“God, Are You Trying to Tell Me Something?”

God’s people know it’s time to examine ourselves before Passover (just four weeks from tomorrow night!), like Paul instructs in 1 Corinthians 11:28.

So a well-meaning fellow ponders his life and realizes he could be deceiving himself big time. But he knows God knows what he needs. So he asks God to guide him where to go in the Bible. He opens it to Matthew 27:5: “Judas went out and hanged himself.” Then he opens his Bible again, to Luke 10:37: “Go thou and do likewise.”

I hope you’re laughing! Because if we did that thinking it was God’s directions for us, we’d be deceived! Deadly deceived! And we deceived ourself! Instead, we need to rightly divide the Word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).

But what if for months it seems like every time you open your Bible, your eye falls on the same word!
And its variations. What would your reaction be?

This has been happening to me for several months! Every time I open my Bible, it’s talking about being deceived or being deceitful.

“But I’m not deceitful. I’m straightforward. Above board. What you see is what you get.
This means nothing! God’s not trying to tell me anything.”

Well, OK, for others reading this blog. Or for those who will hear the sermon on this …

I wish I could say that, but I know better.

A few years ago I wrote a blog post titled “Is the Whole World Deceived—Except You?”

That’s based on Revelation 12:9 that shockingly says “Satan, the one deceiving the whole world” (New Living Translation). Yes, deceiving—continuing to deceive!

“Man, how can they be so dumb!” Well, how can we? OK, even after 52 years as a Christian, how can I?

Today, it’s easy to see that the whole world is deceived like we would have never imagined, back when Walter Cronkite nightly said “and that’s the way it is” and we all believed it was. Only a few years back I used to think CNN was the network to trust. Now the name always makes me think SIN. Does anybody trust the fact checkers?

1 Corinthians warns us not to be ignorant of Satan’s devices. Smartphones anyone? Mine is probably smart but it sure baffles me about how to use it effectively! Now a new one: masks? Deceiving and dividing whether you believe in them or not—even brethren. That looks like a warmup for vaccines, and how that could divide brethren who have all the answers.

Satan is such a Master Deceiver that so many people do not even believe he exists

Even many who call themselves Christians! A Barna survey in 2009 found that only 35% of Christians thought Satan exists as a living being rather than personifying evil. You’d have to think that figure would be less in 2021.

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In the cloak and dagger movies, the perfect strategy is to induce the opponents or victims to think you’re dead and no longer a force to reckon with so you can then carry out your schemes with ease.

Ephesians 2:2 identifies Satan as “the prince of the power of the air” who broadcasts his attitudes and moods invisibly like radio and TV signals so that people are not aware of how he is influencing them any more than they are thinking about breathing.

In His Olivet prophecy, Jesus warned that the end times would be so deceptive with false Christs and prophets that if it were possible, the very elect would be deceived (Matthew 24:24). We who have committed all to wanting to be the very elect should take that as a warning to “let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12).

An Antichrist Man of Sin is coming who will deceive so many by out-of-this-world miracles that appear to be good. We today are being set up to want the assuring miracles and smooth talk he will dispense. A man of God? He sits in the temple as God! (2 Thessalonians 2:4).

Jeremiah 10:23 says our own hearts are something above all things. Bloody? No, deceitful! We are easy pickings for the Master Deceiver.

What’s the antidote for Antichrist: “a love of the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:10). We must study God’s Word, live it and have a developing relationship with God the Father and Jesus Christ.

Proverbs tell a Christian to diligently be open to correction and sincerely respond to it. But

A really smart Christian will do more and actually ask for it,

from God especially who promises to not give us more than we can handle (1 Corinthians 10:13).

The Bible says Satan is deceiving the whole world. No exceptions. Each of us needs to ask ourself: How am I being deceived?

Looking for the Best Places to Camp

I’ve been treated to almost 70 years of wonderful camping memories. Growing up, my Dad, Mom and us four kids went camping a lot at Blue Lakes north of Las Animas, CO. We’d waterski and often camp overnight. Sometimes we camped at John Martin Reservoir.

