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Julie Ferwerda Christian Blog and Commentary

OYB March 18

Today's One Year Bible Reading
"Almost the whole world is asleep, everyone you meet, everyone you see, everyone you talk to - only a few people are awake, and they live in a state of constant, total amazement." Joe Versus the Volcano.

Does this describe the way you feel as you've been learning so many new things, both rich and deep, from our Bible experience this year? And there's so much more to come.


27:3 "Our father died in the wilderness," they said. "He was not among Korah's followers, who rebelled against the Lord; he died because of his own sin. Apparently even back then, the people were fully aware that the "wages of sin is death." They knew that everyone paid this price eventually. I read something thought-provoking on this topic of punishment. Someone made the claim (and I have no immediate verses coming to mind to combat), that there is no mention of eternal fiery torment anywhere in the OT. According to this person's observations, all of God's judgments in the OT were carried out in this world, by blight or death.

17-18 Give them someone who will guide them wherever they go and will lead them into battle, so the community of the Lord will not be like sheep without a shepherd." The Lord replied, "Take Joshua son of Nun, who has the Spirit in him, and lay your hands on him. We can make several observations about this passage. First of all, Moses prays for a shepherd to guide Israel and lead them to victory in battle. God says, "Take Joshua..." The name "Joshua" is the OT equivalent to Jesus-they are both basically, "Yeshua." Also, note that Joshua "has the Spirit in him." So we have the Christ type (Moses) who dies on "this side of the PL," and we have the succeeding Christ type, Joshua, leading them into the PL through the Spirit. Remember that, after Jesus died, He sent His Spirit to guide us (Pentecost) until we get to the other side.

28:2 The offerings you present as special gifts are a pleasing aroma to me; they are my food. See to it that they are brought at the appointed times and offered according to my instructions. The offerings we bring today are still God's "food." They are still a pleasing aroma. Whether it's our time, money, talents, children, prayers-all are pleasing gifts. But when it comes to the Feasts and sacred Holy Days, God still reminds us to keep our appointments according to His instructions.

It appears that in addition to the offerings made at the yearly Feasts, the priests had to make daily, monthly, and Sabbath sacrifices.


3:10-14 The crowds asked, "What should we do?" John: Give to the poor. Share what you have.

The corrupt tax collectors said, "What should we do?" John: Be honest. Don't take advantage.

The soldiers asked, "What should we do?" John: Don't falsely accuse, extort money, and be content with your pay.

3:16-18 He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. He is ready to separate the chaff from the wheat with his winnowing fork. Then he will clean up the threshing area, gathering the wheat into his barn but burning the chaff with unquenchable fire." John used many such warnings as he announced the Good News to the people. This passages sounds like an oxy-moron. I have always been taught that this passage is referring to sinners (chaff) being burned up in hell while the good wheat is kept safe. Is John's "warning" really Good News for the chaff?

I did a little word study. Apparently, the Greek word for "fire" is "pur" which is the root of our English word "pure (and all forms of that word)." As I was thinking about this passage, the implications with wheat and chaff, I realized that true chaff is a part on each grain of wheat. It is not a separate grain. Therefore, what this passage appears to me to be teaching is that God uses a purification process to burn away our chaff or those things that hinder our belief in God and our obedience.

The more literal translation of verse 18 as this (used in practically all other versions): And, therefore, indeed with many other things, exhorting, he was proclaiming good news to the people. There is quite a difference between warning someone and exhorting them. The Greek word used is "Parakaleo" which is not a warning, but truly an exhortation with the following meanings: "To address, speak to, (call to, call upon), which may be done in the way of exhortation, entreaty, comfort, instruction, etc., to admonish, exhort, to beg, entreat, beseech, to console, to encourage and strengthen by consolation, to comfort, to encourage, strengthen, to instruct, teach."

Do you see anything about a warning in that definition? So you see, in this particular passage, John was not warning people of fiery torment, he was teaching, admonishing, bringing comfort to them with the Good News that God was going to burn away the chaff from their lives, the enslavement to sin and death, which was truly Good News.

Questions for reflection:

  • Challenge: As we approach Passover this year, celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus, what "food" might we bring to God? Is there some offering we might set apart for Him as a demonstration of our gratitude and worship?

  • Which "group" do you fit into? The crowds? The businessmen? Those in authority over others? What should you do to reflect God's love and faithfulness in your area of life?

  • What is an area of your life that will truly be Good News when God finishes the purifying process?