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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Numbers 16:41-18:32; Mark 16:1-20; Psalm 55:1-23; Proverbs 11:7 (New Living Translation)

Old Testament

1. It's almost unbelievable, "But the very next morning the whole community of Israel began muttering again against Moses and Aaron.."

- Didn't God just kill a bunch of complainers, just a few verses ago?

- Didn't God just about drown them in quail...followed by a plague?

- How can they be so amazingly ungrateful? Perhaps tehy just chafe ubder the thought of rules. it's amazing more of them didn't perish during slavery. Why is their attitude toward God so much more bitter and disruptive than against their captors? Whay aren't they happy with their freedom?

Anyway, God tell Moses and Aaron to get away so He can destroy them, instantly. But they fall on their faces, and pray, and make an atonement for the people. This is partially succesful. They are able to halt the plague, which has by now killed an additional 14,700 people.

-This is in addition to the people lost during Korah's rebellion.

2. The budding of Aaron's staff.

- The people are complaining again. I know that's a surprise...

- Moses and God give an unmistakable sign, of an unnatural wonder to end the complaints.

- Aaron's staff sprouts buds...and almonds.

- What's important about this rod? In the culture of the Israelites, the rod would be a natural symbol of authority, as the tool used by the shepherd to correct and guide his flock.

- Moses' rod is, in fact, cited in Exodus 4:2 as carried by him while he tended his sheep; and later becomes his symbol of authority over the Israelites.

- Remember, the rods of both Moses and Aaron were endowed with miraculous power during the Plagues of Egypt; God commanded Moses to raise his rod over the Red Sea when it was to be parted and in prayer over Israel in battle; Moses brings forth water from a stone using his rod.

- Aaron's rod, however, is mentioned twice as exhibiting miraculous power on its own, when not being held by Aaron. In Exodus 7, God sends Moses and Aaron to Pharaoh once more, instructing Aaron that when Pharaoh demands to see a miracle, he is to "cast down his rod" and it will become a serpent. When he does so, Pharaoh's sorcerers similarly cast down their own rods which also become serpents, but Aaron's rod/serpent swallows them all. "Pharaoh's heart is stubborn" and he chooses to ignore this bit of symbolic warning, and so the Plagues of Egypt ensue.

- In order to "stop the complaints" of the Israelites, God commands that each of the Twelve Tribes provide a rod; and only that of the tribe chosen to become priests will miraculously sprout overnight. Aaron provides his rod to represent the tribe of Levi, and "it put forth buds, produced blossoms, and bore ripe almonds," as evidence of the exclusive right to the priesthood of the tribe of Levi.

- In commemoration of this decision it was commanded that the rod be put again "before the testimony."

- According to tradition, the rod of Aaron bore sweet almonds on one side and bitter on the other; if the Israelites followed the Lord, the sweet almonds would be ripe and edible, but if they were to forsake the path of the Lord, the bitter almonds would predominate.

- The main point is that a rod was preserved in the Tabernacle as a relic of the institution of the Aaronic priesthood.

3. Duies of the Levites and priests outlined again.

- Support for the Levites and the priests. "You priests will receive no allotment of land or share of property among the people of Israel. I am your share and your allotment."

New Testament

4. The Resurrection

- The women come to the tomb with spices to anoint Christ's body for burial. Remember that because of the time of His death, there was no time to do this. So the body was place in linen and put into the tomb supplied by Joseph of Aremethea. They could deal with the "nicities" of burial at a more appropriate time.

- Instead they see an angel. and, as all angel messages seem to start out, he says, "Don't be afraid."

- Jesus has risen, as He said He would

- He plans to meet them in Galilee.

- The first person Jesus sees and speakes with is Mary Magdalene. The scripture makes a point of telling us that He had freed her from seven demons. She goes to tell the guys, but no one belives her.

- He meets 2 more of His followers, but no one belives them either.

- Later He appears to the disciples, who are in hiding.

- He leaves them with simple instruction...Go...

- So when asked earlier today what Easter means to me, my answer is transformation. Jesus came on a mission. You know the old cliche..."to heal the sin-sick heart, to set the captive free." Jesus came to redeem us, to re-unite us with God, to pay for our sins.

- But He came to transform our hearts and our lives.

- Seriously, look at the disciples. The spent "quality time" with Jesus and they still didn't get it. They were hiding out from the Jews.

- When He returned to them they were transformed from mere misguided, everyday average "Joes", into saints. And they went out and they taught. And their words and examples are still teaching us today!

5. Ascension

-"When the Lord Jesus had finished talking with them, he was taken up into heaven and sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand."


6. "...the real danger is wickedness within the city."


7. "When the wicked die, their hopes die with them, for they rely on their own feeble strength."

See you next post...

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