Now for 30-some years my wife and our four kids have camped in a lot of nice places. Special ones that stand out were in Canyonlands National Park where we found a free spot by a river looking up at bluffs; a campground near the entrance of Zion National Park where we found a peaceful, soothing spot next to a creek running through the campground; and Richardson Redwoods campground where giant redwoods formed the boundaries of each campsite, and there was an exciting place to swim in a river nearby. That camp literally stood out!

In Deuteronomy 1:33 God says He goes before us “looking for the best places to camp” (New Living Translation). How do we like the campsite God has provided for us?

If the Week Will Go Like the Sermon Tomorrow, Then Here’s What My Ears Are Itchin’ to Hear!

Last Sabbath, the sermon at our combined service in Denver was a thorough, polished presentation of what the Bible teaches about endurance. I tried to post the link so you could listen to it, but it’s not posted yet; I will edit it in when available.

And then from Sunday till the beginning of the Sabbath tonight, it was one enduring test after another—enduring some good but challenging projects like installing new vinyl plank flooring in our kitchen and bathroom and also enduring some unpleasant ones like taking four tries to fix our main toilet from dripping.

So I can’t help hoping that the sermon tomorrow in our Colorado Springs service will be on “Life Is a Bed of Roses”!

Surely I jest. My ears are itching to hear what God chooses for us to hear (2 Timothy 4:3). Especially at this time to be

Preparing for God’s Passover only five weeks away on March 26!

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God’s people know that it’s God’s time of year to examine ourselves to be ready to eat and drink the bread and cup (1 Corinthians 11:28). I hope you know the thrill of keeping God’s commanded Sabbaths and Holy Days! All people will eventually—within God’s amazing plan taught by keeping these Holy Days! The firstfruits will be delighting in them now and then will have the incredible privilege of teaching them to others in the Millennium and the Great White Throne Judgment under the leadership of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! I want to be one of those Kings and Lords! (Revelation 5:10). I believe those of you who continue to read this blog are being called and developed to be those firstfruits! Are we responding?

We answer that question by whether we are keeping God’s Sabbath—that started here in Canon City about three hours ago. And we answer “I’m all ears” but not itching ones to not forsake the assembling of ourselves together tomorrow and so much the more as we see the day approaching (Hebrews 10:23-25).

It’s a weekly surprise what God has prepared to get us through the coming weeks!

If Only We Could Close Our Complaint Department

Neuroscience has learned that when we choose whether to be thankful or whether to complain, we actually create or fortify a neuron pathway that makes it more likely we’ll choose that way the next time. Yes, glory to our Maker, we are physically created to help us make better spiritual decisions!

So you’d think we would choose to be thankful and close down the Complaint Departments everywhere.

Until you see what our Israelite ancestors did

The Lord told Moses to send a leading man from the 12 tribes of Israel to spy out the Promised Land. Surprisingly, the idea had originated with the people themselves suggesting it to Moses (Deuteronomy 1:21-23). God welcomes our thoughts and ideas in prayer!

Caleb and Joshua saw victory ahead: “The land we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land which flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the Lord is with us. Do not fear them” (Numbers 14:7-9). But the other 10 led the people all right—into fear and faithlessness, so that they were about to stone Caleb and Joshua!

By God’s count this was the 10th time Israel had put Him to the test (verse 22)—10 being a number of judgment in the Bible. God praised Caleb because he “thinks differently and follows Me completely” (verse 24, New Century Version). And Joshua who would eventually succeed Moses as Israel’s human leader.

God was about to wipe out Israel

with pestilence, but relented because Moses cared more about the people than preeminence for himself. The people waxed worse and worse in griping until they went too far: “If only we had died in this wilderness” (verse 2).

Oh no! They asked for it! That can be arranged! God decreed that “the carcasses of you who have complained against Me shall fall in this wilderness from those who were numbered 20 years or older.” They moaned that God was going to kill the children, but God said no, they will live.

