Daily Bible Readings – Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 119:73-96

Prayer Point. The God who made us is  the God we must obey if we seek to live with wisdom. His law are the path to life. But there are obstacles that block our attempts to follow him: our own ignorance, sin, and the brokenness of our world. What is getting in your way as you try to follow Jesus?  Lift those to God, ask him to remove them that we might live according to his will.

Mark 8:11-26

Background. We have seen Jesus’ willingness to perform miracles for those who come to him in faith. Is Jesus willing to perform miracles to convince those who don’t believe him and only want to test him?

As Jesus gets into the boat he warns his disciples to watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and Herod. The disciples would have considered Herod and the Pharisees to be on opposite ends of the political spectrum. Herod was a Roman puppet, while the Pharisees encouraged a strict adherence to Jewish Law with the hopes that God would come and deliver his people from Roman rule.

Jesus sees them as the same yeast despite their differences. Yeast was a symbol of the corrupting effects of sin. A small amount quickly spreads and changes the whole batch of dough. N.T. Wright points out that both Herod and the Pharisees had a distorted view of God’s kingdom that Jesus needed to confront. Herod was attempting to establish himself and his line as the true kings of Israel. The Pharisees envisioned a kingdom where God saved only those who strictly adhered to Jewish Law as they interpreted it. Jesus’ kingdom was something different.

Pay close attention to …

  • How Jesus responds when the Pharisees demanded a miraculous sign.
  • How the disciple’s failure to understand Jesus’ miraculous feeding of the four thousand is connected to their misunderstanding of Jesus’ warning against the yeast of Herod and the Pharisees.
  • How Jesus’ method of healing the blind man is connected to the blind man’s request. Compare this to the healing in Mark 7:32-35.

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)

Galatians 4:21-31

Background. Abraham, the father of the Jewish nation was given a divine promise in his old age that he would become the father of a great nation. The only trouble was that both he and his wife Sarah were well beyond childbearing age. The years went by and Abraham and Sarah were given no son. After years of waiting, Sarah grew impatient and offered Abraham her slave, Hagar, to provide him with an heir. Abraham agreed and a son, Ishmael, was born from his union with Hagar. Abraham believed that Ishmael was the heir God promised, but it was not to be. God had intended to give Abraham a son through his wife Sarah and he made good on that promise when she gave birth to Isaac when both were well in their nineties. Now there were two sons: Isaac, the son of the promise, and Ismael, the son born the ordinary way. There are two women, Hagar the slave and Sarah the free woman.

Paul will extend the metaphor by adding two covenants into the mix, which are represented by two mountains. The first covenant which is represented by Mount Sinai where God gave the 10 Commandments to Moses. This covenant demanded that the people keep the commandments in order to be right with God. The trouble is no one can do it, so this who belong to this covenant are kept in slavery. This covenant is represented by the slave woman, Hagar.

The second covenant, the covenant God made with Abraham is represented by Jerusalem which sits on Mount Zion and serves as a symbol of heaven, the place where God will make his home with his people. This covenant is a covenant of grace. Nothing was asked of Abraham in this covenant save that he believe that God could make good on his promises, that God could provide him with an heir even though he and Sarah were both in their nineties. This covenant is represented by Sarah, the free woman and mother of the son of promise.

The question is who is represented by the son of the promise and Jerusalem who are the sons of slave and belong to Mount Sinai? The false teachers insisted that only those who lived as Jews could be included among the children of promise, but Paul will turn that argument on its head.

Pay close attention to …

  • What makes the Galatians like Isaac and true children of promise (see verses 28-31).
  • Who are ironically are children of the slave woman (see verses 29-30).

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 49:1-12

Background. In this chapter Isaiah is again describing the “Servant of the Lord”. While the description describes a victorious servant it is not without an aspect of suffering. As we look at this passage we can see that the servant will be completely trusting in God. This scripture is perhaps one of the most beautiful in all the Old Testament.

Pay close attention to …

  • When the servant was called (v. 1)
  • How he was equipped (v. 2) [see Revelation 1:16]
  • In whom God will display his splendor (v. 3)
  • The servant not counting the cost (v. 4)
  • The mission of the servant (v. 5)
  • How God views his servant (v. 5)
  • How verse 6 compares with Simeon in Luke 2:28-32
  • How the servant is treated (v. 7)
  • How God will attend his servant and restore the covenant (v. 8)
  • How God will show mercy and grace to his people (vv. 9-10)

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)

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