Saving the best till last – new wine !!

9 05 2011

DAY ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY ONE : Joshua 19 v. 1 – 21 v. 19; John 2 v. 1 – 25; Psalm 54 v. 1 – 7

JOSHUA
The drawing of lots continues (did you see the bizarre pictures of Bury’s local council election finally decided by the Labour and Conservative candidates drawing straws….why go to all that expense and time preparing elections when you could just toss a coin or draw straws?)


and that victory in Ramsbottom also gave Labour an overall majority in the council….all in the drawing of a straw…wierd!)

Simeon’s Land – so the second ‘lot’ falls to Simeon’s tribe, and their portion of land is allotted (within the territory of Judah, because ‘they had more than they needed’), including Beersheba.

Zebulun’s Land – the third ‘lot’ falls to Zebulun’s tribe, and their portion of land is allotted, including Bethlehem.

Issachar’s Land – the fourth ‘lot’ falls to Issachar’s tribe, and their portion of land is allotted, including Jezreel, touching Tabor.
 
Asher’s Land – the fifth ‘lot’ falls to Asher’s tribe, and their portion of land is allotted, touching Carmel and including Tyre.

Naphtali’s Land – the sixth ‘lot’ falls to Naphtali’s tribe, and their portion of land is allotted, including ‘the large tree in Zaanannim’, Kinnereth and Ramah.

Dan’s Land – the seventh ‘lot’ falls to Dan’s tribe, and their portion of land is allotted, including the area facing Joppa. The Danites had difficulty possessing their territory, so they attack another city, Leshem and settle there, renaming it ‘Dan’.

Joshua’s Land – when all the drawing of lots and dividing the land had been done, Joshua is given his own portion of land, just as the Lord had commanded and as Joshua had requested – Timnah Serah in Ephraim’s hill country. He built his town there.
All the land was divided by lot, cast at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting, under the supervision of Eleazor (the priest), Joshua, and the tribal leaders.

Cities of Refuge –
now that the land is shared out, Joshua instructs them to designate ‘cities of refuge’ for those fleeing the vengeance and wrath because of an accidental murder (manslaughter). The person fleeing for refuge is to make his / her way to the city of refuge and present him  / herself at the city gate, stating their case. He / she is then granted safe refuge. There is protection offered, until the current high priest dies, and then he / she is able to go back to his / her own town.
The cities of refuge are named :
Kedesh in Galilee (Naphtali), Shechem (Ephraim), Hebron (Judah), Bezer (Reuben), Ramoth in Gilead (Gad), Golan (Manasseh).
These became the ‘safe places’ for those who had killed ‘without malice aforethought.’

Levite Towns – I’m sure they hadn’t been forgotten, but the Levite leaders go to see Eleazar, Joshua and the tribal heads at Shiloh and ask for their towns in each territory for their livestock to pasture. The Kohathites drew the first lot, and the descendants of Aaron were given thirteen towns from Judah, Simeon and Benjamin’s lands (including Hebron, which was next to Caleb’s land), whilst all the other Kohathites were given ten towns from Ephraim, Dan and Manasseh.
Gershon’s descendants were given thirteen towns from Issachar, Asher, Naphtali and Manasseh.
Merari’s descendants were given twelve towns from Reuben, Gad and Zebulun.

Interesting to note that many of the towns given to the Levites, throughout the territories, were the same ‘cities of refuge’.

JOHN
Water to Wine – there are famously seven signs (miracles) and seven ‘I am’ sayings in John’s gospel, seven being a perfect number to the hebrew mind. Here is the first miracle, the first sign.
It is another named day (the third day later), when Jesus is part of a family trip to a wedding, including His disciples.
Jesus’ mother (no mention of His father here (or anywhere in John’s gospel??)) brings Jesus into the situation when the wine has all run out. Why ? Was this a trick Jesus had played before ?
Jesus struggles with the timing, saying to His mother, ‘My time has not yet come – don’t get me involved.’, yet He and the servants go on to do just as His mother says.
The stone water jars (for cleansing) are filled with water and taken to the ‘master of the banquet’ who is facing the humiliation of having run out of wine. He is stunned, when he drinks some, to discover that somehow the best wine has been saved till last (usually the best is served first, and when people are already merry the cheap stuff is served).
This first ‘sign’ results in Jesus’ glory being revealed, and the disciples putting their faith in Him.

My study bible adds :
‘The joyful good wine of the gospel has replaced the water of Jewish legalism’

Jesus Clears the Temple – after this, Jesus returns to Capernaum, close to the shore of northern Galilee, staying a few days there.
Then Jesus is in Jerusalem for the Passover, and in the temple courts He sees the money changers. He makes a whip of cord and drives them all out (with their sheep and cattle), and shouts at the dove-sellers, ‘Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!’
The disciples remember the quote from Psalm 69 v. 9 about the ‘Zeal for your house’ which is all consuming, and be part of what ultimately costs Jesus His life.
When the Jews ask for a sign (a miracle to show who He is), Jesus says
‘Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days’.
Of course, the Jews think He means the physical temple which had taken decades to build, but Jesus is referring to His body – the fulness of God on earth – and His disciples will remember this statement when they have experienced His death and resurrection.
Although Jesus attracts many believers at this time, people impressed with His miracles, He does not ‘entrust Himself to them’ (didn’t put His trust in people) – He knew who He was (didn’t need their affirmations etc.), and also knew ‘what was in a man’.

John places the cleansing of the temple right at the beginning of His gospel of Jesus’ ministry, whereas the other gospel writers bring it in as part of the Holy Week narrative (after the triumphal entry). Why is it important to John to have it here ?
John is clear that Jesus clashes with the impurity, unholiness and religious hypocrisy within the temple and that He has come to bring ‘new wine’, a cleansing and renewal of all, ‘new birth’, including the life and witness of the Jews.
Jesus blesses a wedding banquet, and cleanses the temple.

 

PSALM
a song accompanied on string instuments – following the story of David, when the Ziphites were colluding with Saul.
‘Save me, O God…hear my prayer…strangers are attacking me…
Surely God is my help, the Lord sustains me…
Let evil recoil on those who slander me…
I will praise Your name, O Lord, for it is good…’

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