It appears that Israel could have gone straight into the Promised Land

Instead they were sentenced to wander around the wilderness for 40 years—an example of the day-for-a-year principle in the Bible that is vital for discerning the 70 years prophecy of Daniel 9 plus the Day of the Lord in Revelation 6:17.

Slow penalty, slow death for 3 million Israelites. Except the 10 cowards died by a plague.

Imagine how Moses must have groaned because he had spent 40 years in the wilderness after escaping Egypt! Preparing to lead these complainers!

You’d think Israel would have learned not to complain. Then you don’t know how stiff-necked Israelites are! Maybe the number of chiropractors in our land should give a clue!

Korah, a first cousin of Moses, urged on by Dathan and Abiram and 250 leaders of the congregation, accused Moses and Aaron of taking too much upon themselves. Yes, we generally accuse others of what we are guilty of! (Romans 2:1-3). Korah managed to convince “all the congregation against them” (Numbers 16:19). In reality, Israel was complaining and rebelling against God! Everybody was given a chance by our Merciful God to remove themselves from the rebels, and then God swallowed them up in an earthquake so they completely disappeared.

Nobody should question the stubbornness of Israelites … the next day they complained against Moses and Aaron, “You have killed the people of the Lord” (verse 41). Because they didn’t wisely censor their mouths, so God became incensed, Moses had to hastily make atonement for them with a censer of incense! Another 14,700 dead complainers!

Yet, unbelievably, even with the rebels gone, the idea persisted in camp that any Israelite could be a priest. So God had Aaron’s rod miraculously sprout almonds overnight while ones from the other tribes didn’t as you would expect, and Aaron’s rod was put into the Ark of the Testimony “as a sign against [future] rebels that you may put their complaints away from Me, lest they die” (Numbers 17:10).

Spoiler alert:

Israelites are not only stiff-necked, they do not have God’s converted hearts in them (Deuteronomy 5:29), and they will go on to titanic depths of complaining and griping. Millennials today blame “your generation” for society’s ills, but here we find by Numbers 20, near the end of the 40 years, the younger generation showed they hadn’t learned anything from their parents.

The Bible is written for our example (1 Corinthians 10:13). Have we closed our Complaint Department?

Friday 5:27 P.M.

One minute before it was the tail-end of a gorgeous day in Canon City where we could do all our pleasure. I am well aware that I have an unfair advantage just living here not only in beautiful Colorado but in Fremont County which is blessed with the best average weather in Colorado and therefore in the United States! Earlier I went to the gym and racked up one mile and 200 calories on a cross-trainer, and when I got out to my car, I leaned against it for a few minutes soaking up some solar Vitamin D to keep Covid at bay. That all ended at 5:27 p.m. which was sunset in Canon City. And hugely significant, Friday 5:27 p.m. began God’s Holy Sabbath here in Canon City.

For six years I have tried to write and post something special for the Sabbath for God’s readers of this His post. Confidentially, at 5:26 I still had no inspiration for what to write that would be worthy of your time. Well, nothing is more worthy of your time than humbly and obediently keeping God’s Sabbath.

Sunset to Sunset - God‘s Sabbath Rest

There’s nothing I can write you about God’s Sabbath that I haven’t already written in the last six years. But are you now keeping God’s Sabbath? [Help yourself to the FREE booklet to the right by clicking on the picture.]

“And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it …” (Genesis 1:29). “Yeah, that harsh mean old Ancient God of the burdensome Old Testament!”

That God was the Being who became Jesus Christ. He “blessed the seventh day and sanctified it [set it apart as holy].” A Christian walks as Christ walked.

Such as when He came down to walk 3-1/2 years training the Apostles and starting His Church. His “custom” was to keep the Sabbath day He created (Luke 4:16) and He said He “made it for man”—not just for Jews—and He was “Lord of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27-28). That was the real Lord’s Day! Just as Jesus said: He changes not (Malachi 3:16). He’s the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

“Oh no, Jesus, you changed it when you nailed it and that nasty old burdensome law to the cross. You changed it to Sunday when you were resurrected on Sunday morning.”

