Prayer Psalm: 66
Prayer Point: Why should God be praised? When Israel was languishing in slavery, he rescued them. When we cried out to God, he heard us and rescued us. Why? Because Jesus lived a perfect life for us and died a perfect death. He is the reason God hears our prayers. Take some time today to thank God for the times he has rescued you and especially for Jesus.
Jesus followed this approach: Stage 1: You watch me, while I do my ministry. Stage 2: You do the ministry and I will watch. The disciples have just graduated into stage 2 of their training. They’ve been sent out to do the very things that Jesus had been doing. Today’s reading begins with the excitement of their return.
Why are they so thrilled? Why do you think Jesus calls them to rejoice in their standing with God instead of the results of their ministry?
Where is Satan now according to this passage? Considering that Satan was the prosecutor in heaven accusing the followers of God, how does this give the disciples hope?
How does Jesus feel about what he has passed on to his disciples? I don’t think we can fully appreciate the significance of what the disciples have just received. The kings and prophets of Israel longed to see the Kingdom of God break into our broken world. The disciples are seeing the first waves of God’s great invasion of love. The sick are healed and demons are cast out. These are all tastes of what is coming, a world without evil and death.
The book of Hebrews was written to a group of Christians of Jewish ancestry. After joyfully accepting the gospel of Jesus they found that life became difficult and they were considering giving up and returning to the Jewish faith. Hebrews was written to encourage these Christians to hang on.
One of the books’ central arguments is to show that the teachings of Jesus are a fulfillment of the Jewish faith, not a renunciation of it. The Jewish faith had the shadow of the real thing, while Jesus brought the hopes of the Old Testament (the Jewish Scriptures) into sharp focus. In this reading, the author contrasts the mountain where Israel received the Ten Commandments (see Exodus 19) with Mount Zion which is a symbol of our future hope where God will come and live his people on earth.
What contrast in emotions do you see between the two mountains? Which mountain is welcoming, which one keeps the people away? Why?
A covenant is an agreement or contract between two or more people. The type of covenant spoken of here most closely resembles that of a marriage between God and his people. Who and what makes this covenant possible?
Abel was the first recorded murder in the Bible, having been killed by his brother Cain. Genesis 4:10 tells us that Abel’s blood cried out to God from the ground seeking justice. Jesus, like Abel, was killed as an innocent man. Abel’s blood called for justice, Jesus’ blood, a better word, satisfied God’s demand for justice and open the door for our reconciliation with God.
What warning does the author of Hebrews have for his readers?
What is Moses doing for Jethro? (Moses was tending Jethro’s flock.)
What is the name of the mountain of God? (Mount Horeb)
What makes it the mountain of God? (“There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush.” (Exodus 3:2 NIV) Horeb becomes the mountain of the LORD simply because that is where he is.)
What is the distinguishing feature about this burning bush? (Though the bush is on fire it is not consumed.)
What is Moses’ impulsive move? (“I will go over and see this strange sight – why the bush does not burn up.” (Exodus 3:3 NIV)
Here curiosity will get the better of Moses. While he is exploring this strange phenomenon, Moses is interrupted by the LORD. What does the LORD caution Moses about? (“…God called to him from within the bush, ‘Moses! Moses!’ And Moses said, ‘Here I am.’ ‘Do not come any closer,’ God said. ‘Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.’” (Exodus 3:4-5 NIV) Again, the ground is holy because God is there.)
What central message is the LORD delivering to Moses on the mount? (“I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering.” (Exodus 3:7 NIV))
What is the two-fold plan of the LORD? (“So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey …” (Exodus 3:8 NIV))
What bomb does the LORD drop on Moses (who was only curious about the burning bush)? (“So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.” (Exodus 3:10 NIV))
What does Moses say to the LORD in response to this (by the way, it is exactly how I would have handled that situation)? (“Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11 NIV) The fact is that Moses had some insight into the inner workings of the Egyptian monarchy – perhaps he was the best choice. His foster mother was a daughter of a Pharaoh.)
How does the LORD encourage Moses? (The LORD encourages Moses the same way he encourages all of us: “I will be with you.” (Exodus 3:12a NIV) I suspect that Moses believes this type of encouragement about as much as most of us – unfortunately we fail rather often in faith.)