April 16


Exodus 8-11

We are in The World Stream reading through the plagues on Egypt. We are reading from the Good News Translation this week.

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Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis

“Lord God, we want to be on your side. It is clear that there are those who are for you and those who are against you.  The resolve is contrasting and stark. The results of obeying you v.s. fighting you are again, contrasting and stark. It reminds of the lyric of the old hymn, “Savior, we are thine.”   May it be so.   Amen”

The Reading today covers plagues 2-9. We saw the Nile turning to blood and will read of the death of all the firstborn next week (1 and 10).  It is the bulk of the showdown with the Pharaoh today. The plagues we read about today are frogs, gnats, flies, plague on cattle, boils, hail, locusts, darkness. God used so many plagues and persisted through all ten of them for He wanted to fully prove the haplessness of the gods of Egypt.  In last week’s reading, the Nile turning to blood, this was God showing supremacy over the Egyptian gods; Khnum- guardian of the Nile, Hopi- spirit of the Nile, and Osiris- the giver of life, whose bloodstream was the Nile. The Egyptians even today confess that the Nile is their life. No Nile => no Egypt.

ch. 8 – Today the Frogs plague was a direct insult to the god Heqt [“h-e-q-t”]. Frogs come up out of the Nile for the next seven-day long plague. Egyptians worshiped frogs. Their croaking each spring as the Nile began to recede signified it was time to plant crops. Since the events each year were coincidental, this led to frogs being worshiped. It was springtime and just as rabbits in spring were revered in Rome (thus the persistence of the “Easter bunny”  with seculars hoping it overshadows the import of the Easter Holiday itself), so too frogs were worshiped and even associated with fertility.   So God had frogs even cover their beds. “So you still want to worship frogs, eh?” God seems to be asking this of the Egyptians.  The magicians were able to bring up some frogs. Was that supposed to impress someone?  You can make the plague worse, ok, but can you make it better?  Note that Pharaoh asked Moses to pray to God to remove the frogs … tomorrow.  Maybe if he had another day, he could solve the problem via his magicians. ?
The gnats (mosquitos?) plague is not a direct insult of a god for none were associated with gnats, but it is the first plague that comes without a warning preceding it where Moses and Pharaoh talk first. Did Pharaoh deserve a warning? He had just lied to God/Moses/Aaron… Notice that God had told both Abraham and Jacob that their offspring would be innumerable; like the sand. Well the gnats here are going to be that thick, that innumberable, and plague starts when Moses strikes the ground.  Think of trying to get a night’s sleep, especially when camping, and there is even one gnat buzzing around your ears. Alone it will keep you awake. Well the Egyptians were immersed in trillions of them.  And the magicians confess that it’s God’s doing.
The flies strike next. It is going to be so bad that Moses goes to warn Pharaoh this time. We read “flies” but these are not what we think. We envision ‘house-flies’. These are/were what are referred to as ‘dog-flies’. Many have heard of ‘horse-flies’. Those things bite and leave a mark!  The kind they had in Egypt were as angry as hornets. They dive and bite/sting. That is why the Israelites in Goshen are protected. The plague soon brings Egypt to ruin and it’s understandable. Biologically, the Frogs, gnats, and flies happening in succession are linked matters but that can be discussed elsewhere.
