013 | The Door

Just as the bronze snake became the vehicle of the Israelites' salvation, so Jesus' death on the cross would be the vehicle for the salvation of all people who believe in him."

Whitney T. Kuniholm wrote this in reflecting on the passage I am reading today from Numbers Chapter 21 in the Old Testament. I am currently journaling through the book titled The Essential Jesus: 100 Readings Through the Bible's Greatest Story written by Whitney T. Kuniholm. This is passage number 13 of the one hundred he has outlined in his book.

The LORD said to Moses, "Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live." (Numbers 21:8)
Here in this short account we see sin, judgment, and death. A sequence or pattern that pops up in the Bible quite a few times. It is a reminder that sin ultimately leads to death. Here it is relatively immediate. The people sin against God and judgment comes through the poisonous snakes in death.

The beautiful thing is that God provides a way off the train that leads directly from sin to death. God the Father provides a door through His Son Jesus for us to jump through. A door that leads straight to the cross of Christ where we enter into a new Kingdom. A Kingdom where sin and death have no control. A Kingdom that is both today and to come. A Kingdom with no end.

In this account we get a glimpse of that door off the speeding train. This train speeding towards death. A glimpse of that door of salvation. A hint of the healing found in the Cross. A preview of a different way. A way that centers on looking towards one sacrifice lifted up, one King above all, one Lord, one Savior - Jesus.
Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him." (John 3:14-15)

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012 | Satisfied

... just as God provided manna to meet the physical need of people, so he, Jesus, was the "true bread" who satisfied the ultimate need of all people - the need for a restored and eternal relationship with God (John 6:48-51).

Whitney Kuniholm wrote this in reflecting on the passage I am looking at from Exodus in the Old Testament. I am currently journaling through the book titled The Essential Jesus: 100 Readings Through the Bible's Greatest Story written by Whitney T. Kuniholm. This is number 12 of the one hundred passages he has outlined in his book.

Then the LORD said to Moses, "I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. ... (Exodus 16:4a)

That evening quail came and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, "What is it?" For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, "It is the bread the LORD has given you to eat. ...(Exodus 16:13-15)

Each morning everyone gathered as much as they needed, and when the sun grew hot, it melted away. (Exodus 16:21)

The Israelites ate manna forty years, until they came to a land that was settled; they ate manna until they reached the border of Canaan. (Exodus 16:35)
In chapter 16 of Exodus we see God providing for the physical needs of His people. The bread that came down from heaven to sustain the Israelites in the desert was a preview of Jesus.

In the Gospel of John we read about Jesus drawing a parallel between God providing for his people's physical needs in the desert and God providing for our spiritual needs.
Jesus said to them, "Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." (John 6:32-33)
In this account John also records that Jesus told his disciples "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty." (John 6:35)

Our physical needs are quite obvious to us. When we are hungry we seek out food. When we are thirsty we seek out something to drink. Our physical hunger and thirst are quenched and we are satisfied until the hunger and thirst come back. Jesus draws a parallel to hunger and thirst because all humans can relate to those needs. It is a universal need.

Jesus is telling us here that God has met our most important need. This need is not physical but eternal.

Humans were created to have a relationship with their creator. We were created with a soul, a spirit, that inner thing that makes us who we are, unique among all other people. That soul, our soul was designed for a direct and meaningful relationship with the Creator, our God. Our soul, our spirit needs God to be whole. Simply put we need God.

Jesus fills the void that is in our soul. This void that is carved out by our own rebellion from God. Sin deconstructs what God has designed to be beautiful unique and complete. Sin puts an ugly hole in our soul. Jesus reconnects our spirit with God restoring our relationship with God. Jesus reconstructs our soul filling the hole.

Jesus is the Bread of Life and will satisfy our soul's hunger and thirst to be whole.

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011 | Passed Over Celebration

In our next five readings we'll take a look at some fascinating previews of coming attractions found in the Bible. These are often referred to as "types."

I am journaling through the book titled The Essential Jesus: 100 Readings Through the Bible's Greatest Story written by Whitney T. Kuniholm. The above quote is from Kuniholm's introduction to the next group of five passage readings from the Old Testament. In reflecting on the first passage reading of this group Kuniholm writes

The Passover lamb was one of the first great previews of God's plan of salvation."

