Shamgar, Deborah, Gideon, Tola, Jair, Jephthah, Ibzan, Elon, Abdon, and Samson.  Judges chapter 1 is about Israel’s failure to complete the conquest of Canaan. Also, at the beginning of Judges chapter 1, we read about the amputation of Adoni-bezek’s thumbs & big toes. The mutilation was to prevent this person from continuing as a warrior, but still be allowed to live in disgrace the rest of his life.  Judges 2 is about Israel’s disobedience and because of this, God will not fight for Israel. In 2:13 we read where the Israelites worshipped Baal. Baal was the Canaanite storm god and a divine warrior. In Judges 3 we begin to hear about the chosen Judges. In Judges 3 we read about the trickery of Ehud, a left handed man. His left handedness will come into play as he kills the Moabite king, Eglon. When Ehud stabbed Eglon, the knife went in so far that the hilt (handle guard) went in after the blade. Ehud was not able to pull the knife back out of his body because the stomach fat (verse 22) closed in behind it.

Psalm 73: Today we begin “Book III – Psalms 73-89” of the Psalms. Remember that the Psalms are divided into “5 books”.  Each “book” of the Psalms ends with a Doxology as we see in Psalm 22:18-19. Each “book” of Psalms are usually attributed to a certain person or person. There are also overlaps of people, and certain themes. Book I (Psalm 1 – 41) David, and Book II (42–72) to David. Book III (73-89) to Asaph. Book IV (90-106) a prayer of Moses. Book V (107-150).  

John 7: Today we read about the unbelief of Jesus as the Messiah, particularly because where he came from, and that he was not considered educated (verse 15). Jesus’ response to their questioning his education comes in John 7:17-18. Jesus is not apprehended or arrested by the temple police, because his time has not come.

Notes for Day 88:

Judges 4-6: Drinking warm milk and going to bed, may not be a good idea for some; especially for the Canaan army leader, Sisera (Judges 4:21). The signs from God that Gideon calls for in Judges 6:36-40 were two involving Fleece. There is a reason that Gideon probably asked for a 2nd sign from God involving the fleece. Think about it. The 1st sign was for the fleece to absorb moisture overnight. This would most likely happen anyway with the natural occasion of overnight dew. But, the real sign from God is the reverse. This is when the fleece is dry, and the ground around it is wet. 

Psalm 74: Psalm 74:6-17 should sound familiar. I often use this opening sentence of scripture in Evening Prayer from the Book of Common Prayer (page 61-Rite One & page 115 Rite Two)

John 8: The following comment is not to be meant as a “spoiler”, but since we are in an academic Bible reading course; I will lay this out. John chapter 8:1-11 (The woman caught in adultery – cast the first stone.) is generally agreed among many scholars to NOT be part of the original Gospel of John. It was added later and may have been based on earlier oral traditions about Jesus.  In John 8:39 59; we read about the “Jesus and Abraham” dialogue.  Several verses stand out for me: “Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot accept my word. You are from your father the devil, and you choose to do your father’s desires….for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:43-44).  Know any who fall into this category (Following the father of lies – the Devil.) that Jesus is talking about?

Notes for Day 89:

Judges 7-9: In Judges 7:5-7 we read about those who lap water like dogs, and those who drink water by putting their hands to their mouths. Many scholars will say that this part of scripture is perplexing and unclear. However, the premise that some scholars believe is that the LORD is choosing the more alert or less cautious. The less cautious person would serve to make it plain that victory is due to divine action, not human initiative or prowess. The important thing is that lapping is the minority choice, so only a small portion of the original ten thousand remains. So the number that were used for battle was 300.  In Judges 8:7 we read about having the amputated hands of Zebah and Zalmunna in possession. The hands of the enemy were sometimes cut off as evidence of their capture or death. We again read where the Israelites “prostituted” themselves in Judges 8:27. As a reminder, to prostitute yourself in this context means that you worshipped a “false god”. Again in Judges 8:31, we read where Gideon had not only seventy sons from many wives; he also had a son from his concubine named Abimelech. A concubine was a legitimate wife of secondary rank. In Judges 9:1 we read that Abimelech, the son of Jerubbaal (Gideon) attempts to establish a Monarchy. He rules over Israel for 3 years. In Judges 9:22-23 we see the downfall of Abimelech begin with dissension in the city. This is described as God’s way of bringing Abimelech and his collaborators to justice for killing the 70 sons of Jerubbaal. In Judges 9:45, we read where Abimelech took Shechem, killed all the people of Shechem, razed the city, and “sowed it with salt”.  To sow a city with salt was seen a a curse to prevent resettlement.  In Judges 9:53-54 we see where a certain woman threw an upper millstone on Abimelech’s head, crushing his skull. Abilmelech who was mortally wounded at this point did not want to be seen as being killed by a woman, so he had a young man who carried his armor finish him off with a sword. 

John 9: In John 9 we consistently see the ignorance of the Pharisees in their repeated questioning of the healed blind man. In John 9:22 we read where the blind man’s parents were afraid of being put out of the synagogue. History shows that Jewish Christians were not put out of the synagogues until after Jesus’ lifetime, probably around 80 A.D. The term we read in verse 24; “Give glory to God”, is a command to tell the truth.

Notes for Day 90:

Judges 10-12: In Judges 10:6, we again see the common recurring “theme” of the Israelites. They do what “what was evil in the sight of the LORD (God). They worship Baals (Canaanite storm god) and Astarte (fertility goddess). Therefore they are oppressed by the the Ammonites because God is not working for them. However, we see the LORD’s affection for the Israelites in Judges 10:16; “…and he could no longer bear to see Israel suffer.”   In Judges 11:26; we see the years of oppression and successive judges so far in the Book of Judges. With the 300 years mentioned in verse 26, and other parts of Judges, so far the cycle of oppression is 319 years.  What do you think of the vow that Jephthah took in 11:30-31?  Many Biblical scholars will say that this vow was an “egocentric” and a tragic flaw of  Jephthah’s character. Biblical scholars say that instead of saying “whoever” comes out the door, he should have said “whatever”. The early Israelites often shared their houses with livestock. A “Burnt Offering” implies a farm animal. But, since he said “whoever” he did not go back on his vow to God, and offered up his only child (daughter) as a burnt offering. The double “whammy” and sadness of this story is that she bewailed her virginity, and knew she would die, not having been with a man. She went & bewailed her virginity and pending execution on a mountain for two months. During this time of history, for a woman to die without becoming a mother, was seen as a terrible misfortune. 

John 10: In John 10:9; it is clear that only through Jesus will one be saved. In John 10:11, we have the famous “I am the good shepherd” verse. Remember our “Good Shepherd” stain glass window at St. Andrew’s is on the east side of the Church. Also in John 10:11; Jesus says that the “good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” It is only in John’s Gospel that we see this phrase, and will see it again in John 15:13.  The Jews were clear that it was not for the good work of Jesus that they wanted to stone him to death. It was because of his blasphemy (John 10:33).

Notes for Day 92:

Judges 13-15: Again we begin in Judges 13 with the Israelites “messing up”. We also return to the word & customs of a Nazarite with the birth of Samson. In verse 5 the Angel of the LORD said that Samson is not to drink wine or strong drink, and that “No razor is to come to his head…” The requirements of a Nazarite not cutting their hair remained as long as they lived a life of consecration (ordination). If/when the Nazarite would return to secular life, they cut their hair.  In Judges 13:18, we hear the Angel of the LORD tell Manoah that he does not need to know his (Angel’s) name. All Manoah needs to know is that; “It is too wonderful”. What this means, is that the Angel’s name is beyond human comprehension.  What do you think about the scene with eating honey from inside the lion’s carcass (Judges 14:8-9)? 

John 11: In John 11, we have the story of the death & raising of Lazarus. It seems that Jesus deliberately let Lazarus die. However, by the time that the news got to Jesus (Remember there was no Facebook or cellphones.), Lazarus may have already died. I have preached on this message several times. In John 11:17, we read that Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days. The Jewish custom at that time required that burial take place the day after death, if possible. Jewish belief also held that the soul lingered near the body for three days, so the death was truly final on the fourth day when Jesus arrived. Jesus’ two-day delay, plus one day’s travel each way between Bethany and Jesus’ location across the Jordan (10:40), would make four days if Lazarus died and was buried on the same day the message left Bethany to report his illness.  We read that it was Martha who ran out to meet Jesus as he was approaching. Mary stayed home. People in mourning normally did not leave the house during the first seven days except to go to the tomb to grieve for the deceased. We again see a scene where Mary is at the feet of Jesus. We will see this shortly in John 12, and we remember it from Luke’s Gospel; the Mary & Martha incident I preached on several weeks ago.  The plot to kill Jesus stems from him giving life to Lazarus (John 11:46).

Notes for Day 93:

Judges 16-18: In Judges 16, we begin with Samson have a sexual encounter with a prostitute. I am not sure why we must hear about this, but maybe it plays into the story of Samson upsetting the Gazites, verse 2. We can see how strong Samson is in verse 3. Samson rips out the doors of the city gate, and two posts (including the bars that hold them in). He puts all these on his shoulders and carried them to the top of the hill that is in Hebron. What even makes this strength feat more amazing is the distance from Gaza to Hebron. The two cities are 35 miles apart!   In Judges 16:4 we read where Samson met Delilah of the valley Sorek. It is important to understand why the valley Sorek is mentioned here. It will also play out as to why Delilah was in on the downfall & trickery of Samson. Delilah is probably a Philistine because the valley of Sorek begins about 13 miles southwest of Jerusalem, Philistine territory. Then we all read the familiar story of how Samson lost his strength; his hair was cut while he was sleeping. I am not sure if you remember the other part of the story after they shaved his head, in verse 21, the Philistines gouged out his eyes.  In Judges 16:23, we read that the Philistines had gathered to offer sacrifice to their god, Dagon. Dagon was the Philistines god of grain. And then we know what they say about “payback”. In Judges 16:28-31, Samson gets his revenge, even though he dies in the process. Remember that Samson would eventually get some of his strength back. Go back to Judges 16:22.   In Judges 17:10 we see where Micah asked the Levite (young man of Bethlehem) to “be to me a father and a priest”. The title “father” is an honor title that implies his priestly role. We see this term used in again in verse 19. In Judges 18:3 we read that the tribe of the Danites came to spy out the land, and when they came to the house of Micah, they recognized the voice of the Levite (priest). Biblical scholars say that the reason that they recognized the voice was because the Levite (Priest) had a recognizable “Southern Accent”. This should not be confused with the southern accents from our Country.

Psalm 78:1-39: This Psalm is about God’s Goodness and Israel’s Ingratitude.

John 12: John 12 picks up after Jesus raises Lazarus, and the Pharisees plot to kill Jesus. In John 12, we read where Jesus was at the home of Lazarus, and Jesus, the disciples, and Lazarus, were all together eating at the table. Again, we have Martha serving, and Mary at Jesus’ feet. Mary anoints Jesus feet with pure nard. We also read that not only are the Pharisees out to kill Jesus, they are also plotting to kill Lazarus (verse 10). We also see the anger the Pharisees have for Jesus in John 12:19; “….Look, the world has gone after him.” Referring to the following of Jesus.  Finally, after the Greeks came to Philip saying they wished to see Jesus, does Jesus say that “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”  It is important to understand what this verse means (Not that any other verse is less important.)  Up to this point, Jesus has been mainly proselytizing (Evangelizing) to the Jewish community. In this context, the Greeks are symbolic of the future mission of Christianity to the Gentiles. Take a look at John 7:35; “The Jews said to one another, ‘Where does this man intend to go that we will not find him? Does he intend to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks and teach the Greeks?’” So you can see that Jesus’ mission is to be all inclusive (For those who truly seek him.) Jesus now feels that his earthly ministry is complete, and now his hour has come for him to enter that great Triduum (Arrest, Crucifixion, Rise to Life)!

Notes for Day 94:

Judges 19-21: In Judges 19 we read about the Levite & his Concubine (a wife in secondary rank). The story begins with the Levite going to retrieve his wife who for some reason is angry with her husband. The fact that he goes after her to his father-in-law’s house, means that he did something wrong, and he wants to make up with his wife. We read that there are several days of eating & drinking between the Levite and his father-in-law, with several delays in the Levites departure.  We then see a similar scene between the Levite & his wife in Gibeah, and the story of Sodom & Gomorrah. I believe that Judges 19:22 is straight forward; there is no way to explain this any other way about a homosexual act between two men. In fact, scripture describes it as being a “Vile Thing” at the end of verse 24.  To prevent himself from being homosexually raped, the Levite puts out his concubine to to the men of Gibeah, that are described as a “perverse lot” in Judges 19:22 (NRSV).  What the men of Gibeah did to the Levites concubine is disgusting in verse 25. The act of cutting his concubine into 12 pieces was in order to gain publicity for what had taken place. We have not read this yet, but the scene is similar to 2 Samuel 11:7, where Saul summons the militia with 12 parts of an ox.  In Judges 20, we see where the Levite is able to summon the tribes to attack Benjamin because of what happened to his concubine in Gibeah. The problem with this story, is that the Levite only told the “half truth” about how his concubine was raped & murdered. In Judges 20, the Levite says that the lords of Gibeah came up against him and intended to kill him, then they took his concubine and raped her and she died (Judges 20:4-5). However, we know that he only told part of the story, for in fact the men of Gibeah wanted to have homosexual sex with him, and he in turn, threw his concubine out the door to the evil men of Gibeah. What do you make of Judges 21:11? Here again we see a ban (Hebrew cherem) which means total destruction on “every male and every woman that has lain with a male you shall devote to destruction”. Today we end with the Book of Judges. What we have read in the last 5 chapters of Judges are the consequences  of the Israelites not having a king (deliverer). We have read in these last 5 chapters about an idolatrous shrine, rape & murder, civil war, and genocide. All these are the consequence of not having a king (deliverer). Judges ends on a bad note in Judges 21:25; “In those days there was no king in Israel; all the people did what was right in their own eyes.” With the ending of Judges, we will see the coming of an established monarchy in the Books of Samuel (Only after a short “intermission” with the Book of Ruth).

John 13: I have mentioned before that the Gospel of John is sometimes referred to as the “4th Gospel” because there are events in this Gospel that are different than the synoptic Gospels (Matthew – Mark – Luke). In John 13:1 – 17:26, the story of the Last Supper is different. In the synoptic Gospels, the Last Supper is the Jewish Passover. In John, the Passover was to be eaten on the following evening, after Jesus’ crucifixion: “Now before the festival of the Passover…” (John 13:1) The story of Jesus washing the disciple’s feet is not found in the other Gospels.  What do you think of John 13:20? What does this say about those who are called to serve in various aspects of Christian vocations?  What happens with that persons relationship with Christ if they reject the person who is sent by Christ? What does it say about anyone who rejects Christ?   What did Judas do with the money (common purse)? What did some of the disciples think he was going to do with it? (verse 29). We know that not only did Judas not use the money for the Passover Festival or give it to the poor, Judas used the money for purpose that went against Jesus. He used it for his own personal wealth in order to betray Jesus. Can you think of any situations, or a time, where a Church or ministry used the “common purse” for uses that went against the ministry of the Church or was not used for helping to build up the Body of Christ?

Notes for Day 95:

Ruth:  The Book of Ruth is only 4 short chapters and is actually a continuation per se of the Book of Judges. Biblical scholars will say that the Book of Ruth is one of the “most beautiful pieces of literature in the Bible. The plot of Ruth revolves around family relationships – between husbands, wives, children, in-laws, children, and kinsmen. The role each member plays in fulfilling the needs of other members incorporates the continuity of the family as a whole. According to the Hebrew tradition, the main theme is “chesed”, that is to say, loyalty or faithfulness arising from commitment.  The main characters are Naomi (who is widowed, and her two sons die), Ruth (one of her daughter-in-laws who remains by her side), and Boaz (the kinsmen who takes Ruth into marriage). In the Book of Ruth, the continuity is achieved mainly by the women.   The date & placement of the Book of Ruth, according to many scholars, is between 950 – 700 B.C.; that is to say between the time of David (the human king par excellence) and the end of the Northern Kingdom of Israel (722 B.C). In the Christian Bibles, the book of Ruth is found after Judges, for the story is set in the period of the judges.  As you read these 4 short chapters, you can see the flow of the story very easy. However, I want to point out a somewhat confusing verse. This verse can be interpreted in several ways, but even the Biblical scholars are not in agreement with what is going on. In Ruth 3:4, we read where Naomi told Ruth to go lie down next to Boaz (who according to verse 7 is drunk by this time) and uncover his “feet”. As you know, and have been following my notes and Bible teaching, the term “feet” was also meant to mean the male gentiles (private parts). Some scholars will say that, no, Ruth would not have done this. We read that when Boaz was “startled” and woke up at midnight, at that point he noticed Ruth lying next to his “feet”. After he asked who she was, Ruth said that she was his servant, net of kin, and wanted him (Boaz) to spread his cloak over her. The term “spreading your cloak” meant that the women was asking for marriage. My personal interpretation of this scenario from reading Ruth 3:4-9, is that Ruth uncovered his “private parts” and led Boaz to think that he had done a sexual act with Ruth. Again, this is how I read this, I leave the interpretation up to you. Thoughts??  We then see that love that Ruth showed for her mother-in-law, who had lost a husband, two sons, and the ability to carry on the family genealogy (name). Ruth bears a son by Boaz, and gives it to Naomi as a child. The child was named Obed, who became the father of Jesse (Remember the term “Root of Jesse” in New Testament?), who became the father of David.

John 14: In today’s reading we hear those familiar words that often we hear at Episcopal Burials; Jesus is the way, and in his house “there are many dwelling places”.  Jesus also promises us that he will be sending an Advocate, the Holy Spirit  (Greek – paraclete) to guide us and be with us. I have mentioned before in my Bible notes and preaching, what Jesus means when he says that the “ruler of the world is coming, he has no power over me” (verse 30). What Jesus is saying is that the rule of the world, this world, is the devil. Knowing that the ruler of this world is the devil, how does that help you understand the bad that happens in this world? What does it say about our future hope in Eternal Life or the World to come? 

Notes for Day 96:

I Samuel 1-3: As we move into the Books of Samuel, we will read about the reigns of the first two kings of Israel, Saul & David.  Saul is the first king. Saul is capable of leading Israel in the battleground. However, not long after Saul has proven himself in battle, his fortunes change and his life begins to unravel. The rise of the second king, David, builds a conflict between the second king & first king (Saul). The LORD has promised Saul’s throng to the young David; this action will cause the old king Saul to be irrational & jealous towards the new king David.  In First Samuel chapter 1, we have the birth of Saul to Hannah and his dedication to the LORD. In 1 Samuel chapter 2, we have Hannah’s prayer, and the story of the wicked sons of Eli. In 1 Samuel chapter 3, we read about Samuel’s conversation with the LORD who told him he was going to do something in Israel for the iniquities (blaspheming God) of Eli’s sons, and also to Eli for allowing it to happen.

John 15: In John 15, we have the scripture reading where Jesus says he is the “true vine”, and the Father removes any branches in him (disciples) that do not bear fruit (Evangelize).  I draw your attention to John 15:19. Jesus says that if you belong to the world, the world would “love you as its own”; but the world hates you because of me (Jesus). Do you understand what Jesus is saying here? I will give you a hint. Go back to John 14:30. This all has to do with the evil one, the Devil. The devil is the ruler of this world. If you change the word “world”, and put in “devil”, this may help you understand. Allow me do this with John 15:18-19, I will change the word “world” with “devil”, and “he for it”:  “If the devil hates you, be aware that he hated me before you. If you belonged to the devil, the devil would love you as his own. Because you do not belong to the devil, but I have chosen you out of the devil – therefore the devil hates you.”

Notes for Day 97:

1 Samuel 4-6: In 1 Samuel 4 we read about the Ark of God being captured. I am not sure if you caught the discrepancies of the number of Israelites who died on the battle field. In verse 2, we read that 4,000 Israelites were killed by the Philistines. Then in verse 10, we read that 30,000 Israel foot soldiers were slaughtered. This often happens in scripture. What do you think of Eli’s reaction to hearing about the Ark being captured? Also the wife of Phinehas, who was pregnant, gave birth to her child and died. The death of Eli’s sons, Hophni & Phinehas, was predicted in 1 Samuel 2:34. In 1 Samuel 6 we read about the Ark of God being returned on two cows who have never been yoked before. The Ark of God was put on a wooden cart, and these two “rookie cows” returned it to Israel. There is a reason for this, because it will set up what is to happen next. The fact that these two cows have never been yoked before, and are now working together and do not swerve left or right when traveling in the direction of Beth-shemesh means that they are being divinely controlled and guided. Of course, the outcome for the cows was not so pleasant for them upon their arrival with the Ark. The wooden cart was busted up for firewood, and the cows were offered as a burnt offering to God.

John 16: In John 16 we read about the work of the Holy Spirit, and the fact that the ruler of this world (devil) has been condemned. In verse 24, you can see why we as Christians; always pray in Jesus’s name. Remember that our prayers always end with; “In Jesus name we pray”.  Again, I call you to what Jesus means when he uses the word “World”. Take a look at the ending of chapter 16. “In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!”  I again ask you to do what I said for my notes on John 15. Take the word “world” and substitute it with the word “devil”, and you will bet a better understanding of what Jesus is saying.

Notes for Day 99:

1 Samuel 7-9: I know that many of you have heard the word “Ebenezer”;  verse 12 of Chapter 7. The stone that Samuel took and set up between Mizpah & Jeshanah is called “Ebenezer” which means Stone of Help. In 1 Samuel 8 we begin to read about the plans for the 1st King of Israel. As you can see, the people are being warned about what they are asking for. The purpose of wanting a king in the first place was because of Samuel’s two sons who were to be judges over Israel. These two sons, Joel & Abijah, were bad. They took bribes and perverted justice (1 Samuel 8:3). The elders came to Samuel and said they did not want his sons to replace him, they wanted a monarchy (king). So the LORD (God) who was not in favor of this, eventually honored the request Samuel made on behalf of the people and allowed them to have a king, but not without fair warning (verses 11-22). In 1 Samuel 9, we read who is to become the chosen king, which is Saul.

John 17: In John 17, we have Jesus praying for his disciples. Jesus is not only praying for those who walked the earth with him in his earthly ministry – Jesus is also praying for those who will follow him in the future, and be believers. Jesus is praying for unity in a hostile world that we know is being ruled by the devil, as mentioned in the two previous chapters, Jesus said the ruler of the world who has not power over him is going to rule the world. In John 17:15, can you see a part of the Lord’s Prayer?  “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”   (John 17:15) – “…but I ask you to protect them from the evil one.” 

Notes for Day 100:

1 Samuel 10-12: In 1 Samuel we read where Samuel anoints Saul. We read in verse 6 & 10, where the “spirit of the LORD possessed Saul”.  Have you ever observed a person who has been “possessed by the Spirit of the LORD”?  In the New Testament we usually refer to this as being “under the influence of the Holy Spirit”. In 1 Samuel 11 we read about Saul defeating the Ammonites. What do you make of the treaty to “gouge out everyone’s eye”? In 1 Samuel 12, we read Samuel’s Farewell Address which as with all the farewell addresses, involves the history of God’s chosen people (Israelites), and the LORD’s deliverance of them from Egypt. 

John 18: Today we read about the betrayal and arrest of Jesus in John 18:1-11. When they came to arrest Jesus in the garden at the Kidron Valley, we read that they “stepped back and fell to the ground” (verse 6) when Jesus said “I am he”.  You may ask why did they fall to the ground. For Jesus to say “I am he” is a divine revelation about who he really is – God! In John 18:12-27, we have Jesus before Annas & Caiaphas. What makes John’s Gospel also different than the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew – Mark – Luke) is that there is no trial of Jesus before the Jewish Sanhedrin. The Jews have already probably heard enough and condemned Jesus, refer to John 10:22-33.  We also read that Peter denies Jesus, and Jesus is sentenced to death.

Notes for Day 101:

1 Samuel 13-15: The beginning of 1 Samuel 13:1 appears to not be complete. In verse 1, we do not have exactly how old Saul is (NRSV); this is left blank. In the Hebrew text, the age of Saul is lacking. Then we read that Saul reigned two years over Israel. Historians do not have the exact chronological data for Saul. Some historians & Biblical scholars put Saul’s reign around 11th Century B.C. In 1 Samuel 13, we read where Saul did not wait for Samuel as he requested in 1 Samuel 10:8, and does an unlawful sacrifice. Because Saul did this unlawful sacrifice, and went against God’s commandment, Saul’s days as a king are numbered. In 1 Samuel 13:14, we read that the LORD (God) has “sought out a man after his own heart”. We all know who that is; it is David. In 1 Samuel 14, we read about Saul’s son Jonathan, surprised and routed the Philistines. We also read that Saul’s oath about not eating until evening, almost desecrated his troops, and almost got his son Jonathan executed.  In 1 Samuel 15 we read about Saul’s troops defeating the Amalekites “for what they did in opposing the Israelites when they came up out of Egypt”. (1 Sam.15:2) This is the incident at the oasis of Rephidim (Ex. 17:8-13).  The other downfall of Saul, and his falling out with Samuel comes in 1 Sam. 15:14-16. Saul was to kill everything (Destroy all the Amalekites, their men, women, children and all their livestock.) 1 Sam. 15:3.  Instead, Saul brings back the spoils of war: the livestock, and Samuel hears the livestock. Saul attempts to explain, and Samuel tells Saul to stop talking.  Samuel tells Saul that because he has rejected the word of the LORD, he will no longer be a king. (1 Sam. 15:23) Saul also brought back Agag, the king of the Amalekites. Samuel cuts him into pieces (1 Sam. 15:33).

John 19: Again in John 19, we read that Pilate found nothing wrong with Jesus, he was actually afraid of him John 19:8.  In John 19:16, the “them”, whom Jesus was handed over to – to be crucified by were the Roman soldiers.  As mentioned before, we read that Jesus in verse 17 carried the cross by himself. Only the crossbar was actually carried by the condemned. The upright stake (pole) was already in place at the execution location. In John 19;20, we read that the inscription above Jesus’ cross was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. John’s wording of this inscription, Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews, differs slightly than the other Gospels. The Latin version of this phrase is Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum. You have seen the letters for this before in the paintings of the crucifixion, they are INRI. Getting back to the 3 languages (Hebrew, Latin, and Greek).  Greek was widely used alongside Hebrew (or Aramaic), which was spoken by the Jews. Latin was spoken by the Romans.  In John 19:28, the scripture that was fulfilled was Psalm 69:21.  Referring to John 19:31-33, which again differs from the other Gospels, the Sabbath day was also the passover. Crucified men should not die on the Sabbath, which would begin at Sundown. (Remember the new day would begin at sundown.) So the Jews desired that the death of the crucified men would be hastened. Deuteronomy 21:22-23 also forbid hanged bodies to remain overnight. The Jews desired to hasten their deaths by having their legs broken. By having their legs broken, the condemned were prevented from pushing themselves up to get their breath. This led to quick suffocation. Jesus’ legs were not broken because he was already dead., but instead a spear was thrust into his side into his heart. Out came blood & water. This blood & water could possibly symbolize the Lord’s Supper (Eucharist) and Baptism. It is interesting to read John 19:38-42. Only does John’s Gospel have Nicodemus associated with Joseph of Arimathea. 

Notes for Day 102:

1 Samuel 16-18: In 1 Samuel we begin to read how David became the anointed King. We also read that appearance is not everything when it comes to picking a leader. Look at 1 Samuel 7; “…for the LORD does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”  In 1 Samuel 17 we have the familiar David & Goliath story. Verse 4 says that Goliath was six cubits and a span in height (NRSV). This would put the famous Philistine (Goliath) at almost 10 feet tall. It is interesting to note that of all the armor that Goliath was wearing; the one vulnerable spot that was not protected was his forehead. This is the spot where David’s stone found it’s target. We then read in today’s assigned readings that Saul is out to kill David. However, Saul’s son Jonathan we read several places took to liking David and built a  covenant with him. (1 Samuel 18:1)  Finally in 1 Samuel 18:29, we read that David was Saul’s enemy from “that time forward.”

John 20: In John chapter 20 we have the Resurrection of Jesus. In John chapter 20, Mary Magdalene becomes a central figure. Her concern about where Jesus has been laid connects different parts of this story; no one gives her any help but Jesus. Mary Magdalene probably came from the town of Magdala. Other scripture & Bibles describe her as Mary of Magdala.  In John 20:11-18, Jesus appear to Mary Magdalene & she subsequently reports to the disciples that she saw the risen Lord. I know that some may ask, in case you forgot, why did Jesus tell Mary Magdalene; “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father.”? (John 20:17)  St. Jerome’s Biblical Commentary has this to say about John 20:17: Mary had evidently thrown herself at Jesus’ feet and was attempting to demonstrate her love by throwing her arms about his knees. Jesus must tell her, however, that the old relationships are no more, and he must not be hindered in completing the drama of his glorification. Now he must return to the Father, thus accomplishing the destiny that has been the goal of his entire earthly life.  In John 20:17; Jesus says; “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” Jesus does not simply say “our Father” for though the Father of Christ and of Christians is one and the same, the relationship differs in that the Christian acquires their “sonship” through the only Son who has it by right. This is one of the reason that when we pray to God, we always prayer to God “Through” Jesus Christ. In John 20:20 we read that the disciples did not “rejoice” until after Jesus showed them his hands and his side. I say this because we often only remember the incident one week later (1st Sunday after Easter) when Thomas makes the statement that he would not believe it was Jesus until he saw the “mark of the nails in his hands, and put his finger in the mark of the nails and his hand in his side.” Well; Jesus calls Thomas out on this. One thing to point out – is that scripture never says that Thomas actually touched Jesus. But, it is important to remember what Thomas says; “My Lord and my God!” John 20:30-31tells you the purpose of the Gospel of John; why this book was written. 

Notes for Day 103:

1 Samuel 19-21:  In 1 Samuel 19 we read that Saul’s son Jonathan intercedes for David, because Saul is trying to kill David, even though in verse 6 Saul says; “As the LORD lives, he shall not be put to death”. We read that the friendship between David and Jonathan is very close. In 1 Samuel 20:17 we read; “Jonathan made David swear again by his love for him; for he loved him as he loved his own life.”  I draw your attention to 1 Samuel 21: 4-5. In these verses you read about the “women being kept from the holy bread, and being kept from the men when they prepared to go on to an expedition”.  There is a purpose for this. The ritual qualification for the men was to remain from the women – they were to remain from any sexual activity. David insists that his troops routinely maintain ritual purity when on active duty. This is the same way that many Pro-Football teams controlled their players.They put a “curfew” on their players from women in order to help maintain their physical stamina, Now, what is interesting about David insisting on ritual purity among his men is what will happen when we read about an incident where he falls in love with one of his officers men. I do not want to be a “spoiler” to that story, so stay tuned!   In 1 Samuel 21:6; we again hear of the “bread of the Presence”. We read about this way back in Exodus 25:30. This bread was laid out for presentation, but consumed only by the Priests. The bread was seen as a show of hospitality only to the deity of God since the deity did not eat or drink. However, we as Christians know that this will change in Jesus. Not only does Jesus (God) eat & drink, he joins those disciples at the table. Also, we can see the premise of the Holy Eucharist in this bread of the Presence. The Presence literally means “face”.   The ending of the story of 1 Samuel 21 is somewhat funny as to how David tries to disguise himself. We read how David tries to act like a “Mad Man” by scratching marks on the doors of the gate and allowing spittle to run down his beard.

