Daily Reading: May 21st


#DailyDevotion You Have Been Redeemed By the Firstborn of the Dead

6th Sunday of Easter

Read Num 3:1–16, 39–48

Num 3:12-13  “Behold, I have taken the Levites from among the people of Israel instead of every firstborn who opens the womb among the people of Israel. The Levites shall be mine,  (13)  for all the firstborn are mine. On the day that I struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, I consecrated for my own all the firstborn in Israel, both of man and of beast. They shall be mine: I am the LORD.” 46 And as the redemption price for the 273 of the firstborn of the people of Israel, over and above the number of the male Levites,  (47)  you shall take five shekels per head; you shall take them according to the shekel of the sanctuary (the shekel of twenty gerahs),

 

Ever since the Lord laid down the curse of the firstborn in Egypt, he had been preparing the Israelites for the rule of the redemption of the firstborn in Israel. If you remember on Passover, the angel of death would kill the firstborn, man or beast, in Egypt if there were not the blood of the lamb upon the door of the house. The blood of the lamb redeemed the firstborn of that house.

 

Now among the tribes of Israel the Lord was choosing the Levites to serve in the temple as priest before him. They would not have an inheritance of land in the promised land. The Lord was their inheritance and they would receive the offerings from the Israelites the Lord commanded. The Lord choose the Levites as a substitute for every firstborn Israelite of the people to serve him at the temple. Now there was to be a redemption price for the firstborn so they did not serve at the temple. In this instance it was to be five shekels but later there was to be a sacrifice for redemption.

 

Now there is another firstborn whose parents paid the redemption price but who would still be called up to serve, not in a temple made with hands but in the temple of God in the heavens above. He would first be a sacrifice himself, but having been raised from the dead, the firstborn among the dead, he has been raised to the right hand of God as our high priest forever. This one is Jesus. Jesus has become our redemption and our high priest. By the shedding of his blood he has redeemed us from death and given us life. Now he stands as high priest offering up intercession for us that we would come to faith and be sustained in that faith unto life everlasting.

 

As the firstborn and the firstfruits from the dead, he has opened paradise for us.  By his rising from the dead he has raised all human flesh from the dead. That is, all humanity will rise from the dead on the last day: Some to everlasting life—those who believed his message and some to everlasting punishment—those who rejected his message of forgiveness and life in his name.

 

By his being the first fruit of the grave he has proclaimed light to the world. That light is men no longer have to die the death of Adam. They no longer have to taste death. In his name, Jesus, there is life and salvation. That light is God is no longer holding our trespasses against us but has been reconciled by the blood of Jesus so be reconciled to God.

 

Heavenly Father, may the firstborn of the dead, Jesus, grant to us faith in his name and work that we may receive the benefits of his redemption to eternal life. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Daily Reading: May 18th


#DailyDevotion Thank God The Lord Is Impartial

Easter week 5 Thursday

Read Lev 24:1–23

Lev 24:16-22  Whoever blasphemes the name of the LORD shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall stone him. The sojourner as well as the native, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death.  (17)  “Whoever takes a human life shall surely be put to death.  (18)  Whoever takes an animal’s life shall make it good, life for life.  (19)  If anyone injures his neighbor, as he has done it shall be done to him,  (20)  fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; whatever injury he has given a person shall be given to him.  (21)  Whoever kills an animal shall make it good, and whoever kills a person shall be put to death.  (22)  You shall have the same rule for the sojourner and for the native, for I am the LORD your God.”

 

This doesn’t seem like a particularly gospel lesson for today.  A man who is half Israelite and half Egyptian curses the name of the Lord.  The Israelites didn’t know what to do with him.  After a brief discussion about various laws of the Israelites, the Lord says everybody plays by the same rules, whether Israelite or foreigner.  You shall have no partiality.  So we do have a sense of justice with God.  Paul recognizes this in Romans:

Rom 2:9-11  There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek,  (10)  but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek.  (11)  For God shows no partiality.

 

God also shows no partiality when it comes to the Gospel.  In Acts Peter is called to the Gentile Cornelius’ home.  Act 10:34-36  “So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality,  (35)  but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.  (36)  As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all),..,”  The good news of God’s reconciliation with the world, Jews and Gentiles through faith in Jesus Christ is to be proclaimed without partiality.  It is for everyone.