Oops, Jesus said His burden is light, and John said His commandments are not burdensome anyway (1 John 5:3). Jesus said the only sign of His Messiahship would be that He would be three days and three nights in the grave, and you can’t get three days and three nights between Good Friday afternoon and the pagan Ishtar Sunday morning sunrise.

Easter - The Rest of the Story

With a little study you can prove that Jesus was actually resurrected exactly 72 hours after He was placed in the grave late Wednesday afternoon. How fitting for Him to be resurrected right at the end of the Sabbath—His special consecrated Holy Day each week that Jesus called “my Sabbaths” (Leviticus 23:1-2)—His moedim—His commanded sacred appointments that He expects us to show up each week! [Help yourself to the FREE booklet to the right by clicking on the image.]

Carrot: Jesus said “If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on My holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, the hoy day of the Lord honorable, and shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, not finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words, then you shall delight yourself in the Lord” (Isaiah 58:13-14).

Stick: God’s prophets warned that the modern 12 tribes of Israel will be taken into captivity for Sabbath-breaking and idolatry (Ezekiel 20:24).

Obedience is visionary! Delight! Fellowship with the Father, Jesus Christ and brothers and sisters in Christ (Hebrews 10:23–25)! So much the more as you see the Day approaching! Oh, do we ever see that happening now!!

Friday 5:27 p.m. Or sunset where you are. Just start right now. Be blessed.

What Will Be Said About You?

Winston Churchill? With France about to fall to Hitler in 1940 and everybody dreading that the British would have to negotiate a surrender, the fiery Prime Minister spoke to 25 of his ministers: “I am convinced that every man of you would rise up and tear me down from my place if I were for one moment to contemplate parley or surrender. If this long island story of ours is to end at last, let it end only when each of us lies choking in his own blood upon the ground.”

In his book The Splendid and the Vile, Erik Larson wrote, “Here, as in other speeches, Churchill demonstrated a striking trait: his knack for making people feel loftier, stronger, and, above all, more courageous. John Martin, one of his private secretaries, believed that he ‘gave forth a confidence and invincible will that called out everything that was brave and strong’ … He did this on a more intimate level as well” (page 57).

That’s how we picture this heroic national leader!

Rather than look for Churchill in his office at 10 Downing Street, or delivering fiery oratory in Parliament, Larson tells how Churchill would often be running the country still in bed until almost noon, “seated upright against a bedrest, reading … Churchill abruptly shoved away his bedrest, threw off his covers, and barked, ‘I suffer from … heartburn—and this is the treatment.’ ‘His big white belly was moving up and down … when there was a knock on the door, and the P.M. grabbed at the sheet as Mrs. Hill came into the room.’ This was Kathleen Hill, thirty-nine, his beloved personal secretary. She and her typewriter were ever present, whether Churchill was clothed or not….

“[Churchill] was about to take one of his daily baths, these prepared with precision—ninety-eight degrees Fahrenheit and two-thirds full—by his valet-butler Frank Sawyers, present at all hours…. Churchill took two baths every day, his longtime habit, no matter where he was and regardless of the urgency of the events unfolding elsewhere …

“Churchill would wander the halls wearing a red dressing gown, a helmet, and slippers with pom-poms. He was also given to wearing his sky-blue ‘siren suit,’ a one-piece outfit of his own design that could be pulled on at a moment’s notice. His staff called it his ‘rompers’ … [some] found this to be one of Churchill’s most enduring traits—‘his complete absence of personal vanity'” (pages 37-38).

Wow! Who would expect all those observations about the legendary Winston Churchill’s personal traits and proclivities. As much as I would love to be the hero who saved the day, I wouldn’t want that kind of revelation made public!

