Numbers and John…

October 17, 2009

Book of the Bible – Numbers (Hebrew title for this book is Bemidbar – meaning “in the desert.)

Author – Traditionally ascribed to Moses

Date of Writing – 1450-1410 B.C.

Number of Chapters – 36

To Whom Written – The people of Israel

Purpose of the Writing – Details the 38 years of journey that should have been an eleven day walk – but disobedience made the pathway rocky and long.

My Personal Summary –

The Book of Numbers amplifies a theme which rings very true today; “Believing in God is not enough.  We must believe, trust, and obey God.  The paths to God’s will for our lives do not just involve obedience, it revolves around it!  The sheer logistics of the forty year wilderness journey stemming from disobedience, distrust and dishonoring of God points us toward a simpler way of living.

In our finite “wisdom” we translate what is actually simple into painful and costly complexity.  We make a forty year struggle out of an eleven day walk!

We will experience life-challenges.  We were never promised we would not go through lands of trial.  We were also never told to stay in the land of trials either.  Through obedience to God we find the map out of dry thirsty lands into a place of pure joy with God.

In Numbers 1-10 a census is taken and legislative instruction is given.  The entire rest of the book is a record of mans failure to consult a map when lost.  Numbers might record the first instance of, “be careful what you ask for!”  It is clear the Israelites had needs.  It is also clear that God met each of those needs.  The struggle today seems to echo that of this time in that the grumbling and griping we do might be an indication of a rebellious spirit.  It is easy to disguise our rebellious spirit with church vernacular or a certain type of behavior, but in the end, God knows our hearts and just how lost we are.

Book of the Bible – The Gospel According to the Apostle John

Author – John, the disciple whom Jesus loved (13:23)

Date of Writing – Between 50 and 70 A.D.

Number of Chapters – 21

To Whom Written – Gentile Christians needing a boost in their faith and to those without a saving knowledge of Yeshua.

Purpose of the Writing – Jn 20:30 Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book;
31 but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.

My Personal Summary

Whenever I read the Gospel According to John I cry.  This book, more than any other profoundly impacts me to tears because it is inscribed on my very soul.  I am so deeply moved because the words of John, the apostle who saw Christ, who loved and was loved by Yeshua writes with such deep love for his Savior that I am convicted by my lack of depth of faith that I must weep, and after weeping I am renewed and inspired to love God more deeply, more effectively.

John loved and loves his Jesus when he writes the words of this book, and when he revisits the torture, death and resurrection of his Savior he cries, much like me.  I never physically saw Yeshua, but I see Him through the words of John.

This book was written that “we may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing we may have life in His name.” [Emphasis mine] LIFE!  Not constant sorrow, wringing of hands, worry and fear.  Life is now and here worshipping God the Father, serving Christ.

It all started with the Word, logos.  The logos of God was the beginning and is the beginning.  Everything that is good comes from the wellspring of Life of God.  We are given what we need from this wellspring and John shows us what we are given is more than what we ever need.

The Word of God lived among us for thirty-three years and in that time changed all of time.  In obedience to prophecy, John the Baptist claimed Christ before even one miracle was recorded.  John testified boldly that the One who is come is greater than he is, and he was clear that we are to follow Him alone.

Jesus is God and I must say, Thank God for the many parables which instruct and inspire.  Thank God for the suffering and sorrow of Jesus Christ.  Thank God for His mercy and grace this is more than sufficient for me.  The performance of the first miracle of Jesus at the wedding feast of Cana started a ticking clock that would not end until Yeshua was tortured and murdered, and resurrected from the sin grave I dug for Him!  Soli Deo Gloria!  The many healings by Yeshua are described, the preaching and parables of Jesus are recounted, and yet, there were so many John tells us it wouldn’t all fit in the world’s books.  I cannot wait to ask John and even Yeshua Himself about all those others!

Book of the Bible – Leviticus (The Hebrew word is wayyiqra – meaning “and He {the Lord} called.”

Author – 3rd Book of Moses

Date of Writing – Shortly after exodus from Egypt

Number of Chapters – 27

To Whom Written – The Hebrew Nation now Redeemed

Purpose of the Writing – To teach the redeemed nation how to live for, serve, and worship God.  This is the book of laws and regulation of a people in a way that points to its ultimate fulfillment in Christ’s crucifixion thereby granting a passage to God.

My Personal Summary –

This is a book of detailed instruction for the pursuit of holiness by sinful people.  At this point, sacrifice TO God was pre-eminent to sacrifice FOR God.  This Levitical system of intense regulations served as a seemingly complex path to full obedience to and pleasing of God.

