John 3 v. 16….says it all.

10 05 2011

DAY ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY-TWO : Joshua 21 v. 20 – 22 v. 34; John 3 v. 1 – 21; Psalm 55 v. 1 – 11

‘O for the wings of a dove….’ Psalm 55

JOSHUA
Levite Towns – the remaining Kohathites receive towns from Ephraim (including Shechem (a city of refuge)); they also receive from the tribe of Dan four towns with their pasture-lands, and from the tribe of Manasseh two towns with their pasture-lands.
The Gershonites are given two Manasseh towns (including Golan, a city of refuge), four Issachar towns, four Asher towns, and three Naphtali towns (including Galilean Kedesh, a city of refuge).
The Merarites are given four Zebulun towns, four Reuben towns and four Gadite towns (including Ramoth, a city of refuge).
So the Levites gain forty-eight towns, each surrounded by pasture-land.

And all of that ends the division of the land to the people, just as God had promised their forefathers.

‘Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.’

Eastern Tribes Return Home – Joshua sends the Reubenites, Gadites and Manassehites back to their lands east of the Jordan. They have not deserted their brothers, have carried out their mission, and have obeyed everything Joshua had commanded them. They go with Joshua’s blessing and with the instruction to keep the commandments and laws of Moses:
‘to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to obey His commands, to hold fast to Him and to serve Him with all your heart and all your soul.’
So they leave the rest of their brothers at Shiloh to return to Gilead, land granted them by Moses.
Whilst still in Canaan, the Reubenites, Gadites and Manassehites build an ‘imposing altar’ – so the rest of the Israelites rise up against them, ready to go to war.
It’s a big misunderstanding which is put right when Phineas (son of the priest Eleazar) visits them to find out what they are doing.
The fear was that this altar was an alternative, a threat to the altar at Shiloh – i.e. these tribes going it alone and setting up their own place for sacrificing etc..
However, they explain that they had set up this altar out of fear that some of their (the seven tribes) descendants may see the Jordan river as a real barrier, and wonder what the tribes the other side of the Jordan have to do with them, or with their God (the God of Israel). So they built the altar, not as an alternative, for sacrificing at, but rather as a ‘witness between us and you and the generations that follow, that we will worship the Lord at His sanctuary….and in the future your descendants will not be able to say to ours : “You have no share in the Lord.”‘
Phineas is satisfied with this explanation, as are the leaders of the clans. Phineas praises God that the east-Jordan tribes have not be unfaithful to God in this, and that all Israel has been spared. Then all Israel rejoices.
The alternative altar is named ‘A Witness Between Us that the Lord is God!’

Mmm, a tense moment, just as the tribes separate and go to their lands….the seeds of mistrust between tribes and groups of tribes are ruthless. The tense meeting pays off, though, and war is avoided !JOHN
Jesus Teaches Nicodemus – I love the story of Nicodemus in John’s gospel. He appears three times, and is on a journey in his openness to Jesus. Here, in his first encounter, he comes to see Jesus in the secrecy of night, not wanting to be spotted, for he is a member of the Jewish ruling council. He is fully aware of all the disturbance around who Jesus might be, but boldy proclaims that the miracles themselves are a sign that ‘you are a teacher who has come from God….’.
Jesus’ first statement must have seemed (to Nicodemus) pretty unconnected with what has gone before, that to ‘see the kingdom of heaven…(you must) be born again’.
Nicodemus is clearly confused by this language, and asks how a grown man can be physically born again?
Jesus uses the ‘I tell you the truth’ line again (He says that three times in this passage – He’s keen to express the truth of His words), and outlines a spiritual birth (‘born of water and the Spirit’), and compares the Spirit (Ruach-breath) of God to the wind, blowing where it pleases, which we can hear but cannot pin down.
When Nicodemus requests more from Jesus, Jesus says some of His best known lines :
‘we speak of what we know and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony.’
‘no-one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven – the Son of Man.’
‘Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.’
(as the Israelites were saved by looking at the bronze image of a snake, so anyone may be saved by looking in faith to Christ, who will be lifted up (Jesus’ death on the cross).

‘FOR GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD THAT HE GAVE HIS ONE AND ONLY SON, THAT WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM SHALL NOT PERISH BUT HAVE ETERNAL LIFE’

‘For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.’
‘Whoever lives by the truth comes into the light’ (another metaphor for being born again, coming into the light).

Wow – well you did ask, Nicodemus. What great teaching is given this man who is opening himself up to God’s presence in Jesus.
He had a lot to go away and think about / pray through.
Look out for Nicodemus chapters two and three later in the gospel.

PSALM
‘Listen to my prayer, O God…
my thoughts trouble me…
my heart is in anguish within me…
fear and trembling have beset me…

‘O for the wings, for the wings of a dove,
that I may fly away and be at rest.’

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