Altar controversy Joshua dies at the age of 110 and was buried on his own estate at Timnath-serah, in the hill country of Ephraim.

Day 89 (March 30): Easterners return home, altar honors East/West union, altar controversial, Joshua’s last words, covenant renewed, Joshua, Eleazer die

Sweet Publishing / FreeBibleimages.org

Welcome to Livin’ Light’s Bible-In-A-Year challenge of discovering God’s love for us and His purpose for our lives. Here is the format for this great adventure: The daily reading assignment is posted at 5 a.m. After each day’s reading, Leigh An Coplin, the blog host, shares observations and poses questions about difficult passages to Rob Fields, who studied Christian Education at Asbury Seminary and currently teaches Biology in the Orlando area. To start from the beginning, click on 365 Bible Readings and scroll down to Day 1. The reading schedule is taken from The One Year Chronological Bible NLT. 

Today’s Reading
Joshua 22-24
(1399-75 BC) Click here for a timeline of the entire Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (Joshua 22:10-34): So, there was a big gap in communication here.  Apparently, to build another altar to sacrifice would have been severely disrespecting God’s wishes?  But, the 2½ tribes didn’t build it for sacrifice; they built it as a reminder.  The reminder serves as a bridge between the Israelites east of the Jordan and those west of the Jordan.  The easterners were concerned that the westerners may not allow the easterners in to worship the Lord and make sacrifices?  I was under the impression that the tribes’ borders were transparent and they could just flow between the territories, but always belong to one.  Was there hostility between them?

A. It reads to me as though the Eastern tribes were saying, “Everything is great now, but what happens in a hundred years when every one of us is long dead?  Will our people still be welcome?”  So they set this plan in motion to build a reminder that they are in fact a united people.  I think that the Western tribes were willing to go to war to ensure that the Eastern tribes hadn’t given up on God, but all was well once the emissaries were able to talk.

Q. I feel like we are going through a big change now.  Joshua and Eleazer both died without appointing a new leader.  That gives me a feeling of bad things to come.

A. I don’t want to spoil a good story (Judges is a good story), so I’ll just say that we will see the way that God will provide for His people in their time of need.

And, that’s the end of Joshua.  Tomorrow, we start Judges!

Shop: Christian shirts get noticed.  Check out these conversation starters: https://livinlight.org/shop/

Tomorrow’s reading: Judges 1-3:30

Offering procedures. A summary graphic of the burnt offering

Day 48 (Feb. 17): Offering procedures, sins that require an offering, procedures for ordination offering

Marian van der Kruijt

Welcome to Livin’ Light’s Bible-In-A-Year challenge of discovering God’s love for us and His purpose for our lives. Here is the format for this great adventure: The daily reading assignment is posted at 5 a.m. After each day’s reading, Leigh An Coplin, the blog host, shares observations and poses questions about difficult passages to Rob Fields, who studied Christian Education at Asbury Seminary and currently teaches Biology in the Orlando area. To start from the beginning, click on 365 Bible Readings and scroll down to Day 1. The reading schedule is taken from The One Year Chronological Bible NLT. 

Today’s Reading
Leviticus 4-6
(1445 BC) Click here for a timeline of the whole Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. Do the OT priests have any duties like the duties of the priests today?  All we know that they do is prepare and offer sacrifices.

A. As you can see from the shear number of instructions, the role of priest was a full time job for Aaron’s family.  They had an incredibly important job: to keep the people in good standing with God through the use of sacrifices.

The priesthood here is focused on a very different task from “our” priesthood (the Christian office of priest/pastor), and we will see other duties mentioned: Leviticus notes that it is the priest’s responsibly to declare people unclean so that they could seek purification, and to deliver the blessing of the priest, which comes from Numbers 6.  So while Christian priests do give blessings, I think that’s pretty much the end of the similarity.

Q. (Leviticus 4:3-12) Here it says the High Priest prepares the young bull.  We can assume he has some help from the other priests or the Levites?  He couldn’t possibly handle one bull by himself.  These preparations sound arduous

A. I think we can assume he has help, but I would take the instruction to mean that the High Priest was in charge of the effort, and could not delegate it, since it was his sin involved.