9 – The plague on the cattle is a direct assault on Egypt’s well being and economy and religion. They loved cows. It was entrenched in their minds. (Even Israelites falter in this come Exodus 32 when they make golden calves as idols). hundreds of millions in India worship cows to this day. “Hathor” was the Egyptian mother goddess in shape of a cow, and Apis (ah-PEACE) was the bull-god. He personified “Ptah” ; a creator-god who gave fertility.  The Egyptians worshiped cattle –> and God struck the cattle. Don’t anyone get mad at God, it was Pharaoh who wouldn’t bend here. All the animals in Egypt that belonged to the Egyptians died. The Israelites suffered no loss here.
-Soon the boils come on the bodies of the Egyptian people and the animals. They had to have acquired more from neighboring countries and from Israelites since their’s had all just died. So they have new cattle, they’ve just recovered from the biting flies and now ALL cows and people get boils.  Perhaps the fly bites are medically linked to getting the boils but it is bad and painful and the magicians would have conjured something except that they are covered with boils too. It is a national mess that is disgusting and beyond. “Imhotep” their impotent god of medicine was proving to be of no use and no contest against the God whom Moses served.
-there is no recovery spoken of from the boils and soon the warning of hail coming is delivered to Pharaoh. Egypt had the sky goddess; Nut {“newt”}, Isis; the goddess of life, and Seth; the protector of crops.  These gods would prove useless like the others.  The warning is given because anything that is left out; slave or animal is going to get pelted to death. Some listen, some don’t. The horror of the magnitude of the hail storm drives Pharaoh to a confession to Moses but there is not repentance.
10 – The Locust plague is again a clear statement against the gods Isis and Seth. This time God was determined to finish the contest with all the gods of Egypt. Pharaoh was beyond repenting. God would see to it that the oppressors of Israel were devastated.  Pharaoh tries some half measures to negotiate but is stubborn to the bone in the end, again. But it’s God’s doing and the locusts come and devour everything green that was left in the land from the hail storm. A vast cloud of them swarmed in. Some historians and entymologists (buggie-dudes) said that at night the locusts would rest on the ground in the dark and be 4-5″ inches deep squishing under feet.  Pharaoh is crushed and comes to ask for prayer
but he won’t let the Israelites depart.  The loss of labor of millions would be even worse to him.
The darkness, plague 9, came without warning as did the plagues of boils and gnats. The Egyptian sun gods, Re, Aten, Atum, and Horus were all shown as empty idols. The god Horus is still used as the logo on EgyptAir lines today. He is the falcon head.  Well darkness descended and it is a spooky darkness. It’s a different type of horror than what the others had brought on. There was no darkness over the Israelites. They had asked to go worship for three days. Pharaoh had said “no” too many times before, so they got darkness for three days.  Pharaoh is unbending.
11 – Moses, under God’s instruction, goes to Pharaoh and spells out in detail the 10th plague. It will be horrifying and be the greatest blow ever dealt to Egypt in its history. It will affect Pharaoh; the personified god of Egypt. This one will also strike the palace and will leave every home in the country with a lifeless hole in their soul. Pharaoh has been warned thoroughly, and as God has it, Pharaoh will not let the Israelites go.  They better brace themselves.

