Daily Bible Readings – Sunday, November 18, 2012

Prayer Psalm: 66

Prayer Point: The poet of Psalm 66 remembers the acts of God which saved his people and he bursts out into song. What has God down in your life? Remember them.  Write them down and spend some time today worshiping and thanking him.

Matthew 23:13-24

Jesus served in three different capacities. He was a prophet, priest and king. In this passage, Jesus is playing his prophetic role. Notice the language “woe to you …”

For whom does Jesus have words of condemnation and why?

The Pharisees and teachers of the Law had the responsibility of interpreting the Law of Moses and teaching the people to follow it. Their failure is clear since they lack the ability to interpret the Law for themselves.

Oaths. When it came to oaths, the Pharisees believed that it is all about what you swore by. If you swore by the gold of the temple you were legally bound to keep it, if you swore by the temple, you could break it. It was like keeping your fingers crossed. What is Jesus’ view of oaths and how is it greater than the Pharisees?

Tithes. The Law of Moses required the people of Israel to give 10% of their income to God, a law that the Pharisees kept fastidiously. What had they missed? What more was Jesus looking for?

What part of the person did the Pharisees concentrate on? What was God concerned about – the outside or the inside?

Phillipians 3:13-4:1

How does Paul view himself in the present in verse 13? The ‘it’ that Paul speaks of is the perfection that comes from being united with Jesus Christ (see verse 12).

What goal is Paul committed to? Why do think this view of life is linked to maturity?

The challenge is to become what Christ has already made us to be. We were forgiven at the cross, now let’s live like we are forgiven. We’ve be adopted into God’s family, let’s live like sons and daughters of our Father in heaven. In other words, “let us live up to what we have already attained” (verse 16).

How are the Philippians challenged to live up to their new status as children of God? Whose example are they invited to follow?

Contrast the old life described in verses 18 and 19 to the new life that Paul calls us to live in Philippians 3:20-4:1.

Habakkuk 1:1-2:1

Background about Habakkuk (from The ESV Study Bible Notes p. 1719)
“Little is known about the prophet Habakkuk. He was likely a contemporary of Zephaniah and Jeremiah, and possibly even of Ezekiel and Daniel, but none of the other prophets mention him. His name appears twice in the book (1:1; 3:1), and he is clearly the main character. God commands Habakkuk to record the vision in chapter 2, and he probably also wrote chapter 3.” In any event, it is clear that Habakkuk acted as God’s mouthpiece just before and perhaps during the early part of the Babylonian Captivity.
Since we can determine that Habakkuk preached before or during the early part of the Babylonian Captivity, we can set the writing of this book at late 6th century B.C. From The ESV Study Bible Notes p. 1719: “The Babylonians do not appear to be an imminent threat when Habakkuk was writing, but he seems to be very aware of their potential threat, and thus Habakkuk’s time frame is probably not later than the end of Josiah’s reign (640-609 B.C.). Before Josiah, Judah had radically turned away from God under the leadership of the extremely wicked kings Manasseh and Amon, and the nation was ripe for punishment (2 Kings 23:26-27). Judah was morally and spiritually corrupt, worshipping Baal on the high places, offering its children to Molech, dedicating horses to the sun god, and allowing the temple to fall into ruin. Judah experienced a significant, though short-lived time of revival during Josiah’s reign with the restoration of the temple and reinstitution of the Feast of Passover, but returned quickly to its evil ways following his death. It was a politically turbulent time as well. Assyria had ruled Judah with a heavy hand for well over a hundred years, inflicting punishment and tribute; but Assyria was beginning to weaken, and soon Babylon would be the world power. Habakkuk probably lived to see the following events: the destruction of Nineveh by Babylon in 612 B.C.; the battle of Haran in 609 in which Josiah died as he tried to hinder the Egyptians from reaching the battle; the final defeat of the Assyrians at the Battle of Carchemish (605); and possibly; the fulfillment of his own prophecy of the Babylonian invasions of Judah in 605, 597, and 586.”
From The ESV Study Bible Notes pp. 1719-20:
“By the end of the book, Habakkuk is a changed person — he has learned to wait and trust in God, who works out all things for his glory. Habakkuk, like Job, questions God’s justice, but in the end both realize that God is sovereign and his justice is far beyond their comprehension. Habakkuk’s message of judgment on Judah would not have been well accepted, for the nation had been blinded by sin while false prophets were declaring that God would not punish his chosen people. But God’s justice demands that wickedness be punished, whether found in pagan nations are in his own people.
Purpose, Occasion, and Background
“Habakkuk is unusual as a prophetic book in that it never addresses the people of Judah directly but rather is a dialogue between the prophet and God. The first two chapters are organized around Habakkuk’s prayers (or, more correctly, complaints) and the LORD’s replies. Habakkuk saw the rapid progress of Judah’s moral and spiritual deterioration and this deeply troubled him. Yet God’s response puzzled him even more, for “how could a good and just God use a more wicked nation to punish a less wicked one? God makes it clear that both nations are to be judged and appropriately punished for their evil acts. Although Habakkuk may not fully understand, he has learned to rely totally on the wisdom and justice of God to bring about the proper resolution in ways he could never imagined. This God is certainly worthy of Habakkuk’s praise and worship, which is how the book ends.”
What is Habakkuk’s complaint to God? (“Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong?” (Habakkuk 1:3 ESV) At this time Assyria had already carted off the northern tribes — it looked like the enemies of God’s people were flourishing. Of course, Habakkuk could have been complaining about how the leaders of Judah were treating their own people. Habakkuk wrote just after the righteous Josiah (in my opinion the best king of southern kingdom) who was followed by successive evil kings; in this case Jehoahaz and Jehoiakim who did according to all that their fathers had done. If the evil referred to was idolatry.)
Whom is the LORD going to raise up to act on his behalf? (“For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans [Babylonians] that bitter and hasty nation, who march through the breadth of the earth, to seize dwellings not their own. They are dreaded and fearsome…” (Habakkuk 1:6-7a ESV))
How does Habakkuk describe these Babylonians? (“Their horses are swifter than leopards, their horsemen fly like an eagle; they all come for violence — their faces forward; they scoff at kings; they laugh at fortresses; and they “sweep by like the wind and go on…” (Habakkuk 1:11 ESV))
How does Habakkuk seem both to praise and accuse God in verses 1:13? (The praise: “You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong,” the accusation: “why do you idly look at traitors and remain silent when the wicked swallows up the man more righteous than he?”)
What does Habakkuk resolve to do (verse 2:1)? (“I will take my stand at my watchpost and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint.” (ESV))
I envy that Habakkuk approaches God in such a familiar way as to be able to “accuse” him in his complaints.

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