Prayer Psalm: 90
Prayer Point: Living in the United States gives us the illusion that life is something we can control. This psalm reminds us that our life is but a few short years which quickly pass. Why should we dwell on such a morbid truth? Moses prays that “[God will] teach us to number our days aright, that we might gain a heart of wisdom.” Meditate on the shortness and fragility of your life. Thank God for the today’s gift of life. Pray that God will satisfy you and establish the work of your hands for without him we can accomplish nothing.
Jesus in his ministry fulfilled three roles. He is king. He is our priest in that he intercedes for us before God the Father and he offered himself as a sacrifice for our sins. Finally, he is also a prophet, one who has been sent by God to call us to repent of our sins and return to a right relationship with God and our neighbor.
What spurs Jesus into prophetic action when he enters the temple in Jerusalem?
Originally the buying and selling of animals was a great idea. Instead of traveling all the way to Jerusalem with the animal for the sacrifice in tow, you could conveniently buy the sacrificial animal right there at the temple. But over time two problems crept in. First was corruption. The sellers took advantage of the poor pilgrims who came to the temple to worship and sacrifice by charging exorbitant prices. The second is that they set up shop in the temple courts, or the Court of the Gentiles to be more precise. This was the only place where Gentiles could come and pray, but the market had effectively excluded them from the worship of God.
What do the disciples remember after witnessing Jesus overturning the tables of the money-changers and sellers? Verse 16 is a quote from Psalm 69:9 which was a prophecy about the coming Messiah. Take some time to read through it as it will provide some good background as to what Jesus will experience in his ministry.
The Jews, probably the chief priests, who controlled the temple and profited greatly from it, challenge Jesus’ authority to disrupt the marketplace in the temple. What sign does Jesus offer as evidence that he has authority over the temple? Why do the disciples understand what he was saying only after he rose from the dead?
The temple is simply the place where God’s presence is. Sometimes the temple was a building, but it is clear that Jesus is not talking about the existing temple in Jerusalem. Who is the temple that Jesus says he will raise in three days?
The chief priests are clearly shocked by the courage displayed by Peter and John. What are they forced to notice about these courageous ordinary men in verse 13? Why are they powerless to punish Peter and John? What do they futilely attempt to stop? How does Peter respond to their command to stop preaching in the name of Jesus?
Think about this. Just weeks before, Peter had denied Jesus three times. What is making the difference?
Peter and John are set free and report to the church all that they had experienced. How does the church respond? What do you notice about the way they pray?
The church’s prayer meeting opens with the words of Psalm 2 which they applied to their current situation. It is the powers of this world, the Romans, Herod and the Jewish authorities who conspired against Jesus. Now they are persecuting the church, but they are not afraid. The powers of this world can do nothing other than what God wills.
What does the church request of God in verses 29-30? What don’t they ask for? How does God respond to their prayers?
Judges 9:22-25; 50-57 – What goes around comes around
How long does Abimelech govern Israel before he begins to run into trouble? (“After Abimelech had governed Israel for three years, God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the citizens of Shechem, who acted treacherously against Abimelech.” (Judges 9:22 NIV))
What was at the root of Abimelech’s problems? (“God did this in order that the crime against Jerub-Baal’s seventy sons, the shedding of their blood, might be avenged of their brother Abimelech and on the citizens of Shechem, who had helped him murder his brothers.” (Judges 9:24 NIV))
Abimelech spends the bulk of his time trying to subdue the people of Shechem and to exact his revenge for their treachery. He finished by burning about a thousand people in a tower to which they had fled for safety.
Well, if it worked once, why not twice? He went forth to Thebez (about ten miles north of Shechem) and planned for them the same fate as the people of Shechem. What goes wrong? (Actually things kinda backfire. The good citizens of Thebez barricade themselves in the tower and Abimelech’s plan it to destroy the tower and the people in it. Unfortunately a woman (ugh!) dropped a mill stone from above which landed on Abimelech’s head. Happily Abimelech survived that trauma and had enough presence of mind to order his armor-bearer to run him through with a sword. That was to spare him the humiliation of being killed by a woman (remember Sisera?).)
What is the epilogue of the story? (“Thus God repaid the wickedness that Abimelech had done to his father by murdering his seventy brothers. God also made the men of Shechem pay for all their wickedness. The curse of Jotham son of Jerub-Baal [Gideon] came on them. (Judges 9:56-57 NIV))