We are in Acts, James, 1 Peter, and 2 Peter, this week. In two weeks, we will begin the New Testament for our second time. We continue our journey through Leviticus and Psalms. Priests, prophets, and kings are confronting Jeremiah, but God stills pleads with the nation through Jeremiah.
Our reading the bible is God’s means for us to enter His rest. Whether we see and understand all we read is not the point. Many times, the scriptures will confound our intellect. They are spirit and they are life. Leviticus can be overwhelming or boring. But, if we listen to the Spirit, they set boundaries, which are all fulfilled in Christ. To honor God is to honor His word. To keep His word is to value His word. He knows we cannot do it; but if we value His word, and look to see Jesus in His word we will find Him—our eyes on Jesus.
Acts 10 – 16
Acts, Chapter ten and eleven are supper relevant to us who are Gentiles. Here is where God enlarges the church’s vision from only Jews to all nations. Here He finds Peter and enlarges His understanding from the past to the present truth of God’s repentance to life, and confirms it with the demonstration of the Holy Spirit and power. The church is growing in Antioch. They send Barnabas and Saul with relief to Jerusalem at the exact time Herod has arrested Peter and plans to put him to death. Prayers are made and miracles happen. Peter is delivered and Herod is judged. Barnabas and Saul bring back what they have seen in prayer and set aside time with the prophets and teachers in Antioch. The Spirit speaks and another paradigm is enlarged, the Missionary Movement.
Chapter fourteen brings Paul and Barnabas home to Antioch with all the reports of converts, churches, and miracles.
In Chapter fifteen, the Gentiles are being converted and told by some that they must be circumcised and become Jewish. Paul and Barnabas are sent to Jerusalem to settle this matter, and grace prevails. Gentiles are given four simple practices to observe, “That you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well.” Acts 15:29
Chapter sixteen: Paul and Barnabas separate out of love and principle, Barnabas the encourager, wants to give Mark a second chance at missions, but Paul won’t have it. God has bigger plans; Mark will become a great asset to Paul in later days because Barnabas wouldn’t give up on the man. A second mission trip begins and the famous prison breaks, where God shakes the foundations because of Paul and Silas’ prayers and praise.
James 3 – 5
James is calling us to submit our tongues to God and not curse man, who is made in His image. We see a vital truth for today with the promise that we will see in 1 Peter 3. There is earthly wisdom that is filled with confusion and every evil thing. There is also wisdom from above that is pure and peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits.
Chapter four is a call to humility.
Chapter five is a call to patience and prayer. James, the brother of Jesus, has a commanding call to Christlikeness.
1 Peter 1 – 5
Chapter one shares our inheritance, testings, holiness, and the enduring word.
Chapter two is who we have become in Jesus, a spiritual house, a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Peter is a stark contrast to the Peter we knew in the gospels. He has matured. He is no longer headstrong; he is humble and submitted even to those who are wrong. He is following Jesus and understands now that grace comes to suffering wrongfully and not complaining.
Chapter three is help for marriages, and our call to blessing by not cursing, nor returning evil for evil. Now comes the reason our tongues, (what we say) matters. Again, it is better to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
2 Peter 1, 2
In Chapter one we are given seven attributes to add one to the other: to our faith, virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge, self-control, to self-control, perseverance, to perseverance, godliness, to godliness, brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. So many blessings come to us in these additions. Take time and meditate on what each means and why they are added to the one prior.
In Chapter two Peter is dealing with the false teachers, and their doctrines and depravity. It is a sobering chapter for these last days.
Leviticus 22 – 26
In Chapter twenty-two are instructions to Aaron and his sons, regarding holy things, and offerings that are accepted and not accepted. The animal must not have a defect and it is to be given of our own free will.
In Chapter twenty-three are the listing of the seven annual feasts of the Lord, plus the weekly sabbath. Jesus died on Passover. The Feast of Unleavened Bread to the Lord on the fifteenth day of the first month. He was raised on the Feast of First-fruits. Fifty days from His resurrection come the Feast of Weeks, (Pentecost) the beginning of harvest, and the last of the seven feast is Tabernacles the completion of harvest season. Care of the Tabernacle and the eye for an eye law follow.
