Daily Bible Readings – Wednesday August 1, 2012

Prayer Psalm: 72

Prayer Point:  In Psalm 72, King David blesses his son Solomon who will soon succeed him as king. While Solomon was a bitter disappointment, Jesus, the true Son of David, fulfills the dreams prayed in this psalm.  For us as Christians the psalm teaches us what it means to pray, “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Notice what the reign of God’s king will bring and pray that God will make these dreams a reality in our world.

Matthew 27:45-54

We saw in the posts from Monday and Tuesday covering Matthew 27:27-44 that Jesus’ path to the cross closely followed the ritual of crowning a Roman Caesar. We see the final piece in today’s reading.

The newly crowned Caesar received roars of approval from the people, where Jesus received only insults, and the gods demonstrated their approval through a sign, such as solar eclipse. What two wonders accompany the crucifixion of Jesus? What do you think these signs mean?

Matthew tells us that darkness hung over the land from the sixth hour to the ninth hour, that would be from noon until 3 o’clock by our reckoning. After three hours of hanging in darkness, we finally hear the voice of Jesus and he is crying out the words of Psalm 22:1. Jesus is experiencing hell in that moment, for having taken on our sin, he is forsaken by his Father and left to die the death we should have died.

Does Jesus succumb to the cross, or does he choose the moment of his death? Why is this important? What happens at the moment of Christ’s death and what does these signs tell us?

The curtain of the temple that Matthew refers to is the temple that hid the Most Holy Place of the temple from the public view. No one was allowed behind the curtain, except for the High Priest, and he only once a year. Our sin had placed a veil between God and ourselves. Christ’s death in our place, destroyed that veil once and for all and through Christ we are all called to enter the presence of God. Rome and the chief priests believed they had destroyed Jesus once and for all, but it was Jesus that conquered death for all of us, and with it, Rome’s power.

Notice what the Roman Centurion (think an officer like a lieutenant) is forced to confess after witnessing the death of Jesus. Remember that the Romans had orchestrated the whole crucifixion as a mock coronation. This centurion has declared Jesus to be the “Son of God”, which by the way, was what they called the Caesar.

Acts 1:1-14

“My former book” is the Gospel of Luke. What does Jesus do with the forty days between his resurrection and his ascension? What does he teach his disciples? What mission does he leave with them? What power does he promise them?

The Apostles had a dream that God would restore the kingdom to Israel (Acts 1:6). In what way is Jesus’ dream bigger than the apostles’?

Acts 1:8, “you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and the ends of the earth” serves as an outline of the book of Acts. Chapters 1-8 deal with the church’s mission in the city of Jerusalem. Acts 8:1-25 tells the story of the church’s mission to Judea and Samaria. Acts 8:26 through the end of the book recounts how the gospel spilled out of Jerusalem to be preached freely to the ends of the earth.

What do the apostles do while they wait for the promised Holy Spirit?

Judges 3:12-30 – “Ehud the left-handed man”

Note the first phrase of this passage: “Once again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD …” Unhappy refrain. How does the LORD display his displeasure on Israel this time? (“…the LORD gave Eglon king of Moab power over Israel.” (Judges 3:12b))

“Again the Israelites cried out to the LORD …” and, of course, they wanted a deliverer to free them from the hands of Moab. Whom does the Lord commission? (“…he gave them a deliverer – Ehud, a left-handed man, the son of Gera the Benjamite.” (Judges 3:15 NIV))

I think it is important to remember that the ills or evil which Israel experiences are of their own making. Are we any different – we get ourselves into trouble and then ask the LORD to help us out? Prayer may very well be the last refuge of a sinner. So the people don’t like the treatment they are receiving from Eglon king of Moab. What does Ehud do about it? This is a wonderful depiction of retribution though I am not sure Israel deserves the deliverance. (Ehud is sent to Eglon with the tribute demanded by him. He conceals his eighteen inch sword under his cloak. After he drops off the ill-gotten gain, he returns to the king telling him that he (Ehud) has a word from the LORD for Eglon. The bible tells us that Eglon is a rather corpulent (fat) man. This plays into the description later. Anyway, Ehud has a private audience with the king whereupon he delivers his message from God eighteen inches into Eglon’s belly. The scripture tells us that even the handle sank in after the blade! Ehud makes his escape. Eglon’s servants puzzle over why King has kept the doors of the upper room shut. They think he is attending nature’s call. Then they get suspicious and break in to find the king dead.)

That was the opening salvo. Armed with this success, what does Ehud do next? (Ehud gathers the Israelites from the hill country of Ephraim and leads them into a victorious battle against Moab.)

How many years had Israel been subject to Moab? (Eighteen years)

How many years was Moab to be subject to Israel? (Eighty years)

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