Q. It’s interesting how all of these sin sacrifices say that if you don’t know you have sinned, you are still guilty.  When whomever sins becomes aware of it, they must make an offering.  It sounds like a lot of their sinning refers to touching things that are ceremonially unclean or others mentioned in Leviticus 5:1-4, so can we can apply this rule to today?  I know there are a lot of times when I don’t realize I have sinned until I have one of those quiet moments without little noisemakers around, that I realize I have done wrong.

A. There’s a principle of our modern law that is at work here: what is in Latin called Ignorantia juris non excusat (Ignorance of the law is no excuse).

I think that this reading points to a huge flaw in the system of the Law for these people.  The “solution” of the sacrificial system is that it is very legalistic: you have to be sure you are dotting every “I” and crossing every “t”, or the system doesn’t work, and your guilt and sin can affect the entire community – we will see instances of this at work in later books such as Joshua.  As Christians, we have moved beyond the elaborate demands of the Law into a better system of being declared right with God through our faith in Christ.  So even if we are not aware of our sins, we can still be “covered.”

One of the things that the NT describes as a crucial role of the Holy Spirit is to convict the believer of sin that they may not be aware of.  This is not so that our place in heaven can be assured (we’re not under that system), but rather so that we can remove the cancer of sin from our lives.  Sin, even unintentional sin, always has consequences, so it is in our interest in our walk with God if we seek His guidance about any sin that we might be missing or conveniently ignoring!  I knew a minister in my seminary who had a daily habit of praying Psalm 139:23-24, which asks God to search our heart in order to lead us in the right path.  I would say it’s a very good habit.

Q. (5:17) I notice that God differentiates violating one of God’s commands from other sins.  Are sins all equal or are some worse than others?

A. Actually, it appears to me that all of the sins and categories described in today’s reading had one thing in common: unintentional action.  The intentional violations of God’s Law — we will see some — had the same effect on the person: they were guilty of sin whether big or small, but in terms of “worse” consequences, there were some.  Intentional offenses carried the death penalty in some cases — though we don’t have much record of this actually being carried out — so I will leave it up to you to determine if that is “worse”.  In the grand scheme of things as it relates to God, it does not matter if we sin little — like gossip or lying — or big —murder or adultery.  The only two categories in the eyes of God are sinner or non-sinner.  This doesn’t mean that bigger sins don’t have larger consequences in the current life, but we should be aware that the “little” sins we have a habit of doing can be just as deadly to our soul if we don’t have faith in Christ.

For further study: The importance of Tabernacle offerings in Leviticus: https://waynestiles.com/blog/offerings-in-leviticus-what-they-were-and-why-they-mattered

Shop: Jesus atoned for our sins so we no longer need to make sacrifices on an altar.  However, we still must lay down our life and live for the Lord.  When we do that, we will see Him, know Him and understand even though He is so mighty and powerful, He loves us like no other.  Livin’ Light helps you share your faith with others so they can realize the same joy! https://livinlight.org/product/live-for-the-lord/

Tomorrow’s reading: Leviticus 7-8

All things Tabernacle. Tabernacle of the Israelites while they were wondering in the desert.

Day 40 (Feb. 9): Tabernacle offerings, blueprints for Ark of the Covenant, table, lampstand, Tabernacle, altar, courtyard, light, priests’ apparel

Welcome to Livin’ Light’s Bible-In-A-Year challenge of discovering God’s love for us and His purpose for our lives. Here is the format for this great adventure: The daily reading assignment is posted at 5 a.m. After each day’s reading, Leigh An Coplin, the blog host, shares observations and poses questions about difficult passages to Rob Fields, who studied Christian Education at Asbury Seminary and currently teaches Biology in the Orlando area. To start from the beginning, click on 365 Bible Readings and scroll down to Day 1. The reading schedule is taken from The One Year Chronological Bible NLT. 

Today’s Reading
Exodus 25-28
(1446 BC) Click here for a timeline of the whole Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (Exodus 25:1-40): Do we learn anything from God’s instructions on how to construct the Ark?  Is it just that God knows what he wants to be comfortable?  Any significance to the cherubim?  Also, I notice that 27 inches is repeated many times.

