Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Bethany Bullet - Week of February 19, 2017

Sermon: “But…”

In his fifth chapter Matthew records Jesus’ explanation of the law and in so doing reveals the absolute holiness of God, the seriousness of the law and the radical reality of sin in our lives.

Take some time to read through Matthew 5:21-48.  (In this particular case the CEV or NIV is best)

Notice how each time Jesus mentions something His hears no quite well…for example, “You have heard it said, ‘Do not murder.’”  You can almost picture the crowd nodding in affirmation, confirming His preaching on each occasion as He declares things they know and believe from the Decalogue.  When suddenly, each time, Jesus explains and in their minds expands the law and in so doing ends up blowing their minds.  BUT…I say to you.  That is how Jesus opens their minds to the seriousness of the law, the holiness of God and the radical reality of sin in their lives.

On each occasion Jesus leaves them with no escape; no way to claim a righteousness of their own.  On each occasion Jesus leaves us with no escape; no way to claim a righteousness of our own.  BUT…for the promise of Christ we would be lost!  BUT… there is a righteousness that is ours!  One that comes by faith in Jesus Christ! 

-Pastor Kevin Kritzer

Monday, February 20, 2017

The One Year Bible- February 20th



It seems like every year we get busier and busier. Life seems to add things to our plates on a daily basis. This past week I have been busy planning Bible studies, writing sermons, leading worship with our Bethany family in the desert, getting ready for Lent and Ash Wednesday, as well as gearing up for Mission Alaska. Right now time seems to be at a premium. To put it mildly, I am busy. The one constant this week has been my daily readings. I have managed to read every day and it has been a source of strength and a blessing for me. When you have days, or, weeks, or months like this I hope you will lean on the strength that you will find in God’s Word. On to the study...

Seth’s Thoughts

The Old Testament
Not much to talk about from a theological perspective on this week’s readings from the Old Testament. The big thing is the rules and regulations regarding offerings and health. Last week I gave you some info on the different kinds of offerings. Please refer back to that if you need to as we continue to read. The other thing about this week is the copious use of blood. I think we have talked about this before, but remember that this was a different time and culture. In our day, blood is seen as bad and possibly containing diseases. For the people of Israel the spilling of blood gave them life. This all points to Jesus and we have talked about that time and again. I got an email a few years ago at this time from someone who was reading The One Year Bible and I want to share the question and the answer with you:

Good Morning Seth,

In Leviticus 11:1-12:8 today the Bible states the following:

"And the pig, though it has a split hoof completely divided, does not chew the cud; it is unclean for you." What does it mean when God says it is unclean? Is it His law that we not eat pig or does it just make us unclean? This was interesting this morning as I did not know that God has commanded us to eat or not eat certain foods.

Any insight you could offer would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!

My Reply:

I just finished that reading myself. The thing you need to remember about all these laws and regulations is that they are for the people of Israel in the wilderness as God is forming them to be his people. All these laws were not written for us in the US in the 21st Century. The reason that God placed some dietary restrictions on the people was two-fold. First of all many of the animals that were considered unclean had problems with parasites and other things that could make the people sick if they were not cooked or handled properly. God needed the people to be healthy. Secondly, many of these animals were used by the pagan people they would encounter in the Promised Land in their worship of false Gods. God did not want them to associate with them so he set them apart.

Fast forward to today...some people still follow these dietary laws but they are no longer required. The ceremonial law was fulfilled in Jesus and we now have freedom. This does not mean that we can abuse our freedom, but we are not bound to all of the requirements of the Old Testament Law. If it were so we would have many more things to do every day (like ceremonial washing, staying outside of the city until sunset if we are unclean, men not shaving beards, etc.) Rest assured that eating pork, or lobster, or a cheeseburger (all would be unclean in the OT) is OK. I hope this helps.

Pastor Seth

You may have had the same question and I hope this helps you as well. Please feel free to email me your questions or better yet make a comment on the blog, I will answer it and others can benefit from the discussion. You can always comment as “anonymous” if you would like.