 

So the Law of God is impartial and so is the Gospel.  God will not excuse your sins by the Law, you and I are all equally guilty under it.  God also completely pardons your sins on account of the blood of Christ.  It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’ve been, what you have done, what you used to believe and practice, what nation you are from or what political party you last supported and voted for.  Jesus died and rose for you so that you can have peace with God the Father.  You are acceptable to the Father on account of faith in Jesus’ name and work.

 

Lord God, Heavenly Father, we thank and praise you that you are a God of impartiality and you have shown that to us particularly bringing the good news of Jesus Christ to us.  Continually grant us your Holy Spirit that we may persevere in this faith unto life everlasting and may we demonstrate your impartiality in our lives.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

Daily Reading: May 17th


#DailyDevotion Help Us To Remember All Your Goodness And Respond Accordingly

Easter Week 5 Wednesday

Read Lev 23:23–44

Lev 23:37-38  “These are the appointed feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim as times of holy convocation, for presenting to the LORD food offerings, burnt offerings and grain offerings, sacrifices and drink offerings, each on its proper day,  (38)  besides the LORD’s Sabbaths and besides your gifts and besides all your vow offerings and besides all your freewill offerings, which you give to the LORD…42 You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All native Israelites shall dwell in booths,  (43)  that your generations may know that I made the people of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.”

 

The rest of this chapter also list and gives details for other feasts of the Lord for the Israelites so they may have times of rest and festive gatherings. Among those was also the Day of Atonement (which not quite so festive as a day of affliction). But we may want to take note of two other things in this chapter.

 

In verse 38, the Lord noted that these festivals were in addition to vow offerings, freewill offerings, gifts and Sabbaths. In other words, it was expected the Israelites were at other times going to be giving and making various and sundry gifts of thanksgiving to the Lord and making vows to the Lord with gifts and celebrating the Sabbaths throughout the year.

 

From this we may take as Christians that while we have no mandated festivals from the Lord, while we have made up several festivals to gather and remember certain aspects of our Lord Jesus Christ’s life i.e. Christmas and Easter, it is expected that we will regularly gather like the Israelites on certain days to rest and imbibe on the Word of God together. It is also expected that we will also make vows, freewill offerings, and thanksgiving offerings throughout the year also, to provide for the pastor and for the maintenance of where we choose to worship.

 

And then there is the Feasts of Booths God commanded the Israelites to observe so that they would remember what their ancestors did because the Lord had delivered them from the hands of the Egyptians and brought them into the Promised Land. Our Lord Jesus Christ, in his Supper, has given us a feast which we can celebrate weekly or even daily to remember what he, the Lord has done for us—he delivered us from sin, death and the power of the devil on his cross and by is resurrection. There we have not only a remembrance but also the very power to deliver right now what he accomplished on the cross.

 

Heavenly Father, even as you have delivered your people the Israelites and gave them festivals for times of joy, merriment and the remembrance of your salvation, ever provide for us also times of joy and remembrance of all you have done for us in your Son Jesus Christ so his joy may always fill our hearts. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Daily Reading: May 16th


#DailyDevotion The Lord God Loves A Good Party

Easter Week 5 Tuesday

Read Lev 23:1–22

Lev 23:1-4  The LORD spoke to Moses, saying,  (2)  “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, These are the appointed feasts of the LORD that you shall proclaim as holy convocations; they are my appointed feasts.  (3)  “Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work. It is a Sabbath to the LORD in all your dwelling places.  (4)  “These are the appointed feasts of the LORD, the holy convocations, which you shall proclaim at the time appointed for them.

 

The Lord God wants his people to rest and he wants his people to party.  To that end he gave them the day he rested from his work, the seventh day so they could rest from theirs.  He also gave them three feasts in which they would bring food and drink before him for several days of good times with good food to be shared with the priest, the poor, the widow, the orphan and the foreigner at the gate.

 

All these feasts were a foreshadowing  of the New Heavens and New Earth.  Jesus compares it to a wedding feasts several times: Mat 22:2  “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son,” Luk 5:34  And Jesus said to them, “Can you make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? Rev 21:2  And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

 

The Sabbath rest is still for us but not as the Old Testament has it.  Hebrews writes: Heb 4:9-10  “So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God,  (10)  for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.”  The Christian Sabbath then is not that we don’t work on Sunday or Saturday.  It is that we no longer rely on our works to be pleasing to God.  If we are pleasing to God it is only because we trust in the work of Jesus Christ to make us justified, sanctified and pleasing to the Father.

