Locusts and darkness fall upon Egypt, and Pharaoh tries to do some hard bargaining, but ultimately has his proposals shot down by Moses and Aaron...oh, and God. Pharaoh predictably goes back on his word even when he promises to release the Israelites from bondage.
Then the Lord reveals the final plaque to Moses...the death of all the first born of Egypt, both man and beast.
We've heard this story before, and in the next chapter we'll see it play out. But we keep in mind how all of this relates to Christ, and how it prepares God's chosen people to one day receive the Lamb of God.
This is a great psalm to come back to. Again we are comparing the wicked to the righteous, and what the Lord has in store for both. Though the Psalmist makes a very clear demarcation between the two, we know that in our lives we often play both parts...we are sinful and sometimes wicked, and in need of repentance.
I am drawn to verses 27 and 28: Depart from evil, and do good; so shall you abide for ever. For the Lord loves justice; he will not forsake his saints.
So even the psalmist recognizes that we need to "depart from evil, and do good." We would do well to heed his instruction.
Jesus enters Jerusalem triumphant, as was fortold (as Matthew astutely points out). He is recognized as the messiah, the Son of David, by the people. The same people who will soon deny him.
Jesus then cleanses the temple of the money changers and sellers of pigeons, accusing them of making the temple a "den of robbers." I wonder how often we do the same with our petty squabbles and politics which sometimes make life in any church ministry unpalateable.
Jesus heals the blind and the lame, and then children begin to cry out "Hosanna to the son of David!" So "out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast brought perfect praise. Considering that my youngest is presently very challenging in church, this is somewhat comforting.
We then find Jesus having an altercation with...a fig tree? The fig tree loses, and Jesus uses it to teach a lesson on faith. Certainly it is a warning to us as to what can happen to us if we do not bear fruit for Him. We, too, can wither in our spiritual life and find ourselves unable to do anything good.
And, if we have faith in Christ, then certainly we CAN do all things.
God has a plan, and this plan is both a grand scheme which works for the good of all creation, as well as an individual scheme, which applies to each of us. I had a discussion with an aquaintance on a recent business trip where we discussed our tendancy not to worry about our day to day needs. I identified myself as a man of faith, and she identified herself as a woman of no faith. But even so, she had come to realize that her base needs are always met, even when she is unsure of how that will come to be. It goes to show that some of God's truths transcend faith and can be grasped by anyone who has lived in this world long enough to see "how things work."
God uses our cooperation, given in free will, to unfold his plan in history. This is awesome when we think about it. We can cooperate with God in our intelligence and will to do his work in his vineyard. We are most free when we are able to choose the good. Ironically, we are most captive when we find ourselves choosing things contrary to the good. We think we are free in that case, but we really aren't. After all, if we cut ourselves off from God, there is very little we can do.
Matthew 21: 23-46