Devotion for June 21
If we go back in time, from the crucifixion of Jesus, to the time of the Exodus, we find God providing instructions for how to build and furnish a place of worship. This tabernacle, as it was called, was a portable tent and was intentioned by God to represent His personal dwelling among his people. The details of the construction, furnishings, and worship to take place in the tabernacle were so explicit that God spent the equivalent of six chapters presenting them to Moses. The reason for such careful attention to detail, according to the writer of Hebrews, is because the tabernacle is a “type” of the heavenly dwelling to be revealed in heaven. And in that earthly tabernacle, was the one place that only one man could enter once a year; the Holy of Holies. It was hear that the Arc of The Covenant, which represented the abiding presence of God, resided. The Shekinah of God was so intense in the Holy of Holies, that even the smallest presence of sin would unleash the righteous wrath of God. For that reason, God instructed Moses to have a special veil made that would separate the Holy from the profane.
The same setup was incorporated into the temple, but on a much larger scale. The purpose remained the same, to separate the Holy for the profane. The only access sinful man had to Holy God was through the High Priest and that was only once a year.
That all changed when Jesus cried out from the cross, “It is finished”. With that glorious declaration, Matthew says the veil of the temple was torn from the top down, which is obviously intended to signify that this was an act of God. By His own gracious act of sacrifice, our Lord personally invited sinful man to approach Holy God through His atoning, cleansing blood. I pray today’s reading inspires you into a time of thankfulness and worship, because we have now been brought near to God by the blood of Jesus.
Jeremiah 43–45 (CSB)
1 When Jeremiah had finished speaking to all the people all the words of the Lord their God—all these words the Lord their God had sent him to give them—2 then Azariah son of Hoshaiah, Johanan son of Kareah, and all the other arrogant men responded to Jeremiah, “You are speaking a lie! The Lord our God has not sent you to say, ‘You must not go to Egypt to stay there for a while!’ 3 Rather, Baruch son of Neriah is inciting you against us to hand us over to the Chaldeans to put us to death or to deport us to Babylon!” 4 So Johanan son of Kareah, all the commanders of the armies, and all the people failed to obey the Lord’s command to stay in the land of Judah. 5 Instead, Johanan son of Kareah and all the commanders of the armies led away the whole remnant of Judah, those who had returned to stay in the land of Judah from all the nations where they had been banished. 6 They led away the men, women, children, king’s daughters, and everyone whom Nebuzaradan, captain of the guards, had allowed to remain with Gedaliah son of Ahikam son of Shaphan. They also led the prophet Jeremiah and Baruch son of Neriah away. 7 They went to the land of Egypt because they did not obey the Lord. They went as far as Tahpanhes. 8 Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah at Tahpanhes: 9 “Pick up some large stones and set them in the mortar of the brick pavement that is at the opening of Pharaoh’s palace at Tahpanhes. Do this in the sight of the Judean men 10 and tell them, ‘This is what the Lord of Armies, the God of Israel, says: I will send for my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and I will place his throne on these stones that I have embedded, and he will pitch his pavilion over them. 11 He will come and strike down the land of Egypt—those destined for death, to death; those destined for captivity, to captivity; and those destined for the sword, to the sword. 12 I will kindle a fire in the temples of Egypt’s gods, and he will burn them and take them captive. He will clean the land of Egypt as a shepherd picks lice off his clothes, and he will leave there unscathed. 13 He will smash the sacred pillars of the sun temple in the land of Egypt and burn the temples of the Egyptian gods.’ ” 1 This is the word that came to Jeremiah for all the Jews living in the land of Egypt—at Migdol, Tahpanhes, Memphis, and in the land of Pathros: 2 “This is what the Lord of Armies, the God of Israel, says: You have seen all the disaster I brought against Jerusalem and all Judah’s cities. Look, they are a ruin today without an inhabitant in them 3 because of the evil they committed to anger me, by going and burning incense to serve other gods that they, you, and your fathers did not know. 4 So I sent you all my servants the prophets time and time again, saying, ‘Don’t commit this detestable action that I hate.’ 5 But they did not listen or pay attention; they did not turn from their evil or stop burning incense to other gods. 6 So my fierce wrath poured out and burned in Judah’s cities and Jerusalem’s streets so that they became the desolate ruin they are today. 7 “So now, this is what the Lord, the God of Armies, the God of Israel, says: Why are you doing such terrible harm to yourselves? You are cutting off man and woman, infant and nursing baby from Judah, leaving yourselves without a remnant. 8 You are angering me by the work of your hands. You are burning incense to other gods in the land of Egypt where you have gone to stay for a while. As a result, you will be cut off and become an example for cursing and insult among all the nations of earth. 9 Have you forgotten the evils of your fathers, the evils of Judah’s kings, the evils of their wives, your own evils, and the evils of your wives that were committed in the land of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? 10 They have not become humble to this day, and they have not feared or followed my instruction or my statutes that I set before you and your ancestors. 11 “Therefore, this is what the Lord of Armies, the God of Israel, says: I am about to set my face against you to bring disaster, to cut off all Judah. 