 

It is only then when we trust in Jesus and his work that we actually get around to the fun of being “good.”  For without faith, Hebrews says, it is impossible to please God.  This is why so many do gooders are so worked up in Churches.  They are relying on their works to be pleasing to God.  But when they trust in Christ’s work, they can relax and have fun doing the will of God.  It is no longer a burden because they are no longer being judged.  Indeed, when we enter the rest of God, we probably do more good than we ever did when we were working hard to please him by “our” works.

 

And there is still the New Jerusalem Sabbath where we enter into the wedding feasts.  Now one works at a wedding feasts who are guests or the bride unless they are just fussbudgets, and they won’t be allowed anyway or at least they won’t be that way anymore in the resurrection.  It’s just dancing, singing, eating and drinking.  I’m looking forward to it.  The good news is you are invited to it today by Jesus.  Just tell the guy at the door Jesus sent you.

 

Lord God, Heavenly Father, we thank you for sending us Jesus, our Sabbath, that we may rest from our works, trusting in his work, that we might enter into the eternal Sabbath at his return.  In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

Daily Reading: May 15th


#DailyDevotion Husbands and Wives A Type For Christ and His Church

Easter week 5 Monday

Read Lev 21:1–24

Lev 21:10-15  “The priest who is chief among his brothers, on whose head the anointing oil is poured and who has been consecrated to wear the garments, shall not let the hair of his head hang loose nor tear his clothes…: I am the LORD.  (13)  And he shall take a wife in her virginity.  (14)  A widow, or a divorced woman, or a woman who has been defiled, or a prostitute, these he shall not marry. But he shall take as his wife a virgin of his own people,  (15)  that he may not profane his offspring among his people, for I am the LORD who sanctifies him.”

 

The chief or high priest is to be a type or prophesy of Christ.  Note the type of wife he cannot take and the type of wife he can take.  He cannot take a widow, a divorced woman, a defiled woman or a prostitute as a wife.  This is because of the type of Bride the Lord Jesus is taking to himself.  Jesus’ bride is the Church. Rev 19:7-8  Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready;  (8)  it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”– for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. Rev 21:2  And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. Rev 21:10-21  (11)  having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal.  (12)  It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed… (16)  The city lies foursquare, its length the same as its width. And he measured the city with his rod, 12,000 stadia…(17)  He also measured its wall, 144 cubits by human measurement, which is also an angel’s measurement.  (18)  The wall was built of jasper, while the city was pure gold, clear as glass.  (19)  The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every kind of jewel. The first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald,  (20)  the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst.  (21)  And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, transparent as glass.

 

What a beautify bride Church is.  Now the bride of Christ is also a fulfillment of every man’s wife.  St. Paul says, Eph 5:25-28  Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,  (26)  that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,  (27)  so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.  (28)  In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

 

So the husband of a wife should look at his wife in this way because that is how Jesus views his bride, the Church and husbands are a type of Christ and Jesus is the fulfillment of the husband.  What a great honor has Christ Jesus visited upon both husbands and wives that they should be a type of Himself and His Church.

 

Lord Jesus Christ, ever give us such a view of our vocations as husbands and wives that we may not bring shame upon the institution of marriage but may our marriages be examples of you and your Church. Amen.

Daily Reading: May 14th


#DailyDevotion How Will You Escape Death For Your Sins?

5th Sunday of Easter

Read Lev 20:1–16, 22–27

Lev 20:7-9  Consecrate yourselves, therefore, and be holy, for I am the LORD your God.  (8)  Keep my statutes and do them; I am the LORD who sanctifies you.  (9)  For anyone who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death; he has cursed his father or his mother; his blood is upon him…24  But I have said to you, ‘You shall inherit their land, and I will give it to you to possess, a land flowing with milk and honey.’ I am the LORD your God, who has separated you from the peoples.

 

Now if you have read this chapter, you will see that there are a lot of sins which if the people of Israel commit, they would be put to death, worshipping Molech, sassing parent, adultery, various other sexual sins and the like. But the Lord precedes these with these words, “Consecrate yourselves, therefore, and be holy, for I am the Lord your God.” The Israelites were to be a holy nation. A nation separate from the other nations of the world. They were not saved from the Egyptians by the Lord to be like other people. They were called to be a light to the world. But to become darkness, to sin with the rest of the world, was to annul God’s covenant and to lose one’s purpose with God.

 

The wages of sin is death. We normally think about our being mortal, that indeed one day our bodies will experience death because of our sinfulness. Yet the Lord here in the covenant with Moses shows how serious our sins are by hastening deaths to those who commissioning these sins. Sin is not something the Lord God just excuses or sloughs off. It is serious. Deadly serious.

