Prayer Psalm: 98
Prayer Point: New songs were sung in the Old Testament when God performed an act of salvation such as parting the Red Sea. We sing because God has made his salvation known through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and the coming of the Holy Spirit. Join with all creation today in thanking God for his forgiveness and his promised return to restore peace and justice to this world.
Word of Jesus’ healing miracles has spread throughout the countryside and crowds mob the home where he is staying. Desperate to get their friend to Jesus, a hole is torn in the roof of the house and a paralyzed man is lowered before Jesus. What did Jesus see that caused him to declare to the paralyzed man, “your sins are forgiven”?
To declare the power to forgive sin was to claim to be God for only God himself reserved that right. The Jewish leaders considered Jesus’ words to be blasphemy because they did not believe that he was God.
Why does Jesus go ahead and heal the paralytic? What does the healing demonstrate?
The Sanhedrin were the Jewish ruling council made up of the chief priests, teachers of the Jewish law and other religious leaders. This council was split between two parties: the Sadducees and the Pharisees.
The Sadducees denied the supernatural elements of the Jewish faith dismissing heaven, resurrection and spiritual beings such as angels and demons. They had witnessed the deaths of their countrymen in futile attempts to overthrow the Romans and seeking to prevent future uprisings, downplayed the “other worldly elements of their faith.” The Romans in gratitude placed the Sadducees in positions of power within Israel.
The Pharisees still held to the hopes of heaven and the resurrection. They believed that if the people of Israel walked in obedience to the Jewish Law that God would reward them by sending the Messiah and liberate them from Roman rule.
How does Paul cleverly throw the Sanhedrin into confusion? What is God’s purpose for Paul at this stage of his life? Look for this mission to play itself out in the final chapters of the book of Acts.
Joshua 6:15-27 “And the walls came a’tumblin’ down”
What is Joshua’s battle cry at the “seventh trump”? (“Shout! For the LORD has given you the city!” (Joshua 6:16b NIV))
Joshua tells the people that, “The city and all that is in it are to be devoted to the LORD.” Let me explain this word “devoted”. According to the footnotes in the NIV, “The Hebrew term refers to the irrevocable giving over of things or persons to the LORD, often by totally destroying them.” When I think of “devoted” ‘to destruction’ is not the image I have in mind. What it means, of course, is that there would be no booty – no spoils of war – to be garnered by the people. If something is “devoted to God” the violation of it will prove to be fatal. In other words: hands off the gold (or anything of material value).
What of our friend Rahab and her family? (“Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall be spared, because she hid the spies we sent.” (Joshua 6:17b NIV)
What is Joshua’s warning concerning the “devoted” things? (“But keep away from the devoted things, so that you will not bring about your own destruction by taking any of them. Otherwise you will make the camp of Israel liable to destruction and bring disaster on it.” (Joshua 6:18 NIV))
What is to become of the “devoted things” then if the people can’t have them? (“All the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron are sacred to the LORD and must go into his treasury.” (Joshua 6:19 NIV))
It is clear that the LORD does not need silver and gold (and all that other stuff). Why, do you suppose then, that the Lord does not want the people to have it? (Greed! We will learn later from St. Paul that “the love of money (gold, wealth) is the root of all evil.” The Israelites didn’t make that calf (idol) in the wilderness of mud but of gold.)
Just how total was the destruction of Jericho? (“They devoted the city to the LORD and destroyed with the sword every living thing in it – men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys. … Then they burned the whole city and everything in it, but they put the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron into the treasury of the LORD’s house.” (Joshua 6:21 NIV) Rahab and all who were with her were spared.)
What is Joshua’s curse regarding Jericho? (“Cursed before the LORD is the man who undertakes to rebuild this city, Jericho: At the cost of his firstborn son will he lay its foundations; at the cost of his youngest will he set up its gates.” (Joshua 6:26 NIV))
“So the LORD was with Joshua, and his fame spread throughout the land.” (Joshua 6:27 NIV)