12 And I will take away the remnant of Judah, those who have set their face to go to the land of Egypt to stay there. All of them will meet their end in the land of Egypt. They will fall by the sword; they will meet their end by famine. From the least to the greatest, they will die by the sword and by famine. Then they will become an example for cursing, scorn, execration, and disgrace. 13 I will punish those living in the land of Egypt just as I punished Jerusalem by sword, famine, and plague. 14 Then the remnant of Judah—those going to live for a while there in the land of Egypt—will have no fugitive or survivor to return to the land of Judah where they are longing to return to stay, for they will not return except for a few fugitives.” 15 However, all the men who knew that their wives were burning incense to other gods, all the women standing by—a great assembly—and all the people who were living in the land of Egypt at Pathros answered Jeremiah, 16 “As for the word you spoke to us in the name of the Lord, we are not going to listen to you! 17 Instead, we will do everything we promised: we will burn incense to the queen of heaven and offer drink offerings to her just as we, our fathers, our kings, and our officials did in Judah’s cities and in Jerusalem’s streets. Then we had enough food, we were well off, and we saw no disaster, 18 but from the time we ceased to burn incense to the queen of heaven and to offer her drink offerings, we have lacked everything, and through sword and famine we have met our end.” 19 And the women said, “When we burned incense to the queen of heaven and poured out drink offerings to her, was it apart from our husbands’ knowledge that we made sacrificial cakes in her image and poured out drink offerings to her?” 20 But Jeremiah responded to all the people—the men, women, and all the people who were answering him: 21 “As for the incense you burned in Judah’s cities and in Jerusalem’s streets—you, your fathers, your kings, your officials, and the people of the land—did the Lord not remember them? He brought this to mind. 22 The Lord can no longer bear your evil deeds and the detestable acts you have committed, so your land has become a waste, a desolation, and an example for cursing, without inhabitant, as you see today. 23 Because you burned incense and sinned against the Lord and didn’t obey the Lord and didn’t follow his instruction, his statutes, and his testimonies, this disaster has come to you, as you see today.” 24 Then Jeremiah said to all the people, including all the women, “Hear the word of the Lord, all you people of Judah who are in the land of Egypt. 25 This is what the Lord of Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘As for you and your wives, you women have spoken with your mouths, and you men fulfilled it by your deeds, saying, “We will keep our vows that we have made to burn incense to the queen of heaven and to pour out drink offerings for her.” Go ahead, confirm your vows! Keep your vows!’ 26 “Therefore, hear the word of the Lord, all you Judeans who live in the land of Egypt: ‘I have sworn by my great name, says the Lord, that my name will never again be invoked by anyone of Judah in all the land of Egypt, saying, “As the Lord God lives.” 27 I am watching over them for disaster and not for good, and everyone from Judah who is in the land of Egypt will meet his end by sword or famine until they are finished off. 28 Those who escape the sword will return from the land of Egypt to the land of Judah only few in number, and the whole remnant of Judah, the ones going to the land of Egypt to stay there for a while, will know whose word stands, mine or theirs! 29 This will be a sign to you’—this is the Lord’s declaration—‘that I will punish you in this place, so you may know that my words of disaster concerning you will certainly come to pass. 30 This is what the Lord says: I am about to hand over Pharaoh Hophra, Egypt’s king, to his enemies, to those who intend to take his life, just as I handed over Judah’s King Zedekiah to Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar, who was his enemy, the one who intended to take his life.’ ” 1 This is the word that the prophet Jeremiah spoke to Baruch son of Neriah when he wrote these words on a scroll at Jeremiah’s dictation in the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah, king of Judah: 2 “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says to you, Baruch: 3 ‘You have said, “Woe is me, because the Lord has added misery to my pain! I am worn out with groaning and have found no rest.” ’ 4 “This is what you are to say to him: ‘This is what the Lord says: “What I have built I am about to demolish, and what I have planted I am about to uproot—the whole land! 5 But as for you, do you pursue great things for yourself? Stop pursuing! For I am about to bring disaster on everyone”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“but I will grant you your life like the spoils of war wherever you go.” ’ ”
Matthew 27 (CSB)
1 When daybreak came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people plotted against Jesus to put him to death. 2 After tying him up, they led him away and handed him over to Pilate, the governor. 3 Then Judas, his betrayer, seeing that Jesus had been condemned, was full of remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders. 4 “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood,” he said. “What’s that to us?” they said. “See to it yourself!” 5 So he threw the silver into the temple and departed. Then he went and hanged himself. 6 The chief priests took the silver and said, “It’s not permitted to put it into the temple treasury, since it is blood money.” 7 They conferred together and bought the potter’s field with it as a burial place for foreigners. 