Daily Bible Readings – Sunday, October 7, 2012

Prayer Psalm: 145

Prayer Point:  Psalm 145 proclaims that one generation will proclaim the works of God to the next.  This will not happen until our hearts grow hot in love for God.  This psalm gives many reasons to worship and treasure God.  Meditate on two or three examples that resonate with you and offer God a prayer of thanksgiving in response.

Matthew 14:1-12

Word of Jesus’ miracles get back to King Herod, the man who executed John the Baptist. How does he interpret Jesus’ actions in verse 1? Why?

Why had Herod been afraid to kill John the Baptist, despite John’s public condemnation of his marriage to his brother’s wife? Why does Herod change his mind? Herod projected himself as a powerful and ruthless tyrant. What really motivates this man?

1 Corinthians 2:6-16

Paul has just argued that Jesus and his message is the wisdom of God. How does the wisdom of God square with the “wisdom of this age” (human wisdom or even the conventional wisdom of the Roman Empire)? How did the rulers of this age (Roman government) demonstrate that they had not understood the wisdom of God in verse 8?

If humans cannot understand the wisdom of God on their own, how do we come to know Jesus, the wisdom of God (see verses 9 and 10)? What role does the Holy Spirit play in our coming to know God? Why is it impossible for someone without the Holy Spirit to believe in God?

If you are praying for someone to believe the gospel and become a follower of Jesus how does what you have just read guide you in how to pray for them?

Hosea 13:4-14 – Why can’t Israel hear?

What does verse 13:4 remind us of? (This is a re-phrasing of the first of the Ten Commandments: “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:2-3 NIV))

This next section (verses 13:4-8) reminds us of how the LORD had met the daily needs of the people while they wandered in the desert for forty years. What two things happen when we become satisfied according to verse 13:6? (We become proud and we forget God.)

Israel continues to commit the same sin time and again. This can only be because they do not take the word of God to heart. Isaiah who was a contemporary of Hosea, though he was assigned to prophesy to Judah, summed it up this way: “The LORD says: ‘These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.’” (Isaiah 29:13 NIV) So this obstinacy is not confined just to the Northern Kingdom.

Why is the LORD willing to destroy Israel (13:9)? (“I will destroy you, O Israel, because you are against me, against your helper.” (NIV))

What does the Lord say about the “guilt of Ephraim” (13:12)? (“The guilt of Ephraim is stored up, his sins are kept on record.” (NIV))

I find verse 13:14 confusing. In verse 13:9 the Lord is willing to destroy Israel. In verse 13:12 the Lord is keeping records of Ephraim’s (Israel’s) guilt (sin). So I had to ask myself why is verse 13:14 phrased in this way: “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death.”? (NIV) I then looked at a couple of other translations to see if some light could be shed on this question. And “question” happens to be the operative word. The NASB (New American Standard Bible) translates the verse thusly: “Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol? Shall I redeem them from death?” The ESV renders the verse in precisely the same way except that “death” in the ESV is capitalized as “Death”. This verse is translated as a question. That changes the whole slant of the meaning. The ESV Study Bible Notes p. 1641 add this insight: “13:14 Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol? In the OT, “Sheol” is a proper name and can be a poetic personification of the grave (e.g., 1 Kings 2:6 [“Act therefore according to your wisdom, but do not let his gray head go down to Sheol in peace.”]; Ps. 141:7 [“As when one plows and breaks up the earth, so shall our bones be scattered at the mouth of Sheol.”]). But it can also designate the grim destination of the wicked after death (e.g., Ps. 49:14-15 [“Like sheep they are appointed for Sheol; death shall be their shepherd, and the upright shall rule over them in the morning. Their form shall be consumed in Sheol, with no place to dwell. But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for he will receive me.”]) The parallel wording with Ps. 49:15 suggests that Hosea sees Ephraim’s ‘death’ as leading to Sheol in the second sense, i.e., as damnation. Thus God asks himself whether he should rescue Ephraim from such consequences. O Death, where are your plagues? If the Lord is their strong deliverer, then not even death will be able to terrify them or harm them. In 1 Cor. 15:55 [“O death, where is your victory, O death, where is your sting?”] Paul cites part of Hos. 13:14. In that context, he is viewing the general resurrection as God’s triumph over not only bodily death but also eternal judgment, for the faithful. Sadly, in Hosea’s time Israel is rejecting the only power that can save her. Thus compassion is hidden from God’s eyes, and Israel will perish miserably (vv. 15-16)”

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