A. God is asking His people to sacrifice in order to create a place of gathering that will serve His people for the next several decades.  The Tabernacle will dwell within the center of the community — putting God in the midst of His people — and will be a point of gathering.  The items requested would have made a beautiful gathering — which was very functional as well, it could be folded together and loaded up any time — that would have served the entire community.

I think we’re on the wrong track when we think of God desiring “comfort” as though He wanted a Lay-Z-boy to recline in.  This is not an incarnational presence, like Jesus.  This is the presence of God becoming the literal center of the tribes while they are in the wilderness.  We will see how the instructions for the ark and tabernacle will come into play as we move along, but watch for the importance of the poles and rings when it comes time to move.  There is a very special reason for the rings and poles on the ark.

The cherubs — a name for what we think is a classification of angel, but no one knows for sure — were seen in the OT as symbolic attendants to the throne of God, what we call the mercy seat, the cover to the ark.  And in a throne room, the attendees of a king would have been at his left and right.

Don’t pay much attention to the dimensions, if for no other reason than the NLT uses modern units to help us more clearly understand the dimensions of the items being built.  If you look at the NIV or King James, they give the units in “cubits” rather than feet and inches.  For reference, a cubit equals 1.5 feet, or 1 foot, six inches.  Obviously, there were no “inches” and “feet” as measures in ancient times, and generally there were very few standards of measure.

Q. (28:6): Is there any significance to the thread colors chosen — blue, purple and scarlet?

A. Yes.  These colors were symbolic of royalty and were incredibly expensive.  Like the gold and jewels for the task, God is seeking the best that His people have to offer.  He is requesting them to sacrifice in this instance, as one would do for a human monarch.

Q. We see this lavishness that God commands for himself.  No question, he deserves it all.  I just wondered what kind of philosophy the Bible says churches should have when building their places of worship.  Some churches are lavish, others are basically four walls and a roof.  I have had the mindset that if churches spend a lot on their buildings, they are not using their money wisely.  They could be using it for missions.  But, then, are they showing disrespect for God by not having the best possible place of worship?

A. You’ve obviously asked a complicated question, as you can tell by the various ways that churches and individuals have answered it.  Some churches are much more comfortable with “four walls and a roof” (I’m thinking of the of those pre-fab metal roofed churches that you see in rural areas), while others (I’m thinking of an absolutely amazing Catholic Basilica I visited in St. Louis) desire to create real beauty and glorify God through craftsmanship.  I think that both decisions honor God in different ways: we can say, “Lord be glorified by this place” or “Lord be glorified by what we will do within this place” and be perfectly right in both cases.  In this instance, God required the people to sacrifice their best in order to create something that would benefit everyone in the community.  Overall, I would say there is no one “right” way to build a building for God — unless He gives you one as He did here — and we must be discerning to what God desires of us.

Q. I shouldn’t say this, but this reading is a yawner.  Not much action.  But, I do glean several things from it.  1) There are things made for Aaron’s attire that will remind him who he is, a representative to all the people of Israel.  2) God asks for a beautiful place to dwell among the people.  I would love to see it!!!  3) Anything else I’m missing?

A. Seems like you’ve got the general idea.  The instructions given here are just the groundwork: we will still see these things built later in Exodus, and put into action in the next few stories.  So hang in there.

If you (or anyone else) wants to see what this would have looked like, I find that there are various groups on the internet who have built life-size replicas.  Like this one: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Stiftshuette_Modell_Timnapark.jpg

For further study: What is the significance of the Ark of the Covenant? https://www.compellingtruth.org/What-Ark-of-the-Covenant.html

Tomorrow’s Reading: Exodus 25-28

Ten Commandments. To confirm the words he had spoken to the people, God gave to Moses tablets of stone on which God Himself had written the ten commandments. credit: Moody Publishers / FreeBibleimages.org.

Day 38 (Feb. 7): Ten Commandments and more, altar rules, treat slaves fairly, personal injury disputes, property laws

Moody Publishers / FreeBibleimages.org.