The New Testament
The book of Mark is filled with miracles and parables. It is no wonder many point new believers to this Gospel. Mark lays out the evidence that Jesus is the savior of the world and Jesus proves it by his miracles. Jesus also is a good teacher and as all good teachers he uses the power of stories. Stories teach in ways that other words cannot. Stories captivate our imaginations, they take us to places we have never been, they can help us understand complex ideas. Jesus knew the power of story and he used it. In our reading for the 20th we see that “He did not speak to them without a parable.” (Mark 4:34a ESV). What better way to teach to a bunch of uneducated people. I think at times we have lost the art of storytelling in our Churches. We do a good job of it in Sunday School but we often forget it with Adults. I feel that we all can benefit from a good story and what better story to start with than the story of Jesus Christ.

I also want to address one historical point today. In the reading for Feb. 22nd we are introduced to King Herod. We have not seen that name since Matthew’s Gospel. What you need to know is that the Herod in Mark 6 is not the same one as in Matthew 2. A bit of history here; in Matthew 2 we are talking about Herod the Great who was the king of Judea, Galilee and other areas at the time of Jesus’ birth. He was the one who ordered all the baby boys killed to try to take care of the new king that was born. When he dies his kingdom is split between his three sons, Herod Philip II, Archelaus, and Herod Antipas. Herod Antipas was the ruler of Galilee and is the one who puts John the Baptist to death and is mentioned in Mark 6 (And Matthew 14). This is also the same Herod we will see in Luke 23 when Pilate sends Jesus to see him just before the crucifixion. We will see two more Herods. In Acts 12:1-24 we will see Herod Agrippa I who is a grandson of Herod the Great. Herod Agrippa I is the one responsible for killing the apostle James, who put Peter into prison and was killed by an angel. In Acts 25 and 26 we will see Herod Agrippa II who is the son of Herod Agrippa I. This is the Herod who Paul has a trial with before he is sent to Rome. If you didn’t follow all of that don’t worry. Just remember that we are talking about one royal family with the same name.

Have a great week!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Bethany Bullet - Week of February 12, 2017

Sermon: “But…”

Growing up as a kid in the ‘70s meant that most Saturday mornings was spent in front of the TV eating Captain Crunch cereal and watching cartoons.  In an effort to infuse a little education into the minds of children up at the crack of dawn ABC Television created a series of cartoon shorts called Schoolhouse Rock! 

These educational episodes covered a myriad of topics including grammar, science, economics, history, mathematics, and civics. The series' original run lasted from 1973 to 1985. Unlike my childhood, you can watch them today on the internet anytime you wish. 

I give thanks to these tidbits of wisdom for teaching me the preamble to the constitution, how a bill is passed in Washington, how three is a magic number, and how we all are victims of gravity. 

One video that is forever etched into my long term memory was called “Conjunction Junction.”  It first aired in 1973 and in word and song asks the question, “Conjunction Junction, what’s your function?”  It goes on to describe the function of conjunctions such as “and, but and or.”  Here is a link so you can watch the video: https://youtu.be/4AyjKgz9tKg

The function of a conjunction is to connect phrases, words and clauses to make complex sentences or to make comparisons. This Schoolhouse Rock! Video used a train car analogy to describe how the parts of the sentence are connected by the conjunction. 

Why do I say all of this?

Last week Pastor Kevin dropped a big “but” on us.  He connected a counter proposal to what the world would say.  

He introduced evidence from scripture that overwhelms the hypothesis of the masses.

The cross is a big but!  Now, I know that sounds kinda silly, especially to my often immature ears.  It’s not like I’m asking, “Does this robe make my butt look big?” 

It’s the counterproposal to what the prince of this world wants you to hear.  The cross is a big but, not anatomically, but grammatically. 

The cross, the tool of torture and death should have been the end of Jesus at least that is what the Pharisees and religious leaders thought. 