8 Therefore that field has been called “Blood Field” to this day. 9 Then what was spoken through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: They took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him whose price was set by the Israelites, 10 and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me. 11 Now Jesus stood before the governor. “Are you the King of the Jews?” the governor asked him. Jesus answered, “You say so.” 12 While he was being accused by the chief priests and elders, he didn’t answer. 13 Then Pilate said to him, “Don’t you hear how much they are testifying against you?” 14 But he didn’t answer him on even one charge, so that the governor was quite amazed. 15 At the festival the governor’s custom was to release to the crowd a prisoner they wanted. 16 At that time they had a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. 17 So when they had gathered together, Pilate said to them, “Who is it you want me to release for you—Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” 18 For he knew it was because of envy that they had handed him over. 19 While he was sitting on the judge’s bench, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for today I’ve suffered terribly in a dream because of him.” 20 The chief priests and the elders, however, persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to execute Jesus. 21 The governor asked them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” “Barabbas!” they answered. 22 Pilate asked them, “What should I do then with Jesus, who is called Christ?” They all answered, “Crucify him!” 23 Then he said, “Why? What has he done wrong?” But they kept shouting all the more, “Crucify him!” 24 When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that a riot was starting instead, he took some water, washed his hands in front of the crowd, and said, “I am innocent of this man’s blood. See to it yourselves!” 25 All the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” 26 Then he released Barabbas to them and, after having Jesus flogged, handed him over to be crucified. 27 Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the governor’s residence and gathered the whole company around him. 28 They stripped him and dressed him in a scarlet robe. 29 They twisted together a crown of thorns, put it on his head, and placed a staff in his right hand. And they knelt down before him and mocked him: “Hail, King of the Jews!” 30 Then they spat on him, took the staff, and kept hitting him on the head. 31 After they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe, put his own clothes on him, and led him away to crucify him. 32 As they were going out, they found a Cyrenian man named Simon. They forced him to carry his cross. 33 When they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of the Skull), 34 they gave him wine mixed with gall to drink. But when he tasted it, he refused to drink it. 35 After crucifying him, they divided his clothes by casting lots. 36 Then they sat down and were guarding him there. 37 Above his head they put up the charge against him in writing: This Is Jesus, the King of the Jews. 38 Then two criminals were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left. 39 Those who passed by were yelling insults at him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross!” 41 In the same way the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him and said, 42 “He saved others, but he cannot save himself! He is the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God; let God rescue him now—if he takes pleasure in him! For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ ” 44 In the same way even the criminals who were crucified with him taunted him. 45 From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over the whole land. 46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Elí, Elí, lemá sabachtháni?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” 47 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling for Elijah.” 48 Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge, filled it with sour wine, put it on a stick, and offered him a drink. 49 But the rest said, “Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.” 50 But Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and gave up his spirit. 51 Suddenly, the curtain of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom, the earth quaked, and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs were also opened and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. 53 And they came out of the tombs after his resurrection, entered the holy city, and appeared to many. 54 When the centurion and those with him, who were keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they were terrified and said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” 55 Many women who had followed Jesus from Galilee and looked after him were there, watching from a distance. 56 Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons. 57 When it was evening, a rich man from Arimathea named Joseph came, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. 58 He approached Pilate and asked for Jesus’s body. Then Pilate ordered that it be released. 59 So Joseph took the body, wrapped it in clean, fine linen, 60 and placed it in his new tomb, which he had cut into the rock. He left after rolling a great stone against the entrance of the tomb. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were seated there, facing the tomb. 62 The next day, which followed the preparation day, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate 63 and said, “Sir, we remember that while this deceiver was still alive he said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64 So give orders that the tomb be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come, steal him, and tell the people, ‘He has been raised from the dead,’ and the last deception will be worse than the first.” 65 “You have a guard of soldiers,” Pilate told them. “Go and make it as secure as you know how.” 66 They went and secured the tomb by setting a seal on the stone and placing the guard.