John 21: In John 21 we read about Jesus appearing to the disciples for the 3rd time. In this final chapter from John’s Gospel – 21 (Which was most likely added later by a member of the Christian community. There is a difference in language & style, and most scholars believed that John ended with 20:30-31. Also in John 20 & Luke 24, all the post resurrection appearances of Jesus were near Jerusalem.) we read where Jesus met the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias (Galilee). Jesus is within “hearing range” and tells the disciples to cast their empty nets to the right side of the boat. I have preached on this Gospel message numerous times. The first thing to remember is that Jesus is not always in the boat with us, but he is always near, able to direct us, and we are able to “hear his voice”. The scripture reading says that even though 153 fish were caught, and even though the net seemed full, it did not tear. It did not tear for their is still room for more “fish – disciples of Christ”.  Getting back to my notes for 1 Samuel 21:6. In this Gospel story, we have the deity actually sitting down & eating. John 21:9-15 we have them all eating breakfast together, Jesus was the one who provided the meal and even started the charcoal fire. All these have the signs of the Holy Eucharist. In John 21:15-19, we have the dialogue between Peter & Jesus. Of course this is Jesus “calling out Peter” on his 3 betrayals of him after his arrest. Instead of calling him Peter, Jesus calls him a less personal name “Simon son of John”. This is stressing to Peter; “Peter felt hurt” (verse 17). Then Jesus tells Peter that he to will follow Jesus into martyrdom. (John 21:18-19). We then read about  the short dialogue between Jesus & Peter about the “Beloved Disciple”. Peter was asking Jesus how the “Beloved Disciple” was going to die. Jesus tells Peter, that it was none of his concern, all you need to do is “Follow Me”!

Notes for Day 104:

1Samuel 22-24: In 1 Samuel 22-24 we again read about the “Cat & Mouse Game” between Saul and David. What do you think of 1 Samuel 24:3-22? Saul has been trying to kill David and when David has the opportunity to kill Saul, he does not. David is so close to killing Saul, that he cuts off a piece of his cloak. David presents this piece of cloak to Saul in in 1 Sam. 24:11 to prove that he could have killed him. Just as a refresher, David is the Great-Grandson of Ruth, the Moabite. Remember the Book of Ruth?

Acts 1: Today we begin to read The Acts of the Apostles, or Book of Acts. The Acts of the Apostles is a continuation of the Gospel of Luke. You can say that it is “Volume Two” to say it another way. How do we know this? It is simple. Look at how The Gospel of Luke begins, and how The Acts of the Apostles begin. The Gospel of Luke begins with Luke being dedicated to “the most excellent Theophilus (Lover of God). The Acts of the Apostles begins with the writer writing to the same person; “In the first book, Theophilus….” So now you can see how the writer of the Gospel of Luke and The Acts of the Apostles are the same person. Only Acts contains stories about the early Church. The reason that we do not have the Acts of the apostles following the Gospel of Luke is based on the Canonical establishment of the New Testament. The the New Testament was finally Canonized, legally becoming the lawful agreed upon scripture; all the Gospels were placed together. Tradition & Biblical scholars point to the writer of Luke & Acts as being educated and most likely a physician. This is based on the educated literary style. The writer of these two books was an associate of Paul (Col 4:14; Timothy 4:11; Philemon 24).   Paul is the most prominent figure in The Acts of the Apostles, even though by definition (Acts 1:21-22) Paul does not fit the description of an Apostle, even though we will read later that he is a “self professed Apostle” by his encounter with Jesus.  The Acts of the Apostles was written between 80-90 A.D.  In Acts 1:12-26, we read who replaced Judas Iscariot. This was Matthias.

Notes for Day 106:

1 Samuel 25-27: In 1 Samuel 25 begins with the death of Samuel. We then read about the wife of Nabal . Nabal was not a very nice person; “Now the name of the man was Nabal, and the name of his wife was Abigail. The woman was clever and beautiful, but the man was surly and mean, he was a Calebite.” (1 Sam. 25:3) Nabal is a Hebrew word which translates to “fool” in English Bibles. A Calebite is a person traced to the ancestry of Caleb (Numbers 13-14). David ended up marrying Abigail after Nabal died from a heart that became stone. David also married Ahinoam of Jezreel. Ahinoam became the mother of Amnon, David’s firstborn (2 Samuel 3:2; 1 Chronicles 3:1)  We read in 1 Samuel 26 that David had another chance to kill Saul, but he did not. To prove to Saul that he could have killed him, David took Saul’s spear and water jar that was next to him while he was sleeping. 

Psalm 88: As I have taught about the Lamenting Psalms having a transition of complaint involving despair, and transitioning to adoration of God & hope, Psalm 88 does not fit into this example. Psalm 88 is a prayer for help that is relentless in complaint against God and the writer does not see any assurance of deliverance.

Acts 2: In Acts 2 today we read about the coming of the Holy Spirit, and the growth of the Church. In Acts 2:38 we read about the desired response to Christian proclamation: Repentance, Baptism, Forgiveness, Reception of the Holy Spirit. We will see these again in The Book of Acts, but not always in this specific order.  In Acts 2 42-47; we read about the earliest Christians communities that involved worship, study, and shared possessions. Acts 2 closes with many were being added to “this new Faith” (Followers of Christ – Christians) and were being saved.

Notes for Day 107:

1 Samuel 28-30: In today’s reading from 1 Samuel 28, we read about how Saul ends up consulting a Medium after he expels them and the wizards from the land. Saul has to go to a medium because the LORD would not answer him. The medium brings up Samuel from the dead (which upsets Samuel) and tells Saul that the LORD turned against him and has given the kingdom to David.  Again in 1 Samuel 29:5 we read about the constant song that is sung about David, and one of the main reasons Saul does not like David; “Saul has killed thousands, and David his ten thousands?”  What do you make of 1 Samuel 30:24? Do you think it is right for those who did not go into battle to receive the same share of those who did?

Acts 3: Acts 3 begins with Peter and John “going up to the temple”.  It was customary to speak of “going up to the temple” (2 Kings 19:14; 20:5; Luke 18:10). The Beautiful Gate mentioned in verse 3 &10 is mentioned as puzzling to Biblical scholars. There are no ancient descriptions of the temple use of this title. Some will say that is is generally identified as the Nicanor Gate, a gate made of bronze (Josephus, War 5.201; Mishnah Midot 1.4; 2.3)  Peter points out that it is not them who are doing the healing, but the Jesus whom they crucified; the Holy & Righteous One. They say that the crippled man has been healed through Jesus, who has given him perfect health in their presence. (Acts 3:16).  Peter also says that Jesus will remain in Heaven until the universal time of restoration by God that has been announced through the prophets. When do you think this time will be? Do you think that we as Christians, play an important part in the restoration of God’s Kingdom by our Evangelism efforts?

Notes for Day 108:

1 Samuel 31: Today we finish 1 Samuel.  In 1 Samuel 31 we read about the death of Saul and his sons. Saul took his own life as well as his armor bearer by falling on their own swords. Saul had wanted his armor bearer to kill him, but he would not. The Philistines then did to Saul what he was hoping they would not do to him if he was captured alive.

Psalm 89: Today we complete the 52 verses of Psalm 89 and the “3rd Book of Psalms” before we move to Book IV of the Psalms.  Psalm 89 is about God’s Covenant with David. However, in verses 38-46, we read words of complaint to and against God. These are normally characteristics of prayers for help. It is presumed in these verses that the defeat of the king represents God’s abandonment of the covenant and promises to the Davidic line.

Acts 4: In The Acts of the Apostles chapter 4, we have Peter & John who have been arrested and brought before the council. Peter & John said that all they do is by the power of Jesus that is given to them through the Holy Spirit. We read that the number of those who believed in the word (Jesus) had grown to 5,000 (Acts 4:4).  However, since women were not counted in the number of 5,000, there were many more. We see as mentioned, that Peter speaks through the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 4:8, 31). As you can see, the work of the Lord does not have to come solely through those who are “educated” or “special people”. Verse 13 says that Peter & John were uneducated, ordinary men.  We then see that the Jewish council of high Priests, and elders realized that they could not deny the power of Jesus and his work among the believers (Acts 4:16). But they attempted to put out a “Gag Order” on Jesus’ believers, verse 17. In Acts 4:31, we read that those who are filled with the Holy Spirit, will speak “the word of God with boldness”. Do you know of anyone like this?  Acts 4:32-37 deals with the social ministry of the believers.

Notes for Day 109:

2 Samuel 1-3: 2 Samuel begins “After the death of of Saul”, just as Joshua begins with “After the death of Moses”, and Judges begins with “After the death of Joshua”. Today we begin with 2 Samuel where we read about David mourning over the death of Saul & Jonathan. As many of you know, two of my major “pet peeves” are people who lie and steal. We read about this in 2 Samuel about the Amalekite man who said he came to David to report the death of Saul. This man’s story of Saul’s death is completely different from what we just read in the ending of 1 Samuel. This man believes that his lie is going to reward him for putting Saul “out of his misery”.  His story is concocted, and he actually stole the items off of Saul’s dead body. But David had the Amalekite killed for killing one of God’s anointed – Saul (2 Samuel 1:15-16)   In 2 Samuel 2, we read that David is anointed King of Judah. W also read about more killing in 2 Samuel with Abner killing  Asahel, even after Abner told him to stop following him (2 Sam. 2:18-23).  In 2 Samuel 3, we read about Abner defecting to David, but Joab does not like the fact that David accepted Abner (Remember Abner killed Joab’s brother, Asahel). The narrator of 2 Samuel 3:21-23 makes it clear, 3 times, that David & Abner were at Peace with each other.  I turn your attention to the “guilt” that David puts upon Joab, his father’s house, and the house of Joab, those who were involved in killing Abner; “May the guilt fall on the head of Joab, and all his father’s house; and may the house of Joab never be without one who has discharge, or who is leprous, or who holds a spindle, or who falls by the sword, or who lacks food.” (NRSV).  Here is what one biblical commentary says about “Holding a spindle”. “Holds a spindle, if correct, must mean ‘a man who holds the distaff,’ i.e., an effeminate male; but another possible rendering is ‘clings to a crutch.’” 

Acts 5: Again we read in Acts 5 what happens to people who lie to God. Ananias and his wife Sapphira  died immediately for lying about their proceeds from selling land. They chose to hold some of the money back that they were supposed to give to the Church community. Speaking of the word “Church”. In Acts 5:11, the word “Church” appears for the first time in Acts.    Acts 5:29 is very clear about who you must follow & obey. What do you think about the Apostles being considered “worthy to serve Christ” when they are dishonored or persecuted for doing things in Jesus name?

Notes for Day 110:

2 Samuel 4-6: In 2 Samuel 4, we read about the assassination of Ishbaal.  We read what David has done to Rechab & Baanah for killing Ishbaal.  In 2 Samuel we read that David is anointed king of all Israel. David was 30 years old when he began to reign, and he reigned for 40 years. In 2 Samuel 6, we see that Jerusalem is made the capital city of the United Kingdom (not to be confused with Great Britain). In 2 Samuel 6 we read that David brings the Ark to Jerusalem, but becomes afraid of it for what happened to Uzzah for accidentally touching it. David then gets over the fear of the Ark and dances in front of it; wearing only a linen ephod which upsets Michal because of his (David’s) scant clothing. This is starting to sound like a Soap Opera.

Acts 6: In Acts 6 we read about the calling of the first Deacons of the Church. We read that the Hellenists complained agains the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected. The Hellenists were Jewish Christians whose native language was Greek and spoke little or no Aramaic. The Hebrews by contrast spoke only, or primarily Aramaic. These conflicts flowed over into their social and cultural differences and also over into the daily distribution of food. Remember that a widow during this time period had little, or no means of support.  We read about the arrest of the first Deacon, Stephen. What do you think of Acts 6:15 and the description of Stephen’s face?

Notes for Day 111:

2 Samuel 7-9: Today we read in 2 Samuel 7 where the LORD had given rest to David from all his enemies. However this will not last. We also read in chapter 7 where the scripture mentions that the LORD has never had a house to live in. the LORD (God) has always been living in a Tent/Tabernacle, and has always been on the move. There is implication that David will build a house for the LORD. However, in verse 13, we read that David’s son, will build a house for the LORD.  In 2 Samuel 7:18, we read that King David “went in and sat before the LORD”.  What is unique about this verse is the sitting by David. It was customary to stand during prayer. So the meaning here in verse 18 means that everyone else has left the tent and David remained by himself before the LORD.  In 2 Samuel 8:4, we read what  David had done to all the chariot horses of King Hadadezer. He had these horses “hamstrung”. This means that he had their hamstrings severed so they could not be used against him in war. In 2 Samuel 9 we read about David’s kindness to Mephibosheth. We remember him as the one who had crippled feet. 2 Samuel 9 closes again with this reminder, that he was “lame in both feet”. The reason for this reminder is for the reader to know that the crippled Mephibosheth is unlikely to be able to make any attempt to revive his line’s claim (Saul’s) to the throne.

Acts 7:  Of all our Scripture Readings; I find the speech given by the Deacon Stephen to be one of the most beautiful, poetic, and historically accurate, of all the New Testament writings. Stephen’s speech to the council is amazing, and he calls all of them out on their Jewish history, and also their “cold hearts & blind eyes”. They were so enraged with Stephen’s truth & knowledge, that they “ground their teeth” at him (Acts 7:54). Stephen was subsequently stoned to death. Who was present at this stoning who will become a central figure in the mission of the Church?

Notes for Day 113:

2 Samuel 10-12: Today in 2 Samuel 11 we see that David is not so nice a person, and he will pay for it, but he is still the person chosen by the LORD. Of all the Bible stories that we have read, and will read; the story of David, Bathsheba, and Uriah; is one that many do not forget. As you can see, David has an affair with a women (Bathsheba) who is married to Uriah. Now scripture is clear that the sexual encounter occurred after Bathsheba had purified herself after her period. This made her propitious for conception. Well, she becomes pregnant with King David’s baby.  In an effort to cover up the pregnancy, and make it appear to be Uriah’s baby, David does everything he can to have her husband (Uriah) have sexual intercourse with Bathsheba. When Uriah returns from battle, David tells Uriah to “Go down to your house, and wash your feet.” (2 Sam. 11:8) This is a euphemism for sexual intercourse. But Uriah would not do this and slept at the entrance of David’s house with all the other servants. Remember when I did the following notes on day #103: I draw your attention to 1 Samuel 21: 4-5. In these verses you read about the “women being kept from the holy bread, and being kept from the men when they prepared to go on to an expedition”.  There is a purpose for this. The ritual qualification for the men was to remain from the women – they were to remain from any sexual activity. David insists that his troops routinely maintain ritual purity when on active duty. This is the same way that many Pro-Football teams controlled their players.They put a “curfew” on their players from women in order to help maintain their physical stamina, Now, what is interesting about David insisting on ritual purity among his men is what will happen when we read about an incident where he falls in love with one of his officers men. I do not want to be a “spoiler” to that story, so stay tuned!  Well, we have returned to this. In 1 Samuel 21:5, David insists that his troops maintain ritual purity (remain from sexual intercourse) when on active duty. Well, now David has flipped on this and is trying to get Uriah to violate this ritual purity. But, Uriah is maintaining the law that David now wants Uriah to violate. So, David arranges to have Uriah killed in battle. What do you find amazing, or somewhat interesting about 2 Samuel 11:14-15? Look at it again. Who was responsible for carrying their own death sentence? Yep, you got it!    2 Samuel 11 ends with Bathsheba marrying David after her mourning period, and she gives birth to a son. In 2 Samuel 12, we read that the LORD is upset with David, and Nathan gives that famous statement in Old Testament scripture; “You are the man!”.  Because of David’s actions with Bathsheba and Uriah, the LORD will forever place a sword in David’s house. (verse 10). We read about all that will happen to David in his sight. The child that Bathsheba bears by David becomes ill and dies. The other predictions (sword against David’s house) in 2 Samuel 12:11 will involve the violent  deaths of David’s sons Amon (13:23-29), Absalom (18:15), and Adonijah (1 Kings 2:25).

Acts 8: Today we read that Saul is still persecuting the Church and dragging men and women off to prison. [Who is Saul again?]  We also read in Acts 8, the Deacon Philip who baptized the Ethiopian Eunuch.

Notes for Day 114:

2 Samuel 13-15: Is the story about Amnon & Tamar new to you? For those who rely only on hearing the word through the lectionary on Sunday morning, you may not be familiar with this Bible story. Yes, Amnon rapes and has sexual intercourse with his sister Tamar.  It is definitely rape, look at 2 Samuel 13:14. Amnon, Absalom’s brother, hates Amnon for raping their sister, and we will read in 2 Samuel 13:29 (after two years) Absalom finally gets his revenge on Amnon, and has him killed. Remember in yesterday’s notes how the LORD said there would be a sword against David’s house for what David did with Bathsheba and for arranging to have Uriah killed? David forgives Absalom; but we read that Absalom usurps the throne, and “steals the hearts of the people of Israel” (2 Sam. 15:6). In 2 Samuel 15:13-31, David flees from Jerusalem.

Acts 9: Today in the Book of Acts, we read about the conversion of Saul. We read that Saul was breathing threats & murder against the people of the “Way”. Those who belonged to the “Way” was another term for Christians. One of the things that I want to point out is that sometimes we forget that Saul was not the only person one who heard the voice of the Lord when he spoke to Saul. Look at Acts 9:7. Do you see any significance of the “3 days” that Saul was without sight and neither ate or drank? (verse 9). In Acts 9:15, we read that the Lord assured Ananias (Who had his doubts about Saul.) that Saul was called by him: “Go, for he is an instrument whom I have chosen….” (Acts 9:15) We see that Ananias lays his hands on Saul & he regains his sight. There is initial doubt about Saul when he enters Jerusalem, but Barnabas intervenes for Saul.  I have mentioned before, and we will see this in our Pauline Letters, that Paul (Saul) was always trying to affirm his call to people and attempting to stop conflict among the new Church.

Notes for Day 115:

2 Samuel 16-18: I find the story about David being cursed in 2 Samuel 16 almost entertaining. We read about Shimei, who is a man from the family of Saul, cursing David relentlessly. 2 Samuel 16:13 is somewhat funny to read: “So David and his men went on the road, while Shimei went along on the hillside opposite him and cursed as he went, throwing stones and flinging dust at him.”  I can almost picture this scene being in a Hollywood movie.  What do you think of 2 Samuel 16:22? Remember my notes from Nathan’s warning to David in 2 Samuel 12:1?  Absalom in order to show his arrogance towards his father (David), goes onto a roof and has sexual intercourse in full view of the public with his father’s concubines.  In 2 Samuel 18 we read about the defeat and death of Absalom (David’s son). Remember that Absolom had long hair, this was the reason he got entangled in the thick branches of a tree while riding on the back of a mule (2 Sam. 18:9). We then see that Joab takes advantage of his predicament and thrust three spears into the heart of Absalom. And if this is not enough, ten young men of Joab’s armor-bearers, surrounded Absalom, striking him, and killing him.

Psalm 95: Those who do Morning Prayer (And we do this daily at St. Andrew’s) on their own from the Book of Common Prayer may be familiar with Psalm 95, verses 1-7. Psalm 95 is known as the “Venite” in Morning Prayer (Rite -1, page 44; Rite – II, page 82). Venite is derived from the Latin word “venire”, which means “come”.

Acts 10: Acts 10 involves the breaking down of any barriers between people of different social status, religious piety, and faiths. Acts 10 begins with Simeon (Peter) becoming hungry and being on a roof. Peter falls into a trance and sees a white sheet being lowered with all kinds of animals being on the sheet. These animals as you know are the ones that the Hebrew scriptures classify as not being Kosher, or acceptable to eat (Acts 10:12). Peter then hears a voice that he should get up, kill these animals and eat them. Peter’s response is that they are profane and unclean to eat. The voice then says to him that anything that God makes is clean, is not to be considered profane. Then jumping back to how Acts begins with Cornelius, the centurion from Caesarea, who also had a dream to seek out Simon (Peter), Cornelius arrives on the scene and there is an interaction. Peter then goes back to spend some time with Cornelius at Caesarea. Upon entering Caesarea, Cornelius falls at his feet and worships Peter.  Eventually Cornelius and all the gentiles come to be believers of Jesus through Peter (Simon). So, let me break a few of these things down and say what this is all about:  The dream that Peter had is answered in Acts 28. Peter’s conclusion is that no one should be called profane or unclean if they are also made in the image of God. God shows no partiality. God does not favor the rich or powerful. God’s message is of Peace & Reconciliation. this was first proclaimed at Jesus’ birth (Luke 1:79, Luke 2:14, Acts 9:31). When the Roman Centurion fell at Peter’s feet upon him entering Caesarea, this was highly unusual behavior for a Roman centurion meeting a local resident in occupied territory. In Acts 10:44-48 The gift of the Holy Spirit provides final and irrefutable evidence that the inclusion of the Gentiles is indeed God’s will.

Notes for Day 116:

2 Samuel 19-21: In our readings today, the plotting, the revenge, and the killing continues. We begin in 2 Samuel 19 with David mourning the death of his son Absalom. Of course, this upsets Joab (Remember he killed Absalom.) and he makes David feel ashamed for all the mourning he is doing over Absalom.   David is recalled to Jerusalem and he appoints his kinsman, Amasa, as commander of the army in place of Joab.  We read in 2 Samuel 19 that David has mercy for Shimei and grants him a pardon in verse 23, David says that Shimei shall not die. However, at the end of his own life, David will consign Shimei to death (1 Kings 2:8-9, 36-46 – Sorry for the “spoiler”.) We read that Mephibosheth, the grandson of Saul (The one with the lame feet who David has no issues with.) comes to meet David.  In 2 Samuel 20 we read about the rebellion of Sheba. We also read where David had his ten concubines put under house guard (arrest) until they died and he did not have sexual intercourse with them for what they allowed Absalom to do with them. We read in 2 Samuel 20:9-10 how Joab killed Amasa. Then in 2 Samuel 20:21-22, we read about how Sheba’s head was cut off and thrown over a wall.

Psalm 96: In Psalm 96, verse 8, you may have heard this verse at the time of the offertory during the Eucharist. It is called an Offertory Sentence and is one of the options that a Priest can use. Look at the Book of Common Prayer, pages 343 & 376. 

Acts 11: Peter’s report to the Church at Jerusalem has some of the “circumcised” (Jews) upset because the message was taken to the Gentiles. Peter re-tells the whole scene from Acts 10 what happened and why he took the message to the Gentiles. But as we can see from Acts 10, the message of Jesus is growing, and the number of believers is growing. the term Christian (follower of Christ) is first used to describe the disciples in Antioch. Christian may have been used as a derogatory name to distinguish the disciples from other forms of Judaism.

Notes for Day 117:

2 Samuel 22-24: In today’s readings we have “David’s Song of Thanksgiving” (2 Sam. 22:1-51). In 2 Samuel 23 we have what is known as the “Last Words of David”.  2 Samuel 24 we have David ordering a Census of Israel & Judah. This Census upsets Joab, and also the LORD. There is a judgement placed on David for ordering the census. We read that David’s heart was stricken and he prayed to the LORD to forgive his sin. The LORD went to David’s seer Gad and told him to tell David that he had “three options” of repentance (2 Samuel 24:12-14. David accepted one of the three options, which was a pestilence in the land of Israel. This pestilence resulted in 70,000 people dying from Dan to Beer-sheba. Jerusalem was spared at the last minute by the LORD’s intervention.  

Acts 12: Acts 12 begins with the death of James at the hand of King Herod. We read that King Herod “laid violent hands upon some who belonged to the church”. This was one of the descriptors of the early Christians; those who belong to the Church, or Jesus. We read that the death of James pleased the Jews, and Peter was arrested. What do you make of Acts 12:5? This is an example of how important prayer is. The Church prayed for Peter and a miracle involving angels Acts 12:6-11 got Peter out of prison. Of course, this “Angelic” intervention was not good for the soldiers who were assigned to guard Peter. In fact, we read that there was a major commotion; “…there was no small commotion among he soldiers…” (Acts 12:18). Herod had the soldiers killed for allowing Peter to escape.  The other James mentioned in Acts 12:17, is James, the brother of Jesus. We then read how King Herod died in Acts 12:23. Not a pretty sight.

Notes for Day 118:

1 Kings 1-3:  Today we begin in the Book of Kings (First Book). The Books of 1 & 2 Kings were originally a single literary work that provided a continuous account of Israel’s history from the death of David and the accession of Solomon (970 BC). We will see that the overall interest in Kings is the religious aspects, rather than the history of the Hebrew people. Kings follows the logical concerns of Deuteronomy. The main Deuteronomic principle is that the LORD is Israel’s only God (Deut. 6:4)    1 Kings begins with the struggle for the succession of David’s thrown. Adonijah exalted himself. We read that King David is old (unable to keep warm) and does not know that Adonijah did this. Then there is the plan for Bathsheba (Solomon’s mother) to go into David’s house and inform him what is going on, and that David promised the succession to their son – Solomon. Solomon is thus made the succession to King David’s thrown of Kingship. in 1 Kings 2:10-46 we read about the death of David, and how Solomon consolidated his reign. In 1 Kings 2, Solomon gets revenge on those who treated his father (David) bad and “cleans house”.  In 1 Kings 3 we read about Solomon praying for wisdom. What do you think of his great wisdom involving the two mothers? (1 Kings 3:16-28)

Acts 13:  In Acts 13, we read where Barnabas & Saul are “commissioned”. Basically they are Ordained. They are “set apart” (verse 2) and they had hands laid on them. We read in verse 9 that Saul, also known as Paul, is filled with the Holy spirit. In Acts 13:13-52, we have Paul & Barnabas spreading the word of Christ in Antioch of Pisidia. This is Paul’s first public speech/Evangelism. Paul’s message almost echoes the last message given by Stephen, the first Deacon who was martyred in which Saul (Paul) gave consent to.  In Act 13:42-44 we read how the people who attended the Sabbath in the synagogues wanted to hear more about this man called Jesus.

Notes for Day 120:

1 Kings 4-6:  In 1 Kings 4 we read about Solomon’s Administrative Officers. Do any of them sound familiar? How about Ben-hur? Remember the movie. Ben-hur was played by Charleton Heston.  In 1 Kings 5 we read abut the preparations and materials for the Temple. This temple is commonly known as Solomon’s Temple, but it was built for the LORD (God). 1 Kings 5:4 explains why it is now possible to build a Temple (House) for the LORD, that was not able to be built under the reign of King David (Solomon’s Father). The explanation given in verse 4 is that Solomon could focus on building the Temple because there were no adversaries, not misfortunes against him. What do you make of this in our present day world or even the Church? I think that if we were not spending so much on the wars that we are involved in, we could be spending our money towards better schools for our children, and better health care. I also think that if we never had to spend our time with the adversaries & conflicts we see inside the Church, we could focus more on the Great Commission, and build up the Body of Christ.  In 1 Kings 6, we read about the building of the Temple, it’s size, and furnishings. A cubit is 18 inches long. The basic dimensions of the Temple (House – Sanctuary; for the LORD) was 90 feet long, 30 feet wide, and 45 feet high. (verse 2).  The central structure as added as un unroofed vestibule (narthex) was 15 feet long, 30 feet wide and the worshipper entering the temple passed through the vestibule (narthex) and came to a 60 foot long nave. Do these terms; nave, narthex, sanctuary; sound familiar? They should. These are the terms we use in the Anglican/Episcopal tradition. In our houses of worship you enter the narthex (vestibule); sit in the nave, travel up the steps into the chancel, and the most sacred place is the sanctuary (Where the Altar is located beyond the rail.)  1 Kings 6:38 says it took seven years to build the temple. The temple was built in the 4th year of Solomon’s reign which would put it between 966-956 BC.

Acts 14: In Acts 14 we read about the continuing work of Paul & Barnabas. Paul & Barnabas are misunderstood as God’s because the the miraculous healing of the man who could not walk. They call Barnabas “Zeus”, and Paul “Hermes”. This upsets them both, and they (Paul/Barnabas) tear their clothes, which is a signal of grief. We also read that some Jews and Gentiles believed in their message, and some did not. Just as a side note on the Greek God “Hermes”. They called Paul, “Hermes”, because he (Paul) was the chief speaker (verse 12). We get the name “Hermeneutics” from Hermes. Hermeneutics is the term used for the art of teaching & preaching that we use in Seminary. Hermeneutics is the theory of text interpretation, especially in Biblical interpretation. Biblical interpretation is used for preaching. In Acts 14:22, we read that many were made disciples. We also read that the work of the Lord (Jesus) involves being persecuted ; “It is through many persecutions that we must enter the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22) Persecution is an expected result of Christian faith.

Notes for Day 121:

1 Kings 7-9: 1 Kings 7 is the building of King Solomon’s own house. You will notice that it took almost twice as long to build his house (13 years) as it did to build the House (Temple) for the LORD. 1 Kings 7 is about Solomon’s Palace and other buildings. In 1 Kings 8, we read about the dedication of the Temple. 1 Kings 8:9 is very specific that the only thing inside the Ark were the two tablets of stone that Moses had placed at Horeb. We also read in chapter 8 Solomon’s Speech, his prayer of Dedication, his blessing of the assembly, and the huge sacrifice of animals. What do you think of the 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep that were slaughtered for the sacrifice? In 1 Kings 9, God appears to Solomon again and warns him what will happen if he, or his children turn against God.   As a side note on the building of King Solomon’s Temple and all the architectures and material used to build it, including some of the people mentioned in the scripture. The Freemasons structure and certain ritual acts are based on the Building of King Solomon’s Temple.

Psalm 100: In our Daily Office of Morning Prayer from the Book of Common Prayer (BCP)  Psalm 100 is known as the Jubilate. Take a look at the Jubilate for Morning Prayer – Rite I BCP (page 45) and Morning Prayer – Rite II (pages 82-83).