Welcome to Livin’ Light’s Bible-In-A-Year challenge of discovering God’s love for us and His purpose for our lives. Here is the format for this great adventure: The daily reading assignment is posted at 5 a.m. After each day’s reading, Leigh An Coplin, the blog host, shares observations and poses questions about difficult passages to Rob Fields, who studied Christian Education at Asbury Seminary and currently teaches Biology in the Orlando area. To start from the beginning, click on 365 Bible Readings and scroll down to Day 1. The reading schedule is taken from The One Year Chronological Bible NLT. 

Today’s Reading
Exodus 20-22:15
(1446 BC) Click here for a timeline of the whole Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. Here are the 10 Commandments.  We all view them as sinning against God when we break them.  But, are they still to be enforced?  Didn’t Jesus give us a new one that covers it all, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” or “Do unto others as they you would have them do unto you.”

A. Love your neighbor as yourself covers the last six (i.e. if you love your neighbor, you won’t kill them).  Jesus, when asked about the greatest commandment, replied, “love God with all your heart, mind, and soul” and “love your neighbor as yourself”.  Then He said, “all the law and the prophets hang on these two” (Matthew 22: 37-40).  Basically, if we keep these two things in mind and do them (which I freely admit is sometimes very difficult), we will have successfully kept all the Ten Commandments.

Q. (Exodus 20:5): When God says He is a jealous God, is that the same common meaning we know of jealousy now — that of envy?

A. I think God is using an emotion that we as humans understand, being jealous, in order to point out that we must be loyal ONLY to Him.  God is not petty, but the charge that we are worshipping other gods is certainly looked at harshly in the OT.

Q. (20:6): This means that those who follow God will be blessed for many generations, but those who deny God, struggle for generation after generation, right?  But, that is no longer in affect since the crucifixion?

A. Part of what we can learn from the Old Testament is that God takes a multigenerational view of His people (which can be hard for us to grasp in our individualistic society).  If we are truly keeping these commands (and the many to follow), it will be very natural for us to teach them to our children.  And in doing so, we pass the blessings of God on to the next generation, and we entrust them to do so for the next generation.  I think that this is at least partly what God is speaking about here.

Q. (20:7): How do you misuse God’s name?  I was always thought that you do not say things like “For the love of God (in a negative way),” “For God’s sake,” “For Jesus sake,” and especially, “Oh, my God!” or “Jesus!”  The latter two, I can see using them if you are crying out to them, personally, in praise or for help.  But, I hear people, even Christians saying, “Oh, my God!” all the time.  Can you give us the verdict on this?

A. The best way I ever heard this commandment phrased was, “Don’t take the name of God lightly.”  Treat the name of God with the reverence and respect it deserves.  If the names are used for the purpose of speaking to God — for whatever reason, including asking for help — we are on safe ground.  But when — and this is the crucial step — we are using the name of God absent-mindedly (i.e. we’re using the name but not thinking of God), or to use it as a way to curse others, then we are not treating the name of God with the proper respect it deserves.  Then we are taking the name of God in vain.

Q. (20:8-11): So God is saying that the Sabbath is there for us to get rest after 6 days of hard work.  And, we use it to remember that God created us and all the earth.  Most church services are still held on Sunday.  Some are not.  Some say that it doesn’t matter what day of the week you rest, as long as it’s the seventh day.  Some say that going to church isn’t really rest because of the hustling to make it there on time and then there are those who are working to provide the church service.  Is this law still supposed to be observed today?  Can you shed some light on this Commandment?

A. As we mentioned, observant Jews and Seventh Day Adventists will tell you that the Sabbath is Saturday.  Sunday is seen as the first day of the week, following the Sabbath.  So we should think of Sunday as “Day 1” in the Creation story.  This is significant when it comes to the story of Jesus and His resurrection.  Jesus was resurrected on a Sunday, and the implications of that are significant: the resurrection intentionally spoke of a new creation story: everything was new in light of what Christ had done.  Two factors played a role in the loss of Saturday as the formal Sabbath of Christians: Christians began to gather on Sundays (called the first day of the week in the NT) to commemorate the resurrection, and because Christians came to see themselves as free from the requirements of the Law, they were not obligated to take the Sabbath on Saturdays.  Thus, most Christians would, I think, tell you that the Sabbath was Sunday if you asked.  As we discussed yesterday, there is value in taking a day of rest for the purpose of connection with family and God, but we are NOT required to, and we are certainly NOT required to do so on Saturday.

