EXODUS 23:14-25:40 | MATTHEW 24:29-51 | PSALM 30:1-12 | PROVERBS 7:24-27
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Demanding and exacting. That is how this God is. Moses is told exactly what is needed of the people, and he duly carries this out. The people are also initially quite accepting and cooperative. The expectations are being laid out quite clearly. After all, this is the God that has brought them out of slavery having performed a series of supernatural acts, has provided for them in the desert all these years, and has made it possible for them to be well on their way to the promised land.
So, what’s not to like? Well, nothing just yet. But it is to be seen if this arrangement will work out well in the long-run. In the meantime, they do just as they are instructed in the building of the tabernacle, and all of the essential furnishings within it. The Ark of the Covenant, the Table, and the Lampstand (today commonly known as the menorah) are all constructed to the prescribed design.
Turning next to Matthew, we find Jesus continues to speak about the end-times, only, he makes it quite clear that no one can predict with any certainty the day of his return. This must have been quite puzzling to his disciples and listeners as they do not have the foresight of the events that ill soon unfold in the coming days of Jesus being taken away and put to death. What might it mean that Jesus talks now of his return? The people obviously know nothing yet of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, so how could they fully understand the meaning of a return?
And yet, Jesus explains in various ways the uncertainty of the hour of the end of the world and exhorts that everyone be watchful of this great event to come. Jesus is telling them that not only will he leave them for a short while, but that he will rise from the dead, be with them for a while, leave them again, but will return eventually to rule the world for a thousand years and take back with him all those who are living in that day.
All this must have seemed mind-bendingly cryptic, enigmatic, and even incomprehensible to them. Yet some time later, after they had witnessed the resurrection, it would have all made sense!
As it should to us today. We might not have the benefits of foresight, but we do have the benefits of hindsight. And we have something even greater: faith. We believe in what Jesus has said would happen. And in matters of such belief, evidence is not always necessary.
And so, when Jesus says, 42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come” that is exactly what every Christ-follower chooses to believe. Christ will return.
Turning next to the Psalms, we find David’s psalm for the day is an intimate one in which he cries out to God and affirms his own faith in the mercies and provision of God. This was a man who apparently had a unique relationship with God, the same God of his forefathers who didn’t always seem to have a personal relationship with his people. And yet, for those who wanted to, it was always possible. David says,
4 Sing to the LORD, you saints of his;
praise his holy name.
5 For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may remain for a night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.
And he says also:
11 You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
12 that my heart may sing to you and not be silent.
O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever.
Finally, turning to the Book of Proverbs, we find Solomon, wise king of Israel, offering these words of instruction concerning staying away from evil:
24 Now then, my sons, listen to me;
pay attention to what I say.
25 Do not let your heart turn to her ways
or stray into her paths.
May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word. Amen.