April 15


Romans 3:22-6:23

We are in the Church Stream today as we continue reading from the Lexham English Bible.

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Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis

3 – this is the finale~ of this chapter. Romans 3 is not just the heart of the power of the gospel chapter.  Chapter 3 of Romans is the main heart valve of the gospel. Bible smuggling was mentioned last week regarding Romans. I’ll conclude that comment this week by saying that when only a small piece of paper could be smuggled in; something the size of a 3X5 card, then the core of it all needed to be included, the content was Romans 3! It is a marvel what hinges on this chapter.  Christ expels our sin and appeases its effect upon our soul and destiny. The new bridge to the “Amazing Grace” song bursts upon the mind; “my chains are gone, I’ve been set free.”  Romans 3 is good news that makes sense to us. Paul makes the crucifixion make sense. It is intriguing that the disciples (and everyone else) didn’t understand what was happening as Jesus was dying. We do however thanks to Paul’s writing to us.

4 – Abraham is the illustration employed here. All to whom Paul is addressing here have top regard for Abraham. The old school Jewish crew that Paul is addressing specifically need to understand God’s role in salvation by remembering that Abraham was justified by faith and completely so.  He believed and was justified. Done. Circumcision was a ritual done later by Abraham and his son Isaac. Yes, it was the first next thing Abraham was required to do, but it was done after Abraham was justified. To become “children of Abraham”, if that is how they were to perceive it, then one needed to simply believe God – like Abraham did. And believing God (like Abraham did) was to now follow Jesus v.s. follow Abraham in circumcision. Abraham’s faith in God is what guided him, not his circumcision – that was only incidental.  This is vital to put it lightly. New Believers needed to be welcomed by the older believers and welcomed in faith like Abraham was. The issue is not that God made the Jews and the Devil made the Gentiles. This two-leveled stigmatism could become so severe that it would morph into a mental template of Jews circumcised and Gentiles uncircumcised (thus the Gentiles don’t really even deserve to be here) that it would become a problem that would hobble the church forever.  Paul needed to explain what we find in ch. 4.
5 – is a “wow” chapter.  It is loaded with the verses we memorized in Sunday School and Vacation Bible School. It’s one of those ‘gold mine’ chapters with no many good finds and discoveries that it needs to be gone over slowly and repeatedly. The theological backdrop is that we find ourselves enswirled in a world of sin living a life of sin. We didn’t ask to be born. We simply realize that we are here and it was not our choice. Invariably we opt to sin somewhere along the way and then cannot undo what we have chosen. Adam, much the same way, had to have a horribly sobering moments (perhaps many) during his centuries of life when he slumped onto a rock or chair and groaned, “I just ate a piece of fruit … I didn’t know it would lead to all this mess. I didn’t know it would ruin everything for everyone. Is there no remedy? Will it be this way forever?!”  Adam’s choice cements our choice to disobey.  Now, since Christ’s righteousness is offered on behalf of all, choosing Him remedies the fact that Adam’s choice brought death. Adam chose death and it extends to us. We can choose Christ for His righteousness also extends to us to cancel death.
6 – Life and grace and gratitude and Christ’s covering for us are to be our motives in living. To think, “hey, I’m eternally forgiven, no matter what. I’m free, therefore, to keep living in sin for God will redeem me” is wrong thinking. It is desperately immature and a smack in the face who gave His Son for us at a costly price.  Someone who is thinking this way, [and there have been many] is oriented completely wrong.  It’s s reckless to think this way. It’s as wrong headed as a rich brat continuing to meddle in crime and saying, “it’s fine, my old man will keep paying bail and the attorney fees. I can get out of any mess. No need for me to reform my ways.” … really?  A net under a high elevation work site is there in case we fall. It’s not installed to be moronically played on all day like a trampoline.  Sin has wages that must be paid. Yet greater than death is God’s gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord, and He must be received by us.  We didn’t choose to be born. We didn’t realize that our sin would lead to such a death. But it’s all true and it engulfs us. We do have the ability to choose Christ, and we must do so to cancel our eternal death.
The Thread through the Streams for this week – “Take it to God”

– Moses is thrust into a terrible face-off with the world’s most powerful man at the time.  Moses has some serious questions and he takes it to God.  We see a Moses who is coming to God and coming against a Pharaoh who is fighting against the God who is about to make a move.

-David (in I Sam.) is running for his life and takes each day and each event and each step in his heart to God.  This scenario v.s. a Saul who doesn’t come to God for anything.
-The Psalms this week are such a celebration as David is rejoicing in His Lord. He takes his joy to God who gives him joy. And when feeling forsaken, David goes straight to God with it.
-Isaiah tells all who are thirsty, hungry, broken, unsatisfied, seeking righteousness to do what? … to come to God. For His salvation is near. The wicked also are called out for their wickedness.
-Hosea is calling for his wife to come back to him just as Israel is called to come back to the LORD: “afterward the children of Israel will return and seek Yahweh their God and David their King.”
Mark – tells of disciples who are called to Jesus, others are coming to Jesus, craving to get to Jesus, longing to be touched and healed and saved by Jesus. It’s beautiful pictures; one after another.
Paul’s letter to Romans explains the thinking of God and the intricacies involved, the theory of what it is and what allows for us to be able to get to God.  It’s mind bending and inspiring. Very motivating writing that the world must know

April 14


Mark 1:1-2:22

We are in the Christ Stream as we start the book of Mark – the expedient gospel. We are reading from the Lexham English Bible this week.

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Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis

Mark is the expedient gospel. One person compared it to an old detective show where the inquisitor would cut off a testimony that was getting too mired in detail to interject, “just the facts, please …”  Mark jumps straight to the baptism of Jesus to begin his gospel. Jesus is 30 years old.  He wants to make sure that the proof of his wonders gets known to the world.  His is the shortened, most concise gospel. The childhood of Jesus is not in Mark. There are no angel announcements, genealogies, John/Baptist buildup, childhood stories to include Joseph, wisemen nor shepherd visits, Jesus as a baby or as a 12-year-old in the Temple.  We see the word “immediately” in Mark dozens of times, markedly more than in the other gospels. Mark wants us to know the wonders of Jesus and then the next wonder, and the next and next.

