Daily Bible Readings – Sunday July 1, 2012

Prayer Psalm: 145

Prayer Point:  Psalm 145 gives us a number of reasons that God is worthy of praise. Pick one or two that resonate with you and use them to worship God. Pray that these things will be remembered and passed on to our children.

Luke 13:10-17

The time of this miracle is quite significant because it occurs on the Sabbath. God had forbidden work on the Sabbath (Saturday) reserving that day for worship and rest. Jewish teachers of the law considered healing to be work and therefore it was unlawful to heal someone on the Sabbath.

How does Jesus expose the hypocrisy of this interpretation of the Sabbath Law?

The Sabbath looked back to Creation remembering that God created the world in six days, but on the seventh day he rested. It also pointed forward to the day that God would purge evil, sin, sickness and death from his Creation and establish heaven on earth. How is this healing a taste of what is  to come?

Acts 17:12-34

What causes Paul to move on from Thessalonica? What plans does the rest of his missionary church planting team make?

The Areopagus was a council made up of the leading academics and philosophers in Athens. These men were responsible for ruling on matters of religion and morality (ESV Study Bible).

How does Paul begin his ministry in the city of Athens? Where does he go and to whom does he minister? You can think of the three groups of people that Paul dialoged with in this way. Group 1: Jews – the same culture as Paul. Group 2: God-fearing Greeks, Gentiles, but those who had reverence for the God of Israel and followed some Jewish practices. Group 3: Greeks. Gentiles who had no interested in the God of Israel. Who are the Jews, God-fearers and Greeks in our community? How well do we do as a church in reaching out to these three groups.

What is the central theme of Paul’s sermon to the Areopagus? How was it inspired by his observations of the city of Athens? Contrast Paul’s sermon to the Areopagus in Athens to his sermons to Jewish audiences (see Acts 17:2-3 and 13:16-38). What sources does Paul use in his sermon? What does Paul’s sermon in Athens teach us about how we are to share the gospel in our time? Why did the Greeks find Paul’s message unbelievable?

Numbers 21:4-9, 21-35                The Bronze Snake

In order to side-step Edom the LORD takes the sons of Jacob on a meandering route to the Red Sea.   What recurring complaint are the Hebrews making now?  (“But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, ‘Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert?  There is no bread!  There is no water!  And we detest this miserable food!’” (Numbers 21:4b-5 NIV))

All of this complaining is an impetus for the LORD to be more creative in his dealings with these Israelites.  What new device in education does the LORD demonstrate among his people?  (“Then the LORD sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died.” (Numbers 21:6 NIV))

Of course the Israelites then repent (again) and seek relief from the LORD’s displeasure and approach Moses to intercede for them before the LORD.  What form does the LORD’s relief take?  (“The LORD said to Moses, ‘Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.’  So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole.  Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived.” (Numbers 21:8-9 NIV).  See also John 3:14.)
We have seen that when Moses sought to transverse the land of Edom he met with resistance.  The LORD then led him and the Israelites back to the Red Sea.  From there they skirted around the land of Edom and Moab (which bordered Edom to the north) about 180 miles (distance estimated) until they came to the land of the Amorites.  Here they met with King Sihon who, like the king of Edom, refused to let Israel pass.  What was the result of this encounter?  (“When he [Sihon] reached Jahaz, he fought with Israel.  Israel, however, put him to the sword and took over his land from the Arnon to the Jabbok, but only as far as the Ammonites, because their border was fortified.” (Numbers 21:23b-24 NIV))

So Moses captures all of the territory of the Amorites to the border of Bashan (another 150 miles farther north – distance estimated) for yet another encounter with yet another king.  Who is the King of Bashan?  (Og is the king of Bashan.)

These two battles (with Sihon, king of the Amorites and Og, king of Bashan) must have been under reported in the scripture and of some significance; these two encounters are constantly recounted in the Psalms.  Sihon and Og are also alluded to in the famous church hymn the Te Deum.

What is the ultimate fate of Og and his sons?  (“The LORD said to Moses, … ‘Do to him [Og] what you did to Sihon king of the Amorites, who reigned in Heshbon.’  So they struck him down, together with his sons and his whole army, leaving them no survivors.  And they took possession of his land.” (Numbers 21:34a, 35 NIV))

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