Daily Bible Readings – Friday, December 21, 2012

Prayer Psalm: 51

Prayer Point: David composed this psalm in the aftermath of his biggest moral failure (read the subtitle). We too must be broken by our sin and humbly return to God. Use this psalm as your own prayer of repentance. Let it guide you as confess your sins to God and ask for his forgiveness.

Matthew 11:2-15 

Background. John the Baptist, the prophet who was sent to prepare the way for Jesus, has been thrown into prison for his willingness to call out the sins of King Herod. John had expected Jesus to usher in a new kingdom, but he is discouraged because the old kings cling to power while he rots in jail. The question is “are you the one or should we wait for another …”

In this passage you will see a reference to Elijah who was one of Israel’s great prophets. It was believed that Elijah would return prior to the coming of the Messiah to prepare the people for his arrival.

Pay close attention to …

  • How Jesus regards John despite his doubt.
  • The evidence Jesus uses to confirm that he indeed is the one the world has been waiting for.

Listen. Believe. Obey. Share
What is the passage saying? About God? About ourselves? (Listen)
What is God asking us to believe? (Believe)
What is God asking us to do? (Obey)
Who can we share this with? (Share)

2 Peter 2:17-22 

Background. 2 Peter is a letter that was written by the Apostle Peter and circulated among the churches that existed at the time. In chapter two Peter warns the church of false teachers who will infiltrate the church and lead many Christians astray.

Pay close attention to …
The characteristics and behavior of the false teachers, the “them” of verse 17.
What Peter thinks of people who have heard the gospel and then gave up following Jesus as opposed to those who never heard it at all.

Listen. Believe. Obey. Share
What is the passage saying? About God? About ourselves? (Listen)
What is God asking us to believe? (Believe)
What is God asking us to do? (Obey)
Who can we share this with? (Share)

Isaiah 10:5-19      Assyria’s Turn for Judgment

How has the LORD used Assyria? (“Ah, Assyria, the rod of my anger; the staff in their hands is my fury!” (Isaiah 10:5 ESV))

What purpose does Assyria serve? (“Against a godless nation I send him, and against the people of my wrath I command him, to take spoil and seize plunder, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets.” (Isaiah 10:6 ESV) So Israel (the northern kingdom) is being plagued both within and without. Judah’s time is coming!)

We know what the LORD intends in this venture, but what does the Assyrian hope to gain? (“…but it is in his heart to destroy, and to cut off nations not a few; for he says: ‘Are not my commander all kings?” (Isaiah 10:7b-8 ESV) The Assyrian cannot know that he is but a tool in God’s arsenal against unrighteousness, therefore he cannot imagine his own fate. Remember, while the Assyrian may be God’s instrument, he is still accountable for his own unrighteousness.)

While it is clear (to me anyway) that the LORD has declared judgment on Ephraim, it may not have served as an object lesson to Judah. In fact, it did not! What is the warning, well not so much a warning as a prophecy, in verses 10:10-11? (“As my hand has reached to the kingdoms of the idols, whose carved images were greater than those of Jerusalem and Samaria, shall I not do to Jerusalem and her idols as have done to Samaria and her images?” (ESV) I guess the question to ask here is whether Judah actually had an opportunity to repent or was the judgment already written and that it was too late?)

Why is the king of Assyria singled out for judgment? (“When the LORD has finished all his work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, he will punish the speech of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria and the boastful look in his eyes. For he says: ‘By the strength of my hand have I done it, and by my wisdom, for I have understanding; I remove the boundaries of peoples, and plunder their treasures; like a bull I bring down those who sit on thrones. My hand … I have gathered … ” (Isaiah 10:12-13, 14 ESV) All this “I” and “my”. This is the arrogance of the king of Assyria. In the book of Judges (Chapter 7), Gideon was faced with a similar issue. He was told to gather a fighting force to go against the Midianites and others. He mustered a force of 32,000 men for the venture. “The LORD said to Gideon, ‘The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over me, saying, “My own hand has saved me.”‘” Thus the LORD whittled Gideon’s force from 32,000 to a mere 300 men. Such a force would not prevail against an innumerable army (for several nations had gathered against Gideon). And yet the LORD and Gideon won the day. The LORD was the one who brought victory to Assyria and not its king. Assyria would learn.)

How does the LORD manifest his power over the Assyrians? (“Therefore the LORD GOD of hosts will send a wasting sickness among his stout warriors, and under his glory a burning will be kindled, like the burning of fire. … The glory of his forest and of his fruitful land the Lord will destroy, both soul and body.” (Isaiah 10:16, 18 ESV))

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