Acts 15:  Acts 15 deals with the Council at Jerusalem and as to whether it is necessary for the Gentiles to be circumcised. Judas (called Barsabbas) and Silas are chosen to accompany Paul and Barnabas to Antioch in order to deliver a letter to the Gentiles which basically states that circumcision is not necessary. In Acts 15:36-39 we read about a disagreement that occurred between Paul and Barnabas. Barnabas wanted to take John (Mark) with them on their mission, but Paul said no. Paul chose to go with Silas going through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the Churches. Barnabas and Mark (John) sailed to Cyprus. Take a look at Paul’s Letter to the Galatians 2:11-14 for a possible reason for the conflict between Paul & Barnabas.

Notes for Day 122:

1 Kings 10-12: in 1 Kings 10, we read about the visit to King Solomon from Queen Sheba. We read that Queen Sheba was skeptical about how prosperous Solomon was until she actually visited him.   The almug wood mentioned in 1 Kings 10 is red sandalwood.  In 1 Kings 10:16 we read about the six hundred shekels of gold being beaten into shields. A shekel varied in weight, but was around .4 ounces. Take 600 times .4 ounces of gold, Wow!  In 1 Kings 11, we begin to read the downfall of Solomon. What do you make of Solomon having 700 princess wives, and 300 concubine wives? There are only 365 days in our current year, and he had 1,000 wives. Do you think he remembered their names? We read that Solomon’s kingdom will be torn out of the hand of his son, and given to his servant. All this occurred because Solomon failed to follow the orders of God.

Acts 16: In Acts 16 we read about Timothy joining Paul & Silas on the mission. Paul has Timothy circumcised in verse 3. The reason for this was most likely that Paul was aware of the Jewish sensitivities. One may ask themselves, how would anyone know whether the person was circumcised or not? But, moving on.   In Acts 16:6 & 7, we read about how Timothy, Paul & Silas were forbidden from speaking; the H.S. would not let them speak in Asia, and Mysia. There is no clear indication as to why, other than to say that their mission is totally being guided by divine spirit. We read in Acts 16 the arrest of Paul & Silas for treating the girl who had a divination.

Notes for Day 123:

1 Kings 13-15:  1 Kings 13 talks about the mysterious Man of God from Judah. 1 Kings 13 is an interesting story. This man comes in, identifies himself as a Man of God and proceeds to destroy the Altar in front of Jeroboam because of his unlawful sacrifices. When Jeroboam reaches out to seize this man, Jeroboam’s hand withered.  We then read that they wanted this man to stay to eat & drink, but the man was ordered by God not do do this, and to leave a different way than when he arrived.  Then we read that an “old prophet” lied to this Man of God and said it was OK to eat & drink with (1 Kings 13:18), but this was a lie. The Man of God from Judah disobeyed God’s orders, and subsequently ate & drank with the prophet. When the Man of God left the old prophet, he was attacked and killed by a lion. However, the lion did not eat the Man of God, or his donkey (which was not harmed). We read in verse 25 that people passed by the body of the Man of God from Judah, and his donkey. The fact that the man was not eaten by the lion, nor the donkey was not killed or eat eaten by the lion, indicates that this was an act of Divine judgement. In 1 Kings chapters 14-15, we read about the “roller coaster” up & downs of leaders who did not please God. We read about the judgement on the house of Jeroboam with the death of his son. We read in 1 Kings 14:19 about the death of Jeroboam. We finally come to a leaders who was doing something right in the sight of the LORD (God) and that was Asa. Asa reigned from 913-878 BC.

Acts 17: In Acts 17 we continue to read about Paul & Silas spreading the word, and also for creating an “uproar” with some of the Jews. What do you make of the statement in Acts 17:6?;  “…..’These people who have been turning thee world upside down…’”

I think it is important to think about Jesus’ message. His message does turn the world upside down. Acts 17:28 is a familiar verse.

Notes for Day 124:

1 Kings 16-18: As we continue to read in 1 Kings 16, we read that other leaders did what was evil in the sight of the LORD. We are constantly reminded that these bad leaders walked in the way of Jeroboam. We also read this common question at the end of one persons reign, and the beginning of another; “…are they not written in the Book of the Annals of the Kings of Israel?”.  Some Biblical Commentaries consider the Book of Annals as the “Lost Books of the Old Testament”. In 1 Kings 16:25 we read that Omri did more evil in the sight of the LORD than all who were before him. We are also again reminded that he walked in the way of Jeroboam. In 1 Kings 16, we hear about the evil woman Jezebel. We read that Ahab (1 Kings 16:33) did more to provoke the anger of the LORD than all the kings before him.  In 1 Kings 17, Elijah predicts a drought. Elijah also revives a widows son by stretching himself across him 3 times.  In 1 Kings 18, we read how Jezebel was responsible for killing off the prophets of the LORD. Being called a Jezebel is not a compliment. How many of you have heard this used in a common day conversation? I have heard it to describe “Clergy Killers.”  In 1 Kings 18:40 we read that Elijah executed the prophets of Baal according to the Deuteronomic law, because they advocated the worship of other gods. (Deuteronomy 13:1-5).

Psalm 103: The beginning of Psalm 103 will sound familiar to those who have heard the contemporary Christian song, “10,000 Reasons” by Matt Redmen.

Acts 18: In our reading today, we have Paul going to Corinth, this was the Roman capital of Achaia. It was a commerce an area well situated for the commerce trade. In Acts 18:3, we read that Paul was in the same trade as Aquila & Priscilla, tents makers. This is the first reference in Acts as to what Paul’s trade was. Most likely the tent makers were also involved in leather making.  In Acts 18:6, this is the 2nd of three passages where Paul says he is going to take the message to the Gentiles. We read that Paul stayed in Corinth for one year & six months.  In Acts 18:18, you may have missed something significant for the era in which this scripture was written. Priscilla’a name is mentioned before Aquila, her husband. This is highly unusual and it could suggest that she has a higher social or economic standing than Aquila. We then read near the end of Acts 18, that Priscilla & Aquila explained the Way of God to Apollos, because he only really knew more about the baptism of John.

Notes for Day 125:

1 Kings 19-21:  In 1 Kings 19 we read about Elijah fleeing from Jezebel. Elijah goes to Mount Horeb (Sinai). You remember it was Mt. Horeb (Sinai) where God’s covenant with Israel was made, and also the site of the 10 Commandments. In 1 Kings 19:8 we read that Elijah journeyed for 40 days and forty nights. This recalls Israel’s 40 year sojourn in the wilderness, and also the time that Moses spent at Mt. Sinai (Horeb).  In 1 Kings 19:19 we read where Elisha becomes a disciple of Elijah. In 1 Kings 21:17-24, Elijah pronounces God’s sentence on Ahab & Jezebel. Concerning Jezebel, God said the dogs shall eat her within the bounds of Jezreel. The sentence against Ahab was for what he did against God (Partially for listening to his evil wife Jezebel, but he could have chose not to.)  “Indeed, there was no one like Ahab, who sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of the LORD, urged on by his wife Jezebel.”  (I Kings 21:25)   Ahab then humbles himself before the LORD (God). The LORD choses not to bring disaster in his days, but in his son’s days there will be disaster on his house.

Psalm 104: In our Psalm today, we read another beautiful Psalm of Praise for God. Again, today’s Psalm begins with ; “Bless the LORD, O my soul.”  Another reminder. When LORD is all capital letters, it means God. When we see it written as Lord in the New Testament, it means Jesus.

Acts 19: In Acts 19 we read about Paul going into Ephesus. It is he, that Paul “separates” the Old Baptism of John, with the New Baptism of Jesus. The “Old Baptism” of John did not involve the recipients receiving the Holy Spirit. With the New Baptism of the Trinity As Christians, especially in our Anglican/Episcopal tradition, a true Baptism is one done in the Trinitarian Formula (Father – Son – Holy Spirit). However, we read further that the Baptism that these new converts received gave them the ability to speak in tongues and prophesy. In Acts 19:9 we read that when some spoke evil of the “Way” (term used for the early Christians); Paul takes the believers with him for the first time and separate them from the synagogue.  This is the first time in Luke’s writings (Remember that Luke wrote Acts.) that we begin to see a separation between the people of the “Way” and the Jews. In Acts 19:11-12 we read about the miraculous healing of Paul. Handkerchiefs or aprons that touched Paul’s skin brought healing to others.  We then read where the seven sons of a Jewish high priest, Sceva,  tried to copy the healing ability of Paul. They tried to heal those with evil spirits in Jesus’ name. However, the evil spirits said; “Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are you?” then a man with an evil spirit leaped on them, mastered them all, and overpowered them that they fled out of the house naked and wounded. (Acts19:16). What a funny sight, I must admit.   As a result of these who thought they represented Jesus with their “magic” or thought they represented Jesus, what did they do? Yes; they collected all their magic books and burned them publicly. (Acts 19:19) And followed the people of the “Way” (Followers of Jesus.)

Notes for Day 127:

1 Kings 22: Today we close out the first Book of Kings with the death and defeat of Ahab in battle. In 1 Kings 22 we read about Ahab (King of Israel) being shot with a bow while he was on his chariot. We read that the king was propped up in his chariot facing the Arameans until evening, then he died. His blood from the wound flowed into the bottom of the chariot. It is possible that he died sooner than the evening, and he was propped up to prevent the enemy from discovering that he was dead or wounded. What do you make of 1 Kings 22:38? Somewhat disgusting is it not?  We then read a familiar story with the reign of Ahaziah over Israel. He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD.

Acts 20: Today we read where Paul goes to Macedonia & Greece. Acts 20 is also Paul’s final trip to Jerusalem as he makes pastoral visits to several cities. What do you make of Eutychus in Acts 20:9-10? Is this the first time you have heard this story? Good thing that our pews sit low, and we have carpet on the floors of St. Andrew’s – just in case someone falls asleep during a sermon.  In Acts 20:16, we read that Paul wanted to sail past Ephesus, and not spend anytime in Asia. He was eager to get to Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost.  Acts 20:20-21 is a basic summary of Paul’s mission. In Acts 20:28, Paul uses the term “Overseers” to shepherd the Church. An “Overseer” is what we know as Bishops.

Notes for Day 128:

2 Kings 1-3:  Today we begin in the 2nd Book of Kings. Kings was originally a single book, but became separated into two books. 2 Kings continues the account of Israel’s history that begun in 1 Kings. The narratives of 2 Kings covers the history of Israel from the reign of Ahaziah (850-849 BC) to the Assyrian destruction of Samaria, 721 BC. In 2 Kings 1, we read about Ahaziah falling through a lattice in his upper chamber and he lay injured. Ahaziah wants to know if he is going to die. He sends out messengers, and subsequently Elijah intercedes and says that Ahaziah is going to die, because they have not allowed God to be present in Israel. Then we read that Ahaziah sends several different captains and several different companies of 50 men to Elijah on the mountain and beg for him to come to Ahaziah. Fire then comes down on these two different groups of captains and 50 men and consumes them. Ahaziah does get a visit from Elijah and Elijah personally tells Ahaziah that because he sought the guidance of Baal-zebub, and not the God of Israel, he will die from his injuries, and he dies.  In 2 Kings Elijah ascends to Heaven via chariots of horses and a fire, and a whirlwind that separated him from Elisha.   When we read in 2 Kings 12, Elisha calling out “Father, father” as Elijah departs, it is not because Elijah was his actual father. Father was a traditional title for the head of a prophetic guild and one often used by a disciple speaking to a master. We know that in our Episcopal/Anglican tradition, we use the term “Father” as an address & title for the Pastoral leader of a parish, i.e. Priest.  We then read that Elisha succeeds Elijah. In 2 Kings 3:1-3, we read that Jehoram’s reign continued in the tradition of Israel’s evil kings.  In 2 Kings 3:15 we read about Elisha requesting a musician. Prophets sometimes used music to induce a trance or possession by God’s spirit. We know that music plays an important part of our worship today.  In 2 Kings 27 we read that the king of Moab saw the battle was going against him, so he had his firstborn son, the one to succeed him, offered as a burnt offering. Human sacrifices such as this were sometimes offered in times of siege, although there are no other Old Testament practices of this being done. Do you see any resemblance of this sacrifice, to the sacrifice of our Lord (Jesus). I see it as Jesus being sacrificed because we are under the siege of Sin and the Devil.

Psalm 106: Psalm 106 is a Confession of Israel’s sins. Psalm 106 is also the last Psalm of Book IV of the Psalms.

Acts 21:   Acts 21 is about Paul’s final journey to Jerusalem. The anticipation of Paul’s arrest mark these final stages of his mission into Jerusalem. In Acts 21:37, the tribunal asked Paul if he knew Greek. the reason for this is because the assumption was that Paul was uneducated. In Acts 21:40, Paul addressed the crowd in the Hebrew language. This was to allow himself to connect with the Jewish audience.

Notes for Day 129:

2 Kings 4-6:  In 2 Kings 4:42-44; we see a miraculous feeding of 100 men. This reading is similar to the miraculous feeding of the crowds by Jesus (Mt. 14:13-21; 15:32-38; Mark 8:1-10).  In 2 Kings 5:20-27, we read about what greed can get you. Gehazi, Naaman’s servant; is inflicted with leprosy for his scheme.   In 2 Kings 6:28-29 we read about cannibalism. It appears that cannibalism was popular in times of siege. This type of behavior was evident during the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem.

Psalm 107: Psalm 107 begins the last “book” of Psalms which is Book V (107-150). Psalm 107 is a thanksgiving for deliverance from many troubles.

Acts 22: In Acts 22 Paul tells the story of his conversion. In Acts 22:4, we again read the word to describe the early Christians. This word is “Way”. In Acts 22:9, what do you see different from Paul’s conversion experience than in Acts 9:7, or Acts 26:14? There is a discrepancy as to who heard the voice. Do you see it?

Notes for Day 130:

2 Kings 7-9: In 2 Kings we read where Elisha predicts the outcome of the king’s (Ben-hadad) captain at the Aramean camp. In 2 Kings 2, Elisha predicts the captain will see the much needed food at the gate of Samaria, but he will not eat it. This prediction comes true in 2 Kings 7:16-20. Maybe he should have moved out of the way of the gate.   In 2 Kings 8 we read about the death of Ben-hadad. Ben-hadad sends a message to Elisha, asking Elisha if he (Ben-hadad) will die from his illness. Elisha sends a message back to Ben-hadad in verse 10; “…You shall certainly recover, but the LORD has shown me that he shall certainly die.”  Well, this prediction came true. He recovered from his illness, but Hazal is told by Elisha that the LORD told him that he (Hazal) will be king over Aram.  Hazal leaves Elisha’s company and returned to Beh-hadad and smothered him with a wet bed-cover. So Elisha’s prediction from the LORD did come true. He recovered from his illness, only to be murdered.   We read about another bad king over Israel, Jehoram. In 2 Kings 9, we read about the death of Jezebel. We again read about how bad she is in 2 Kings 9:22; “What peace can there be, so long as the many whoredoms and sorceries of your mother Jezebel continue?”  The meaning of whoredom in this verse means worshipping other Gods. We then see that Jezebel is finally killed in verse 33. Then after eating and drinking , they decided to bury her body. However, it was too late. When they went out into the street, the only thing that was left of her were her skull, feet, and palms of her hands.. We also read that after she was thrown down on the street, several horse trampled on her. Biblical justice?

Psalm 108:  One can see another reason it is important to read the entire Old Testament when doing a Bible study. In Psalm 108:7-9, the readers of the previous history of the Old Testament will know the meaning of these verses.

Acts 23: In Acts 23 we have Paul testifying to the Council which consist of the Sadducees & Pharisees. The Sadducees do not believe in any resurrection, angels, or the spirit. The Pharisees believe in all three of these.  There is a plot by the Jews to kill Paul, but Paul is warned of the plot by his nephew. Nothing else is known of Paul’s nephew. I like Acts 23:11 when the Lord came to Paul while he was imprisoned. I like what the Lord told him; “Keep up your courage!” 

Notes for Day 131:

2 Kings 10-12:  In 2 Kings 10 we see more “house cleaning”.  2 Kings 10 is about the massacre of Ahab’s descendants by Jehu. The slaughter is not a pretty sight (2 Kings 10:7).  We then see in 2 Kings 10, the slaughter of the worshippers of Baal. Jehu is very cunning in the way he slaughtered the worshippers of Baal. Remember, it was Ahab & Jezebel, who introduced the worship of Baal to Israel.  What do you think about what became of the temple of Baal in 2 Kings 10:27?  Again; we see Biblical justice.  In 2 Kings 11:4, we see a word that you may not be familiar with. The word is “Carites”.  Carites were mercenaries charged with guarding the palace and the temple.  In 2 Kings 12 we read that the temple was repaired, and that Jehoash reigned for 40 years. Jehoash did what was right in the sight of the LORD. Jehoash was 7 years old when he began to reign (2 Kings 11:21)

Psalm 109: Psalm 109 is one of those lamenting Psalms and it is a Prayer for vindication and vengeance. 

Acts 24:  In Acts 24, we have Paul brought before the Roman Governor, Felix. In Acts 24:5, they report that Paul is a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. It is only here in Acts 24, that we see the Christians referred to as Nazarenes, associating them with Jesus’ home place.  In Acts 24:14, we again see the early word for Christian, “Way”. The Jews also call the “Way” a sect. We read later in Acts 24:22, that Felix was “well informed abut the Way.” Felix orders Paul to be held in custody.  In Acts 24:24, we read that Felix brought his wife, Drusilla, who was Jewish, to hear Paul speak. Drusilla , was the daughter of Herod Agrippa I. She had been previously married to the Syrian Azizus of Emesa, but she left her first husband for Felix. Felix apparently pursued Drusilla for her “great beauty”.  At least Felix to not have her first husband “knocked off” like David to with Uriah so he could have Bathsheba.  We read in Acts 24:27, Paul was imprisoned for at least 2 years, and then some.

Notes for Day 132:

2 Kings 13-15: I realize that these reigns of people over Israel & Judah are probably not interesting. But can you see the pattern? The rulers over Judah do “what is right in the sight of the LORD”. However; the rulers of Israel do “what is evil in the sight of the LORD”.  I want to call your attention to something else in our readings today from 2 Kings. If you do not read closely as to who reigns over Israel, or who reigns over Judah, you will get “twisted up”. An  example is in 2 Kings 13:10-13 & 2 Kings 13:14. There are two Kings with the name of Joash. If you do not follow this closely, you will ask; “How could King Joash die and be buried in Samaria (2 Kings 13:13); then be weeping over the illness of Elisha in 2 Kings 13:14? Take a close look again. The King Joash who was buried in Samaria, was the King of Judah. The King Joash who wept over the illness of Elisha, was the King of Israel.  Again, as mentioned, a King from Judah did was right in the sight of the LORD (2 Kings 14:3). This pattern continues. The Kings of Judah, do what is right and the Kings of Israel do what is evil.

Acts 25:  In Acts 25 we read where Paul (still in Felix’s custody & control) wants to be tried by a tribunal before the Emperor, Agrippa. The Jews wanted Paul transferred to Jerusalem to be tried. If this transfer took place, they planned to ambush Paul and kill him.  Remember, the Jews had no charges against Paul that they could prove (Acts 25:7). Paul is thus brought before the Emperor Agrippa.

Notes for Day 134:

2 Kings 16-18: In 2 Kings 16, we read about the reign of Ahaz over Judah. What is different about Ahaz, is that he is a ruler of Judah who “did not do what was right in the sight of the LORD.”  In 2 Kings 16, we read about children being sacrificed by fire to a god, who was most likely an underworld deity, Molech. We read that Ahaz even had his own son sacrificed by fire.   Ahaz’s son, Hezekiah succeeded him. We read in 2 Kings 17 that Hoshea reigns over Israel. He does what was evil in the sight of the LORD. What else is new?     In 2 Kings 17 we read that Israel is carried captive to Assyria. The reason for Israel being carried away to Assyria? Because Israel sinned against the LORD their God (2Kings 17:7). The LORD was angry with Israel because they sacrificed their sons & daughter, and practiced divination and augury. The Israelites “sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the LORD.” (2 Kings 17:17)    In 2 Kings 17:25 we read that those who did not worship the LORD received vengeance from the LORD. The LORD  sent “lions among them, which killed some of them.”  (2 Kings 17:25)     In 2 Kings 18, we read about Hezekiah’s reign over Judah. Hezekiah “did what was right in the sight of the LORD”. Hezekiah is the first king to walk completely in the way of his ancestor David.  2 Kings 18:5 says that Hezekiah trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel; “so that there was no one like him among all the kings of Judah after him, or among those who were before him.”

Acts 26: In our reading today, Paul defends himself before Agrippa. Paul’s testimony is very powerful. Paul tells about how he was a Jewish Pharisee. Paul tells how he was also responsible for condemning the followers of Jesus. Paul then goes on to tell Agrippa about his conversion. Agrippa, before releasing Paul, says that he (Paul) could have been released and set free if he had not appealed to the emperor. 

Notes for Day 135:

2 Kings 19-21: In 2 Kings 19 we read where Hezekiah consults  Isaiah about what Rabshakeh did in chapter 18. Hezekiah then petitions the LORD with a prayer in 2 Kings 19:14-28. In 2 Kings 19:15, we read that Hezekiah prayed before the LORD. This is an implication that Hezekiah was before the Ark within the holy of holies, an area where normally priests were only allowed to enter.   In 2 Kings 19:35 we read that the angel of the LORD struck down 185,000 Assyrians. In 2 Kings 20, we read that Hezekiah has an illness. The prophet Isaiah, son of Amoz; tells Hezekiah that the LORD said that he (Hezekiah) would not recover from the illness, and he was going to die – he needed to get his house in order. This upsets Hezekiah and he pleaded and prayed to the LORD. Isaiah returns to Hezekiah at the direction of the LORD, and tells Hezekiah that the LORD has heard his prayer, and he will be healed on the 3rd day. However, the LORD is going to add 15 years to his (Hezekiah’s) life.   In 2 Kings 20:17, we read about Isaiah’s oracle about the Babylonian exile & the destruction of Jerusalem (587-586 BC).  In 2 Kings 20:20-21 we read about Hezekiah’s death, but there is mention of the deeds he did, all his power, and how he made the pool and conduit and brought water to the city. This was the construction of the Siloam tunnel. In order to provide water to Jerusalem during the siege, Hezekiah had cut a 1,749 foot water tunnel through solid rock. The water came from the Gihon spring outside the city of Jerusalem to the pool of Siloam, inside the city walls.

Acts 27: In Acts 27 we read about the exciting trip on sea en route to Rome, and the storm. In Acts 27:9 we read about this trip across the sea being done during the “Fast”. This would put the trip around the Day of Atonement, the tenth of Tishri (September/October). Voyages after mid-September were considered unwise because of the increased bad weather. From our reading today, we can see that.   Acts 27:35-36 almost sounds like the Eucharist, does it not?  In Acts 27:39-44 we read about the shipwreck. The soldiers planned on killing all the prisoners so they could not swim ashore, but we read that a centurion, wishing to save Paul, did not kill the prisoners, and ordered all those who could swim, to swim ashore. We read in verse 44, that all were brought to safety.

Notes for Day 136:

2 Kings 22-24: In 2 Kings today we read about another ruler over Judah, Josiah. Josiah did what was right in the sight of the LORD. We read that the high priest Hilkiah has found the “book of the law” in the house of the LORD. Then the servant of Josiah, Shaphan, was given the book, he in turn read the “book of law” to king Josiah. King Josiah upon hearing the words, tore his clothes, because he knew they were not following the law of God. The “book of law” was most likely a scroll and most Biblical scholars say the book of law was the book of Deuteronomy.   In 2 Kings 23; we read about Josiah’s reformation . All the people & symbols that were used to worship other Gods were destroyed and burned to ashes.  In 2 Kings 23:31, we read about the short reign (3 months) of Jehoahaz over Jerusalem. Jehoahaz did what was evil in the sight of the LORD. Jehoiakim in 2 Kings 23:36 reigned over Jerusalem for 11 years. He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD. In 2 Kings 24, we read about Judah being overrun by enemies. In 2 Kings 24 we read about King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, taking Jehoiachin and all Jerusalem into captivity and sending them into exile at Babylon. We also read of another bad ruler in the sight of the LORD; Zedekiah, who reigned over Judah.

Acts 28: Today we finish the Book of Acts, or as it is also known; “The Acts of the Apostles”.  Paul is on the Island of Malta, which is south of Sicily. We read that a snake (ugh) clamps down on Paul’s hand. When the natives of Malta saw that Paul did not get sick or die from the snake bite, they believed Paul was a God. However, they first believed that he was a murderer for he first escaped the ship crashing, only to be bitten by a snake.  I find it interesting that even though Paul was allowed to live by himself in Rome, a Roman soldier was selected to guard him (Acts 28:16). 

Notes for Day 137:

2 Kings 25:  In our last chapter of 2 Kings; we read about the fall & captivity of Judah & King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon’s siege against the army of Jerusalem. There is a wall around Jerusalem. We read that there was a famine in Jerusalem. King Zedekiah made a breach in the wall because the famine became so severe. King Zedekiah tries to escape with his soldiers & family, but the Chaldeans who surrounded the city walls caught up to them in the plains of Jericho. King Zedekiah was captured and brought before the king of Babylon at Riblah. They slaughtered the sons of Zedekiah in his presence. After making King Zedekiah watch his sons being slaughtered before him, they plucked out Kings Zedekiah’s eyes.  Zedekiah reigned from 597-587 BC.  The siege of Jerusalem began in January 587 BC and lasted 18 months. The city wall of Jerusalem was breached in July of 586 BC.  the temple was destroyed in August 586 BC. 

Romans 1:  Today we begin reading about the origins of Christianity in Rome. There is evidence that it arrived around 50 A.D.  The purpose of Paul’s address to the Romans is there is a conflict between the Christian Gentiles and the returned Christian Jews.  The character of Paul’s letter to many scholars is that this letter is Paul’s most sustained Theological argument. Scholars say that Romans is the work of a “mature mind”.  The Letter to the Galatians is the closest to Romans.  The study of Romans is concentrated on Paul’s ideas of justification, grace, and law.  Romans 1 begins with a Salutation (verses 1-7).  Romans 1:16 is about the power of the Gospel. Romans 1:18-32 is straight forward and talks about the Guilt of Humankind. I believe that the first chapter of Romans is the clearest argument against homosexual practices; it cannot be any clearer than what the Apostle Paul has written. The meaning of Romans 1:32 points out that even those who condone such behaviors as mentioned in verses 18-32 are to receive the same punishment as those who do them. Many respected Biblical scholars will say that the forbidden acts as mentioned in Romans 1 comes from “Moral Confusions”. We will read about the similar “Moral Confusions” in the Book of the Wisdom of Solomon, chapters 13-15.

Notes for Day 138:

1 Chronicles 1-3:  Today be begin with the Books of Chronicles. The title Chronicles can be traced aback to Jerome (Biblical interpreter/scholar/exegesis.) in the 5th Century A.D. 1st & 2nd Chronicles are written after the exile and in Jerusalem around the 4th Century B.C. The author is called the “Chronicler”. The first verses of Ezra (1:1-3) are identical to the last verses of 2 Chronicles 36:22-23.  The structure of Chronicles consist of four sections:  1.) Genealogies (Adam to Abraham – 1 Chronicles 1-9).   2.) The reign of David  (1 Chronicles 10-29).  3.) The reign of Solomon (2 Chronicles 1-9).  4.) The history of the Davidic monarchy until the Babylonian captivity (2 Chronicles 10-36). as you will read; the Books of Samuel & Kings, served as the major material for the Chronicler.   As mentioned; 1 Chronicles 1;  begins with the genealogy from Adam to Abraham. For some reason, we often associated the name “Nimrod” (1 Chron. 1:10); as being someone who was not very smart. Contrary to this modern day euphemism; Nimrod as mentioned in 1 Chronicles & Genesis 1:8-12, was a great hunter, and the first mighty one on the earth.  In 1 Chronicles 1:5-23, we read the “Table of Nations”, as we read in Genesis 10. These names were divided into geographical/cultural groups: The children of Shem are in Mesopotamia & Arabia. – The children of Ham are in northeast Africa and Syro-Palestine. – The children of Japheth are in Europe & Asia.   In 1 Chronicles 1:51, we read about the death of Hadad.  Hadad’s death is not recorded in Genesis. In 1 Chronicles 2 we read about the genealogy of Israel (Jacob’s family) and the genealogy of Judah. Remember that Jacob is also know as “Israel”. In 1 Chronicles 2:18; the verse is somewhat backwards in the the way it is written; “Caleb son of Heron had children by his wife Azubah, and by Jerioth;…” (NRSV) This is somewhat confusing when you know the proper genealogy of Caleb. The reading should say; Caleb son of Hezron had Jerioth by his wife Azubah. Here Jerioth is the mother of the following three men, Jesher, Shobab, and Ardon.”  This makes better sense.  We read more about the descendants  of Caleb in 1 Chron. 2:42-50. These descendants are actually cities in the southern part of Judah.  In 1 Chronicles 3, we read about the descendants of David & Solomon.

Romans 2:  Our reading today is about “Righteous Judgement”.  There are very many “quotable & memorization” verses in Romans 2: “Therefore you have no excuse; whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgement on another you condemn yourself…..” (verse 1)  “..to those who by patiently doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; while for those who are self-seeking and who obey not the truth but wickedness, there will be wrath and fury.” (verse 7-8)   “For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but the doers of the law who will be justified.”  (verse 13)  In Romans 2:9-10, we read that God will punish the “Jew” first. The commentators say the reason for this is the punishment will come in priority of status. With priority of status, also comes priority of judgement. Those who “live under the law” (Romans 2:12); are the Jews.

Notes for Day 139:

1 Chronicles 4-6:  In 1 Chronicles chapter 4; we begin with the descendants of Judah. In 1 Chronicles 1:4, we read about Bethlehem, who was the son of Hur. We know the significance of the town of Bethlehem, which is a town 5 miles south of Jerusalem. Again, we can see why it is important to study the Old Testament as Christians.  A little more word etymology (The study of the origin of words.). In 1 Chronicles 4:9-10 we hear about “Jabez”. Jabez is  Hebrew word meaning “pain or harm”. Scripture says that Jabez’s mother named him Jabez “Because I bore him in pain” (1 Chronicles 4:9). In 1 Chronicles 5 we begin with the descendants of Reuben. The sons of Reuben were the firstborn of Israel (Jacob) 1 Chronicles 5:1. However, we may remember, and verse 1 points this out, that Reuben’s birthright was given away because he had sexual relations with his father’s concubine (Genesis 35:22; 49:4).  In 1 Chronicles 6 we read about the descendants of Levi. The descendants of Aaron verse (verse 3) comprise the high priests.  In 1 Chronicles 6; we read about the musicians appointed by David.  David appointed the levitical singers, and the duties of the priests go back to Moses.

Psalm 116: Psalm 116 is a Thanksgiving for recover from illness. The exact nature of the illness in Psalm 116 is not indicated, but whatever it was, the psalmist felt close to death (verse 3, 8, 15).

