Daily Bible Readings – Saturday, February 23, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 55

Prayer Point. What are you afraid of in this world? What concerns do you carry with you every day? The opposite of living in perpetual fear is continual prayer. Try praying throughout the day.  Practice this verse: “Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice.”

John 4:1-26

Background.  Samaria lay between the Jewish regions of Judea and Galilee. Its people, the Samaritans, were the descendents of the Northern Kingdom of Israel which broke off from the Southern Kingdom of Judah. Jeroboam, their first king, fearing that he would lose the allegiance of his subjects who traveled to the temple in Jerusalem to worship God, established his own temples at Bethel and Dan within his own territory. These temples were built against God’s wishes and the people quickly slid into idolatry.  The Jews regarded the Samaritans as religious sellouts and therefore did not associate with them.

The Samaritan woman we encounter in chapter 4 is an outcast of an outcast people for reasons which will become clear. She draws water in heat of midday because she has been rejected by the other women in the town. But Jesus is undeterred and asks her for something to drink.

Pay close attention to …

  • Why Jesus chooses to return to Galilee.
  • Why the Samaritan woman is shocked by Jesus’ approach.
  • What Jesus offers the woman to demonstrate that he is greater than their ancestor Jacob who dug the well.
  • How Jesus points out the woman’s sin without rejecting her.
  • Jesus’ answer to her question, “on which mountain should we worship God.”
  • Jesus’ identity in verse 26.

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 5:1-10

Background.  A priest is one who represents the people before God.  He offers sacrifices and prayers to God on their behalf.  Today’s reading describes two orders of priests that existed in the Old Testament.  The first were the descendents of Moses’ brother Aaron, who alone were chosen to serve as Israel’s priests. The second is the order of Melchizedek.  Melchizedek was the king of Salem, the city  which was later renamed Jerusalem. It was to Melchizedek that Abraham, the father of the nation of Israel, brought a tenth of the spoils of war because he recognized him as God’s priest.  See Genesis 14:18-20 for more information about that story.

Pay close attention to …

  • How Jesus is greater than the priests who were Aaron’s descendents.
  • The priestly order that Jesus belongs to and why.
  • What Jesus did for us as our high priest.

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 11:18-28

Background. The opening verses of Chapter 11 are a re-telling of exhortations for the people to keep the laws, statutes and ordinances of the Lord so that they would have the strength to subdue the land before them.  Again Moses reminds the people of their (not-so-recent) history: how the Lord subdued the most powerful armed force in the world at that time.  Then Moses revisited the deaths of Abiram and Dathan.  The sad story of Abiram and Dathan (and about 250 others) is documented in Numbers 16:1-35.  The short version is that Dathan and Abiram were the ringleaders of a rebellion against Moses (during one of those times where the people were doing their grumbling against the Lord and Moses).  Their defiant cry was: “You have gone too far!  The whole community is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is with them.  Why then do you set yourselves above the Lord’s assembly?”  What happens next proves that not everyone is appointed to be a prophet.  Moses counters that if Dathan and Abiram are not guilty of sedition (a crime worthy of death) and if they die of natural causes then Moses is not a prophet of the Lord.  However, if “something new” happens to take their lives then Moses would be validated.  And so it happened that the ground opened up and swallowed Abiram and Dathan (and all their families) and the 250 who participated in the revolt.  [This scene is very dramatically set forth in Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments.  I cannot vouch for the biblical accuracy, but it makes the point.]

Moses promises that if the people will turn their hearts to God and observe his commandments that the Lord will bless the land.  He sounds almost idyllic; i.e. carefree; the land will take care of itself.  All the people would have to do is to rake in the harvest.  I’m sure he did not intend that no work would be required, but rather that the Lord would so bless the land that they would experience untold prosperity.

Of course if these “stiff-necked” people revert to idolatry, well, nothing good will result.

The reading we will look at (Deuteronomy 11:18-28) will review one of the more important admonitions of all scripture: my favorite.  Here Moses will discuss what he had first presented in Deuteronomy 6:4-9.  These verses and the unusual behavior spawned by them we mentioned above on Monday of this week.  In the spirit of Deuteronomy shall we revisit it again?

Pay close attention to …

  • Where the words are to be placed (on the person); where in the house; when discussed; to whom to tell them (vv. 18-21 )
  • The promise of obeying these commands (v. 23-25 )
  • The blessing and the curse (v. 27-28 )

 

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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