Yeah, but…the the cross is the beginning of life and the tool by which we are freed from sin and set apart for service.  In the cross we see the power and the wisdom of God for us! 

It is an outlandish position to take that when God is at His weakest and His lowest—that is hanging on a cross—there He is the strongest as He brings to all humanity grace, mercy and forgiveness of all our sins. 

In his ministry that led to the cross of Calvary Jesus himself dropped some big “buts.”  We see them over and over again in Matthew’s account of the Sermon on the Mount. 

For the next few weeks our assigned Gospel readings will focus on Jesus teaching words from this event and we will see some big buts. 

Let’s dig into our text (from Sunday), from Matthew, the 5th chapter, “You are salt for the earth.  But if salt loses its taste, how can it be made salty again?  It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled on by people.  You are light for the world.  A city cannot be hidden when it is located on a hill.  No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket.  Instead, everyone who lights a lamp puts it on a lamp stand.  Then its light shines on everyone in the house.  In the same way let your light shine in front of people.  Then they will see the good that you do and praise your Father in heaven.”  (Matthew 5:13-16)

Notice what Jesus doesn’t say.  He doesn’t say that we are “to be” salt and light, but that we “are” salt and light.  It is an important distinction.  He has done the work for us and He simply releases us into the world, to connect with the world.

Jesus answers the question many have, “What is my function in this world?”

It would be very easy to simply stick around and relish in the victory of the cross.  Yes, the victory over sin, death and the devil has been won, BUT, Jesus pushes us forward into service.

Salt is useful, not just as a seasoning as we think of it today, but when Jesus walked the earth, the only real way to preserve food, especially meat, was to use salt.  We are also useful in this world.  We can serve as a preservative in this corrupt and sinful world as we give glory to God and connect others to Jesus.  It is our function this side of heaven.

Of course Jesus is also the light of the world.  He said so Himself.  He came to overcome the darkness of sin, wickedness, ignorance and unbelief.  We are called as light in the world and to reflect the light of Christ just as the moon reflects the light of the sun.

It is the nature of light to shine.  There is no such thing as light that does not shine.  That would be impossible, it would be like cold heat or dry water, but (there is that word again) light can be covered up. 
This is what Jesus is warning us about. 

In the old Sunday school song, “This little light of mine,” we are reminded to let that light shine, let it shine, all the time!

But I know there are times when I want to hide it, extinguish it, or deny it.  But it is precisely for those moments that Jesus came.  In our weak and lowly moments He is strong and is there to remind us that His grace is sufficient for us and He came to connect us to the source of the light, and to connect us to the one who gave us life now and for eternity.

He desires a deep and abiding connection with us.

We might try to go our own way at times, BUT, our good and gracious God pursues us with His mercy.  And He sends you and me, as salt and light to the world, even when we might argue, yeah, but, “I’m not very good at this”, or “But I don’t know what to say”

As salt and light we are called to interact with others, to help others get connected to the true light.  As His light shines through us, it is God our Father who is praised. 

Often times, we get uncomfortable talking about what we are to do in our life of faith.  We know that Jesus has done it all, our salvation is secure.

BUT this is not an issue of our salvation; it is an issue of our sanctification.
Jesus sends us out into the world to bring His light to others.

We must never forget what God has done.  But we must never think we had anything to do with our redemption, and that does not mean that we sit on our hands and do nothing. 

We are His hands, we are His feet, you have been called to action, called to serve passionately, to give proportionately, and to share intentionally. 

That is what it means to live as salt and light in this world, always keeping Christ and the cross in our sight and giving glory to God —BUT—remember that we have been released for service that will connect others to Jesus.  It is our function until he returns.