Romans 3:  In Romans 3, Paul again goes on a diatribe (verbal attack) against the “self-righteous” Jews.  In Romans 3:9-19, Paul points out that no one is righteous. Paul finishes up his diatribe in Romans 3 by saying that righteousness only comes through faith. Two keys words that stand out in Romans 3 are “Justification” ( Romans 3:20, 24) and “Redemption” (Romans 3:24). As some may remember in our Lenten program several years ago; Justification is an action of making someone righteous in the sight of God.  We are justified before God through the Grace giving to us through Jesus. Redemption is the “freeing” or “deliverance” of us from sin. Our redemption came through the release of our sins by the crucifixion of Jesus on the cross.

Notes for Day 141:

1 Chronicles 7-9: We continue reading genealogy today. In 1 Chronicles 7:12, we read that Shuppim & Huppim, were the sons of Ir. Some scholars say that they were the sons of Dan, not Ir. What do you make of these two names; Shuppim & Huppim?  In 1 Chronicles 7:22, we read that when the sons & relatives of Ephraim were killed by the people of Gath; Ephraim “mourned many days, and his brothers came to comfort him”. Ephraim is only known to have one “true brother” and that was Manasseh.  In 1 Chronicles 9, we read about the inhabitants of Jerusalem after the exile.

Psalm 117: Psalm 117 is the shortest Psalm in the Bible – 2 verses. the Psalm is about universal call to worship.

Romans 4: Romans 4 is about following the example of Abraham, something the Jewish population could relate to.  Romans 4:4-5 is about about Justification & Grace. To help you understand this verse, I will change/substitute several words. Before I begin, the word “reckoned” was a term to mean “payment”.  You will see my other changes to this verse:   The actual verse using the NRSV: 4Now to one who works, wages are not reckoned as a gift but as something due. 5But to one who without works trusts him who justifies the ungodly, such faith is reckoned as righteousness.”    Now my version using word substitutions:4Now to one who works, wages are not payment as a gift but as something due. 5But to the one who without works and payment, that being Jesus, God trusts Jesus who justifies the ungodly, [All People] . Such faith in Jesus is payment as being righteous before God.”  Does this help make better sense of Romans 4:4-5? This is about Justification (being right) before God.

Notes for Day 142:

1 Chronicles 10-12:  Today’s appointed readings are basically repeats from 1st & 2nd Samuel. 

Psalm 118:   Where have we heard Psalm 118:22 before?  It is quoted in the Synoptic Gospels: Matthew 21:42, Mark 12:10, Luke 20:17. It is also quoted in Acts 4:11, and 1 Peter 2:7.

Romans 5: In Romans 5; we read about the results of Justification, and see the opposite characteristics of Adam and Jesus.  In Romans 5:3-5, we read about the “benefits” of suffering in Christ.  In Romans 5:12-21; we read about the opposite consequences between Adam & Jesus:  1.) One man brought on the sin of the world, one man took away the sins of the world. 2.) One man’ trespasses led to condemnation, so one man’s act of righteousness lead to Justification. 3.) Just as by one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made Righteous.

Notes for Day 143:

1 Chronicles 13-15:  In 1 Chronicles 13:1-14, we continue to see the parallels with 2 Samuel 6:1-11. Biblical scholars will say that the verses of 1-5 in 1 Chronicles 13; were added to Chronicles to emphasize the people’s total dedication to the Ark.   1 Chronicles 13 is about the Ark being brought to Kiriath-jearim. In 1 Chronicles 14:3; we read about David taking more wives in Jerusalem, and becoming the father of more sons & daughters. In 2 Samuel 3:2-5, we read about David’s sons who were born at Hebron to six different wives. In our reading today in 1 Chronicles 14, we read about his children born in Jerusalem. In 1 Chronicles 15, we again read about the Ark being brought into Jerusalem. 1 Chronicles 15:2  favors the Levites to be the ones who carry the Ark. This duty of the Levites is based on Numbers 4:15, and Deuteronomy 10:8. In 1 Chronicles 15:29; we return to that scene where David is observed leaping & dancing, when the Ark of the covenant of the LORD is returned to the city of David (Jerusalem). You may remember this is the scene that upsets Michael, the daughter of Saul.

Psalm 119: Psalm 119 is the longest Psalm in the Bible; 176 verses. The basis of Psalm 119 is a prayer for God’s help in time of trouble. It is also about keeping the law. Our assigned reading fro today are verses 1-32. 

Romans 6:    Again, the Apostle Paul uses a diatribe style in Romans 6 to make his point about sin and death. Paul points out that in our Baptism, we also were baptized into the death of Jesus Christ. It is through this death & rising of Jesus, that we too will rise again after our death. Paul points out in Romans 6:14 – that since we are not under the law, but under grace; sin has no dominion over us. Paul again uses the word “Sanctification” in verse 22. What Paul is pointing out is that we become sanctified, made Holy, set apart; from the sin that destroyed us and separated us from God. This Sanctification could only come from the Incarnate Word, Jesus Christ.

Notes for Day 144:

1 Chronicles 16-18: Again we see the parallels with the Books of Samuel. In 1 Chronicles 16:8-36, we read David’s Psalm of Thanksgiving; this should sound familiar to you. We have seen this before in Psalm 105:1-15. In 1 Chronicles 16:23-30, the Levites urge people to tell God’s wonders to the nations and to bow down before the LORD, who is coming to judge. As mentioned; Chronicles basically parallels the Books of Samuel, with some additions: In 1 Chronicles 17:4; we read; “….Thus says the LORD: You shall not build me a house to live in.”  the parallel verse to this is in 2 Samuel 7:5. However the word not is not in Samuel; “…Thus says the LORD: Are you the one to build me a house to live in? (2 Samuel 7:5)  In 1 Chronicles 18:1-13, we are reminded as to why David was unfit to build the temple. The reason why? David was always consumed with conflict. Because David was distracted with conflict, he had no time to focus on building a temple for the LORD.

Romans 7:  Romans 7 continues with the analogy between Law & Sin, and the inner conflict that sin has on the physical body, i.e. flesh. Paul’s description  of this “Inner Conflict” with sin is described in Roman’s 7:14-25. I want us to look at the beginning of Roman’s 7, and Paul’s “Analogy from Marriage”. Paul uses this analogy of the marriage law to describe what it means to die to the sin with Jesus through our Baptism. I will try to make this theological explanation simple, so bear with me:  1.) Paul in verse 1 says; the law is only binding during a person’s lifetime. So from a theological perspective; sin is only binding to us during our lifetime (mortal lives).  2.) “A married woman is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives, but if her husband dies, she is discharged from the law concerning the husband.” (verse 2). From a theological perspective: As long a Jesus was alive, we were not discharged from our sins. It was only through his death on the cross, that we were released from our eternal sins. It was through our Baptism that we joined in the death of Jesus and are sanctified.  3.) “Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law…”   From  theological perspective this goes back to verse 2. In order for us to be released from the “marriage law to sin”, Jesus must have died for our sins.

Notes for Day 145:

1 Chronicles 19-21:  In 1 Chronicles 19, we read again about the defeat of the Ammonites and Arameans (2 Samuel 10:1-19, 11:1; 12:26,30,31). The Chronicler omits David’s affair with Bathsheba, which took place in the course of the Ammonite wars, as well as his murder (moving him to the front lines) of her husband, Uriah, and after its aftermath. In 1 Chronicles 20:2, we read that David took the crown of Milcom from his head. It weighed a talent of Gold. A talent of gold is about 67 pounds. In 1 Chronicle 21, we again read about the census ordered by David. Remember a census was used to prepare for war. This census upset the LORD, thus the LORD came down on David and gave David a choice of three punishments. At this point the LORD communicated through David’s seer, Gad. David chose to be punished by the angel of the LORD as opposed to any human hands. Biblical scholars say that the reason David chose to be punished by the angel of the LORD, is that the LORD normally showed mercy at some point, as compared to justice being sought by human hands. Even with that said; the LORD sent pestilence on Israel, and 70,000 people fell. (1 Chronicles 21:13)

Romans 8: Romans 8 is filled with such beauty of living in the Spirit of God. Romans 8 also helps us understand that our mortal bodies (flesh) are filled with corruption, sin, and pain. There is really no way of getting around the “problems” of the flesh, unless, you learn to live within the Spirit – Set your minds on the Spirit. There is much about the eschatological (end times/2nd coming) hope in today’s reading from Paul’s address to the Romans. We read in Romans 8:21, that “…creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God”. This eludes that creation will be restored to its original glory that was forfeited with the actions of Adam & Eve in the garden (Original Sin).  Romans 8:24 talks about hope. Paul says that we all must believe in hope, which is not presently seen at this time. He says that hope that is seen, is not hope. But, if we wait for hope with patience, we will see it. (Romans 8:24-25).  Paul reassures us that in God’s plan, all things will work together for good. (Romans 8:28). I know that this can be a “tough sell” during a times of crisis or difficult time. But; Paul in Romans 8:31-39 says that God’s Love is in Jesus.  We have that familiar verse; “…If God is for us, who is against us?” (Romans 8:31) Romans 8 closes with the fact that nothing can strip us from the Love of God, as long as we have Jesus Christ in our lives.

Notes for Day 146:

1 Chronicles 22-24: In 1 Chronicles 22, we read how David prepared the materials for his son, Solomon, to the build the temple.  Again in 1 Chronicles 22:8 we read why David was not able, or directed by the LORD to build the temple. The LORD said that David shed too much blood in his sight. We then read about why the building will be given to David’s son, Solomon; “See, a son shall be born to you; he shall be a man of peace.” (1 Chronicles 22:9).   In 1 Chronicles 22:6-16, we read about a private speech given by David to his son Solomon. This speech is based in part on Mose’s commissioning of Joshua (Joshua 1). The amount of precious metals listed in 1 Chronicles 22:14, probably is exaggerated in order to stress the magnificence of the temple. If these figures were accurate, the gold amounted to 3,365 tons, the silver to more than 33,000 tons.  In 1 Chronicles 23:13, the priestly duties of Aaron are defined and in 1 Chronicles 24:19 we read that these priestly duties were given by God.

Romans 9:  In Romans today we read about God’s election of Israel (verses 1-18); God’s wrath & mercy (verses 19-29; and Israel’s unbelief (verses 30-33).  However, the major emphasis on Romans 9 deals with the justification of faith over works. The works can better be defined as the law. In Romans 9:30-33, we see a transition of God’s mercy from the Israelites (Jewish elect) towards the Gentiles (Christians). The Gentiles (Christians) did not strive for righteousness through the law (works), but through their faith (Romans 9:30). Whereas the Israelites (Jewish elect) chose to seek their basis of faith on their works (Romans 9:32). The stumbling stone  that Paul talks about in Romans 9:33 is the works (law). Paul says in Romans 9:33 that whoever believes in him (Jesus) apart from the law (works) will not be put to shame, or have a stumbling block in front of them.

Notes for Day 148:

1 Chronicles 25-27: My notes for today’s reading from 1 Chronicles is very short.    In 1 Chronicles 25:1-31, we have the names of the Levitical singers & musicians. In 1 Chronicles 26:1-19, we read about the gatekeepers; 20-32, the treasurers, officers, and judges. In 1 Chronicles 27:1-15, we have the military divisions, 16-24, the leaders of tribes, and 25-34, the names of the other civic officials.

Romans 10:  In today’s reading from Romans 10, Paul talks about salvation coming from Jesus. However, one must believe in Jesus & confess with their lips and believe in their heart (Romans 10:10).  Take a close look at Romans 10:14-17. Does any of this sound like something once said in a sermon from Luke 16:19-31? It was my sermon on the rich man & Lazarus. This is where the rich man never took care of the poor Lazarus, and ends up in Hades, and the poor Lazarus in Heaven. The rich man is told by Abraham, that there is nothing he can do for him. The rich man then says from Hades; “I have 5 brothers, go warn them.”  Remember how I asked the theoretical question; “How many of you have a family member, or friend, who does not know Jesus? What is stopping you from telling them about him?” This is a major part of what our reading from Romans 10 is telling us today. The faith has to be heard!The only way it can be heard is by going out and telling it!

Notes for Day 149:

1 Chronicles 28-29: In 1 Chronicles 28, we again read about the actual building of the temple is given to Solomon, David’s son. We are again reminded in 1 Chronicles 28:3, why David did not build the temple; “But God said to me, ‘You shall not build a house for my name, for you are a warrior and have shed blood.”  David the warrior is contrasted with Solomon, the man of peace.  In 1 Chronicles 28:20-21, we read a final admonition from David to his son Solomon. This admonition indicates that Solomon will face difficulties.  In 1 Chronicles 29, which is the last chapter in 1 Chronicles, we read about all the offerings given for building the temple. Again, the amount of materials given, could be inflated a little as we read in 1 Chronicles 29:7: Five thousand talents of gold (168 tons); Ten thousand darics of gold (185 pounds); Ten thousand talents of silver (336 tons); Eighteen thousand talents of bronze (605 tons); One hundred thousand talents of iron (3,365 tons). Regardless if these weights were exaggerated; they do demonstrate all Israel’s dedication to building a temple to God. In 1 Chronicles 29:9, we read that King David rejoiced greatly when he heard that all the material was given of a single mind and freely offered to the LORD. We close out 1 Chronicles with Solomon being anointed King and the death of David.

Psalm 120: Psalm 120 is a prayer for deliverance from slanderers. We read this in verse 2; “Deliver me, O LORD, from lying lips, from a deceitful tongue.”  We also see the contrast from a person who is doing the will of the LORD and one who works against the will of the LORD; in verse 7; “I am for peace; but when I speak, they are for war.”

Romans 11: In Romans 11, Paul is saying that Israel’s rejection of Jesus and the “Way” is not final. Paul is also warning the Gentiles to not be arrogant, or they as well will be cut off of the tree. (Roman’s 11:21-22). Paul uses an agricultural metaphor to explain how the Jews of Israel were broken off a tree that shares a rich root; he calls them “natural branches”.  Paul says because of their unbelief, the natural branches (Jews) were broken off of this tree. Paul then says that the Gentiles were “grafted” into the this tree in place of the natural branches of the Jews. The Gentiles should not boast about becoming part of this tree, for it is the root (Jesus) that supports them. Paul then goes on to say that if the Gentiles do not continue in using the kindness to others as God showed to them, then they will be cut off the tree. Paul also says in verse 23, that the Jews (those who did not believe) will be grafted back into the tree of God as long as they do not continue in their unbelief.  Paul then says in Romans 11:25-36; all Israel will be saved.

Notes for Day 150:

2 Chronicles 1-3: 2 Chronicles starts out with Solomon asking God for wisdom. God came to Solomon in verse 7, and said; “Ask what I should give you.” Because Solomon asked for wisdom and knowledge to go before his people, and rule his people; God was pleased because this came from Solomon’s “heart”. God was pleased because Solomon did not ask for possessions, wealth, honor, or an extension to his life (2 Chronicles 1:11). In 2 Chronicles  2:16, we read that the timbers from Lebanon (Tall Cedars of Lebanon) came by sea to Joppa. Joppa was an important harbor city in antiquity, which today is a suburb of Tel Aviv.  In 2 Chronicles 3:1, we read that Solomon began building the temple on Mount Moriah. Do you remember what significant event happened on Mt. Moriah? It is in Genesis 22:2, 14. Yes; this is where Abraham attempted to sacrifice Isaac. In 2 Chronicles we read that the building of the temple begins on the 2nd month of the 4th year of Solomon’s reign. This places the beginning of the building of the temple on the 480th anniversary of the Exodus. We again get into the dimensions of the temple and the weights of the gold, etc.

Psalm 121: Psalm 121 is one of the optional Psalms that we use in the Burial Service of the Episcopal Church.

Romans 12: In Romans 12, Paul talks about living a new life in Christ, and what the marks are of the “True Christian”. Paul says that we are not to think of ourselves “more highly than we are” (verse 3). Paul says that we all have different functions & gifts, but we are to of one body in Christ. We are to live in harmony with others. We are not to seek revenge; “Do not repay anyone evil for evil…..” (verse 17). Paul says that revenge is the duty of God. Scripture is clear; “Vengeance is mine,  I will repay, says the Lord.” Finally Romans 12 ends with this; “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (verse21) 

Notes for Day 151:

2 Chronicles 4-6:  In 2 Chronicles 4:1-22, we read about the furnishings of the temple. The 12 oxen mentioned in 2 Chronicles  4:4, represent the 12 tribes of Israel. In 2 Chronicles 4:5, we read; “…it held three thousand baths”  for the molten sea.A bath was approximately 6 gallons. So take 6 gallons of water times 3000, and you get 18,000 gallons of water. This is a big “bath tub”.  The molten sea “bath tub” was for the priests to wash in (verse 6).  In 2 Chronicles 5, we read that the Ark was brought into the temple. We read in 2 Chronicles 5:7, that the Ark was brought into the most holy place and put underneath the wings of the cherubim. In verse 10, we read what was the only thing placed inside the Ark; “There was nothing in the ark except the two tablets that Moses put there at Horeb…”  In 2 Chronicles 6 we have the dedication of the temple, and Solomon’s prayer of dedication.  I find Solomon’s question in 2 Chronicles 6:18, interesting. Solomon asked if God will ever reside with mortals on earth. We as Christians know that he would. This is when God became Incarnate in the body of Jesus Christ.  This is another example of why it is important for Christians to study the Old Testament. It helps us to understand the Blessings was given to us to have God come and live as a person among us. The conclusion of Solomon’s prayer in 2 Chronicles 6:41-42 is made up of the quotation from Psalm 132:8-10.

Romans 13: In Romans 13, Paul talks about being subject to authorities. What Paul is saying here is that we should follow the laws of the government, and those having jurisdictional authority of enforcing the laws that we are to follow. Paul says that this authority comes from God. Therefore; if God has given certain people the authority to administer the law and judgement, we are to follow those laws.  We should also be willing to except, or understand the punishment when we do wrong: “…for it is God’s servant for your good. But if you do what is wrong, you should be afraid, for the authority does not bear the sword in vain! It is the servant of God to execute wrath on the wrongdoer.” (Romans 13:4)  This reading from Romans 13; has often been used to validate the Administration of Justice System we use in this country in relation to doing the will of God.

Notes for Day 152:

2 Chronicles 7-9:   2 Chronicles 7-9 parallels 1 Kings beginning in the 8th chapter. In 2 Chronicles 7, we read about Solomon dedicating the temple.  In 2 Chronicles 7:12-22, we read about God’s second appearance to Solomon, and God’s warning for Solomon to not turn away from God or worship other Gods. In 2 Chronicles 9, we read about the Queen of Sheba visiting Solomon. Sheba is what we now know as the modern day country of Yemen, about 1400 miles from Jerusalem.  In 2 Chronicles 9:13 we see some of the great wealth of Solomon. this verse (13) says that the weight of gold that came to Solomon was 666 talents of gold. This made the weight of his gold about 44,821 pounds. In 2 Chronicles 9:30-31, we read that Solomon reigned over all Israel for 40 years. Solomon died and was buried in the city of his father David. 

Romans 14: In Romans 14 Paul is of course talking about the dietary laws that separated the Jews from the Gentiles. However, Paul says that all food comes from God. Therefore, we should not judge people as to what they eat, or do not eat. In Romans 14:2; Paul refers to those who eat meat, and those who are vegetarians. Paul says that God welcomes both meat eaters, and vegetarians. The practice of vegetarianism was practiced in some religions and groups. The origin of Christian vegetarianism is unknown. However, take a look at the Book of Daniel 1:1-17. It seems that only eating vegetables made you look more healthy.  I direct your attention to Romans 14:7-8. For those who have been to an Episcopal Burial, Romans 14:7-8 should sound familiar. Open your 1979 Book of Common Prayer to page 491. Look at the last Anthem on page 491. This is why we say that 80% of the Book of Common Prayer comes from the Holy Bible.  Romans 14 is also about not judging others, or causing others to stumble. Paul says that in all things we do; if it is not done in faith (regardless of our diet), then it is a sin.

Notes for Day 153:

2 Chronicles 10-12:  In 2 Chronicles 10, we read that Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, became king. Conflict begins immediately with Rehoboam. Rehoboam went to Shechem (verse 1), which is 41 miles north of Jerusalem. If you remember; Shechem was the site of Joshua’s farewell address (Joshua 24). In 2 Chronicles 10:10; we read that the young men told Rehoboam, that he should tell Jeroboam, and the people of Egypt; “…’My little finger is thicker than my father’s loins.”  You may a guessed it correctly, but “little finger” in this verse is an euphemism for penis – at least this is what most Biblical scholars say.   The point in 2 Chronicles 10:6-15, is that Rehoboam took the advice of the young inexperienced, less wise men, than of the older men.  In 2 Chronicles 11, we read how how Rehoboam came to Jerusalem and assembled 180,000 troops of the house of Judah & Benjamin to fight against Israel. Remember, that the biggest part of all the conflicts we have read so far in the Old Testament involves a “divided kingdom”. In 2 Chronicles 11:18 -21, we read about Rehoboam’s marriages, and children. Rehoboam’s wives and concubines were far lesser than his father Solomon. Rehoboam had 18 wives; 60 concubines (secondary wives); 28 sons; and 60 daughters.  In 2 Chronicles 12, we are back to what happens when a king does what is evil in the sight of the LORD. Rehoboam grew strong, but he abandoned the law of the LORD (verse 1). Egypt attack Judah, and took the treasures of the king’s house. King Shishak of Egypt came up against Jerusalem, and took away the treasures of the house of the LORD and the king’s house.  The gold shields that Solomon had made were taken, and Rehoboam had to make shields out of bronze.

Romans 15:  In Romans 15:1-13, Paul talks about pleasing others, and not just yourself. Paul also says the Gospel is for the Jews, and Gentiles alike. In Romans 15:14-21, Paul talks about his reason for writing so boldly. Paul says that it is by the grace given to him by God, to be a minister of Jesus Christ, that he writes so boldly (Romans 15:15-16). Paul finished Romans 15:22-33 with the reason he was planning to visit Rome. In Romans 15:24, Paul mentions going to Spain. This is the first time Paul mentions Spain. It (Spain) is not mentioned in the Book of Acts.

Notes for Day 155:

2 Chronicles 13-15: In 2 Chronicles 13:2, we read that Abijah’s mother’s name was Micaiah, and his grandfather was Uriel. This is different than what we read in 1 Kings 15:2. In 1 Kings 15:2, Abijah’s mother’s name is Maacah, and his grandfather was Abishalom. Abijah’s army is outnumbered two to one. Abijah had 400,000 ready for battle, Jeroboam, had 800,000 warriors. However, as we read, God intervened for Abijah, and his army defeated Jeroboam, killing 500,000 of Jeroboam’s warriors. If you look at how many of Jeroboam’s warriors were killed in battle, there were more killed than all of the U.S. Troops in WWII (400,000).  Abijah points out that it is the sin of the Northern Kingdom (Abandoning God, making Golden calves as gods.) The southern kingdom has not abandoned God. (2 Chronicles 13:8-11). In 2 Chronicles 14, we read that Asa reigned after the death of Abijah. Asa did what was right in the sight of the LORD. In 2 Chronicles 14:4; we see the word “seek”.  Seek , is a term for faithfulness that occurs 9 times in the three chapters dealing with Asa.  In 2 Chronicles 15 we read about the spirit of God coming upon Azariah, and he went out to meet Asa, telling him that as long as he is with the LORD, the LORD will be with him (Asa).  Take a look at 2 Chronicles 15:2. Does this not almost resemble The Second Song of Isaiah (Isaiah 55:6-11)? We read the Second Song of Isaiah during Morning Prayer. It is Canticle #10, page 86 Book of Common Prayer. Do any of you see a pattern with 2 Chronicles 15:3-5? Often in many peoples lives, they do not turn back to the LORD (God), or the Lord (Jesus),except when their lives are in a difficult situation. When things are going “good”; many people stay away from the Church. In 2 Chronicles 15:13, those who did not seek the LORD, God of Israel, should be put to death. This included anyone; young, old, man, or woman. Worship of other gods is a capital crime according to Deuteronomy 13:6-10. What is the only religion that we know, practices anything close to this today – the worship of “other” Gods?

Romans 16: In Romans 16, we again hear some familiar names (verse 3). However, a new name “pops” up. We read about a woman by the name of Phoebe, a Deacon of the Church at Cenchreae. She is to be welcomed according to this letter as a person fitting to be a saint (NRSV verse 2). Phoebe has been a benefactor of many, including Paul.  In Romans 16:17-23, Paul gives his final instructions to the Romans. in verse 22, we read that Tertius was the actual writer of the letter to the Romans. Tertius was Paul’s scribe.

I am sure some of you may have seen the typo on the outline for day #156 of the Daily Bible Study.

Here are the correct readings. there will be one extra chapter of II Chronicles in order to catch up to the pre-printed outline.

Readings for Day #156:

II Chronicles 16-19

Psalm 126

1 Corinthians 1

Notes for Day 156:

2 Chronicles 16-19:  We continue with a repeat of the events that we read in  1 Kings. 2 Chronicles 16:1-10 deals with the alliance with Aram by Asa that is condemned. Asa has a falling out with his seer, and puts him in prison. Asa develops a foot disease, but 2 Chronicles 16:12, says that he failed to call upon the LORD for healing and only sought the help of physicians. Expect to hear this in a sermon from me in the near future. 2 Chronicles 17 is about Jehoshaphat’s reign. In 2 Chronicles 18:1-27, Micaiah predicts failure. In 2 Chronicles 18:28-34 we read about the defeat and death of Ahab.  In 2 Chronicles 19, we read about the reforms of Jehoshaphat.

Psalm 126: I draw your attention to verse 4; “…like the watercourses of the Negeb”. Since we have heard the word “Negeb” before in our liturgy, I want to explain it. The Negeb is very similar to a “wadi”, a dry creek bed in the desert. If there was a strong rain, or flood type conditions, the Negeb watercourses turned into very strong flowing streams. When I went to Desert Warfare School while in the military, we were warned to not spend anytime down in a wadi if there was a strong rainfall. These wadis varied between only several feet deep below the horizontal desert floor, to 30-40 feet below the horizontal desert floor. These wadis went in every direction.

I Corinthians 1: Today we begin with Paul’s letters to the congregation in Corinth. The letters of Paul to the Corinthians date around 54 A.D. Paul is writing to the Corinthians, a congregation he had founded in the capital city of the Roman province of Achaia. Paul is writing from Ephesus where he intends to stay for a while, before traveling to Macedonia, and then to Corinth. The congregation at Corinth is predominantly Gentile. These group of new Christ followers were situated in different quarters of the city and were organized into separate “house churches”. During regular intervals they would come together as an ekklesia (Church), for a common meal, and worship. The purpose of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians was to stop several conflicts and clear up some disputes: There were serious disorders within the congregation; the jockeying of rival groups for control (1:10-17); flagrant immorality (5:1-13); an issue with appropriate Christian conduct (8:1-11:1). Even Paul’s own Apostolic authority was called into question.  The other issue with the Corinthians was that some believed that they were in some sense already “reigning”with Christ in glory (4:8). The consequence of this was that they hoped for nothing beyond their present life (15:12-19).   In 1 Corinthians 1:1-3, Paul begins with the usual Salutation. In 1 Cor. 1:10-17, Paul talks about the divisions in the Church. In 1 Corinthians 1:17, Paul is not opposing the Sacrament of Baptism, he just wants to point out that his main purpose (calling) was to proclaim the Gospel. I draw your attention to 1 Corinthians 1:23; “…but we proclaim Christ crucified…”  The apostle Paul led what he called a “Cruciform Way of Life”. Paul was always led to proclaim Christ Crucified, and he felt that his own rejections, and imprisonments, was his way of living a “Crucified Life”. I also want to refresh your memory. What have I said about the reason for a Crucifix being near the pulpit of a Church (At least in our tradition.)? The Crucifix is near the pulpit because we are to preach Christ Crucified. I like what Paul has to say about God’s foolishness, and weakness being wiser and stronger than any human’s wisdom and strength (verse 25). I also like what Paul has to say about those who are called to ministry in 1 Corinthians 1:26-28. 

Notes for Day 157:

2 Chronicles 20-22:   The war that we read about in 2 Chronicles 20:1-30, according to many Biblical scholars, is mostly liturgical. Little can be established about the historical circumstances of this war.  2 Chronicles 20 ends with the death of Jehoshaphat. We read that he was 35 years old when he began to reign, and he reigned for 25 years in Jerusalem. Jehoshaphat was a good leader and walked in the ways of his father Asa. He did what was right in the sight of the LORD. We also read this in 1 Kings 22:41-45. In 2 Chronicles 21, Jehoram, the oldest son of Jehoshaphat begins to reign. He was a bad king, and did what was evil in the sight of the LORD. One of his first acts was killing all his brothers (2 Chronicles 21:4).  A big question you may ask, and maybe something I have failed to cover up to this point: “Why does the LORD not destroy, or get rid of these evil dynasties that are coming from the House of David. Why does the LORD not start over with a new dynasty?”  The answer to this question is in 2 Chronicles 21:7:  “Yet the LORD would not destroy the house of David because of the covenant that he made with David, and since he had promised to give a lamp to him and to his descendants forever.” The “lamp” is better understood as “dominion”.   Maybe a better way to understand God’s covenant, or irreversible actions goes back to Genesis 3:22-24, when humans are cast out of the Garden. God drove out the man & woman to make permanent the separation between divine and human. This eventually will play into why God became incarnate in the form of Jesus. God became human in order to “undo” an action that he made. The only way to “undo” his decision, was not by a divine act (which he could have done), but was to come among us in the form of Jesus. In seminary I wrote a research paper on “Cur Deus Homo” (Why God Became Man). A great literary work by St. Anselm of Canterbury, 1033-1109.  Anslem’s work is interesting, but rather lengthy. Basically in this literary work by Anslem, he says that in order for God to show his strength & power, he can not go back on a decision that He has made. So it is with the case of the LORD (God) not changing his decision on the Davidic dynasty; even as bad as the descendants are. In 2 Chronicles 21:11-15; we read about a letter from the Northern prophet Elijah who predicts a great plague to Jehoram’s people, children, wives, and all his possessions because of his actions. Jehoram will even become so sick that “his bowels will come out”. (verse 17).  Some Biblical scholars will say that Jehoram ended up dying from a severe case of colitis, or dysentery.  No one regretted seeing Jehoram die (2 Chronicles 21:20). In 2 Chronicles 22, we again read about another bad king, Ahaziah.

