To download the Bible reading plan that our faith family started on January 1st, visit this site. There is also a guide to personal worship that you can download from that site. If you haven’t been reading along thus far, no worries! Jump on in with the current day’s reading.

Readings for This Week
Exodus 35-40, Leviticus 1, & John 14-20

Where We Are In The Story ~ Old Testament (Exodus & Leviticus)

Background of Exodus: The title “exodus” comes from the Greek word meaning “going out” or “departure” and describes the major event that occurs in the book. Exodus opens where Genesis leaves off – the descendants of Abraham are living in Egypt instead of in the Promised Land. The events in Exodus occur approximately four hundred years after Jacob’s family moved to Egypt, and as prophesied in Genesis 15, Abraham’s descendants became slaves. While Genesis highlights God as Creator, Exodus focuses on God as the Deliverer of His people, for He keeps His promise to free His people and to bring them back to the land of promise.

Structure of Exodus:

  • Exodus 1-18 focuses on the deliverance of the people Israel from Egypt and God’s provision for His people.

  • Exodus 18-24 explains God’s covenant with Israel.

  • Exodus 25-31 provides instructions for the construction of the Tabernacle and explanation for the priestly role.

  • Exodus 32-34 describes God’s response to His people’s idolatry.

  • Exodus 35-40 highlights the nation’s obedience in building the Tabernacle.

This Week in Exodus: Exodus 35-36 details the generous contributions from the people in order to build the Tabernacle and God’s call on Bezalel and Oholiab and other craftsmen to build the sanctuary. These two chapters include two emphases: the desire of the people to sacrifice for the Lord’s sanctuary and the empowerment of the Spirit to do His work.

Exodus 37-39 tells of the construction of the Ark, the Table of the Bread of Presence, the Lampstand, the Altar of Incense, the Altar for the Burnt Offering, the Bronze Basin, the court, the priestly garments, and other materials. For explanations of the significance of the Ark and the Table of the Bread of Presence, view Week 10 of the Faith Family Worship Guide, and Week 11 contains information about the priests’ clothing and the Altar of Incense. While the Ark of the Covenant was in the Holy of Holies or Most Holy Place (the inner room), the Table for the Bread of Presence, the Altar of Incense, and the Lampstand were in the Holy Place (the outer room). But the Altar for the Burnt Offering and the Bronze Basin were located in the courtyard of the Tabernacle.

The Bronze Basin was also called “the laver,” and it stood between the Altar for the Burnt Offering and the Tabernacle tent. It was for the priests to wash their hands and feet before entering the tent since they could not enter until they had purified themselves. In fact, if the priests entered without washing, they would die (Ex. 30:21). While the Bronze Basin served the practical purpose of a place to wash away the dirt, blood, etc. off the priests’ bodies, the laver also symbolized purification and what should be true of them internally and not just outwardly because of God’s holiness and righteousness (see Ps. 24:3-4; Tit. 3:5; Jas. 4:8; 1 Jn. 1:9).

The Bronze Altar (a.k.a. “high altar”) was made out of wood but covered with bronze to make it fireproof and waterproof. Once inside the Tabernacle courtyard, it was the first stop for the worshipper. The top of the altar was basically a very large grill, and the priests would use basins to dash the animal’s blood against the side of the altar. At each corner of the altar, a horn projected outward. While it was used to attach the ropes of the bound sacrifice, the blood of the sacrifice would be applied to the horns, and depending on the nature of the sacrifice, either the priest or the person making the offering would grab the horns and pray or offer praise to God. The Bronze Altar was a perpetual reminder that entrance to God’s presence requires a sacrifice. No one – not even a priest – could approach God without the shedding of blood. In Exodus 40, Moses records the Lord inhabiting the completed sanctuary, and God fulfills His intention to dwell among His people.

Background of Leviticus: Everything in Leviticus points to the holiness of God. His perfection and man’s sinfulness stands as the reason for all of the sacrifices, laws, and regulations included in this book, for Leviticus explains how a covenant between a righteous God and a sinful people practically plays out in everyday life in the era before Christ’s resurrection. Written by Moses as Israel wandered in the wilderness, it contains divine speeches that Moses delivered to the people of Israel about how to worship God and how they should live. Modern readers of Leviticus may tire of reading the many laws and regulations, but for Israelites in the Old Testament era, Leviticus provided relevant information for how they were to go about their day-to-day lives.