Mark does make a point that all kinds of people were coming from all over to be baptized by John in the Jordan. The managers of all the synagogues had to wonder “where is everybody?” Matthew notes this detail too as he also was writing to Jews mainly. Wait until Jesus comes along and the crowds looking to encounter him grow exponentially! Then there’s really going to be sparse crowds left behind for the priests to speak to. Only Mark mentions John/Baptist’s ‘impressive’ outfit and diet.  At any rate, Jesus is baptized and all four gospels include that the Holy Spirit came down upon Jesus at that time.

Mark’s piece on Jesus’ temptation is very brief whereas Matthew and Luke are quite descriptive.  There is a year of time or thereabouts that passes between Jesus’ temptation and the Galilee ministry; [btwn Mark 1:13and  v.14.]   Biblical scholar Robert Stein refers to this as Jesus’ ‘year of obscurity’.  John tells of Jesus doing about eight notable things during this timespan. The pressure from the Pharisees must have been growing worse, so Jesus retreats to the north to do his earth-changing ministry around Galilee.  This Galilee portion of ministry that begins Mk. 1:14 goes through Mk. 10:1 when Jesus left for east of the Jordan and Judea to the south.
He then calls four of the disciples (two sets of brothers) Simon and Andrew, then James and John. Remember, “Simon” is the prominent disciple; Peter. They all follow Jesus immediately. James and John were Jesus’ cousins.  Their mother Salome was Mary’s sister; Mary as in Mary and Joseph- yes, that Mary. So their mothers being sisters makes them ‘first cousins’. [ Following Jesus was a family matter.]  Mark sets out then to assert Jesus’ ability astonish people. He teaches … and people are in awe. He drives out a demon and the reaction is the same. Then more people came at dusk. They came in large numbers. This is the time that people wrap things up and go home for the night. But this is different. This visitor is different.  His results are different. The entire city comes to Jesus and more. And He demonstrates inexhaustible ability to heal and cleanse. Jesus thereafter travels all over Galilee. He does a salient deed in healing a leper with a skin problem. By now, all Galilee and Judea and leaders from Jerusalem were present to witness Jesus at work.  The stage is set for a very prominent story: …
Mark 2 – The paralytic let down through the roof is a miracle that becomes a great hinge in Jesus’ ministry. He gives the initial assertion by declaring the paralyzed man forgiven. He then proves that it is not empty talk when he heals him. This verifies Jesus ability to heal and save and that the link between the two is secured –> and that the source of those two gifts is Jesus.  The resentful scribes and Pharisees think it’s their secret right to question Jesus who then announces his reply to a question that was not openly asked. Surprise! Jesus sees through everything and executes a move that echoes through ministries for all time. The rest of his ministry results and can be perceived in light of this miracle and the statement tagged with it. Jesus HEALS AND SAVES. Again, all are in awe – all except the leaders who sense their grip on the people slipping away.
Jesus then calls Levi; Matthew (a sinful tax collector for Rome!) to be his disciple. Interesting that the phrase, a tax has been ‘levied’ still applies today and it comes from biblical literature.     The reading today ends with a question about fasting.  It comes from John’s disciples. John has been imprisoned and so the focus is completely past him and moved to Jesus and Jesus’ followers are acting rather differently than John’s. Jesus responds with three illustrations: the bridegroom, patching a garment, and wineskins. Jesus is the bridegroom. As for patching? Quit trying to patch the old with old ideas. It’s time for the new. The wineskins – same lesson proved a different way.  Jesus has so much to teach them.  And Jesus is not discarding the old Law of Moses.  He just told the leper in the prior story to go show the priest like Moses commanded. Jesus reveres Moses too.
Lord, you are talking to us when Jesus is talking to us.  The people saw it and came running to you.  The leaders saw Jesus and resented Him. We want to pay attention to all that you have to show us.  Thank you for coming to us.  Amen.