Psalm 127:  What Psalm 127 says is that unless you have the LORD (God) in you home, or life; everything you do will be in vain. So, the question is this: Is God allowed in your house? Is God a part of your children’s routine? If not; you are only “laboring in vain” (Psalm 127:1)

1 Corinthians 2: In 1 Corinthians 2, Paul again talks about “Proclaiming Christ Crucified” (verses 1-5); Paul reminds the Corinthians of their first hearing of the Gospel. I find it interesting that Paul points out that he did not come to them using very “lofty” words or wisdom. Paul said he used simple words & expressions, to tell them about Christ. Paul says that all one really needs to tell others about Christ is to be guided by the Spirit. In 1 Corinthians 2:1-16; Paul explains the True Wisdom of God. The true wisdom of God is in the Spirit: “Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God.” (1 Cor. 2:12)

Notes for Day 158:

2 Chronicles 23-25:  Our readings from today are basically a recounting of 2 Kings. I do want to point out several things: In 2 Chronicles 24:1-3, we read about Joash coming to reign over Jerusalem. Joash was 7 years old when he began to reign, and he reigned for 47 years. Joash did what was right in the sight of the LORD. In 2 Chronicles 24:15, we read that Jehoida was 130 years old at the time of his death. How does the length Jehoida’s life  counter Genesis 6:3?  In 2 Chronicles 25, we read that Amaziah at 25 years old comes to reign over Jerusalem, and he reigns for 29 year. Amaziah did what was right in the sight of the LORD; but “not with a true heart”.  In 2 Chronicles 25:11, we read that Amaziah went to the Valley of Salt. The Valley of Salt is near the southern end of the Dead Sea. Amaziah turned away from the LORD and was killed after attempting to flee from Jerusalem to Lachish. Lachish was a city 30 miles southwest of Jerusalem. 

Psalm 128: Psalm 128 is about the “Happy Home of the Faithful”. I draw your attention to verse 1: “Happy is everyone who fears the LORD…”. I know I have explained the word fear in most Biblical terms to mean “respect”. 

1 Corinthians 3: In our reading today, Paul addresses the divisions in the Corinthian Church. There is disunity and rivalries within the congregation. Paul says that the only way to build God’s “house’ is with unity, working together (1 Cor. 3:9). If there is anyone within the congregation that will not work together with the others, that person (s) must be removed from the congregation. Paul says that the foundation for the Church has been laid by Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 3:11).  Paul talks about the Spirit and his temple that dwells in believers (1 Cor. 3:16). God is in those who are believers and have the Spirit dwelling within them. But; what does Paul say about anyone who destroys God’s temple in 1 Cor. 3:17? Exactly; God will destroy that person!

Notes for Day 159:

2 Chronicles 26-28:  What we read today is mostly paralleled  in 2 Kings. Uzziah was 16 years old when he began to reign. He reigned over Jerusalem for 52 years old, and we read he did what was right (initially) in the sight of the LORD. In 2 Chronicles 26:9-10, we read about these towers that Uzziah had built. Numerous archeological remains have been related to the buildings during Uzziah’s reign.  However, Uzziah, as with many other leaders, began to turn. 2 Chronicles 26:16-21, talks about how Uzziah became too strong, and too proud. This led to his destruction, and Apostasy. Uzziah took upon himself to do the duties of a priest. Uzziah was not an “Ordained” Priest. He was not a descendent of Aron, who was allowed to make offerings unto the LORD. Because of this, Uzziah developed the leprous disease. Chapter 26 ends with Uzziah living in a separate house with leprosy by himself until he died.  In 2 Chronicles 27, we read that Uzziah’s son, Jotham, follows his father with the reign over Jerusalem. Scripture says that Jotham did what was right in the sight of the LORD. We also read that Jotham, did not invade the temple of the LORD (pretend to be a priest). Jotham was 25 years old when he began to reign, and he reigned over Jerusalem 16 year. Jotham was 41 years old when he died. In 2 Chronicles 28, we read about the reign of Ahaz who did not do what was right in the sight of the LORD. Ahaz cast images for the Baals., and did sacrifices by having his sons pass through fire. The LORD was upset with Ahaz and gave him into the hands of the king of Aram. In 2 Chronicles 28:8-15, we read about the intervention of Oded on behalf of Ahaz and his people. Finally; in 2 Chronicles 28:22-27, we read about the Apostasy and death of Ahaz.

1 Corinthians 4:  In Corinthians 4; Paul attempts to counteract the rivalries and jealousies that have developed in the Corinthian congregation. In 1 Cor. 4:14-21, Paul gives the Corinthians “Fatherly Advice”. Paul can claim paternity because he had founded the Church in Corinth (3:6. 9:1-2). In 1 Cor. 4:17, we read that Paul sent Timothy to Corinth. Timothy was one of Paul’s closest associates (Acts 16:103; Thessalonians 3:2). 

Notes for Day 160:

2 Chronicles 29-31: 2 Chronicles 29 is almost identical to 2 Kings. We read that Hezekiah came to reign when he was 25 years old, and he reigned for 29 years in Jerusalem. Hezekiah did what was right in the sight of the LORD. Hezekiah brought back unity to all Israel. He is like a 2nd David (2 Chronicles 29:2) and especially a 2nd Solomon (2 Chronicles 30:26). Hezekiah had the temple cleansed because as scripture said, his ancestors had been unfaithful, and did what was evil in the sight of the LORD. In 2 Chronicles 29:20-36, Hezekiah has been able to see that the temple worship is restored. The last verse (36) of 2 Chronicles 29, says that all this came “suddenly”. Hezekiah was able to purify & restore the temple worship within 3 weeks during the first year of his reign. In 2 Chronicles 30, we read about Hezekiah’s attempts to unite all Israel around the temple for the feast day of the Great Passover. This unification of the divided kingdom was the main agenda of the author of Chronicles. In 2 Chronicles 30:14, we read that when the people came to Jerusalem for the Great Passover, work was set out to remove the altars that were in Jerusalem. We must remember why these were removed. It was part of the cleansing. Remember that Ahaz had built altars to alien deities (2 Chronicles 28:24). 

Again as mentioned above; Hezekiah is seen as a 2nd Solomon (2 Chronicles 30:26).  In 2 Chronicles 31; we read about the pagan shrines being destroyed and the reorganization of the Priest & Levites.

1 Corinthians 5:    In our reading from chapter 5 today, Paul is saying how sexual immorality defiles the Church. When Paul talks about “yeast” in 1 Cor. 5:6; he is using “yeast” as a metaphor for “evil”. What Paul is saying is that; “A little evil will have an effect on the whole assembly”.  In 1 Cor. 5:11; Paul is saying that all Brothers & Sisters (Christians) are not to eat or associate with the sexually immoral, greedy, idolaters, revilers, drunkards, or robbers. Some  Biblical commentators say that this separation even includes those mentioned in verse 11 from sharing in the Lord’s Supper (Communion).

Notes for Day 162:

2 Chronicles 32-34:  We continue to parallel 2 Kings in our readings today. In 2 Chronicles 32, we read about the invasion by King Sennacherib of Assyria. When Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib came to fight against Jerusalem, Hezekiah developed a very wise plan of diverting the flow of water supplies away from King Sennacherib. Hezekiah concealed the water supply away from Sennacherib by building secret concealed water tunnels. This water tunnels can be visited today in Jerusalem. Sennacherib was eventually killed by his own sons (2 Chronicles 32:21). In 2 Chronicles 33 we read about the reign of Manasseh, the son of Hezekiah. Manasseh was 12 years old when he came to reign, he reigned for 55 years and did was was evil in the sight of the LORD (restored the worship to Baal, rebuilt pagan altars, made his sons walk through fire). However, near the end of his life he repented. We then read in 2 Chronicles 33 the short reign of Amon (2 years). He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and was killed by his own servants. In 2 Chronicles we read about the reign of Josiah. He reigned 31 years and did what was right in the sight of the LORD. He followed the actions of Hezekiah by breaking down the pagan altars, and restoring the right worship to God. We also read that the Book of Laws was discovered and the Covenant renewed.

1 Corinthians 6: 1 Corinthians 6 is about those who bring lawsuits against other believers. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 is about the former practices (of some) that Paul says prevents a person from inheriting the kingdom of God. But, Paul says that these former wrongdoers were “washed, sanctified, and justified” in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. It was through the acceptance of Jesus, and by his Grace, that these former wrongdoers, were brought back into the kingdom of God.

Notes for Day 163:

2 Chronicles 35-36: As we close out 2 Chronicles, I will make my notes very short. 2 Chronicles 35-36, follows 2 Kings without many variations. For those who want to review 2 Kings, go to chapters 23-24 of 2 Kings.

1 Corinthians 7:   In seminary, one of my New Testament research papers was on 1 Corinthians 7:1-10: I was going to attach this paper to my notes for today. However, it is 30 pages long!   Basically in 1 Corinthians 7:1-8 Paul is responding to a letter from the Corinthians (particularly men) about the sexual “obligation” of couples who now call themselves Christians. The folks in Corinth started abstaining from having sexual relations with their wives because they believed they should all now lead an ascetical (Strict Christian observance of abstaining from certain things. A strict Christian discipline.). In the case of Paul’s response to the men in Corinth; Paul reminded the men, that it was their marital obligation, both for the men, and women, to honor their marriage “responsibility” of sexual relations. Neither the man, nor the woman, are to deprive their husband/wife of sex (1 Cor. 7:5).  In 1 Cor. 7:7; Paul says that he wished that all were like himself. This means that Paul was unmarried & celibate.  In 1 Cor. 7:8, Paul says that it is well for the unmarried and widows to remain unmarried as he was. The reason Paul said this, was that in his mind, the 2nd coming of Christ was probably just “around the corner” and there was no need to be married.  However, Paul points out in 1 Cor. 7:9, that if a man or woman is not practicing celibacy; then it is better for them to be married than to be “aflame with passion” (1 Cor. 7:9).  Paul also is not keen to divorce. What do you think of 1 Cor. 7:12-16? These verses deal with a wife living with an unbeliever, and vice-versa. Verse 16 is somewhat an interesting statement about “indirect Evangelism”: “Wife, for all you know, you might save your husband. Husband, for all you know, you might save your wife.” (1 Cor. 7:16).  In 1 Cor. 7:25-40, we return to whether marriage is appropriate for Christians.  In the Roman Catholic Church, this part of scripture is often used to justify why Roman Catholic Priests are not allowed to marry. There is actually more to the reason that R.C. Priests are not allowed to marry and it deals with past the history of property & politics (No time to go into that now.) However, I do know that there are Episcopal Priests who practice celibacy, and adhere to the reason that Paul lays out in 1 Cor. 26-34.  1 Cor. 7:32-33 probably makes the most logical argument for one who believes that it is better for a Priests to be single & celibate, as opposed to being married. However, with that said; I have not plans on becoming an unmarried Priest. I am very happy!

Notes for Day 164:

Ezra 1-3: Today we begin in the book of Ezra. The Books of Ezra and Nehemiah (which follows Ezra) are important sources of evidence for the history of the early post exilic period, 539 – 430 B.C.  Ezra continues directly from the end of 2 Chronicles. Ezra & Nehemiah are a narrative of the restoration of the Jewish people to their homeland after the exile.  The historical background or setting, are in two distinct periods, of the 6th & 5th centuries, as mentioned above.  In Ezra chapter one, we read about the end of the Babylonian Captivity. In the first year of King Cyrus of Persia, he had the Jews released to go back to Jerusalem. I know I have mentioned this, but Babylon & Persia, are our present day Iran. So, the King of Persia (present day Iran) had the Jews released to go back to their homeland. Our scripture reminds us that it was King Nebuchadnezzar who had exiled and held captive the Jews in Babylon. Remember the scene in 2 Kings 25:7 where the Jewish King Zedekiah was captured by the Persian King Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar had Zedekiah’s sons slaughtered in front of their father (Zedekiah), then they put out his eyes out. In Ezra 2, we read the list of the returned exiles.    In Ezra 3; we read about the restoration of worship. In verse 1, we read that it was the 7th month, that the people gathered in Jerusalem. The 7th month is known as Tishri (September/October) and this would have been around 538 B.C. In Ezra 3, we read about the foundation being laid for the rebuilding of the temple.

1 Corinthians 8: Our reading today is basically about food. Verse 8 says that food will not bring us close to God. “Food will not bring us close to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat meat, and no better off if we do.” (1 Cor. 8:8). What is being mentioned here is the meat of any animal that has been ritually slaughtered, i.e. Kosher meat. Paul is saying that how, or what you eat (Food offered to idols.) does not bring you any closer to the knowledge of God, or God himself. Take a look at 1 Cor. 8:1-3: “…Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. Anyone who claims to know something does not yet have the necessary knowledge, but anyone who loves God is known by him.”

Notes for Day 165:

Ezra 4-6: In Ezra chapter 4, we read about a resistance to rebuilding the temple. This resistance comes from the northern neighbors of Jerusalem. In Ezra 4:4, the term “people of the land”, refers to non-Jewish settlers in the land of Israel. In Ezra 4:24, we read that the work begun again on the temple during the second year of King Darius of Persia. This would have put the year at 520 B.C. In Ezra chapter 5, we read about the restoration of the temple, and the rebuilding. In Ezra chapter 6; we read the decree of Darius. Darius supported the rebuilding of the temple. In Ezra 6:15, we read that the temple; “was finished on the third day of the month of Adar, in the sixth year of the reign of Darius”. This put the temple being totally restored on March 12, 515 B.C.  In Ezra 6:18, we read about the “priests being set in their “divisions” and the Levites in “their courses” for the service of God at Jerusalem, as it is written in the book of Moses.”  In the Biblical tradition, it was not Moses, but David who arranged the divisions and also of the priests. (1 Chronicles 23-26). Moses established the two classes (Exodus 29; Leviticus 8, and Numbers 3, 4; & 8).

1 Corinthians 9:    Paul talks about the rights of an Apostle, that he was willing to not accept. Paul considers, and prefers, to be a slave to the Gospel (1 Cor. 9:19). People prefers to become all things to all people, so that he may save some. (1 Cor. 9:22)  In 1 Corinthians 9:25, Paul talks about the perishable wreath. A perishable wreath was used at the Isthmian games, that were held near Corinth every two years, almost like the Olympics. The winners were crowned with a wreath made out of withered celery. Paul is saying that his race is to work towards something that is imperishable, not like an earthly Olympian who simply runs a race in order to receive an withered wreath that will die.

Notes for Day 166:

Ezra 7-9:  In Ezra 7, we read about the arrival of Ezra and his work. In Ezra 7:11-28, we read the letter of King Artaxerxes to Ezra.  In Ezra 8, we read about the families who returned with Ezra. Ezra’s company numbered about 1500 males. Ezra 8:15-20 is about the servants for the temple; Ezra 8:21-23 is about fasting & prayer; Ezra 8:24-30 is about the gifts for the temple, and Ezra 8:31-36 is about the return to Jerusalem. In Ezra 9, we read about the denunciation of mixed marriages. A mixed marriage was described as a non-Jew, marrying a Jew. We will read in Ezra 10 that the Jews must divorce the foreign wives (Ezra 10:6-17).

1 Corinthians 10:  In 1 Corinthians 10 we read about the warnings Paul gave to the people of Corinth about Israel’s history. Paul gives examples of idolatry. In 1 Cor. 10:13, God reminds the Corinthians about the testing that they will be put through. However, Paul says that God will get them through the testing (1 Cor. 10:13). Does 1 Corinthians 10:17 sound familiar?  Parts of 1 Cor. 10:17 are used as a hymn. We have not sung it at St. Andrew’s in my time, but it is often sung at other Episcopal Churches as the Offertory, or while Communion is taking place. Here are the lyrics:

Refrain
One bread, one body,
one Lord of all,
one cup of blessing which we bless.
And we, though many,
throughout the earth,

we are one body in this one Lord.

1. Gentile or Jew,
servant or free,
woman or man, no more.

2. Many the gifts,
many the works,
one in the Lord of all.

3. Grain for the fields,
scattered and grown,
gathered to one, for all

In 1 Corinthians 10:21, Paul says that you cannot participate in Communion, while at the same time, having evil in you.

Notes for Day 167:

Ezra 10: In Ezra 10, we read & see; that the foreign wives and children are sent away. The Israelite men who married foreign woman (non-Jewish) are instructed to divorce their wives & send them away, including the “illegitimate” children. In Ezra 10:9, it says that the assembly assembled at Jerusalem on the 9th month of the 12 day of the month. This would put it in December when there were heavy winter rains. Sometimes it even snows in Jerusalem because it lies 2000 feet above sea level. Ezra 10:16-17 talks about the purging of the men who had married foreign woman. According to Biblical experts, this purging would have been 3 months, and it would have been from December 29, 458 to March 27, 457 B.C. if the Persian King was Artaxerxes.

Psalm 136: this is one of the most beautiful Psalms in the Psaltery. the reoccurring theme is; “…his steadfast love endures forever”.

1 Corinthians 11: Our reading today can be somewhat confusing. One way to help us understand the scripture reading from today, and in the future; is to read the Bible from several “lenses”:  1.) Who is speaking or being quoted?  2.) Who is the audience? Exactly; who is the Evangelist or the letter (Pauline Letters.) being addressed to?   3.) What is the scripture or letter attempting to accomplish? 4. ) What period of time or culture existed at the time the scripture or letter was written? (Very important.)    So using these examples as I just outlined, reread 1 Corinthians 11. You will probably learn, that there was still a hierarchical cultural  existing at the time of this letter from Paul to the people in Corinth. The status of woman are taken from the perspective of Genesis; man came first, was the product of man (Adam’s Rib), and were created by God to be a helper (servant) for man. This may help explain the issue of her head being covered. Do any of you remember when the Altar Guild was required to have their heads covered when setting up the Altar? I knew you probably expected me to answer 1 Corinthians 11:14 about men with long hair. The term “nature” in verse 14 is about the culture of the day. The culture of the day as mentioned in verse 14; were for the woman to have long hair (Meaning they did not cut it short. In fact they did not cut it at all, regardless of age.) The woman’s glory came in her long hair. How many of you know some very strict religious traditions where the woman never cut their hair, but put it up in a bun under a white prayer cap? So the tradition (nature) at this time were that men cut their hair, and woman never cut their hair. I know may woman who cut their hair which is the culture of today. In 1 Cor. 11:27-33, we read about the partaking of the Sacrament. It should never be done in an unworthy manner. In 1 Cor. 11:28, Paul says that you are to examine yourselves first, before taking Communion. that is the reason that we normally do Confession prior to Communion.

Notes for Day 169:

Nehemiah 1-3: Nehemiah begins with Nehemiah praying for his people in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year. This would have been either November/December at the time of Artaxerxes I in 445 B.C. The premise of the first three chapters of Nehemiah is the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem.

Psalm 137: The 9 verses of Psalm 137 are a Lament over the destruction of Jerusalem. I call your attention to Psalm 137:9. Because of verse 9, Psalm 137 is one of the hardest Psalms to either preach (If ever done so.) or to teach. This Psalm ends with violence. But, I do want to recall your attention to what happened during the Crusades. The Crusaders (Christians) actually did dash the heads of Muslim children against rocks.

1 Corinthians 12:   In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul addresses the different spiritual gifts that we all have; through the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  Paul points out that even though we have different callings & jobs in the Church, we all must share alike our gifts. Nothing we do can be done in a vacuum. (1 Cor. 12:1-21).  Paul also says that in the concept of the Christian community, when one suffers, all suffer, when one rejoices, all rejoice (1 Cor. 12:26).

Notes for Day 170:

Nehemiah 4-6: As the Jews were in the process of building rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem; we read about hostile plots by Sanballat, and the army of Samaria, to disrupt the rebuilding. I draw your attention to Nehemiah 4:17; “The burden bearers carried their loads in such a way that each labored on the work with one hand and with the other held a weapon.”  Do any of you see any significance of this verse as to what we are trying to do in the Church community today? It could be in either building up our local Church congregation, or building up the universal Body of Christ? I do. I believe that there will always be those outside ( And sometimes inside.)  forces that will attempt to keep us from moving forward. With this in mind, we must continue our work, but always be ready to defend ourselves against the evil forces that would like to see us fail, or see that the Mission of Christ does not move forward. There are those among us who do not want to see the “walls of Christ” restored. As we continue reading in Nehemiah 5 – we see that Nehemiah deals with oppression, and he also has a generous heart. In Nehemiah 6:15 we read that the wall was finished on the 25th day of the month Elul in 52 days. The restoration of the wall began on  August 11th, and was finished on October 2, 445 B.C.

1 Corinthians 13: Our reading today from 1 Corinthians 13, is the “Gift of Love” chapter. Love is the greater gift. I mentioned this at the ending of a sermon one time. I said that the Gospel is about having Love for others, that is the Gospel message. This chapter is one of the selected readings that are available to the bride & groom in an Episcopal Marriage Service. In fact, chapter 13 of 1 Corinthians is introduced by the last verse of 1 Corinthians 12; “But strive for the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.” (1 Cor. 12:31)

Notes for Day 171:

Nehemiah 7-9: In Nehemiah 7 we read that the walls of Jerusalem have been repaired, and the gates put back up. Although the walls are restored, there are not too many buildings or inhabitants inside. Nehemiah 7:5-73 is a list of the retuned exiles, a census. We read in Nehemiah 7:66, that the number of the Jewish assembly was 42,365, we also read this in Ezra 2. The number of male & female slaves were 7,337, and they had 245 male & female singers. In Nehemiah 8:1, we again hear one of the gates described as “Water Gate”. This simply means a gate that faced towards the water. In Nehemiah 8:2 we read that the law was read to the people on the 1st day of the 7th month. This is an important festival month in Israel. It is “Tishri 1”, which later became “Rosh Hashanah” (New Years Day).  In Nehemiah 8:5; we read that all the people stood up when the book (Laws of God) was opened. Actually the book was a scroll that was unrolled. But, getting back to the standing up. When in worship do we stand to hear a reading? Yes, it is when the Gospel (Words of Christ) is proclaimed. In Nehemiah 8:8, we read that the law of God is interpreted in order to “make sense, so that the people understood the reading.”  This my friends is what Hermeneutics ((Preaching) is all about. There are various forms of preaching & preachers. But, the basic premise of preaching is to interpret the scripture & apply it as best may be to a persons life and/or circumstances. In seminary I had a New Testament Professor say; “Translation is Interpretation”. There are times that we need to translate the Biblical Greek of the New Testament in order to understand the scripture. I have had to translate Greek on some of the tougher NT readings in order for the reading to make sense.  In Nehemiah 9 we read about the “National Confession” This “National Confession” could also be similar to “Yom Kippur” (Day of Atonement). In Nehemiah 9:7-29, what is mentioned is seen in our previous readings. We hear from: Genesis Exodus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, and Judges.

Psalm 139: What we read in Psalm 139 is this; there is no getting away from God! God is inescapable.

1 Corinthians 14: What do you think about “Speaking in Tongues”? Have any of you heard it? Paul is addressing the Church in Corinth about this “Spiritual Gift” – Speaking in Tongues. Paul says that one who speaks in tongues has a gift but he would prefer one who is able to prophesy, over the one who speaks in tongues (1 Cor. 14:5-6). However, Paul does not dismiss the Spiritual Gift of one who is able to speak in tongues, as long as what is being said in tongue, can be interpreted. If it cannot be interpreted, then it is not building up the Church. Paul says that if anyone has the Spiritual Gift of Speaking in tongue, not more than two, at the most three, should speak in tongue at a worship service (1 Cor. 14:27). The point Paul is making is that he knows that there are many in Corinth who are filled with the spirit, but being too filled with the spirt can seem uninviting to a new believer. Sometimes this is even hard to balance in our own Spiritual journey. Paul is calling for “Orderly Worship” in 1 Cor. 14:26-40. Basically Paul is saying that the worship service should follow a “Liturgical Practice/Discipline” We do this in the Episcopal Church. Now, with this said; I want to return briefly to speaking in tongues. Paul says that unless the person who is speaking in tongues can be interpreted by someone else, then the tongue is like “speaking into the air” (1 Cor. 14:9).  I have shared the following story many times: [My wife & I were at a prayer meeting with our friends at a Church in Hagerstown several years ago. A woman who was sitting near us in a very low voice began speaking (At least to me.) in tongues. I could not understand what she was saying. One our way home from that prayer meeting, I asked my wife Melanie; “What was Linda saying, I could not understand a word she said.” To my amazement, my wife said; “You could not hear her – she was saying the Lord’s Prayer.”]  I had a discussion with my friend Gary from this Church in Hagerstown. My friend asked me if anyone in our congregation, or the Episcopal Church spoke in tongues. My answer to him was that because of our strict “Liturgical Structure”, there really is really no time for the Holy Spirit to find time, or a “window of opportunity” to enter a person who may have the Spiritual Gift of tongues.

Notes for Day 172:

Nehemiah 10-12: Nehemiah 10-12 is broken down as such: Nehemiah 10:1-39 (Those who signed the Covenant – A pledge of reform.)  Nehemiah 11:1-24 (How the population of the Israelites at Jerusalem increased.) Nehemiah 11:25-36 (Villages outside Jerusalem). Nehemiah 12:1-26 (A lists of Priests & Levites.) Nehemiah 12:27-43 (Dedication of the Wall of Jerusalem.)  Nehemiah 12:44-47 (Temple responsibilities.) 

Psalm 140: Psalm 140 is about deliverance from enemies. Verse 3, together with vv 9, 11; indicates that the distress of the petitioner  is caused by lies and slander on the part of those who would cause violence.

1 Corinthians 15: 1 Corinthians 15 is one of the optional selected readings that we do at an Episcopal Burial Service. I have preached a Homily on this reading at a funeral I officiated.  1 Corinthians is about the resurrection of Christ, and the resurrection of the dead, and the resurrection of the imperishable body. Paul points out that Jesus had to die in order to be raised again. It is through his (Jesus’) death & resurrection, that we too will be resurrected. Paul says that if we say that this could not happen, then we are misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ (1 Cor. 15:15). Paul says that all things are put under the subjection of God (verse 27), even death & new life. Since all things are put under subjection, even the Incarnate Son (Jesus) was put under God’s subjection. However, this subjection included “a New Adam” (Jesus) who died and was raised from the dead, that we will also share in the resurrection of the new body that was seen in Jesus at the Resurrection!

Notes for Day 173:

Nehemiah 13: Today we finish the Book of Nehemiah. In chapter 13 we read about the “foreigners” (Ammonites & Moabites) being separated from Israel. In chapter 13 we read about the reforms of Nehemiah verses 4-22. Nehemiah saw to it that the Sabbath was brought back to the respect that God intended it to be. In several verses we see the word “remonstrated” (NRSV). To remonstrate; means to forcefully, or aggressively  protest. In Nehemiah 13:23-31, we read again about the “mixed marriages”. These marriages between Jews and the women of Ashod, Ammon, and Moab, were condemned. These “mixed marriages” were also seen as being married to a “foreigner”.

1 Corinthians 16: Today we finish with the First Letter of Paul to the Church in Corinth. Paul talks about his plans for travel (1 Cor. 16:5-12). Paul gives a very good final message in 1 Cor. 16:13. Paul reminds the new converts to do the following: “Be Alert – Stand firm in their faith – Be courageous – Be Strong”  Then in verse 14, Paul tells the Corinthians; “Let all you do be done in love.”.

Notes for Day 174:

Esther 1-3:  Today we begin reading the Book of Esther. The Book of Esther appears in the Hebrew Bible as one of the Five Scrolls read on festivals or commemorative days of the Jewish year. Read at Purim, Esther legitimizes the celebration of the deliverance of Jews from threatened destruction. Purim is a celebration of the deliverance of the Jews from the Ancient Persian Empire that was bent on destroying the Jewish people. We must remember that the Persian Empire, is the present day Iran. The story of Esther is set in the Persian capital of Susa during the early Persian or Hellenistic period (4th Century B.C.). The central figure in Esther is a woman.   In Esther 1, we read that Queen Vashti refused to respond to the King’s orders and appear at his party (Good thing since he had been drinking for 7 days & was drunk – verse 10.) Since Queen Vashti refuses to follow a man’s orders, this upsets King Ahasuerus’ orders. He feels that this will cause all woman to disobey a man’s (Kings) orders. King Ahasuerus then sent letters to all the royal provinces, and to people is its own language; “declaring that every man should be master in his own house.”  The refusal of Queen Vashti to respond to King Ahasuerus’ orders, sets in motion for Esther to become Queen. An order was put out for beautiful young virgins to be sought out for King Ahasuerus. We read in Esther 2, that her cousin Mordecai, ended up raising Esther as his own child since Esther’s parents died. We also read in Esther 2:7 had another name. When the Jews were in Diaspora (displaced), they had both Jewish & non-Jewish name. Hadassah in Hebrew means “Myrtle”.  The girls who would become a Queen had to go through a ritual ceremony. We read in Esther 2:16, that Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus in the 7th year of his reign. This mean it took 4 years for the king to get a queen.  However, you must remember, that Mordecai hid from the king that his queen was a Jew. In Esther 2:19-23, we read that Mordecai discovers a plot of two eunuchs that were going to assassinate King Ahasuerus. Mordecai tells Esther who in turn tells the king (in the name of Mordecai). The two eunuchs are hanged, but Mordecai is never rewarded for the report. In Esther 3, we read about Haman wanting to destroy Mordecai (for not bowing down to him) and all the Jews.

2 Corinthians 1:  Today we begin reading the Second Letter of Paul to the Corinthians. Some Biblical Commentators will say that 2 Corinthians is the most difficult to interpret. They says that Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians is disjointed, or all “over the map”. Instead of pointing out the disjointed parts in this introduction, which could be lengthy, I will allow you to read these disjointed chapters for yourself. As I post the notes on 2 Corinthians, I will stick to the verses & their meanings in relation to the 2nd letter as I feel is important. We could probably spend an entire year trying to “tie” the second letter into the purposes of it’s original intent, and how the key players are mentioned elsewhere in the Pauline Epistles.  The 2nd Letter of Paul to the Church in Corinth focuses around his opponents, his unpleasant 2nd visit to Corinth, and the sin in Corinth. 2 Corinthians 12:20-21 is often called “The Letter of Tears”.  2 Corinthians begins we Paul’s Salutation (verse1-2). In 2 Cor. 1:3-11, we read about Paul’s thanksgiving after affliction. Then in verse 12 – 24, we read that Paul has postponed his visit to Corinth. There is the presumption that Paul may have been “vacillating” (Wavering or changing his mind visiting Corinth.) Paul says that his decisions do not waiver back & forth as humans do. Paul says that there are times to say “Yes” and times to say “No”. Paul says that he has been very decisive in this; he has not said yes & no at the same time. 

