Prayer Psalm: 41
Prayer Point: This psalm is Jesus’ prayer. He is the one who had regard for the weak, who loved his enemies while they plotted his death. He is the one betrayed by Judas, his close friend (compare verse 9 to John 13:18-30). How can you be sure that God answers prayer? Because he answered his Son’s prayer by raising him from the dead. Pray that God might give you the faith to live and pray boldly today in light of the hope of the resurrection.
Romans 1:21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.
Jesus performed miracles in front of his people, but despite some eyewitnesses were unmoved. They went as far as to say that Jesus cast out demons by the power of demons. How could the people be sure Jesus was casting out demons using the power of God? What must be true if Jesus indeed casts out demons by the “finger of God”?
What warning does Jesus have for those who have had demons cast out?
God gives John the task of measuring the temple which symbolizes God’s protection. Who or what is the temple that will be protected by God? It is important to remember that the book of Revelation is not a photograph of the future, but a God-inspired dream filled with Biblical images and symbols.
In chapter 11, there are several Biblical symbols that refer to God’s people, the church:
- The temple. A temple is the place where God’s presence is concentrated. In the Old Testament the temple was the Tabernacle (a tent), and later the Temple in Jerusalem. With the coming of Jesus, the temple was Jesus himself (see John 2:19). After Christ ascended into heaven, God’s new dwelling was the hearts of Jesus’ followers (see Acts 2:1-4).
- The two witnesses. The commissioned witnesses of Jesus is the church. Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
- The two olive trees and two lampstands. We’ve seen lampstands in the book of Revelation as symbols representing the church (see Revelation 1:20). The olive trees supply the oil for the lamps. See Zechariah chapter 4 to see an example of how these go two together.
There are some numeric symbols that refer to a periods of time.
3 ½ years = 42 months = 1260 days. Throughout the Bible, 3 ½ is used to describe a signficant period of trouble. Verses five and six contain two references to the prophet Elijah: the fire that consumed his enemies and the drought that Elijah initiated through his prayers (see 2 Kings 17:1-4 and 2 Kings 1:1-5). That drought lasted 3 and ½ years (see James 5:17-18).
Based on your understanding of the symbols in this vision, what does God promise to do for his church, symbolized by the temple, the witnesses, and the lampstand and olive trees? What will happen to the church even when their enemies finally triumph over them?
What hope do we have in the end, despite whatever suffering we might endure today?
If there is a central message to the church it is this: It will be a difficult life for the church serving as witnesses to Jesus Christ, but God will preserve you until the end. One day we will see the culmination of all our hopes and dreams:
Revelation 11:15 “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our LORD and of his Christ.”
Like Haggai, Zechariah begins: “In the eighth month, in the second year of Darius…” (Zechariah 1:1 ESV). It is clear that both Haggai and Zechariah are addressing the ex-exiles at about the same time. The recurring theme is “return to me”. The LORD wants the people both to return to him and from their evil ways and deeds.
Zechariah experiences a vision of a man riding on a red horse. Naturally, Zechariah wants to know what this means. Also with the red horse were red, sorrel and white horses. Zechariah then asks “the angel who talked with me” “What are these, my lord?” (v. 9 ESV). The angel tells Zechariah that “these are they whom the LORD has sent to patrol the earth.” (v. 10 ESV) This actually harkens to Job 1:7 when Satan responds to God’s question: “‘From where have you come?’ Satan answered the LORD and said, ‘From going to and fro on the earth and from walking up and down on it.’” (Job 1:7 ESV) The similarities end there. These are angels patrolling through the earth reporting to the LORD that the world was as “rest”.
Why is the angel of the LORD troubled that by the report given by the man on the red horse that the world is at rest and peace? How does God feel about Jerusalem and Zion situation? Why does God’s anger burn against the nations (the nations that brought about Israel’s destruction)? How will God make things right?
4 One who trusts others too quickly has a shallow mind,
and one who sins does wrong to himself.
5 One who rejoices in wickedness will be condemned,
[but one who withstands pleasures crowns his life.
6 [One who controls the tongue will live without strife,]
but one who hates gossip has less evil.
7 Never repeat a conversation,
and you will lose nothing at all.
8 With friend or foe do not report it [gossip]
and unless it would be a sin for you, do not reveal it;
9 for someone may have heard you and watched you,
and in time will hate you.
10 Have you heard something? Let it die with you.
Be brave, it will not make you burst!
11 Having heard something, the fool suffers birth pangs
like a woman in labor with a child.
12 Like an arrow stuck in a person’s thigh,
so is gossip inside a fool.
13 Question a friend; perhaps he did not do it;
or if he did, so that he may not do it again.
14 Question a neighbor; perhaps he did not say it;
or if he said it, so that he may not repeat it.
15 Question a friend, for often it is slander;
so do not believe everything you hear.
16 A person may make a slip without intending it.
Who has not sinned with his tongue?
17 Question your neighbor before you threaten him;
and let the law of the Most High take its course.
According to verse 19:4 who suffers for sin. (“…one who sins does wrong to himself.” NRSV)
What is the consequence of the one who rejoices in wickedness? (“One who rejoices in wickedness will be condemned.” (Sirach 19:5a NRSV))
Who has less evil? (“…one who hates gossip has less evil.” (Sirach 19:5b NRSV))
What is the subject of verses 19:7-12? (These verses concern themselves with not submitting to the temptation that gossip presents. Verse 19:10 is perhaps the best advice regarding gossip: “Have you heard something? Let it die with you. Be brave, it will not make you burst!” (NRSV))
What practical advice do verses 19:13-17 offer? (Question friends and/or neighbors regarding gossip to stem it from spreading. Do not believe everything you hear “for often it is slander.”)
In what way does verse 19:16 hearken to James 3:7-11? (Compare: “A person may make a slip without intending it, who has not sinned with his tongue?” (NRSV) with “All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our LORD and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?” (James 3:7-11 NIV))