February 17, 2015

 Numbers 3-5 - This is the family tree of Aaron and Moses at the time God spoke with Moses on Mt. Sinai.  Nadab and Abihu, Aaron’s two oldest, fell dead in the presence of God when they offered unauthorized sacrifices to him in the Wilderness....They left no sons, and so only Eleazar and Ithamar served as priests during the lifetime of their father Aaron....

God spoke to Moses: “I have taken the Levites from among the People of Israel as a stand-in for every Israelite mother’s firstborn son.  The Levites belong to me.  All the firstborn are mine --when I killed all  the firstborn in Egypt, I consecrated for my own use every firstborn in Israel, whether human or animal.  They belong to me.  I am God.”

Levi had three sons of which Moses divided them into clans with the Gershonite clan camping to the west of The Dwelling and were assigned to maintain the Dwelling.  Kohath, or the Kohathites camped to the south and were in charge of the Sanctuary (the Chest, Lamp stands, etc.).  The Merarites camped on the North side of the Dwelling and were in charge of the frames of the Dwelling.  

Moses and Aaron and his sons camped on the East side of the Dwelling toward the rising sun.  They were in charge of maintaining the sanctuary and the rituals of worship.  The sum total of Levites with males one month or older numbered 22, 000.  Those men from thirty to fifty years of age who came to do the work of serving and carrying the Tent of Meeting numbered 8, 500.

Romans - When Paul’s letter arrived in Rome, hardly anyone  read it, certainly no one of influence.  But Paul’s letter to the Romans has had a far larger impact on its readers than the volumes of all those Roman writers put together.  

The letter to the Romans is a piece of exuberant and passionate thinking.  This is the glorious life of the mind enlisted in the service of God.  Paul takes the well-witnessed and devoutly believed fact of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth and thinks through its implications....

Paul’s mind is supple and capacious.  He takes logic  and argument, poetry and imagination, Scripture and prayer, creation and history and experience and weaves them into this letter that had become the premier document of Christian theology.

Romans 1:1-1:17 - The sacred writings contain preliminary reports by the prophets on God’s Son.  His decent from David roots him in history; his unique identity as Son of God was shown by the Spirit when Jesus was raised from the dead, setting him apart as the Messiah, our Master.

Through him we received both the generous gift of his life and the urgent task of passing it on to others who receive it by entering into obedient trust in Jesus.  You are who you are through this gift and call of Jesus Christ...

I thank God through Jesus for every one of you.  That’s first...You have as much to give me as I do to you.  

Everyone I meet--it matters little whether they’re mannered or rude, smart or simple--deepens my sense of interdependence and obligation.  

And that’s why I can’t wait to go to you in Rome, preaching this wonderful good news of God. It’s a news I’m most proud to proclaim, this extraordinary Message of God’s powerful plan to rescue everyone who trusts him, starting with Jews and then right on to everyone else!  God’s way of putting people right shows up in the acts of faith, confirming what Scripture has said all along.