Daily Bible Readings – Monday, December 24, 2012 – Christmas Eve

Prayer Psalm: 89

Prayer Point: On Christmas Eve we remember that God fulfilled his promise to King David that his line would reign forever by sending Jesus, the Son of David, whose kingdom will endure for all eternity (Psalm 89:35-37). Take time as you prepare to celebrate Christmas by praising God for his faithfulness to us, an unfaithful people, by sending us his Son. Finally, look around at the parts of our world that need Jesus today and pray, “Jesus, come quickly … again.”

Luke 1:67-80

Background. An angel appears to Zechariah, an old childless priest, and announces that his wife, Elizabeth, who also was well beyond childbearing age, will give birth to a son. Zechariah can’t believe it and asks, “How can this be?” The angel strikes him dumb for his unbelief, but the promised child, John the Baptist, the one who will prepare the way for the Messiah is born, just as God had promised.

It was customary to name the child on the eighth day, the occasion of the boy’s circumcision. Zechariah is asked what he will name his son. Unable to talk he calls for a tablet and writes the words, “His name is John.” In that moment, Zechariah’s tongue is loosened and filled with the Holy Spirit sings the words we read today.

Pay special attention to …

  • The fact that Zechariah sings about someone’s else son (as well as his own).
  • How Zechariah describes the Messiah in verses 67-75. Note that “horn” is a symbol of strength and that the “house of his servant David” refers to the royal line of Israel that had long been absent from the throne.
  • Why God chooses to rescue his people (verses 72-75).
  • Zechariah’s prophecy concerning his son John in verses 76-77 and how he will prepare God’s people for the Lord’s coming.

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)

Revelation 20:1-10 

Background. Revelation is a letter from the Apostle John to a group of churches who were being persecuted by the Roman Empire. The book is a collection of dreams and visions that were given to encourage these Christians by allowing them to see the world from God’s point of view. Rome seemed invincible and the church of Jesus Christ, powerless, from the perspective on earth. But when John sees the world through God’s eyes, a different story emerges.

Satan, the dragon, the power behind the Roman Empire has been bound and prevented from deceiving the nations. This is what allows the church to spread the message of Jesus around the world and establish new churches despite fierce opposition (see also Luke 10:17-19). While Rome may seem to be in charge and it has the power to harm the church, Jesus has authority over the powers behind Rome and the gospel will continue to spread.

This means that the church should not fear Rome, nor even death itself. For those who are killed because of their faithfulness of Jesus and his message are ushered into God’s presence in heaven where they will reign with him. Death no longer is the end, but the door to eternal life.

Pay close attention to …

  • How this passage may have encouraged the persecuted church that read it.
  • How death’s power has been broken and it is no longer to be feared.
  • What will happen in the end when Satan is finally released from his prison (verses 7-10).

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 11:1-9        The Righteous Reign of the Branch

Why cannot the “shoot” from the “stump of Jesse” be David? If not David, then who? (The “shoot” from the “stump of Jesse” cannot be David because this prophecy was delivered something like 300 years after David had died. The “shoot” from the “stump of Jesse” we deem to be the Messiah, Jesus.)

Describe the Spirit of the LORD which shall rest on him. (“And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.” (Isaiah 11:2 ESV))

What will be the delight of the branch? (“His delight shall be in the fear of the LORD.” (Isaiah 11:3a ESV))

Let us bypass here, for the sake of time and energy, exactly what we think “the fear of the LORD ” is. For the sake of argument, let’s allow that what is meant by the “fear of the LORD ” is a heart with deep respect and awe much more than a one filled with the terror of retribution.

How will this “branch” judge? (“He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear, but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.” (Isaiah 11:3b-4 ESV))

How shall the branch be girded? (“Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins.” (Isaiah 11:5 ESV))
What shall be the general conditions in nature when the branch comes? What does this tell us about why we believe that the branch is Jesus? (The general conditions of nature will be completely at peace with itself. Natural enemies will no longer exist: “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them.” (Isaiah 11:6 ESV) We believe that this prophecy describes a world that has been “restored” once the Messiah returns to begin his millennium reign.)
“They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.” (Isaiah 11:9 ESV)

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