The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt ... The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt. ... Then Moses summoned all the elders of Israel and said to them, "Go at once and select the animals for your families and slaughter the Passover lamb. Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it into the blood in the basin and put some of the blood on the top and on both sides of the doorframe. None of you shall go out of the door of your house until morning. When the LORD goes through the land to strike down the Egyptians, he will see the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe and will pass over that doorway, and he will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down. "Obey these instructions as a lasting ordinance for you and your descendants. When you enter the land that the LORD will give you as he promised, observe this ceremony. (Exodus 12:1,13,21-25)
Christ was killed on Passover day. Passover was a celebration established by God for his people as he freed them from slavery in Egypt. The Passover celebration during Jesus's time began with a meal eaten the night before. We read about the Passover meal Jesus ate with his disciples before his death in the accounts written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

The Passover in Old Testament times was an event turned celebration that reminded God's people how he saved them from slavery in Egypt. It was also a preview look into the future. The Passover pointed into the future when the Messiah would come as the perfect lamb and give up his own life to save others. Jesus was the Passover lamb that was killed so that we may be saved by His blood.

Just as the Passover in Old Testament times was a reminder of the saving act of God and a preview of a future act in Christ, today it is both a reminder and preview. The Passover is a reminder of God's saving act in Exodus, Jesus the Lamb of God, the Last Supper on earth with His disciples, and His sacrificial death. Today it is also a preview of another supper, another celebration, the great wedding supper of the Lamb. John describes what he sees in his vision recorded in the last book of the Bible Revelation.
Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: "Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear." (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God's people.) Then the angel said to me, "Write: 'Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!' " And he added, "These are the true words of God." (Revelation 19:6-9)
The bride is us, believers in Christ, the body of Christ, the church. We are ready for the Groom. We have been passed over, spared, saved, for a reason, for the ultimate wedding celebration dinner. A dinner celebrating our close and intimate relationship with God in Christ.

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010 | Leave the Show Behind

As we've discovered in this passage, God has some pretty strong things to say to folks who go through the motions of worship without acknowledging their sin."

Whitney T. Kuniholm wrote this in reflecting on the passage I am looking at from the book of Amos in the Old Testament. I am currently journaling through the book titled The Essential Jesus: 100 Readings Through the Bible's Greatest Story written by Whitney T. Kuniholm. This is number 10 of the one hundred passages he has outlined in his book.

This is what the LORD says to the house of Israel: "Seek me and live; ... There are those who turn justice into bitterness and cast righteousness to the ground. ... There are those who hate the one who reproves in court and detest the one who tells the truth. You levy a straw tax on the poor and impose a tax on their grain. For I know how many are your offenses and how great your sins. There are those who oppress the innocent and take bribes and deprive the poor of justice in the courts. ... "I hate, I despise your religious festivals; I cannot stand your assemblies. ... Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. (Amos 5:4,7,10-12,21,23)
God hates hypocrisy. Religious show and pretense angers God. We see that here in the book of Amos. The leaders, the powerful, the privileged were walking all over the poor and oppressed in their society while gaining more and more and living in luxury. They perverted the judicial system and ignored truth and justice at the expense of the under privileged. Yet, they worshiped in a big way, singing songs and making music to God as if nothing was wrong, never acknowledging there was something seriously wrong. They made a big deal about all the religious festivals and their offerings while ignoring their own sin. There was no repentance only a focus on rules and judgment of others. It was all a show.

Unfortunately I can relate. I have been a hypocrite. More focused on others and their mistakes than my own. I have gone to church only to fulfill a requirement of what I thought I was suppose to do in our society. I wasn't following Christ, I was following man and society. I've prayed and sung songs only as part of a ceremony without it being real and from my heart. I have been part of the show.

This is stupid! If I believe in an all powerful, all knowing God this kind of show is just plain stupid. Even if the people around me can be fooled God certainly isn't. He sees right through it. God sees the heart. I want to be honest with God, with myself, with others around me. I want to stop performing for man. I want to follow Christ leaving the religious show behind.

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009 | Separation

This reading from Isaiah reminds us once again that God is against sin. That means we should be too, for several important reasons. First, sin separates us from God (v. 2). ... Second, sin leads to a breakdown of fundamental values. ... Finally, sin causes a rejection of truth."

Whitney T. Kuniholm wrote this in reflecting on Isaiah 59 in his book The Essential Jesus: 100 Readings Through the Bible's Greatest Story. This is my ninth post as I journal through this book.

Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear. (Isaiah 59:1-2)
This is at the very heart of the Christian Faith. You will find this theme running like a thread through the entire Bible. The separation between humans and our Creator effects everything. All of us, deep inside, have a desire to close this gap. God created us without the gap, without a separation. God created us to live near him in complete unity and peace. We were designed for a close, intimate and direct relationship with God. But we humans, specifically Adam and Eve, rebelled under the leadership of Satan (Genesis 3:1-24). We rejected God's authority and have gone our own way. Philip Yancey describes this rebellion in his book Disappointment with God.

By their choice they put distance between themselves and God. Before, they had walked and talked with God. Now when they heard his approach, they hid in the shrubbery. An awkward separation had crept in to spoil the intimacy. And every quiver of disappointment in our own relationship with God is an aftershock from their initial act of rebellion."

We deal with this rebellion, its consequences, and separation from God every day, probably almost every moment of the day. Both the problem and the solution are spoken about in Chapter 59 of Isaiah. Yes, the thread of our separation from God runs through the entire Bible, but there is another thread that runs throughout God's Word. If the first thread is black, perhaps this second thread is red. As we see in these verses God provides the solution. This gap can be closed! God has the power to close this gap, or perhaps more accurately bridge the separation. "The Redeemer will come ..." The price will be paid. Jesus will bridge this separation.
He saw that there was no one, he was appalled that there was no one to intervene; so his own arm achieved salvation for him, and his own righteousness sustained him. (Isaiah 59:16) ... "The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins," declares the LORD. (Isaiah 59:20) ..."
The Redeemer has come! He has paid the price! Jesus has bridged the separation!

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Essential 100 (E100) Bible Reading Challenge

What to start a journey? Develop a new habit? A habit that will give you insight on life from the very Creator of it?
There are many great Bible reading plans out there. Some read straight through in manageable bites while others mix a passage of the Old Testament with a passage from the New Testament. Still more divide scriptures into various themes or topics.

Enjoy a walk through the Bible with Scripture Union's Essential 100 plan. The E100 Challenge is a great way to go through the bible picking up the big picture of God's plan.
"The E100 is a carefully selected list of short Bible passages--50 from the Old Testament and 50 from the New Testament. The passages are usually one to two chapters in length and can easily be read in 10 minutes or less."

"The Bible Reading Plan People Love to Complete!"
(from the Essential 100 website)
I have to admit much of my life I have

008 | No One

... it's important not to let our understanding of sin cause us to misunderstand God. It's true, he hates sin. But it's not true that he enjoys catching people in their sins, as so many seem to think. In fact, his desire for us is just the opposite. He's actively looking for those who are seeking a deeper relationship with him (v. 2)"

Whitney T. Kuniholm wrote this in his reflection on Psalm 14 in the book I am journaling through titled The Essential Jesus: 100 Readings Through the Bible's Greatest Story.

The LORD looks down from heaven on the human race to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.

All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one. (Psalm 14:2-3)
I have struggled with Psalm 14 for awhile. Surely when God looks down from heaven he sees at least one person who does something good. Everyone hasn't turned completely away? When I look around I see many good people, heck I view myself as a good person. So what is going on here?

This time when I read this passage I found myself more easily seeing it in the context of God's whole story, his entire plan, the Bible. After reading through the bible in a compressed way using the Essential 100 program (E100) I seem to be reading more passages in the context of the whole story. This has really helped my comprehension of certain passages.

Anyway, we need to look at this from God's perspective as much as we can, there are no good people. God's standard for a 'good' person is very high: a person without one sin. I have to remind myself that God can see every detail about every person, every thought, every motive, and every action. We humans can NOT see every action of another person. We certainly can't see every thought and the motives of other people. We can guess and we seem to do plenty of guessing. Because of these human limitations we can't fairly judge people like God can, not that we don't try.

Given these limitations including the inability to live up to God's standard of a 'good' person, we have lowered the standard. We have lowered the bar so we can meet the standard. We have made 'good' achievable. Actually, in our society the bar seems to get lower every year. We have established our own standards. With our lowered human standards we look around and divide the world into good and bad people, sometimes, I would add, not even that accurately. Simply put by God's standard there are only bad people. But God, our Creator, is not satisfied with that, and wants to see all people as good people. So God devised a plan to redeem the bad through his son.

God standard is too high and unattainable in ourselves, but God has not left us without a solution. A solution to the sin problem. He has provided a way through Christ to be good in the eyes of God - to be right with God - to be called righteous! (Romans 4:1-5, 2 Corinthians 5:21)

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