-Pastor Seth Moorman

Monday, February 13, 2017

The One Year Bible- February 13th



This week we will start the book of Mark and right at the beginning of this Gospel there is a verse that jumps out at me, “News about him [Jesus] spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee” (Mark 1:28 NIV). Just think of the power of Jesus. Mark tells us “At once” everyone around knew about him. It reminds me of living in the Internet age. We can get information “at once” as soon as events happen. It is amazing how fast news travels. But what has happened to the good news about Jesus? Why is his fame not being spread everywhere? Well one reason is because the Devil doesn’t want it to. Satan is waging war against the good news of Jesus Christ and at times he seems to be winning. Satan is not happy that you are reading the Bible this year and he will work on your soft spots to get you behind and tempt you to give up. Don’t let his tricks get you down. You have the most powerful weapon in the fight, the Word of God. Remember that the battle belongs to the Lord and even though we may loose a few skirmishes here and there the ultimate victory is the Lord’s. Keep up the good work and fight the hard fight as you pick up the sword of the Spirit daily. On to the study...

Seth’s Thoughts

The Old Testament
The end of Exodus is just a foretaste of what is to come in the book of Leviticus. We will be taking a break from the narrative story for a while and read about many of the nuts and bolts of religious life of the people of Israel. We usually do not read these sections of scripture in Church so they may be brand new for you. Exodus ends with the building of the tabernacle and all the furnishings. This place (and later the temple) is the physical representation of Yahweh on earth. It is quite literally, God’s house. The building of this structure is important for many reasons. First of all, it gave the people something tangible in their relationship with God. Secondly, it was a place where God could interact with his people bringing mercy and forgiveness. Third, it sets up the life and ministry of Jesus. Jesus referred to himself as a temple that would be destroyed and build again in three days. Jesus himself came down to be a physical representation of Yahweh on earth. In John 1:14 we read, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” The word we translate at “made his dwelling” literally means that Jesus “tabernacled” among us. When Jesus came to earth he becomes another tabernacle, this one wrapped in flesh and poised to be the ultimate sacrifice for the forgiveness of the sins of the world. Now the tabernacle had its own purpose in the days of the Israelites, and the temple as well for that matter, but they both point to a greater tabernacle and temple in the person of Jesus Christ.

One other thing I want to do this week is give you an introduction on the many different offerings that are mentioned in Exodus and especially in Leviticus.

Burnt Offering: Leviticus 1; 6: 8-13; 8: 18-21; 16: 24 The burnt offering was for unintentional sin. This was a blanket sacrifice for wrongdoing in general. The price was a male bull, lamb or goat. It had to be a perfect animal, without defect. The poor could offer a pigeon or dove. The penitent would present the animal at the entrance to the tent, which housed the altar and the tabernacle. After presenting the animal, the sinner would place his two hands on the animal and thus, it was accepted as an offering for sin. Probably this act transferred the sin from the human to the animal, which paid the penalty and was sacrificed. They would kill their own offering and then the priests took over.
The priests bled the animal and cut it up ceremonially. The priests sprinkled the blood on the altar. Some of the internal organs and legs were washed. They then burned it whole on the altar. The aroma was said to be pleasing to God. The fire had to be continually burning and was never extinguished.

Grain Offering: Leviticus 2; 6: 14-23 Voluntary worship and thanks: A grain offering is just what it says. The grain had to ground into flour and could be put into loaves or cakes. Olive oil and incense were added to make a pleasing aroma when it burned. Yeast was forbidden for this offering. The cakes had to be salted. The offering was presented to the priests who burned a small portion of it on the altar. The rest was food for them and the Levites.

Fellowship Offering: Leviticus 3: 7: 11-34
A voluntary act of worship, thanks and fellowship: This is called a fellowship offering because the sacrifice is eaten communally instead of burned. Any clean animal, male or female could be offered. Bread, both with and without yeast, was also part of the offering. These were presented at the gate of the tent. The priests would sprinkle the blood on the four corners of the altar. The internal organs, the fat on them and the best part of the liver were burned as a food offering. The rest had to be eaten within two days or else it was burned also.