We are sinful people and God is Holy and there must be a bridge between the two in order to bring about relationship.  At the time of writing, Leviticus served as that bridge until Christ came as the propitiation for our sins.

Sacrifices and offerings are discussed in Chapters 1-7.  Priestly duties and requirements are discussed in Chapters 8-10.  Cleanliness and holiness is instructed in Chapters 11-12.  In order to comply with the litany of rules and laws I doubt anyone was actually ever truly “clean.”  Finally, my favorite part; laws pertaining to feasts are directed in Chapter 23.  The last four chapters give the benefits and promises for keeping the law and the price for disobedience.

The theme of Leviticus may seem like an outdated treatment of rules and laws and legalistic manner of living for God.  I recognize why one would come to that conclusion but if read repeatedly in the light of the cross, one realizes the great sacrifice, once and for all, that Jesus Christ provided with His shed blood for our sins.  We must never forget the price paid for our freedom in Christ which includes the rules and rituals contained within the Book of Leviticus.

Book of the Bible – Luke

Author – Likely Luke

Date of Writing – A.D. 59-63

Number of Chapters – 24

To Whom Written – Theophilus, Romans and Gentiles, to the larger audience, us.

Purpose of the Writing – To strengthen the faith of believers and to commend the preaching of gospel of Jesus Christ to the entire world.

My Personal Summary

This is a most clear telling of the way of salvation through none other than Yeshua.  Luke was especially Jewish in his reporting of events surrounding the Christ.  Luke was so Jewish, yet so inviting toward Gentiles.  Luke tells us through his account of Jesus’ life that family was important to Jesus and that Yeshua wanted us to know family is important to us too.  We are also clearly advised in the Book of Luke that prayer with the Father is incredibly important as well.  Women, we are told are important to Christ, even in a time when women were marginalized severely by society.  Equally marginalized were the poor, and Jesus we are told loved the poor and ministered gently to them.  Through this book we are told Jesus cared for sinners which relieves me, a sinner.

Luke writes masterfully the story of Zacharias and Elizabeth miraculous conception and birth of John the Baptist, cousin of Yeshua and the Immaculate Conception and birth of Yeshua, the Christ.  Two stories inextricably tied to one another, for our good.

In the time before Yeshua was revealed in a baby there were great struggles as there are today.  However; we see that we are gifted by God with the Christ, the Messiah, and the Long Awaited One.  In Him we have hope.  Luke beautifully describes the temptation of Jesus but it is in v4:13 that he gives us the completion of the temptation which hinges on one word for me, “every.” Yeshua was exposed to every temptation, and yet we are given a Savior that did not fall, He did not fail and in this Messiah we can rest assured.

This highlights what is first said in v1:2 “… eyewitnesses and servants of the logos…”  Elizabeth and Mary obeyed, their husbands obeyed and were “servants of the logos” and thus we have an opportunity to be saved.  Soli Deo Gloria!

Book of the Bible – Exodus Greek word – “Ek” mean “out” and “Hodos” meaning “road.”  In other words, “The Road Out.”
Author – Moses
Date of Writing – Birth of Moses – Construction of the Temple 1525 – 1446 B.C.
Number of Chapters – 40
To Whom Written – All of mankind, specifically the Israelites.
Purpose of the Writing – To detail the birth pains of a nation so that the travails of that birth would never be forgotten.
My Personal Summary –

The beginnings of a nation are surely difficult with many obstacles to best and hurdles to clear.  It was no different in the case of God’s Chosen people, Israel.  This with one exception; Israel is a nation chosen by God Himself.  God birthed this nation.  God disciplined this nation.  God raised this nation.

The nation of Israel began with a family of only 70 people yet today Israel, though a tiny nation measured in square miles is great in historical stature.  The Book of Exodus details the reluctant leadership of the “rags to royalty to rags” humility of Moses.  Exodus begins the account of the oppression of Israel by Egypt.

Following thereafter is the childhood of Moses life.  Exodus; it can be reasoned, is a revelation of the calling of Moses by God Himself to demand the freedom of God’s people from Pharaohs rule.  The forty-year journey through the wilderness ended up being a series of lessons taught by God to the wandering Israelites.  The Book of Exodus concludes with the establishment of Hebrew culture and Law given by God.

Exodus feels much like an account of a high level of divine education at a tremendous cost.  This cost would pale in comparison to the cost Jesus Christ the Messiah would pay for my sins, redemption.  Neither my redemption, nor the Hebrew people’s redemption would come cheaply.  Ultimately we need to fear God more than we fear anything else and God will do mighty things through our obedience.