 

Now we Christians are not part of the Mosaic Covenant. These decrees of death for these various sins do not apply to us to carry out in the land we live in. Indeed, even the Israelites only has jurisdiction over the people in the land they were promised. But we have not yet reached that land promised to us. To escape the penalties of temporal death for our sins and more importantly, to escape the eternal punishment for our sins, the Lord, the God of Israel became man, a specific man, Jesus of Nazareth.

 

The Lord Jesus does not want to kill people for their sins nor does he desire their eternal death in the lake of fire, prepared to punish the angels who rebelled against him. No, Jesus, the Lord, wants to save you and give you eternal life. To this purpose, Jesus gave us his own life for you on the cross. There on the altar of the cross, in his sacrifice, he experience what those who reject him and his ways experience at death. Yet death could not hold Jesus and he rose on the third day. Now he promises his life is your life. He has become a covenant for you. He has a promised land for you where righteousness reigns and there is no more evil. This he will give to you if you believe he has done this for you.

 

Heavenly Father, you have called us to be your holy people in Jesus the Messiah. Grant us your grace to live holy lives among the people of the world and give us your word of life that we may give it to others and rescue them from eternal death for Christ’s sake. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

 

 

Daily Reading: May 13th


#DailyDevotion Remembering Who Jesus Is Dictates What You Do

Easter Week 4 Saturday

Read Lev 19:9–18, 26–37

Lev 19:30-37  You shall keep my Sabbaths and reverence my sanctuary: I am the LORD.  (31)  “Do not turn to mediums or necromancers; do not seek them out, and so make yourselves unclean by them: I am the LORD your God.  (32)  “You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the LORD.  (33)  “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong.  (34)  You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.  (35)  “You shall do no wrong in judgment, in measures of length or weight or quantity.  (36)  You shall have just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin: I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.  (37)  And you shall observe all my statutes and all my rules, and do them: I am the LORD.”

 

In the reading above you will read all sorts of commandments, statutes, precepts and the like.  Some of them deal with the moral law.  Some of them are ceremonial and some deal with aspects of Israelite life only.  But the one constant theme throughout all of these is this: “I am the Lord.”

 

After each announcement of Law, we here that refrain.  What’s going on here?  I can only imagine it is this, that we remember who saved us, who delivered us, who is taking care of us, who is going to deliver us into the promise land.  To be true these were given to Israel but many of the principles apply to us as well.  Some of them might even be presented to governments as to what sort of laws they may want to enact.  But it all comes down to this:  The only true God is the Lord and He has a claim on your life.

 

If Jesus is the Lord, we as Christians need to remember this.  We don’t simply go out and do as our sinful flesh pleases.  We are to remember we are Jesus’, the Lord’s chosen people.  Jesus didn’t give us as his people a whole list of laws, rules and regulations in the gospels and his apostles didn’t particularly either (we must remember when they spoke it is the voice of Jesus speaking).  If there is any law that is out there that either Jesus or Jesus through the apostles gave us it is summed up in this: Love your neighbor as yourself.

 

Pretty simple, whatever you would want people to do to you, do to them.  And whatever you don’t want people to do you, don’t do to them.  Not that loving your neighbor earns you salvation.  “I am Jesus, the Lord.  I saved you.  I claimed you in baptism.  I made you my own people.”  That claim is what saves us.   When we have the Spirit in us that witnesses to that fact, our lives are new and we are not our own.  Our desire in life is to lead a life pleasing to Jesus.  Sure, we stumble and fall here and there but our eyes are fixed on the one who claims, “I am the Lord.”  With our eyes fixed on Jesus our lives are then fixed on loving our neighbor.  It’s simply what we do because we are his people.

 

Lord Jesus Christ, ever help us by your good Spirit, to live lives according to your will, giving praise to your name by living out your commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves.  Amen

Daily Reading: May 12th


#DailyDevotion The Nations Should Repent and It Starts With Us

Easter week 4 Friday

Read Lev. 18:1–7, 20—19:8

Lev 18:24-28  “Do not make yourselves unclean by any of these things, for by all these the nations I am driving out before you have become unclean,  (25)  and the land became unclean, so that I punished its iniquity, and the land vomited out its inhabitants.  (26)  But you shall keep my statutes and my rules and do none of these abominations, either the native or the stranger who sojourns among you  (27)  (for the people of the land, who were before you, did all of these abominations, so that the land became unclean),  (28)  lest the land vomit you out when you make it unclean, as it vomited out the nation that was before you. Lev 19:2  “Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.