Notes for Day 176:

Esther 4-6:  In Esther chapter 4, we read that Esther agrees to help the Jews that were destined to be destroyed as we read in chapter 3. Esther has been very passive up to this point. However, we read in Esther 4:16, that she has transformed to one who is passive & obedient, to one who now is taking charge. She begins to direct the actions of other people. In Esther 5, we read about Esther’s banquet, and also the plans of Haman to hang Mordecai because he he was both a Jew, and Mordecai refused to respect (Stand nor tremble before Haman.) In Esther chapter 6, we read that the king could not sleep, and had records of the annals read to him. In the annals, the king was reminded how Mordecai was the one who told him of the plot to have him assassinated. The king then wanted special robes, a horse, and other honors given to Mordecai. This upset Haman who as we just read was planning on hanging Mordecai. We will then see what happens to Haman in Esther 7.

Psalm 143: Psalm 143 is a prayer for deliverance from enemies.

2 Corinthians 2: In 2 Corinthians 2, we read about Paul’s “painful trip” to Corinth. This was his 2nd trip, and in 2 Cor. 12:14,21; and 13:1, we will read about his 3rd trip. In 2 Cor. 2:5-11, we read about this person who has caused pain. The major goal of Paul is to see reconciliation come to this person. Biblical commentators will say that the person who has caused pain is the person mentioned in 1 Corinthians 5, the man who is living with & having sexual relations with his father’s wife (Probably step-mother.). In 2 Cor. 2:12-17, we read about Paul’s anxiety in Troas.

Notes for Day 177:

Esther 7-8:  In Esther 7, Haman goes to the banquet; Esther tells the king about what Haman was planning to do to Mordecai. Haman is then hung on the gallows that he had originally built to execute Mordecai. Poetic Justice? In Esther chapter 8, we read that the Jews are saved from destruction through the intervention of Esther. 

2 Corinthians 3: In 2 Corinthians 3, we read about the ministers of the New Covenant. The ministers of the New Covenant are not bogged down by laws, or things that are written with ink (2 Cor. 3:3).  Paul points out that the ministers of the New Covenant are directed by the Spirit of the living God (2 Cor. 3:3). Paul goes on to say in verse 3, that the New Covenant ministers no longer follow laws that were written on stone tablets, but the laws that are written on “the tablets of human hearts” (2 Cor. 3:3).  Paul says that this Spirt of the living God; this Spirit of the human heart, is better than a written letter which contains laws. Paul says that the letter kills, but the Spirit lives on. Paul points out in 2 Cor. 3, that the ministry of justification abounds in glory. We remember that we are justified by God through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. It was through Jesus (and Jesus only) that the sins of the world were taken away. The glory of the justification came through the Incarnate Word of God – Jesus.

Notes for Day 178:

Esther 9-10:  Today we finish with the Book of Esther. Esther 9-10 is about the destruction of the enemies of the Jews. In Esther 9:12, we read that the number of those enemies of the Jews killed in the citadel of Susa were 500 people, and also the 10 sons of Haman. We then read that the king allows Esther another wish. One of these wishes by Esther was that she wanted to see the 10 sons of Haman hung on the gallows in verse 13. However, in verse 12, we just read that the 10 sons were already killed. Biblical commentators say that yes, the 10 sons were killed, but Esther wanted their dead bodies to hang in public as a deterrent to others who may want to attack the Jews. Esther 10 is a short chapter. However, the twist that we now see in The Book of Esther is how things changed from chapter 1 to chapter 10. The story in Esther ends as it begins. There is a focus on the greatness of a king. However, the king’s fortunes are now firmly linked to those of Mordecai and the Jews.

2 Corinthians 4: In our reading today from the 4th chapter of 2 Corinthians, we read about how important it is to proclaim the Gospel within an evil world, or against adversaries. 2 Cor. 4:4, says that the god (notice lower case “g”) of this world has blinded the minds & gospel from unbelievers. The glory of Christ, the image of God, is blinded by the god of this world. The god (again, lower case “g”) of this world is Satan. Those of us who know Christ, the image of God, bring light to darkness. In 2 Cor. 4:7, Paul mentions that we have treasure in clay jars. This is about the trials of our ministry. Clay jars are very fragile. Our ministry is very fragile; “We are afflicted in every way….” (2 Cor. 4:8). However, as fragile as our ministry to spread the Gospel can be, Paul reminds us that we cannot be destroyed. In 2 Cor. 4:16-18, Paul says that we live by Faith.

Notes for Day 179:

Job 1-3: For some folks, the Book of Job may be a “hard pill to swallow”. After all, here is a righteous man who did what was right in the eyes of God, and many bad things come to him. These bad things come to him by the permission of God to Satan. The central theme of Job is the disinterested righteousness. At stake in Job is the survival of religion, and the service to God without any intended reward, or as some Biblical commentators will say; “A carrot on a stick.”. You will gather very quickly that a secondary theme in this book involves “innocent suffering”.  The structure of Job involves a poetic debate. There is much going back & forth. Job is tested by his faith through the loss of his family, the loss of his live stock, and with a disease. The setting of Job is set in the prepatriarchal period when such heroes such as Noah, Daniel, and Job are thought to have lived. Job’s possession which are not gold & silver attest to this period because he had cattle & servants. The dating of the Book of Job  appears to be around the late 6th century to early 5th century B.C. Another reason for this possible dating are the use of the Persian nomenclature of officials. We begin reading in Job 1, that he has a very set pattern of life, a habitual conduct of a righteous man (Job 1:5 – This is always what Job did.) Job had 7 sons & 3 daughters, that he would soon lose, as well as all his live stock. In Job 2, when Job’s health is “attacked”, Job’s wife suggest that he commit euthanasia (suicide); “…Curse God & die.” Job misunderstands his wife’s “suggestion” and says that he is to receive both the Good & Bad from God. In Job 3, Job has this poetic dialogue where he curses the day that he was born.

2 Corinthians 5: 2 Corinthians 5 is about living by Faith, and the ministry of reconciliation.  Paul refers to our earthly bodies as the “earthly tent”. Paul says that our “earthly tent” which we live in will be destroyed. After our bodies are destroyed, we will receive a “perfect body” that is truly made from God’s hands. Paul reminds us who are believers, that we “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7). Paul also says that ALL will appear before the judgement seat of Christ, both the good & evil.

Notes for Day 180:

Job 4-6: In Job 4, we read about one of Job’s “friends”, Eliphaz, coming to Job and saying how he sinned. In Job 4:10-11, we see 5 different words for “lion”: 1.) Roar of the lion 2.) Young lion 3.) Fierce lion 4.) Strong lion 5.) Lioness  In Job 5, God corrects Job’s complaining. I want to point our Job 5:7. Here is one example of God explaining “Original Sin”:  “…but human beings are born to trouble just s sparks fly upward”.  In Job 6, Job replies that his complaint is just.

2 Corinthians 6:  In our reading today, Paul tells the Church at Corinth that turning to Jesus is important, now it is the time; “See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation.”  Paul tells the Corinthians that he is being frank to them, he & his other disciples have rendered a wide “open heart” to them (2 Cor. 6:11). In 2 Corinthians 6:14, Paul says that there is a mismatch of believers with unbelievers; this “partnership” will not work. To say that believers & unbelievers can coexist, is like saying that light & darkness are alike. Paul asks what does a believer & unbeliever share (2 Cor. 6:15).

Notes for Day 181:

Job 7-9: In Job 7, we hear that Job feels that his suffering is without any end in sight. Job begins in verse 1 with; “Do not human beings have a hard service on earth, and are not their days like the days of a laborer?”. To somewhat understand the perspective that Job is coming from; in the Mesopotamian creation account “Enuma Elish”, human beings were created for the purpose of menial service to the gods. In Job 7:14, we read about Job’s bad dreams. Both Sirach and the Wisdom of Solomon emphasize God’s use of psychological torment through nightmares to punish the wicked (e.g. Sirach 40:1-10, Wisdom 18:17-19).  In Job 8, Bildad speaks, and says that Job needs to repent. In Job 9, Job replies that there is no mediator. 

2 Corinthians 7: In 2 Corinthians 7, Paul is very pleased that the Church at Corinth has sought repentance.  In 2 Cor. 7:5; Paul talks about his bad experience that he had in Macedonia. Paul warns that in 2 Cor. 7:10, worldly grief produces death, but godly grief produces repentance that heals to salvation and brings no regret (2 Cor. 7:10).

Notes for Day 183:

Job 10-12: In Job 10, we read how Job loathes (hates) his life. Two verses really jump out in Job 10: “Bold as a lion you hunt me; you repeat your exploits against me,…” (verse 16).  “Why did you bring me forth from the womb? Would that I died before any eye had seen me,…” (verse 18).   In Job 11, Jobs friend, Zophar, says that Job’s guilt deserves punishment. Verse 12 tells how impossible it is for a man to have the knowledge of God; “But a stupid person will get understanding, when a wild ass is born human.”  In Job 12, Job replies that he is nothing but a “laughing stock”.

2 Corinthians 8:  In 2 Corinthians 8, Paul talks about being generous with what you have. Paul says that you are to be happy with what you have, not be upset with what you do not have. In 2 Cor 8:12, Paul advocates self-sufficiency, having enough. But, Paul, goes on to say something more about sufficient wealth & fair balance:  “I do not mean that there should be relief for others and pressure on you, but it is a question of a fair balance between your present abundance and their need, so that their abundance may be for your need, in order that there may be a fair balance. As it is written, ‘The one who had much did not have too much, and the one who had little did not have too little.”  (2 Cor. 8:13-15). These verses could be interpreted as Paul advocating “Socialism”, but he is not. However, what Paul is saying is that if one has excess gifts (wealth), they should understand that these gifts come from God and should share their gifts with those who have little. A modern day example of this would be supporting the United Way campaign, or contributing to the Salvation Army Christmas Kettle Drive, or some other entity. Take a look back at Exodus 16:18.  But also, Paul is saying that those who have little are to reciprocate with sharing as well. 

Notes for Day 184:

Job 13-15: In Job 13, we see that Job turns more to address God, than he does of his friends responses. In Job 14, Job only talks about God. We will not see Job “talking to God” until we get to chapters 40 & 42.  In Job 15, we read that Eliphaz refers to Job talking from an “East Wind”. The wind from the east came from the desert and was hot. Eliphaz accuses Job of talking with “hot air”.

Psalm 150: Today we finish reading the Psalter. Psalm 150 is about praise for all of God’s greatness. Psalm 150 says that all creation is called to glorify God.

2 Corinthians 9: In 2 Corinthians 9, we read that familiar verse about what we sow, we will also reap (2 Cor. 9:6). If we sow abundantly, we will also reap abundantly. Paul is saying that if we give abundantly from our gifts, we will also receive abundance. This message is a good message for Church Stewardship. I have heard many stories from people who have received abundant rewards because they tithe (10 percent) to the Church. We again read in 2 Corinthians 9 about sharing one’s gifts. Paul in 2 Corinthians 9:8, is not saying that because you have wealth you are bad, Paul says this is a positive thing. Paul does reemphasize that your financial gifts are a blessing from God (2 Cor. 9:8). We are to share our gifts abundantly in every good work (2 Cor. 9:8). Take a look at Paul’s Letter to the Hebrews 13:15-16. You may also have heard Hebrews as an Offertory Sentence in Church. Look at the book of Common Prayer, page 377.

Notes for Day 185:

Job 16-18:  In Job 16, Job reaffirms his innocence. In Job 17, we see Job praying for relief. Then in Job 18, we read where Bildad speaks, and says that God punishes the wicked. The last verse of Job 18, verse 21, is very compelling & true, is it not?

2 Corinthians 10:  In 2 Corinthians 10, we read about Paul defending his ministry. As you have heard me say many times; the Apostle Paul always seems to be settling conflict in the Church, or validating who he is. However, getting back to the point that Paul is trying to settle in 2 Cor. 10.  Paul says that in ministry, we are not to compare ourselves against another person who is doing the work of Christian ministry. Nor; are we in ministry supposed to compare our DNA against another person’s DNA, even among those who are just in Church to worship:  “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another, and compare themselves with one another, they do not show good sense. We, however, will not boast beyond limits, but will keep within the field that God has assigned to us, to reach out even as far as you.”  (2 Cor. 10:12-13) It was a standard practice in antiquity to compare and classify someone with people people of superior worth and to measure that person’s achievements against those of others. We often see this in some Episcopal Churches during their search process for a new Rector. As we have seen in the broader Church; a clergy person who has “lofty titles”, etc.,  does not always bring a grounded Pastoral ministry.

Notes for Day 186:

Job 19-21: In Job 19, Job replies that “My Redeemer Lives”. In our reading from Job 19, I want to point out how our Book of Common Prayer (BCP) is filled with 80% of the material straight from scripture. This is also why it is important to study the Old Testament, where Job comes from. In Job 19:25-27, we read the following: “5For I know that my Redeemer lives, and that at the last he will stand upon the earth; 26and after my skin has been thus destroyed, then in my flesh I shall see God, 27whom I shall see on my side, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me!”  Now take a look at the Burial Rite in the Book of Common Prayer – Page #469 Rite I & Page 491 Rite II. The 2nd anthem on these two pages is from Job 19. In Job 20, Zophar speaks, and says that those full of wickedness will receive judgement. Zophar points out that the godless may receive joy, but only for a short time (Job 19:5).  In Job 19:6, Zophar eludes to the Tower of Babel which we read in Genesis 11:1-9, remember the Tower of Babel? This is when God “confused” the languages, i.e. “Babeling”.  In Job 21; Job replies about how he thinks the wicked often go unpunished.

2 Corinthians 11: In 2 Corinthians today, we read about Paul talking about false apostles (2 Cor. 11:1-15). In 2 Cor. 11:16-33, Paul talks about his sufferings. In 2 Cor. 11:23-25, Paul is specific about two types of floggings, or beatings he received. The Romans beat with rods (Acts 16:22-23), the Jewish used lashes (Deuteronomy 25:3); for the stoning look at Acts 14:19.

Notes for Day 187:

Job 22-24:   In Job 22, Eliphaz says that Job’s wickedness is great. In Job 23, Job replies to Eliphaz that his (Job’s) complaint is bitter (Job 23:2). In Job 24, Job complains of violence on the earth.

2 Corinthians 12: In 2 Corinthians 12:1- 10, Paul talks about visions & revelations. In 2 Cor. 12:2-4, the person that Paul talks about in the third person is actually himself. Paul is the one who was caught up into the third heaven. In 2 Corinthians 12:11-21, Paul has concern for the Church in Corinth as he prepares for his third visit.  Paul lays out these concerns, actually fears, in 2 Corinthians 12:20-21. Do we in today’s church have the same problems that Paul talks about in verse 20-21, particularly, verse 20?

Notes for Day 188:

2 Job 25-27: Job 25 is very short. Bildad speaks and asked the following question: How can a mortal be righteous before God? In Job 26, Job says that God’s majesty is “unsearchable”. In Job 26:6, we hear the word “Abaddon”. Abaddon most likely comes from the Hebrew word “perishing”. In Job 26:7, we hear the word “Zaphon”. Zaphon; in the Canaanite mythology was a mountain in the north on which gods (esp. Baal) dwelt, like Mount Olympus in Greek literature.In Job 27, Job maintains his integrity.

2 Corinthians 13: In 2 Corinthians 13, the final chapter of 2 Corinthians, Paul gives a stern warning to the Church in Corinth. Paul says that on this third visit, he will not be as lenient against their distrust in him (2 Cor. 13:2-3). 

Notes for Day 190:

Job 28-30: In Job 28, there is an “interlude” with Job comparing God’s wisdom to searching for gold. However, Job says that God’s wisdom outweighs any gold or fine pearls. The price of God’s wisdom is above pearls (Job 28:18). Do you find it interesting that the industry of mining (going under the ground) occurred during Job’s time?  In Job 29-30, Job finishes his “defense” and wishes for the days that are past. Jobs wishes in chapter 29 that he could go back to the way it was for him. In Job 29, Job wishes to go back to the days when he helped many people, especially the poor. However, in Job 30:1-15, it seems that Job has a disdain for those he helped, particularly the poor.  But in Job 30:25, Job’s attitude against the poor changes.

Galatians 1: Today we begin with the Letter of Paul to the Galatians. Paul finds himself writing to the Churches in Galatia in reference to another conflict. The conflict seems to be over those Jewish converts who still believe that the gentiles have to go through the Jewish rituals of inclusion into God’s covenant, particularly, circumcision. Paul also feels that some are reading a different Gospel (1:6). He sees these people as agitators (5:12) and troublemakers who want to pervert the Gospel of Christ (1:7). Paul insist that righteousness (right covenant relation with God) depends not on observance of Jewish law, but on God’s promise and its fulfillment through the death of Jesus Christ (2:21; 3:18,29).  In Galatians 1, Paul again has to verify how he is a real “Apostle of Christ”. Paul mentions how he used to be a strong follower of the Jewish order, but was changed upon his encounter with Jesus. Paul mentions that he only seeks God’s approval (Galatians 1:10).  Paul says that if he was only trying to please people, then he would not be a servant of Christ (Gal. 1:10). I do not mean to sound arrogant, but as a Priest, this is my thought process. I am not called to totally say things, or do things that always make people feel happy. There are the times that I will preach or say things that some folks do not want to hear. However, my first priority is to be true to my calling, the Gospel, and the Inspired Word of God, i.e. Holy Bible. I have to seeks God’s approval first for what I do (Galatians 1:10). The human approval for what I do in my Priestly ministry is important; but I should not allow myself to be totally consumed by the indifference of a few who prefer to devour me (Galatians 5:15).

Notes for Day 191:

Job 31-33: The theme of Job’s defense continues in Job 31. Job 31 deals more with ten abbreviated oaths and three full oaths. In job 31:5-40, Job has his confessions of innocence. The term “grind” in Job 31:10, has sexual overtones. In Job 32, Elihu, son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, becomes angry. He is angry at Job because he justified himself rather than God; he was angry also at Job’s three friends because they found no answer against Job (Job 32:1-3). Elihu’s big problem with Job and his three friends is that he sees himself as being young & not allowed to express his opinion (Job 32:8-10). Elihu feels that age is not as important as having the spirit of God within your person. In Job 33, Elihu rebukes Job. Elihu speaks from the spirit of God (Job 33:4).

Galatians 2: In Galatians 2:11-14, we read where Paul rebukes Peter (Cephas – Rock) at Antioch (City with large Jewish population.) Paul says that a person is justified, not by their works of the law, but faith in Jesus Christ (Gal. 2:15-16). Paul points out that by following certain laws & customs (Jewish – ex. circumcision) does not bring your closer to justification before God.

Notes for Day 192:

Job 34-36:  In Job 43, we read where Elihu proclaims God’s justice. I believe that verse 30 of Job really stands out; “…so that the godless should not reign, or those who ensnare the people.” In Job 35, Elihu condemns self-righteousness. In Job 36, Elihu exalts God’s goodness. Elihu says how important it is to hear God, hear his words, and serve him; “If they listen, and serve him, they complete their days in prosperity, and their eyes in pleasantness. But if they do not listen, they shall perish by the sword, and die without knowledge.” (Job 36:11-12)

Galatians 3: Galatians 3 is really a simple message from Paul. Paul says that those who live by the works of the law only, and not by faith “are under a curse” (Gal. 3:10) Paul is trying to point out again in verse 11, that no one is justified before God by the law only. Again, I bring into today’s notes my comparison of Augustine’s “City of God/City of Man”. Those who are so tuned into the works of the law, are following the “City of Man”.  Those who also place a strong emphasis on their faith are following the “City of God”.

Notes for Day 193:

Job 37-39: In Job 37, Elihu continues to exalt god’s goodness. Finally, in Job 38, God answers Job “out of a whirlwind…”. This diatribe from God continues into Job 39. All I can say is; “Never think you can argue with God!”. Wow!!

Galatians  4: In Galatians chapter 4, Paul reproves the Galatians. In Gal. 4:8-11, Paul characterizes the Galatians’ interest in Jewish as a return to bondage equivalent to their state as pagans. It is at this point that Paul questions whether his work was for naught; “You are observing special days, and months, and seasons, and years. I am afraid that my work for you may have been waisted.” (Galatians 4:10-11). We then read in Galatians 4:21-30, an allegory of Hagar & Sarah. Paul relates these two incidents of Abraham’s two son’s, one to Hagar (Son – Ishmael), and the other to his wife Sarah (Son – Isaac) as two different covenants. The covenant that God made to Abraham when he gave him Ishmael was through the flesh (Law), and the birth of Isaac was born through the promise. We also know, as discussed before; that it is through these two sons from Abraham, that causes some of the conflict between Christians & Muslims.

Notes for Day 194:

Job 40-42:  In today’s readings from Job, we finally close out the Book of Job.  In Job 40, Job has his initial response to God in verses 1-5. Then in Job 40:6, God challenges Job again in a “whirlwind”. I like the familiar saying in Job 40:7; “Gird up your loins like a man…”.  Go get’im God! In Job 40 & 41, I want you to look at two words; “Behemoth” and “Leviathan”. In this Biblical setting, Behemoth is identified as a hippopotamus, and Leviathan as a crocodile. Finally in Job 42, Job is humbled, and everything is restored to him by God; even Job’s three daughters are the most beautiful them in the land (Job 42:15) However, God humiliates Job’s “friends”, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. 

Galatians 5: The purpose of Paul’s letter to the Galatians in chapter 5, was to explain the nature of “Christian Freedom”. Christian freedom comes from the “Law of Love”, not from the “Law of Man”. Paul again points out the unnecessary custom of circumcision. The familiar verse is Galatians 5:6; “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything; the only thing that counts is faith working through love.” Paul also points out that the Spirit does not work through the gratification of the flesh. We know that the flesh causes all evil desires, and Paul points this out in Galatians 5:16-17.

Notes for Day 195:

Proverbs 1-3: Today we begin with the Book of Proverbs, probably one of the most quoted books, outside of the quotes from Jesus in the New Testament. I personally like the flow of Proverbs. In a way, Proverbs has a “inviting” flow of writing, similar to The Wisdom of Solomon from the Apocrypha. The authorship of Proverbs was traditionally attributed to Solomon, as were Ecclesiastes (Sirach), and the Song of Solomon. Both of the previous mentioned books are from the Deutercanonical Books (Apocrypha). However, as we know from some of the Pauline Letters; some are pseudonymously written.  The ascription to Solomon, however, is an honorary one. The final stages of composition of Proverbs & editing occurred much later, probably during the Persian or Hellenistic (Greek speaking Jews.) period, 5th to 3rd century B.C. The leading ideas in Proverbs are the acquisition of wisdom and the avoidance of folly. We read much about wisdom from a woman’s perspective. This female imagery begins in Chapters 1-9, and ends in chapter 31. An example is what we see in Proverbs 1:8. Proverbs 1:8-19 is a warning against evil companions. Proverbs 1:20-33 is about the call of wisdom. In Proverbs 2, we read about the value of wisdom. In Proverbs 3:1-12, we read about the admonition to trust & honor God. Proverbs 3:13-20 is about True Wealth. Proverbs 3:19-20 talks about God’s wisdom in creation. Proverbs 3:21-35 is about true security.

Galatians 6: In Galatians 6, Paul gives a general exhortation, stressing mutual responsibility within the Church. Paul’s final admonition & benediction at the end of Galatians 6 is very moving; “From now on, let no one make trouble for me; for I carry the marks of Jesus branded on my body.”  Paul is talking about the “scars” he has incurred in his mission to service Christ.  What “scars” do you think you may have incurred, physical or mental, serving Christ?

Notes for Day 197:

Proverbs 4-6: Proverbs 4 is about parental wisdom. In Proverbs 4 & also in Proverbs 5, we read about this “Strange Woman”. It is in talking about the evil’s of having an affair with the “Strange Woman” that we learn to keep the right path, and are warned against impurity and infidelity. Remember the movie “Fatal Attraction”; starring Michael Douglas & Glenn Close, that came out in1987?  The warning given in Proverbs 5:3-5 could be entered during the rolling credits at the end of this movie, as a warning to some men. In Proverbs 6:16-19, you read something that I have preached on before; the 6 things that the LORD hates, and the 7th which is an abomination. 

Ephesians 1: The Letter of Paul to the Ephesians, seems to be directed towards the Gentiles (2:11; 3:1). But; Paul points out that these Gentiles no longer live as aliens, they are no longer strangers to the promises of the covenant (2:12-13).  The purpose of God’s plans and his purpose are outlined in Ephesians. It is possible that this Pauline letter was written in the late third of the 1st Century A.D. It is very possible because of the style and phrasing of this letter, whether Paul actually wrote it.  Ephesians 1:3-14, talks about our Spiritual Blessings in Christ. Ephesians 1:15-23, is a prayer for the Ephesians from Paul.

Notes for Day 198:

Proverbs 7-9: Proverbs 7 is about the false attractions of adultery, and an affair with a woman “decked out as a prostitute” (Proverbs 7:10). Biblical commentators say that the term “sister” in Proverbs 7:4; does not mean a biological sister, but it is a term of endearment for a lover. Proverbs 7 talks about this Strange Woman luring a man to her house, while her husband is away on a long journey. Proverbs 8 is about a poetic personification of Wisdom, that stands in contrast to the Strange Woman’s allures. Proverbs 9 is broken down into 3 short segments: Wisdom’s Feast (1-6); General Maxims (7-12) Folly’s Invitation and Promise (13-18)

Ephesians 2: In Ephesians 2, Paul talks about going from “Death to Life” This death came through the Ephesians “trespasses” and “sins” by following the courses of this world (Ephesians 2:2). However, by the Grace of Jesus, and their faith in him, they now live (Ephesians 2:8). Paul reminds the Ephesians that they are now “One in Christ” (Ephesians 2:11-22).

Notes for Day 199:

Proverbs 10-12:  In Proverbs 10, we have the “Wise Sayings of Solomon”. Proverbs 10, has moved away from the previous composition of style to what is known as “parallelism”. We will actually see these antithetic parallelisms (the second line contrasts with the first) from Proverbs 10:1-15:33.  What does Proverbs say about the wicked in 11:21? What does Proverbs say about those who speak “evil” against another, or “trash talk” in Proverbs 12:13?

Ephesians 3: In Ephesians 3, Paul’s ministry to the Gentiles is clearer. With this said, Paul’s status, and the mission of the Church are shown to be in line with God’s eternal plan. 

Notes for Day 200:

Proverbs 13-15: In Proverbs 13, the sages talk about how important it is to listen wisely, and use proper language. In Proverbs 14, we again have the “Wise Woman” sayings. In Proverbs 15, we read that judgement of the righteous and wicked is expected in this world. In Proverbs 15:20 we read that a “wise child makes a father glad, but the foolish child despises their mother”.  

Ephesians 4: In Ephesians 4, Paul talks about the unity in the body of Christ. Where have you heard Ephesians 4:4-5?  Look at the bottom of page #299 of The Book of Common Prayer. Ephesians 4:17-24 is about the Old Life & the New Life in Christ. In Ephesians 4:25-32; Paul talks about the rules for the New Life in Christ.

Notes for Day 201:

Proverbs 16-19: Just a few notes from our readings today from Proverbs: In Proverbs 16:6, we hear what happens when one fears the LORD.  In Proverbs 16:28 we hear what a person is who spreads lies, or causes strife by their lies – they are considered “Perverse”. In Proverbs 19:5-9; we have what is known as a “doublet”. These two verses (5 & 9) are identical. In Proverbs 19:16, we read about what happens to those who keep the commandment, and those who don’t.

Ephesians 5: In Ephesians 5:3-20, Paul points out those things that are considered pagan ways. Paul calls the Christians to renounce these pagan ways; he even says that these vices should not even be mentioned. In Ephesians 5:5, Paul, aligns greed with idolatry. A lover of money or possessions is considered an idolater; the things that take you away from Loving or Serving the Lord. Now, I know Ephesians 5:21-33, will raise some discussion among our woman. In these verses, Paul talks about the Christian household, and how the wives are subject to their husbands. Some Biblical commentators will say that the issue wives being subject to their husbands does not totally call for subjection. In 1 Corinthians 11:3; Paul mentions that the husband is the “head of his wife”. Some Biblical commentators say that the word “head” actually connotes “source”. With this said, husbands are to be considered the source of their wives survival, meaning that they are to care, love, and protect their wives. Now, getting back to Ephesians 5. If we only dwell on these verses as we read them, then the husband is the head of the household, but with this position, comes an ultimate responsibility. Paul says that the husband is to love their wives, just as Christ loves the Church. The husbands are to love their wives, just as much as they do for their own bodies.  Now, here is a good time for me to mention a little more about the pseudonymous written letters, over the actual Pauline Epistles. The following Epistles (Letters) of Paul are considered to be “pseudonymous” letters (Written by someone other than Paul):  Colossians; Ephesians; 2nd Thessalonians; 1st & 2nd Timothy; Titus (these 3 are called the Pastoral Letters of Paul); and Hebrews. The reason I now bring this up, is that none of the undisputed (Those believed to have been actually written by Paul) Pauline Epistles, call for the subjection of wives.

Notes for Day 202:

Proverbs 20-22: In Proverbs 21, we read about the problem with living with a “not so nice woman”: “It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than to live in a house shared with a contentious wife.” (Proverbs 21:9)  “It is better to live in a desert land than with a contentious and fretful wife.” (Proverbs 21:19) 

Ephesians 6: In our last chapter of Ephesians; we read about the relationship of children to their parents in the Christian family. Children are to honor their father & mother. Fathers are to instruct their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). We are reminded of the times in history that the Pauline letters were written. Ephesians 6:5-9, talks about the relationship that is expected between slaves & masters. Finally; in Ephesians 6:10- 17; we have those famous scripture verses of “Putting on the Whole Armor of God”.

Notes for Day 204:

Proverbs 23-25: Proverbs 23:1-8 is a warning against socializing or associating with “social betters”. Proverbs 23:13 says that it is OK to discipline your children; this is almost like the “Spare the Rod, spoil the child” saying; “Do not hold discipline from your children; if you beat them with a rod, they will not die.” (Proverbs 23:13). I can say that I never beat my children with a rod, but my dad smack my bottom with a fly swatter. Proverbs 23:22 is about the importance of listening to your parents. In Proverbs 24, we read about “taking the high road” away from our enemies or evildoers; whether they are doing us harm, or we see them getting their justice for doing wrong.  Proverbs 24:18 says that when these evildoers are getting their justice, God’s anger is on them; allow God to continue his “work” on them & do not intervene by rejoicing, move away from it. If we focus our “delight” on God getting justice against our enemies or evildoers, then God (LORD) we see that, and begin to turn his anger away from them, and focus on us. Proverbs 24:19-20 says that evildoers have no future. Proverbs 25:24, is a repeat of Proverbs 21:9.