More than what people would say about me, oh

If only God would say such good things about me as He did for our Bible heroes:

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Abraham: “because Abraham listened to My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws” (Genesis 26:5, New International Version).

Genesis 18:19 “For I have chosen him, so that he will command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, in order that the LORD may bring upon Abraham what He has promised” (Genesis 18:19, NIV).

Moses: “Thus Moses did; according to all that the Lord had commanded him, so he did” (Exodus 40:16, NIV).

David: “I have found David son of Jesse, a man after My own heart; he will do everything I want him to do” (Acts 13:22, NIV).

Mary: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus…. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb'” (Luke 1:30-31, 41-42).

Stephen: A man full of faith and the Holy Spirit … and power, did great wonders and signs among the people” (Acts 6: 5, 8).

In the challenging days ahead, where no-longer-Great Britain and the United States will face greater tests than when Winston Churchill rallied the free world (Jeremiah 30:7, Daniel 12:1, Matthew 24:21, 24), what will God ask us to do? What will God say about us?

Here’s what I’d like to hear!

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master!’ (Matthew 25:21).

How Can God’s Instructions for Priests Help Our New Administration, Senators & Representatives? Us?

What’s Exodus 28 got to do with me? Clothing for priests? Look closer! It outlines some very apt instructions for government leaders at all levels.

“On his shoulder”

Two onyx stones were fastened on the shoulder-pieces of the ephod “as a reminder that Aaron represents the people of Israel” (verse 12, New Living Translation throughout). Boy, does that part of our Judao-Christian heritage sound like “of the people, by the people and for the people”! Who wouldn’t want all of our leaders representing us, the people, instead of engaging in political in-fighting?

Notice that on each of the two stones was engraved six of the 12 tribes of Israel. A priest was to represent all 12 of them. Imagine if we had leaders today who do what’s best for all Americans—and for mankind—instead of only one party or state.

“Aaron will carry these names on his shoulders as a constant reminder whenever he goes before the Lord” (verse 12). If only all of our leaders served the Lord and concerned themselves with His will for our country! That particular part of the anatomy recalls Isaiah 9:6 “For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders.”

It compares with Isaiah 22:20-22 where Eliakim replaces Shebna as steward. God told Isaiah to tell Shebna: “Who do you think you are, and what are you doing here, building a beautiful tomb for yourself—a monument high up in the rock?” (verse 16). Shebna was enriching himself instead of serving. Where have we heard that before! Career politicians building personal wealth and stuffing bills with pork on behalf of family and cronies! So his office was given to Eliakim: “The key of the house of David I will lay on his shoulder” (verse 22).

“Over his heart”

A priest also wore a chestpiece containing four rows of gemstones representing the 12 tribes of Israel. A priest wore this “over his heart when he goes into the holy place. This will be a continual reminder that he represents the people when he comes before the Lord … to determine the Lord’s will for his people ” (Exodus 28:29-30).

This love they should have for the nation and its people reminds us of Jesus’ comments about a Good Shepherd. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep” (John 10:11). Paul faced the daily pressure of his loving concern for all of the churches (2 Corinthians 11:28).

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Priests and all leaders should be servant leaders: “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:24-28).

“When the godly are in authority, the people rejoice” (Proverbs 29:2).

What can we do to prod and support our new administration and our Senators and Representatives? God holds us responsible to “Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone [fill in the name of the leader you most despise though God commands us to speak evil of no man! No, it doesn’t get you off the hook if it’s a woman!] to be saved and to understand the truth” (1 Timothy 2:2-4).

We should pay careful attention to what God wants of His priests because we are destined to become kings and priests in His new administration that is soon coming to rule this earth for 1,000 years and then for eternity (Revelation 5:10).

The Amazing Hidden Structure of Psalms

I hope you are following a read-the-Bible-in-a-year program, and recently I finished reading Genesis. Many months, I read all of the Psalms by reading five of the 150 each day. It hasn’t been that long ago since I read the Song of Solomon.