Sin Offering: Leviticus 4: 1-5: 13; 6: 24-30; 8: 14-17; 16: 3-22 Mandatory for specific sins: All of these offerings for sins are for unintentional transgressions. If you were guilty of premeditated infraction, these offerings didn’t help you. Your stature in the community determined the kind of sacrifice that you were required to offer. A young bull was required for the sin of a high priest or for a community sin. Leaders had to present a male goat. The common people could bring a female goat or a lamb. The poor were permitted to offer a dove or pigeon and the very poor could get away with a tenth of an ephah of fine flour. The bull’s fat was burned inside the camp but the rest was burned outside. Leviticus 5 records the sins for which a sin offering was required. These include unintentionally touching an animal that is ritually unclean, touching something unclean of human origin or making a careless promise.

Guilt Offering: (Repayment Offering) Leviticus 5:14 – 6:7; 7: 1-6 Mandatory for unintentional sin requiring restitution: This is a repayment offering for a sin committed against God, like holding back your tithe. A ram or lamb was brought to the tent to be sacrificed. The debt would have to be paid plus an additional twenty percent. These were the offerings outlined in the first seven chapters of Leviticus. God could forgive mistakes but intentional sins were another matter.

The New Testament
At the beginning of last week we saw the familiar words of institution as Jesus gives his disciples communion for the first time. Remember that meals were very important for the Jews and the connection that this new meal of remembrance first occurred during Passover is by no means a coincidence. Remember that Matthew is writing to a Jewish audience and this new covenant made in blood would ring a bell with all his readers. This would cut to the heart of any Jew, hearing about this because blood equals life. It is not in our culture to think of that. In fact when people outside of the Christian faith hear about being washed in the blood of the lamb, they get turned off from Christianity. I guess my point here is we need to watch how we word some things. To a Jewish audience, Matthew does the culturally relevant thing; when we share the message of Jesus we need to be careful not to offend or even gross out someone when talking about blood.

I want to say a few words about the Great commission this week and I hope not to loose you when I start talking about Greek grammar. First of all every time we translate the Bible from its original languages we loose something. The phrase “Lost in translation” is really true. At times when we translate into English we then, without thinking place certain rules and meaning based on sentence structure and word order. Unfortunately many people, myself included, have misinterpreted portions of scripture because of our cultural bias toward English. In reading the Great Commission in English it seems to be that Jesus is giving us a command (called an imperative) in the word “go”, but in the Greek this word is an adverbial participle, not an imperative. What is an adverbial participle? The action described by an adverbial participle is primarily directed toward the verb. This kind of participle is usually translated with an adverbial phrase. “While studying for his Greek final...” or “While going through the world...”. So we see in Matthew 28 an interesting grammatical sentence that if translated properly is very poor English. A very literal interpretation would be, “As you are going, disciple all the nations, by baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things...” The only imperative in the Great Commission is to disciple others—literally to make them learners. How do we do it? Well, Jesus tells us, we are to baptize and teach. Again these words are not imperatives but the natural flow of what will occur by “discipleing” others. Don’t even get me started on the NIVs use of the word “obey”. What a poor translation that is! We are to observe the things of Jesus through his word and actions and they serve as a guide. They are descriptive on how we are to live not prescriptive. I could go on about this one but we don’t have time here.

One quick thing about the book of Mark. As you read look for the extensive use of the word “immediately” (or similar phrases such as “at once”, they are usually the same word in the Greek). This is a book of action. It hits the ground running and never stops. It is a good book to read as we slug through Leviticus. It will give us some balance to our readings for the next couple of weeks.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

The Bethany Bullet - Week of February 5, 2017

Sermon: “Yeah, But…”

Yeah, but!

Those words mean that one is introducing evidence to counter an earlier hypothesis or is explaining a previous action. 

St Paul's, "yeah but" deals with that which counters fallen reason and understood strength.  You can hear the charges:

"Not very smart to sacrifice yourself for those who rebelled against you right?" 
Yeah but...the cross is the wisdom of God! 

"How mighty can he be if he can be killed upon a tree?" 
Yeah but...the cross is the power of God! 