Today, we begin with the Letter of Paul to the Philippians. Paul wrote to the Christians in the city of Philippi, a Roman colony.  In Philippians, Paul writes that he is in prison.  We know that Paul was frequently imprisoned for doing his ministry. Some Biblical scholars will say that Paul was imprisoned 7 times, but the locations are not known. Acts identifies three imprisonments of Paul: Philippi (Acts 16:23-40); Caesarea (23:233-26:32); Rome (28:16-31). We are not sure where Paul was imprisoned when he wrote to the Philippians, but the three possible scenarios & dates are: From Ephesus (mid 50’s); Caesarea (late 50’s); or Rome (early 60’s). The content of some of Paul’s letter to the Philippians is to thank them for their concern and help. Paul is saying that the Gospel is advancing in spite of his imprisonment (1:12-18). However, as is the case with much of Paul’s work, he has to quell conflict in the Church. Paul is disappointed at the dissension among the Philippians (2:2-4; 4:2-3). He worries about certain people he calls “dogs”, “evil workers”, and “enemies of the cross of Christ”.  In Philippians 1:15-16; Paul claims that some proclaim christ for the wrong reasons, but others proclaim Christ from goodwill. In Philippians 1:27, Paul reminds them to live their lives “worthy of the Gospel of Christ”.

Notes for Day 205:

Proverbs 26-28: Proverbs 26-28 continues with the the problems of “fools” and the need for right wisdom.

Philippians 2: Some of the most recognized & powerful verse comes from Philippians 2. Look at Philippians 2:5-11. If there were ever any verses to try & remember, these are it. The verse; “…so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend…” is the verse that I normally use in Confirmation class when I talk about genuflection (Profound – knee to ground; Simple – bend at the waist.) when you hear the name Jesus mentioned. In Philippians 2:1-18; Paul talks about us imitating Christ’s humility. In Philippians 2:19-30, Paul talks about sending Timothy (Who is like a son to him.) to the Philippians. Timothy is one of Paul’s closest companions, and is known by the Philippians. Paul introduces Epaphroditus with 3 lavish terms: brother, co-worker, and fellow soldier (Philippians 2:25). He is also identified as a messenger and minister (Philippians 2:25).

Notes for Day 206:

Proverbs 29-31: We finally close out Proverbs today. There are no notes for these last three chapters of Proverbs.

Philippians 3: In Philippians 3, Paul warns them about being around those who may be considered “dangerous” to the Church. Paul points out that, yes, he even had a strong Jewish background (Phil. 3:4-6). But, Paul considers his past a “lost” because of Jesus (Phil. 3:8). But Paul see this as a “good loss” (Phil. 3:12-14). In Philippians 3, Paul is saying that in order to fully follow Christ, you must change and move forward, not backwards, or with the popular saying; “We have always done it that way.” Paul does remind the Philippians to hold fast to what they have attained (Phil. 3:16). However, this holding fast to what they have attained is not a building, or special piece of furniture. Holding fast is holding to the Word of God, holding to the Incarnate Word of God – Jesus; holding to the Gospel.

Notes for Day 207:

Ecclesiastes 1-3: Ecclesiastes is the Latin transcription of the Greek translation of the Hebrew Qoheleth, or “Preacher”. Qoheleth urges readers to take joy in what they have and to fear God despite knowing that “for everything there is a season” (Ecc. 3:1).  The dating of Ecclesiastes is probably between the 5th & 3rd Centuries B.C. The 5th Century B.C, was a period of commercialization and the standardization of currency. This was a time when not everyone benefited equally.  Ecclesiastes focuses upon the limits and contradictions of life in order to teach wisdom. Ecclesiastes reminds the readers the even the best life is limited in knowledge, virtue, and power. Life is troubled by evil and injustice, and ultimately ends in death.   In Ecclesiastes we read those all too familiar verses (Ecc. 3:1-8) of “Everything has its time.”. In Ecclesiastes 3:16-22, we read that the judgement and future belongs to God. There is the mention that we as humans and animals both breath & die. It is not known as to whether both our (animal/human) souls go to the same place; but I believe they do.

Philippians 4: Today we close out Paul’s letter to the Philippians. I am sure that the Exhortation Paul gives in Philippians 4:2-9, may sound very familiar to you; if not parts of it. You hear part of it in my weekly Blessing after Communion.

Notes for Day 208:

Ecclesiastes 4-6: In our readings today from Ecclesiastes, will continue in the “Preachers” warning against vanity. In Ecclesiastes 4:9-16, we read about the value of a friend; “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up the other; but woe to the one who is alone and falls and does not have another to help.” (Ecc.4:9-10).  Ecclesiastes 5:1-20 deals with reverence, humility, and contentment. We read about how the love of money & wealth is vanity; “The lover of money will not be satisfied with money; nor the lover of wealth, with gain. This also is vanity.” (Ecc. 5:10).

Colossians 1:  Today we begin reading the Letter of Paul to the Colossians. Biblical scholars believe that this is also a pseudonymous written letter (Written by someone other than the penned author.) The Biblical commentators say that the letter is comprised of long, complex sentences. The reason for this letter deals with the Colossians Christological dispute over whether what has already been accomplished in Christ has actually and completely liberated the believers from the powers of the universe and has given them access to God. Basically, has there been Sanctification for man kind through Jesus? In Colossians we read about how Baptism is analogous to death (burial) and resurrection (Colossians 2:20 – 3:5). Some may have heard me preach on this during a burial service. We also hear this during our Baptism service from the Book of Common Prayer page #306. The date and place of writing of Colossians cannot be determined. The letter portrays Paul as bing imprisoned. It is possible the letter was written in the mid-60s A.D. In Colossians 1, Paul thanks God for the Colossians. In Colossians 1:15-20, we have what is referred to as the “Christ Hymn”. This “Christ Hymn” is the bulwark of the Letter to the Colossians.

Notes for Day 209:

Ecclesiastes 7-9:  Ecclesiastes 7:1-14 deals with the disillusioned view of life. It seems that the “Preacher” has a “half-empty” view of life. In Ecclesiastes 7:1-6, these verses (sayings) encapsulate much of Qoheleth’s (Preacher’s) wisdom: Joy in life without awareness of vanity and death is folly. Ecclesiastes 7:15-29 deals with the “riddles of life”; the normal, casual sequence of good actions leading to good consequences, and evil to evil sometimes fails. In Ecclesiastes 8:10-17, we read that God’s ways are inscrutable. Ecclesiastes points out that sinners do evil a hundred times, and prolong their lives, yet, it is because they fear God, and stand in fear of him, it will be well with them. However, the wicked will not prolong their days because they do not fear God. In Ecclesiastes 9:1-11, we read that we are to take life as it comes. Eccl. 9:1-3, basically says that all people will receive the same fate. Death comes to both the righteous & wicked.

Colossians 2:   A couple of the key points in Colossians 2:  1.) The fullness of life in Christ. Again, we see that we were buried with Christ in our Baptism (Colossians 2:12)  

2.) Warnings against false teachers, and living to the world through unnecessary rituals & regulations (Colossians 2:20-23).

Notes for Day 211:

Ecclesiastes 10-12:  Today we closeout The Book of Ecclesiastes. In Ecclesiastes 10, the writer points to miscellaneous observations of fools and wise people. Ecclesiastes 11 is about the value of diligence (1-6), and a comparison of the youth and old age (7-10). In Ecclesiastes 12:1-8 we read a prose poem on death variously read as a house falling to pieces. The image is of a funeral passing, or an allegory of aging. Ecclesiastes 12 begins that you should enjoy your life in your younger years, before the days of trouble come. In all the “negativity” that we have read in The Book of Ecclesiastes, the book does end on a positive note – for those who fear (respect) God (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).

Colossians 3: In our reading today from Colossians 3; we are told how to live a new life in Christ. We are told that since we live not in the body of Christ; we are to seek the things that are above, where Christ is (Col. 3:1-3). We are to “put to death”, the specified sins in verse 5. For those who cannot put these sins away – they will receive the wrath of God. There are other behaviors that we as followers of Christ must also get rid of (Col. 3:8-9). We then move to the other ways that we as Christians are to be recognized, and behave: Compassion; kindness; humility; meekness; patience; forgiveness; clothed with love; Peace of Christ in our hearts; be thankful; sing psalms & hymns; and sing piritual songs to God (Col.  3:12-16)  

Notes for Day 212:

Song of Songs (a.k.a. The Song of Solomon; Canticles, and “the Song”) – 1-3:  The Song of Solomon, and from here on out during our time with this reading; I will refer to it simply as “the Song”; has been understood in radically different ways. In the traditional Jewish understanding, the Song is a religious allegory recounting God’s love for Israel, and the history of their relationship. For Christians it is an allegory of Christ’s love for the Church.  According to another theory, the Song is, or at least derived from a scared marriage liturgy, a Mesopotamian ritual of marriage between two Gods.  Some Biblical scholars believe the Song is a product of deliberate artistry, perhaps composed by a professional singer for entertainment festivities. Like Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, the Song is attributed to Solomon. The dating for the Song is uncertain, since there is nothing to tie it to a specific historical setting.  Other than the introductory notes to the Song, I have no additional comments to make for chapters 1-3.

Colossians 4: In our final chapter of Colossians, Paul gives further instructions and his final greetings & benediction.

Notes for Day 213:

Song of Songs 4-6:  No notes for today.

1 Thessalonians 1: Today we begins reading Paul’s letters to the Church in Thessalonica, a port city located on the northern shore of the Aegean Sea. Paul wrote 1 Thessalonians, the oldest book in the New Testament. There is doubt as to whether Paul actually wrote 2 Thessalonians. The circumstances of the letter (1 Thessalonians) is that Paul had a bad experience in Philippi (2:2 & Acts 16:11-40). After this bad experience in Philippi, Paul; Slivanus; and Timothy came to Thessalonica. They soon founded a Church there. Intense opposition from the Jewish community forced them to leave (Acts 17:1-10). Timothy went back to Thessalonica after leaving at Paul’s request to gain information on the Church at Thessalonica. Timothy’s report to Paul about the Church in Thessalonica stimulated Paul to write 1 Thessalonians from Corinth about 51 A.D. The style of 1 Thessalonians is Pastoral in nature, with a warm tone. In 1 Thessalonians 1, Paul addresses the Thessalonians about their faith and good Christian example 

Notes for Day 214:

Song of Songs 7-8: No notes for today

1 Thessalonians 2: In 1 Thessalonians 2, Paul talks about his courage to to declare the Gospel, even when he was being mistreated for doing it. In fact he says he was “shamefully mistreated” in Philippi, but he pressed on (verse 2). Paul also points out in 1 Thessalonians 2:4, that God approves him to be “entrusted” to carry the message of the Gospel for what reason? Not to please mortals, but to please God. Paul also points out that to be a minister of the Gospel, one does not do so in order to seek praise from mortals (verse 6). I am also intrigued by what Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 2:13. This somewhat plays into the arguments that we have in the Church over the inerrancy of scripture. Most evangelicals & Evangelical Anglicans/Episcopalians believe in Biblical inerrancy (The doctrine that the Bible means what it says and is free from error or liberal interpretation.) Paul says that the Thessalonians in verse 13 accepted their message as what? – God’s Word! Exactly. 

Notes for Day 215:

Isaiah 1-3: The Book of Isaiah is the work of multiple people and time periods. These different writers (prophets) ministered at different periods in the history of Israel. There are three main sections in the Book of Isaiah: Chapters 1-39, referred to as First Isaiah and attributed in  general to the 8th century B.C. Judean prophet in whose name the book bears. Chapters 40-55, referred to a Second Isaiah, and is attributed to an unknown prophet who lived in Babylon during the Babylonian exile of the 6th century. Chapters 56-66, referred to as Third Isaiah, and is attributed to a prophet or prophets who lived in Judah after the return from Babylonian exile in 539 B.C.  Isaiah 1:2-20 deals with the wickedness of Judah. In Isaiah 1:9, we see the term “LORD of hosts. This is one of Isaiah’s designations for God. It occurs 56 times in chapters 1-39. In Isaiah 1:10-17, God rejects ritual worship until such rituals are accompanied by a genuine change to moral behavior. Isaiah 2:1-4 is about the future house of God. We have heard the often repeated “Peace Scripture” of  Isaiah 2:4.  In Isaiah 2:5-22, judgement is pronounced on arrogance. 

1 Thessalonians 3:  In 1 Thessalonians 3, Paul writes why he sent Timothy. Paul writes that Timothy gave him a good report of their faith and love.

Notes for Day 216:

Isaiah 4-6: Isaiah 4:1 refers to the severe reduction of the male population. The woman will be forced to accept humiliating conditions because of all the men who will be killed in Isaiah 3:25. Isaiah 4:2-6 is about the purified Jerusalem. Isaiah 4:5 is a reminder of the Exodus from Egypt. According to Biblical scholars, Isaiah 5:1-7 is a unique poem, sung by the prophet Isaiah on behalf of his friend. The poem operated on several levels: It is  love song; It is a judicial parable; and it is a judgement oracle. Isaiah 5:8-30, denounces the social injustice. Isaiah 6 begins with “in the year that King Uzziah died…”. This was around the year 738 B.C. In Isaiah 6, we read about the vision  of God in the Temple. Isaiah 6:6-8 is that famous verse of the hot coal touching the prophets lips and now he is able to speak for God.

1 Thessalonians 4: In 1 Thessalonians 4 today we read about a life that is pleasing to God (1 Thess. 4:1-12).  In 1 Thess.4:13-18, Paul talks about the 2nd coming of the 

Lord.

Notes for Day 218:

Isaiah 7-9:  In our reading today from Isaiah 7, Isaiah reassures King Ahaz in verses 1-9; “…Take heed, be quiet, do not fear, and do not let your heart be faint because of these two smoldering stumps of firebrands…”  in reference to Aram’s & Israel’s plan to remove Ahaz and end the Davidic dynasty’s rule over Judah. In Isaiah 7:10-25, Isaiah gives Ahaz the sign of Immanuel (God is with us.). We are very familiar with Isaiah 7:14; “Therefore the LORD himself is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.”  The meaning of verse 15; “eating curds & honey by the time he knows how to refuse the evil and choose good.” means that the child will be customary weaned from nursing (age 2-3) by the time he knows how to choose good over evil. In Isaiah 8:16-22, we read about the disciples of Isaiah, or the “inner-circle” of supporters for Isaiah. Isaiah’s message is preserved among this “inner-circle”, or disciples of Isaiah – “Bind up the testimony, seal the teaching among my disciples.” (Isaiah 8:16).  In Isaiah 9:1-7, we see another reason why it is important to study the Old Testament. Why does Isaiah 9:1-7 sound familiar? These verses point to a Divine Birth that will happen. These verses are about the righteous reign of the coming King. Who do we as Christians think these passages, especially Isaiah 9:6, is talking about? In Isaiah 9:8-21, we read about the the judgement of God on arrogance and oppression. 

1 Thessalonians 5: In the final chapter of 1 Thessalonians, Paul tells all the followers of Jesus, that we do not know when he is coming back again. His 2nd coming will be a surprise; like a “thief in the night” (verse 2).  I want to point out again how our Book of Common Prayer contains almost 80 % of scripture. Taking a look at 1 Thessalonians 5:10, we read “…so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him”. If you look at the Burial office in the Book of Common Prayer (I will use Rite II) page #491, we see at the bottom of page #491 that one of the anthems says; “For if we have life, we are alive in the Lord, and if we die, we die in the Lord. So, then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s possession.” 

Notes for Day 219:

Isaiah 10-12: A little clarification on the names that Isaiah mentions in Isaiah 10:9. Calno or “Calneh (Amos 6:2) is a northern Syrian city that twice fell to the Assyrian king Tiglath-pileser (740 & 738 B.C.). Carchemish, northern Syrian city dominated by Tiglath-pileser and recaptured by the Assyrian king Sargon II after a brief revolt against Assyrian rule (717 B.C.). Hamath, central Syrian territory captured by Tiglath-pileser (738 B.C.) and recaptured by Sargon in 720 B.C. Arpad, northern Syrian city captured by Tiglath-pileser (740 B.C.) Samaria, capital of Israel; it fell to Assyria (722 & 720 B.C.). Damascus, capital of southern Syria; it fell to Tiglath-pileser in 732 B.C. In Isaiah 10:17, we again see the term; “light of Israel”. This is an epithet for God. As we begin reading Isaiah 11, the opening verses should be very familiar to you. Isaiah 11 is the prediction of a Peaceful kingdom as Christians, the foreshadowing of our Savior, Jesus. Isaiah 12 is a “song” of Praise. Isaiah 12:2, is very powerful!

2 Thessalonians 1: Today we begin reading the 2nd letter of Paul to the Thessalonians. 2 Thessalonians 1:5-9 talks about those who will receive judgement & punishment when Christ returns. There is a strong message in verses 5-9. The message is for those who persecute Christians, and a message of hope for those who are the victims of persecution, or mistreatment by others, even those who come in “Sheep’s Clothing” presuming to be Christians. Paul say that those who do not know God or obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus (2 Thess. 1:8); will receive the punishment of a flaming fire. This suffering will be eternal. So to answer the most obvious question; “Yes there is a place of unquenchable fire!”

Notes for Day 220:

Isaiah 13-15: In Isaiah 13, we read about a proclamation against Babylon, the place of Israel’s exile (current day Iraq). In Isaiah 13:17, we see the name “Medes”. Medes is an adjective to describe the people of northwest Persia, who were vassals of Assyria in Isaiah’s time. Just a reminder for the name “Chaldeans” that we see in Isaiah 13:19. The Chaldeans, were an Aramean tribe from southern Babylonia that dominated Babylon during the Neo-Babylonian Empire from 725 to 539 B.C. In Isaiah 14, we read about the restoration of Judah. Isaiah 14 begins by Isaiah’s saying the LORD (God) will restore the land to Israel and it will be served by nations who once oppressed it. Isaiah 14:3-22, is about the downfall of the King of Babylon. Just another reminder of the term “Pit” that we see in Isaiah 14:19. “Pit” is another name for the underworld. Isaiah 14:24-32 is an oracle concerning Assyria, or God’s plan to destroy it. 

2 Thessalonians 2: In 2 Thessalonians, Paul talks (warns) about the “Man of Lawlessness”. Paul is clear on who this “man” is in verses 9-10 and who is going to be guided by Satan; “The coming of the lawlessness one is apparent in the working of Satan, who uses power, signs, lying wonders, and every kind of wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.”  

Notes for Day 221:

Isaiah 16-18: In Isaiah 17:7-11, the purpose of these verses are to point out the judgement that will come to those who are involved completely in idolatry. The people will turn their eyes to their maker (God), and not have regard for the things that they make with their hands that replace the worship of God, i.e. idolatry. In Isaiah 18:1-7, we have an oracle concerning Ethiopia. I draw your attention to Isaiah 18:2; “…sending messengers by the Nile in vessels of papyrus on the waters! Go, you swift messengers, to a nation tall and smooth,…”. What (who) that is being described here are the Nubians of ancient Ethiopia.  The Nubians were tall, black men, and unlike the soldiers of most armies of Israel, they were clean shaven.

2 Thessalonians 3:  Today we close out Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians. Many of you may remember one time, me preaching on 2 Thessalonians . In 2 Thessalonians 3, Paul requests that there be prayers for them in order that they may continue spreading the word of the Lord (Jesus). Paul prays that they may be rescued from wicked & evil people, who do not have faith (verse 2). In 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13, is Paul’s warning against idleness. This was what I preached my sermon on. At first glance, one may think that these verses are slamming lazy people who do not work at all. However, as I pointed out in my sermon, it is important to not always read an individual verse out of context with the whole story. What Paul is saying here is that we as messengers of the Gospel, are to not get lazy spreading the message or “Good Word” of Jesus. We should also we cautious of those who claim to be Christians, but do not live according to the principles of Christianity, i.e. “Love” (2 Thessalonians 3:6).

Notes for Day 222:

Isaiah 19-21: Isaiah 19 is an oracle concerning Egypt. There appears to be an internal conflict going on in Egypt (verses 2-4). Despite their reputation for wisdom, the leaders of Egypt have proven themselves foolish and incompetent (Isaiah 19:11-15).  Zoan (19:11) was an important Egyptian city in the Delta region. Memphis (19:13) was an ancient capital of Lower Egypt.  In Isaiah 19:18-24, we read that Egypt, Assyria, and Israel will be blessed.  Isaiah 20 is very interesting; is it not? One may ask; “Why was Isaiah walking around naked for three years?”.  I will give you the short answer, instead of a long answer. It seems that around 715 B.C. Hezekiah was contemplating joining a revolt against Assyria. In order to sway Hezekiah away from joining this revolt, Isaiah demonstrated what kind of shame would come to him (Hezekiah). So, Isaiah demonstrated naked in front of Hezekiah’s palace for for three years demonstrating what kind of shame would come to the Egyptian, Ethiopians, and other troops, if they revolted against Assyria.  In Isaiah 21, we read about the fall of Babylon.

1 Timothy 1: Today we begin reading the Letters of Paul to Timothy. 1 & 2 Timothy, and Titus, are what is also known as the Pastoral Letters. That means that they were written to people (Timothy/Titus) who had Pastoral Oversight. The Letters to Timothy and Titus are considered by many Biblical scholars to be pseudonymous written letters (not actually written by Paul). It appears that the author of these letters knows the Book of Acts (2 Timothy 3:11), and may have been written around 90 A.D. The occasion for writing 1Timothy, suggests Paul has left Ephesus, leaving Timothy behind to deal with false teachers (1:3), and to provide ethical instructions to the Church (3:14-15).  As mentioned, 1 Timothy 1, has Paul speaking against false teachers in the Church. In 1 Timothy 1:8-11, Paul talks about digression from the legitimate use of the law. The law is intended to curb “sinful actions” (1 Tim. 1:9).  We read in verses 9-10, what these sinful actions are. I believe these vices do not need any clarification, they are straightforward.  In 1 Timothy 1:12-20, Paul in this Pastoral Letter, talks about gratitude for Mercy. His gratitude for Christ’s mercy came to him because he used to persecute the Church and the Body of Christ (1 Timothy 1:13). 

Notes for Day 223:

Isaiah 22-24: Isaiah 22:1-14,  is a warning of the destruction of Jerusalem. Isaiah 23 is an oracle concerning Tyre. Isaiah 24, is also known as the “Isaiah Apocalypse”. The earth is about to be laid waste in a universal judgement. Isaiah points out (24:4-6) that the whole creation suffers because of human transgression. Does this not sound like the fall of mankind in Genesis because of Adam & Eve? I personally see the relationship of Isaiah 24 (Judgement on the Earth), and the fall of mankind in Genesis, as relational to “Original Sin”. All of us suffer, because of human transgressions.

1 Timothy 2:  I know that this short chapter of 1 Timothy can draw much discussion. Particularly, verses 9-15. Chapter 2 begins with instructions by Paul on how to pray. We then move into how woman are to dress, wear their hair, and that they (woman) are to learn in silence, not talk, and be submissive to men. In 1 Timothy 2:12 Paul says;  “I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man, she is to keep silent.”  Paul goes on to explain why. He says it is because Adam came before Eve, he was not deceived. However, the woman (Eve); was deceived and became a transgressor (1 Timothy 2:13-14). What do you think? This may be good for a verbal discussion.

Notes for Day 225:

Isaiah 25-27: In Isaiah 25 today, we read about the praise for deliverance from oppression. In Isaiah 25:6-10, God prepares a joyous banquet for all people on a high royal mountain. In Isaiah 25:7, the notion of God’s swallowing up death is a reversal of a Canaanite mythological motif in which death “swallows” everything.  Does Isaiah 25:6-9 sound familiar? For some of you who have been to an Episcopal Burial Service; Isaiah 25:6-9 is one of the scripture options. Take a look at the Book of Common Prayer page #470 (Rite I) or page # 494 (Rite II).  Isaiah 26 is Judah’s Song of Victory. It is a processional song celebrating God’s defense of Jerusalem and his defeat of its enemies. Isaiah 26:9-11 points to the belief that unless they are punished, the wicked neither acknowledge God nor change their behaviors, so the community urges God to punish them. We then go to Isaiah 26:20-21 where where Isaiah says that the people must be patient a little longer until God’s judgement on the wicked. Isaiah 27 is about Israel’s redemption. 

1 Timothy 3: In 1 Timothy 3, we read about the qualifications of Bishops and Deacons. You see the qualification that the Bishop and Deacon are to be “married only once”. Here is a good example of why some scholarly Bible study is important. What this married only once means is that they (Bishops & Deacons) are not to have multiple wives. We know polygamy occurred in the Old Testament.  A further qualification for Deacons is that they must first be tested. In the Diocese of Maryland, Deacons go through 2 years of pre-discernment, 3 years of formal formation, then 2 years of post ordination mentoring. 1 Timothy 3:11, and Romans 6:1; point to the fact that there were woman Deacons. The qualifications for Priests will be read in 1 Timothy 5:17.

Notes for Day 226:

Isaiah 28-30:  Isaiah 28 is filled with similes & metaphors.  The basic premise of Isaiah 28, is a Judgement on the corrupt rulers, priests, and prophets. Isaiah 28 is an oracle concerning Ephraim and Judah.  The “foundation stone” that Isaiah mentions in 28:16, means God’s presence in Jerusalem. In Isaiah 28:23-29, we read an agricultural parable showing how a farmer adjusts his actions to fit the crops and seasons. This parable is mentioned so as to explain God’s work and his larger purpose.  Isaiah 29 is about the siege of Jerusalem by God, who first humiliates it, before coming to it’s rescue. Isaiah 29 then ends with a hope for the future. In Isaiah 30:1-5, Isaiah condemns Judah’s negotiations with Egypt (703-701 B.C.). These negotiations are a rebellion against God. Isaiah says that seeking the protection from Pharaoh will be their shame and the shelter in the shadow of Egypt their humiliation (Isaiah 30:3). Isaiah 30:18-33, is God’s promise to Zion.

1 Timothy 4: 1 Timothy 4:1-5 is about false asceticism (self-denial; sacrifices). Paul says that all things are made by God for the use of the people. As long as these things are received with thanksgiving to God, then there is nothing wrong with them. An example of false asceticism is what we read in 1 Timothy 4:3; the abstinence against marriage, and from foods. Paul say that everything made by God for man is good (Isaiah 4:4). In 1 Timothy 4:6-16, Paul talks about a good minister of Jesus Christ.

Notes for Day 227:

Isaiah 31-33: Isaiah points out in chapter 31; that alliance with Egypt is futile. The Egyptians are human, not God, their horses are flesh, and not spirit (Isaiah 31:3). Isaiah 32 talks about the future rule by the “Ideal King”. There will be a government with “Justice”. Isaiah 32:16-20 closes with how there will be the “Peace of God’s Reign”. The outpouring of God’s spirit will bring justice and a call to righteous living. Isaiah 34 is a prophecy of being delivered from foes. Isaiah 33:14, mentions how the sinners in Zion are afraid; “trembling has seized the godless”. Isaiah also mentions eternal damnation by fire. 

In 1 Timothy 5, Paul lays out the duties of “believers”. We also read that the “elders” of the Church are compensated (1 Tim. 5:17). The elders in this context, are the presbyters (Priests) of the Church.

Notes for Day 228:

Isaiah 34-36: Isaiah 34 is about God’s judgement on the Nations. Isaiah 34 says that God will reign judgement on ALL nations (Isaiah 34:2).  Isaiah 35 is about the return of the redeemed to Zion. I direct your attention to Isaiah 35:5-6; “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the death unstopped; then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.” Scholarly Biblical commentators say that Isaiah 35:5-6 is about the spiritual disabilities of God’ s people being corrected. Who or what, causes you to have “Spiritual Disabilities”? How can God correct these in your life? In Isaiah, we read about Sennacherib threatening Jerusalem. Sennacherib besieged Judah in 701 B.C. during the course of his third campaign. 

1 Timothy 6: The basic premise of the last chapter of 1 Timothy is that you cannot have love for money and material things, and love Christ at the same time. The “love of money is a root of all evil,….”  (1 Tim. 6:10).

Notes for Day 229:

Isaiah 37-39: In Isaiah 37, we read where Hezekiah’s first  consultation withIn Isaiah 37:7. In Isaiah 37:7, we read that Sennacherib will fall on his “own sword”. This he does in Isaiah 37:38, as his own sons, Adrammelech and Sharezer, killed their father, Sennacherib.  In Isaiah 38, we read about Hezekiah’s illness. Isaiah came to Hezekiah and told him (Hezekiah) that he was going to die. Hezekiah prayed to the LORD (God) in his sight and wept bitterly (verse 3). Then the word of the LORD came to Isaiah, and the LORD told Isaiah to go tell Hezekiah, that because he heard his (Hezekiah’s) prayers, the LORD was going to add 15 years to his life. In Isaiah 39, we read about the envoys (spys) from Babylon, are welcomed into Hezekiah’s house. Isaiah hears of this, and Hezekiah tells them that they saw all that was in his house.. Isaiah says that all that he has shown, including his sons, will be taken away to Babylon (present day Iraq).

2 Timothy 1:  In 2 Timothy 1, Paul talks about his Thanksgiving to God, and gives encouragement for those to proclaim the Word. Paul says that you should not be ashamed (1 Timothy 1:8).

Notes for Day 230:

Isaiah 40-42: Isaiah 40 is the consolation of Judah, God’s people are comforted. I know that Isaiah sounds very familiar to you.  In Isaiah 41, we read about the nations going to “court” with God to resolve the question of who actually controls history. In Isaiah 41:8-10, God reminds Israel, that they are still his chosen people.  Isaiah 42, also contains some beautiful language. There is much reassurance as a righteous God, from what we hear in Isaiah 42. God is a “Light to the Nations”. We as Christians realize that “Jesus” is our “New Light”; the “New Adam”. In Isaiah, we are reminded that it is God who created all things, and gives the breath of life to all people (Isaiah 42:5).

2 Timothy 2: In 2 Timothy 2, Paul talks about being a “Good Soldier for Jesus”. Paul reminds the readers, that the “word of God is not chained”. Paul also does onto say that as a worker approved for God’s service – we should not get drawn into “stupid & senseless quarrels” (2 Timothy 23-26). 

Notes for Day 232:

Isaiah 43-45: In Isaiah 43, we read about the restoration of Israel by God, and the protection of this promised land. Isaiah 43:1-7 points to the fact that the period of punishment is over.  Isaiah mentions that the LORD (God) in Isaiah 43:18-19 wants everyone to forget the things that are past; something new is about to happen. In Isaiah 44, we read about God’s Blessing on Israel (verses 1-8). Isaiah 44:9-20 is about the absurdity of idol worship; then in Isaiah 44:21-28, God has not forgotten Israel. In Isaiah 45, we read where the LORD anointed Cyrus. Cyrus is the only non-Israelite designated in the Old Testament as God’s anointed. In Isaiah 45, we are reminded of the fact that there is only one God; “there is no other”.

2 Timothy 3: In 2 Timothy 3, Paul warns about those who will be Godless in the last days. Paul warns that distressing times will come. The Godless identities are described in 2 Timothy 3:2-7. You see the names “Jannes” & “Jambres” in verse 8. Jannes & Jambres were the names given to Pharaoh’s anonymous magicians (Exodus 7:11; 22).

