Daily Bible Readings – Thursday, October 4, 2012

Prayer Psalm: 105

Prayer Point:  Thanksgiving is central to the Christian life, but it is hard to be thankful when you forget what God has done. Psalm 105 recalls what God has done for the people of Israel. What has God done for you?  Remember them and offer them to God as a prayer of thanks.

Luke 6:1-11

According to Jewish tradition there were 39 categories of activities forbidden on the Sabbath – harvesting being one of them The teachers of the law even went so far as to describe different methods of harvesting. One method was to rub heads of grain between the hands as the disciples did here. God’s law said farmers were to leave the edges of the their field unharvested so travelers and the poor could eat from this bounty (Deuteronomy 23:25), so the disciples were not guilty of stealing grain. Neither had they broken the Sabbath by doing their daily work on it. In fact though they may have been violating the Pharisee’s rules, they were not breaking any divine law. (NIV Life Application Study Bible).

How does Jesus prove from the Old Testament that the Pharisee’s interpretation of the law was incorrect? Who has the right to interpret the Sabbath Law? ‘Son of Man’ is a title that Jesus uses to refer to himself. It is a title implying power and divinity (see Daniel 7:13-14).

Consider this. The heart of God’s Law boils down to two commandments. Love God with all your heart, mind, and soul. Love your neighbor as yourself. All of God’s Law (including the Ten Commandments) is an explanation of what it means to love God and love your neighbor.

According to the tradition of the religious leaders no healing could be done on the Sabbath. Healing, they argued, was practicing medicine, and a person could not practice his or her profession on the Sabbath. What do you think is wrong with this line of thinking in light of Jesus’ response? What are they concerned about? What have they missed? The Pharisees are unwilling to heal someone on the Sabbath, but they are willing to ________________ (see verse 11).

Acts 21:27-36

Paul enters the temple with four men in an attempt to demonstrate to the Jews in Jerusalem that he is still loyal to the Law of Moses despite allowing Gentiles who followed Christ not to keep it. How does this plan backfire? Who stirs up trouble against Paul and where are they from? The province of Asia (Western Turkey today) and its chief city Ephesus was where he had ministered for the last several years. It appears that his opponents have followed him to Jerusalem.

What crime is Paul charged with? How does this misunderstanding happen? The Law of Moses strictly forbade any uncircumcised person, which all Gentiles were at the time, from entering the inner courts of the Temple. Remember that rumors were flying that Paul was working to destroy Jewish customs. The people were quite willing to believe that he would dare to bring a Greek (Gentile) into the temple area. What do you think the reaction is so severe? Who steps in to save Paul?

This is a theme that will run through the remainder of the book of Acts. By all appearances Rome’s power seems to be undisputed, but in reality, it is God who is calling the shots. Even the Romans will serve God’s purposes.

Hosea 5:8-6:6- Judah is caught in Israel’s sin

Judgment is coming says the prophet. But to whom is it coming? (There was hope that Judah would not follow the sinful ways of Israel but, alas, that was not to be. (“Ephraim (Israel) will be laid waste on the day of reckoning. Among the tribes of Israel I proclaim what is certain. Judah’s leaders are like those who move boundary stones [i.e., land cheats – j.t.]. I will pour out my wrath on them like a flood of water.” (Hosea 5:9-10 NIV)

What do Ephraim and Judah really think about the LORD? Try as we may, we cannot hide our feelings and secrets from the God. (“I [the Lord] am like a moth to Ephraim, like rot to the people of Judah.” (Hosea 5:12 NIV))

What are the special plans God has in store for Ephraim and Judah? We are told in verse 5:13 that Ephraim will turn to Assyria for help in their day of calamity [instead of the LORD] which is foreboding. “But he is not able to cure you, not able to heal your [Ephraim’s / Israel’s] sores. (“For I will be like a lion to Ephraim, like a great lion to Judah. I will tear them to pieces and go away; I will carry them off, with no one to rescue them.” (Hosea 5:14 NIV) “I will carry them off” refers to Israel’s defeat at the Assyrians’ hands. Israel will be carried off by the king of Assyria to parts unknown.)

What will it take for these errant children to turn back to the LORD? (“Then I will go back to my place until they admit their guilt. And they will seek my face; in their misery they will earnestly seek me.” (Hosea 5:15 NIV) They must earnestly seek God. It will take some doing.)

Who is speaking (figuratively) in verse one of Chapter 6? What do they expect? (Hosea is speaking Israel’s words. As a prophet he speaks for the LORD, but here he is employing the lip service which he hears in the land. The people are clearly taking the Lord for granted – “he didn’t mean it” and an attitude that generates no repentance. They think that all they have to do is to “acknowledge” the Lord and everything will be all right. If only it were that simple! “As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.” (Hosea 6:3b NIV) These people aren’t listening: “I will pour out my wrath on them like a flood of water.” (Hosea 5:10b) Notice the use of “water” images in both instances. While those words are directed to Judah, I believe they apply also to Israel. Whatever the case, they don’t grasp the depth of their sin. – j.t))

It seems that these people continue to miss the point. All of their intent has nothing to do with a change of heart. The heart is the battleground the LORD is fighting for. He has ever and only wanted our hearts. How does the Lord view the “love” of Israel and Judah? (“Your love is like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears. Therefore I cut you in pieces with my prophets [those speaking for the LORD], I killed you with the words of my mouth [reminds me of: “…and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword.” (Rev. 1:16 NIV)]; my judgments flashed like lightning upon you.” (Hosea 6:5 NIV))

What is at the heart of verse 6:6? (“For I desire mercy, not sacrifices, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.” This verse goes to the heart of God’s mission on earth. Mercy, by definition, is unmerited. Clearly God cannot desire anything unmerited – he deserves any and everything. The unmerited thing that God wants is for his people to demonstrate mercy. This goes to the heart of the gospel message: forgive us our sins as we forgive the sins of others. Show mercy. As for acknowledging God, that should lead us to gratitude. Let us not take the LORD for granted. Not one of us would like anything but mercy shown to us by God – God help us if we’re not shown mercy. “Know this: God has even forgotten some of your sin.” (Job 11:6b NIV) The KJV renders that verse with greater eloquence: “Know therefore that God exacteth of thee less than thine iniquity deserveth.”)

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