The Steadfast Love of the Lord

Daily Scripture readings for August, set #5:

Numbers, chapters 9-11
Psalm 52
Matthew 22:34-46
Romans 4

In Numbers 11 Moses comes to the Lord with the people’s complaints that they have no meat. The Lord’s response that the people will have more meat than they know what to do with seems unlikely to Moses, and he doubts God’s answer. Verse 23: “And the Lord said to Moses, “’Is the Lord’s hand shortened? Now you shall see whether my word will come true for you or not.’” I love how God’s answer assumes that he was always able to do such a thing. “Moses, has something happened to my abilities that they are now limited in some way?” The Lord’s hand is far-reaching enough to accomplish whatever he wishes, and it has not been, nor will it ever be, shortened.

I don’t think I’ve mentioned this yet – forgive me if I have already. Themes and consistencies show themselves as one reads the Bible straight through, and one of those that I noticed last year is the description of God as having “steadfast love” that “endures.” This Psalm mentions it in both verse 1 and verse 8, and I’m pretty sure EVERY BOOK in the readings so far has mentioned it, both OT and NT. I’m going to be on the lookout for it in the rest of the books as well.

Jesus continues his dominant wisdom in his responses to the Pharisees questions to close out Matthew 22. He outlines the most important commandment of loving God, saying that the second-most important is “like it”… loving one’s neighbor. Then, a HUGE statement in verse 40: “On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Holy cow. This is Jesus, the very Word himself, telling us that the entire Old Testament hinges on these two commandments. Worth noting, to say the least.

Romans 4 is a case-in-point example of Paul’s argument that justification is by faith, not works. Even Abraham, the patriarch of God’s covenant with Israel, displayed faith as the basis of the covenant. But this chapter also reinforces the concept of Gentile inclusion and the “true” Jew: “He (Abraham) received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised” (vs 11-12). I’m amazed at how many times I read through Romans without noticing these recurring Jew/Gentile clarifications. I think I missed it because I had heard that Romans was about justification, and so I was only looking for that.

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