Q. (20:12): As a grown child and now a parent, I totally respect my parents.  As a teenager, of course, there were times when I thought they knew nothing and didn’t understand me.  I am now thinking about how to instill love for me and my husband in our children.  Do you have any wise words or know of any books that can help parents prepare for phase of a child’s life?

A. While I’m sure there are particular psychological techniques that can work, I think you can already see the answer to your question: we teach respect to our children by BEING respectful to our parents.  Where it is possible — obviously, not everyone has parents to model this with — I think we should embrace the idea of multigenerational teaching for our children.  We should teach them about respect for their parents — and I think adults in general, especially the elderly — and talk about how when we do this, we honor God.

O. (20:20): I love this verse.  It is the perfect, short description of what to fear God means: “Don’t be afraid, for God has come in this way to test you, and so that your fear of him will keep you from sinning!”

Q. (21:1): Is God telling all of these laws to Moses and then Moses has to retell them to the Israelites, or is God speaking directly to the people?

A. It appears He is speaking to Moses.

Q. (21:1-11): Is there anything to explain about God addressing the process of owning slaves?

A. Slaves were a part of life in this world, and the Bible addresses that reality.  We shall see over the course of the Biblical text the way that God moves along the idea of the dignity and equal worth of all human beings, especially through Christ, but the people in this era weren’t there yet.  God worked with the people where they were, and required them to treat slaves and others with respect.  There was a process for bring required to free slaves (the men, anyway), and providing some level of protection for them — like 21:20, you couldn’t kill your slaves).  This seems barbaric to us today, but was a great leap forward in the treatment of human beings in this era.

O. I’m really starting to get the message that everyone is important to God.  Every one has different positions in the world, which can cause confusion in self-esteem.  But, in God’s eyes, we all are equally important, if we follow Him.

Q. (21:21) Oops!  Just when I thought I was understanding God’s treatment of people, this verse pops up.  How is that fair treatment?  I just don’t understand!  From what I’ve read in the Bible, it sounds like God has chosen certain ones to be His people and others are just extras.

A. Looks like we look at 21:21 in different ways!  I see it as a way to protect slaves from being murdered.  It is certainly true that God does see everyone as having value, but that does not mean that WE do.  So basically, God provided this command because He does see value in slaves, rather than the culture in which the Israelites lived, which saw no value in them at all.  Only free men had value in the eyes of this culture.

Q. Rob, since you are a cultural history guru, when did stoning lose favor?

A. That is hard to say.  We don’t really have much in the way of evidence that the orders to stone were routinely enforced, even in this era (though we will see some particular examples of sinners who are stoned).  But the era of the New Testament, as I understand it, there was simply no stomach among the Jewish religious leaders for being responsible for the deaths of people.

Q. (21:32): There has to be some significance to the 30 pieces of silver, since in the New Testament, Judas accepts 30 pieces of silver to betray Jesus.

A. Thirty pieces of silver was the legal price of a slave in Biblical times.  The silver that Judas is offered by the religious leaders is an intentional choice designed to belittle Jesus: they are equating Jesus with a slave to be bought and sold.

Q. (22:8): Many of these verses say that the person must appear before God for judgment.  I thought God kept his distance from the people.  Isn’t Moses the liaison between God and the Israelites?

A. You’ve got it right.  Moses, as God’s representative, was the one whom people would come to for God’s judgment.

For further study: What did NYC Pastor Tim Keller and wife Kathy say about survey results that people don’t think some of the 10 Commandments are important: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yfRdLGCru3E

Shop: Jesus simplifies all the laws into two.

Tomorrow’s reading: Exodus 22:16-24:18