While reading them, little did I know that

there are amazing connections

between those seemingly diverse books. The information below about the somewhat hidden structure of the book of Psalms might really kick your Bible study into a higher gear—when you see how intricately created the Word of God is, and you get a clearer glimpse of how incredible the mind of God is! The varied men who penned the Psalms would never be able to make such incredible details jibe together so seamlessly. But glory to the One who did! That God inspired them to piece together such a beautiful puzzle should assure us that we are in good hands no matter the crazy times befalling us.

The Bible’s prophetic number: 5

  • Maybe you’ve never noticed before, but flip through the Psalms and you’ll see headings noting the five divisions: chapters 1-41, 42-72, 73-89, 900-106 and 107-150.
  • The Torah [“instruction, teaching”] is divided into the five books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.
  • The Megilloth (Scrolls) are five books read in the temple at holy day seasons and on two commemorative days.

The five books of Psalms match up with the five Torah books and the five Megilloth books!

The Midrash comments on Psalm 1:1—“Moses gave to the Israelites the five books of the Law; and corresponding with these David gave them the five books of the Psalms.”

Add to that amazing parallels with the five books of the Megilloth. Though it might not be obvious on the surface, all of these books involve not just poetry, history, encouragement, inspiration but also prophecy.

Psalms Book 1—Chapters 1-41
Song of Solomon—Passover
Themes: man and creation; the beginning of salvation

Psalms Book 2Chapters 42-72
Themes: Israel and redemption; God’s relationship with His Church

Psalms Book 3—Chapters 73-89
Lamentations—Day of Ab and Trumpets: The 10th of Ab was the anniversary day
for the destruction of the temples in 586 B.C. and in A.D. 70.
Themes: Destruction; public worship and the temple; the Great Tribulation

Psalms Book 4Chapters 90-106
Ecclesiastes—Feast of Tabernacles
Themes: Millennial; God’s Kingdom

Psalms Book 5—Chapters 107-150
Themes: Praise and the Word of God; mankind’s complete salvation

We’ve looked at five-fold parallels in the Old Testament. But wait, there’s more!

In the New Testament,

the four Gospels and Acts form a “Pentateuch.” And note that Matthew’s Gospel is arranged by five sections of Jesus’ teachings (chapters 5-7, 10, 13, 18, 24-25).

With a little Googling you can find oodles of details that Sherlock Holmes Bible sleuths have discovered about these fascinating connections. Rather than make this so long with spoon-fed comparisons, I challenge you to kick your Bible study into high gear! Add a little spice! Deliberately read Genesis, Psalms Book 1, and Song of Solomon for prophetic themes and insights into the plan of God. Then the other four groups.

I hope you’ve experienced the joy—even thrill—of exploring and discovering what awaits us as we “go about rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

Why Study the Book of Psalms with Current Events So Worrisome?

Shouldn’t I be alarming you with what might come after this Wednesday, Jan. 20!!!!!!! Exclamations to infinity!

OK, Thursday, Jan. 21 is coming.

God’s got everything under control. Faith is relaxed trust in the Master Timer, and always has hope for the future. God prepares His people for events He has already mapped out for the future (Isaiah 46:9-11). “I am God, and there is none like me. Only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish…. I have said what I would do, and I will do it” (New Living Translation).

Read Psalms daily within a month

Many people read Psalms first thing in the morning and right before bed for peace of mind from all the daily chaos in the world and in their personal lives. The Psalms can easily be read each month simply by seeing what day of the month it is, and if it’s the 17th like it is for me today, you would read Psalms 17, 47, 77, 107 and 137. Amazingly, you will wonder if God didn’t foresee using such a successful strategy because often you will find the five Psalms having something in common such as theme, phrasing or structure.

And it’s just one more example of the matchless mind power of the God who inspired His Bible though it was written by 40 men over a period of about 1,500 years!

