Daily Bible Readings – Tuesday June 26, 2012

Prayer Psalm: 94

Prayer Point:  We live in a world where the most vulnerable, widows, orphans and refugees, are oppressed with impunity. Many say, “the Lord does not see,” as innocents are slaughtered in places like Syria. Pray on behalf of the weak and oppressed today. Pray that God will be their fortress and will reestablish justice on the earth.

Matthew 19:23-30

Jews in Jesus’ day fully expected the Messiah to come and establish God’s kingdom on earth. The question on everyone’s mind was who was going to be allowed to enter this kingdom of heaven? Out of the crowd steps a young man who is both wealthy and devout which would have made him a likely candidate to enter Messiah’s kingdom.

How does Jesus answer the young man’s question, “what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”

Jesus answer would not have caught his hearers off guard. Most Jews would have believed that some obedience to the law of Moses would have been required. Jesus quotes most of the second half of the Ten Commandments which is summarized in the one command, “love your neighbor as yourself.” What’s interesting is that Jesus leaves off the last commandment, “do not covet” and the first half of the 10 commandments which are four commandments describing what it means to “love God with all your heart, mind and soul.”

How does the young man react to Jesus’ requirements? What is the young man lacking? Why do you think Jesus sets the bar so high? Why can’t the young man reach Jesus’ bar? Could you live up to this standard? Do the disciples think they can?

If anyone was going to be allowed in the kingdom of God, it was this man. He was a law keeper and he had the wealth to show evidence of God’s blessing in his life. If he can’t get in, who can? How does Jesus answer this question? Whose power will cause people to enter God’s kingdom?

What does Jesus promise Peter and those like him who give up everything to follow Jesus?

Romans 4:1-12

Paul has spent much of this letter to the Romans arguing that both Jews and Gentiles have equal standing before God. Neither is acceptable to God (justified or righteous) through their obedience. Both are sinners; moral religious types and immoral pagans both need the forgiveness of God. Paul points out neither are sufficiently obedient to earn God’s blessings.  It’s quite the opposite, both are deserving of God’s judgment.

But through Christ there is a new righteousness made available by his perfect life and it is available to us because of his death and resurrection in our place. This is a righteousness that is not earned, but rather it is received by faith in Jesus. This may have surprised many of Paul’s Jewish readers, but now he will show that it has always been this way. Abraham, the father of the nation of Israel is Exhibit A.

In what way was Abraham made right with God (Paul uses words like justified and righteous which mean the same thing)? Is it by his works (living in obedience to God) or is by some other way?

The word “credited” in verse 3 is just as it sounds, a banking term. What did Abraham do that caused “righteousness” to be credited to him. Was this credit earned? What must we believe about God if we are to receive the same credit (see verse 5)?

Paul has used Israel’s father Abraham to demonstrate a righteousness that is by faith. How does David, Israel’s great king also believe in this same righteousness? Is this righteousness by faith available only to the Jews (the circumcised)? Why or why not? What does it take to be a true child of Abraham – is it about genetics and following traditions is there something else?

Numbers 16:23-35             Dathan and Abiram Verses the LORD

What happens next is also a scene worthy of Cecil B. DeMille.  Moses tells everyone to move away from the tents of Korah, Dathan and Abiram – not even to touch anything of theirs.  So Dathan, Korah, and Abiram stand at the entrance to their tents with their wives and children.

What does Moses say? (“Then Moses said, ‘This is how you will know that the LORD has sent me to do all these things and that it was not my idea: If these men die a natural death and experience only what usually happens to men, then the LORD has not sent me.  But if the LORD brings about something totally new, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them, with everything that belongs to them, and they go down alive into the grave, then you will know that these men have treated the LORD with contempt. (Numbers 16:18-30 NIV))

What happened next?  (Exactly as Moses had said.  There was an earthquake which took Abiram, Dathan and Korah and their families and swallowed them up.  By the way, the 250 rebellious censor bearers were also killed. (Numbers 16:31-35))

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