 

The sins of the Canaanites polluted the land.  This is why the Lord sends the Israelites into the land to be hand of his wrath.  They are the instruments through which his wrath is executed.  Now the Lord is warning them to not pollute the land through similar sinful ways.  They have been called to be holy as the Lord God is holy.  The laws and rituals that were given were there to instruct them how to live holy before the Lord and be a witness unto the surrounding nations.

 

Well we know what happened.  The Israelites went into the land and for several hundred years went back and forth between following the Lord and following the way of the pagan nations surrounding them.  Because they did this the Lord sent the Assyrians first to wipe out Northern Israel and then a couple of hundred years later the Babylonians to bring the Jews into exile.  After returning to Canaan for several hundred years the Jews rejected their God in Christ and the Lord destroyed the temple in 70 AD.

 

Now we, like the Israelites, have been called to be his holy people.  As we have been baptized into Christ Jesus we have been grafted into Israel.  By baptism he has declared us holy and makes us holy.  By the gift of the Holy Spirit we are able to turn from the sinful ways of the world and our own flesh and are called to do so.  We are to be witnesses of God’s reconciliation with the World in Jesus.  We proclaim a free gift of forgiveness, life and salvation on account of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.

 

But what if the Church turns from God?  What if the nations spurn that message?  If we as a nation approve of what is wrong, sinful and evil and reject what is good and holy and if we practice injustice will the Lord God leave us alone?  God forbid! If we pollute the land which the Lord has placed us will the land vomit us up and out? May it never be! But we read that God the Lord calls the nations to repentance through calamity and war, disease and famine, droughts and flood and you name it.  If we see these things in our land then we should repent.  We should call our neighbors to repent.  That is we should change our direction, admit our faults and look to God for mercy in Christ Jesus.

 

May our Heavenly Father grant us and our nation such repentance that leads to eternal life.  In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

Daily Reading: May 11th


#DailyDevotion The Life Is In The Blood!

Easter Week 4 Thursday

Read Lev 17:1–16

Lev 17:10-14  “If any one of the house of Israel or of the strangers who sojourn among them eats any blood, I will set my face against that person who eats blood and will cut him off from among his people.  (11)  For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life.  (12)  Therefore I have said to the people of Israel, No person among you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger who sojourns among you eat blood.  (13)  “Any one also of the people of Israel, or of the strangers who sojourn among them, who takes in hunting any beast or bird that may be eaten shall pour out its blood and cover it with earth.  (14)  For the life of every creature is its blood: its blood is its life. Therefore I have said to the people of Israel, You shall not eat the blood of any creature, for the life of every creature is its blood. Whoever eats it shall be cut off.

 

It seems like a pretty stiff penalty for eating blütwurst doesn’t it.  But there is a point in it.  And it’s a good thing that the Old Testament law has been abrogated by Christ Jesus.  But the fine point of the message here is that the life is in the blood.  When you spill something’s blood you are removing its life.  They were not to eat the life of the animal but only its flesh.  The life belonged to God.  So whether it was a sacrifice or a quick meal on the run, the life belonged to God by having its blood poured out at the temple as an offering for sin or buried in the ground.

 

Hebrews tells us there is no forgiveness without the shedding of blood.  You see the wages of sin is death.  The only way to escape death was t to shed blood, that is an alternate life must be offered up.  Hebrews also tell us that the blood of bulls and goats could never take away sins or give a clear conscience.

 

But all this bloodshed at the temple represented the blood Jesus would shed for us in his innocent suffering and death.  The sin we commit is always against an eternal God.  It would take the like of an eternal God to atone for our sin against him.  Jesus is eternal God.  Having become man eternal God has blood he can shed to make atonement for our sin and in particular you sin.  Through holy baptism you are washed in the blood of Jesus because you are baptized into his death. Rom. 6:3 ff.

 

And unlike the Old Testament sacrifices where you did not eat the blood, Jesus in his Supper gives us his very blood to drink for in drinking his blood in the cup of the sacrament we are participating in the New Testament. Jer. 31:31ff  Jesus’ blood is unlike the animals blood.  Jesus is the Author of Life.  His blood gives us forgiveness, His life and His salvation.  No longer is the blood poured out on the ground or put on the temple made with hands. You are the temple of God upon which and in which God’s blood is poured on, in and anointed with.

 

Lord Jesus Christ, we thank you for shedding you life-giving blood for us and anointed us with that blood in baptism and your Supper.  Ever give us such faith in your blood that we may participate in your eternal life. Amen.