The Hebrew Old Testament is divided into the Law, the Prophets and the Writings. Jesus said in Luke 24:44: “This is what I told you while I was still with you. Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the prophets and the Psalms” (New International Version). Psalms is the first book of the Writings, and its 150 Psalms make it the biggest book of not only the Writings but the Bible.

Memorizing the Psalms by singing them

This book of songs, prayers, history, poetry and instruction is known as Psalms from the Greek word psalmoi in the Greek Septuagint translation of the Old Testament. In rabbinic literature it was called Sefer Tehillim (“Book of Praises”). Since the model prayer outline of Christ instructs beginning by hallowing God’s name, many people like to read a Psalm during a prayer. The Psalms were originally sung to stringed instruments (harp, lyre, lute), and today many have been put to music of piano, guitar or orchestration. In the Churches of God, many of the hymns sung in services are the Psalms put to music. A handy side benefit of this is that learning the lyrics to the songs will serve as memorizing the Psalms when we don’t have a Bible available. This may prove crucial when the famine of the Word comes (Amos 8:11).

And no wonder people love to read the Psalms. David was

A “man after my own heart. He will do everything I want him to do” (Acts 13:24 NLT)

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May it rub off on us as we read and study! David is considered a type of Jesus Christ. From the introductory superscriptions, 73 Psalms are attributed to David as the author. The New Testament confirms “the sweet psalmist of Israel” (2 Samuel 23:1) as the author of at least seven Psalms. Fifty of the 150 Psalms have no author specified. However, the New Testament refers to Psalms 2 and 95 as being by David, and it’s believed many of the anonymous ones were by him also. Some think we ought to just credit all of the anonymous ones to this “skillful player on the harp” (1 Samuel 16:16-23).

David organized the singers and musicians for tabernacle and later temple worship, so it’s not surprising that some of his key leaders wrote Psalms: Asaph 12, Ethan and Heman one each. Solomon 2. Sons of Korah 10—interesting that the Korah who rebelled and was swallowed up by the earth in Numbers 16 had descendants who thought differently and were used powerfully in God’s service. Psalm 90 was written by Moses so not surprisingly, it’s the oldest Psalm. Though he wrote “Seventy years are given to us! Some even live to eighty,” Moses clocked out at 120!

Psalm 137 was written after the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem. Some Psalms may have been composed as late as Ezra’s time when he completed the canonization of the Old Testament.

The New Testament quotes more from Psalms than from any other Old Testament book. That’s because many of the Psalms contain prophecy, such as about the coming Millennium and Kingdom of God.

The literary quality of the Psalms

“The Psalms are lyric poems, heart songs that touch us deeply … derive[d] from a distinctive form of Hebrew poetry, which does not rely on rhyme but on rhythmic patterns of thought,” explains The Bible Reader’s Companion in its introduction to Psalms. “Ideas, emotions, and images are repeated or developed … to create an intuitive response in the reader. While it is not necessary to understand Hebrew poetry to be captivated by the Psalms or to sense their impact, it’s important to grasp its principles … Simply put, the key to Hebrew poetry is parallelism.

“In synonymous parallelism a thought is repeated in different words: ‘Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy’ (Psalm 126:2).

“In antithetic parallelism the initial thought, emotion, or image is emphasized by contrasting it with an opposite: ‘A kind man benefits himself, but a cruel man brings himself harm’ (Proverbs 11:17).

“In synthetic parallelism the second line completes the thought of the first: ‘I will lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety’ (Psalms 4:8).”

Why are the Psalms so popular? They convey the heart, feeling and proper approach to God, His law, character and Way of life that we should all live no matter how chaotic and worrisome our world becomes.

Bought for a Price

After God killed the firstborn males of man and animals in the 10th plague on Egypt, but passed over the Israelites, He commanded Israel to sanctify their firstborn males as a memorial of their own redemption from Egypt (Exodus 13:12-16). They must sacrifice the firstborn male of a clean animal, but for an unclean animal they must sacrifice a lamb. It should be carefully noticed that throughout the Bible, God teaches that He distinguishes between clean and unclean meat to teach holiness to His people who are willing to obey Him (Leviticus 11:44). The firstborn boy, as you’d expect from a loving God, is redeemed (Numbers 18:15-16) with an offering of

5 silver shekels

It’s easy to read right over this. That’s why I’m recommending you read United Church of God’s Bible Commentary along with the Bible as you do a Read-Bible-in-a-Year plan.

