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Galatians overview

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

THURSSDAY, SEPTEMBER 27

SCRIPTURE:  Galatians  - an overview

BY: Jeremy Witt

Today we return to the New Testament to one of Paul’s first writings, the book of Galatians.  Paul went to Galatia on his first missionary journey with Barnabus as well as to the cities of Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe.  Paul’s purpose in writing was to refute those who claimed that he was not an apostle and had no authority of the Gospel.  The group making the accusations against Paul were Jews who were teaching the Gentile believers that they had to obey the Old Testament in order to be saved.  The issue was how were the Gentile believers to apply the Old Testament Law which help us today is one of the underlying themes of the book. 

By way of reminder, any Old Testament law repeated in the New Testament is applicable to us today.  Those sacrificial and civil laws not repeated do not apply; however, the principles behind the laws need to be applied not necessarily the law itself.  For example, when it is referring to no garment should be made out of two different materials such as Leviticus 19:19 (wool and silk), what is the principle behind the law?  God’s purpose was for the nation of Israel to be pure, holy, set apart.  They were to dress differently, act differently, etc from the world.  The purpose was to point people to God and live in a different way so that they would want to know the LORD.  This principle applies to us today, not the law regarding specific garment material.

This is still an issue in many circles today.  Paul called this group “Judaizers” as they insisted that following the Law was necessary in order to be saved.  We see this today as legalism, self-righteousness, or the “holier than thou’s.”  If we add anything to the Gospel, then we are guilty of this sin ourselves.  If baptism, church membership, voting like us, looking like us, etc. is necessary for salvation, then we are guilty of the same wrongs that Paul is addressing.  The problem for believers who add to salvation today is that Paul addresses the Law, faith, our spiritual freedom, and the Holy Spirit within this book of Galatians.  This book directly attacks this false teaching.  Paul’s tone in the writing could be termed “angry” in places as we will discover.  He does not desire the Gentile believers to be shackled to something that Christ has set us free from by His death and resurrection.  His fear was that the believers were losing their grip on the gospel of grace which he had taught them as in 1:6-7.

Before we go and “judge” the Judaizers, let’s look at us first.  Grace is a very difficult concept to grasp.  We want it for ourselves, but typically want discipline/punishment/judgment for others.  Giving grace to others is a very difficult thing for us to do today and an impossible task without the Holy Spirit being in control of our lives.  It is difficult to accept even for ourselves.  These Jews had lived in this manner all their lives and felt the traditions were critical, because that is what they had always known.  It was the way things “always were.”  They should be corrected in love, but also shown grace so that they can repent and be true to God’s Word. 

Paul mentions two visits to Jerusalem in the book of Galatians.  The visit in 1:18 is most likely the same as Acts 9:26-30.  Luke indicates Paul visited Jerusalem in Acts 11:28-30 and 15:4-21, which is the Jerusalem council.  The second mention of Paul in Jerusalem is 2:1 which is most likely the same as Acts 15.  Regardless of which time Paul was there, we know that in one of these visits Paul went to the church leaders in Jerusalem to share what he and Barnabus had experienced among the Gentile believers, and this meeting is known as the Jerusalem council.  It is this council that said that the Gentiles were not subject to the Law.  The Gentiles were instructed not to eat food offered to idols, flee sexual immorality, not to eat meat from strangled animals, and consuming blood. (Acts 15:19)

The outline of the book deals with 3 main parts.  The authenticity of the Gospel is 1:1 through 2:21.  Paul then addresses the superiority of the Gospel in 3:1 through 4:31, and finally Paul focuses on freedom of the Gospel in 5:1-6:18.

There is not a single church addressed in Galatia, so it was most likely circulated to several in the region.  Paul typically did not end a letter in the manner he does in Galatians as in 6:11-18.  It is quite clear that Paul did not approve of the Jews behaving this way and wanted to protect the new believers in our LORD. 

Posted by Jeremy Witt with

Exodus 40

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 26

 

SCRIPTURE:  EXODUS 40 and a question from Chapter 29

BY: Jeremy Witt

I was asked a question today (Tuesday, 25th) about a previous chapter we read, back in chapter 29.  Love this, because it means you are reading the Word and these devotions.  Keep them coming!  Specifically verse 20 is where we will begin.  Honestly when I read the chapter, I just blew past it in my reading, but the question was asked about the blood on the right ear, right hand, right big toe.  What is the significance?  I did a bit of research on this on some Jewish commentaries and wanted it to share it with you before we tackle chapter 40. 

The right side is viewed as power and strength by the Jews first and foremost.  I realize this offends you lefties, but  . . .

“Ear, hand and foot–an abbreviated code for his entire body–emphasize that service to one’s highest ideals, to one’s people, or to one’s God, must be total.” 

An ancient commentator, Philo (1st Century Egypt), perceived that, “The fully consecrated (priest) must be pure in words and actions and in life; for words are judged by hearing, the hand is the symbol of action, and the foot of the pilgrimage of life.”

Rabbi Abraham ibn Ezra (12th Century, Spain) argues, on the other hand, that the ear “symbolizes that one must attend to what has been commanded” and the thumb “is the origin of all activity.”

A summary from the ebible.com page was that the ear was for listening to God, the thumb speaks of worship and service, and the toe was for walking according to God’s standards.

https://ebible.com/questions/9860-why-did-moses-put-blood-on-aaron-s-right-ear-lobe-thumb-and-the-big-toe-of-his-right-foot

On to chapter 40!  Moses was careful to do everything the LORD commanded down to the smallest detail.  He was meticulous to obey everything the LORD said, which is a testimony for us today.  Why is this so important?  Notice verses 34-38.  The LORD accepted it and filled it with His Presence in the form of a cloud.  It represented God’s home on earth, and it reminded the people that the LORD was leading them.  If we will be careful to obey everything the LORD commands us, we can expect His Spirit to be with us for guidance and direction.

Ironically, almost 500 years later, Solomon would begin building the temple for the LORD in Jerusalem.  The LORD filled the temple with His Presence then as well as we read in 2 Chronicles 5:13-14.  We see the LORD’s presence leave, and Jerusalem is destroyed in 2 Kings 25.

In the New Testament, we know from 1 Corinthians 6:19 - Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;  When we are careful to follow all that the LORD commands, we can expect His Spirit to lead us as the pillar of cloud and fire did the nation of Israel. 

Quick reminder about letting us know about any books of the Bible (which we have not done) that you would like us to do next.  Email me at

Posted by Jeremy Witt with

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