Prayer Psalm: 107
Prayer Point: “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” Psalm 107 gives us numerous examples of the love and faithfulness of God. Meditate on one of the examples that resonates with you and offer God a prayer of thanks.
What does Jesus do before he selects his disciples? What can Jesus’ actions teach us about how we are to approach important decisions?
The number 12 is an important number as there were 12 tribes of Israel. This is important if we want to understand what Jesus is doing. The nation of Israel was born when Moses brought down the 10 Commandments to the twelve tribes gathered at the base. See Exodus 20.
Israel had been chosen by God to be a light to the nations. It was to be nation of such beautiful character that the nations of the world would be attracted to the light. By the time Jesus stepped upon the earth, the dream that was Israel was nearly dead. The kings of Israel had failed them. They abandoned the God who made them a people and worshiped the gods of the neighboring nations.
While Judea and Jerusalem were part of Israel, the cities of Tyre and Sidon were Gentile cities. They are prominent cities in what we call Lebanon today. Who is attracted to Jesus when he comes down from the mountain? Why is the crowd’s origins important to Luke? Remember that God’s purpose for Israel is that they would be a light to the nations. (See Luke 2:32)
When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, he brought with him the 10 Commandments which served as the blueprint for the society God wished to build in Israel. Jesus, who is the second and greater Moses, also brings a blueprint for his new kingdom.
To be blessed is to enjoy God’s favor. Woe was given to those who were under God’s judgment.
Who is considered ‘blessed’ in God’s kingdom? Who is under God’s judgment? What does Jesus’ kingdom have to say about poverty and wealth, suffering and happiness, and popularity and rejection? How would our lives change if we adopted the values of Jesus’ kingdom?
Tensions are running high after Paul’s narrow escape from the rioting crowds in the temple. The Roman commander initially is suspicious of Paul, thinking him to be a rebel leader and terrorist. Rome feared unrest more than anything else in their vast Empire. But hearing that Paul is a Roman Citizen; being born in Tarsus in Cilicia, “no ordinary city”, made Paul a Roman citizen by birth. This is another example of God’s sovereignty over Paul’s life. His Roman citizenship will provide him with numerous opportunities to share the message of Christ and will allow him to accomplish God’s purposes in his life. Watch for Paul’s citizenship to play a prominent role as the book of Acts comes to a close.
Being a Roman citizen, Paul is afforded the opportunity to speak in his own defense to the angry mobs. How does Paul get the crowds to listen to him quietly (see Acts 22:2)? Greek was the language of the eastern half of the Roman Empire, but Aramaic was the heart language of the people of Jerusalem. Paul’s knowledge of Aramaic bolsters his credentials as a “true Israelite.” How does Paul prove in verses 3-5 that he is just like the people he is addressing? How does Paul explain his sudden decision to become a follower of Christ? Why do you think Paul goes to great lengths to point out that Ananias, the man who healed his blindness, was both a follower of Christ AND “a devout observer of the Law”?
So far Paul has managed not to enrage the crowd. That will quickly change in tomorrow’s reading.
Hosea 10:1-15 – Hosea’s Lament for Israel
What is the opening lament in Chapter 10:1-2? (Prosperity has brought corruption. “Their heart is deceitful, and now they must bear their guilt. The LORD will demolish their altars and destroy their sacred stones.” (Hosea 10:2 NIV))
What seems to be at the root of many of Israel’s problems (Chapter 10:4-5)? (They are dishonest. “They make many promises, take false oaths and make agreements; therefore lawsuits spring up like poisonous weeds in a plowed field.” (Hosea 10:4 NIV) [When I see the word “oath” I immediately think of taking an oath – that would be to call God to witness what is about to be said. If these people are making false oaths as I understand it, this suddenly becomes a very serious offense. Saying something like “I swear to God” may come easily to our tongues, but words are quite weighty – especially those words. This is an act of lip service too. – j.t.])
What is the glaring offense described in verses 10:5-8? (Idolatry – the age-old issue in Israel. The golden calf will be carried off to fill the treasury of the king of Assyria. “The high places of wickedness will be destroyed – it is the sin of Israel.” (Hosea 10:8a NIV) “Then they will say to the mountains, ‘Cover us!’ and to the hills, ‘Fall on us!’” (Hosea 10:8b NIV) These words struck me because these are the same words Jesus quotes to the women of Jerusalem while he was on his way to his crucifixion in Luke 23:30.)
The Lord charges Israel of sinning and continuing to do so. He plans punishment for Israel (Ephraim) because of it. What does this sound like? (Reference is made to “the days of Gibeah”. This event is recorded in Judges 19:22-26 which also mirrors a similar event in the life of Lot when he was visited by two “strangers” [read angels] whom the townsmen wanted to “know”. This sounds like “…you may be sure that your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23b NIV) [This particular reference is alluding to a pledge by the “trans-Jordan” tribes to commit themselves to the conquering of Canaan which is west of the Jordan. – j.t] “When I please, I will punish them; nations will be gathered against them to put them in bonds for their double sin.” (Hosea 10:10 NIV) So there is a day of reckoning!)
What is in store for Ephraim and Judah according to verse 10:11? (It looks like what we call “hard labor” with “yokes” and “plowing”.)
What is the point of this “hard labor”? (The point of “hard labor” is to bring Israel and Judah to repentance: “…for it is time to seek the LORD, until he comes and showers righteousness on you.” (Hosea 10:12b NIV))
Israel proves dull of hearing and remains unrepentant. What is the key to Israel and Judah’s obstinacy in verse 10:13? (“Because you have depended on your own strength and on your many warriors, the roar of battle will rise against your people, so that all your fortresses will be devastated – as Shalman devastated Beth Arbel on the day of battle, when mothers were dashed to the ground with their children.” (Hosea 10:13b-14 NIV))
Verse 10:15 portends the end of the kingdom: “Thus will it happen to you, O Bethel, because your wickedness is great. When that day dawns, the king of Israel will be completely destroyed.” Things don’t look all that promising.