Book of the Bible – Mark
Author – Mark
Date of Writing – A.D. 60-70
Number of Chapters – 16
To Whom Written – Romans and Gentiles, to the larger audience, us.
Purpose of the Writing – We are presented with Jesus of Nazareth as God’s Suffering Servant who redeemed the world.
My Personal Summary

One of my favorite characters of the Bible is John the Baptist.  John the Baptist was uniquely bold in his call for holiness and repentance.  John the Baptist’s message was one of dynamic obedience.  He obeyed to death.  Despite appearing crazy or as today we would call him, eccentric; John the Baptist told the story of a coming Messiah, One greater than him.
Though the death of John the Baptist was noted almost as a footnote he did what he was sent to do.  John did not speak of the cross Yeshua would bear; however, he knew prophesy and inasmuch as knowledge is often mistaken to bring power, the Baptist knew his fate was set, and so forward he preached.
Jesus was human; He was baptized because His Father commanded it so.  Jesus was human; He was tempted and yet did not sin.  Jesus was human; He ministered and healed because the Father said to do so in His Name.  Yeshua entertained controversy nearly everywhere He went because He was original.  He was dynamic.  He was Divine and yet human.  He is God’s Son and though Mark takes us on a very succinct journey, he entices us often with his exhortation, “immediately.”  I am reminded to act immediately upon the leading of God, to obey without delay.
Mark teaches the importance of placing your faith in Christ immediately.  Jesus Christ is trustworthy with our faith because He trod the rocky path with grace and mercy, and truth to the death.

Many of you have emailed or called me to ask, “Where have you been and why haven’t you written?”  Well, this is one of the places I’ve been and this is one the things I have written.  I wrote an regular persons Bible commentary on each book of the Bible…  I give you Genesis and Matthew.  My new blog address is:

http://www.theninjapastor.wordpress.com   Please subscribe to the feeds, there will be much more there.  This commentary as well as basic Bible History will be possibly published and when it is, I am confident it will also be available in ebook form.

Genesis is Hebrew for “origin” or “generation” or “beginnings.”  Bereshith = (Hebrew word for Genesis.)  Even the title of this book speaks of beginnings of many things; mankind, sin, death, and God’s unwavering Hand in our redemption.

It is interesting to note that the very beginnings of this terra-firma were made in and by Perfection.  Man himself was made by a Perfect God in what could confidently be called a perfect place and yet, sin began shortly thereafter.  Genesis 6:9 – 9:17 detail the seemingly incongruous order for Noah to build an Ark, and Noah’s unwavering obedient response.

Genesis gets quickly to the point in addressing the questions that circle about even the most moderate of minds: “How did the earth begin?”  Genesis answers, God spoke it so.  “How did man get here?”  Genesis answers, God spoke it so.  I must conclude then that God has also a perfectly ordered plan for all of mankind despite our fallen state stemming from our departure from His perfect order.

Genesis speaks to the questions of God’s Holiness, righteousness, mercy and grace.  God does not shield us from the lesson of sin and its consequences; rather He shows us our beginnings, failings, and foibles to point us to His Son Jesus…  The Redemption King!  We have the opportunity to re do our lives excerpting the sin of our Fathers.  Genesis is a book of choices, so is life.

Matthew:

Yeshua is here!  He and our salvation is upon us!  Hope and help is come so that we might be released from animal sacrifice and from the penalty we deserve.  It is astounding to me that God sent His Son in the form of a baby, in lieu of any other form He could have chosen.  A baby, just as we enter the world, Yeshua entered the world.

In the beginning of Matthew we are given the genealogy of the King which to many is boring and to some extent, unnecessary.  Over the years of reading the Bible I came to the conclusion that without this genealogy the total story would be incomplete.  To some extent I find the genealogy comforting in that Yeshua was once just like me, from a family of mortal, fallible people.  On the other hand, I find the genealogy to be comforting because it serves as a traceable road map to salvation, just as was prophesied of old.

It seems incredulous that Jesus Christ has to endure so much for me so early in His earthly life.  It seems unfair that Jesus would have to suffer ridicule when He was so “good.”  He did so much good for so many, healing hearts, souls, and bodies.  He raised the dead and yet He pulsed ever quicker to the cross to die Himself.  It just does not seem right.   Why would He look from the cross and think of His love for me, and remain when He did not have to?

In the process Yeshua amazed the Pharisees, taught the disciples, and loosed the bonds of sin from people who had no hope.  People just like me.  We are taught, warned, and healed by Jesus, the unlikely King from Nazareth.