Daily Bible Readings – Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 47

Prayer Point. The struggles of life can easily warp our view of the world. Psalm 47 encourages us to look up, clap, sing and shout praises to God. Take time to praise him that the Jesus we crucified has been raised from the dead, ascended into heaven and has been crowned king of all Creation.

Luke 6:12-26

Background.  Numbers are very important in the Bible and the number 12 has special significance in Israel’s story.  Twelve was the number of tribes that made up the nation of Israel.  They were the ones who received the 10 Commandments from God through the prophet Moses (see Exodus 20).

God entered this special relationship with the 12 tribes of Israel that they  serve as a light to the nations.  The beauty of God’s people committed to loving God and  their neighbor, the heart of the Law, would attract the nations of the world to God.  But by the time Jesus stepped onto the earth, the dream that was Israel was nearly dead.

Jesus means to establish a new Israel, with 12 disciples connecting this new people to the original vision God had for Israel.  On the foundation of these twelve men, a community is born to take the light of God to the nations of the world.  The name “apostle,” which means “sent one” is also significant.  These apostles will be appointed the task of bringing Jesus’ gospel or good news to the world and invite the nations to follow Jesus and join his kingdom movement.

You will notice that Jesus is interested in taking his message beyond the borders of Israel and that dream begins to be realized as a great number of people gather around him from Tyre and Sidon. These are cities located not in Israel, but what we call Lebanon today.

Pay close attention to …

  • What Jesus does before he selects his disciples and what his actions tell us about our own approach to important decisions.
  • The makeup of his disciples. A zealot was one who favored armed struggle to overthrow the Romans. Imagine a zealot and a former tax-collector (Matthew) living and working together.
  • Why great numbers of people are attracted to Jesus and what happens when they touched him.
  • The values of the Jesus’ new community and how they contrast with the world’s values.  Notice who is considered blessed and who is considered cursed and why.

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)

Colossians 1:15-23

Background. Jesus Christ lives at the center of the Gospel Paul preaches to the Colossian Christians.  This Jesus is both fully God and fully man.  In today’s reading, Paul will emphasize Jesus’ divine characteristics.

Some have argued that Jesus’ title as the “firstborn over creation” (verse 15) means that he was created and not equal with God. The word “firstborn” in this passage has do with Christ’s authority over creation otherwise it could not be said in verse 16 that “by him all things were created.”

Pay close attention to …

  • Christ’s relationship to God the Father (the invisible God)
  • Christ’s relationship to creation. See note above about the firstborn.
  • His role in the creation of the world (verse 16) and his ongoing role in creation (verse 17).
  • Christ’s relationship to the church.
  • What God the Father does for creation through Christ.
  • What the Colossians were before Christ and what God the Father has made them through Christ (verses 21 and 22).
  • How we hang on to what Christ has accomplished for us (verse 23).
  • Paul’s relationship to the gospel (verse 23).

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)

Exodus 32:21-34

Moses’ very probing question to Aaron: “What did these people do to you, that you led them into such great sin?” (Exodus 32:21 NIV)  How does Aaron explain this apostasy to Moses?  (Not unlike Adam, Aaron was quick to point out that things went far beyond his control.   He intimates that Moses could have foreseen what would happen from simply remembering the very short history of this bunch (just since they were delivered out of Egypt).  It is true that time and again these Israelites tested the patience of the LORD and appeared to learn nothing from him.  They are a “stiff-necked” people; I guess that means they are stubborn.  “‘Do not be angry, my lord,’ Aaron answered.  ‘You know how prone these people are to evil.  They said to me, “Make us gods who will go before us.  As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.”  So I told them, “Whoever has any gold jewelry, take it off.”  Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire and out came this calf!” (Exodus 32:22-23 NIV)  “Out came this calf!”??  Does anyone think this thing made itself in the fire?)

How do the people prove to Moses that they need something which will lead them toward better self-control?  (They “were running wild and … Aaron had let them get out of control and so [they] became a laughingstock to their enemies.” (Exodus 32:25 NIV))

What does Moses do to restore order?  (“So he [Moses] stood at the entrance to the camp and said, ‘Whoever is for the LORD, come to me.’  And all the Levites rallied to him.” (Exodus 32:26 NIV))

Why do you suppose it was the Levites who sided with Moses?  (I believe the Levites sided with Moses because he was of their tribe.  It would be nice to think it was the righteousness of the cause, but I don’t think the Levites were any more righteous (nor less culpable) than any of the other tribes.)

