19:2-3 Here is another legal requirement commanded by the Lord: Tell the people of Israel to bring you a red heifer, a perfect animal that has no defects and has never been yoked to a plow. Give it to Eleazar the priest, and it will be taken outside the camp and slaughtered in his presence. I decided to see if there was anything significant about a red heifer sacrifice. I found a wonderful commentary tying in the Day of Atonement with the Red Heifer Sacrifice, and what made it unique. For one thing, all of the sacrifices we've looked at so far were made looking back at past sins the people had committed. According to this commentary, that is only half of the picture. Without the red heifer, the atonement for our sins would not be complete. I hope you'll take the time to read this link because I can't possibly print some of the important details, but in the mean time here it is in a nutshell:
Ashes [from the red heifer sacrifice] represent the final form [in this world] of all living things. The ashes represent the finished work of Christ on the cross. Those ashes were mixed with pure water from a living spring and stored in large jars. If an Israelite sinned, he would come to a priest who mixed a small portion of the ashes with water and sprinkled it upon the unclean person to purify him again. That person could then enter the temple to worship.
Whenever we sin, we can come to the Lord (our high priest) and have the Holy Spirit (the pure living water) apply the finished work of Christ (the ashes) to our lives and be restored once again. On the Day of Atonement, the sacrifice was offered for all the sins the people had committed, looking backwards. The red heifer sacrifice, however, was for the needs of the Lord's people in the future.
20:8, 10-11 As the people watch, speak to the rock over there, and it will pour out its water. You will provide enough water from the rock to satisfy the whole community and their livestock. ... Then he and Aaron summoned the people to come and gather at the rock. "Listen, you rebels!" he shouted. "Must we bring you water from this rock?" Then Moses raised his hand and struck the rock twice with the staff, and water gushed out. I have always thought that God was unmerciful, denying Moses the position of leading the Israelites into the PL after all his faithful service over this one altercation (vs. 12). But today, I was reminded of a verse that I believe sheds light on why Moses was punished for this sin. 1 Corinthians 10:4: "and all of them drank the same miraculous water. For they all drank from the miraculous rock that traveled with them, and that rock was Christ." When Moses struck the rock, He struck Christ!
Another website I found had an interesting take on the symbolism of the rock: The smitten rock appears most often as (1) a type of Christ, who when struck (crucified) produces living waters of grace or as (2) the stony heart of the believer that when struck by God or Christ produces waters of grace.
1:1-4 Many people have set out to write accounts about the events that have been fulfilled among us. They used the eyewitness reports circulating among us from the early disciples Having carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I also have decided to write a careful account for you...so you can be certain of the truth of everything you were taught. According to Ryrie study Bible, Luke was a Gentile (I never knew this)! Ryre claims this book is therefore "slanted toward Gentiles." The only Gentile author of the NT, he was not an eyewitness of the life of Jesus. Instead, his work was done based on his careful research, consulting eyewitnesses and putting all the pieces together. It was written about 60 A.D.
1:8 One day Zechariah was serving God in the Temple, for his order was on duty that week. This
is the verse that certain Jewish scholars have used as a starting point
to calculate the time of Messiah's birth. Since Zechariah was in the
order of Abijah, they know which week of the year he was serving when
Elizabeth was about to conceive. Other clues tell how far apart
Elizabeth and Mary's pregnancies were, 6 months (Luke 1:26), and the
estimated time they land on for Christ's birth is the Feast of
Tabernacles in the fall. Makes sense-God coming to tabernacle (dwell)
with His people! I believe the Feast of Tabernacles (the literal fall
appointed time) will be when Jesus sets His feet on the Mount of Olives
to begin dwelling with us in the Millennial Kingdom.
56:8 You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.
Question for reflection:
Why do you think God records all our tears and sorrows? What is the point? Especially when we are bearing the consequences of the sins of others, this verse is so comforting! The Lord will never forget our tears; they are His keepsakes because He is going to redeem them with joy! "Restore our fortunes, LORD, as streams renew the desert. Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest (Psalm 126:4-6)."