The Bible records that Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery to caravan merchants headed to Egypt for

20 silver shekels (Genesis 37:28)

“Facts uncovered by archaeology … argue against the idea that early Bible stories like that of Joseph were made up many hundreds of years after they were supposed to have occurred, as the biblical ‘minimalists’ argue. Notice this from a recent book titled Is the Bible True? by a writer for U.S. News & World Report, Jeffery Sheler:

‘That, notes [professor Kenneth]] Kitchen, matches precisely the going price of slaves in the region during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in what is now modern Syria. Other documents show the price of slaves rising steadily during later centuries. By the eighth century BCE, the price of slaves, as attested in ancient Assyrian records, had risen to fifty or sixty shekels, and to ninety to 120 shekels during the Persian Empire in the fifth and fourth centuries BCE. If the story of Joseph had been dreamed up [emphasis mine throughout] by a Jewish scribe in the sixth century, as some skeptics have suggested, argues Kitchen, “why isn’t the price in Genesis also ninety to one hundred shekels? It’s more reasonable to assume that the biblical data reflect reality” (1999, pp. 73-74).'”

“Dreamed up”? How appropriate for Joseph’s story! We don’t have to assume because the Bible is truth (John 17:17) with every scripture inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16).

30 pieces of silver

“What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?” Judas asked the chief priests (Matthew 24:16).

Thirty pieces of silver sounds like a lot of money to me! I always figured a purse keeper would be sure to get a good deal. I see no indication Judas or the chief priests were thinking “Oh, Zech. 11:12-13 tells how much to pay!”

In verse 12 the Messiah declares that He’s done being the nation’s shepherd so it’s time for them to pay Him what they owe Him—or just forget about it.

The appropriate pay would have been “their love, their obedience, and their devotion to God and His Shepherd. But it was not to be a matter of compulsion; if they were so minded, they could refrain from any manifestation of their evaluation of His ministry. They were prepared, however, to indicate their estimate of Messiah and His work. They gave Him thirty pieces of silver (money) for His wage. According to Exodus 21:32 this was the price of a gored slave. A freeman was considered twice that amount. Think of the insult of it!” (Charles Feinberg, The Minor Prophets, p. 328).

God sarcastically applauds it as a “princely price” (v. 13). When Zechariah was written, Sheler’s book above said the price would have been 90 to 120 shekels.

“The price was so disgraceful,” Feinberg continues, “that it was to be cast to the potter who busied himself with things of little value. Casting a thing to the potter may have been proverbial for throwing away what was worthless.”

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The specifics of Zechariah were fulfilled exactly when the remorseful Judas flung the pieces into the temple. Not wanting to put “blood money” into the temple treasury, the temple priests gave it to a potter to purchase his field (Matt. 27:3-10).

What value are we placing upon our Creator, Savior and Shepherd?

Judas betrayed Jesus Christ. A Roman soldier speared Him so that He bled to death. But each one of us caused His death by each of our personal sin. We should start earnestly coming to grips with this as we head into the Passover service the evening of March 26 (2021). “But let a man examine himself and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup” (1 Corinthians 11:28).

We got the bargain!

More than the bargain of the century … of eternity! “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit [which] is in you, [which] you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (6:19-20).

Each of us was bought at the highest price that could be paid: the death of God. Humans are in the image of God—we are not animals—but remembering that an unclean animal had to be redeemed by a lamb, each of us sinful humans must be redeemed by the blood of the Lamb of God! We can never repay Jesus Christ our Savior, and let’s not forget the Father who had to watch His beloved Son die in our place.

This wondrous grace should inspire the Way we live.

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