For through the cross we come to know the depth of God's love and we overcome the enemies we could never have defeated ourselves.

The foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of man and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength; that's why for us the cross is the wisdom of God and the power of God.


-Pastor Kevin Kritzer

Monday, February 06, 2017

The One Year Bible- February 6th


This week’s readings have been filled with many of the most theologically significant passages in all of scripture.  I hope you have found that seeing some familiar passages in context helps in the understanding of them.  We have a lot to get to so let’s get on to the study...


Seth’s Thoughts

The Old Testament:
This weeks readings begin with the most revered event in Jewish history—The Exodus. After the plagues, Pharaoh finally relents and lets the people leave. As the people are leaving, God blesses the people by having the Egyptians give the people of Israel gifts of gold, jewelry and other valuables. These “gifts” will come in handy a bit later in the story. We begin to see what will become a pattern for the people. They start complaining. We will read about their complaints over and over in the upcoming chapters. This pattern continues once they get into the Promised Land as well and eventually explodes into open rebellion from God. God continues to show the people mercy even though he does not have to. He would have every right to get rid of them all but in His love He doesn’t. While they are in the desert God gives the people instructions on how to live, how to worship, how to conduct business etc. This is really a time of learning for the people. God is preparing them to be a Nation. One of the most significant things that God gives them is found in Exodus 20. Here we have what many have called “The 10 Commandments”. In Jewish tradition they were never called “commandments”. They were always referred to as “The 10 Words” or “The 10 Sayings”. They are as follows:

1. I am the LORD your God who brought you out of Egypt.
2. You shall have no other Gods but me.
3. Do not misuse my name.
4. Remember the Sabbath day.
5. Honor your father and mother.
6. Don’t murder.
7. Don’t commit adultery.
8. Don’t steal.
9. Don’t give false testimony.
10. Don’t covet.

Christians disagree about the numbering of the commandments because of a misunderstanding of what “The 10 Words” were all about. Many see the Ten Commandments as a list of laws and rules that the people had to obey. They are seen as only a message of the law. When we look at these from a Jewish point of view we see that all the “words” flow out of a message of the Gospel, “I am the LORD your God who brought you out of Egypt”. Because of what God has done first then we are able to do the other 9 things. It is like saying; “Because God led us out of Egypt, is merciful to us, remembered us and loves us we would never think of having any other gods, or misusing his name etc.” The numbering of the commandments differs between Christians as well. Some make two commandments out of “You shall have no other Gods” and “You shall not make any idols”. In the Lutheran tradition, we have divided “Do not covet” into two commandments. So what is the point of all of this? Are we doing something wrong? Not really. The numbering of the commandments is a side matter. The big idea here is that the commandments are really our response to what God has done for us (this is a very Lutheran way of thinking anyway). Because God loves us our response is to follow his law. Some get it turned around and think that because I follow God’s law then God loves me. This was the thought of the Pharisees in Jesus’ day.

In our readings this past week God gave instructions for the tabernacle and all of the furnishing that will go into it. This was to be a forerunner of the Temple that would be built by Solomon in Jerusalem many years later. It was a visible sign of God’s presence with His people. It was a place for sacrifice and a reminder of God’s law as well as his promises.

Another tidbit of foreshadowing comes in a warning that God delivers to Moses.  God said not to have any interaction with the people who possess the land they will be inheriting.  He said, “Do not make a covenant with them or with their gods. Do not let them live in your land, or they will cause you to sin against me, because the worship of their gods will certainly be a snare to you” (Exodus 23:32-33 NIV).  Eventually as the people enter the Promised Land they will not heed this warning and their involvement with the local people will cause problems for them for their entire history.  Remember this passage and see how this plays out in the weeks to come.

