Daily Bible Readings – Monday, February 18, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 41

Prayer Point. God promises to bless those who have regard for the weak, but what hope is there if, like David, we have sinned and are undeserving of his mercy? We boldly cry out to God because there is a second voice in this psalm. In verse 9, David’s voice gives way to Jesus’, who entered our world, took on the curse of our sin and earned for the blessings of verses 1 and 2 (see John 13:18-30). Confess your sin and appeal to God, not on the basis of your goodness, but on what Jesus has done.

John 2:1-12

Background.  Wedding feasts in Jesus’ day often lasted  for days and were overseen by the master of the banquet (probably close to a best man) whose responsibilities included, among other things, that the wine did not run out. This of course is precisely what happens and the stage is set for the first miracle of Jesus’ earthly ministry.

Jesus is approached by his mother with news that the wedding is on the brink of a disaster.  He initially rebuffs her, saying that his “time had not yet come,” but he is most likely thinking of his own wedding which will follow his crucifixion and resurrection when he marries his bride, the church (See Revelation 19:7-9).

The water used for Jesus’ first miracle was the water used for ceremonial hand washing that Jews performed before eating a meal.

Pay close attention to …

  • Mary’s response to Jesus’ initial refusal.
  • The way this miracle is performed and what it tells us about Jesus’ power.
  • The Master of the Banquet’s response to Jesus’ miracle wine.
  • The effect that the miracle had on Jesus’ disciples.

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)

Hebrews 2:11-18

Background.  The book of Hebrews was written to Christians struggling with persecution and contemplating a return to the Judaism of their childhood. By abandoning their faith in Christ they could avoid the scorn of their neighbors and the suspicion of the government. In today’s reading, the writer reminds them of their new identity that was achieved for them through the sufferings of Christ.

The author compares Jesus to a high priest in verse 17.  The high priests in the Old Testament offered sacrifices on behalf of the people before God.  They are called sacrifices of atonement because they served to turn away God’s righteous wrath against the people’s sins.

Pay close attention to …

  • The new relationship they enjoy with Jesus and how Jesus looks at them.
  • Why Jesus shared in our humanity.
  • What qualifies Jesus to help us in our temptations.

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)

Deuteronomy 8:11-20

Background. Last week I pointed out that Deuteronomy, simply put, is a re-telling of the Law (covered extensively in both Exodus and Leviticus).  It may also be considered a call to remembrance.  Throughout Chapters 6 & 7 the people were constantly reminded to keep the Law and to “remember” the Lord their God.  Repetition may be good for the soul but it serves no one any good unless he can apply what is being repeated to his life.  Chapter 6 contains one of the most important admonitions in all of Scripture.  “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.  Impress them on your children.  Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9 NIV)  But what was the point?  The point was to apply the Law to one’s life in such a way as to affect a change of heart.   You may have seen pictures of Jewish men who have a little black box strapped to their foreheads and a winding leather strap around their left arms.  This is what Moses said to do in Deuteronomy Chapter 6.  I fully expect that the Pharisees and Sadducees in Jesus’ time were decked in these things when they prayed (for that is when modern Jewish men wear these things).  The Sadducees and Pharisees were strict about doing the thing Moses had suggested (i.e., wearing the reminder of the Law on their person) but missed the point of appropriating the truth of the Law to their lives.  That is why Jesus and John the Baptist, on many occasions charged the “Elders” (i.e., scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees) with being hypocrites.  They know these things but do not practice them.

Pay close attention to …
•    The first thing Moses commands in this passage (v. 11 )
•    The consequences of not complying with the covenant (v. 12 -14)
•    What Moses reminds (remembering!) the people about their journey in the desert (vv. 15-16 )
•    The trap of which we all become victims (v. 17 )
•    The truth of the matter (v. 18 )
•    The ultimate penalty for not “remembering” (vv. 19-20 )

Almost everyone knows about the “golden calf” episode in the desert.  Aaron was conned into making a molten calf for the people to worship while Moses tarried on Mount Sinai (for 40 days and 40 nights).  He was gone and there was no one to stop the people from giving in to their hearts’ desire.  Well, that didn’t work well for the errant people either for 3,000 of them died as a result.

A lesser known rebellious event came about as the camp was meandering throughout the desert.

“But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, ‘Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert?  There is no bread!  There is no water!  And we detest this miserable food.’

“Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died.  The people came to Moses and said, ‘We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you.  Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.’  So Moses prayed for the people.

“The Lord said to Moses ‘Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.’  So Moses made a bonze snake and put it up on a pole.  Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived.” (Numbers 21:4b-9NIV)

So the afflicted (and thus doomed to die) only had to look at this bronze serpent and they would live.  Interestingly enough, it was just this episode that Jesus alluded to when speaking with Nicodemus.  “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”  (John 3:14-15 NIV)  This is another instance where Jesus is identifying himself with that “Prophet” Moses spoke of.  “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers.  You must listen to him.”  (Deut. 18:15 NIV)  Same action and same result.  One doesn’t have to do anything.

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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