Chapter twenty-five is the seventh year sabbath-rest for the land, followed by seven, seventh years, (forty-nine) and then the fiftieth year is the year of Jubilee when everyone goes free. Jesus is our Jubilee.
Provisions for these rest years, sending servants free, caring for the poor, and calculating the value of land based on proximity to the Jubilee year. All the land was given as an inheritance. No matter what happens, it is to be returned to the original family every fifty years.
Chapter twenty-six is the promise of blessing and retribution in keeping the commandments.
Chapter twenty-six is redeeming property, persons, and tithes dedicated to the Lord. If something was devoted to the Lord, you could redeem it at its full value plus twenty percent. This is a genius chapter calling us to consider our devoting of things seriously.
Numbers 1, 2
One month from the erecting of the Tabernacle in Exodus Chapter forty, the priesthood is established in Leviticus. Now on the first day of the second month, Moses is instructed to take a census of every male, twenty years old and above. This will determine the allotment of inheritance that each tribe is to receive. The Levites were not to be counted because they were to take care of the tabernacle of the Testimony and all its furnishings.
Psalms 43 – 49
Oh, send out Your light and Your truth! Ps 43:3; You are my King, O God; Command victories of for Jacob. Ps 44:4; My heart is overflowing with a good theme; I recite my composition concerning the King; my tongue is the pen of a ready writer. Ps 45:1 God is a refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 46:1 Oh clap your hands, all you peoples! Shout to God with a voce of triumph! Ps 47:1 Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised. Ps 48:1 But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave, for He shall receive me. Ps 49:15
Jeremiah 20 – 25
Jeremiah once again is in a crisis. He is mocked and in derision, but if he tries to keep silent, God’s word, in his heart, becomes like a burning fire shut up in his bones, and he cannot hold it back. King Zedekiah seeks a good word from the Lord from Jeremiah but does not receive one, accept to “Execute judgment in the morning; and deliver him who is plundered out of the hand of the oppressor, lest My fury go forth like fire and burn so that no one can quench it, because of the evil of your doings.” Jeremiah 21:12
In Chapter twenty-two, the Lord repeats what it means to know the Lord and act as a king. “Thus says the Lord: Execute judgement and righteousness and deliver the plundered out of the hand of the oppressor. Do no wrong and do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, or the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place. For if you do this thing then shall enter the gate of this house, riding on horses and in chariots, accompanied by servants and people, kings who sit on the throne of David.” Jeremiah 22:3, 4
In Chapter twenty-three, the Lord prophesies the days that are coming, “That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; A King shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. In his days Judah will dwell safely; now this is His name by which He will be called; THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.” Jeremiah 23:5, 6 But there are false prophets who are saying that Israel will see no evil and give worthless words because they tell Israel everything is good, though Israel walks according to the dictates of his own heart. Prophets who speak peace, without calling His people out of their sins, are worthless prophets prophesying peace when there is no peace. No wonder Jeremiah was in crisis. What an unthankful task to tell God’s people that what they are doing has consequences.
In Chapter twenty-four, Jeremiah is given a vison of two baskets of figs. One basket of very good figs and one of very bad figs which cannot be eaten. The basket of the good figs are those who have gone into exile, and will be brought back to Jerusalem in peace. The basket of bad figs are the ones who stay in Jerusalem thinking they will escape destruction. To those whom God will bring back He says, “Then I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the Lord; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God, for they shall return to Me with their whole heart.” Jeremiah 24:7
Jeremiah in Chapter twenty-five recounts to Israel that this is the twenty-third year of the Lord calling him to rise early and speak to Israel, but they have not listened. Jeremiah’s, and all the prophets before him, message was, “Repent now everyone of his evil way and evil doings, and dwell in the land the Lord has given you and your faithers forever and ever. Do not go after other gods to serve them and worship them, and do not provoke Me to anger with the works of your hands, and I will not harm you.” Jeremiah 25:5, 6 But, they have not listened, so the Lord proclaims He is sending His servant Nebuchadnezzar to take them into exile and leave the land desolate for seventy years. A description of desolation in verse ten will become a declaration of the Lord’s restoration of the land in chapter thirty-three. All judgement is to bring restoration and redemption through repentance. The chapter ends with Jeremiah giving the wine cup of God’s fury to all the surrounding nations. God is a just God.