If I could sum up this week’s reading it would be patiently waiting for Jesus. When I was a little girl and my mom and dad would go somewhere together and leave us with our grandparents, I always remember anticipating their arrival. I’d wait at the door and watch for their lights to come up the driveway. That’s what these scriptures reminded me of, Jesus telling us to always be watching and waiting for Him because He will be faithful to come back again.
Does Matthew 24 sound familiar to our day?
What sign will signal your return and the end of the world? You can read more about this topic in my devotional “Longing for His Appearing: Words for Watching and Waiting.”
Jesus told them to watch for deceivers, wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic, Nation warring against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world, but this is only the beginning, more will come including arrest, persecution, and even death just because you believe in Jesus. People will hate you because you follow Him. Many will walk away from the faith, betray each other, and sin will be rampant everywhere. The love of many will grow cold.
“But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.” Matthew 24:13-14
Matthew 24 Continued
Look up! Watch the skies. The sun, moon, and stars will be shaken, then Jesus will appear on the clouds of heaven and then send out his angels with a trumpet blast and they will gather the redeemed from all over the world! (one of my children had a vivid dream about this recently and literally Jesus was “right at the door!” Matthew 24:33
We don’t know which day or hour Jesus is coming so he tells us we must keep watch and be ready all of the time.
“Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning!” Psalm 30:5
I noticed that oil was a connected theme from the old to the New Testament today. Exodus 27:20-21 tells us that part of the instructions for the Tabernacle included keeping the lamps burning with oil continually. The lamps were to burn in the Lord’s presence at all times near the Ark of the Covenant.
Fast-forward to Jesus telling the parable of the ten bridesmaids who went to meet the bridegroom Five didn’t bring enough oil, but the other five did. When the bridegroom was delayed, they fell asleep and then were awakened by a shout because the bridegroom was coming! At midnight the five were panicked because they couldn’t light their lamps to go see him. When they were gone to purchase oil the marriage feast began and the door was shut and locked. They banged the door and asked to be let in, but the bridegroom said, “I don’t know you.”
This is our warning to be ready everyday and Keep watch with faith, even though this seems absurd or countercultural.
Just as Aaron carries the names of the 12 tribes of Israel over his heart as a constant reminder when he goes into the presence of the Lord, we carry the Name of Jesus in our hearts as believers as a constant reminder of who gives us the access to the presence of the Lord. “Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us.” Ephesians 2:18
“While he was eating, a woman came in with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume and poured it over his head.” Matthew 26:7 This woman gave excessively to serve Jesus because she recognized that He wouldn’t physically be with them much longer. We live on this side of the cross so what could we learn from her devotion? How can we use our limited life and resources to serve Jesus as we live out our days?
Day 6: Often I get a picture in my mind as I read scripture. This is what I saw when I read Proverbs 8:27-32
“I was there when he established the heavens,
when he drew the horizon on the oceans.
I was there when he set the clouds above,
when he established springs deep in the earth.
I was there when he set the limits of the seas,
so they would not spread beyond their boundaries.
And when he marked off the earth’s foundations,
I was the architect at his side.
I was his constant delight,
rejoicing always in his presence.”
Contrast Exodus 20:18 with Exodus 32: 5-6 and you’ll see how differently people react to the real God vs. the idols they make to worship.
“When the people heard the thunder and the loud blast of the ram’s horn, and when they saw the flashes of lightning and the smoke billowing from the mountain, they stood at a distance, trembling with fear.”
And just a bit later in the story…
“Aaron saw how excited the people were, so he built an altar in front of the calf. Then he announced, “Tomorrow will be a festival to the Lord!” The people got up early the next morning to sacrifice burnt offerings and peace offerings. After this, they celebrated with feasting and drinking, and they indulged in pagan revelry.
Aaron had been designated as the priest with all of these details and instructions. The people had just audibly heard from God and seen His powerful hand, yet how soon they moved on breaking the first two commandments He gave them to not have any other gods before Him and not to make any idols.
This reminded me in parenting when people try to make their kids happy vs. holy. It’s so much easier to be a parent when you go with the flow of the crowd, instead of swimming upstream like a salmon. Good character is not easily obtained, but consistently built over a long period of time.
Aaron traded his character for popularity.