Daily Bible Readings – Sunday, March 10, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 66

Prayer Point. The poet of Psalm 66 remembers the acts of God which saved his people and he bursts out into song. What has God down in your life? Remember them.  Write them down and spend some time today thanking him.

Mark 8:11-21

Background. We have seen Jesus’ willingness to perform miracles for those who come to him in faith, but he never did them to convince a skeptic.

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.

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 4:21-5:1

Background. Abraham was given a divine promise 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 and they had no children. Years went by and there was still no son. 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 and there are two mothers: 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 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 those 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 raised in this passage is: what makes someone a child of a promise and what makes one a slave?

  • What makes the Galatians like Isaac; true children of promise (see verses 28-31).
  • Who are ironically the 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)

Jeremiah 14:1-9, 17-22

Background. The ESV Study Bible tells me that Jeremiah is not a chronological account.  My difficulty is that I will never know when is when.   The scene here in Chapter 14 is dismal to say the least.  After centuries of prophets haranguing the people of how dissatisfied God is with their lip service, now the day of reckoning has arrived.  It is a testimony to the hardness of their hearts that Judah had no reaction when the Lord moved the Assyrians to carry off the ten northern tribes for the very sins Judah is committing.  In an earlier reading we saw that the Lord held that Judah was worse because she could see the punishment awaiting her and did nothing to prevent it.  “It’s not going to happen.”  That was the typical response to any prophet who predicted disaster.  Actually this is also among the sins of unbelief.  So when the disaster begins, where will the people go?  Jeremiah, at least, will beg God to relent (but he won’t).

Pay close attention to …

  • Judah’s grief (v. 1 )
  • The drought (v. 3-6 )
  • Who steps up to the plate (notice a sports metaphor) to  intercede for the people (vv. 7-9 )

Again the Lord admonishes Jeremiah not to pray nor intercede for the people.  The fastings and offerings they make to the Lord will avail them nothing.  Too little too late!  “Instead, I will destroy them with the sword, famine and plague.”  (Jeremiah 14:12 NIV)  Notice that the Lord uses aspects of nature to fight his battles because there is little anyone can do to counteract an assault by nature.

The false prophets try to curry favor with the people by telling them that the Lord didn’t mean it (the sword, famine, plague thing) and that Jeremiah is a false prophet out to discourage and demoralize the people.  The Lord has deigned that these false prophets will suffer by exactly what they prophesy against
(sword, famine & plague).

Continuing…   

  • The Lord’s message for the people (vv. 17-18 )
  • Jeremiah’s reaction and his audacious reminder (vv. 19-21 )

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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