Prayer Psalm: 10
Prayer Point: Our experience with the world teaches us that the wicked do prosper. So what do we do? We pray and Psalm 10 leads the way. Follow its outline by being honest with God and telling him what you see (verses 1-11). Call on God to act and restore justice (verses 12-15) and end your prayer with worship (verses 16-18).
The Old Testament is filled with songs and poems comparing God to a vineyard owner and his people, Israel, to a vineyard. With this mind, try answering the following questions:
Who are the servants of the vineyard owner? (See Luke 16:27-31)
Who is the beloved son? (See Luke 3:22 and Matthew 3:17)
Who are the tenants that killed the son? (See Luke 20:19)
What will happen to the tenants and the vineyard they manage? Jesus compares the vineyard owner’s son to a cornerstone. What will happen to the cornerstone that is rejected? What will happen to those who oppose the cornerstone?
1 Thessalonians 2:1-12
What motivated Paul and his team to present the gospel of Jesus in Thessalonica despite strong opposition (see verses 1-6)? How would you describe Paul’s relationship with this church (see verses 7-8)? How does Paul see himself? How does he see the Thessalonians? How did Paul’s ministry reflect this understanding (see verses 11-12)?
What does prophet tell us Israel is like? (“… you rulers of Sodom; … you people of Gomorrah!” (Isaiah 1:10 NIV) Referring to Israel as “Sodom” and “Gomorrah” must have been the height of insult to the people.)
What is the general complaint from the LORD? (The Lord is sick and tired of “lip service” from his people. “‘The multitude of your sacrifices — what are they to me?’ says the LORD. … “When you come to meet with me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts?” (Isaiah 1:11, 12 NIV) So it seems that the LORD does not want you to show up unless you want to be there (i.e., in church). Unfortunately, the Lord is not as easily impressed as we tend to be. Abraham was, perhaps, the first person to impress God but it took him to offer his son as a burnt offering to do it. When God, in essence, granted Solomon “three” wishes, his prayer was to be a wise ruler. Again, God was impressed [and granted him great wisdom]. Jesus certainly impressed God at least on two occasions (and I suspect there were many): when Jesus was baptized “As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.'” (Matthew 3:16-17 NIV) “After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus … While he [Peter] was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!'” (Matthew 17:1-3, 5 NIV) By all accounts, this was precisely how the LORD spoke with Moses — from a cloud.)
Why is the LORD not impressed with his people? What is wrong? (“When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood; wash and make yourselves clean. … Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.” (Isaiah 1:15, 16-17 NIV) Does this not also apply to us in our time?)
What is the bright and promising message contained in this reading? (“‘Come now, let us reason together,’ says the LORD. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.’ For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” (Isaiah 1:18-20 NIV))
How does Isaiah describe the city (Jerusalem) and its people in this passage? (“See how the faithful city has become a harlot! She once was full of justice; righteousness used to dwell in her — but now murderers!” (Isaiah 1:21 NIV))
What is the sin concerning the leaders of the people (The rulers and leaders are companions of thieves; “they all love bribes and chase after gifts. They do not defend the cause of the fatherless; the widow’s case does not come before them.” (Isaiah 1:23NIV))
How does the LORD plan to rectify the situation? (“Therefore the Lord, the Lord Almighty, the Mighty One of Israel declares: ‘Ah, I will get relief from my foes and avenge myself on my enemies I will turn my hand against you; I will thoroughly purge away your dross and remove your impurities.'” (Isaiah 1:24-25 NIV) Here we go, “avenging” and “purging” — this cannot be good news. Purging and the removing of dross conger up imagery of intense heat (fire).)
What will be the state of “Sodom” and “Gomorrah” once all this purging and refining is done? (“Afterward you will be called the City of Righteousness, the Faithful City.” (Isaiah 1:26 NIV))
How is Zion (Jerusalem) redeemed? (“Zion will be redeemed with justice, her penitent one with righteousness.” (Isaiah 1:27 NIV))
What of the rebels and sinners? (“But rebels and sinners will both be broken together, and those who forsake the Lord will perish.” (Isaiah 1:28 NIV))
What else will the fire be used for? (This is for the sinners and rebels. “The mighty man will become tinder and work a spark; both will burn together, with no one to quench the fire.” (Isaiah 1:31 NIV))