We have already determined that at least the first two of the Ten Commandments were broken by this rebellion.  What was the punishment which the LORD had meted out?  (“Then he [Moses] said to them, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: “Each man strap a sword to his side.  Go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbor.”’” (Exodus 32:27 NIV))

Why, do you think, the Lord did not punish these people himself?  We have seen that, if he wanted to, he would have no trouble mustering up some kind of plague to attack the people?  But why would he choose the Israelites to execute this judgment?  (This is all speculation on my part, but I think it has everything to do with how severe the LORD thought the crime.  The LORD will take on the enemies of Israel [as demonstrated by his treatment of the Egyptians] and punish them in a supernatural fashion.  The ugliest part of civil war is that that kind of war is brother against brother.  This evil had to be made manifest to the offenders.  I think the people had to “feel” the evil of idolatry as God feels it.  As time will prove, the Israelites will continue to “forget” the lessons of Sinai.  Forty years was hardly enough time! – j.t.)

So how many people died that day?  (“The Levites did as Moses commanded, and that day about three thousand of the people died.” (Exodus 32:28))

How does this event foreshadow the ministry of the Levites?  (As we will see later, the Levites will be chosen of all the tribes of Israel to attend to the Tabernacle and the religious service.  “Then Moses said, ‘You have been set apart to the Lord today, for you were against your own sons and brothers, and he has blessed you this day.” (Exodus 32:29 NIV))

We see here the introduction of the “book you have written” which will become known as the Book of Life.  Moses begs for the Lord to forgive the sin of Israel.  What does Moses ask the Lord to do if he is unwilling to forgive Israel?  How does this show him to be a mediator between the people and God?  Would Jesus do differently?  (“But now, please forgive their sin – but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written.” (Exodus 32:32 NIV)  Moses shows himself a mediator because he is willing to give up everything for the people.  Jesus puts it this way: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13 NIV))

What is the Lord’s response to this prayer?  (“The LORD replied to Moses, ‘Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of my book.  Now go lead the people to the place I spoke of, and my angel will go before you.  However when the time comes for me to punish, I will punish them for their sin.’  And the LORD struck the people with a plague because of what they did with the calf Aaron had made.” (Exodus 32:33-35 NIV))

Wisdom 3:1-9 (Not Scripture, but still worthwhile reading for the Christian)

Background. In chapter One we looked at the unrighteous (or the ungodly) and saw that they experience friendship with death.  As it happens, we live in a society of death from before birth (abortion) to the ways and means of ending life (euthanasia).  So death is all around us and yet we, as a society, eschew any mention or recognition of it.  We don’t even like the word.  We say things like, “So and so ‘passed’ ” instead of, “So and so ‘died’ ”  and other such euphemisms.  But what about the righteous?  We are about to find out.

Wisdom of Solomon 3:1-9
Chapter 3
Verses 1-9

1         But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God,
and no torment will ever touch them.
2       In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to have died,
and their departure was thought to be a disaster,
3       and their going from us to be their destruction;
but they are at peace.
4       For though in the sight of others they were punished,
their hope is full of immortality.
5       Having been disciplined a little, they will receive great good,
because God tested them and found them worthy of himself;
6       like gold in the furnace he tried them,
and like a sacrificial burnt offering he accepted them.
7        In the time of their visitation they will shine forth,
and will run like sparks through the stubble.
8           They will govern nations and rule over peoples,
and the LORD will reign over them forever.
9           Those who trust in him will understand truth,
and the faithful will abide with him in love,
because grace and mercy are upon his holy ones,
and he watches over his elect.

Pay close attention to …

  • What the righteous experience in death (v. 1, 3b )
  • Their hope (v. 4b and 2:23 )
  • How the righteous are “tried” (v. 6 )
  • What the righteous will do “after life” (v. 8 )
  • The “reward” of trust in God (v. 9 )

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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