Daily Bible Readings – Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Prayer Psalm: 12

Prayer Point:If Psalm 10 is a protest against the prosperity of the wicked, Psalm 12 calls attention to the suffering of good people. Pray this psalm on behalf of a suffering brother and sister with the faith that God will answer and rescue them.

Luke 20:19-26

Jesus has just spoken a judgment parable against the teachers of the law and the chief priests (see Luke 20:9-18). What prevents the religious authorities from arresting Jesus? How do they attempt to discredit him?

Paying taxes to Caesar was a touchy subject in Israel. If Jesus came out against paying taxes to the Roman Caesar, the teachers of the law could have gone to the Roman government and charged Jesus with treason. If Jesus supported paying taxes to Rome he would lose favor with the people.

How does Jesus answer this difficult question? A denarius was a Roman coin stamped with the image
of the Caesar. It was used to pay taxes.

Follow Jesus’ logic:

If a denarius has Caesar’s image, then we should give it to Caesar.
BUT, if we are stamped with the image of God (see Genesis 1:27) then we should give ourselves to ___________________.

How do the chief priests and teachers of the law react to Jesus’ answer?

1 Thessalonians 2:13-20

The Thessalonians not only adopted new beliefs, but a new way of life when they became followers of Jesus. In what way did the Thessalonians begin to imitate the churches in Judea? Why don’t they retaliate against those who persecute them? Whom do they trust to seek vengeance?

How does Paul explain his absence from Thessalonica (see Acts 17:1-9)? Who stopped him from coming?

Isaiah 2:1-11

What is going to happen “in the last days”? (“…the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains … and all nations will stream to it.” (Isaiah 2:2 NIV) Notice a theme over the past few weeks? Most, if not all, of the prophets spoke of a “day of the LORD” which usually meant “in the last days”.)

We looked at Micah recently. Both he and Isaiah were contemporaries and both had similar messages. What does Isaiah say which is quoted verbatim by Micah? (“The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.” (Isaiah 2:4-5 NIV) That sounds much like an era of peace [which will be ruled by the Prince of Peace himself].)

“Come, O house of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord.” (Isaiah 2:5 NIV) This appears to be an exhortation which is not heeded.

Why has the LORD abandoned his people? (“They are full of superstitions from the East; they practice divination like the Philistines and clasp hands with pagans. The land is full of silver and gold; there is no end to their treasures. Their land is full of horses; there is no end to their chariots [cars?]. Their land is full of idols; they bow down to the work of their hands, to what their fingers have made.” (Isaiah 2:6-8 NIV))

I hear a hint of Jonah. What does Isaiah say which might remind us of him? (“So man will be brought low and mankind humbled — do not forgive them.” (Isaiah 2:9 NIV) Remember that Jonah was sent to the city of Nineveh, Assyria [a people whom Jonah despised; a people who were notorious the world over as being ruthless and without compassion]. Compare Isaiah 2:9 with: “But Jonah was greatly displeased [!] and became angry. He prayed to the LORD. ‘O LORD, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.'” (Jonah 4:1-2 NIV))

How does Isaiah describe the outcome? (“Go into the rocks, hide in the ground from dread of the LORD and the splendor of his majesty! The eyes of the arrogant man will be humbled and the pride of men brought low; the LORD alone will be exalted in that day.” (Isaiah 2:10-11 NIV))

Given the nature of the readings, it is important to remember that there are two advents being looked at during this season of the year. This is the beginning of the Church year — and it is appropriate that we begin the year by examining the Advent (coming) of the LORD. Clearly, Jesus has come, thus we look back at the “first” Advent. Now we are in a similar place as those who long awaited for Christ’s coming. This advent that we experience is one of great anticipation because when Jesus returns he will usher in the period of the “restoration” where all things will be made new; pain and sorrow banished and everyone is made whole. — j.t.

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