Prayer Psalm: 107
Prayer Point: This struck me the other day as I meditated on this psalm. God is the one who turns “the desert into pools of water” (verse 35), but he is also the one who turns “streams into deserts and flowing springs into thirsty ground.” (verse 33) God is involved in both the triumphs and the tragedies of our lives. Thank God for the blessings and pray for the grace to endure and learn from the struggles that he has placed in your life.
The tax collector, Matthew (who is the author of this book), and his friends were some of the most hated men in all of Israel. They not only worked for the oppressive Roman government, they were cheats as well. It was well known that the tax collectors took more than their fair share. You can imagine the utter dismay of the Pharisees when they hear that Jesus was dining with them. Thus they ask the disciples why Jesus is eating with tax collectors and sinners. What is Jesus’ response to the Pharisees? In what way should the church follow that example? What does it mean when Jesus says, “I desire mercy not sacrifice”?
Here John’s disciples ask a legitimate question. “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” What is Jesus’ answer to John’s disciples? Who is the bridegroom? Who is the bride?
In Bible times, wine was not kept in glass bottles, but in goat skins sewn around the edges to form watertight bags. New wine expanded as it fermented, stretching the wineskin. After the wine had aged, the stretched skin would burst if new wine was poured into it. New wine, therefore, was always put into new wineskins (Life Application Study Bible Notes). The point Jesus is making is that fasting does not “fit” the time while the bridegroom, Jesus, is with his disciples, just as new wine does not “fit” into old wineskins.
How is the command to imitate God in verse 1 connected to our identity as dearly loved children of God (verse 2)? What are we called to get rid of (verses 3-7)?
There is a pattern to Paul’s moral teaching. What we are commanded to do always flows out of what we have become through the grace of God. This is important. Religion or legalistic ways of relating to God say, “live right and you will be accepted as a child of God.” The gospel that Paul preaches says, “live right because you are already a child of God.” Religion feeds off fear. The gospel fuels a life of love through gratitude.
For you were once in darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. (your identity by God’s grace)
Live as children of light. (command to live out of this new identity)
What does it look like to live as children of the light? What do we get rid of? What do we practice?
In reading this passage one has to remember that by this time both Israel and Judah had been exiled. What that means is that there was no nation to speak of. There were people still living (or scrounging) in the land, but its days of glory had passed. Jeremiah 31:28 “‘Just as I watched over them to _____________________ and __________ ________, (uproot; tear down) and to _________________________, _______________ (overthrow, destroy) and bring disaster, so I will watch over them to _______________ and to _____________,’ (build, plant) declares the LORD.”
The scripture says: “The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and their children’s teeth are set on edge.” (Jeremiah 31:29 (NIV)) I needed some explanation of this verse and the NIV Study Bible Notes on p. 1187 provided some help. “Repeated in Ezekiel 18:2. This was apparently a popular proverb that originated in a misunderstanding of such passages as Exodus 20:5 (“You shall not bow down to them [idols] or worship them; for I the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me…”)[emphasis added] and Numbers 14:18 (“The LORD is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.”) [emphasis added], which teach that sins can have a negative effect on descendants. In the time of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, many people felt that God’s hand of judgment against them was due not to their own sins, but to the sins of their ancestors.” It is difficult enough today for good parents to instill proper values and personal responsibility in their children. Ofttimes even the best of homes spawns an errant child. It is not, however, difficult to imagine that the errant behavior of a parent will ill-serve the best interest of his child. We see this in our society certainly with respect to the ill treatment of women by men generation after generation.
Even if we allow that the LORD sought punishment to the third and fourth generation “of them that hate me”, how does verse 30 settle the issue? (“Instead, everyone will die for his own sin; whoever eats sour grapes – his own teeth will be set on edge.” I guess that means that you have no one to blame but yourself for your own sins; that you are responsible for your actions.)
We read in verse 31 that the time has come for a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. Why is there need for a new covenant? (“‘Because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,’ declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 31:31 NIV))
What is this new covenant? (“‘This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,’ declares the LORD. ‘I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts.’”)
What is the end result of this new covenant? (The end result will be: “‘I will be their God and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, “Know the LORD,” because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.’ declares the LORD.” (Jeremiah 31:33b-34 NIV))