Structure of Leviticus:

  • Leviticus 1-7 explains the rituals of the different sacrifices.

  • Leviticus 8-10 gives instructions for the priests of Israel.

  • Leviticus 11-15 instructs the people on cleansing and purification.

  • Leviticus 16 details the sacrifice and instructions for the Day of Atonement.

  • Leviticus 17-27 provides directions regarding the festivals, the holy days, and how the people should live.

This Week in Leviticus: Leviticus 1 provides instructions regarding the burnt offering. When worshippers came to the Tabernacle, this was the second offering that they would make, for there were at least four, sometimes five, offerings made (see Lev. 1-5). It is listed first in Leviticus because it was one of the most important sacrifices that the people would make. It was also the only sacrifice where the whole offering belonged to God and where portions were not consumed by the priests or the worshipper. The burnt offering (a.k.a. “holocaust offering”) addressed the issue of how a sinful creature could approach a holy God, and it demonstrated both the complete surrender of the worshipper and the complete acceptance by God of the worshipper. By having the worshipper lay his hand on the animal’s head, the worshipper expressed the need for substitutionary atonement, for the worshipper could not approach God without the blood sacrifice of a blameless substitute. The fact that life would be taken in order for people to access God speaks to the severity of man’s offense against Almighty God. Passages such as Romans 3:25, Matthew 20:28, 1 Peter 2:19-22, and Ephesians 5:27 in the New Testament draw upon the imagery of the burnt offering.

Where We Are In The Story ~ New Testament (John)

Background of John: John 20:31 gives the thesis of this Gospel: “but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.” John stands distinct from Matthew, Mark, and Luke in his emphasis on eternal life and how it refers to both duration but also the quality of life that God designed us to have in Him. From John 1, this book establishes that Jesus is God in the flesh. He is fully God and fully human at the same time. Written by John who was one of Jesus’ disciples, this Gospel does not follow Jesus’ life chronologically. Instead, John 1-12 looks at the eight “I AM” statements of Jesus and at seven of His miracles in order to demonstrate by words and actions that Jesus is God, and it spends the remaining nine chapters on the night of Last Supper through Jesus’ ascension.

This Week in the New Testament: John 14-16 records Jesus’ words to the disciples on the evening of the Last Supper, and as a result, this group of teachings is often called the “Farewell Discourse.” In the hours before His arrest, Jesus reassures the disciples by promising His resurrection, His return, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. In all of this, Jesus reiterates to the disciples why He must depart. Jesus also leaves them with instructions to obey Him (Jn. 14:21-24), to abide in Him (Jn. 15:4-5), to love one another (Jn. 15:12-14), to bear fruit (Jn. 15:16), and to bear witness about Christ even in the face of persecution (Jn. 15:18-16:4).

With regards to the Holy Spirit, Jesus describes Him as “Helper,” “the Spirit of truth,” and “the Holy Spirit,” but the Greek word used for “Helper” in John 14-16 also means “counselor,” “advocate,” and “comforter.” In the Farewell Discourse, Jesus gives five different sayings about the Holy Spirit.

  • The Spirit bears witness to the truth of who Jesus is, and while the world cannot receive the Spirit, He will reside in those who follow Christ (Jn. 14:16-17).

  • Sent by the Father, the Spirit would teach the disciples and remind them of Jesus’ words (Jn. 14:25-26). The Gospels demonstrate the fulfillment of this promise when the Gospel writers make comments such as “When he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken” (Jn. 2:22).

  • The Holy Spirit bears witness about Christ (Jn. 15:26-27).

  • The Spirit convicts the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment (Jn. 16:7-11).

  • The Spirit guides believers to the truth, declares what is to come, and glorifies Christ (Jn. 16:12-15).

John 17, which is often called the “High Priestly Prayer,” records Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night of His arrest, and in this prayer, Jesus prays for Himself (vv. 1-5), His followers (vv. 6-19), and the church (vv. 20-26). John 18-19 details Jesus’ arrest, trial, and crucifixion. It differs from the previous three Gospels in its mention of Christ’s kingdom during Jesus’ conversation with Pilate (Jn. 18:33-37; 19:9-11). As Jesus appears to the disciples in the locked room after His resurrection, He breathes on them as He imparts the Holy Spirit to them (Jn. 20:22). This scene in John’s Gospel tells of us a private bestowal of the Spirit as Jesus sends them on mission, while Acts 2 tells of a broader bestowal of the Spirit at a large public event.