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After crossing the Red Sea, God took Israel deep into the wilderness. Taking them away from any outside source of sustenance gave Israel no choice but to depend on God for water, food and victory in battle. In this, He showed them in practical ways that He could be trusted. That establishment of trust was a part of their integration into the family…
 
When Samuel became old and it was obvious that his sons were not suitable to follow him, Israel asked that he get them a king so that they could be like all the other nations. God was displeased but told Samuel to do what they wanted. The system of judges, while subject to corruption just like every other human institution, structurally provided th…
 
The birth of Samuel. Samuel's mother, Hannah, was barren and bitter about it. Her prayer and promise to God flows from that anguish of soul. After the birth of a son, she makes a song of praise. Mary's prayer, although shorter, is essentially the same. The background on the Priest Eli and his corrupt sons sets the scene for the entire book - the im…
 
At the beginning of Exodus, Moses has his first recorded encounter with God. The exchange revolves around two questions; 'Who am I?' and 'Who are You?" At this point in his life, Moses is 80 years old and has really never lived as a Hebrew and has had no direct experience with God. So a great deal of his reluctance to accept the task of freeing Isr…
 
In Joseph's dealings with his family at the end of Genesis he weeps seven times. In spite of having all of the might of Egypt available to him, he is unable to use that power to resolve the conflicts with and within his family. In the Gospels, Y'shua also weeps for much the same reasons. Even having all of the power of the Holy Spirit He is unable …
 
The question often arises, "What parts of the Law are gentiles responsible for?" The question bespeaks an attitude that laws are somehow negative and to be avoided where possible. This misses the point of Torah, God's instructions for leading a successful life. The Torah was given as a blessing to the people God chose for His own.…
 
In Luke 15, Y'shua tells three parables about the determination of one who has lost something valuable to find it. The parables intensify from one sheep in a hundred to one coin in ten and finally to one son. The point of the parables is that just as people will work hard to recover what is lost, so too will the Father sacrifice greatly to recover …
 
Having dealt with the doctrinal errors that had been reported to him, Paul switches to reinforcing the basic principles of life in the Kingdom of God. These include authority and order within the family and the community as well as general principles of human relationships. The letter concludes with personal greetings.…
 
Chanukah is the celebration of the rebellion against an oppressive government with the help of God. The story mirrors that of the Exodus and has echoes of the American Revolution. In all three stories the catylist is excessive taxation. In Exodus, God does the fighting, but in the other two God's presence is indicated by giving victory to overmatch…
 
In Luke 13 and 14 Y'shua tells parables about God's reaching out, first to Israel and then to the nations. In the parable of the banquet those who were invited refuse to show up, telling transparent lies as excuses. This causes the master to send his servants first to the poor and then to the nations to fill his hall with guests.…
 
Humility is considered a mark of spiritual maturity. The US emphasis on self esteem has resulted in a society whose spiritual growth has been short circuited. We are seeing the fruits in things like the various pride movements which wash over us from month to month, each with its own flag and logo. We are seeing the fruits in the push to change one…
 
In Luke 16, the conflict between Y'shua and the Pharisees over money continues. His perspective is that one cannot serve both mammon and God simultaneously. Their perspective is that they are exemplars of service to God and that they should be wealthy. His ensuing comments on divorce and the parable of Lazarus and the rich man demonstrate that they…
 
Paul's letter appears to be a theological corrective for something going on within the church in Colossae. The exact nature of the problem is not made clear, but it has to do with the person of Christ and with competing philosophies. In this first chapter he makes it very clear who the Messiah is and what He has done and is doing.…
 
In the spiritual realm, just like in the physical world, when something is set into motion it keeps going until it is stopped. In Jacob's life he set deceit into motion when he stole the blessing from Esau. We see that it is a major theme in his life. Laban deceives him about his bride. His sons deceive Shechem about Dinah, and his sons deceive him…
 
The parable of the dishonest manager in Luke 16 is difficult because Y'shua praises the behavior of a man who cheats his employer so that he will look good in the community and not have to do menial labor once he is fired. The key seems to be that the manager is a shrewd judge of the master's character and commits himself to that understanding with…
 
The Bible has a number of stories about servants left to manage the estate while the master is away. In order to manage the estate, the steward must be entrusted with access to the master's goods. Sometimes the absence is short sometimes extensive, but the master always expects an accounting of the servant's stewardship. So too with our Master who …
 
In Luke 12 there are two parables about an absent master. In the first, he is at a wedding feast and is coming home late and presumably happy. In the second he is away for a much longer period and has set a manager over his household. In both cases finding his house in order and his servants alert results in blessing. In the second parable if he fi…
 
God says that He preferred Jacob over Esau. While all of His reasons are not clear, one character trait of Esau's that stands out is his lack of gratitude. His behavior closely mirrors what Moses warns about in Dt 8. He seems to believe that it is his own skill and effort that have given him success and has not given thanks to God for his talents. …
 
In Luke 12 there are two themes running through the commentary. The first is 'inside and outside.' There the contrast is between how things seem on the surface and how they are in reality. The second theme is 'possessions.' There the rebuke is that the Pharisees' focus is on wealth, status and possessions where it should be on the Kingdom.…
 
In Genesis 18 Abraham negotiates with God over the destruction of Sodom. His argument is that it would be unjust for God to destroy the city if there were as many as ten righteous in the place. God agreed. It turns out that there is a deep connection between that negotiation and Sarah's unbelieving laugh when God announces she will have a son. Insp…
 
Continuing from chapter 51 the prophet declares God's vengeance on Babylon. This because she used her economic power to lead the nations away from God. Since much of this chapter is echoed in Revelation 18, it is not always clear when Jeremiah is speaking of the conquest by the Medes or of the eventual destruction at the end.…
 
This is an extremely Jewish prayer reflecting a difference in focus between the synagogue and the church. The focus of both the synagogue and the early church was bringing Heaven down to earth or repairing the creation. About 300 years ago the church shifted focus to getting people into heaven and began neglecting earthly governance.…
 
The United States today is awash in emotion. Every bad idea or nefarious cause comes packaged with a strong emotional appeal. The Bible describes the untrained heart, the seat of emotion, as 'desperately wicked' and unreliable as a guide to life. Recognizing our tendencies, the Bible also provides a program of training the heart so that we are not …
 
Beginning with Egypt the prophet describes what God will do to the surrounding nations. In the case of Egypt, part of the problem is the flight of the remnant after the assenation of Gedeliah. In the case of the other nations it is because of their treatment of Israel when God was chastising her.By Jon Behrens
 
In the first four chapters of Genesis we are told of our purpose, our nature and God's nature. We learn that we can have a relationship with our creator. We also learn that He gives us free will and does not interfere with its exercise. We learn that choices have consequences. We learn that the related sins of covetousness and envy lead to death. F…
 
Gedaliah was left as governor of Judah by the Babylonians. He was murdered by Ishmael at the instigation of the Ammonites. This caused the rest of Judah to panic and flee to Egypt against the wishes of God. In Egypt Jeremiah called them to cease making offerings to the Queen of Heaven. This advice was angrily rejected.…
 
God's appointed times throughout the year help to keep us mindful that He has a plan and that we have a part to play in that plan. Succot reminds us that this world is not our ultimate home and that we look for another while we sojourn here. Looking around, it appears that history is at an inflection point similar to that which spawned the Reformat…
 
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