As we are taking a pause between the gospel of Matthew and the gospel of Mark we enjoy reading one chapter of Proverbs and two chapters of Numbers.
February 26: Proverbs 3, Numbers 10, Numbers 11 (click on the chapter to begin reading)
Proverbs 3 continues to tell of the benefits of wisdom. The verses most often quoted are ”Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will direct your paths.”
Numbers 10 tells of making two silver trumpets and with the blasts from them they finally leave Sinai, still in formation , tribe by tribe.
In Numbers 11 the people complained about eating manna every day, so God put His spirit on seventy elders to prophecy, but He also sent them quail , a delicious game bird, but after eating quail for a whole month until it came out their nostrils they got sick, and God punished the gluttons.
Taking a rest between the gospel of Matthew and the gospel of Mark by reading two short Psalms and three chapters of Numbers that only appear long.
February 25: Psalm 11, Psalm 12, Numbers 7, Numbers 8, Numbers 9 (click on the chapter to begin reading)
Psalm 11 has the phrase “flee as a bird to the mountain”, which bring back memories of songs we used to sing in choir.
With all the double speak today, Psalm 12 is especially valid. The Lord has something to say about that.
Numbers 7 has 89 verses, but the chapter only seems long since the same offerings for the dedication of the tabernacle are repeated for each of the twelve tribes.
Numbers 8 deals with setting the Levites apart for their duties.
Numbers 9 defines how the Passover shall be celebrated from that time on. It also describes the cloud over the tabernacle, if it lifted they moved on, if it stayed, they stayed.
In between the gospel of Matthew and the gospel of Mark we take time out to read two Psalms and two chapters in Numbers.
February 24: Psalm 9, Psalm 10, Numbers 5, Numbers 6 (click on the chapter to begin reading)
Psalm 9 and Psalm 10 may belong together as they do in the Septuagint. They speak of God’s faithfulness and the only temporary victories of the wicked one.
Numbers 5 deals with purity, how to deal with leprosy or dead bodies, restitution for wrongdoings and how to deal with marital unfaithfulness, especially for women.
Numbers 6 tells of the vow of the Nazarite, how he (or she!) must separate themselves totally to the LORD, not shave the hair, not eat anything from the grape, not even the dry skin, not touch any dead bodies and so on. When the separation is over an offering must be given. Thankfully the chapter ends with the priestly blessing: “ The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.“
Today there are four chapters to read, ponder the significance of the resurrection in Matthew 28. The three first chapters in Numbers are interesting for historians.
February 23: Matthew 28, Numbers 2, Numbers 3, Numbers 4 (click on the chapter to begin reading)
Matthew 28 begins with Jesus being in the grave for the two adjoining sabbaths, the first day of unleavened bread followed by the normal sabbath, then there was an earthquake and the stone was rolled away. Jesus was no longer in the grave. The guards were bribed to tell the story that the disciples took the body, but two women, the two Marys met the resurrected Jesus. He told them to tell the remaining disciples that he was risen from the dead. The Gospel of Matthew ends with Jesus giving the great commission: “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
Numbers 2 tells how the tribes are to be arranged around the tabernacle, three to the east, three to the south, three to the west and three to the north and the Levites in the middle.
Numbers 3 lists the sons of Aaron and the Levites by clan.
Numbers 4 tells of the duties of the Kohathites, the Gershonites and the Merarites. Then these Levite clans are numbered.
February 22: Matthew 27, Numbers 1 (click on the chapter to begin reading)
Matthew 27 depicts the longest day, beginning with Jesus being handed over to Pilate, the Roman governor; since the Jews did not have right to execute capital punishment. Judas hanged himself and the thirty pieces of silver given him in exchange for the betrayal of Jesus was used to buy the Potter’s field. Pilate tried to wiggle out of his role as a judge, his wife had warned him, so he came up with the idea to release one prisoner at Passover which was the custom. Pilate chose Jesus or Barabbas to be released and of the two the people chose Barabbas to be released and Jesus to be crucified. Pilate acquiesced to the mob and so Jesus was flogged by the soldiers for a public spectacle and then he was led away, but after the flogging Jesus was too weak to carry his own cross, so they forced Simon from Cyrene to carry Jesus cross all the way to the place of the skull, and there Jesus was crucified together with two criminals. To identify Jesus they put an inscription on the top of the cross “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” A number of prophecies were fulfilled during the crucifixion, and Jesus finally died on the cross. At that very moment the Temple veil was torn in two, from bottom to top and for the first time the holy of holiest was revealed. Jesus, now being dead was taken down from the cross and put in a tomb, a stone was rolled in front of the entrance and the tomb was sealed, and – this is important, they put up a guard to secure the tomb. Why did they do that? Think about that.
Numbers 1 consists of a listing of the heads of the people that left Egypt, the first census.
Today’s reading in the gospel of Matthew deals with the events the two days before Jesus was crucified. In addition we read the last chapter of Leviticus.
February 21: Matthew 26, Leviticus 27 (click on the chapter to begin reading)
Matthew 26 is enormous. It begins with the plot against Jesus, continuing with his anointing at Bethany, then Judas agreeing to betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver, continuing with the Lord’s supper being initiated, Jesus predicting who is going to betray him, moving on to the Mount of Olives, where Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane, where he prayed “Not my will, but yours be done,”after which he predicted Peter’s denial. Jesus prayed three times and then came the betrayal and arrest of Jesus and he wss taken to the Sanhedrin to be interrogated. The chapter ends with Peter’s denial.
Leviticus 27 deals with redeeming people and property and what is to be dedicated to God.
Today’s chapter in Matthew deals with parables about the kingdom of heaven, and the two chapters in Leviticus deal with the Sabbath year, the Year of the Jubilee, and rewards and punishments.
February 20: Matthew 25, Leviticus 25, Leviticus 26 (click on the chapter to begin reading)
Matthew 25 begins with the parable of the ten virgins, five with oil, five without oil. (Give me oil in my lamp, keep it burning). After that Jesus told the parable of the five, two and one talent given to three different people, the one with five made ten, the one with two doubled his talents, but the one with only one talent buried his. Jesus had his one talent taken away and be given to the one with ten talents. The moral of this parable is: Equal opportunity, not equal outcome. Finally Jesus gives the parable of the sheep and the goats, and the sheep are defined as those who do God’s will “You did it for me.”
Leviticus 25 defines the Sabbath year, a year of rest for the land, and the year of the jubilee, the year when property is restored, rights redeemed, and slaves are set free. (As far as I know the year of the jubilee was never implemented)
Leviticus 26 tells of blessing for obedience and punishment for disobedience.