Notes for Day 233:

Isaiah 46-48: In Isaiah 46:1-13; Isaiah says that idols must be carried by their worshippers, but God has always carried his people, and saved them. In Isaiah 47, Isaiah says that God brings humiliation on Babylon. We are reminded as to why Israel was sent into exile in Isaiah 47:6, it was for punishment. However, Babylon did not understand it’s role, and in thoughtless self-conceit, failed to show mercy (verse 6). In Isaiah 48, Isaiah points out that God is the Creator and Redeemer. In Isaiah 48:9-11, Isaiah says that God is saving Israel, not because Israel deserves it, but in order to preserve and enhance God’s own reputation.  Isaiah 48 ends with the LORD (God) saying there is no peace for the wicked.

2 Timothy 4: In 2 Timothy 4, that last chapter of 2 Timothy, we read those familiar words; “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (verse 7). We read where Paul says that there will be some who will teach, preach, interpret scripture falsely in order to suit their own desires (2 Tim. 4:3-4). Where do we see and hear this today? We also read Paul’s personal instructions in 2 Timothy 4:9-18, and how there were some who did Paul great harm.

Notes for Day 234:

Isaiah 49-51: In Isaiah 49, we have what is known as the “Second of Servant Songs”. Referring to verse #3; how do you feel God is being glorified to other people by you, or your actions? I call your attention to Isaiah 40:10. This verse may sound familiar to you. A similar verse is in Revelation 7:16. Revelation 7:9-17 is actually one of the suggested readings we do in the Episcopal Burial Service. In Isaiah 50:2-3 we read that despite Israel’s failure to respond to God – God still has the power and will save, just as the first Exodus. This message may sound very familiar to a Christmas Eve Sermon I gave in 2013; where I said that God Incarnate (Jesus), even though he knew some would not receive him, still came. In Isaiah 51, we read that blessings are in store for God’s people. Isaiah 51 begins with three sayings; 1-3, 4-6, and 7-8, that begin with “Listen to me”.

Titus 1: Today we begin the very short letter of Paul to Titus. Titus was one of Paul’s co-workers (2 Corinthians 8:23). Titus accompanied Paul to an important meeting in Jerusalem (Gal 2:1-10). Titus served as Paul’s emissary during his troubled relations with the Corinthians (2 Cor. 2:13; 7:5-16). This letter to Titus somewhat duplicates those of 1 Timothy.  In Titus 1:10,14; Paul much more closely links false teachers to Judaism. The “ethnic slur” we see in Titus 1:12; “Cretans are always liars, vicious brutes, lazy gluttons”; is according to Biblical scholars, as an ethnic slur attributed to Epimenides of Crete (600 B.C.) 

Notes for Day 235:

Isaiah 52-54: In Isaiah 53, we have more beautiful verse that reflect rejoicing – God’s redemption of Jerusalem: Isaiah 53:7; How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messengers who announces peace, who brings good news, who announces salvation who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns’”. Isaiah 53:10; “The LORD has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.”  You may believe that Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12 sounds familiar. In fact it is; this is one of the chosen options for the Old Testament reading on Palm Sunday & Good Friday. Isaiah 54 is about the eternal Covenant of Peace. I draw your attention to Isaiah 54:15-17. What do you think about 15-17? What does it say about those who serve God, and are driven to speak for God through the Holy Scriptures? There is also another meaning to Isaiah 54:15-17; and this deals with the current day Israel, and those who who like to see it annihilated. Biblical scholars also say that this about verse 15-17: Since God, the creator of all craftsmen and thus all weapons, is on Zion’s (Israel) side, no enemy will successfully raise any weapon against her. How do you think this fits into the situation with Iran attempting to build a nuclear weapon? I also personally believe, that the United States is called by God to be one of Israel’s closest allies.

Titus 2: In Titus 2, we have Paul talking about the importance of teaching sound doctrine. 

Notes for Day 236:

Isaiah 55-57: For those who do the Daily Office of Morning Prayer; I call your attention to Isaiah 55:6-11. In the Book of Common Prayer you will find this on page #86, Morning Prayer II under Canticle 10 “The Second Song of Isaiah”  Quaerite Dominum. In Isaiah 56, we read about how God’s Covenant extends to all who obey it, even to those who formerly were excluded from the religious community (Isaiah 65:1-8). Again we read about how important it is to keep the Sabbath (verse 6). We also see that God plans on gathering more people back into his Covenant (Isaiah 65:8). In Isaiah 57, we read about Israel’s futile Idolatry. The name we see in verse 9 – “Molech”.  Molech was a deity to whom child sacrifices were offered.

Titus 3: In Titus 3, we again hear the importance of keeping good deeds as we heard in Paul’s letters to Timothy. What do you think about what Paul says in Titus 3:10-11; about those who cause divisions?

Notes for Day 237:

Isaiah 58-60:  In Isaiah 58, the prophet Isaiah contrasts mere religious rituals with the service God desires – a contrast between false & true worship; “Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to strike with a wicked fist. Such fasting as you do today will not make your voice heard on high. Is such the fast that I choose, a day to humble oneself?”  (verse 4);  “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?” (verse 6).  In Isaiah 59, we read that those who inflict injustice and oppression will be punished. Isaiah 60, is about Jerusalem’s coming exaltation. Isaiah 60:1-3, 11, 18-19, may sound familiar to those who do the Daily Office of Morning Prayer. It is Canticle 11 “The Third Song of Isaiah” Surge, illuminare, Book of common Prayer page #87. Isaiah 60 is also about the ingathering of the dispersed, and God’s light over Zion (Israel).

Philemon: Today we read the very short letter of Paul to Philemon. Philemon has no chapter divisions, and only 25 verses – total. The premise of this letter is for Onesimus to be released from his master (Philemon), and come under the control of Paul. Paul sees Onesimus, who Paul considers as his son, and needs him in the service of Christ.  Apparently Onesimus was “useless” to Philemon before (verse 11). Paul says that if Onesimus has wronged Philemon in any way, Paul will cover the financial obligations (verses 17-19). Paul is appealing for the freedom of Onesimus. This letter from Paul may have been written while Paul was imprisoned during his Roman imprisonment, 60-62 A.D. (Acts 28:16-31), and was written to Philemon in Colossae in Asia Minor. The only problem with the analogy that this letter was written during his Roman incarceration was that the slave Onesimus travelled a long distance to be with Paul in Rome. The other problem, according to Biblical scholars, was that after Rome, Paul planned on traveling westward to Spain, and not eastward to Colossae, as he promised Philemon in verse 22: “One thing more – prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping through your prayers to be restored to you.”

Notes for Day 239:

Isaiah 61-63: Isaiah 61 is about the Good News of  Deliverance. Isaiah 61:1-3 may sound familiar to those who have attended an Episcopal Burial Service. Isaiah 61:1-3 is one of the optional Old Testament Readings in the Burial Office; Book of Common Prayer, page #470 (Rite I), page #494 (Rite II). The reading from Isaiah 63, is about God’s vengeance on “Edom”, and also that his mercy is to be remembered (verse 7-14). Isaiah 62 is about the vindication and salvation of Zion (Israel). Edom (Isaiah 63:1) was a symbol of the wicked, foreign enemies. Bozrah, was a major city of Edom. In Isaiah 63:2-3, we read that their robes were red from a metaphor of a “wine press”. These verses (2-3) are about a symbol of God’s judgement, and the clothes being spattered by tis juice, another metaphor for the lifeblood of his (God’s) enemies. Isaiah 63:15-19, is a prayer of Penitence.

Hebrews 1: Today we begin with the Letter to the Hebrews. This letter argues that through Christ, faithful Christians have direct access to God. The author of the letter is not known. It was originally attributed to Paul, but the style is quite different from Paul’s letters. Many Biblical scholars say that Hebrews is an extended sermon. However, the sermon ends like a letter (Hebrews 13:19-25). The intended audience includes people of a Jewish background, but the author shares a Christian commitment with them (3:1; 4:14. 10:23).  It appears that some of the audience members of this letter have experienced persecution (10:32-34), and have become disappointed that God’s promised kingdom had not yet arrived.  Hebrews 1; begins by reminding the audience that God has spoken through his Son. This Son (Jesus) is the “reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being” (verse 3). In Hebrews 1:5-14, we read that the Son is superior to Angels.

Notes for Day 240:

Isaiah 64-66: Today; we finally finish the Book of Isaiah. Isaiah 64 is a continuation some what of Isaiah’s Prayer of Penitence that begins in Isaiah 63:15. Where have we heard Isaiah 64:8 before? We will see s variation of it again in Jeremiah 18:1-6, and Romans 9. But, there are also several Christian Hymns/Songs with these words.  Isaiah 65 is about the righteousness of God’s judgement. In Isaiah 66, we read about the worship God demands. God demands right worship. God also demands that we respect his house of worship. I believe that Isaiah 66:3 needs further clarification. Each of the four occurrences  of verse 3 links an appropriate action with a sinful action. According to Biblical scholars; the NRSV translation suggests a blanket condemnation of the sacrificial system, but this is only one possible interpretation. The word “like” is not in the Hebrew language, and the verse may be translated in a way that simply condemns normal worship practices when the worshiper is also engaging in pagan rituals or an immoral life. Another way to translate the NRSV so that it fits into these Biblical scholar’s views, would be to delete the word “like” and add “is also”. As we close out Isaiah; I call your attention to Isaiah 66:23; “All flesh shall come to worship me, says the LORD.” Biblical scholars say that all the nations will continually come to worship before God in Jerusalem. I am reminded of the song “Jerusalem, my happy home” (Hymn #620 in our 1982 Hymnal).  Stanza 2 of this hymn: “Thy saints are crowned with glory great; they see God face to face; they triumph still, they still rejoice in that most happy place.”  I chose this as one of the hymns we sang at my fathers Burial Service.

Hebrews 2: In Hebrews 2, the author reminds the readers to not forget, nor purposely neglect the Son’s message. We are not to forget why God became the Incarnate Word in the person of Jesus. We are told in Hebrews 2:9, that God became man so that he might “taste death for everyone”. We are also reminded in Hebrews 2:14, that God himself, shared the same things, and it was through his physical death & pain, that he destroyed the power of death, and that power is the devil. I again remind you of  St. Anselm of Canterbury, who wrote a great literary piece called “Cur Deus Homo”; which means, “Why God Became Man”. I noted this piece from Anselm on day #87; when I made notes on 2 Chronicles 20:22 (page #87).

Notes for Day 241:

Jeremiah 1-3: Today we begin with the Book of Jeremiah. No; he was not a “Bull Frog” and did not make “Mighty Fine Wine”.  The prophet Jeremiah came from Anathoth, a village in the hill country of Benjamin, a small tribe to the north of Judah (Northern Kingdom). Jeremiah was a descendant of Abiathar, one of the two chief priests of King David ( 1 Samuel 22-23; 2 Samuel 20:25). The Book of Jeremiah places his call to prophesy in the 13th year of King Josiah (627 B.C.). Jeremiah’s prose is around narratives and sermons. After the exile of 587 B.C.; Jeremiah chose to stay in Jerusalem to help those who remained to rebuild their lives. Jeremiah emphasized oracles of hope, rather than that of judgement. Jeremiah means “One who Exults the LORD”.  In Jeremiah 1:4-19, we read about Jeremiah’s call and commission from God. What do you make of Jeremiah 1:17? I as one; who leans towards what they call the “Conservative Side” rather than the “Progressive” or “Liberal” side of Theology, and interpretation of the the Bible, and God’s creation; I believe it is time that I call it as it is. Many of you know my saying about Scripture; “You do not rebuild a plane while it is flying in mid-air. If you do, it will crash.” With this said, I can no longer be quiet on accepting or defending the loose or liberal interpretations of scripture that are used to support certain lifestyles.This is not to say that I cannot be Tolerant of other people. We as Christians are called to Love other; even those who we do not understand. But, Tolerance does not mean that you like it. It (Tolerance) is a loose form of accepting the things that you cannot change. A good example of understanding Tolerance would be to use arthritis as an example. People who have arthritis, come to Tolerate it, but they do not like having it.  God is clear with the prophet Jeremiah in verse 17. If he does not tell them what he says to tell them, God will personally “break” Jeremiah before them. In Jeremiah 2, God pleads with Israel to repent. In Jeremiah 2:19, Israel is condemned for abandoning the LORD of the Exodus by making alliances with human kings. Where in our lives have we abandoned our LORD (God) by making alliances with the modern day events or circumstances of our lives? I can think of one. Many fail to honor the Sabbath, or see weekly worship as something important in or to their lives. In Jeremiah 3, we have some strong language; “You have played the whore with many lovers.” What is being said in Jeremiah, is that Israel and Judah are presented as both the LORD’s faithless wife, who has become a prostitute, and his disobedient child. The uses of this language plays on the legal case for divorce that we read in Deuteronomy 24:1-4, and its application in Hosea 2. The case in Deuteronomy forbids a man who divorces his wife to remarry her, even if her second husband has died or divorced her. However, Jeremiah replaces this whole issue of the law around divine grace. Although the LORD has not divorced his people, they have forsaken the marriage by having many lovers (false gods). By divine grace, God will take back those who have “left the marriage” but want to come back. So, the rest of Jeremiah 3, is about confession, repentance, and absolution; “Return faithless Israel, says the LORD; I will not be angry forever. Only acknowledge your guilt, that you have rebelled against the LORD your God…” (Jeremiah 3:12-13). 

Hebrews 3: The author of Hebrews does a comparison between Moses and Jesus (Hebrews 3:3). The metaphor of a house is used to identify Moses, and the metaphoor of the house builder is used to identify Jesus. In verse 4 we read; “For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.” Hebrews 3:7-19 is a warning against those of unbelief. 

Notes for Day 242:

Jeremiah 4-6: Jeremiah 4 begins with a “summons” to repentance (1-4).  In Jeremiah 4:5-18, we read about the threat of an invasion and desolation of Judah. God is going to send an unidentified enemy to invade and devastate the Southern Kingdom. Then in Jeremiah 4:19-31, we read about the sorrow for a doomed nation. In Jeremiah 5, we read have a series of judgement oracles. An example of the judgement/punishment comes in Jeremiah 5:10-17. We read the faithlessness leads to destruction. In Jeremiah 6, we read about the horror of this invasion. What does Jeremiah 6:19 say about those who do not listen, or give heed to God’s word?

Hebrews 4: In Hebrews 4, the author stresses something that I have emphasized in the past; the Sabbath. God commands that we join him in the Sabbath; “…a sabbath rest still remains for the people of God; for those who enter God’s rest also cease from their labors as God did from his. Let us therefore make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one may fall through such disobedience as theirs.”  (Hebrews 4:10-11) The Sabbath is a weekly Holy Day, a joyous celebration. Hebrews 4, ties into Jeremiah 6. The author of Hebrews warns against those who do not follow the rules of God (violating the Sabbath); Jeremiah 6:16-30 warns against those who have forsaken the ancient paths & directives of God. Does Hebrews 4:14,16 sound familiar? It is one of the optional sentences that the Priest, or Deacon, may say before directing the congregation to prepare for confession. Look at pages #320 or #352 of the Book of Common Prayer.

Notes for Day 243:

Jeremiah 7-9: Jeremiah 7 begins with a “Temple Sermon” . This sermon consists of an introduction (vv. 1-2), a first admonition (vv. 3-4), a second admonition (vv. 5-8), two rhetorical questions (vv. 9-11), and a threat (vv. 12-15). In Jeremiah 7:9; we see five of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17). In Jeremiah 12-15, we see the word “Shiloh”. Shiloh was 18 miles north of Jerusalem. In Jeremiah 7:16-20; Jeremiah is forbidden from God to intercede to  save the nation. Can you imagine what it would be like, that if I as a Priest was told by God, that I could not pray for you or absolve you of your sins, because God was so upset with you? So God is really upset with the people’s disobedience here. God is upset with the people’s disobedience and moral behavior. In Jeremiah 7:31, we see the word “Topeth”. Topeth, comes from Aramaic, meaning “fireplace”. Topeth is the place where they did child sacrifice. In Jeremiah 8:1-2, we read about the bones of the former kings being removed from their tombs. The Assyrian practice was that the corpses of leaders were disinterred when a vassal violated a treaty. Refer back to 2 Kings 23:16, when Josiah’s tomb was desecrated at Bethel. In Jeremiah 8:4-6, the Hebrew root word shub, “repent or “turn” occurs six times. In Jeremiah 8:12, can you think of any present day situation, or culture, that acts shamefully, and commits an abomination, and is not ashamed of their actions? 

Hebrews 5: Today we carry over from the ending of Hebrews 4, and read about Jesus being the Great High Priest. We again see the word “Melchizedek”. We will see more about the Order of Melchizedek in Hebrews 7. 

Notes for Day 244:

Jeremiah 10-12: In Jeremiah 10; we read about how Idolatry has brought ruin to Israel. Again, we must remember; that Idolatry is something that takes you “away” from the worship of God, or “displaces” your worship of God. Think of something that take you away from the worship of God. If you idolize a certain sports team or personality (rock star, etc), and you take it upon yourself to habitually remove yourself from weekly worship in order to follow the sports team, or the famous person’s appearances, then you are practicing Idolatry. If you buy an artistic icon (painting), and pray to the painting, then you are practicing Idolatry. I have several Icons (paintings, etc.) in my Prie-dieu at St.Andrew’s. These painted Icons are physical, “visual symbols”; that reminds me of the Lord or Virgin Mary. I do not pray to the icons. Many Christians have Icons in their homes. How many of you know of anyone who has a painting or picture of Jesus (Although no one really knows; on this side of God’s creation,what Jesus really looked like.) in their homes. This is an Icon. However, if any of these people you know put more “emotional stock” into this picture of Jesus, than practicing (Prayer, worship attendance) their faith; these folks could be leaning towards Idolatry, because they may be substituting a picture for the “real thing”. In Jeremiah 11, we read how Israel & Judah have broken the Covenant. We again see in Jeremiah 11:14, that Jeremiah is not allowed to intercede (Pray) on behalf of Israel or Judah. In Jeremiah 11:18-23, Jeremiah’s life is threatened by the people of Anathoth, Jeremiah’s own family and neighbors. In Jeremiah 12:1-6; Jeremiah complains to God. Jeremiah accuses God of injustice. In his complaint, Jeremiah accuses God of supporting the wicked. God then answers Jeremiah in verses 5-17. God then is seen as lamenting (weeping) over the destruction of JUdah by it’s enemies (Jeremiah 12:7-13). But, God has compassion again, only if the nations will listen to him. God will give a “2nd chance”. However, God warns that there will be destruction if no one follows his ways or commandments; :But if any nation will not listen, then I will completely uproot it and destroy it, says the LORD.” (Jeremiah 12:17)

Hebrews 6: In Hebrews 6:1-12, we read about the perils of falling away from the Christian Faith (From the authors perspective.), then we read about the certainty of God’s promise (verses 13-20). Let us look closer at Hebrews 6:4-6. According to the author of Hebrews, if a Christian follower, specifically, one who has been Baptized into the Body of Christ, falls away from the faith; that person cannot be restored again. If we follow this logic – then after Baptism, which is a “One Shot Deal”; anyone who sins, or falls away, can never have absolution (forgiveness) and be back on the right track with the Lord. This is the reason that many in the earlier stages and centuries of Christianity, did not get Baptized until later in life. The thought process was that once they were Baptized, they had to avoid all evil thought, actions, sins, because they could never be reconciled to the Lord after their Baptism. This is the reason that Constantine, who decreed religious tolerance, especially Christianity, did not get Baptized until on his death bed.

Notes for Day 246:

Jeremiah 13-15: In Jeremiah 13; we have a prose narrative of symbolic action. The linen loincloth (underware) is symbolic of Israel’s & Judah’s corruption by their stubborn sinfulness. In Jeremiah 13:15-27, the exile is threatened. The time period could be prior to the exile between 597 – 587 B.C. In Jeremiah 14:1-11; we read about a Great Drought. Jeremiah 14:13-18, is about lying prophets. Then in Jeremiah 14:19-22, we have people pleading for mercy. Again, in Jeremiah 15, we read that Jeremiah cannot intercede (Pray) on behalf of the people. Jeremiah’s intercession cannot divert destruction; “Those destined for pestilence, to pestilence, and those destined for the sword, to the sword; those destined for famine, to famine, and those destined for captivity, to captivity.”  (Jeremiah 15:2). The LORD says that he will appoint four kinds of destroyers: 1.) Sword to kill 2.) Dogs to drag away 3.) Bird of the air to devour 4.) Wild animals to devour (Jeremiah 15:3). All these things are happening, because the people have rejected the LORD (God) and are going backwards (verse 6). In Jeremiah 15:10-21, Jeremiah complains (again) and is reassured by God (verse 21).

Hebrews 7: In Hebrews 7, we hear more about the Priestly Order of Melchizedek. We read about Melchizedek in Genesis 14:18-19, and also in Psalm 110:4. The author of Hebrews says that there is another Priest like Melchizedek, but this Priest is different. Because this “new” Priest will not die, but continue forever (Hebrews 7:23-25). This new Priest is none other than Jesus, and he is made perfect forever (Hebrews 7:28). 

Notes for Day 247:

Jeremiah 16-18: In Jeremiah 16, we read that the LORD came to Jeremiah and told him to be celibate, and to not marry, or have children. This prohibition was to save Jeremiah from lamenting over the loss of a family since God was going to destroy everyone with a deadly disease, and sword, and even not allow the dead to be buried (Jeremiah 16:4). The dead shall “become like dung on the surface of the ground”.  In Jeremiah 16:14-21; God will restore Israel this time; but not after a very stern teaching lesson from God; “Therefore I am surely going to teach them, this time I am going to teach them my power and might, and they shall know that my name is the LORD.”  In Jeremiah 17:1-1-18, we read about Judah’s Sin & Punishment. In Jeremiah 17:2, we again see the word “sacred poles”. We must go back to Deuteronomy 16:21 & Judges 6:25, to get an understanding of the “sacred pole”. Sacred poles (Hebrew –”asherim”) was carved wood (Judges 6:25) or living trees (Deut. 16:21) representing the goddess Asherah who was a Canaanite consort of El and Baal. Again, we return to the importance of the Sabbath in Jeremiah 17:19-27. What does God say specifically about the Sabbath in Jeremiah 17:22-23? In Jeremiah 18:1-11; we read about the Potter & Clay. We are the clay, God is the Potter. Jeremiah 18:11, says that God is shaping evil against us. Why is God doing this, and how can the evil be avoided? In Jeremiah 18:18-23, we read Jeremiah’s 5th lament. This time, Jeremiah is lamenting to God, because there are those who are plotting against him for doing the LORD’s work, and for being honest.  Jeremiah wants to know why he is being “repaid” evil, for doing good (Jeremiah 18:20). Have any of you felt that your were in this position? You are doing the work of God, but there are those out to get you for doing this, or for being honest?  What is Jeremiah’s prayer request in verse 23 in response to those who wish him harm? 

Hebrews 8: In Hebrews 8 we read about one who is a “Mediator” of a better Covenant; “But Jesus has now obtained a more excellent ministry, and to that degree he is the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted through better promises.”  Again, we see why it is important as Christians to study the Old Testament as well as the New Testament. Take a look at Hebrews 8:10-13. Why does Hebrews 8:11 sound familiar? Take a look at Jeremiah 16:21.

Notes for Day 248:

Jeremiah 19-21:  In Jeremiah 19; we read about Jeremiah taking an earthenware jug to the valley of the son of Hinnom and proclaiming the doom that God is about to bring on those who have profaned him and his word. Jeremiah is to break the jug in the sight of those who follow him as an example of how God will break the people and the city.  Scripture says that Jeremiah went out to the valley utilizing the Potsherd Gate (Jeremiah 19:2). Another name for the Potsherd Gate could have been “Dung Gate” (Nehemiah 2:13; 3:13-14; and 12:31) ; which was in the south wall of Jerusalem. The gate was used to remove garbage of the city. Among the garbage according to Biblical scholars, was broken pottery. In Jeremiah 20:1-6; we read that Jeremiah is persecuted by Pashhur. Pashhur, was a priest in charge of the temple police, who were to maintain order in the sacred precinct. Pashhur takes Jeremiah into custody, has him beaten, and placed in stocks for the day. We read that Jeremiah tells Pashhur, that the LORD has not named him Pashhur, but “Terror-all-around” (Jeremiah 20:3). As we have seen in our Bible readings, the names of people are important; there are symbolic meanings to people’s names. Jacob in Hebrew means “supplanter” for he supplanted his older twin brother in obtaining the birthright from Isaac (Genesis 25:24-34). Jacob’s name was later changed to “Israel” when he is blessed by God (Genesis 32:27-29). Israel, in Hebrew; means “he who strives with God”. Therefore; Pashhur’s name being changed to “Terror-all-around”; points to the coming siege of Jerusalem and exile. In Jeremiah 20:7-12, we read Jeremiah’s 6th lament. Jeremiah denounces his persecutors. Then in Jeremiah 20:14-18, we have Jeremiah’s 7th and last lament. Jeremiah curses the day that he was born.

Hebrews 9: In Hebrews 9:1-22, we read about how the earthly sanctuary worship was changed to Heavenly worship upon the arrival of Christ. Prior to Christ, the sacrifices were made by earthly animals, and only the high priest went beyond the curtain into the Holy of Holies. When Christ came, Christ became the sacrificial lamb with his own blood, and made the atonement for our sins (Eternal Redemption) with his blood. We further read in Hebrews 9, that the temple tent, the Holy of Holies, made by human hands, was not entered by Christ. Christ replaced that temple curtain with his own body, in order to gain “access with God”. Christ then entered into Heaven itself, and is in the presence of God on our behalf (Hebrews 9:24). Hebrews points out that the high priests only had access to the Holy of Holies once a year; Christ has access “24/7”.

Notes for Day 249:

Jeremiah 22-24: In Jeremiah 22, we have Jeremiah doing an exhortation to Judah to repent (22:1-10). In Jeremiah 22:1-23, there is a message to the sons of Josiah. In Jeremiah 22:24-30, we read about the judgment on Coniah (son of Jehoiachin). In Jeremiah 23, we read about the restoration after the exile (23:1-4). We then read in Jeremiah 23:5-8, the righteous Branch of David. However, things then change in Jeremiah 23:9-40, when we read about the false prophets. In Jeremiah 23:16, we read; Thus says the LORD of hosts: Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you; they are deluding you. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD.” Can you think of any modern day “prophets” or people, who you think are not speaking for the LORD?  In Jeremiah 24, we read about the “good & bad figs”. 

Hebrews 10: In Hebrews 10, we read about Christ’s sacrifice once for all. I want to call your attention to Hebrews 10:1-25. You hear this read during the Good Friday service in the Episcopal Church. It is the appointed Epistle reading. Look at page #276 of the Book of Common Prayer. 

Notes for Day 250:

Jeremiah 25-27: In Jeremiah 25, we read abut the foretelling of the Babylonian captivity. The beginning of Jeremiah 25 talks about the reigning periods of the kings with have read previously in the Old Testament. Just to refresh our memory, and give the time periods of the kings mentioned: King Jehoiakim (609 – 598 B.C.); King Nebuchadrezzar (605 – 562); King Josiah (640 – 609 B.C.). We read that Jeremiah persistently spoke (prophesied) for 23 years the warnings of the LORD. This 23 year period would have been 627 – 605 B.C.  In Jeremiah 25:9, we see the first clear indication that the “foe from the north” is Babylonia. In Jeremiah 25:11, we read that the nations will serve the king of Babylon for 70 years. Biblical commentators say that this 70 years is a rounded figure and does not exactly support the historical chronology. From 605 – 539 B.C. is 66 years, not 70 years. We know this because the conquest of Babylon by Cyrus is 66 years. In Jeremiah 25:1-38, we read about the “cup of God’s wrath”. Drinking from a cup as punishment was a common image. I am reminded of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, when Jesus says; “…Father, for you all things are possible, remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.” (Mark 14:36) We will also see in Revelation 14:10, the drinking from the cup of God’s wrath. In Jeremiah, we read that God is going to punish all the inhabitants of the earth (Jeremiah 25:29). A key point in all this pending doom by God,is that he has been provoked to anger by the actions of the people on earth. In Jeremiah 26, we read about Jeremiah’s prophecies in the temple. They want to kill Jeremiah because he is prophesying against the city (Jerusalem). However, the leaders are reminded that others also spoke out against the city under the banner of  “Thus says the LORD of hosts”, and were not put to death, because they spoke for the LORD (God).  If we jump way ahead in Bible history; who else spoke up against the leaders in Jerusalem, but was actually put to death? Why? One reason is that instead of him speaking what the LORD said to him, he actually spoke to them not from the “third person” perspective; but from the “first person” perspective. Yes, he was God speaking to them, face to face! This my friends, is another good reason for Christians to study the Old Testament . In Jeremiah 27, we read about the sign of the yoke. Jeremiah is to place this yoke on his body and for to use the yoke to remind the king of Edom, the king of the Ammonites, the king of Tyre, and the king of Sidon, the powers of God. We are reminded that it was the great power of God that created all things. God made the people, animals on earth, and he gives power to whoever he wants (Jeremiah 27:5). So this yoke, is a symbol of the power of God, and is used across Jeremiah’s shoulders in order to remind others of God’s power. This my friends is the symbol that I as a priest wear – a stole.  I wear the stole over both shoulders. This stole is the yoke that I wear and carry. I did not ask for it; the LORD told me to put it on. It is the yoke (stole) that I wear as a priest in order to remind you of the great power of God, and the power of our Lord & Savior Jesus, who took on the ultimate yoke for our salvation.

Hebrews 11: In Hebrews 11, we are reminded of the meaning of faith and of those through Biblical history who had faith. I am sure most have heard, or are familiar with the Hebrews 11:1.

Notes for Day 251:

Jeremiah 28-30: In Jeremiah 28, we read about Hananiah, a false prophet, who opposes Jeremiah and dies. In Jeremiah 29, Jeremiah writes a letter to the exiles in Babylon. This was probably written around 594-593 B.C. In Jeremiah 29:24-32, we read about the letter that Jeremiah sent to Shemaiah. The letter condemns Shemaiah, because he tried to have Jeremiah imprisoned. Shemaiah is also condemned for being a false prophet. In Jeremiah 30, we read about the restoration promised for Israel & Judah. In Jeremiah 30, we see the word “Jacob” several times. We must remember that Jacob also means Israel.

Hebrews 12: Hebrews 12 talks about being the example of Jesus, and also about accepting the “discipline” of the Lord (Hebrews 12:5). The point of the discipline; is that in in being disciplined, or punished, we are also joining in the suffering of Christ. Christ also, like a parent, chastises every child that he accepts (Hebrews 6). 

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