The New Testament
In our readings we see a few encounters that Jesus has with the Pharisees. As Jesus speaks the truth to them he only makes them more upset and fuels the fire to arrest and kill him. One of the more interesting things I have seen in our readings came on February 3rd & 4th. On the 3rd we see Jesus restating the Law of Moses. When Jesus is asked what the greatest commandment is he replies, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39 NIV). In a few short sentences, Jesus states the entire message of “The 10 words”. To love God with all your heart, soul, and mind is to have no other Gods, to not misuse the name of God, and to worship the LORD alone. To love your neighbor as yourself is to follow all the others. I find it fascinating that the very next day we see “The 10 words” in our Old Testament reading. I think the Spirit had something to do with this. Jesus also teaches quite a bit about signs of the end of the age. His main point is that we must be ready. Don’t worry about when it will happen or how it will happen, just know that it will happen and we must be ready. He makes his point clear with the story of the sheep and the goats.

We just started the story of the Passion this week and it will be good for us as Lent begins soon to read the whole story in preparation.  Take some time this week as you read the Passion account to ready your heart and mind for Lent this year.

Bits and Pieces


We will be starting two new books this week.  First off we will move into the book of Leviticus in the Old Testament.  A word of caution here, many people do well getting through Genesis and Exodus but Leviticus is a different story, it can be a brick wall for some people.  The narrative story takes a break for God to give some needed instructions to the people.  The book of Leviticus is not the easiest reading, but remember it is still God’s Word.  Be patient and remember that this is all part of the old covenant that has been fulfilled in Jesus Christ.  It may take you a bit longer to get through the readings but hang in there.  We will run into this again in a few of the prophets.  But for now, remember that we are not the primary audience of this book.  Put yourself in the context of the hearers and it will make some more sense to you.  Here are the vital stats for the book:

PURPOSE: To teach Israel how God shares His holiness with them and how they should live in His holiness.
AUTHOR: Moses
SETTING: At the foot of Mt. Sinai. God is teaching the Israelites how to live as a holy people.
KEY VERSE: “Be holy because I, the LORD your God am holy” 19:2
KEY PEOPLE: Moses, Aaron, Eleazar (Aaron’s son)
KEY PLACE: Mt. Sinai
SPECIAL FEATURE: Holiness is mentioned more times (152) than in any other book of the Bible
GOSPEL THEMES: Cleansing; atonement; redemption; consecration; rest.
LAW THEMES: Uncleanness; sin requires a blood sacrifice; diseases resulting from sin; walking in God’s statues and commands.

We are also starting the Gospel of Mark this week.  I love the book of Mark and I suggest that this is a good book to start reading with a new Christian. Marks favorite word is “immediately”. He uses it often. Mark has been called the action Gospel or the Gospel to the Gentiles. Mark is believed to be the writer of Peter’s story.  Many scholars see the fingerprints of Peter throughout the book.  Here are the vital stats:

PURPOSE: To proclaim Jesus the Son of God, who calls disciples to repent, to believe the Gospel, and to bear the cross.
AUTHOR: John Mark. He was not one of the 12 disciples but he accompanied Paul on his first missionary journey (Acts 13:13)
TO WHOM WRITTEN: The Christians in Rome, where he wrote the Gospel
DATE WRITTEN: Between A.D. 55 & 65
SETTING: The Roman Empire under Tiberius Caesar. The empire with its common language and excellent transportation and communication system was ripe to hear Jesus’ message, which spread quickly from nation to nation.
KEY VERSE: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (10:45)
KEY PEOPLE: Jesus, the 12 disciples, Pilate, the Jewish leaders
KEY PLACES: Capernaum, Nazareth, Caesarea Philippi, Jericho, Bethany, Mount of Olives, Jerusalem, Golgotha
SPECIAL FEATURES: Mark was probably the first Gospel written. The other Gospels quote all but 31 verses of Mark. Mark records more miracles than any other Gospel.
LAW THEMES: Repentance; political and religious opposition; uncleanness; authoritative teaching; heard-heartedness
GOSPEL THEMES: The Good news; baptism; compassion; mercy; cleansing; authoritative teaching; ransom; Lord’s Supper


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